This week in science – March 18

Mark Hendricks, Science & Technology Editor Ω

Underground oceans

New research indicates the possibility of massive underground oceans with more water than all the world's oceans combined. Keith Roper/Flickr Commons

New research indicates the possibility of massive underground oceans with more water than all the world’s oceans combined. Keith Roper/Flickr Commons

A recent discovery by scientists from the University of Alberta suggests the possibility of vast underground oceans within the Earth.

The discovery, if proved accurate, is quite significant. The only evidence supporting the claim are water molecules found within crystals from the Earth’s transition layer, about 550 km below the Earth’s crust.

“That particular zone in the Earth, the transition zone, might have as much water as all the world’s oceans put together,” said Graham Pearson, the scientist who made the discovery.

The crystal the water was found in is called ringwoodite. Ringwoodite is the most common mineral found in the transition layer. If all ringwoodite possesses water like the crystal that was found, it could be a remarkable breakthrough in the Earth’s water supplies.

“It’s so small, this inclusion, it’s extremely difficult to find, never mind work on,” Pearson said. “So it was a bit of a piece of luck, this discovery, as are many scientific discoveries.”

Find out more: http://www.iflscience.com

Printing bone replacements

Stephen Power has become one of the first men to have facial reconstruction surgery using 3D-printed material at every stage of the procedure.

Power was in a motorcycle accident that left him in the hospital for four months with extensive facial damage. Doctors were able to do a CT scan of his face, and, using a 3D printer, print off a symmetrical copy of the bones in his face along with cutting lines.

This allowed the surgeons to use a much more accurate replication of Power’s face and reconstruct it in a manner that more closely resembles his original face.

“I think it’s incomparable, the results are in a different league from anything we’ve done before,” Adrian Sugar, one of the surgeons in the procedure, said to the BBC. “What this does is it allows us to be much more precise. Everybody now is starting to think in this way, guesswork is not good enough.”

Find out more: http://www.bbc.com

Cloned woolly mammoths

A newly discovered mammoth remain could hold the secret to cloning the long extinct animal. Joe Goldberg/Flickr Commons

A newly discovered mammoth remain could hold the secret to cloning the long extinct animal. Joe Goldberg/Flickr Commons

Scientists have claimed that, thanks to a new mammoth sample, there is a strong possibility of being able to clone a woolly mammoth.

The team, which is composed of scientists from Russia, the UK, the US, South Korea and Denmark, owes this chance to an extremely well preserved woolly mammoth found in Siberia.

The team plans to take a fertile female Asian elephant and inject her egg with the genetic material of the woolly mammoth.

“The data we are about to receive will give us a high chance to clone the mammoth,” Radik Khayrullin, vice president of the Russian Association of Medical Anthropologists, told the Siberian Times. “We must have a reason to do this, as it is one thing to clone it for scientific purpose and another to clone for the sake of curiosity.”

Find out more: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk