A robot can print this $32,000 house in as little as eight hours – take a look inside.


Building a house completely by hand can be both time-consuming and expensive. A number of home-builders have chosen to automate part of the construction process (i.e. by printing the home’s parts) instead.

A new Ukrainian homebuilding startup called Passivdom uses a 3D-printing robot that can print parts for tiny houses. The machine can print the walls, roof, and floor of Passivdom’s 380-square-foot model in about eight hours. The windows, doors, plumbing, and electrical systems are then added by a human worker.

When complete, the homes are completely autonomous and mobile, meaning they don’t need to connect to external electrical and plumbing systems. Solar energy is stored in a battery connected to the houses, and water is collected and filtered from humidity in the air (or you can pour water into the system yourself). The houses also feature an independent sewage system.

Passivdom’s homes, which start at $31,900 , are now available for pre-order online in the Ukraine and the US, and the first ones will be delivered later this year.

Read more. URL:http://www.businessinsider.in/A-robot-can-print-this-32000-house-in-as-little-as-eight-hours-take-a-look-inside/articleshow/58052095.cms#passivdoms-smallest-model-measures-380-square-feet-and-costs-31900-designer-maria-sorokina-tells-business-insider-1

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Goldman Sachs report on space mining for platinum with ‘asteroid-grabbing spacecraft’


Goldman Sachs is bullish on space mining with “asteroid-grabbing spacecraft.” In a 98-page note for clients seen by Business Insider, analyst Noah Poponak and his team argue that platinum mining in space is getting cheaper and easier, and the rewards are becoming greater as time goes by.

asteroid mining

An artist’s impression of an asteroid mine, created by Deep Space Industries, a company based in California and Luxembourg.

“While the psychological barrier to mining asteroids is high, the actual financial and technological barriers are far lower. Prospecting probes can likely be built for tens of millions of dollars each and Caltech has suggested an asteroid-grabbing spacecraft could cost $2.6bn,” the report says.

$2.6 billion (£2 billion) sounds like a lot, but it is only about one-third the amount that has been invested in Uber, putting the price well within reach of today’s VC funds. It is also a comparable to the setup cost for a regular earthbound mine. (This MIT paper estimates a new rare earth metal mine can cost up to $1 billion, from scratch.)

The price of spacecraft is plummeting, thanks to reusable rockets from Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin. It used to cost $35 million (£28 million) to send one person up on a Soyuz rocket. Today, Virgin Galactic hopes to get space tourists into space for something like $250,000 (£200,000), Goldman says. More broadly, the price of all new rockets is falling over time:

RocketsGoldman Sachs

Those economics make going into space more feasible. The rewards would be vast: just one asteroid might contain $50 billion (£40 billion) of platinum:

“Space mining could be more realistic than perceived. Water and platinum group metals that are abundant on asteroids are highly disruptive from a technological and economic standpoint. Water is easily converted into rocket fuel, and can even be used unaltered as a propellant. Ultimately being able to stockpile the fuel in LEO [low earth orbit] would be a game changer for how we access space. And platinum is platinum. According to a 2012 Reuters interview with Planetary Resources, a single asteroid the size of a football field could contain $25bn- $50bn worth of platinum.”

There is just one problem: That same asteroid would instantly tank the entire platinum market: “Successful asteroid mining would likely crater the global price of platinum, with a single 500-meter-wide asteroid containing nearly 175X the global output, according to MIT’s Mission 2016.”

Nonetheless, Goldman is bullish. “We expect that systems could be built for less than that given trends in the cost of manufacturing spacecraft and improvements in technology. Given the capex of mining operations on Earth, we think that financing a space mission is not outside the realm of possibility.”

Source:businessinsider.com

New male contraceptive is safe, effective and inexpensive — but no company has agreed to sell it.


Doctors are on the cusp of launching the first new male contraceptive in more than a century. But rather than a Big Pharma lab, the breakthrough is emerging from a university startup in the heart of rural India.

Years of human trials on the injectable, sperm-zapping product are coming to an end, and researchers are preparing to submit it for regulatory approval. Results so far show it’s safe, effective and easy to use-but gaining little traction with drugmakers. That’s frustrating its inventor, who says his technique could play a crucial role in condom-averse populations.

A new birth control method for men has the potential to win as much as half the $10 billion market for female contraceptives worldwide and cut into the $3.2 billion of annual condom sales, businesses dominated by pharmaceutical giants Bayer AG, Pfizer Inc. and Merck & Co., according to estimates from the last major drug company to explore the area. India’s reversible procedure could cost as little as $10 in poor countries, and may provide males with years-long fertility control, overcoming compliance problems and avoiding ongoing costs associated with condoms and the female birth-control pill, which is usually taken daily.

It could also ease the burden on the 225 million women in developing countries, who the World Health Organization says have an unmet need for contraception. Yet so far only a U.S. non-profit has taken up development of the technology abroad.

For Sujoy Guha, 76, the biomedical engineer who invented the product, the challenge is to find a company that wants to sell it. But male contraception is an area Big Pharma has so far shown little interest in.

“The fact that the big companies are run by white, middle-aged males who have the same feeling-that they would never do it-plays a major role,” said Herjan Coelingh Bennink, a gynecology professor who helped develop the contraceptives Implanon and Cerazette as head of research and development in women’s health for Organon International from 1987 to 2000. “If those companies were run by women, it would be totally different.”

Guha’s technique for impairing male fertility relies on a polymer gel that’s injected into the sperm-carrying tubes in the scrotum. The gel, which has the consistency of melted chocolate, carries a positive charge that acts as a buffer on negatively charged sperm, damaging their heads and tails, and rendering them infertile.

The treatment, known as reversible inhibition of sperm under guidance, or RISUG, is reversed with a second shot that breaks down the gel, allowing sperm to reach the penis normally.

The procedure is 98 percent effective at preventing pregnancy-about the same as condoms if they are used every time-and has no major side effects, according to R. S. Sharma, head of reproductive biology and maternal health at the Indian Council of Medical Research. About 540 men have received it in India, where it continues to prevent pregnancies in their partners 13 years after treatment, he said.

A submission to regulators this year will seek approval for RISUG as a permanent method of birth control. That will be appended with clinical data supporting reversibility, Sharma said. India has more married women with an unmet need for family planning than any other country, and social stigma and a lack of privacy in stores has kept condom use to less than 6 percent.

A new option for male birth control could garner as much as half the female contraceptives market, according to research by Organon in the 1990s, when the Dutch drugmaker partnered with Germany’s Schering AG on the last major effort to develop a male birth control pill. Demand would come from couples in long-term relationships looking to share family-planning responsibilities and single men looking for an alternative to condoms to prevent an unintended pregnancy from casual sex, Coelingh Bennink said.

Still, there were questions at Organon about whether it would be worthwhile financially to develop a new entrant in the low-margin contraceptives market, and the project was eventually shelved, he said.

Efforts on a hormone-based male contraceptive continued in 2008 in a study co-funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and UN agencies that was published in October. While the injected regimen’s efficacy was “relatively good” compared to other methods, the study was terminated early after a safety review. The authors noted a “relatively high” frequency of mild to moderate mood disorders, sparking a media uproar over perceived double standards in the development of contraceptives because the side effects seemed similar to those women experience on the pill.

Bayer, which bought Schering in 2006, stopped all research and development activities around male fertility control about a decade ago, said Astrid Kranz, a company spokeswoman.

Although an earlier clinical trial involving the administration of hormones via injection and an implant was “efficient, with a tolerable side effect profile,” Kranz said, the Leverkusen, Germany-based drugmaker wasn’t convinced this “inconvenient” regimen would find sufficient market acceptance.

Male contraception isn’t an area of active research for Pfizer and Merck either, representatives said. Both companies sell products for female fertility control.

Side effects aside, it would take about $100 million and 10 years to bring a hormone-based male birth control pill to market-a low-priority undertaking for pharmaceutical executives, Coelingh Bennink said.

That’s now the dilemma Indian inventor Guha faces.

“In doing anything abroad, quite substantial money is required, and that can only come from the pharmaceutical industry,” Guha said, surrounded by dusty stacks of paper, books and prototype inventions that bury every surface in his office at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur, about 80 miles west of Kolkata.

In the face of disinterest from the pharmaceutical industry, Guha licensed the technology to the Parsemus Foundation, a U.S.-based non-profit, to help establish a market for it outside India, he said.

Parsemus is working on its own version, called Vasalgel, that it plans to manufacture and distribute at near cost-or potentially $10 to $20 per person in low- and middle-income countries-and $400 to $600 per person in wealthier markets, Elaine Lissner, the foundation’s founder, said in an email.

The foundation, based in Berkeley, California, is seeking donations to fund costly human trials starting next year after a study in 16 rhesus monkeys published last month showed Vasalgel was successful in preventing conception while the primates fraternized with females for 5 to 24 months.

Kinkar Ari, 39, a day laborer from a nearby village, said that when he and his wife decided they didn’t want more children they had a choice between tubal ligation for her or vasectomy for him, but neither could afford the time off to recuperate from the surgery.

When a public health worker told the couple about Guha’s promising alternative, Ari decided to enroll in the study. The injection took 15 minutes with local anesthesia, and after half an hour of observation at the clinic, he said, he was able to walk the 2.5 kilometers home. Two days later, he was back at work. Ari was so enthused by the procedure he convinced two other couples to have it done, he said.

Such stories encourage Guha to persist, he said, even though patents on his invention have long since expired and he won’t see any personal financial gain even if it takes off worldwide.

“Why should the burden be borne by the female only?” he said in his office after the three couples had left. “There has to be an equal partnership.”

Source:chicagotribune.com

Tetraquark Evidence Mounts with Help from the Large Hadron Collider


IN BRIEF

Physicists working with the Large Hadron Collider have found an entire set of particles with four heavy quarks, further confirming the existence of tetraquarks. The four structures do not follow the characteristics of particles dictated by pre-existing laws of physics.

“IT’S THE FIRST TIME WE’VE SEEN THIS”

While technically protons have tons of quarks (and anti-quarks), three of those quarks, known as valence quarks, make up the positive charge of a proton. Hence, the three-quark label.

Throughout the history of physics, we have been familiar with two and three-quark particles. This made the recent discovery of four-quark particles called tetraquarks, and five-quark particles or pentaquarks, a slow uphill battle as it is met with severe skepticism. In 2003, the Belle experiment in Japan first observed particles in a four-quark state but lacked sufficient evidence to definitively prove it. Belle, Fermilab, and other research facilities since have announced similar observations, but none have been able to provide irrefutable proof of their existence.

Tetraquark in comparison with ordinary matter. Credit: Nature
In 2014, the Large Hadron Collider finally confirmed tetraquarks, and now has identified four more of these particles—a discovery that stands as solid evidence that would permanently cement their existence. “It was a long road to get here,” says University of Iowa physicist Kai Yi of the Collider Detector at Fermilab (CDF) and Columbia-MIT-Fermilab (CMF) experiments.

The exotic particles are named based on their respective masses in mega-electronvolts: X(4140), X(4274), X(4500) and X(4700). They are each composed entirely of heavy quarks: two charm quarks and two strange quarks arranged in a unique way, each with a different internal structure by mass and quantum numbers. “The quarks inside these particles behave like electrons inside atoms,” says Syracuse University physics professor Tomasz Skwarnicki says. “They can be ‘excited’ and jump into higher energy orbitals. The energy configuration of the quarks gives each particle its unique mass and identity.”

 “What we have discovered is a unique system,” Skwarnicki continues. “We have four exotic particles of the same type; it’s the first time we have seen this and this discovery is already helping us distinguish between the theoretical models.”

ARE THEY EVEN PARTICLES?

Our current laws of physics cannot explain this groundbreaking discovery. “We looked at every known particle and process to make sure these four structures couldn’t be explained by any pre-existing physics. It was like baking a six-dimensional cake with 98 ingredients and no recipe—just a picture of a cake,” Syracuse University researcher Thomas Britton says.

The researchers are now working on models that would help make sense of these new particles, which may not even be particles, as they do not behave in accordance with our standard models of particles. “The molecular explanation does not fit with the data,” Skwarnicki adds. “But I personally would not conclude that these are definitely tightly bound states of four quarks. It could be possible that these are not even particles. The result could show the complex interplays of known particle pairs flippantly changing their identities.”

The bizarre particles (or whatever else they may eventually turn out to be) are possibly heralding a new era of expansion for quantum physics, thanks to the Large Hadron Collider. “The huge amount of data generated by the LHC is enabling a resurgence in searches for exotic particles and rare physical phenomena,” Britton says. “There’s so many possible things for us to find and I’m happy to be a part of it.”

Space travel and long term brain damage.


IN BRIEF
  • Astronauts who will travel to Mars may have a higher chance of developing dementia and long-term brain damage.
  • Despite this, NASA is optimistic in thinking it can resolve all the issues by the 2030s.

A DANGEROUS TRIP

NASA, SpaceX, Boeing, and many other parties from all over the world are dead set on reaching the next frontier of human spaceflight: Mars. In fact, NASA has started recruiting people who want to experience “The Martian” in real life.

But before you start begging NASA for a chance to go, you may want to consider this new finding. A team from UC Irvine has found that astronauts who will travel to Mars may have a higher chance of developing dementia and long-term brain damage.

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Scientific Reports/University of California, Irvine

To be fair, this news isn’t really much of a shocker. Astronauts who come from the ISS experience a whole host of bodily changes: reduced bone mass, damage to the central nervous system, sleep disturbance, even excessive flatulence. But scientists found that travel to Mars (which would involve a longer spaceflight than anybody has ever endured) could have a more disastrous effect on the brain and nervous system.

UCI’s Charles Limoli and colleagues saw that rats bombarded with charged particle irradiation had less dendrites and spines in their neurons. Moreover, they found that these effects persisted even six months after bombardment. The team also saw that the bombardment affected the “fear extinction” of the subjects. That means they couldn’t suppress memories of stressful and fearful situations.

 That means astronauts would think less clearly when confronted with an emergency or problem in the voyage.

TECHNOLOGY AND BIOLOGY

UCI’s research just underscores the fact that developing the right technology isn’t the only thing we need to get us to the red planet. We also need to understand more about how our bodies perform in space, and consider ways to keep astronauts healthy and alert.

The good news is that this problem has been anticipated by the government, and NASA has been called to add to studies on human health in space. They’ll be taking a look at the top hazards for the three-year, round-trip Mars missions including cancer, cataracts, infertility, and even how extreme isolation could lead to psychological problems. No one wants cabin fever in space.

Despite all this, Inspector General Paul Martin pointed out that the space agency is optimistic in thinking it can resolve all the issues by the 2030s. They’ve definitely got a long list to tackle.

Source:futurism.com

An Atmosphere Has Been Detected Around an Earth-Like Exoplanet for the First Time


Astronomers have detected an atmosphere around an Earth-like exoplanet called Gliese 1132b (GJ 1132b for short), which is located around 39 light-years away in the constellation Vela.

This is the first time atmosphere has ever been detected around a planet with a mass and radius so similar to Earth’s, and that makes it a hugely promising (and exciting) target for researchers searching for signs of extraterrestrial life.

 

“While this is not the detection of life on another planet, it’s an important step in the right direction: the detection of an atmosphere around the super-Earth GJ 1132b marks the first time that an atmosphere has been detected around an Earth-like planet other than Earth itself,” said lead researcher John Southworthfrom Keele University in the UK.

There’s still a lot to learn about GJ 1132b’s atmosphere, but early observations suggest it could be a “‘water world’ with an atmosphere of hot steam” – AKA, a pretty awesome place to go looking for life.

So far, we know that GJ 1132b has a mass about 1.6 times that of Earth’s, and has roughly 1.4 times its radius – which in terms of exoplanets makes it remarkably similar to our home planet.

But as with all exoplanet discoveries, the researchers are quick to remind the public that the observations to date still really don’t give us much insight into how similar GJ 1132b could be to Earth – or how habitable.

Some bad news upfront is it has an estimated surface temperature of 370 degrees Celsius (698 degrees Fahrenheit), which makes it unlikely that it could host life like us.

And let’s not forget that we’ve recently been burned by the detection of the TRAPPIST-1 ‘sister solar system’ and neighbouring Earth-like planet Proxima b, both of which are unlikely to be the friendly places for life we first thought they were.

