Saturday, 23 May 2015

The troubles with transplants

For many years the limit of transplants of blood stem cells is that they can be used as donors only brothers and sisters, the only family members who may have a profile with high rates of immunogenetic compatibility. It is, however, a possibility that only occurs in 25% of cases. In addition, the percentage is expected to drop further, unfortunately, due to the decline of births in our country. To address this problem, over the years, we have created centers of collection and storage of cord blood and Registers of volunteers who collect more than 20 million bone marrow donors. Nevertheless, there is still a 30-40% of people who remain without a compatible donor.

To use the father or mother for transplantation is an important solution to this problem. The technique developed by the Child Jesus can resolve the fact that part of the parents (usually in fact the parents are immunologically compatible with the children only 50%).

In detail, the method requires that donors undergo a drug treatment that stimulates the bone marrow to "liberate" the bloodstream hematopoietic stem cells so they can be collected from the veins of your arms with a simple drawing. This technique avoids collect cells directly from the bone marrow donor to save a much more invasive procedure.

Subsequently the blood is filtered through a machine that exploits the magnetic properties of the white blood cells from the blood to remove a particular type of white blood cells known as T lymphocytes alpha-beta positive. These are responsible for a complication, known as "graft versus host disease," in which the transplanted cells attack the recipient's tissues. In the compound you get - and this is the main difference compared to normal bone marrow transplants - in addition to hematopoietic stem cells, are also natural killer cells and "gamma-delta T cells positive". "In this way - explained during the presentation of Professor Franco Locatelli - at the time of the transplant, the patient, in addition to receiving treatment for the disease that affects, is also protected from infections that can occur within four months operation, thanks to the white blood cells in the blood of the donor. We can therefore say that we managed to transplant with a donor to 50% with the same results as those completed with subjects totally compatible. "
As for the fields of application, the technique developed by the Child Jesus can be a solution for blood cancers and other diseases, including: severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), the Fanconi anemia, the Thalassemia major and severe aplastic anemia. The results obtained in the testing phase, in fact, show that the ability to care for children with these diseases are the 90%.

"Another source of pride for their achievements - said Professor Giuseppe Profiti, president of the Child Jesus (see interview below) - it is that this method also has the advantage of being easily replicable. This means being able to significantly expand the pool of people who will have access to treatment options that this new technology offers. "

Future Expedictions to Mars Could Damage Astronaut’s Brains

Particles zipping through space could be the wrong stuff for Mars astronauts.
A study using mice found these high-energy particles slice through the brain. They pruned back connections linking brain cells. This left the animals with memory and learning problems. The study’s authors now worry that astronauts could suffer similar effects on long missions outside Earth’s protective atmosphere. One example: traveling to Mars.
The explosion of massive stars creates cosmic rays. This energetic radiation consists of electrically charged particles. Traveling through space at nearly the speed of light, theis radiation would bombard a spacecraft and its astronauts. For how long? Well, a human mission to Mars could last between one and three years, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration estimates.
Six weeks later, the mice showed memory problems. They had a harder time recognizing new toys than did unzapped mice. They also did a poorer job of remembering where a toy had been. Details appeared May 1 in Science Advances.
Visible brain damage also showed up. The radiation shortened the complex branches on nerve cells that receive messages. It also left these brain cells with fewer branches, the team found. “We weren’t expecting such dramatic effects from these charged particles,” says Limoli.

By Alex Tortosa

Ancient DNA pushes back timing of the origin of dogs

Some friendships go way back. New genetic evidence suggests that the relationship between humans and dogs may have been forged as long as 40,000 years ago.
DNA analysis of an ancient wolf calibrates the split between dogs and wolves to 27,000 to 40,000 years ago. Researchers had previously calculated that the divergence happened about 11,000 to 16,000 years ago. The new dates, reported online May 21 in Current Biology, may mean that dogs were domesticated during the last Ice Age.
Paleogeneticist Love Dalén of the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm brought the ancient wolf’s bones back from a 2010 expedition to Russia’s Taimyr Peninsula in northern Siberia. The wolf roamed the Ice Age tundra about 35,000 years ago. Dalén and colleagues extracted DNA from a rib bone and deciphered the animal’s entire genetic makeup, its genome.

