This Week in Science – March 25

Mark Hendricks, Science & Technology Editor Ω

Gravitational waves from the big bang detected

South pole research station BICEP2 has detected gravitational waves from the big bang that are predicted by the inflation theory. Image courtesy Steffen Richter (Harvard University)

South pole research station BICEP2 has detected gravitational waves from the big bang that are predicted by the inflation theory. Image courtesy Steffen Richter (Harvard University)

The big bang is the theorized cosmological event that started the universe. The period immediately following the big bang was a time of rapid expansion for the universe, this is explained in the inflation theory.

For the inflation theory to be correct, there must still be evidence of these waves that were emitted from the big bang that caused the universe to expand so rapidly. It’s something that scientists have been searching for for years and have finally found.

These gravitational waves were finally detected by researchers at the BICEP2 installation located in the south pole. These waves lend strong evidence to the inflation theory of the universe.

“Finding evidence for gravitational waves is the cleanest test we have of inflation; hence the fevered search for such evidence,” Bruce Partridge, professor of astronomy at Haverford College in Pennsylvania, said to Euronews.

Find out more: http://www.cfa.harvard.edu/news/2014-05

 

Picturing your arteries

This tiny camera, once fitted to the end of a flexible wire, will be able to navigate your arteries and provide real time pictures of the inside. Image courtesy Rob Felt

This tiny camera, once fitted to the end of a flexible wire, will be able to navigate your arteries and provide real time pictures of the inside. Image courtesy Rob Felt

Cardiologists would love to be able to see what’s going on inside our veins. To see how blood is moving around the body and get a better understanding of what’s actually going on. Thanks to a new camera, they might soon be able to.

“Our device will allow doctors to see the whole volume that is in front of them within a blood vessel,” F. Levent Degertekin, inventor of the new camera said to IFLScience. “This will give cardiologists the equivalent of a flashlight so they can see blockages ahead of them in occluded arteries. It has the potential for reducing the amount of surgery that must be done to clear these vessels.”

The camera consists of a chip attached to the end of a wire that can be inserted into and follow the bends in veins and arteries. The chip has a hollow in the center that is filled with sensing and transmitting circuitry.

The camera has yet to be tested on live animals but has successfully navigated a removed chicken heart.

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

 

New drug may improve the memory of those with Down syndrome

Scientists at Johns Hopkins University have found a drug that can help improve the memory capabilities of children with Down syndrome by repairing the cerebellum.

Down syndrome is a developmental disability that affects one in 1000 births around the world each year according to Scientific American. It is characterized by delays in physical growth and intellectual disabilities.

Individuals with Down syndrome have a shrunken cerebellum, which controls motor functions and balance. Roger Reeves, a geneticist at John Hopkins University, set out to regrow this shrunken cerebellum and gain better understanding of processes that lead to mental anomalies in the brains of those with Down syndrome.

Reeves’ team injected newborn mice that suffered from Down syndrome with a drug that restored the cerebellum to its proper size by stimulating growth. Three months after, the mice were able to navigate a water maze, something that was previously impossible before.

Reeves’ team is not sure why restoring the cerebellum improved memory, something normally controlled by the hippocampus, but believe that the possibility exists to significantly improve the memory problems that children with Down syndrome’s often suffer.

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