The Most Interesting Science News Articles of the Week


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The Most Interesting Science News Articles of the Week

Each week we uncover the most interesting and informative articles from around the world, here are 10 of the coolest stories in science this week.

Scientists have their eyes on a new breakthrough in laser technology. It involves cow eyeballs.

Scientists have their eyes on a new breakthrough in laser technology. It involves cow eyeballs.

Credit: Shutterstock

Ordinary contact lenses just moved one step closer to letting you shoot lasers from your eyes.

But don’t worry — nobody’s building battalions of bovines that can blast beams from their eyes. [Read more about the eyeballs.]

This DigitalGlobe satellite image shows Punggye-ri, the North Korea nuclear test site.

This DigitalGlobe satellite image shows Punggye-ri, the North Korea nuclear test site.

Credit: DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images

North Korea conducted its latest nuclear test at Punggye-ri on Sept. 3, and it was the most massive one yet, registering on sensors as a 6.3-magnitude earthquake. Around 8 minutes later, geologists detected a smaller rumbling of 4.1 magnitude that got scientists speculating: Could the nuclear test site, hidden inside a mountain, have collapsed? [Read more about the trial.]

An illustration of human T cell leukemia virus (HTLV).

An illustration of human T cell leukemia virus (HTLV).

Credit: Science Photo Library/Alamy

It’s related to HIV, yet you’ve probably never heard of it: a virus called human T-cell leukemia virus type 1, or HTLV-1.

But what exactly is HTLV-1, and how is it different from HIV? [Read more about the virus.]

Gamers around the world helped physicists crowdsource a reality check.

Gamers around the world helped physicists crowdsource a reality check.

Credit: Shutterstock

A groundbreaking quantum experiment recently confirmed the reality of “spooky action-at-a-distance” — the bizarre phenomenon that Einstein hated — in which linked particles seemingly communicate faster than the speed of light. [Read more about the test.]

Humanoid robot Atlas is on the move.

Credit: Boston Dynamics

You can run from Boston Dynamics’ humanoid robot Atlas, but it wouldn’t do you any good — the robot can run after you.

This isn’t the first time that Atlas’ antics have gone viral. Atlas appeared in a video compilation posted to YouTube on Feb. 23, 2016, that showed the robot walking flat-footed through a snow-covered forest, stacking boxes on shelves and recovering its balance after a Boston Dynamics employee pushed the bot with a hockey stick. [Read more about the robot.]

Elon Musk and musician Grimes show up as a couple to the 2018 Met Gala on May 7 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Elon Musk and musician Grimes show up as a couple to the 2018 Met Gala on May 7 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Credit: ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images

It’s Elon Musk at his Elon Musk-iest: According to news reports, the space-and-electric-car entrepreneur met his current girlfriend by making a joke about treacherous artificial intelligence. [Read more about the experiment.]

Chlamydia in koalas is no laughing matter.

Chlamydia in koalas is no laughing matter.

Credit: Shutterstock

One of the leading killers of Australia’s endearing koalas is a debilitating bacterial infection: chlamydia. [Read more about the situation.]

Your 'behavioral immune system' is a thing, and it might be making every potential love interest seem too disgusting to date.
Your ‘behavioral immune system’ is a thing, and it might be making every potential love interest seem too disgusting to date.

Credit: Shutterstock

That is the question of dating. And while you might believe the answer hinges mostly on “chemistry” or mutual interests, a team of psychology researchers from McGill University in Montreal suggests that there’s an unlikely judge ultimately making the call: your behavioral immune system.

In the study, Sawada and her colleagues recruited several hundred people ages 18 to 35, who were single and heterosexual, to participate in either an in-person or online speed-dating experiment. [Read more about the culprit.]

The ice age horse is about the size of a large Shetland pony.

The ice age horse is about the size of a large Shetland pony.

Credit: Thanksgiving Point

During the last ice age, a small horse about the size of a Shetland pony somehow trampled into a big lake. It’s unclear how the animal died, but its body fell to the bottom of the lake, where it lay buried for about 16,000 years — that is, until this past fall, when landscapers in Utah unexpectedly unearthed the horse’s remains in their backyard.

Though the horse’s death will remain a mystery, researchers are excited to study its remains. [Read more about remains.]

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Video Shows How HIV Infects Cells During Sex


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Video Shows How HIV Infects Cells During Sex

 HIV has been caught on camera: A new video shows the virus passing from an infected l into a new host, as it would during sexual transmission.

