(top) Courtesy of Garry Nolan; (bottom) Regina Eisert/SERC

Top Stories: Debunking Aliens, Old Hearts Made Young, and Attempts to Kill an NSF Bill

Nineteenth Century Technique Turns Old Mouse Hearts Young

Someone call Cher: It looks like really we can turn back time, at least inside a mouse heart. Researchers used a 19th century technique to stitch two mice together, one old and the other young. After being connected for a few weeks, the old mouse's heart turned spry and supple once more. Researchers say the culprit is a protein called GDF-11, and they plan to investigate its potential use in humans.

To Stop Malaria, Infect the Mosquitoes

Scientists are turning the tables on mosquitoes in an effort to stop the spread of malaria. They've infected them with a strange bacterium that messes with the bugs' sex lives, preventing them from spreading the disease. The approach raises the prospect of one day ridding entire cities of malaria.

Big Brains May Help Baby Seals Survive Under Ice

The only mammals to go for long journeys under sea ice, Weddell seal moms birth their babies far out on massive Antarctic ice sheets in an effort to escape predators. New research shows that the babies are born with brains that are 70% the size of adult seal brains, the biggest relative percentage of any mammal. Researchers suspect the babies' big brains help them figure out the risky underwater terrain in no time flat.

Pressure Builds on Congress to Kill NSF Bill

U.S. House science committee chair Lamar Smith's draft bill to change the National Science Foundation's (NSF) grant selection process to include more involvement from Congress received more pushback this week. Three former NSF directors and other top scientists and officials wrote to Smith, urging him to withdraw the bill, which they say will damage the review process. A science committee aide spoke to ScienceInsider to clarify what Smith is trying to achieve, saying that "the intent is to have accountability."

NIMH Won't Follow Psychiatry "Bible" Anymore

The latest version of psychiatry bible Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) has just received a critical hit: The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) will no longer be using the manual to direct its research. The DSM has been criticized over the past decade, and NIMH says it's working on developing new diagnostic criteria based on genetic, physiologic, and cognitive data rather than symptoms alone.

Bizarre 6-Inch Skeleton Shown to Be Human

UFO hunters and internet conspiracy theorists were disappointed this week to learn that "Ata," a tiny skeleton found in the Atacama Desert, is actually human. The truly bizarre little skeleton is featured in a documentary about UFOs, and although we now know it's not an alien, its origins remain stubbornly mysterious. Some scientists think it's possible the 6-inch skeleton may actually have belonged to a 6- to 8-year-old child, while others say it's just a mummified fetus. As tests continue, one thing's for sure-the truth is out there.

Posted in Scientific Community