Weekly Science Picks

Happy Sunday, Happy Science. Without further ado, here’s the list…

We start with one of our own. Pluto, the dwarf planet that has probably gone through more drama than any other palnetary body in our solar system is back in the news as well. What do Spock and Pluto have in common?

Pluto’s new moons named: Spock still homeless

“The dwarf planet, Pluto, can still generate plenty of public interest – if the naming of its two recently discovered moons is anything to go by. After their discovery, the leader of the research team, Mark Showalter, called for a public vote to suggest names for the two objects. The on-line contest, aptly named ‘Pluto Rocks!‘, concluded with Vulcan as the outright favorite, after a William Shatner led push by Star Trek fans. The names Cerberus and Styx ranking second and third respectively.  The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has announced that the names Kerberos and Styx have officially been recognised for these fourth and fifth moons of Pluto. A decision that is probably correct, even if it proves not to be the most popular.”


Science has promised us many things in its long history. Jetpacks and the promise of immortality to name just two. News this week tells us that at least science has not completely forgotten about promises made (hint: its not jetpacks). The possibility of building components of ourselves in a laboratory that will allow us to eventually live forever.

Building a Liver From Stem Cells

“Reporting in the journal Nature, researchers say they have created a functional liver using induced pluripotent stem cells. The team of scientists first created “liver buds” and transplanted those into mice, where the buds grew into tissue resembling the adult liver. Anthony Atala of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, who was not affiliated with the work, describes what was done and whether whole, functioning, transplantable organs might be created in this way.”


Why is the ultimate question. Search no further for a simpler answer to the universe than Ethan Siegel’s explainer on Scienceblogs.

Why did the Universe start off with Hydrogen, Helium, and not much else?

“This primordial, unprocessed material has actually been detected observationally, and is one of the three cornerstones of the Big Bang, along with Hubble expansion and the cosmic microwave background. And that’s where all the elements in the Universe started from! Everything you are, everything you know, and every material object you’ve ever interacted with came from this primordial sea of protons and neutrons, and was once a mere collections of hydrogen and helium atoms. And then the Universe happened…”


And finally, over at PLoS Blogs we have an indepth look at the HPV vaccine. Something Michael Douglas should be reading.

HPV goes up, HPV goes down, and America struggles with the vaccine’s image problem

“It’s the “your teenage girl will have sex” vaccine. Not that it will cause her to have sex; studies show it won’t, and according to the surveys that’s not even what parents fear. But I have a good guess why so many check “Not needed” as their reason for not giving the vaccine: it makes them think about their daughter, or their son, having sex.”

Enjoy a sciencey-rific sunday, and check back in next week for more of the same.

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