 But none of those planets had ever gotten as far as having an atmosphere detected, so GJ 1132b is already doing pretty well in terms of a spot that could potentially host life.

Right now, the top strategy for astronomers in the search for life on another planet is to detect the chemical composition of that planet’s atmosphere, looking for certain chemical imbalances that could hint at the presence of living organisms. For example, on Earth, the large amount of oxygen in our atmosphere is that ‘smoking gun’.

We’re a long way off having that much insight into GJ 1132b, but the fact that we’ve detected its atmosphere at all is a good first step.

The planet orbits the not-too-distant red dwarf star Gliese 1132, which Southworth and his team studied using the ESO/MPG telescope in Chile.

They measured the slight dip in brightness across seven wavelengths of light as GJ1132b passed in front of its host star every 1.6 Earth days, in order to get a better idea of the size and composition of the planet.

They were surprised to find that the planet appeared larger when observed in one type of infrared wavelength of light, which suggests that the planet has an atmosphere that’s opaque to these wavelengths.

The team went on to model different possible versions of this atmosphere, and found that an atmosphere rich in water and methane could explain what they were seeing.

Prior to this, the only exoplanets that researchers have detected atmospheres around were planets that were more than eight times more massive than Earth, and gas giants similar to Jupiter.

“With this research, we have taken the first tentative step into studying the atmospheres of smaller, Earth-like, planets,” said Southworth. “The planet is significantly hotter and a bit larger than Earth, so one possibility is that it is a ‘water world’ with an atmosphere of hot steam.”

The type of star GJ 1132b is orbiting also makes the planet of particular interest – its host star is a low-mass red dwarf, which are incredibly common throughout the Universe and are frequently found to host small, Earth-like planets.

But they’ve also been shown to be particularly active, often blasting huge solar flares out at their surrounding planets – something previous research has suggested would evaporate any traces of a planet’s atmosphere.

But the new discovery suggests that an atmosphere is possible of enduring this bombardment for billions of years without being destroyed – which opens up the possibility that thousands more planets orbiting low-mass stars could potentially harbour atmospheres.

“Given the huge number of very low-mass stars and planets, this could mean that the conditions suitable for life are common in the Universe,” a press release explains.

We still have a lot to learn about GJ 1132b, and hopefully we’ll have some more answers soon – the new discovery makes it one of the highest-priority targets to be studied by instruments such as the Hubble Space Telescope, the Very Large Telescope, and the James Webb Space Telescope, which is scheduled to launch in 2018.

Source:sciencealert.com

Five Pacific islands lost to rising seas as climate change hits.


Six more islands have large swaths of land, and villages, washed into sea as coastline of Solomon Islands eroded and overwhelmed.

The remains of one of six partially eroded islands in the Solomons.
The remains of one of six partially eroded islands in the Solomons. 

Five tiny Pacific islands have disappeared due to rising seas and erosion, a discovery thought to be the first scientific confirmation of the impact of climate change on coastlines in the Pacific, according to Australian researchers.

The missing islands, ranging in size from 1 to 5 hectares (2.5-12.4 acres) were not inhabited by humans.

But six other islands had large swaths of land washed into the sea and on two of those, entire villages were destroyed and people forced to relocate, the researchers found.

Many of the Solomon Islands are low-lying and prone to flooding from rising seas.
Many of the Solomon Islands are low-lying and prone to flooding from rising seas. 

One was Nuatambu island, home to 25 families, which has lost 11 houses and half its inhabitable area since 2011, the research said.

The study is the first that scientifically “confirms the numerous anecdotal accounts from across the Pacific of the dramatic impacts of climate change on coastlines and people,” the researchers wrote in a separate commentary on an academic website.

The scientists used aerial and satellite images dating back to 1947 of 33 islands, as well as traditional knowledge and radiocarbon dating of trees for their findings.

The study raises questions about the role of government in relocation planning, said a Solomon Islands official.

https://interactive.guim.co.uk/maps/embed/may/2016-05-10T01:00:49.html
Map of Nuatambu Island.

“This ultimately calls for support from development partners and international financial mechanisms such as the Green Climate Fund,” Melchior Mataki, head of the Solomon Islands’ National Disaster Council, was quoted as saying in the commentary.

