3-minute digests

No jargon, no sensationalism—just honestly interesting research explained in as few words as necessary.

Previously banned drug becomes anti-cancer superhero

Recent studies support thalidomide’s use against blood cancers like multiple myeloma (MM) and suggest that the drug can help target cancer-promoting agents that were previously drug resistant. Additionally, it produced better survival rates in MM patients than other drugs in a recent trial.ant.

Curated byDr. Pratap Acharya

Published on12th Apr 2019

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Hunger hormone and good memories: a recipe for obesity?

Scientists are getting closer to understanding how smells and images of food - with the help of a hormone - can draw people to overeat and develop obesity, which can be a gateway to a host of diseases.

Curated byIlvana Ziko

Published on5th Apr 2019

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High-tech material ensures ‘healing cells’ can build new tissue inside the body

Scientists have created compounds that can safely deliver tissue-healing cells to damaged parts inside the body, opening up new avenues in regenerative medicine.

Curated byRuveyda Kılıç

Published on1st Apr 2019

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HIV drug is surprise helper in stroke recovery

Researchers have come across an unexpected discovery: a previously approved HIV drug can speed up recovery after a stroke. As the drug has already been licensed, human trials can soon reveal if it should be part of stroke rehabilitation.

Curated byDaniel Ojeda Juárez

Published on22nd Mar 2019

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Microbes might power your devices in the future

Scientists have captured microbes that digest pollutants and generate electricity, raising hope that such ‘electrogenic’ organisms could become a new source of power one day.

Curated byAbdelrhman Mohamed

Published on15th Mar 2019

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Are mental health apps of any use?

Mental health apps have recently caused a buzz in the health sector and the UK’s health service (NHS) has decided to recommend smartphone apps to tackle mild depression among children following research confirming their positive impact.

Curated byDavid Bakker

Published on8th Mar 2019

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How CO2 could put more food on the table

Scientists have created a method to make crops grow bigger by redirecting CO2 that would normally be lost in a cell metabolic process. As a result, rice, for example, grows much better under bright light.

Curated bySandra Albrecht

Published on1st Mar 2019

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Do this at home to eradicate cervical cancer more quickly

According to a new study, cervical cancer could be nearly wiped out in a few decades, and the biggest obstacle is attitudes to screening. New home kits can help to faster identify women at risk.

Curated byFlávia Oliveira

Published on22nd Feb 2019

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Keep on moving to keep depression away

Scientists have supplied yet more evidence that exercise can keep depression away. Research suggests that people don’t have to go over the top with the effort, and that exercise can help prevention but also recovery from depressive episodes too.

Curated byEndre Szvetnik

Published on15th Feb 2019

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Scientists break superbug’s ‘invisibility spell’

Researchers have found how a superbug makes itself invisible to the human immune system opening the possibility of creating new drugs to defeat it.

Curated byDr Natalia Syzochenko

Published on11th Feb 2019

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Teens are right: getting up later is good (for grades)

Researchers have come out on the side of teenagers saying school should start later as it improves grades, punctuality and health. Science says it’s because teens’ natural sleep cycles are different from the adult body clock.

Curated byNicolas Gutierrez, MSc, PhD

Published on1st Feb 2019

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The science behind SpaceX’s starship - what should it be made of?

Elon Musk has announced that his new starship will be built from stainless steel instead of carbon-fibre but science presents a solution that might be even better.

Curated byJayshri Dumbre

Published on28th Jan 2019

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Freeze! Cryotherapy is the new weapon against breast cancer

Researchers have been achieving promising results by using cryotherapy to kill breast cancer cells by freezing tumours with super-cold nitrogen.

Curated byFui-Ching Lam

Published on18th Jan 2019

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These hardy fish hold clues about healing from a heartbreak

Scientists have found a key gene that humans share with the heart-healing Mexican tetra fish and zebrafish. This could pave the way for new therapies to treat heart attack survivors.

Curated byAryan Baghbadrani

Published on14th Jan 2019

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The science sniffing out fake whiskies can help with food security

Got a rare Scotch as a present and worried if it’s a fake? Science is here to the rescue. Researchers now are applying sophisticated methods used in archaeology and criminal investigations to spot fake whiskies, showing the way forward in food security too.