The real-time video offers a new glimpse of exactly how HIV, or the human immunodeficiency virus, infects cells during intercourse.

“We had this global idea of how HIV infects this tissue [of the genital tract]; but following something live is completely different,” Morgane Bomsel, a molecular biologist at the Institut Cochin in Paris and a senior author of the study, said in a statement. “The precise sequence of events can be defined.”

For the video, the researchers created a model of genital tissue in a lab dish, which included the cells that line the genital mucous membranes, known as epithelial cells. The virus, which infects cells of the immune system, is labeled with a green fluorescent protein.

In the video, a type of immune cell called a T cell is infected with HIV, and this cell comes into contact with epithelial cells. Once these cells are in contact, a pocket called a virological synapse forms, allowing viral particles to travel from the infected cell to the uninfected cell.

In what looks like a shooting ray gun from a sci-fi movie, the HIV spurts from the T cell into the epithelial cell. The HIV doesn’t actually infect the epithelial cell, but instead travels across the cell and is later gobbled up bymacrophages, another type of immune cell that HIV targets.

After about 20 days, HIV enters a latent or “dormant” stage, but it’s still inside the macrophages, which makes the virus harder to target with drugs. A goal for new HIV prevention strategies would be “to act extremely early upon infection to avoid this reservoir formation” in the macrophages, Bomsel said. By shedding light on the early steps of HIV transmission, the new study may help researchers take steps toward this goal. One idea would be to make a vaccine that’s active at the genital mucous membranes, “because you can’t wait” to stop the spread of HIV, Bomsel said.

The findings were described in a study published today (May 8) in the journal Cell Reports.

Original article on Live Science.

How Did This Soldier ‘Grow’ an Ear on Her Forearm? By Brandon Specktor, Senior Writer | May 10, 2018 02:57pm ET 0 0 MORE How Did This Soldier ‘Grow’ an Ear on Her Forearm? Courtesy the U.S. Army Credit: When a soldier lost her left ear in a car crash, Army surgeons helped her grow a new one — on her forearm. Army Pvt. Shamika Burrage’s left ear is unlike other ears, though you might not realize it at first. Like her right ear, it is made from Burrage’s own cells, and connected to her head by her own blood vessels. She can hear perfectly well out of it, and feel perfectly well when you touch it. And yet, until a few days ago, Burrage’s left ear was not on her head — it was on her arm. Burrage lost her left ear during a single-car crash in Odessa, Texas, in 2016. Now, she is the latest recipient of a cosmetic reconstruction procedure called prelaminated forearm free flap surgery — a sci-fi-sounding operation that involves “growing” new tissue by implanting a patient’s cartilage under their forearm skin. While many civilians around the world have successfully undergone the procedure, Burrage is the first American soldier to receive the novel reconstruction process, according to a statement from the U.S. Army. [The 27 Oddest Medical Cases] “The whole goal is, by the time she’s done with all this, it looks good, it’s sensate and in five years if somebody doesn’t know her they won’t notice,” Lt. Col. Owen Johnson III, chief of plastic and reconstructive surgery at William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso, Texas, said in the statement. “As a young active-duty soldier, they deserve the best reconstruction they can get.” To lend an ear So how does prelaminated forearm free flap surgery work? First, surgeons create a mold of the new prosthetic ear by harvesting some of the patient’s cartilage — usually from the patient’s ribs. The cartilage is shaped, sometimes with the help of a 3D-printed mold, and then inserted under a flap of skin cut open on the patient’s forearm. (In another variant of the surgery, patients have had cartilage implanted under their forehead skin to grow new noses.) Because the molded cartilage comes from the same cells as the patient’s arm tissues, the skin will begin to grow around the mold. New blood vessels begin to form inside the transplanted tissue and, after several months of healing, the newly formed ear can be safely transplanted to the head. In Burrage’s case, extra skin from her forearm was also used to cover scar tissue around her jawline. “[The ear] will have fresh arteries, fresh veins and even a fresh nerve so she’ll be able to feel it,” Johnson said. In addition, Burrage will even be able to hear out of it, because surgeons were able to reopen her ear canal following the trauma of her accident. “I didn’t lose any hearing and [Johnson] opened the canal back up,” Burrage said in the statement. “It’s been a long process for everything, but I’m back.” A growing field While this sort of transplant may be a first for the Army, similar operations have been performed successfully on civilians around the world. In 2017, a team of Chinese plastic surgeons led by Dr. Guo Shuzhong completed a similar surgery on a man who lost his ear during a traffic accident. (The forearm-ear transplant took about 7 hours to complete.) Guo told the Daily Mail that he and his team perform similar procedures on about 500 children each year. Famously, not all recipients of the surgery have been human. In 1995, perhaps the first patient to “grow” a human ear using transplanted cartilage was a laboratory mouse at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. The mouse — nicknamed the “earmouse” or the “Vacanti mouse,” after lead researcher Charles Vacanti — carried the ear on its back and spurred a wave of controversy about genetic engineering. In fact, the Vacanti mouse was not genetically engineered at all: He was a regular (albeit hairless) mouse who had simply received what is fast becoming a standard — and life-changing — plastic surgery procedure. Originally published on Live Science.