By Pablo Arps


We have always been able to see lightning and hear thunder, but not hear and see thunder.

Scientists shot a long wire made of copper into a cloud using a small rocket. This generated a bolt of lighting, and the current followed the wire to the ground. This allowed the scientists and researchers to record the sound waves of the resulting thunder. The intense heating of the copper wire caused the green flashes.

By Maria Ferrajoli

Antarctic glaciers are now melting rapidly!

Glaciers along the Southern Antarctic Peninsula remained roughly stable between 2003 and 2009.
New satellite observations reveal that the region suddenly destabilized in 2009 and is now shedding around 56 billion metric tons of ice each year, enough water to raise sea levels by roughly 0.16 millimeters.
The researchers believe warm ocean water melted the underside of the ice, undermining the region’s stability and triggering the abrupt decline. Even if this warm water went away, the now destabilized region would continue to shrink until reaching a new equilibrium!

By Jorge Salvador

Europe from Space

The European Agency Space does a video of the landscape that they can see from the above.
From the Canary Islands to Italy in less than 30 seconds. It looks like impossible for us but it doesn’t look impossible for technology. We can see a video from the astronauts in the International Space Station. Samantha Cristoforetti has traced a photographic video between this two different point in planet earth. The video has been done with time-lapse, which consists in using photos with movement which offers spectacular results.
Link to the video and information below:

By Célia Estragués

Two out of three cancers are developed due to bad luck

The Medicine University John Hopkins has done a study to demonstrate that most of our cancers are not developed because of external factors, they are developed due to bad luck in the mutations of mother cells. These mutations occur when mother cells multiply themselves, smoking and other external factors can also contribute to cancer formation, but these are not the main factors in the development of cancer. Scientifics have categorized cancer into 31 different groups, divided into two main categories. 7 of those are caused by smoking and having Hepatitis C, the resting 22 are caused by the “bad luck” factor.

By Joan Estrada

The age of the Universe

The team of the probe Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP), of the NASA, could make the first detection of helium. By this helium, they have determinated how many years ago was the big bang occur and due to this an estimate age of the universe.

Finally, the NASA informed us about this saying the following words: "The light we see today as the cosmic microwave background, has traveled over 13 billion years to reach us."

The determinated age of the universe is 13.7 billion years old with a small percantege error.

By Nico Van Den Brink

The ocean’s secret world revealed by the Tara expedition

After a three-year global expedition, the international team that has been studying plankton sample has been able to elaborate “the most complete description yet of planktonic organisms to date.”
They have found thousands of organisms which they believe are in a great majority, new to science. They have found 35,000 species of bacteria, 5,000 new viruses and 150,000 single-celled plants and creatures.  These organisms are vital as they make up 90% of the mass of all of the ocean’s marine life, produce half of the oxygen we breathe and are the base of any food chain.
This expedition, known as the Tara expedition, took place between 2009 and 2013. The project cost about 10 million and the Tara schooner sailed 30,000 km around the world in order to successfully carry out the expedition.  The scientists observed how he different organisms interacted and even found out that lots of the organisms, especially bacteria, are sensitive to temperature.
As a result of this study they have released one of the largest databases of DNA available, at least within the scientific community. Keeping this in mind, you should know that they have only analysed about 2% of the entire collection of samples they collected during the expedition. So this database is only the beginning of a much bigger one.

                                                                                                                          Sofía Navarro

How an Octopus can see without eyes

The California two spot octopus posesses light sensitive proteins on its skin, revealing that he can “see” with its skin. It doesn’t work the same as eyesight but it has the ability to detect light. This is because the protein, called opsin, that is found in eyes is in the octopus’ skin.

This octopus is considered one of the most intelligent cephalopods and can carry out this ability without the command of the nervous system. Its skin can detect an increase and a decrease in light, meaning that its system works better at brightness than color change.


