Science Quickies: The Universe In A Single Photo, Pink Leopards, Extreme Face Transplant, and Sexy Newt Kidneys

12 Apr

Neil deGrasse Tyson has a new book out, which states his argument on why funding of space exploration is essential. He also did a recent interview with NPR which is definitely worth listening to. In other astronomy news, new models show that we have several “mini-moons” orbiting around us, from the size of a softball to a washing machine. They are hard to spot, but can occasionally enter our atmosphere, creating a brilliant fireball, according to National Geographic. NASA also recently released a new photo, which is essentially our entire universe in a single photo. It’s absolutely beautiful! According to Huffington Post: “NASA recently unveiled a new atlas and catalogue of the entire infrared sky, which includes more than a half billion stars, galaxies and other objects captured by the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission. It is comprised of more than 2.7 million images taken at four infrared wavelengths of light, capturing everything from nearby asteroids to distant galaxies.”

In the world of medicine and public health, a few things caught my attention.
First, a Chinese kid recently sold his kidney in order to raise money for an iPad, and later suffered from renal failure. He only received $3,500 for the organ, which typically goes for $35,000 in the Chinese black market, according to the article.
In a far less depressing story, researched of Lund University in Sweden announced that a vaccine against heart attacks may be available in 10 years. Scientists have discovered a new drug that stimulates the body’s immune system to produce antibodies which prevent heart disease by stopping fat building up in the arteries. Fat buildup can be reduced by 70%, the researchers claim.
A Virginia man has just had the most extensive face transplant in history.

A 1997 gunshot injury left Richard Norris without a chin, nose, teeth, and lips. The face transplant took 36 hours and is the result of a team of 150 medical professionals. According to the article: “Just six days after his surgery, Norris was saying some words, shaving and brushing his teeth. He’s also beginning to get some feeling back in his face.”
Is there a link between burns and cancer? A recent study from the University of Western Australia seems to think so.


A “strawberry” leopard has been discovered in a South African reserve
, the first documented case of its kind. The leading theory is that the leopard has erythrism, which could cause the pink coloration. Also, red-spotted newts have incredibly sexy kidneys. Seriously.  In other news of adorable amphibians, 5 species of frogs have been rediscovered in recent field expeditions on the Congo, including a species of transparent frog. In Indonesia, a new species of wasp has been found, which has several unusual characteristics and is shrouded in mystery.

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