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United States

Biotech Company To Attempt Revitalizing Nervous Systems of Brain-Dead Patients (telegraph.co.uk) 119

Sarah Knapton, writing for The Telegraph: A groundbreaking trial to see if it is possible to regenerate the brains of dead people, has won approval from health watchdogs. A biotech company called BioQuark in the U.S. has been granted ethical permission to recruit 20 patients who have been declared clinically dead from a traumatic brain injury, to test whether parts of their central nervous system can be brought back to life. Scientists will use a combination of therapies, which include injecting the brain with stem cells and a cocktail of peptides, as well as deploying lasers and nerve stimulation techniques which have been shown to bring patients out of comas. The trial participants will have been certified dead and only kept alive through life support. They will be monitored for several months using brain imaging equipment to look for signs of regeneration, particularly in the upper spinal cord -- the lowest region of the brain stem which controls independent breathing and heartbeat.
AI

Magic Tricks Created Using Artificial Intelligence For the First Time 77

An anonymous reader writes Researchers working on artificial intelligence at Queen Mary University of London have taught a computer to create magic tricks. The researchers gave a computer program the outline of how a magic jigsaw puzzle and a mind reading card trick work, as well the results of experiments into how humans understand magic tricks, and the system created completely new variants on those tricks which can be delivered by a magician.
Science

Scientists Revive a Giant 30,000 Year Old Virus From Ice 121

bmahersciwriter writes "It might be terrifying if we were amoebae. Instead, it's just fascinating. The virus, found in a hunk of Siberian ice, is huge, but also loosely packaged, which is strange says evolutionary biologist Jean-Michel Claverie: 'We thought it was a property of viruses that they pack DNA extremely tightly into the smallest particle possible, but this guy is 150 times less compacted than any bacteriophage [viruses that infect bacteria]. We don't understand anything anymore!'"
Mars

NASA Plans To "Lasso" Asteroid and Turn It Into Space Station 200

SternisheFan writes "NASA scientists are planning to capture a 500 ton asteroid, relocate it and turn it into a space station for astronauts to refuel on their way to Mars. From the article: 'The 1.6bn-pound plan will be considered by the White House's Office of Science and technology in the coming weeks, as it prepares to set its space exploration agenda for the next decade, the Daily Mail reported. According to a report prepared by NASA and California Institute of Technology (Caltech) scientists, an, 'asteroid capture capsule' would be attached to an old Atlas V rocket and directed towards the asteroid between the earth and the moon. Once close, the asteroid capsule would release a 50ft diameter bag that would wrap around the spinning rock using drawstrings. The craft would then turn on its thrusters, using an estimated 300kg of propellant, to stop the asteroid in its tracks and tow it into a gravitationally neutral spot. From here space explorers would have a stationary base from which to launch trips deeper into space. Though NASA declined to comment on the project, it is believed that technology would make it possible within 10-12 years. The technology would also open up the possibility of mining other asteroids for their metals and minerals. Some are full of iron which could be used in the making of new space stations, others are made up of water which could be broken down into hydrogen and oxygen to make fuel. It is hoped that the project will increase our understanding of asteroids, and even shed new light on the origin of life on Earth.'"
Earth

$1 Billion Mission To Reach the Earth's Mantle 267

black6host writes "Humans have reached the moon and are planning to return samples from Mars, but when it comes to exploring the land deep beneath our feet, we have only scratched the surface of our planet. This may be about to change with a $1 billion mission to drill 6 km (3.7 miles) beneath the seafloor to reach the Earth's mantle — a 3000 km-thick layer of slowly deforming rock between the crust and the core which makes up the majority of our planet — and bring back the first ever fresh samples."
Privacy

Nestle's GPS Tracking Candy Campaign 172

colinneagle writes "In a cool yet creepy marketing campaign, Nestle plans to stalk UK consumers. The company kicked off a unique promotion called 'We will find you' that involves GPS trackers embedded in chocolate bars. When a winning consumer opens the wrapper, it activates and notifies the prize team who promises to track them down within 24 hours to deliver a check for £10,000. A Nestle spokesman added that 'inside their wrappers, the GPS-enabled bars looked just like normal chocolate bars.'"
Biotech

Scientists Resurrect 500-Million-Year-Old Gene Inside Modern Organism 135

An anonymous reader writes with news that researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have taken a gene from 500-million-year-old bacteria and inserted it into modern E. coli bacteria. They then allowed the bacteria to evolve over the course of a thousand generations to see whether it would resemble its original 'evolutionary trajectory.' From the article: "After achieving the difficult task of placing the ancient gene in the correct chromosomal order and position in place of the modern gene within E. coli, Kaçar produced eight identical bacterial strains and allowed 'ancient life' to re-evolve. This chimeric bacteria composed of both modern and ancient genes survived, but grew about two times slower than its counterpart composed of only modern genes. 'The altered organism wasn’t as healthy or fit as its modern-day version, at least initially,' said Gaucher, 'and this created a perfect scenario that would allow the altered organism to adapt and become more fit as it accumulated mutations with each passing day.' The growth rate eventually increased and, after the first 500 generations, the scientists sequenced the genomes of all eight lineages to determine how the bacteria adapted. Not only did the fitness levels increase to nearly modern-day levels, but also some of the altered lineages actually became healthier than their modern counterpart."
Earth

Pouring Water Into a Volcano To Generate Power 321

Hugh Pickens writes "Until recently, geothermal power systems have exploited only resources where naturally occurring heat, water, and rock permeability are sufficient to allow energy extraction. Now, geothermal energy developers plan use a new technology called Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) to pump 24 million gallons of water into the side of the dormant Newberrry Volcano, located about 20 miles south of Bend, Oregon, in an effort to use the earth's heat to generate power. 'We know the heat is there,' says Susan Petty, president of AltaRock Energy, Inc. of Seattle. 'The big issue is can we circulate enough water through the system to make it economic.' Since natural cracks and pores do not allow economic flow rates, the permeability of the volcanic rock can be enhanced with EGS by pumping high-pressure cold water down an injection well into the rock, creating tiny fractures in the rock, a process known as hydroshearing. Then cold water is pumped down production wells into the reservoir, and the steam is drawn out. Natural geothermal resources only account for about 0.3 percent of U.S. electricity production, but a 2007 Massachusetts Institute of Technology report projected EGS could bump that to 10 percent within 50 years, at prices competitive with fossil-fuels. 'The important question we need to answer now,' says USGS geophysicist Colin Williams, 'is how geothermal fits into the renewable energy picture, and how EGS fits. How much it is going to cost, and how much is available.'"
Biotech

Human Language Gene Changes How Mice Squeak 185

archatheist writes "Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany have engineered a mouse whose FOXP2 gene has been swapped out for a different (human) version. This is interesting because the gene is implicated in human language, and this has changed how mice squeak. 'In a region of the brain called the basal ganglia, known in people to be involved in language, the humanized mice grew nerve cells that had a more complex structure. Baby mice utter ultrasonic whistles when removed from their mothers. The humanized baby mice, when isolated, made whistles that had a slightly lower pitch, among other differences, Dr. Enard says. Dr. Enard argues that putting significant human genes into mice is the only feasible way of exploring the essential differences between people and chimps, our closest living relatives.' The academic paper was published in Cell."

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