Our oceans hold millions of living organisims, from tiny bacteria to whales and as far as life is concerned, the oceans are the earth.  These oceans though, were formed millions of years after the Earth took shape (around 4.5 billion years ago). The water in the ocean was said to arrive in frozen lumps from space during one of the most violent episodes in our planets early history.

By Chloe Perez

Brain implants let paralyzed man move robotic arm

Erik Sorto is a man who had been shot years ago and as a consequence of that he was paralyzed from the neck down. Finally he can control his movements with a robotic arm thanks to two silicon chips implanted in his brain. These implants read his intentions and channel them through wires to reach the robotic arm.
These implants will be improved and provided for people who have lost their limbs due to disease or injury, so that they can still live a normal life.

By Marina Campos


Nanotechnology, the future of comunications, one of the humans most important discoveries, only humans can do it… if we don't  count the fact that a beetle has it in his skin, and it is more efective. This beetle has biophotonic  crystals in its skin, that is a type of light nanotechnology that could increase the efficiency of data transfer in fiber-optics. The problem is, that they are very difficult to arrange them neatly, but once more, nature has the solution.

By Albert Segura


The hidden world of the ocean's tiniest organisms has been revealed in a series of papers Science. An international team has been studying samples of plankton collected during a three-year global expedition. They have so far found 35,000 species of bacteria, 5,000 new viruses and 150,000 single-celled plants and creatures. They believe that the majority of these are new to science. Planktons are minute organisms, but all together they make up 90% of the mass of all of the marine life in the oceans. They include viruses, bacteria and  single-celled plants and creatures (protozoa).They are the producers of the food chain and produce, through photosynthesis, half of the oxygen we breathe.
 By Montana Dalmau

Farm workers at greater risk for drug-resistant staph

Pig farm workers at greater risk for drug-resistant staph:
Pig farm workers are six times as likely to carry multidrug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus as workers who have no contact with pigs.
In one of the largest studies of staph in livestock workers, researchers found that contact with farm animals, particularly pigs, generally left workers more likely to carry the infectious bacteria, including drug-resistant varieties such as MRSA. Researchers monitored 1,342 people from Iowa and the staph they carried for up to 17 months.
The authors caution that their findings, published April 29 in Clinical Infectious Diseases, may underestimate the health risks. Researchers found that a worker’s chance of carrying staph increased with the number of pigs contacted. The farms in the study housed an average of 355 pigs, while the statewide average is about 2,300.

Antarctic Peninsula in 'dramatic' ice loss

Antarctic Peninsula in 'dramatic' ice loss:
 By Christina Garcés
 Satellites have cause a  dramatic change in the behaviour of glaciers on the Antarctica Peninsula, according to a Bristol University-led study.
The ice streams were  stable up until 2009, since when they have been losing   of 56 billion tonnes of ice a year to the ocean.
Warm waters from the deep sea may be driving the changes, the UK-based team says.
The details of the satellite research are published in Science Magazine.
They include more than 10 years of space observations of a broad swathe of coastline roughly 750km in length, on the south-western sector of the peninsula.
Here there is a multitude of glaciers slipping down mountainous terrain and terminating in the Bellingshausen Sea.
"In  2009/2010, the surface in this part of the southern Antarctic Peninsula started to lower at a really quite dramatic rate, of 4m per year in some places. That's a pretty big signal," said Bristol's Prof Jonathan Bamber.

It is called Gliese 581d

Gliese      Andrea Catalán

It is called Gliese 581d and orbits the star of the same name (without the last letter), a red dwarf star located 20 light years from Earth, along with five other worlds, some also very interesting. The extrasolar planet was discovered in 2009 by researchers at Queen Mary College London and Hertfordshire, who presented it as the first super-Earth found in habitable zone, ie, a world of a size somewhat larger than ours which is the right distance from their star to support liquid water on its surface, an indispensable condition for the existence of life as we know it.

The candidate planet was discovered using a spectrometer that measures the "wobble" small changes in the wavelength of the light emitted by a star caused by a planet orbiting around it. However, a report published last year in Science magazine rejected the existence of this planet, considering what astronomers saw was nothing more than "stellar activity disguised as a planet." In his view, the world was actually supposed noise in the data caused by star spots.

