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Ajit Johnson
Cancer biologist, University of Edinburgh.
May 27, 2017 · 9 Reads

Top stories in science this week

1. A simple blood test can predict cancers in up to 11% of patients, scientists say

A common blood test has shown to be just as accurate in predicting any type of cancer as a lump is for breast cancer, and researchers say it’s the most promising detection method for cancer in 30 years. A high number of platelets (tiny blood cells that help wounds clot) have been linked to an increased risk of all forms of cancer, and scientists are now urging doctors to consider thrombocytosis — a condition where too many platelets are produced in the body — as a detection method for patients who are yet to show symptoms.

Reference: http://bjgp.org/content/early/2017/05/22/bjgp17X691109

2. New evidence suggests humans might have originated from Europe and not Africa

A new examination of two 7.2 million-year-old fossils from southern Europe suggests that humans split off from the great apes several hundred thousand years earlier than we thought.

Reference: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0177127, http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0177347

3. Human brains can predict future events twice as fast as they actually happen

Researchers from the Radboud University in the Netherlands have observed the human brain’s ability to visually “predict” future events. By scanning the brains of students during an experiment, they saw this predictive imaging in action.

Reference: https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms15276

4. These healthy space pups were born from sperm that spent 9 months in orbit

Teruhiko Wakayama/University of Yamanashi

Mouse sperm that spent more than nine months in orbit have been used to produce a litter of healthy mice, giving hope that mammalian reproduction in space colonies could one day be possible.

Reference: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2017/05/16/1701425114

5. Learning to read can rewire deep parts of the adult brain in just 6 months

Scientists have discovered that when people learn to read in their adult years, significant changes take place in their brains — and this rewiring doesn’t just show up in the brain’s flexible periphery, but also in its deepest regions.

Reference: http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/5/e1602612

6. A powerful energy beam in space seems to exceed the speed of light

Strange beams of plasma that have been observed that seem to defy the laws of physics by moving faster than the speed of light.

Reference: http://www.stsci.edu/ftp/science/m87/m87.html

7. Research suggests that snakes can hunt in packs

While scientists have never really been sure if snakes consciously coordinate their hunts — or just hunt as individuals competing for the same prey — new research suggests that coordinated snake pack-hunting is all too real.

Reference: http://animalbehaviorandcognition.org/uploads/journals/14/02%20Feb2017%20Dinets_HH(7)_final.pdf

8. Scientists just detected what appears to be a whole new layer in earth’s mantle

Scientists have found what appears to be an extra layer of plate tectonics lurking in Earth’s mantle under east Asia, and it could finally explain a mysterious series of earthquakes between Fiji and Australia.

Reference: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2016JB012923/abstract

9. Scientists are about to perform an experiment to see if the human mind is bound by physics. <quantum entanglement>

Reference: https://arxiv.org/abs/1705.04620

10. Scientists have made stem cells that can pave the way for donor-free blood transfusions

After 20 years of trying, scientists have transformed mature cells into primordial blood cells that regenerate themselves and the components of blood. The work, described today in Nature1, 2, offers hope to people with leukaemia and other blood disorders who need bone-marrow transplants but can’t find a compatible donor. If the findings translate into the clinic, these patients could receive lab-grown versions of their own healthy cells.

Reference: https://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v545/n7655/full/nature22326.html

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