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Submission + - ALS Treatment Hope: Researchers Discover How to Stop Brain Rejecting Drugs (

concertina226 writes: Scientists at Thomas Jefferson University have discovered that blocking certain types of proteins in the brain may help drugs that have so far failed to treat Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) to be able to work.

Currently there is only one drug in the world, called Riluzole, that is approved for treating ALS. Riluzole works by suppressing the activity of glutamate – a chemical messenger in the central nervous system.

Unfortunately, Riluzole has been shown to lose its effectiveness in patients as the disease progresses, and it only prolongs the lives of ALS patients for between three to six months.

The researchers decided to analyse the brains of mice infected with ALS, instead of analysing healthy animals. They identified two specific pumps in the brain that interact with Riluzole, namely P-glycoprotein (P-gp) and breast-cancer resistant protein.

When they blocked these two types of proteins by treating the mice with an experimental compound called Elacridar together with Riluzole, the scientists found that the treatments extended the life span of the mice and alleviated some of the disease's symptoms, such as improving and preserving muscle strength.

Submission + - Cancer Cannot Be Cured, Scientists Should Be Focusing on Prevention Instead (

concertina226 writes: A leading child leukaemia and cancer evolution expert is controversially calling for scientists worldwide to stop trying to cure cancer and instead focus on prevention.

Professor Mel Greaves, the director of the Centre for Evolution and Cancer at The Institute of Cancer Research, said most cancers cannot be cured, so scientists should give up trying.

"With a lot of respect to oncologists, we need to get smarter. Very intelligent people who aren't scientifically minded think there must be a cause, there must be a cure and it's just not right. It's fundamentally wrong," Greaves said.

Submission + - Chinese Doctors Use 3D-Printing in Pioneering Surgery to Treat 'Half Head Man' (

concertina226 writes: Surgeons at Xijing Hospital in Xi'an, Shaanxi province in Northwest China are using 3D-printing in a pioneering surgery to help rebuild the skull of a man who suffered brain damage in a construction accident.

Numerous international experts were called in to consult on the case as the surgery to repair Hu's skull is particularly risky and complicated.

The patient's scalp and meninges (protective membranes covering the brain) melded together after the accident and had to be carefully peeled apart before the titanium mesh can be implanted.

Submission + - Beijing Doctors Implant World's First 3D-Printed Vertebra into 12 Year-Old Boy (

concertina226 writes: Doctors from the Peking University Third Hospital (PUTH) in Beijing, China, have become the first in the world to use 3D-printing in complex spinal cord surgery, after replacing a section of cancerous vertebra in a boy's neck with a piece created on a 3D printer.

The procedure to remove this form of cancer is so complex that only five hospitals in China are equipped to perform the surgery. The tumour affects the top of the spinal cord in the neck, but also the internal and external carotid arteries, and the patient's windpipe.

Submission + - New Computer Algorithm Makes It Possible to See the Arrow of Time (

concertina226 writes: If you know anything about Albert Einstein's theory of relativity, you'll know that he envisioned time as a spatial dimension, similar to the way height, weight, width and depth is quantified.

However, in theoretical physics, something cannot be considered to be a dimension if it's either based on three dimensions, or if it only goes in one direction, and time only seems to go one way – forward.

A group of computer scientists from MIT, Oxford University and the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems disagrees.

They claim to have found a way to show that not only does the arrow of time exist, but it is actually possible to see it going backwards, or forwards, using an algorithm analysing video signals.

Submission + - Game of Thrones: The Science Behind Skull-Crushing (

concertina226 writes: Scientists, engineers and physicians are chiming in to debunk a controversial and very graphic scene in the latest Game of Thrones episode that aired two days ago. The big question is, can a man really manage to crush a human skull with just his hands?

To refresh you on physics, the calculation for force reads as:

force (newton, N) = mass (kilogram, kg) x acceleration (metre per second squared, m/s2)

According to research by Nasa into body strength and how the body's push forces are affected by zero gravity, an average adult male is capable of exerting about 90kg (200lb) or 1,000 Newtons of force in a static push, in standard gravity.

Submission + - Engineers Invent World's Smallest, Fastest Nanomotor Ever To Power Nanobots (

concertina226 writes: University of Texas engineers have created the world's smallest, fastest and longest-running tiny synthetic motor to date – an invention that could change the future of medicine by powering nanobot computers to dispense drugs and fight cancer cells throughout the body.

Led by mechanical engineering assistant professor Donglei "Emma" Fan of the Cockrell School of Engineering, the team of researchers set out to create a three-part nanomotor 500 times smaller than a grain of salt and tiny enough to fit inside a human cell.

While most nanomotors rotate at the speed of 14 to 500 RPMs, the new ultra-high speed nanomotor can rotate for 15 continuous hours at the speed of 18,000 RPMS, which is equivalent to the speed of a jet airplane engine.

Submission + - Japan Invents New Safer Lithium Ion Battery That Uses Parasitic Conduction (

concertina226 writes: Researchers at the Tohoku University in Japan have created a new type of lithium ion conductor that could greatly decrease the fire risks associated with lithium batteries.

Due to its long life, Lithium ion is currently the preferred choice of rechargeable battery for everything from air planes and electrical cars to wearable tech, smartphones, tablets and implantable medical devices.

However, the compound relies on liquid chemistries, whereby lithium salts dissolve into organic liquid electrolyte solvents that are highly flammable, so in order to remove fire risks, the cells in batteries would need to be completely solid-state.

To achieve this, the researchers used rock salt Lithium Borohydride (LiBH4). This compound has previously been considered for use in lithium batteries, but has so far only been able to work if it is at a high temperature or pressure.

