Science For The Win! Brittany’s weekly Science Roundup

by on 11/02/2014
 

StandBackSCience

Walk like an Egyptian…I mean dinosaur.

We’ve all heard that birds are related to dinosaurs but scientists have recently come out and announced that birds actually ARE dinosaurs. Modern chickens have a helluva lot in common with their therapod ancestors. To learn how dinosaurs moved, researchers attached a weighted tail to a chicken to observe how they behaved. The weight difference shifted the center of gravity for the chickens allowing the team to get a better understanding of how dinosaurs, specifically a T-Rex, walked. As a digitigrade biped it is safe to say that a chicken, with a plunger on its butt, walks like a dinosaur.

dino chicken tail

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Artificial skin makes breakthroughs.

Skin is by far the largest organ in the human body. Aside from creating an essential barrier against germs, it also allows us to regulate our body temperature. Artificial skin has been developed in the past, but now results have come from a Swiss lab that have artificial skin functioning biologically. Even though it has only been tested on mice models, human trials are being set up now. This could revolutionize the way in which we treat victims of severe burns and other horrible injuries involving the skin. Currently we treat people in need of skin with grafts from other parts of the body and also with cadaver skin transplants. Hopefully the trials will go well and we will start to see the use of this awesomeness soon.

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Bionic takes on a whole new meaning.

bionicarm

What would you miss most about your arm? Hugs? Feeling the softness of things? Bionic arms have made it possible for amputees to hug again and grasp objects, but until very recently they haven’t been able to transmit any sensation. That all changed in February 2013. Results were published earlier this week of an experimental bionic arm tested last year. Amputee Dennis Aabo Sorensen was the first to test this modern marvel.

A bionic arm was connected to the nerves in his remaining limb section that allowed him to detect the basic “feel” of objects. “I could tell if it was a hard object or a soft one,” Sorensen said in an interview after the experiment. Although this cannot be used outside the lab yet (the hand was connected to computers the whole time making it far too impractical) researchers are hopeful that the research and develpometn will form the basis for future experimentation in treating amputees and helping them regain at least a semblance of the life they had before their injury.

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A Family out for a stroll.

All it took was a few footprints to send the world of human origins into chaos. Archeologists announced the discovery of 800,000 to 1 million year old footprints in Happisburgh. These are the oldest known footprints outside of Africa. Researchers say that it is very likely these belonged to a family of Homo Antecessor, or “pioneer man.” Britain is considered the edge of human habitation 800,00-900,000 years ago and is thought to have had a much colder climate resembling modern day Scandinavia. 700,000 years ago was when it had a Mediterranean type climate.

This may seem like it’s not very significant, but within the scientific community it is incredible. Every discovery, even the little ones, help us to better understand where we came from and where we are going. The beauty of science is that we can adjust what we think when we learn something new. Sadly the footprints were washed away shortly after they were found and the 3D models were scanned and built to preserve the information.

But hey, at least they were found.

footprints

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