A Few Science Highlights of 2013

The Importance of Sleep to Brain Health

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The age old question of why do we sleep may finally have an objective answer, we sleep to clean!  One of the hallmarks of many forms of neurodegeneration is the presence of protein byproducts that aggregate into piles similar to those surrounding an overflowing waste bin.  It seems that while we sleep cerebral spinal fluid circulation in the brain is enhanced washing it clean of debris.  Perhaps, some extra shut eye is just what the doctor ordered.

Serious Upgrades to Tools for Genetic Engineering

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Early medical genetic engineering work in people used live viruses to induce genetic alterations.  This work at times resulted in severe adverse reactions that has slowed the progress and promise of genetic engineering.  However, new technology called CRISPR has been developed utilizing a bacterial protein Cas9.  It is highly specific and holds great promise for resolving a number of diseases by introducing “healthy” DNA.  This article in Nature describes some of the current work being done.

Going Boldly Where No Spacecraft Has Gone Before

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Voyager 1 has entered interstellar space and with some still functioning instrumentation.  It took some of mankind’s first close up images of our solar system and is still trekking.  Check out this NASA site for some cool images.

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