This week: After seven months of silence, comet explorer wakes up, engineering new biological limbs, 3-D printing construction robots, a new flu prevention drug that works better than vaccines, and cars powered by evaporation.
Comet Probe Awakens After 7 Month Silence
What a wake-up call. On Saturday night, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Cologne received 85 seconds of incredibly good news: a data chirp from the missing European Space Agency lander Philae. Despite seven months adrift and alone on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko since its bumpy landing last year, Philae is back and ready for science.
“Philae is doing very well – it has an operating temperature of -35 °C and has 24 watts of power available,” said lander manager Stephan Ulamec. “The lander is ready for operations.” Here is what’s next:
Biological Limbs Engineered In A Lab
The growth of a rat forelimb grown in the lab offers hope that one day amputees may receive fully functional, biological replacement limbs
IT MIGHT look like an amputated rat forelimb, but the photo above is of something much more exciting: the limb has been grown in the lab from living cells. It may go down in history as the first step to creating real, biologically functional limbs for amputees.
“We’re focusing on the forearm and hand to use it as a model system and proof of principle,” says Harald Ott of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, who grew the limb. “But the techniques would apply equally to legs, arms and other extremities.”
3-D Printing Robots Building A Bridge
A 3-D printer that makes steel structures appear out of thin air will try its hand at building — wait, printing — a pedestrian bridge.
MX3D is a Netherlands-based start-up that researches and develops 3-D printing technologies. Later this year the company is planning its most ambitious project yet: Using 3-D printers to construct a bridge over a canal in the heart of Amsterdam.
New Flu Drug Could Save Lives
Dying from the flu can be a lot like drowning. As it progresses, the influenza virus affects the cellular barrier between the circulatory and respiratory systems, allowing other bodily fluids to leak into the lungs and causing them to fail. In the past, flu-fighting drugs have targeted the virus itself. But a new drug called Vasculotide reinforces the cellular barrier in the lungs, giving the body more time to rid itself of the virus. A study about the new drug was published recently in Scientific Reports.
An Engine Driven By Evaporating Water
An immensely powerful yet invisible force pulls water from the earth to the top of the tallest redwood and delivers snow to the tops of the Himalayas. Yet despite the power of evaporating water, its potential to propel self-sufficient devices or produce electricity has remained largely untapped—until now.
In the June 16 online issue of Nature Communications, Columbia University scientists report the development of two novel devices that derive power directly from evaporation – a floating, piston-driven engine that generates electricity causing a light to flash, and a rotary engine that drives a miniature car.
Know any interesting stories we missed?Let us know in the comments!