Curated byEndre Szvetnik

Published on7th Jan 2019

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2018 Digest Review

Happy New Year! We have successfully entered 2019 and holidays are over for many of us. We know, you were probably busy with opening Christmas presents and you must have missed science like a crazy scientist, so here is a quick heads-up of the 3 most popular Sparrho Digest of last year. Check them out below in case you have missed any!

Curated byLinda Zhang, Simona Gulbinaite, and Samantha Levell

Published on2nd Jan 2019

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The “Wonder Material” that’ll turn your coat into a display

A display flashing up on your sleeve? It’s possible! Scientists have come up with a method to use the versatile material graphene in ‘smart textiles’ that can emit light, measure heartbeats and regulate warmth.

Curated byOlukunle Olawole

Published on14th Dec 2018

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Phone-induced insomnia is in the eye of the beholder

Researchers have identified the cells in our eyes that let light from smartphone screens disrupt sleep, cause insomnia, metabolic diseases or mood disorders.

Curated byNicolas Gutierrez, MSc, PhD

Published on7th Dec 2018

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Smoking dad's gift: son at risk of lower fertility

Fathers' smoking can seriously affect sons' fertility, a new study claims, but the good news is: quitting before conception can help avoid the problem.

Curated bySamantha Levell

Published on30th Nov 2018

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How air pollution can make children fatter

Researchers have discovered a strong link between air pollution and childhood obesity pointing at certain vehicle exhaust fumes and second-hand smoke as the culprits.

Curated bySimona Gulbinaitė

Published on23rd Nov 2018

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Science beats sci-fi with robot suits helping stroke patients walk

Robotic exoskeletons using electrical stimulation and reading muscle signals are taking great strides in helping partially paralysed people regain their mobility.

Curated byFrancisco Anaya Reyes

Published on16th Nov 2018

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Quantum process helps solar panels double energy output

Scientists have developed a method to tweak light, allowing them to double the electricity solar panels generate.

Curated byAndrew Pun

Published on9th Nov 2018

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This protein has surprising powers against obesity

Scientists have discovered that a molecule naturally occurring in many living organisms can be turned into a powerful weapon against obesity and reduce the chance of developing obesity-related diseases.

Curated byEndre Szvetnik

Published on5th Nov 2018

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Stay strong and lean despite faulty clock genes

Research shows that we can regulate our weight and protect ourselves from metabolic diseases even when genes affecting our eating habits are malfunctioning.

Curated byNicolas Gutierrez, MSc, PhD

Published on26th Oct 2018

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The not-so sweet news about artificial sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners appeal to a lot of people as a magic bullet for weight loss, but – as researchers have found – they can cause havoc in the gut, making us susceptible to illnesses and even craving for sweets.

Curated byLinda May-Zhang, PhD

Published on19th Oct 2018

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These compounds can give you extra years of life

Scientists have discovered a way to significantly slow down the ageing process and even restore health in ageing bodies, opening up the possibility of extending people's lives in old age

Curated byEndre Szvetnik

Published on12th Oct 2018

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Here’s why cancer immunotherapy deserved a Nobel

By opening a way for the immune system to attack tumours, two scientists revolutionised cancer care and won a Nobel Prize. Here is why their discoveries matter and how patients are already feeling the benefits.

Curated byEndre Szvetnik

Published on5th Oct 2018

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Learning to walk again after years of paralysis

Intense therapy and a new technological aid can get people back on their feet after paralysis from spinal cord injury. The key is electrical stimulation below the point of injury, which helps to activate the neural pathways that trigger movement.

Curated byTheresa Sutherland

Published on28th Sep 2018

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Microwaved ‘nanobombs’ are new tools for better medicines

Scientists have refined the technique of creating tiny particles that can dramatically improve the healing potential of drugs.

Curated byDr. Rohan Shah

Published on21st Sep 2018

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Why might staying single be bad for antibiotics?

Combining antibiotics has just been shown to be a surprisingly effective way of overturning drug resistance, despite the long-held view that mixing multiple antibiotics isn’t effective.

Curated byKarolina Punovuori

Published on14th Sep 2018

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The AI revolver that can rob cancer of its advantage

In a major achievement, scientists have created an algorithm that can spot the similarities of tumour evolution in different cancer patients. This will help to predict the progress of the disease and find the most efficient personalised treatment.

