The scientist who transplanted monkey heads


You've likely read about Italian physician Dr. Sergio Canavero's plan to perform the first human head transplant? There is precedent with non-humans and it ain't pretty. In 1965, Dr. Robert J. White and his colleagues at Cleveland Metropolitan General Hospital transplanted the brain of one dog to another. "The transplant … acted as a second brain in the animal’s neck," according to Science News Letter. In the 1970s, White continued his experiments by transplanting rhesus monkeys' head onto other monkeys' bodies. (See the diagram above.)

Below, a special edition of The Midnight Archive profiles White, discusses similar research in Russia at the time, and touches on the ethical questions around these experiments. (Warning: this video is rather graphic.)

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New planet formation hypothesis places giant hidden worlds everywhere


Simulations of circumstellar disks, the vast dust-planes left over from stellar formation, suggest that planets ten times larger than Jupiter may lurk in the universe.

Being far from the stars they orbit, these hypothetical worlds are so dark as to be all but invisible despite their enormity. But just as the presence of smaller worlds has been inferred, a team of astronomers believes the traces of the mega-Jupiters is seen in these proto-planetary swirls.

…huge spiral patterns seen around some newborn stars, merely a few million years old (about one percent our sun's age), may be evidence for the presence of giant, unseen planets. This idea not only opens the door to a new method of planet detection, but also could offer a look into the early formative years of planet birth… The conclusion that planets may betray their presence by modifying circumstellar disks on large scales is based on detailed computer modeling of how gas-and-dust disks evolve around newborn stars, which was conducted by two NASA Hubble Fellows, Ruobing Dong of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Zhaohuan Zhu of Princeton University. Their research was published in the Aug. 5 edition of The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The Atlantic's Adrienne Lafrance writes that the method could be used to find smaller, more interesting worlds:

The idea that massive planets could be detected this way is a big deal, and not just because of the potential existence of the planets. “In the future,” Dong says, “this could be another way to detect planets which otherwise we cannot see.”

In turn, finding newly formed planets in the disks around brand-new stars offers an unprecedented look at how and when planets are made.

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Chemistry flask lamps


Available in Conical and Round, these designs won my heart with their clever use of retort stands and sandblasted lab glass; love the fabric-sleeved power-cable too (available in four colors!). The £165; price-tag is admittedly steep, though. Read the rest

Thanks to the meth wars, cold medicine's effective ingredient isn't


When the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005 passed, pharmacies moved all cold-medicine with the actually-works ingredient pseudoephedrine, only available on request and with a copy of your ID. In its place, the pharmacy shelves were restocked with phenylephrine, which was alleged to work just as well. It doesn't work at all. Read the rest

Upvote this: Teach kids in underserved communities how to code with Minecraft

Camp Minecraft. The goal: Bring it to more kids whose families can't pay.

LA Makerspace co-founder Tara Tiger Brown shares a project that her kid-friendly maker workshop is trying to make a reality.

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Realistic chocolate dinosaur fossil teeth: choco-megaladon/T-Rex


Sarah Hardy's megaladon (£28) and T.Rex (£28) teeth are full size, convincing, and made from gorgeous, single-origin chocolates. Read the rest

Which Presidential candidates are climate change deniers?


From Columbia University's Earth Institute:

Ben Carson (retired neurosurgeon) believes that climate change is happening in the sense that there’s “always going to be either cooling or warming going on” and has called the climate debate “irrelevant.” While he has no plans to combat climate change, he does believe it’s important to protect the environment. If elected, he would approve the Keystone XL pipeline and develop oil resources while also investing in renewable resources; however, he would not support any government subsidies because he feels they interfere with the free market.

Donald Trump (real estate developer) doesn’t believe in climate change and asserts that the changes we see are actually just weather, unaffected by human actions. He puts climate change low on the list of problems we need to address. In 2012, Trump said global warming was a hoax created by China to make U.S. manufacturing uncompetitive. He supports regulating air pollution.

Hillary Clinton (former U.S. senator from New York and secretary of state) believes climate change is real and manmade. She has called it “the most consequential, urgent, sweeping collection of challenges we face as a nation and a world.” Clinton unveiled a plan that would install half a billion solar panels across the country by 2020 (a 700 percent increase in solar capacity); and expand renewable energy (including geothermal and hydro) sufficiently to produce 33 percent of U.S. electricity by 2027. Her Clean Energy Challenge, partnering with states, cities and communities, will include incentives, competitions, and investment in transmission and R&D.

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WHOOSH! Filling Jack-o-Lanterns with thermite and gun cotton, for science(ish)


Alewis sends us the Royal Institution's video: "A scene of explosive Halloween mayhem as one Jack-o'Lantern spews molten iron into another filled with gun cotton, all in the name of science."

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SCIENCE! Louder monkeys have smaller balls


A new study in Current Biology has found an inverse correlation between the volume of howler monkeys' notoriously loud hoots and the size of their testicles. Read the rest

Just look at this exotic, virus-hunting banana protein.


Just look at it

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The first drawings of neurons

In 1837, Italian physician Camilo Golgi devised a reaction to stain the wispy dendrites and axons of neurons, making it possible to see brain cells in situ. In 1875, he published his first scientific drawing made possibly by his chemical reaction, seen here. It's an illustration of the never fibers, gray matter, and other components of a dog's olfactory bulb. "The First Neuron Drawings, 1870s" (The Scientist) Read the rest

New frontrunner in the none-more-black new materials world championship


A group at Saudi Arabia's King Abdulla University of Science and Technology have developed a new carbon-nanotube-based material that absorbs 98 to 99 percent of light between 400 and 1,400nm, from all angles, making even blacker than Rice University's 2008 none-more-black, Boston and Duke's 2008 none-more-black and Leiden University's 2009 none-more-black. That's pretty fucking black. Read the rest

Antioxidants protect cancer cells, help tumors to spread


The largely unregulated supplement industry sells a variety of weird and sometimes dangerous stuff that it wink-nudge promises will cure what ails you, but even the most accurately labeled, evidence-based supplements can make sick people much, much sicker. Read the rest

Entropy explained, beautifully, in comic-book form


Nick Sousanis became a Boing Boing favorite for his 2015 doctoral dissertation in graphic novel form, and since attaining his PhD, he's become a postdoctoral fellow in Comics Studies at the University of Calgary. Read the rest

Cancer patient receives 3D printed titanium ribs and sternum


Melbourne, Australia's Lab 22 produced a 3D printed, custom set of ribs and artificial sternum that were implanted into a 54-year-old male Spanish cancer patient's chest-cavity at Salamanca University Hospital. Read the rest

Reality check: we know nothing whatsoever about simulating human brains


In the EU and the USA, high-profile, high-budget programs are underway to simulate a human brain. While these produce some pretty pictures of simulations, they don't display much rigor or advancement of our understanding of how brains work. Read the rest

Bill Nye: "5 Things You Need to Know About Climate Change"


Learn it. Know it. Live it. (National Geographic)

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