Top Stories: Being Alone Will Kill You, Bacteria Will Make You Thinner, Bees Might Just Shock You
As you get older, it's not loneliness that'll kill you—it's being alone. Researchers trying to tease out the complex relationship between social isolation, loneliness, and mortality say that it's the isolation that's linked to an increased risk of death.
More news from the microbiome: Weight loss after gastric bypass surgery isn't completely attributable to a smaller stomach. The surgery also changes the community of bacteria living in a patient's gut, which may drive weight loss and could even alter metabolism.
It may be time to rename the "waggle dance" the Electric Slide. New research suggests that bees are using electric fields to communicate. As they buzz around, the insects built up quite a bit of electric charge on their bodies. The bees can sense these charges, which move their antennae and send signals to their brains.
And so it begins: Scientists have managed to build a biological version of the transistor. Like its electronic cousin, the bio transistor should be able to work within all sorts of biological circuitry. As genetic circuitry shapes up, scientists hope the new device will make it easier for them to program cells to do things such as watch for disease, monitor pollution, or even turn on medicine output.
Henrietta Lacks famously (and unwittingly) established the HeLa cell line, one of the most widely used lines in cancer research. Earlier this month, the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) published DNA data on HeLa. Following in the footsteps of the many scientists before them who've published HeLa data, EMBL did not seek permission to publish their information from the Lacks family. This time however, the release met with public outcry, and EMBL withdrew their data. The case raises important questions about privacy and consent in cell line research—questions for which there are as yet no answers.