What’s new in science this week?

  • A group of 5 universities from the UK have tentatively announced that they may have discovered a cure for HIV. The new treatment involves anti-retroviral drugs, which boosts the immune system, allowing it to find and destroy any infected T-cells. Finally, a drug known as vorinostat is used to reactivate the remaining dormant T-cells to express HIV-associated proteins, to find and destroy infected cells.
  • Researchers at Princeton University have compiled 30 years of data to construct the first ice core-based record of atmospheric oxygen concentrations spanning 800,000 years. This has shown a decline in atmospheric oxygen by 0.7% relative to the current level. In the past 100 years this has increased in speed, declining by a further 0.1%. These losses are due to the burning of fossil fuels, consuming oxygen and producing CO2.
  • Scientists from the University of Chicago have examined the continental collision between Eurasia and India that began 60 million years ago, which produced the Himalayas. In their analysis they found that half of the mass was missing, concluding that it sank back into the mantle – a feat thought impossible on such a large scale before.
  • Cyber security is a growing concern, with more valuable information stored online than ever before. To combat security concerns, a University of Texas researcher is working on the use of brainwave patterns instead of a password. Despite the increased security, these brainwave scans – performed by EEG – could reveal medical, behavioural or emotional aspects that could be damaging. The technology is still evolving but will hopefully soon stop Skynet…
  • In an effort to make computation more efficient, researchers from the University of Michigan have engineered a new material to usher in the next generation of computing devices. Known as a magnetoelectric multiferroic material, it combines standard electrical and magnetic properties with a new property called planar rumpling. This uses sandwiched layers of atoms that can be flipped from positive to negative, replacing the binary 0’s and 1’s of our regular computers.


Sam McMaster

Science Editor

(Image courtesy of Luca Galuzzi)

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