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December 15, 2017

Researchers in Germany have zeroed in on a new cancer-fighting tool: magnetic sperm.

Scientists at the Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research found that when sperm carrying a common chemotherapy drug were outfitted with what New Scientist described as "tiny, four-armed magnetic harnesses" and released near cervical cancer cells, the supercharged swimmers were able to eliminate 87 percent of the malignant cells they encountered in just three days. The harnesses "allowed [the sperm] to be guided by magnets," New Scientist explained, and thus more effectively reach the cancerous cells and deliver the medication.

New Scientist noted that sperm are a particularly convenient vessel for fighting illnesses associated with the female reproductive tract — like cervical cancer — because they have biological familiarity with the area. The researchers additionally hope sperm could be outfitted with medicines to combat endometriosis or ectopic pregnancies.

The most important takeaway though, per New Scientist, is that the use of these magnetized "spermbots" could make chemotherapy more effective and less painful for cancer patients, as more targeted drug delivery could reduce the amount of healthy cells lost to collateral damage — a common issue for people undergoing chemotherapy. Watch a video of the spermbots at work below. Kelly O'Meara Morales

December 12, 2017
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As if giant cockroaches weren't freaky enough already, new research shows the insects have learned how to gallop. A study published in Frontiers in Zoology found that giant cockroaches can increase their velocity and lateral mobility when they run in a rolling gait, similar to a horse's gallop, rather than keeping three legs on the ground at all times in alternating steps, which is commonly referred to as the "tripod gait." While this new revelation is perhaps slightly horrifying for anyone suffering from insectophobia, Tom Weihmann, a professor at the University of Cologne in Germany and a coauthor on the study, says it may actually help robots learn to run more effectively.

Scientists concluded long ago that everyone's least favorite insect has a limited capacity for elastic energy storage in their legs. In layman's terms, their legs aren't very flexible, and most cockroaches don't have the bounce capacity of LeBron James (phew). But somehow, cockroaches figured out that if they gallop sequentially with six legs and keep their legs from coming too far off of the ground, they get a lot faster and lot more agile. The study notes that the high-speed gallop "has not been described before for terrestrial arthropods."

But why are cockroaches galloping in the first place? Researchers say they're sometimes making "escape runs," and other times they gallop slowly on slippery surfaces to maintain stability. Weihmann believes our robots could learn a thing or two from the bug's unique running style. "Adapting the coordination patterns of robot legs to those of fast-running cockroaches can help the robot use energy more efficiently and hence increase its endurance in an inhospitable environment," he says.

Read the entire study at Frontiers in Zoology. Kelly O'Meara Morales

December 11, 2017
RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images

Watch out, windmills.

A new report published Monday in the journal Nature Geoscience warns that wind farming could be seriously affected by climate change, as high rates of carbon emissions lead to more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, thus trapping more heat on the Earth's surface. The resulting increased temperatures would reduce wind output in the global north while likely increasing it in the south, the scientists explain.

Using climate models and projections employed by the U.N., the researchers predicted that Japan, the central United States, and the U.K.'s wind energy industry would see significant losses in wind output if carbon emissions continued at high rates. The central U.S. would lose nearly 20 percent of its power alone, while Japan and the U.K. would lose 10 and 5 percent respectively.

The study did note "substantial regional variations" in its calculations, explaining that the "northern mid-latitudes" experienced more "robust responses" to carbon emissions, while wind power in the southern hemisphere was less distorted by climate change. The Guardian notes that wind in the northern hemisphere is fueled by severe temperature differences between the cold Arctic region and the warmer tropics, which means that a warmer Arctic would reduce wind output.

In the southern hemisphere, however, climate change could actually lead to more wind in regions like eastern Australia, eastern Brazil, and West Africa because of the temperature increase of coastal lands in comparison to ocean waters.

"We found some substantial changes in wind energy, but it does not mean we should not invest in wind power," said Kristopher Karnauskas, an assistant professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Read the full study at Nature Geoscience. Kelly O'Meara Morales

September 18, 2016
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Here's something Republican Donald Trump can add to his list of personal superlatives: He's the most dominant presidential candidate ever! Well, he would be if he were a chimpanzee running for president of the jungle.

In comments shared in an article from the October issue of The Atlantic, famed chimpanzee expert and anthropologist Jane Goodall said she sees something familiar in the GOP nominee. "In many ways the performances of Donald Trump remind me of male chimpanzees and their dominance rituals," Goodall remarked.

"In order to impress rivals, males seeking to rise in the dominance hierarchy perform spectacular displays: stamping, slapping the ground, dragging branches, throwing rocks," she continued. "The more vigorous and imaginative the display, the faster the individual is likely to rise in the hierarchy, and the longer he is likely to maintain that position."

Goodall added that she expects to remember one particular high-energy chimp named Mike while watching the upcoming presidential debates. Mike liked to kick kerosene cans as he walked so the noise would unsettle his enemies. Bonnie Kristian

April 20, 2016

Step one: Apply hand sanitizer to palm. Step two: Rub your palms together. Step three: Rub the sanitizer across the rest of your hands until dry. Badda bing, badda boom, hands are clean. Right?

Wrong, according to a study published in the Journal of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America. Apparently the traditional 35-second three-step method for washing your hands that we all know is not actually the best way to reduce the median bacteria count on your hands, despite being promoted by the CDC.

The real best method for eliminating bacteria, used by the World Health Organization, takes 42.5 seconds to complete comparatively. It is also so complicated that nearly one-third of health-care professionals who were shown the technique couldn't actually do it properly.

Oh — and there are 11 steps. Here is the abbreviated six-step version, which was tested by the researchers:

Step One: Rub palms together.

Step Two: Rub each palm front to back over the back of the other hand, interlacing fingers.

Step Three: Twist palms with fingers interlaced, and rub between fingers.

Step Four: Interlock your fingers, (thumbs should be on opposite sides), and twist again, this time, backs of fingers against palms.

Step Five: Clasp your left thumb in your right hand and move thumb in circular motion — then switch thumbs.

Step Six: (Still with us?) Press your right fingers together and rub them in a circular motion on your left palm, then switch. You're done! [The New York Times]

Did you catch all of that? If not, you're not alone. Watch below for a demonstration — and happy scrubbing. Jeva Lange