Submission + - Quantum Computing: Global Symmetry Not Required to Speed Up Quantum Search (

concertina226 writes: Researchers have proved that global symmetry is not required in order for a quantum particle to search quickly for an item in a database.

Grover's quantum search algorithm can be formulated as quantum particles having the ability to search for items in an unsorted database by jumping from one node to another, making quantum computing work much faster than traditional computers can.

However, the assertion has always assumed that quantum particles can only hop directly from one item to another, meaning that a quantum computer's ability to search for items depends on what items the particle hops onto.

Researchers from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden and the University of California San Diego have used a physics technique known as the "degenerate perturbation theory" to prove that searches can still be sped up without the use of global symmetry.

Submission + - Move Aside Nasa: China's Yuegong-1 Simulates Plant Cultivation on the Moon (

concertina226 writes: In the race to make humans self-sufficient in space, China has pulled ahead of Nasa with the development of Yuegong-1 (Moon Palace-1), a lab simulating the cultivation of plants and micro-organisms on the moon.

Three Chinese volunteers spent 105 days living in a module measuring 500 cubic metres (36 square metres), feeding themselves by growing five types of grains, 15 types of vegetables including soybean, peanuts, peppers, carrots, tomatoes and coriander, one type of fruit and yellow mealworm for protein.

Yuegong-1 is one of the world's most advanced bioregenerative life support systems, also known as a controlled ecological life support system.

Nasa has announced plans to send plants to the moon next year when the top contenders for the Google Lunar XPrize competition try to make a soft moon landing with their own rovers. The US space agency also wants to grow plants in a greenhouse on Mars by 2021.

Submission + - Scientists Create Self-Healing Regenerative Plastic (

concertina226 writes: Researchers at the University of Illinois have managed to develop a type of plastic that is able to heal and completely regenerate all by itself, which could be a big benefit in situations where products are difficult to repair or replace, such as a part of an aeroplane or vehicle.

The team of researchers, led by Professor Scott White, have created a brand new system that imitates the way blood clots form in biological circulatory systems, taking a vascular approach whereby non-living, synthetic materials contain networks of capillaries that can jump into action when the material is damaged, even if it happens more than once.

Until now, self-repairing materials have only been able to bond microscopic cracks.

Submission + - Ghostbusters Science: Gamma-Ray Lasers Could Be Made From Positronium Antimatter (

concertina226 writes: Scientists from the University of Maryland Joint Quantum Institute have calculated that it might be possible to build gamma-ray lasers from mixing antimatter and matter together to make a compound called "positronium", which would be used to turn ordinary light into a laser beam.

This might sound a bit like it comes from the movies, such as Ghostbusters (positron colliders and particle accelerators, anyone?), but the concept actually comes from a 20-year-old theory.

In 1994, two Bell Laboratories physicists Philip Platzman and Allen Mills Jr proposed that a gamma-ray laser could be made from a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) of positronium, which is the simplest atom made of both matter and antimatter.

A Bose-Einstein condensate is an unusual chilled gas state, and 20 years ago, a BEC of any kind of atom did not yet exist. Today however, there are now BECs made from 13 different elements, and by chilling positronium to absolute zero, it becomes stable enough to be used in a laser.

Submission + - Ultra-Fast Electrical Circuits Using Light Could Revolutionise Processor Speeds (

concertina226 writes: Scientists at the National University of Singapore and A*Star have demonstrated a super-fast electrical circuit which operates at frequencies of hundreds of terahertz — tens of thousands times faster than the microprocessors we have today.

Light operates at extremely high frequencies of 100 terahertz. Photonics (the science of light) is used to carry data across optical fibre cables but these ultra-fast properties do not work with the state-of-the-art nano-scale microprocessor chips we have, which can only reach very small length scales.

It has long been known that it is possible for light to be captured when it interacts with certain types of metal, in the form of plasmons – ultra-fast oscillations of electrons which can be manipulated at the nanoscale.

In 2012, A*Star scientists theorised that it would be possible to create an electrical circuit that made use of quantum plasmonic tunnelling, and their theory has finally been proved.

Submission + - Life-and-Death Gunshot Victims to Be Frozen in Suspended Animation to Save Lives (

concertina226 writes: Surgeons at a hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania are conducting the first human trials into the use of suspended animation, whereby a patient's body is cooled down and suspended between life and death in order to buy time for doctors to save their lives.

The first 10 potentially fatal gunshot or knife wound victims to be brought to the UPMC Presbyterian hospital's emergency room at the end of March will be subject to a ground-breaking technique, whereby on-call surgeons will replace all the patient's blood with a saline solution.

While the trial could potentially be a breakthrough in emergency healthcare as surgeons would have 2 hours to save a life instead of 45 minutes in normal induced hypothermia, it is controversial as neither the patient nor their family can give consent to the suspended animation treatment.

The FDA has approved the trial only because life and death situations are considered to be exempt from informed consent.

Submission + - Einstein's Spooky Theory Could Bring Snowden's Encrypted Internet Dream to Life (

concertina226 writes: Albert Einstein's "spooky" quantum mechanics theory about entangled particles that can stay connected even when separated by large distances could be applied to encrypt communications and improve security over the internet.

The phenomenon is known as the N-partite Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen (EPR) steering and over half a century later in the 1990s, scientists finally succeeded in using it to securely transmit a message from one person to another.

They created a shared quantum key that decoded the message only for the sender and receiver – meaning that the message would be completely secure from interception until it was received. However, until now, the quantum key has only worked for sharing messages between two parties.

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