I’m about to head out for a two-week vacation, but here’s a heaping plate of science to tide you over. See you in September!
- Could camels have something to do with MERS? In a study of ruminants in Oman, Spain, the Netherlands, and Chile, all 50 Omanian camels tested carried evidence of having been exposed to the virus. But we can’t yet say whether camels actually carry and pass on the virus itself.
- You can read the ancient origins of India’s caste system in Indian’s genes. Just like you can also read the history of the people on of the Americas in Native American’s genes.
- It’s official: dead rats make for better brain MRI pictures than live ones.
- What do autism and cancer have in common? Apparently, in some cases, a gene called PTEN.
- Turns out you can learn a lot about human tumors by tinkering with fruit flies, even though we’er separated from them by 500 million years of evolution.
- Scientists studying bacteria called Pseudomonas aeruginosa evolve in a lab dish found that the microbes end up making a trade-off between rapid spread and strength in numbers. And they could watch it happen on video:
- It’s a case of mistaken identity: The first carnivore to be identified in the Western Hemisphere in 35 years — the olinguito — was actually found a century ago, but everyone thought it was its cousin, the olingo.
- Archeologists have found what they think is, at 160 million years old, the skeleton of the earliest example of a rodent yet discovered. They’ve named it Rugosodon eurasiaticus, with Rugosodon from the Latin for “wrinkly tooth.”
- Speaking of naming things, the International Astronomical Union, the body in charge of classifying and naming celestial objects, is turning to public comment for naming new things, like Neptune’s newest moon.
- When I read this news about the first images ever made of cancer-causing DNA damage as it happens, I kept getting this romantic image in my head of lovelorn DNA strands wandering through darkened streets of the nucleus pining for their lost partners.
- This is the robotics workstation inside the cupola of the International Space Station. When I grow up, that’s what I want the command center of my spaceship to look like.
- How would you contain the leaking radioactive remnants of a nuclear reactor? If you were in Japan, and the reactor was the Fukushima one, you might consider a gigantic underground ice dam.
- Scientists at Yale have come up with a way to make brain cells literally light up while working. “By loading these [fluorescent] proteins into the brain of a fly and watching the insect under a microscope, [the researcher] could see its neurons firing as it responded to smells or fell asleep.”
- Bacteria found in the mouth can fuel the growth of tumors in the, um, rear.
- It was a two-fer week for rabies: Radiolab recorded a story about a controversial treatment that may save people infected with the virus, and Scientific American published a story calling for its eradication through dog vaccination.
- Apparently you can find a lot of bone-eating boneworms in the waters off Antarctica, but no wood-eating shipworms. The moral of this story? If you’re going to build a ship to take you to Antarctica, make sure the hull is made of wood, not bone. (Ok, that’s not really the moral.)
- Check out this video of a patch of lab-grown heart tissue beating on its own. It was made from human skin cells that were reprogrammed into stem cells and seeded onto a “scaffold” from a mouse heart stripped of its own cells. Now that’s science!