What’s new in science this week?

  • Computer Operating system and short movie stored on DNA: Scientists at the Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science have shown that it’s possible to use an algorithm, normally designed for streaming videos on mobile devices, to squeeze more information into our DNA’s four base nucleotides. Due to its compact size and ability to survive for long periods of time without degradation, it could fulfil our long term data storage needs. To read more, click here.
  • ‘Super-deep’ diamonds may give us clues about Earth’s interior: Researchers at Tohoku University believe it’s possible for diamonds to form at the base of the Earth’s mantle, following simulation experiments featuring high temperatures and pressures. As diamonds form they contain minerals from the surrounding environment and could tell us more of their deep origins. To read more, click here.
  • Artificial mouse ’embryo’ created from stem cells: A team of scientists from the University of Cambridge have created a structure resembling a mouse embryo using two types of stem cells. Other studies in this area have failed in the past due to the cell types being unable to coordinate with each other. A third type of stem cell is needed to create a yolk sac to form the full embryo. This research has given us a fascinating glimpse into mammalian cell development. To read more, click here.
  • Can anything survive on Mars?: Research at the University of Arkansas has discovered that a form of ancient and simple microorganism, called methanogens, could survive in the harsh conditions of the Martian soil. On Earth, methane is strongly associated with organic matter, indicating these lifeforms could have the tenacity needed to survive there. However, methane can also come from volcanic eruptions. The search continues! To read more, click here.
  • James Webb telescope to peak at new planets: The recent discovery of seven earth-sized planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system – 40 light years away – has reignited interest in locating a planet that could support life Jim (but not as we know it). Astronomers will be using the James Webb space telescope, due to launch in 2018, to map the planets exact sizes and distances from their parent star, as well as studying their atmospheric composition. To read more, click here.

Sam McMaster

Science Editor

(Image courtesy of Wikipedia)

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