This week: Water on Mars, scaffolding for 3D printed organs, more precise human genome editing, identifying the colors of ancient animals, and South African solar cars.
Flowing Water on Mars
NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has captured the strongest evidence yet that salty liquid water flows on the planet’s surface during warm seasons.
Whether or not these salty flows could sustain life depends on how salty they are, says Lujendra Ojha of the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, who has reported the findings, along with his colleagues. “If the water is completely saturated with perchlorates [hydrated salts], then life as we know it on Earth wouldn’t be able to survive in that sort of concentrated water,” he says. “But if the water only has a tiny percentage of perchlorates in it, then I think we should be fine.
New Type Of Scaffolding Could Help to 3D Print Organs
To improve 3D printing, simply add gel. A fresh technique uses one to support complex shapes that would fall apart under their own weight in normal 3D printing.
This new-found combination of strength and delicacy will be crucial if we’re ever to print the biological structures that make up organs, blood vessels and other tissue.
The gel, which has the consistency of hand sanitiser, is made of an acrylic acid polymer. It works like a scaffold, allowing the printing of intricate patterns that would collapse without its support – such as nested Russian-doll-like structures and thin, complex branching networks.
A New Type of Editing for the Human Genome
A team of scientists from MIT, Harvard and Wageningen University have developed a new system for human genome editing that has potential to increase the power and precision of DNA engineering.
A team including the scientist who first harnessed the CRISPR-Cas9 system for mammalian genome editing has now identified a different CRISPR system with the potential for even simpler and more precise genome engineering.
Finding Pigment In Fossils
While fossils allow researchers to determine the size and shape of extinct animals, determining their color was guesswork until now.
Scientists from Virginia Tech and the University of Bristol say they’ve been able to discover that two extinct species of 50 million-year-old bats were reddish brown in color based on their fossils.
South Africa Invests in Solar Powered Cars
Teams from two South African universities have taken solar-powered cars to Australia to compete in an international rally and showcase their government’s efforts to inspire green technology at home.
The Hulamin and the Sirius X25, created by the University of KwaZulu-Natal and North-West University respectively, have already had success in a South African rally.
Know any interesting stories we missed?Let us know in the comments!