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Science


— Medical

Clearing out damaged cells in mice extends lifespan by up to 35 percent

As we age, cells within our bodies can become damaged. As a way of helping prevent cancers developing, a biological mechanism called cellular senescence stops these damaged cells from dividing. Researchers at Mayo Clinic have now shown that clearing these senescent cells from the body of mice can improve health and extend their lifespan by up to 35 percent without any apparent adverse side effects.

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— Space

Orion arrives at Kennedy Space Center

The second Orion Crew module has arrived at the Kennedy Space Center's Operations & Checkout Facility after a flight by Superguppy from the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. According to primary contractor Lockheed Martin, the 2,700 lb (1,225 kg) spacecraft has been secured in its structural assembly tool called the "birdcage," where it will undergo testing and assembly for its first flight atop the Space Launch System on the unmanned Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) scheduled for November 2018.

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— Energy

Germany's Wendelstein 7-X fusion reactor produces its first flash of hydrogen plasma

Experimentation with Germany's newest fusion reactor is beginning to heat up, to temperatures of around 80 million degrees Celsius, to be precise. Having fired up the Wendelstein 7-X to produce helium plasma late last year, researchers have built on their early success to generate its first hydrogen plasma, an event they say begins the true scientific operation of the world's largest fusion stellarator.

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— Medical

Cultured liver cell microreactor might replace animal testing

Finding alternatives to animal testing is an important endeavor. While the practice has been banned in the cosmetic products industry since 2013, it's still a central part of evaluating the effectiveness and dangers of new medication, with researchers usually using laboratory rodents to test out their latest drugs. Now, a team lead by scientists at Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology has created a microbioreactor that has the potential to provide medication testing using cultured liver cells rather than animals.

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— Electronics

World's smallest optical switch uses a single atom

The rapid and on-going development of micro-miniature optical electronic devices is helping to usher in a new era of photonic computers and light-based memories that promise super-fast processor speeds and ultra-secure communications. However, as these components are shrunk ever further, fundamental limits to their dimensions are dictated by the wavelength of light itself. Now researchers at ETH Zurich claim to have overcome this limitation by creating both the world's smallest optical switch using a single atom, and accompanying circuitry that appears to break the rules by being smaller than the wavelength of the light that passes through it.

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— Space

NASA details CubeSats to launch aboard SLS

As its 2018 maiden flight edges closer, NASA has provided further details on what exactly the Space Launch System (SLS) will be carrying deep into space. The agency has today revealed 13 CubeSats in total will be loaded onto the most powerful rocket it has ever built, some of which will be deployed to inspect asteroids, while others will gather data on the Moon.

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