Stem cells are usually made in a petri dish. Now, scientists have figured out how to reprogram the cells of living mice, transforming them into an embryolike state able to become any of the body’s cell types—even placenta. In the experiment, that conversion wasn't tightly controlled; somewhat creepily, the mice developed tumors that resembled embryos. Nevertheless, the finding could conceivably help scientists repair tissue with living patients someday.
Researchers have figured out that a promising solar cell material called perovskite can be manufactured using standard techniques for handling common silicon without sacrificing efficiency in converting sunlight to energy. The advance boosts the chance that this material, which is a lot cheaper than its silicon counterparts, will hit the mainstream market.
An expert panel that the Italian government asked to come up with a trial design for a controversial Italian stem cell therapy has thrown in the towel. The group, made up of top Italian scientists, has concluded that the treatment—designed by the Stamina Foundation and the focus of an intense public debate in Italy—has no scientific foundation and that there is no point in doing the study, for which the Italian government has allocated €3 million.
When it comes to avoiding stress, big brains are better than little ones. A study shows that birds with big brains have lower levels of a key stress hormone. Researchers think brainy birds keep their cool by anticipating or learning to avoid problems more effectively than their smaller-brained counterparts.
Climate science skeptics have derailed a congressional proposal to create the honorary position of U.S. science laureate. But proponents haven’t abandoned the idea of giving someone a national platform to foster public understanding of science and serve as a role model.
Five hundred thirty million years ago, the number and diversity of life forms on Earth mushroomed. This so-called Cambrian explosion kept Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, awake at night, as he worried that his theory of natural selection couldn’t explain the sudden proliferation of species. Now, researchers have combined evidence from the fossil record with clues in the genes of living species to estimate the speed of that evolutionary explosion. Their finding—that the rate of change was high, but still plausible—may put Darwin’s fears to rest.