Scientific evidence of very brief "life after death"?

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The largest scientific study of "life after death" and near death experiences in cardiac arrest patients (who were resuscitated) suggests that some people may sustain several minutes of awareness after the heart stops.

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Lab-grown penises ready for testing

In the next few years, researchers at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine hope to transplant lab-grown penises into people who need them due to congenital abnormalities, disease, or traumatic injury.

The penises are grown from the patient's own cells on a 3D collagen scaffold made from a donor penis. Studies on rabbits "were very encouraging," says tissue engineering pioneer Anthony Atala, director of the Institute. From The Guardian:

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Because the method uses a patient's own penis-specific cells, the technology will not be suitable for female-to-male sex reassignment surgery.

"Our target is to get the organs into patients with injuries or congenital abnormalities," said Atala, whose work is funded by the US Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine, which hopes to use the technology to help soldiers who sustain battlefield injuries.

As a paediatric urological surgeon, Atala began his work in 1992 to help children born with genital abnormalities. Because of a lack of available tissue for reconstructive surgery, baby boys with ambiguous genitalia are often given a sex-change at birth, leading to much psychological anguish in later life. "Imagine being genetically male but living as a woman," he said. "It's a firmly devastating problem that we hope to help with."

How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World

Steven Johnson blends the history of science with keen social observation to tell the story of how our modern world came about—and where it’s headed. Cory Doctorow reviews How We Got to Now, also a six-part PBS/BBC series, which ties together a lifetime of work

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Great ideas that changed the world, and the people they rode in on

To inaugurate the publication of his brilliant new book How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World (also a PBS/BBC TV series), Steven Johnson has written about the difficult balance between reporting on the history of world-changing ideas and the inventors credited with their creation

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Scientists using Bob Dylan references

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“Nitric oxide and inflammation: The answer is blowing in the wind": For almost a decade, researchers from Sweden's Karolinska Institute had a private internal contest around embedding Bob Dylan references in their scientific writings, and now they've opened up the challenge.

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Indian space program workers celebrate Mars orbit


(photographer unknown): India's Mangalyaan satellite attained Martian orbit on Wednesday; at $74m, it's "staggeringly cheap" for an orbiter.

Martian spacecraft staffers at Indian space control, September 2014

Bodies are weird


A great Reddit thread asks "What's something you're pretty sure only your body does, but have been too embarrassed to ask," and comes up with some genuinely great responses.

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Build your own working tabletop V8 engine


The Haynes Build Your Own V8 Engine ($65.62) sounds fantastic -- the lengthy selection of positive reviews confirm the manufacturer's claim that a "talented 10 year old" could assemble it, and it can be disassembled and reassembled, which makes it great for classrooms, camps and studios. (via Red Ferret)

Tour the solar system by walking around a huge, dilapidated building


Becky writes, "Shrinking Space productions have transformed the vast and dilapidated market building at Circus St in Brighton, UK into an audiosphere representing the entire solar system."

When you enter "Mind's Eye" you are given headphones and a ready-tuned hand-held radio. Then, as you drift around the building, you are pulled into the orbit of the various interviews being broadcast in different parts of it, each featuring a scientist or space explorer whose knowledge of the planet or star they are describing often represents a lifetime's work. The effect is bewitching, like floating through space itself, with only the occasional transmission back to earth for company. I went to see it last Saturday and loved it."

Mind’s Eye: Tour the solar system at home and in Brighton, courtesy of Little Atoms and Shrinking Space

(Thanks, Becky!)

Rubbery, crawling robot can traverse snow, fire

Harvard's Michael Tolley created the 65cm long, soft, pneumatic robot whose operating parameters allow it to run over -9'C terrain or walk through naked flames (for 20 seconds, at least).

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Oxytocin: "the biological basis for the golden rule"

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Here's the transcript at Medium of a deeply fascinating Aspen Ideas lecture by neuroeconomist Paul Zak, author of The Moral Molecule, about the chemical reason why the vast majority of us feel good helping others. Those who don't? Psychopaths, mostly.

Do animals cry?

Maria Konnikova on the appearance and the authenticity of emotion in the animal kingdom–and how we can use science to explore it.

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Short film: the Magic of Consciousness

Ed writes, "Here's an ambitious short film I made for the Royal Institution with evolutionary psychologist Nicholas Humphrey -- it explores the problems in understanding human consciousness particularly in explaining how its seemingly magical qualities arise from the physical matter of the brain."

Averaging thousands of images into one

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UC Berkeley researchers demonstrated software that averages thousands of similar photo to create a single representative image, like this wedding shot. Users can also refine and weight specific features within the source pool of photos to refine the average image.

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Walking for 5 min/hour prevents negative health effects of sitting


In "Effect of Prolonged Sitting and Breaks in Sitting Time on Endothelial Function," forthcoming in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers from IU Bloomington report on a study that holds out hope for anyone worried about the health effects of prolonged sitting.

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