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This week in science (March 29 – April 5)

Graphic Illustration by Claire Roth

By Claire Roth

Astronomy – Electric sands

Scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology conducted experiments to come to the conclusion that the windy conditions of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, have the ability to electrically charge the sands covering the moon’s surface. As the grains of sand are blown about by Titan’s winds, they move across the moon’s uneven surface in a motion called saltation. They make contact and rub against each other in such a way that a static charge is created, strong enough to hold the grains of sand together for extended periods of time. The reason the experiments were conducted in the first place was in an attempt to come up with an answer for why the 300-foot-tall sand dunes on Titan were leaning opposite the direction the wind was blowing in. The research suggested that the electrically charged sands were being pulled toward the direction the dunes were leaning, with the wind too weak to push them the other way.

Source: Science Daily

Medicine – Printing human skin

Graphic Illustration by Claire Roth

The gruesome and scarring process of skin grafting, where a portion of healthy skin is removed from one part of the body in order to cover an injured part of the body, may be a thing of the past. Scientists from the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, the Center for Energy, Environmental and Technological Research, the Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Marañón, and the BioDan Group were recently successful in creating a prototype for a 3D bioprinter that has the ability to print viable human skin. A 3D bioprinter is a machine that has the ability to print cells, complete with the desired cell function, structure and longevity. Like real human skin, 3D bioprinted skin includes layers that protect against the outside environment and help the body to maintain functionality. The 3D bioprinter uses substances called bioinks, made up of biological components, to create the skin and keep it as lifelike as possible. This 3D printed skin could be used for cosmetic tests as well, possibly helping to eliminate the controversial practice of testing new products on animals.

Source: The Huffington Post

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