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How Did This Soldier ‘Grow’ an Ear on Her Forearm?

How Did This Soldier 'Grow' an Ear on Her Forearm?
Courtesy the U.S. Army

Credit: When a soldier lost her left ear in a car crash, Army surgeons helped her grow a new one — on her forearm.

Army Pvt. Shamika Burrage’s left ear is unlike other ears, though you might not realize it at first. Like her right ear, it is made from Burrage’s own cells, and connected to her head by her own blood vessels. She can hear perfectly well out of it, and feel perfectly well when you touch it. And yet, until a few days ago, Burrage’s left ear was not on her head — it was on her arm.

Burrage lost her left ear during a single-car crash in Odessa, Texas, in 2016. Now, she is the latest recipient of a cosmetic reconstruction procedure called prelaminated forearm free flap surgery — a sci-fi-sounding operation that involves “growing” new tissue by implanting a patient’s cartilage under their forearm skin. While many civilians around the world have successfully undergone the procedure, Burrage is the first American soldier to receive the novel reconstruction process, according to astatement from the U.S. Army. [The 27 Oddest Medical Cases]

“The whole goal is, by the time she’s done with all this, it looks good, it’s sensate and in five years if somebody doesn’t know her they won’t notice,” Lt. Col. Owen Johnson III, chief of plastic and reconstructive surgery at William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso, Texas, said in the statement. “As a young active-duty soldier, they deserve the best reconstruction they can get.”

So how does prelaminated forearm free flap surgery work? First, surgeons create a mold of the new prosthetic ear by harvesting some of the patient’s cartilage — usually from the patient’s ribs. The cartilage is shaped, sometimes with the help of a 3D-printed mold, and then inserted under a flap of skin cut open on the patient’s forearm. (In another variant of the surgery, patients have had cartilage implanted under their forehead skin to grow new noses.)

Because the molded cartilage comes from the same cells as the patient’s arm tissues, the skin will begin to grow around the mold. New blood vessels begin to form inside the transplanted tissue and, after several months of healing, the newly formed ear can be safely transplanted to the head. In Burrage’s case, extra skin from her forearm was also used to cover scar tissue around her jawline.

“[The ear] will have fresh arteries, fresh veins and even a fresh nerve so she’ll be able to feel it,”  Johnson said. In addition, Burrage will even be able to hear out of it, because surgeons were able to reopen her ear canal following the trauma of her accident.

“I didn’t lose any hearing and [Johnson] opened the canal back up,” Burrage said in the statement. “It’s been a long process for everything, but I’m back.”

While this sort of transplant may be a first for the Army, similar operations have been performed successfully on civilians around the world. In 2017, a team of Chinese plastic surgeons led by Dr. Guo Shuzhong completed a similar surgery on a man who lost his ear during a traffic accident. (The forearm-ear transplant took about 7 hours to complete.) Guo told the Daily Mail that he and his team perform similar procedures on about 500 children each year.

Famously, not all recipients of the surgery have been human. In 1995, perhaps the first patient to “grow” a human ear using transplanted cartilage was a laboratory mouse at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. The mouse — nicknamed the “earmouse” or the “Vacanti mouse,” after lead researcher Charles Vacanti — carried the ear on its back and spurred a wave of controversy about genetic engineering.

In fact, the Vacanti mouse was not genetically engineered at all: He was a regular (albeit hairless) mouse who had simply received what is fast becoming a standard — and life-changing — plastic surgery procedure.

Originally published on Live Science.

See 15 Crazy Animal Eyes — Rectangular Pupils to Wild Colors


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See 15 Crazy Animal Eyes — Rectangular Pupils to Wild Colors

Cats

Credit: Shutterstock