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Top Stories: Tumor-Free Rodents, Asteroid Controversy, and Why You Should Sleep in This Weekend

21 June 2013 4:00 pm
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NASA/JPL-Caltec; Brandon Vick/University of Rochester; Michael Morris and Shu Zhang

Why Naked Mole Rats Don't Get Cancer
Envy the naked mole rat. It may be ugly and live underground, but it doesn't get cancer. Researchers probed the oddball creature to figure out its secret to a tumor-free existence. It turns out that the rodents produce a complex sugar that stops cells from clumping together. The next step will be figuring out whether the sugar, which exists in some form in all animals, can be manipulated to suppress tumors in mice and eventually humans.

Extra Sleep May Help Combat Diabetes
Tack another item onto the long list of reasons to get more sleep: avoiding diabetes. A new study reveals that just an extra 2 or 3 hours of shuteye on the weekends helped sleep-deprived men reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by increasing their sensitivity to insulin. So next time you need a lie-in, don't feel guilty—you're doing your body good.

How to Turn Your Cell Phone Into a Dolphin
Researchers have worked out a mathematical algorithm that can determine the shape of a room by analyzing echoes, sort of like echolocation. With just a few microphones, the new algorithm can work out the shape of complex spaces. So lose the measuring tape—with this new technology, soon all you'll need to measure a room is a cell phone app.

Trying to Learn a Foreign Language? Avoid Reminders of Home
Sometimes a familiar face is the last thing you need to see. A new study reveals that familiar cultural reminders can significantly affect our ability to speak a non-native language, reducing fluency by an average of 11% fewer words per minute.

NASA Asks for Help Finding Asteroids and Capturing One
NASA's on a mission. The agency wants to identify all the asteroids that could threaten Earth's population, as well as capture one and haul it over to the moon for further inspection. It's a tall order, and they're asking for much-needed help from citizens, scientists, and organizations around the world to carry it out.

However, some U.S. lawmakers aren't too keen on the plan. They'd like to realign NASA's priorities, scrapping the asteroid capture plan and reviving a previously canceled moon mission. These and other ideas were discussed in a House of Representatives science committee hearing on a draft NASA reauthorization bill this week, and it looks likely that negotiations will continue into the coming months.

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