Also: Increasing incidence of cancer in 9/11 responders, and designing robots using frog cells
(NPR, Nathan Rott, 1/12/19)
Smoke from the ongoing firestorm in Australia is obscuring skies halfway around the world. Satellite images from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show a haze from the deadly fires spreading over South America. The swirling plume is nearly the size of the continental United States. Australia’s total emissions from man-made sources last year was roughly 540 million tons. This year’s fires, fueled by record-high temperatures and drought, have already surpassed two-thirds of that amount.
(Emma Yasinski, The Scientist, 1/13/20)
Using an algorithm based on research into evolutionary robotics, researchers sculpted and tested a “xenobot” made from frog cells designed by the algorithm. The computer program suggested shapes for the cells to be formed into to achieve locomotion across a petri dish.
“The goal of this is not to make frog cell robots,” said lead author Michael Levin, developmental biologist at Tufts University. “In the end, the goal of this is to understand the very big questions about the relationship between genomes and anatomy and to move forward regenerative medicine, robotics, and A.I.”
(Dennis Thompson, WebMD, 1/14/20)
Researchers report increased incidence of thyroid cancer, leukemia and prostate cancer in rescue workers and police who worked to contain the fallout of the September 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Workers showed double the risk for thyroid cancer alone when compared with the general population, and overall cancer risk was 9% higher. Though the researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai say that cancer rates for that population have not reached epidemic levels, the overall risk trends are indisputable.
—Stories Compiled by Mary Parker and Regina Kelder