The Green Climate Fund, part of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, was founded to help countries deal with climate change.

Ad hoc relocation has occurred on the islands, the study said. Several Nuatambu islanders moved to a neighbouring, higher volcanic island, the study said. Other people were forced to move from the island of Nararo.

Sirilo Sutaroti, 94, is among those who had to relocate from Nararo. He told researchers: “The sea has started to come inland, it forced us to move up to the hilltop and rebuild our village there away from the sea.”

Source:www.theguardian.com

Meditation and the psychedelic drug ayahuasca seem to change the brain in surprisingly similar ways.


At the end of a dark earthen trail in the Peruvian Amazon stands a round structure with a thatched roof that appears to glow from within.

In the Temple of the Way of Light, as it is known, indigenous healers called Onanya teach visitors about the therapeutic uses of ayahuasca, a hallucinogenic brew that’s been used by locals for thousands of years.

 

Across the Atlantic, researchers in an ornate blue-tiled hospital in Barcelona, Spain are studying ayahuasca’s physical effects on the brain.

The teams in those two disparate locations approach the study of the psychedelic drug very differently, but researchers at each one are coming to similar conclusions about the way ayahuasca affects the mind.

Among volunteers who take ayahuasca for studies, scientists have documented a rise in certain key traits that mirror those of experienced meditators. These changes include increases in openness, optimism, and a particularly powerful ability known as decentering.

Amanda Feilding, the founder and director of the UK-based nonprofit Beckley Foundation, collaborates with scientists around the world to understand how psychedelic drugs affect the brain.

Feilding describes decentering as “the ability to objectively observe one’s thoughts and feelings without associating them with identity”.

Decentering might sound esoteric, but it’s one of the key aims of mindful meditation and is also a goal of successful depression treatments in some cases.

In volunteers who’ve taken ayahuasca as part of Beckley’s research, decentering has been linked with higher scores on questionnaires designed to measure well-being and happiness and lower scores on measurements of depressive or anxious thoughts and symptoms of grief.

“It’s interesting because even though our research out of Peru is based on surveys, while in Barcelona it’s based on more traditional scientific research, our results out of both places are showing an increase in these traits,” Feilding says.

“It seems patients are finally able to liberate themselves from the emotional pain they have long been suffering from. To calmly observe one’s thoughts and feelings in an objective way in order to become less judgemental and more self-accepting.”

Since the findings out of Peru are based on surveys, they can’t prove that ayahuasca caused the reduction in symptoms of depression and grief – only that there’s a connection between the two.

But in Spain, as part of a collaboration between Beckley and Sant Pau hospital, neurologist Jordi Riba is looking at the brain activity in depressed volunteers who are given ayahuasca.

His findings indicate that in addition to people simply reporting that they feel more decentered and less depressed after taking ayahuasca, there is a corresponding neurological change in their brain activity.

One small study of 17 depressed volunteers who took ayahuasca saw a decrease in activity in areas of the brain that tend to be overactive in conditions like depression and anxiety.

And a new study of regular ayahuasca users suggests a physical shrinking in these parts of the brain, though that work has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

These findings are bolstered by other research on the potential therapeutic effects of psychedelics. Studies out of New York University and Johns Hopkins suggest that the psychedelic drug psilocybin – the ingredient in magic mushrooms – elicits similar effects among depressed people.

“With the psilocybin, you get an appreciation – it’s out of time – of well-being, of simply being alive and a witness to life and to everything and to the mystery itself,” Clark Martin, a patient who participated in one of the Johns Hopkins trials, previously told Business Insider of his experience.

David Nutt, director of the neuropsychopharmacology unit at Imperial College London, has been working with Feilding, and says the brains of people with depression or addiction get locked into patterns of thinking driven by the brain’s control centre.

“Psychedelics disrupt that process so people can escape,” he says.

Source:sciencealert.com

10 Body Features Found in Only 5% of People


We’re all different, and yet a few of us have rare features that occur in only a few percent of people.

Today Bright Side is going to tell you about some of them. Some are just nice physical features, but there are those Superman himself would envy.

Incredibly dense bones

Studying the gene LRP5 (responsible for the mineralization of bones), scientists discovered mutations which cause diseases accompanied by bone fragility.

