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This Intricate Digital Model Of A Chunk Of Brain Fires Like The Real Thing

This complex web of fibres is in fact a digital model of a small chunk of rat brain — containing 31,000 neurons, 37 million synapses and the ability to fire just like a living chunk of grey matter.

DNA Repair Earned The Nobel Prize In Chemistry, And Here's Why

Yesterday the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry to Tomas Lindahl, Aziz Sancar, and Paul Modrich for their work in mapping out how cells repair damaged DNA. Their research improved our understanding of how our own cells work and helped in the development of cancer treatments, but what does it all really mean?

A Massive Bleaching Event Is Threatening The World's Coral Reefs

Corals around the world are turning white, a dangerous “bleaching event” that’s being triggered by climate change and a burgeoning El Niño. Scientists have seen this sort of thing before, but this event appears to be the worst yet.

New Scale Pinpoints Most Life-Friendly Alien Planets 

Researchers at the University of Washington’s Virtual Planetary Laboratory have devised a new habitability index for judging how suitable alien planets might be for life. The point of the exercise is to help scientists prioritise future targets for close-ups from NASA’s yet-to-be-launched James Webb Space Telescope and other instruments.

Wildlife Is Making A Comeback At Chernobyl, Now That People Have Left

The accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in 1986 had a devastating impact on the local population and forced 116,000 people to permanently leave their homes. But now researchers have discovered that, while the people may not have returned, the contaminated area of Belarus is teeming with wild animals, including elk, wild boar, deer and wolves. Perhaps surprisingly, many of these numbers seem to be on the rise and some of them are higher than in uncontaminated areas.

Newly-Discovered, Ancient Humans Were Tree-Climbers Who Walked And Used Tools

Last month in South Africa, scientists announced the discovery of a new group of early humans called Homo naledi. Now an analysis shows that this hominin had hands capable of both tree climbing and tool use, plus feet that were adapted for walking upright.

How Blue Whales Are Able To Maintain Their Monstrous Size

Marine biologists have long thought that blue whales indiscriminately scour the oceans as they feed on krill. A new study shows there’s a lot more to the grazing habits of these massive mammals than just blindly swimming through the water.

This Year's Nobel Prize In Medicine Goes To Breakthroughs In Fighting Parasitic Diseases

The first Nobel Prize of 2015 has been awarded jointly to three scientists for their groundbreaking work in developing therapies that fight infections caused by malaria and roundworm parasites.

These Balls Are Mini-Brains, Ripe For Medical Research

Understanding how the brain works is important, but going hands-on to test drugs or other treatments can be difficult. Which is why a team from Brown University has created these miniature ball-shaped brains for use in the lab.

Mutated 'Micropigs' Will Soon Be Sold As Pets

Last year, scientists in China used a gene-editing technique to produce pint-sized pigs for medical research. Now they want to sell them as pets. Critics say the precedent could lead to bizarre versions of cats and dogs, while at the same time preventing biologists from focusing on more important research.

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