Promising lab-grown skin sprouts hair and grows glands
Scientists in Japan have successfully transplanted mice with lab-grown skin that has more of the organ's working parts in place than ever before. Starting with stem cells made from a mouse's gums, they managed to craft skin with multiple layers - as well as hair follicles and sweat glands. When implanted into a "nude mouse" with a suppressed immune system, it integrated well and sprouted hairs. Researchers say this success will take 5-10 years to translate into humans. But eventually, the te...Concern as US bat-killing disease jumps to west coast
Wildlife officials say they are extremely concerned after a disease that has killed millions of bats has arrived on the Pacific coast of the US. Until now, white-nose syndrome has only been recorded in the eastern US but the latest case means the fungal infection has jumped 1,300 miles (2,100km). The killer pathogen, first recorded in New York in 2006, is now present in 28 states and five Canadian provinces. It has been described as the worst US wildlife health crisis in recent years. On 11 ...Ancient scrolls give up their secrets
Metallic ink was used to inscribe scrolls regarded as an archaeological wonder, according to scientists. The discovery pushes back the date for the first use of metallic ink by several centuries. The Herculaneum scrolls were buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD79 and are charred and fragile. Previous efforts to read them, over many centuries, has damaged or destroyed some of the scrolls. The task of reading the surviving scrolls has fallen to scientists using technology such as the...Giant web probes spider's sense of vibration
Inside a lab in Oregon, US, a two-metre spider web made of aluminium and rope is beginning to unlock how orb weavers pinpoint struggling prey. When an unlucky insect lands in a web, it is vibrations that bring the spider scuttling from the centre of its trap. How spiders interpret those signals is a mystery - so physicists have built this replica to figure it out. They unveiled the design and their first results on Friday at a meeting of the American Physical Society (APS). "We wov...Hubble telescope spies stellar 'land of giants'
Hubble has probed a clutch of monster stars about 170,000 light-years away on the edge of our Milky Way Galaxy. Some two dozen behemoths were identified, all with masses in excess of a hundred times that of the Sun. Four were known previously, including the remarkable colossus catalogued as R136a1, which is 250 times as massive as our home star. But the new survey finds many more of the super-objects in a tight patch of sky within the Large Magellanic Cloud. "In just a tiny bit of this satel...How extinct humans left their mark on us
Most people in the world share 2-4% of DNA with Neanderthals while a few inherited genes from Denisovans, a study confirms. Denisovan DNA lives on only in Pacific island dwellers, while Neanderthal genes are more widespread, researchers report in the journal Science. Meanwhile, some parts of our genetic code show little trace of our extinct cousins. They include hundreds of genes involved in brain development and language. "These are big, truly interesting regions," said co-researcher D...Supercomputer copies whole-body blood flow
A new supercomputer simulation of blood moving around the entire human body compares extremely well with real-world flow measurements, researchers say. The software uses a 3D representation of every artery that is 1mm across or wider, scanned from a single person. Its accuracy passed a first key test when physicists compared blood flow in the virtual aorta with the that of real fluid in a 3D-printed replica. Flow patterns seen in the physical copy were a good match for the simulation. This w...Dinosaur find resolves T-Rex mystery (video)
A newly discovered species of Tyrannosaur - the group of meat-eating dinosaurs to which the infamous T-Rex belongs - could hold the key to how these creatures grew so huge. Scientists from the University of Edinburgh, along with US and Russian colleagues, discovered the fossilised remains of the animal in Uzbekistan. They have named it Timurlengia. A study of the 90-million-year-old beast suggested its ears and brain were crucial in Tyrannosaurs' dominance. "We have a totally new specie...Mars TGO mission heads for Red Planet on methane quest(video)
Europe and Russia have launched a joint mission to the Red Planet. The satellite, called the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), lifted off from Baikonur in Kazakhstan at 09:31 GMT. The probe will investigate whether the methane in the world's atmosphere is coming from a geological source or is being produced by microbes. If all goes well, the two space powers expect to follow up this venture with a rover, to be assembled in the UK, which will drill into the surface. That could launch in 2018, ...Mars mission targets Monday launch
All looks good for an on-time launch of Europe's mission to Mars. A joint venture with Russia, the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) is set to launch atop a Proton rocket from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on Monday. The satellite will try to detect and characterise the marginal constituents of the planet's atmosphere. A key quest is to understand methane, a gas that has an unexpected persistence and which some have speculated could hint at the presence of microbial life. Lift-off of the Pro...Tree planting 'can reduce flooding'
Planting trees around rivers could reduce the height of flooding in towns by up to 20%, new research suggests. A study for the Environment Agency concludes that trees round a feeder stream can slow the rush of rainwater and save properties from flooding. But it warns that natural flood prevention methods do not always work. And it urges a strategic approach because foresting a whole catchment would be counter-productive. The report - from the universities of Birmingham and Southampton - says...Meat eating accelerated face evolution
Eating raw meat and making stone tools may be behind the smaller teeth and faces of humans compared with their ancient relatives. Meat and tools, not the advent of cooking, was the trigger that freed early humans to develop a smaller chewing apparatus, a study suggests. This in turn may have allowed other changes, such as improved speech and even shifts in the size of the brain. The authors conclude that cooking became commonplace much later. Prof Daniel Lieberman and Dr Katherine Zink from ...Total eclipse: Indonesia witnesses totality as Sun is blocked by the Moon
Millions of people across Indonesia and the Pacific have experienced a total solar eclipse, with parts of the region falling into complete darkness. The eclipse began at 06:19 local time (23:19 GMT Tuesday) as the Moon started to pass directly in front of the Sun. As the eclipse reached totality, the Moon blocked all direct sunlight, turning day into night. In Indonesia's Belitung province, a crowd gathered on a beach and witnesses spoke of a "magical" experience. The eclipse was total in In...SpaceX Falcon makes clean getaway (video)
SpaceX has at last managed to launch its latest mission from Cape Canaveral. After some frustrating postponements over the past week and a half - including a last-second abort on Sunday - the company's Falcon rocket left its Florida pad right on cue on Friday. The Falcon has placed a telecoms satellite in orbit for the Luxembourg operator SES. This platform will relay video and other services across the Asia-Pacific region. As has become customary on recent SpaceX missions, an attempt was ma...
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