Yet there’s another type of LRP5 mutation: it gives a person super dense bones that are almost impossible to break and skin that’s less prone to aging.

Although it sounds cool, there are drawbacks. When an elderly patient needed a replacement for a worn-out joint, his excessively dense bones didn’t let doctors help him.

 

“Golden” blood

It’s not golden in the literal sense, but it has a unique feature: it contains no antigens.

This feature was discovered in 1961, and we currently know about 40 people with Rh-null blood.

9 of them are incredibly valuable donors because their blood is suitable for any recipient.

 

Long palmar muscle

This muscle is the “legacy” of our ancestors who used to climb trees.

To check if you have it, put your hand palm up on a flat surface. Touch your little finger and thumb, and slightly lift them.

If you see a ligament on your wrist, you’re the owner of a long palmar muscle. Don’t worry if you’re not — it’s useless in modern life.

Source: wikipedia.org

Genetic chimerism

Ancient Greek myths described the chimera as a creature with the head and neck of a lion, the trunk of a goat, and a snake’s tail. Human chimerism is an additional set of DNA.

Sometimes it appears in the form of “mosaic” skin or heterochromia, but most often it remains unnoticed.

Chimerism isn’t dangerous, but it can cause family problems. There was a case where a mother almost lost her children because genetic analysis showed they weren’t related.

 

Double lash line

This is a rare genetic disorder called “distichiasis.“ The most famous owner of ”double” eyelashes was Hollywood star Elizabeth Taylor.

Distichiasis usually doesn’t bring any inconvenience. Yet in some cases, the second row of eyelashes can be too close to the mucous membrane of the eye, causing irritation.

A hole near the ear

This is a congenital auricular fistula, formed during fetal development, occurring in about 5% of people.

It’s assumed to be an atavism, reminiscent of the fact that the ancestors of all living beings once had gills. This “hole” is often inherited genetically and can be present on one or both ears.

It can be removed surgically, but in itself it’s not dangerous.

 

Additional ribs

“Excessive” ribs are more often found in women.

Such ribs are also called cervical, as they’re located in the cervical spine area. Their sizes vary from small growths to full ribs.

In most cases they don’t affect the health and well-being of a person, but sometimes they reach impressive sizes and cause discomfort.

 

Ability to perceive “invisible” colors

Another feature that’s more commonly found in women is tetrachromacy: the ability to distinguish shades much better than ordinary people do.

With a dandelion, we describe its color as yellow. A tetrachromatic person will see a whole range of shades. This condition is caused by mutations in the X chromosome.

This difference allows people to see up to 99 million colors, while an ordinary person perceives not more than 1 million.

 

Small need for sleep

These people can fully restore strength twice as fast as most of us. Among such lucky ones were Margaret Thatcher, Salvador Dali, Winston Churchill, and Nikola Tesla.

And it’s not just about the right sleep regimen. The DEC2 gene is a small mutation found in low-sleep people. Scientists from the University of California came to the conclusion that people with the DEC2 mutation can perform all the same tasks in less time.

 

Impossibility of cholesterol growth

There’s an extremely small group of lucky people who can eat almost anything without worrying about cholesterol. Their risk of developing heart disease is reduced by as much as 90%.

The reason is they don’t have enough working copies of the PCSK9 gene.

Pharmaceutical companies decided to take advantage of this and began creating a drug that would block PCSK9.

Source:brightside.me

Scientists Discover How to Implant False Memories.


Article Image
Neuroscientist explains inner workings of the brain.

MIT researchers Steve Ramirez and Xu Liu recently made history when they successfully implanted a false memory into the mind of a mouse. The proof was a simple reaction from the rodent, but the implications are vast. They placed the furry little creature inside a metal box, and it froze, displaying a distinct fear response. The mouse was reacting as if it had received an electrical shock there, when it hadn’t at all.

What makes it more riveting is that their success was considered a long-shot. The hypothesis was that not only could they identify those neurons associated with encoding memory, but could essentially rewrite one. Experts say that this an impressive feat which helps uncover more of the mystery of how memory operates. Though neuroscientists have considered such a possibility for years, they never thought this kind of experiment could actually work.

