SciTech Briefs

Calculations reveal finite universe life

Using the mass of the newly discovered Higgs boson, physicists are able to claim that the universe is unstable.

Joseph Lykken, a theoretical physicist with the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois, said, “A little bubble of what you might think of as an ‘alternative’ universe will appear somewhere and then it will expand out and destroy us.” Such an event is likely to unfold at the speed of light. However, Earth will be long gone before this catastrophe takes place. The sun is expected to burn out in approximately the next 4.5 billion years.

Source: Reuters

Tiny planet around similarly sized sun

NASA’s Kepler Mission has discovered a new planetary system containing the smallest planet orbiting a star similar to our sun.

The planetary system, named Kepler-37, is 210 light-years away in the constellation Lyra, and consists of three planets orbiting a star that belongs to the same class as our sun. However, the star is slightly smaller and cooler.

The tiny planet, dubbed Kepler-37b, is rocky in composition, does not have an atmosphere, and probably cannot support life as we know it. It is smaller in size than Mercury and is only slightly larger than our moon, which made its detection a huge challenge

Source: Science Daily

3-D printing to create a new ear

An artificial ear which looks, feels, and functions like a natural ear was created by Cornell University bioengineers and physicians using 3-D printing techniques and injectable gel molds. This is a much better option than reconstructive surgeries, which are painful or involve prosthetics that don’t feel natural.

The first step is creating a digital 3-D image of the desired human ear and printing it out using a 3-D printer to make a mold. This mold is then injected with a high-density special collagen hydro-gel, which acts as a scaffold upon which cartilage cells can grow.
The entire ear can be grown in only a few days.

Source: Discovery News

NASA confirms first drilled Mars rock

NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has relayed images that confirm that it has successfully collected the first ever sample from the interior of a rock on another planet. On Feb. 8, the drill on Curiosity’s robotic arm took in the powder as it bored a two-and-a-half-inch hole into a target on Mars.

Transfer of the powdered rock sample into an open scoop was visible for the first time in images received from the rover last Wednesday. This confirmation represents a success for the sampling team involved with the mission. The rover team plans to have Curiosity sieve the sample and deliver portions to analytical instruments inside the rover

Source: NASA

Tech companies hit by cyber attack

Microsoft was recently a victim of the same kind of Java-based cyber-attack that hit Apple, Facebook, and possibly Twitter earlier this year. Microsoft and Facebook maintain that no customer data was compromised.

Programmers within the targeted companies visited a website intended for mobile app developers, which had been hacked. This website then infected the computer through the web browser’s Java plugin and attempted to transmit data from the computer back to the hackers. Initially, the malware targeted only Macs, although a Windows PC version was also detected at some point.

Source: VentureBeat

Researchers stop flu from spreading

Stephen Withers and his colleagues at the University of British Columbia have recently found that a set of experimental drugs have treated the flu in the some mice. The drug candidates are part of a class of medications known as 2,3-difluorosialic acids (DFSAs) and work by blocking an enzyme binding process that is needed for the virus to spread from cell to cell. Mice treated with the DFSAs had as good of a recovery as mice who were given a currently available drug. The drug candidates also worked against drug-resistant strains of the flu.

Source: Science News