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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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PODCASTS: From Balloons to Space Stations: Studying Cosmic Rays

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Cosmic rays have mysterious qualities about them that scientists continue to research in order to better understand their origins and composition. Dr. Eun-Suk Seo, a professor of physics at the University of Maryland, and her colleagues, fly enormous balloons as large as a football stadium and a volume of 40-million-cubic feet for extended periods over Antarctica to study particles coming from cosmic rays before they break up in the atmosphere.

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