The "fathers" of the "d" are not achantado, insist that their planet exists and ensure that the findings of his colleagues have been caused by inadequate analysis of the data. The statistical technique used in the investigation of 2014 to account for stellar activity is, as explained, "just enough" to identify smaller planets as Gliese 581d.

In his view, that approach has worked in the past in identifying the larger planets because its effect on the star was too important to deny the errors in the results. However, it makes it almost impossible to find smaller planets signals within the noise caused by the stellar variability itself.

"It has always been there"
Using a more accurate model on existing data, researchers are convinced that the signal GJ 581d is real, despite the stellar variability. "The existence (or not) of GJ 581d is significant because it was the first similar to Earth discovered in the" Goldilocks "planet (the habitable zone, not too hot, not too cold, as in the fairy tale) about another star (where water can exist in liquid form) and is a reference case for the Doppler technique, "explains Guillem Anglada-Escudé, lead author of the article.

"There are always discussions among scientists about the way we interpret the data, but I'm sure 581d has been in orbit around Gliese 581 all the time," added the researcher. "In any case, the strength of his statement was too strong. If his treatment of the data is correct, then some projects search for planets in Earth-based observatories have to be revised significantly as they are intended to detect even smaller planets. You have to be more careful with these claims, "he warns.

The star Gliese 581 is a source of findings for planet hunters, but also a source of controversy. In 2010, astronomers at the University of California Santa Cruz and the Carnegie Institution of Washington announced the discovery of the first planet "really living" outside our solar system, the planet 'g', another of the six known worlds of the system. As has happened with his brother 'd', the 'g' was also questioned just a few weeks after being announced officialy, but also in the same way, the discovery team turned to bring new evidence that seemed to confirm their existence. Certainly not fail to give Gliese surprises

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Amanir l'explicació amb tecnicismes.

La ciència-ficció és una gran consumidora de ciència real, sobretot de la que la majoria de gent no acaba de comprendre. L'utilitzen per fer arguments que sonin sòlids, per agafar paraules tècniques que posar en boca dels protagonistes o per obrir opcions argumentals. En alguns casos s'estira el concepte científic per obrir possibilitats argumentals o per veure móns paral·lels on la natura no és exactament igual que la que coneixem. Per exemple, no hi ha cap evidència experimental de l'existència de les partícules més conegudes de la ciència-ficció, els taquions d'Star Trek , però aquesta sèrie els hi ha tret molt de suc, les mutacions genètiques són la base dels X-Men. 

Però estem parlant de ciència-ficció, i per tant no esperem que sigui un manual de ciència, i de fet, les llicències que s'agafen fan que els arguments siguin més entretinguts, un bon exemple el tenim en Superman quan va fer anar el temps endarrera fent que la Terra girés al revés o la radioactivitat creant superherois com Hulk o Spiderman, ... . Hi ha algun cas, com per exemple Ruins,  en el que es veu què passaria a l'univers de Marvel si les lleis de la natura les apliquéssim també als còmics.

Els arguments utilitzats depenen una mica de la ciència de moda, i a vegades, aquests arguments poc científics es donen a la realitat, i aquí pot ser preocupant. 

Doncs bé, sembla que ara els arguments amb poca base sòlida tenen un nou camp: la neurociència. Amb els termes adequadament escampats pel nostre discurs podem aconseguir que els nostres arguments semblin força sòlids: una mica de plasticitat neuronal per aquí, unes quantes neurones mirall per allí, ... no és que no existeixin aquests termes, és l'ús que se'n fa el que no és adequat. Aquest article en particular és força interessant al respecte, i ens hauria de fer pensar sobre el que acceptem dels arguments amb termes tècnics, no només en el cas d'argumetns científics, si no en arguments econòmics, jurídics, mèdics o quan anem al mecànic. No ens hauria de fer por demanar aclaracions en termes que no ens siguin desconneguts. Igual que quan ens em perdut, sempre és millor demanar ajuda.