This week in STEM

The world runs on science, at the Lumberjack we're bringing you the top stories every week.

By | Bryan Donoghue

Elon Musk continues to make new announcements on rockets that will help us travel to far away places, but recently he’s getting in touch with his roots. Rather than 12-meter rockets he’s been wanting to go to Mars with, Musk is opting to launch smaller vehicles that are only about nine meters tall. These rockets can travel up to 18,000 miles per hour, making long-distances shorter. Musk said that any two points on Earth would be less than an hour apart. Buying a ticket for a seat will cost the same as full fare economy in an airplane.

Source: New York Times

Our species’ origins are close to 200,000 years old according to some investigators. Through a recent study on a boy who lived in South Africa 2,000 years ago, Homo sapiens may have emerged as a genetically distinct species as early as 350,000 years ago. Researchers retrieved a complete version of the ancient boy’s DNA from his skeleton to compare with DNA from modern people and Stone Age species. The boy’s DNA is not affected by the migrations that occurred 2,000 years ago, so evolutionary geneticist Carina Schlebusch of Uppsala University in Sweden finds it to be the best benchmark so far for gauging when Homo sapiens originated in Africa.

Source: Science News


Animals travel the world’s oceans on makeshift rafts, whether they’re synthetic or natural. The 2011 Japanese tsunami caused a mega-rafting event and objects from Japan traveled as far as 7,000 km. The tsunami transported hundreds of species to the United States and Canada. Researchers have documented animals on 635 debris objects such as docks and buoys. There were 279 living Japanese invertebrate and fish species, with about 20 species together in each piece of debris. As the world population grows, the amount of waste entering the ocean will rise. Due to this, in the future of our coasts could become a lot less diverse.

Source: Science Magazine


Cells can be reprogrammed using mixtures of DNA, RNA and proteins. The most popular method uses viruses as a delivery vehicle—although they can infect unintended cells, provoke immune responses and even turn cells cancerous. Now there’s another process known as tissue nanotransfection, which involves a chip holding an array of tiny channels that apply electric fields to individual cells. This gives the chip the ability to convert or reprogram cells into other types, which has raised hopes for regenerating damaged limbs and organs. Researchers used the chip to restored the legs of injured mice and claim the technique is developed enough to test on people.


Source: Scientific American

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