This week: Learning how musical training effects cognitive development, mysterious terrain on Pluto, programming bacteria, billionaire funds the search for intelligent life, and a pill that helps with celiac.
How Musical Training Effects Brain Function
A new study, just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, aimed to assess neurodevelopment in adolescence and the impact that certain forms of experience, such as musical training, could have on this process.
Mysterious Terrain Found On Pluto
This frozen region of Pluto has been informally named Sputnik Planum (Image: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI) The latest pictures from New Horizons have revealed yet another baffling terrain on the surface of Pluto: fresh icy plains that are less than 100 million years old, and could be even more recent.
The “friendly” bacteria inside our digestive systems are being given an upgrade, which may one day allow them to be programmed to detect and ultimately treat diseases such as colon cancer and immune disorders. In a paper that will be published in the journal Cell Systems, researchers at MIT unveil a series of sensors, memory switches, and circuits that can be encoded in the common human gut bacterium Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron.
Russian Billionaire Commits to Finding Alien Life
Wondering if we are alone in the universe has engaged minds through the ages. Add to the list Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, who announced on Monday that he plans to spend $100 million to explore the idea. Using some of the world’s largest radio telescopes, a team of scientists handpicked by Milner will oversee an initiative he calls Breakthrough Listen, a 10-year search for radio signals that could indicate the existence of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe.
A Solution to Celiac Disease
All Hoon Sunwoo wanted was to drink a beer with his friend. But his friend has celiac disease, an autoimmune condition in which a person generates an immune response to gluten, a mix of proteins found in anything from pasta to soy sauce. The resulting inflammation limits that person’s ability to digest and absorb key nutrients from food. Luckily for his friend, Hoon Sunwoo is a professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Alberta, and he’s spent the last 10 years developing a pill that his friend could take before drinking a beer so that he wouldn’t feel sick afterward.
Know any interesting stories we missed?Let us know in the comments!