A monkey has successfully fed itself with fluid, well-controlled movements of a human-like robotic arm by using only signals from its brain, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine report in the journal Nature. This significant advance could benefit development of prosthetics for people with spinal cord injuries and those with “locked-in” conditions such as Lou Gehrig’s disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Although “Viking” literally means “pirate,” recent research has indicated that the Vikings were also traders to the fishmongers of Europe. Stereotypically, these Norsemen are usually pictured wearing a horned helmet but in a new study, Jørgen Dissing and colleagues from the University of Copenhagen, investigated what went under the helmet; the scientists were able to extract authentic DNA from ancient Viking skeletons, avoiding many of the problems of contamination faced by past researchers.
New research into gigantic flying reptiles has found that they weren’t all gull-like predators grabbing fish from the water but that some were strongly adapted for life on the ground.
Childhood exposure to lead is associated with shrinking (“volume loss”) of specific parts of the brain in adulthood, finds a related study in this week’s PLoS Medicine. Dr Kim Cecil and colleagues (University of Cincinnati, USA) studied the association between exposure to lead in the uterus and during early childhood and brain volume in adulthood.
A pair of Los Alamos National Laboratory theorists have developed a mathematical tool that could help health experts and crisis managers determine in real time whether an emerging infectious disease such as avian influenza H5N1 is poised to spread globally.
Today sees the launch of a new collaborative website initially focusing on proteins and their role in biology and medicine. The WikiProfessional technology underlying the site has been developed based upon the collaborative Wikipedia approach. WikiProteins provides a method for community annotation on a huge scale.
The U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) has released “Synthesis and Assessment Product 4.3 (SAP 4.3): The Effects of Climate Change on Agriculture, Land Resources, Water Resources, and Biodiversity in the United States.” The CCSP integrates the federal research efforts of 13 agencies on climate and global change. This report is one of the most extensive examinations of climate impacts on U.S. ecosystems.