Curated byAlejandro Noval

Published on7th Sep 2018

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Anti-cancer avengers attack ovarian tumours on multiple fronts

Scientists have managed to extend the lives of drug-resistant ovarian cancer patients through a combination therapy and discovered other ways to attack the stubborn disease.

Curated byFlávia Oliveira

Published on31st Aug 2018

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A bald move: hair-loss gene battles melanoma

A gene known for destroying hair cells can significantly improve treatment for melanoma and is a good candidate to help with prostate cancer. The discovery further highlights the potential of immunotherapy in targeting tumours.

Curated byDr Ken Dutton-Regester

Published on24th Aug 2018

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The science helping plants survive in salty soils

Researchers are experimenting with silicon to raise salt tolerance in plants. This is vital for agriculture in areas of the world where soils are becoming unusable due to high salinity..

Curated byA S M Mainul Hasan

Published on17th Aug 2018

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Three-way approach for precision strike against pancreatic cancer

London researchers have developed a three-pronged strategy to tackle pancreatic cancer by combining a drug and viruses that target cancer cells with immune cells from the patients, modified to specifically attack pancreatic cancer cells.

Curated byAlejandro Noval

Published on10th Aug 2018

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Why is crystal meth extra bad news for HIV patients?

Researchers discovered that methamphetamine (crystal meth) makes HIV infections worse, even in patients on antiretroviral therapy (ART). This is because these illegal drugs further weaken the immune system’s resistance to the virus.

Curated byDaniel Ojeda Juárez

Published on27th Jul 2018

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Gene found in Amazon lake can make bioethanol fuel cheaper

Researchers have discovered an enzyme that can help yield more bioethanol from an organic waste material, saving land for food production and making green fuels cheaper.

Curated byNosaibeh Nosrati Ghods

Published on27th Jul 2018

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Hold your breath – the trick for stem cells to build bones faster

Scientists working on fixing bones by generating artificial tissue have found a way to make the process more efficient. This paves the way for far more medical applications, as up till now, the stem cells they used were less likely to survive.

Curated byJoanna Melke

Published on20th Jul 2018

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Fatty diet can boost previously underperforming cancer drugs

Scientists have discovered how to use some cancer drugs' side effects to make them more potent. They checked the unwanted spike in insulin levels that made the compounds less effective.

Curated byEndre Szvetnik

Published on16th Jul 2018

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From foes to friends – bacteria join the fight against cancer

Scientists have identified a bacterial strain that can be used against prostate cancer. This is a new example of how bacteria’s anti-tumour properties can be enlisted in designing new cancer therapies.

Curated byMadhura Bhave

Published on6th Jul 2018

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Reining in immune cells to heal 'broken hearts'

Researchers have linked the damaging inflammation observed after a heart attack to an incorrect immune response. Targeting the cells that are involved can help people recover faster.

Curated byEndre Szvetnik

Published on2nd Jul 2018

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Medical cannabis: what does the science say?

Recent studies confirm that the symptoms of severe epilepsy can be eased by medical cannabis, free from the THC compound that induces highs. However, there is still insufficient evidence to suggest its regular use in children.

Curated byA S M Mainul Hasan

Published on22nd Jun 2018

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Newly found stem cells can make COPD patients breathe more easily

Researchers using AI for a navigational problem ended up with a system that developed virtual brain cells similar to those helping mammals orient themselves.

Curated byEndre Szvetnik

Published on15th Jun 2018

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Shutting down energy supply is the new tactic against cancer cells

Scientists discovered that a drug used for some rare cancers can shut down cells' energy supplies. This would help to target a wider range of cancers with less intrusive therapies.

Curated byNicolas Gutierrez, MSc, PhD

Published on11th Jun 2018

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Tea has a hot new superpower against cancer

Here’s an exciting and accidental new discovery about tea: it can destroy most lung cancer cells. Future tea-based therapies will be less harmful to healthy cells and offer novel use for waste material destined for the tip.

Curated byMohamed Saad

Published on1st Jun 2018

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How the kitchen cupboard can help get rid of joint pain?

Scientists have managed to manipulate the signals that trigger rheumatoid arthritis, raising the hope of a future therapy without unpleasant side-effects.

