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Science

— Medical

Whale protein puts researchers on path to developing synthetic blood

Researchers at Rice University have discovered that a protein found in whale meat may hold the key to developing synthetic blood. The protein, called myoglobin, allows marine mammals to remain submerged at great depths for up to two hours and has an ultra-stable structure that could one day allow for the manufacturing of a blood substitute using bacteria as biofactories.

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— Space

Orbital telescopes detect increased activity from the supermassive black hole at the heart of the Milky Way

Three space-based observatories appear to have picked up an unusual increase in activity from the supermassive black hole located at the center of our galaxy. According to the data, the black hole known as Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), which has a mass of roughly 4 million times our Sun, is throwing out ten times the usual amount of bright X-ray flares.

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— Medical

Hydrogel boosts uptake of stem cells in repairing damaged hearts

With their ability to help repair damaged muscle, stem cells have shown promise as tools for rebuilding the body's organs, but their potential is yet to be fully realized – especially when it comes to the heart. Part of this is because only a small percentage of stem cells injected actually survive the process, but a newly developed liquid could make life a little easier for freshly transplanted cells. Researchers have found that encapsulating them in a sticky hydrogel gives them the ability to not only survive, but multiply and improve the injured heart's ability to pump blood.

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— Physics

Researcher's experimental ion drive outperforms NASA's HiPEP engine

It seems as if the age of the bench-top breakthrough in rocket science is not a thing of the past. Dr Patrick Neumann of the University of Sydney has developed a new ion drive as part of his PhD thesis that is claimed to outperform the best one devised by NASA. According to Neumann, his new drive, which is still in the experimental stage, is more efficient than the latest High Power Electric Propulsion (HiPEP) ion engine and holds the promise of "Mars and back on a tank of fuel."

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— Biology

International collaboration of researchers releases "tree of life" for 2.3 million species

The largest "tree of life" ever created has been released, spanning 3.5 billion years and 2.3 million species. The work was not carried out from scratch, as such an effort would consume a vast amount of man-hours. Instead the researchers compiled data from almost 500 existing smaller trees displaying the divergence and evolution of life as we understand it.

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