Liver disease is the 12th-leading cause of death in the U.S., chiefly because once it's determined that a patient needs a new liver it's very difficult to get one. Even in cases where a suitable donor match is found, there's no guarantee a transplant will be successful. But researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital have taken a huge step toward building functioning livers in the lab, successfully transplanting culture-grown livers into rats.
Right now, every mining company CEO in the world has one thing on the mind: Afghanistan.
Yesterday, the Pentagon announced that American geologists have discovered an estimated $1 trillion worth of untapped geological resources there, including vast reserves of rare earth metals and lithium, which are becoming increasingly sought-after for high-tech manufacturing. The cache is large enough to have profound geopolitical implications. But judging by the state of play at another remote, developing-world mineral stash—the lithium deposits of Bolivia's Salar de Uyuni, which I recently visited—it's not easy to go from desolation to natural-resource riches. Updated.
For the first time, astronomers have been able to follow the path of an exoplanet as it orbits its star, a breakthrough for planet-hunters and anyone interested in how planets are made.
The image above is a composite of images from the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope, showing a planet orbiting the nearby star Beta Pictoris. The dark circle in the center is from a piece of metal that blocks Beta Pictoris' bright light, allowing observations of the fuzzy planetary disc around it.
As oil spill estimates continue to worsen, frustration in the Gulf Coast is reaching a boiling point. But one possible reason people may feel like nothing is happening because people are not doing the bulk of the work -- robots are.
Remotely operated robots are shooting video, carrying equipment, drilling pieces into place, and monitoring the flow of oil. BP has contracted with at least four robotics companies, including Oceaneering International Inc., Subsea 7 and C-Innovation, to do the work, according to NPR.
Remember back when 1,000 barrels a day sounded scary? The latest daily estimate of the oil spurting from the Deepwater Horizon leak has doubled to 25,000 to 30,000 barrels a day. That's up to 1.3 million gallons--roughly 10% of Exxon Valdez--every day.
If life exists on other planets, it won't necessarily have the same carbon-based metabolism we do, so detecting its presence will require some sophistication. Now, a group of Argentinian researchers say they've come up with a method that will work to detect any form of life.
Ximena Abreyava and colleagues suggest using a microbial fuel cell, which could detect life in a way that is independent of its chemical makeup, according to Technology Review.
The American Society of Clinical Oncology wrapped its annual conference this week, going through the usual motions of presenting a lot of drugs that offer some added quality or extension of life to those suffering from a variety of as-yet incurable diseases. But buried deep in an AP story are a couple of promising headlines that seems worthy of more thorough review, including one treatment study where 100 percent of patients saw their cancer diminished by half.
The complexity of the brain makes it one of the most fascinating and sophisticated pieces of biology that we know of. But when things start to go sideways up there, modern medicine is often calls for treatments like surgery or shock stimulation, practices that can result in even more damage to fragile brain tissues. But a new method of noninvasive brain stimulation could diagnose and treat an array of neurological ailments using nothing but pulses of harmless ultrasound.
Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy is a handy scientific tool to have around (for instance, it's the fundamental tech behind magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI). It's ability to identify and study things like protein structures and chemical compositions make it fantastically flexible, but there is a huge drawback: The size and expense of the superconducting magnets necessary for precision NMR make it an immobile and expensive process.