Science
Tuesday, April 20, 2021

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Researchers at the University of Washington report they have decoded the entire genome of a fetus using only a blood sample from the mother and a saliva sample from the father.  The scientists said prenatal genome sequencing using the noninvasive method could one day be used to determine if a fetus has any of the thousands of genetic disorders that are caused by a single, often devastating, mutation on one gene.

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The researchers checked the accuracy of their genetic predictions using umbilical cord blood collected at birth.  The findings are quite revealing bringing to the forefront many ethical issues including the possibility of "selecting" the make-up of future generations. 

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Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia for which there is no cure and it worsens as it progresses, and eventually leads to death. It was first described by German psychiatrist and neuropathologist Alois Alzheimer in 1906 and was named after him. In 2006, there were 26.6 million sufferers worldwide. Alzheimer's is predicted to affect 1 in 85 people globally by 2050.

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In a clinical trial that could lead to treatments that prevent Alzheimer's disease, people who are genetically guaranteed to suffer from the disease years from now — but who do not yet have any symptoms — will for the first time be given a drug intended to stop them from developing it.  

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Leonardo Fibonacci was the greatest European mathematician of the Middle ages. He was born in Pisa in Italy circa 1170 and died some time after 1240. In addition to being famous for the Fibonacci sequence, he also published a book called Liber Abaci, or Book of Calculation in 1202 AD, where he describes the rules we all now learn in elementary school for adding numbers, subtracting, multiplying and dividing. He was one of the first people to introduce the Hindu-Arabic number system into Europe. This is based on ten digits with its decimal point and a symbol for zero.

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The Shell of the Chambered Nautilus is a Logarithmic Spiral

  While the aesthetics and symmetry of Fibonacci spiral patterns has often attracted scientists, a mathematical or physical explanation for their common occurrence in nature is yet to be discovered. Recently, scientists have successfully produced Fibonacci spiral patterns in the lab, and found that an elastically mismatched bi-layer structure may cause stress patterns that give rise to Fibonacci spirals. The discovery may explain the widespread existence of the pattern in plants.

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According to 2012 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures, released today by the Alzheimer's Association, caring for people with Alzheimer's and other dementias will cost the United States an estimated $200 billion in 2012. This includes $140 billion paid by Medicare and Medicaid.

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"Alzheimer's is already a crisis and it's growing worse with every year," said Harry Johns, President and CEO of the Alzheimer's Association. "While lives affected and care costs soar, the cost of doing nothing is far greater than acting now.  All we have been able to help in the reversal of our brain's aging process is the use of nutrition supplements including Magnesium, as well as eating blueberries and other fruits and vegetables that energize our brain.  A new breakthrough from a team of reseraches from MIT have found that a new highly absorbable form of magnesium called Magnesium-L-Threonate concentrates more efficiently in the brain, rebuilds ruptured synapses, and restores the degraded neuronal connections.

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Solar power has great potential, but it is estimated that it only suplies less than 0.02% of the world's total energy used. There are many competing technologies, including 14 types of photovoltaic cells, such as thin film, monocrystalline silicon, polycrystalline silicon, and amorphous cells, as well as multiple types of concentrating solar power. It is too early to know which technology will become dominant.

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The earliest significant application of solar cells was as a back-up power source to the Vanguard I satellite in 1958, which allowed it to continue transmitting for over a year after its chemical battery was exhausted. The successful operation of solar cells on this mission was duplicated in many other Soviet and American satellites, and by the late 1960s, PV had become the established source of power for them. Photovoltaics went on to play an essential part in the success of early commercial satellites such as Telstar, and they remain vital to the telecommunications infrastructure today.