Gut microbes could help trigger multiple sclerosis
The trillions of bacteria that live in our intestines, known collectively as the gut microbiome, have been linked to maladies from eye disease to rheumatoid arthritis. Now, two new studies have added another disease: multiple sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disorder that strips away nerve cells’ protective covers, leading to muscle weakness, blindness, and even death. What’s more, the studies suggest how our gut microbes make the immune system turn against nerve cells—a finding that could lead to treatments, like drugs based on microbial byproducts, that might improve the course of the disease.
Coolest science ever headed to the space station
Early next year, NASA will launch its $70 million Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL) to the International Space Station (ISS).
Something is changing the sex of Costa Rican crocodiles
After probing and peering at the genitalia of nearly 500 crocodiles in Palo Verde, Murray and his colleagues found something odd: The sex ratio was way out of whack, with males outnumbering females four to one among hatchling crocs. What’s more, the animals’ tissues were tainted with a synthetic steroid, which the researchers suspect was causing them to switch sex.
The breakdown of this brain region may accelerate aging
If these sweltering summer days prompt you to reach for a cold drink, you can thank your hypothalamus, a region of the brain that helps us regulate body temperature and other internal conditions. But the region may fail us when we get older. A new study in mice suggests that the hypothalamus promotes aging, hastening physical and mental decline as its stem cells die off.
In the next 30 years, we’ll make four times more plastic waste than we ever have
Seventy years ago, plastic was barely used outside of the military. Today, we can’t live without it. And over the next 30 years, we may produce four times more plastic waste than we ever did, a new study shows.
Watch this robotic appendage give humans a third arm
In the future, you may be less likely to ask a friend to lend a hand. That’s because you may have a mechanical one attached to your shoulder.
Memory-enhancing drug reverses effects of traumatic brain injury in mice
Whether caused by a car accident that slams your head into the dashboard or repeated blows to your cranium from high-contact sports, traumatic brain injury can be permanent. There are no drugs to reverse the cognitive decline and memory loss, and any surgical interventions must be carried out within hours to be effective, according to the current medical wisdom. But a compound previously used to enhance memory in mice may offer hope: Rodents who took it up to a month after a concussion had memory capabilities similar to those that had never been injured.
Extinction that killed the dinosaurs may have led to frog explosion
The ancestors of this red-eyed tree frog (Agalychnis callidryas) may have gotten their big break thanks to the same mass extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs.
These orbiting black holes may be locked in one of the universe’s tightest embraces
In the heart of a huge, warped galaxy about 750 million light-years from Earth, a dance is unfolding. And the dancers—two of the largest black holes on record—may be orbiting each other in the closest such pas de deux ever reported
Curiosity rover decides—by itself—what to investigate on Mars
NASA’s Curiosity rover landed on Mars in 2012, in part to analyze rocks to see whether the Red Planet was ever habitable (or inhabited). But now the robot has gone off script, picking out its own targets for analysis—precisely as planned.