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A Week in Science (11/08)

Our highlights from another week of Scientific advancement.

Stem Cell advancement

Here’s an incredible breakthrough in stem cells research this week. Scientists have managed to convert normal adult cells into embryonic-like ones using a basic cocktail of seven small molecules. Of course this was just in mouse cells, as usual, but they still managed to revert these cells to a stage where they could develop into almost any type of tissue.

Biologist Pingping Hou, of Peking University in Beijing, managed to pick out the winning combination out of roughly 10,000 chemicals. If this method works on Human cells, then potentially one day it could make stem cells for medical use.

Potential Malaria vaccine?

Africa’s biggest killer – Malaria, not aids – has this week potential found itself up against potential vaccine after an early-staged study found out that multiple injections of a malaria parasite can protect the recipient against the disease.

Though, for it to work, the vaccine requires five separate doses, which would make large scale vaccinations in developing countries more difficult. The trial was also only tested on Adults, not Children, who are the biggest victims. Still Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, Md., which sponsored the research said: “This is an important advance.”


Well not quite. But scientist have developed a technique for lifting and moving non-magnetic particles, such as water droplets or coffee grounds, using what is know as Acoustic Levitation. You can watch it in action in this astonishing video.

VIOLENT REACTION from Science News on Vimeo.

Though scientists have known about this technique for some time, it has only recently been refined to the extent where particles can actually be moved, where as before objects tended to just be trapped. According to the study’s co-author, Dimos Poulikakos, the new technique moves the pockets around by deforming a field of sound waves, letting researchers transport trapped objects several centimeters.

“Before, it was like you had a beautiful car, but could only park it,” Poulikakos said, “Now you can drive the car.”

Ironically enough, this doesn’t mean hover cars any time soon but the team are developing the technique to lift heavier objects, such as metal pellets and this new discovery will allow scientists to handle hazardous materials in the lab without coming into direct contact with them.

Apocalyptic Destruction in the Galaxy

To end on a bright note, here’s a newsflash the Milkyway. Our Galaxy’s largest black hole has been seen devouring an unfortunate gas cloud, according to a very big telescope in Chile. The Telescope wishes to remain anonymous.

The Gas Cloud, known as G2, was identified December 2011 and scientist’s prediction about it’s encounter with the Galaxy’s central black hole came true nineteen months ago when the immense gravity of the black hole, which ways 4.3m times that of the sun, trapped the gas cloud in it’s inevitable demise.

“If you think of the cloud as a roller coaster train, the first carriage has already swung by the black hole,” according to Stefan Gillessen of of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, Germany “The main part of the train is still in approach.” When that ‘train’ does approach, early next year, most of earth’s self respecting telescopes will be pointing that way.


About Dean Forrester

Dean Forrester is the Editor-in-Chief of The International Citizen. An International Politics graduate from King's College London, with an NCTJ Diploma in Journalism, he is interested in international affairs and development.
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