Scientific discoveries this week: 11/4/13

Title: Supernova Visible from Earth in Near Future
Location: Ohio State University
Within the next 50 years a Milky Way Supernova will be visible from Earth, according to astronomers at Ohio State University. Astronomers are nearly 100 percent certain that infrared telescopes will be able to detect and record a supernova in our home galaxy. However, odds are low, less than 20 percent, that such phenomenon would be visible to the naked eye.
Christopher Kochanek, professor of astronomy at Ohio State explained the significance of this revelation. “We see all these stars go supernova in other galaxies, and we don’t fully understand how it happens. We think we know, we say we know, but that’s not actually 100 percent true.” Because scientists will be able to detect this potential supernova in the Milky Way within a moment’s notice, they will thus be able to witness the very beginning of a star’s end, something that has never been done before.

Title: Model of Common Cold Virus Offers Answers
Location: University of Wisconsin-Madison

Recently, scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison developed a three-dimensional model of the cold virus rhinovirus C, which includes a topographical model of the virus’ protein shell. Rhinovirus C is distinct from its better-known counterparts, and those differences offer an explanation as to why drugs are powerless against the strain. This virus, which went undetected until 2006, is suspected to be the culprit behind nearly half of all childhood colds as well as a complicating factor for respiratory conditions. It is unlikely that a cure for this strain will appear anytime soon.

Title: Researchers Find Potential Cure for Diabetes
Location: Munich, Germany
Researchers from the Helmholtz Zentrum München (HMGU) and the Technische Universität München (TUM), along with researchers from the U.S., discovered a single molecule hormone that has been observed to reduce weight and improve blood sugar among type 2 diabetics. The hormone also improved metabolism and lowered blood fat in humans. This cutting-edge, multiple action, intestinal hormone could revolutionize the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

Title: Research Reveals Potential for Communication with Vegetative Patients
Location: Cambridge, England, United Kingdom

Recent research done by scientists at the Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit (MRC CBSU) and the University of Cambridge revealed that patients in a vegetative state may be able to pay attention and respond to the outside world. One of the 21 patients diagnosed as vegetative or minimally conscious that was tested was able to filter out unimportant information and was even able to follow simple instructions to imagine playing tennis. If this attentiveness can be developed consistently, vegetative patients, with the use of specialized devices, could interact with the outside world.

Title: Fetal Lullaby
Location: Helsinki, Finland

A study conducted by researchers at the University of Helsinki found that fetuses exposed to a lullaby during the final trimester of pregnancy can recognize that lullaby as a newborn and four months after birth. This study supports the theory that fetuses can not only recognize but also remember sounds from the outside world. Eino Partanen, a graduate student at the Cognitive Brain Research Unit, said. “Even though our earlier research indicated that fetuses could learn minor details of speech, we did not know how long they could retain the information. These results show that babies are capable of learning at a very young age, and that the effects of the learning remain apparent in the brain for a long time.”

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