Curated byAlicia Derrac Soria

Published on25th May 2018

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AI develops ‘brain cells’ to beat humans in race through maze

Researchers using AI for a navigational problem ended up with a system that developed virtual brain cells similar to those helping mammals orient themselves.

Curated byEndre Szvetnik

Published on21st May 2018

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Machines are getting better at beating HIV drug resistance

Scientists have improved machine learning algorithms to help finding the right antiretroviral medications for patients who are developing drug resistance.

Curated byEndre Szvetnik

Published on11th May 2018

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Two birds with one stone: dual-action molecules target the double trouble of HIV and TB

Scientists have found compounds that can pair up to target HIV and tuberculosis (TB) at the same time. TB and HIV mutually enhance each other and this co-infection is a major threat to public health worldwide.

Curated byEndre Szvetnik

Published on4th May 2018

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The special agents that can kick and kill HIV

Although antiretroviral drugs effectively suppress HIV in patients, the virus still hides within their cells. Scientists are trying out new molecules that can make it a visible target for the immune system.

Curated byEndre Szvetnik

Published on27th Apr 2018

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An ‘egg-box’ for living cells spells hope for diabetes and HIV patients

Antiretroviral therapy (ART) has given HIV-infected people back a near-normal life, but new research suggests that these patients are more likely to develop diabetes. A new tool to preserve vital cells for diabetes treatment can help people with both conditions.

Curated byEbenezer I. O. Ajayi

Published on20th Apr 2018

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Could hepatitis B discovery help scientists develop HIV immunity?

For a long time, scientists have noted the similarity between the hepatitis B virus and HIV. A recent discovery in hepatitis B could take them closer to developing a HIV vaccine.

Curated byEndre Szvetnik

Published on17th Apr 2018

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How did lab monkeys survive with HIV for six months without daily drugs?

Scientists are getting closer to a treatment for HIV patients that doesn’t require taking drugs daily. They have achieved promising results using compounds that track and suppress the HIV better than current antiretroviral drugs.

Curated byKayla Sprenger. PhD

Published on6th Apr 2018

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MS-targeting exercise and tech can prevent falls despite nerve damage

Imagine doing your shopping: suddenly your leg gives out and you find yourself on the floor with a tipped-over basket. Falling is common for MS patients, but specific exercises and futuristic tech can compensate for the nerve damage and improve balance.

Curated byFrancisco Anaya Reyes

Published on30th Mar 2018

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Stem cell therapy may stop and reverse MS, but risks remain

Scientists building on earlier research into stem cells have managed to halt multiple sclerosis (MS) in a clinical trial, but the treatment is not suitable for patients with an advanced stage of the disease.

Curated byEndre Szvetnik

Published on23rd Mar 2018

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Talking trash: converting plastic waste into energy

With the discovery of a Mexico-sized plastic patch floating in the South Pacific in 2017, researchers offer new innovations for our urgent fight for waste reduction.

Curated byMark Docherty

Published on21st Mar 2018

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Did Stephen Hawking solve the Information Paradox?

As the world of science remembers the passing of Professor Stephen Hawking, we look at his work to solve a burning question in physics: how can we describe the behaviour of black holes with two clashing theories?

Curated byEndre Szvetnik

Published on16th Mar 2018

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Cells' power stations are new target in fighting MS

The dysfunction of cells' energy generators - the mitochondria - plays a key role in multiple sclerosis and offers new ways of treatment.

Curated byNicolas Gutierrez, MSc, PhD

Published on9th Mar 2018

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Gut bugs can slow or boost progress of MS

Mounting evidence points to a link between the make-up of the gut microbiome and multiple sclerosis (MS). Tweaking our bacterial mix can pave the way for new therapies.

Curated byLinda May-Zhang, PhD

Published on2nd Mar 2018

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Antibody therapy makes it easier to live with MS

Antibodies are a new alternative to anti-inflammatory drugs for curbing the progress of MS and letting patients enjoy their lives. They work by neutralising the ‘misguided’ immune cells associated with the disease.

Curated byEndre Szvetnik

Published on23rd Feb 2018

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Brain stimulation for depression lifts fatigue in MS patients

Fatigue weighs down multiple sclerosis (MS) patients, making it hard to socialise and keep up in jobs. Researchers discovered that a treatment for depression can significantly reduce tiredness.