This breakthrough was possible due to research out of Oxford which discovered exactly how short-term memories are transferred into long term memory. But the MIT researchers took it into an entirely new direction. Memories are actually stored in not one area, but certain groups of neurons known as engrams. Ramirez and Liu came together in 2010 and designed a new method for exploring live brains, to identify specific engrams. The neuroscientists used a newly minted technique called optogenetics, which employs lasers to stimulate genetically engineered cells designed to react to them.

Areas where the memory resides are highlighted in purple.

The scientists and their team injected a biochemical cocktail into the brains of special, genetically engineered mice. The cocktail contained a gene with a light sensitive protein called channelrhodopsin-2. This was injected into the dentate gyrus—the area in the hippocampus where memory is encoded. Then they implanted filaments into the mice’s skulls. These acted as a conduit for a laser. The researchers found they could reactivate a memory by flooding certain neurons with laser light.

In order to prove that they could identify certain engrams, they reactivated a memory associated with fear. After the experiment, the mice’s brain tissues were examined under a microscope. Those associated with a specific memory glowed green due to the injected chemical. Liu compared it to a “starry night” where you could view “individual stars.” The engram that glowed was associated with an electroshock to the foot, and so triggered the startle or fear response.

Now that they knew which engram was associated with fear, they set up an experiment to test it. After injecting the cocktail into the same region of the brain, they placed the mouse inside a metal box. This box was safe. The mouse was able to explore for 12 whole minutes with no problems. The next day, it was put in a different box but received an electric shock instead. These two boxes differed in color, shape, and scent, researchers assure. The following day, the same mouse was placed inside the safe box again, and would have remembered it as safe. But researchers activated the foot shock memory using a laser, initiating the fear response.

Networks of neurons lighting up.

Is a similar procedure conceivable for humans? According to Ramirez, “Because the proof of principle is there…the only leap left between there and humans is just technological innovation.” Today, over 20 labs around the world are building upon this research. In fact, a French team recently implanted false memories in the brains of sleeping mice. Howard Eichenbaum, the director of the Center for Neuroscience at Boston University, is going in another direction. He is working on recreating longer and larger memories, those experiences which unfold over time.

There are many positive implications such as the ability to take the bite out of or even erase those painful memories attached to PTSD, depression, and other psychiatric disorders. There may be applications for Alzheimer’s, reverse engineering memories lost to the disease. It even holds promise for those suffering from substance abuse disorder, allowing them to forget their addiction.

Even so, there are negative connotations too. As our memory is the glue which holds our identities together, wouldn’t erasing a memory, even a bad one, indelibly erase a portion of the person themselves? Though painful, our negative memories define us. Of course, those hobbled by depression or haunted by PTSD could come to see it as a saving grace. Today, scientists aim not to erase technically, at least at first, but to rewrite a memory in a manner that promotes, rather than impedes, mental health. But the potential is there. There are further implications.

A neuron associated with the fear response is illuminated.

What about implanting false memories in witnesses to change the outcome of trials? Many in the past have been convicted when they were innocent, exonerated later due to the advent of DNA testing. False memory implantation might lead to a new and ruthless form of witness tampering. Films like Inception or Eternal Sunshine could become a reality. But if you erase the memory of a bad ex from your past, do the lessons you’ve learned about love go with it?

There are implications in terms of state control and even the sovereignty of one’s own mind. Such a procedure under a totalitarian regime could manufacture false patriotism, even wipe clean the memories of revolutionaries in order to make them loyal to the state. The ability to actually do this is thought to be four to five decades away. Yet the federal research group DARPA says it is a mere four years from a brain implant capable of altering PTSD-related memories. Theoretically, such technology could be used to silence dissent.

Meanwhile, a psychology professor at New York University, Dr. Gary Marcus, has proposed inserting a microchip into the human brain to allow for a human-internet interface, making the mind a search engine as well as improving one’s memory. Perhaps you could backup files to prevent tampering. But wouldn’t it also allow a hacker to say hack your brain? An important ethical dialogue must begin now. A superstructure and strict protocol must be erected. And yet, chances are those operating outside of its boundaries may still violate it. Though this technique shows promise, strong regulation and oversight must be enacted to prevent human rights violations and miscarriages of justice.

Source:http://bigthink.com

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