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Earliest evidence in fossil record for right-handedness

Perhaps the bias against left-handers dates back much further than we thought. By examining striations on teeth of a Homo habilis fossil, a new discovery led by a University of Kansas researcher has found the earliest evidence for right-handedness in the fossil record dating back 1.8 million years. “We think that tells us something further…

Oldest known planet-forming disk discovered

A group of citizen scientists and professional astronomers, including Carnegie’s Jonathan Gagné, joined forces to discover an unusual hunting ground for exoplanets. They found a star surrounded by the oldest known circumstellar disk — a primordial ring of gas and dust that orbits around a young star and from which planets can form as the…

Regeneration of spinal nerve cells boosted

UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers successfully boosted the regeneration of mature nerve cells in the spinal cords of adult mammals — an achievement that could one day translate into improved therapies for patients with spinal cord injuries. “This research lays the groundwork for regenerative medicine for spinal cord injuries. We have uncovered critical molecular and…

Soft robots that mimic human muscles

Robots are usually expected to be rigid, fast and efficient. But researchers at EPFL’s Reconfigurable Robotics Lab (RRL) have turned that notion on its head with their soft robots. Soft robots, powered by muscle-like actuators, are designed to be used on the human body in order to help people move. They are made of elastomers,…

Genome engineering paves way for sickle cell cure

A team of physicians and laboratory scientists has taken a key step toward a cure for sickle cell disease, using CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing to fix the mutated gene responsible for the disease in stem cells from the blood of affected patients. For the first time, they have corrected the mutation in a proportion of stem…

Docs much bettter than internet or app-based symptoms checkers

Increasingly powerful computers using ever-more sophisticated programs are challenging human supremacy in areas as diverse as playing chess and making emotionally compelling music. But can digital diagnosticians match, or even outperform, human physicians? The answer, according to a new study led by researchers at Harvard Medical School, is “not quite.” Show that physicians’ performance is…

Smallest. Transistor. Ever

For more than a decade, engineers have been eyeing the finish line in the race to shrink the size of components in integrated circuits. They knew that the laws of physics had set a 5-nanometer threshold on the size of transistor gates among conventional semiconductors, about one-quarter the size of high-end 20-nanometer-gate transistors now on…

Researchers activate repair program for nerve fibers

Injuries to the spinal cord can cause paralysis and other permanent disabilities because severed nerve fibers do not regrow. Now, scientists of the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) have succeeded in releasing a molecular brake that prevents the regeneration of nerve connections. Treatment of mice with “Pregabalin,” a drug that acts upon the growth…

Apes understand that some things are all in your head

We all know that the way someone sees the world, and the way it really is, aren’t always the same. This ability to recognize that someone’s beliefs may differ from reality has long been seen as unique to humans. But new research on chimpanzees, bonobos and orangutans suggests our primate relatives may also be able…

Methane muted: How did early Earth stay warm?

For at least a billion years of the distant past, planet Earth should have been frozen over but wasn’t. Scientists thought they knew why, but a new modeling study from the Alternative Earths team of the NASA Astrobiology Institute has fired the lead actor in that long-accepted scenario. Humans worry about greenhouse gases, but between…

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