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Science

— Medical

Paralyzed man uses own brainwaves to walk again – no exoskeleton required

A man suffering complete paralysis in both legs has regained the ability to walk again using electrical signals generated by his own brain. Unlike similar efforts that have seen paralyzed subjects walk again by using their own brainwaves to manually control robotic limbs, the researchers say this is the first time a person with complete paralysis in both legs due to spinal cord injury was able to walk again under their own power and demonstrates the potential for noninvasive therapies to restore control over paralyzed limbs.

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People identified by their own personal clouds of germs

Do you remember Pig-Pen, the Peanuts comic character who's always surrounded by a cloud of his own filth? Well, it turns out that we're actually all a little like him. Scientists have discovered that not only does everyone emit an invisible "microbial cloud," but that individuals can be recognized by the bacteria that make up their particular cloud.

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— Environment

Transparent coating keeps solar cells cool and efficient throughout the day

Stanford engineers have developed a transparent silicon overlay that can increase the efficiency of solar cells by keeping them cool. The cover collects and then radiates heat directly into space, without interfering with incoming photons. If mass-produced, the development could be used to cool down any device in the open air for instance, to complement air conditioning in cars.

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— Environment

Dose of household vinegar found to kill off reef-eating starfish

The crown-of-thorns starfish poses a major threat to the wellbeing of Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Wild, uncontrollable outbreaks over the past few decades have seen the pests multiply to devour vast amounts of coral, and as it stands there's little that can be done. One method conservationists have used to some effect is injecting them with ox bile, but researchers have now discovered that a simple dose of vinegar can do much the same job, promising to significantly cut the cost of an expensive battle to rid a World Heritage Site of this damaging pest.

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— Electronics

Trinity portable wind turbines switch between vertical and horizontal blade settings

Think of wind turbines and massive blades spinning above Kansas prairies or off Danish coastlines are probably what comes to mind, but Minnesota-based Janulus has developed something a little more portable. Having found crowdfunding success in 2014 with its 12-inch (30 cm) cylindrical vertical axis (Savonius) type Trinity wind turbine, the company is now returning to the well for an updated version that is available in four different sizes and switches between horizontal and vertical axis form factors.

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— Medical

Machine learning algorithms could predict breast cancer treatment responses

Different patients with the same type of cancer can have different responses to the same medication, which leaves doctors in a tough spot: how do they know which treatment will have the best response? If they get it right, their patient may enter remission; but if they're wrong the patient's health will deteriorate. Now researchers at Western University might have the answer. They developed machine learning algorithms – a branch of artificial intelligence – that crunch genetic data to determine the most likely treatment response and allow more personalized treatment regimens.

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— Medical

3D-printed guide aids in complex nerve regeneration

Complex nerve injuries are a challenging problem for the medical fraternity, as their reattachment and regrowth is a fraught and delicate process that is very rarely successful. Overcoming these difficulties, however, would mean that a cure for debilitating conditions like paraplegia, quadriplegia and other forms of paralysis may one day be found. In this vein, US researchers have created the first-ever 3D printed guide specifically designed to assist in the regrowth of the sensory and motor functions of complex nerves.

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— Space

Fast radio bursts may provide 3D map of cosmos

Brief bursts of radio waves arriving from far-off galaxies could help astronomers estimate cosmological distances and piece together a 3D map of matter in the universe. If everything checks out, a new technique proposed by two cosmologists from the University of British Columbia will offer an independent metric – set apart from the uncertainties and systemic biases of existing methods – in plotting the large structures of the cosmos.

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