Curated byEndre Szvetnik

Published on16th Feb 2018

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Striking gold: Nanocrystals to repair multiple sclerosis damage

Researchers have found that gold nanocrystals can reverse the damage caused by multiple sclerosis and restore mobility in sufferers.

Curated byEndre Szvetnik

Published on9th Feb 2018

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How can a male sex hormone protect females from multiple sclerosis?

Women fall ill with multiple sclerosis (MS) at a higher rate than men. Researchers are increasingly focusing on sex-specific hormones to develop therapies.

Curated byEndre Szvetnik

Published on2nd Feb 2018

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Stem cell trick knocks back multiple sclerosis symptoms

Researchers have found a way to reduce the severity of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) attacks by using human stem cells, offering hope to MS sufferers.

Curated byKaveh Moradi

Published on19th Jan 2018

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See-through fish give sneak peek into workings of muscle-killing disease

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a disease that traps sufferers in their own bodies by shutting down their muscles. Scientists have tracked how the disease spreads from cell to cell in the hope of slowing down the process.

Curated byMarco Morsch, PhD

Published on12th Jan 2018

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Why did scientists link Norse legend to cancer?

Scientists have recently found that switching off the coincidentally named THOR gene can prevent tumour growth in the skin and lungs.

Curated byNicolas Gutierrez, MSc, PhD

Published on5th Jan 2018

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Will the big question of climate science get answered next year?

Scientists are deploying robotic submarines to understand whether climate change has sped up the melting of the Antarctic ice sheet by ocean currents from below, and how this will affect sea levels.

Curated byJessica Amies

Published on29th Dec 2017

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Flies shine light on path to cheaper solar energy

Scientists inspired by flies' eyes have come up with a hack to make solar cell materials easier to produce and more durable.

Curated byHansong Xue

Published on22nd Dec 2017

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Can you get jet lagged without jetting off?

Jet lag is exhausting, and it turns out you could get it by staying at home too.

Curated byKarolina Punovuori

Published on18th Dec 2017

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Wanna be heard? Speak into the right ear

Listening involves not only hearing the message, but also processing it. Audiology researchers discovered that in noisy places, turning your right ear towards the speaker is a good tactic to stay in the conversation.

Curated byParvaneh Abbasalipour

Published on15th Dec 2017

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4D-printed ‘living materials’ fast-track new drugs

Scientists have used live bacteria-containing inks – bioinks – to print 'living materials' that can change their shape over time. This technology can help us discover new drugs more quickly and introduce bacteria-containing sensors and decontamination equipment.

Curated byAurelien Forget, PhD

Published on8th Dec 2017

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‘Air’ batteries can power phones and electric cars for longer

Electric cars need lighter and faster charging batteries to increase their range, while green energy requires reliable storage to feed the grid. Scientists have found new ways to meet the demand... and have come up with a no-battery phone in the process.

Curated byRyoichi Tatara, PhD

Published on1st Dec 2017

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Ant-inspired transport, medicine and robotics

Swarms of animals can appear to display intelligence beyond the individual. Scientists are now borrowing their tricks to optimise complex systems and create cooperating, self-healing robots.

Curated byChris Reid, PhD

Published on24th Nov 2017

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What do gold, Einstein and Nobel have in common?

Last week, a trio of researchers was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for spotting gravitational waves.

Curated byMiguel Zumalacarregui

Published on6th Oct 2017

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Buzz off! Drones will be as agile as flies

In the latest innovation on bio-inspired drone technology, scientists genetically manipulated and remotely controlled dragonflies with light. However, the real innovation comes from mimicking how insects fly.

Curated byAlexandra M. Yarger

Published on25th Sep 2017

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From villain to good gas: CO2 can produce food, shelter and energy

Algae, plankton and artificial foams can absorb a lot of carbon dioxide (CO2), which can be turned into useful products from food to bricks. And this in turn is good for the planet!

Curated byAnna Firsova

Published on1st Sep 2017

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Could intermittent fasting enhance your cognitive ability?

One Silicon Valley startup team fasts together for mental agility and to stay lean. They claim the practice makes them more productive at work, but are they backed up by science?

Curated byTim Squirell

Published on25th Jul 2017

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