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New Results From an Old Experiment

A famous 50-year-old chemistry experiment aimed at recreating the "primordial soup" from which the building blocks of life are thought to have emerged got a fresh look recently. Researchers studied some previously unanalyzed vials and found that they contained an even larger number of important amino acids than the experiment originally detected.

In other biomedical news, scientists reported success at creating a bio-computer by "programming" molecules to carry out "commands" inside cells. This approach has the potential to manipulate biological systems directly, according to one of the researchers involved.

In another experiment, researchers were able to connect a monkey's paralyzed forearm electronically to its brain, temporarily allowing the animal to move its wrist. It was the first time scientists had linked a single neuron to an animal's muscles.

The American Academy of Pediatrics last week urged doubling the recommended daily dose of vitamin D for children in light of evidence suggesting that it may help prevent serious diseases. Health officials have warned that many children are deficient in vitamin D.

Doctors say that the success of a breast cancer drug called Herceptin has encouraged the development of new therapies that target cancer cells but spare patients many of the debilitating side effects of chemotherapy.

And, finally, New Scientist looked at a stem cell controversy, in which a university investigation found a researcher guilty of falsifying data, and its implications for the field as a whole.

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PODCAST & VIDEO: Engineering Around Extreme Events

Extreme events, such as super floods and hurricanes, are becoming more common, so civil engineers are trying to adapt civil infrastructure such as bridges to these unpredictable and sometimes devastating meteorological events. Engineer Ana Barros discusses how engineering can prepare us for extreme weather events, but also how changing climate and population conditions can affect the ability of infrastructure to hold up over time.

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