Discovered: Recreating the Easter Island statue march; scientists create embryo from three people; brain waves separate video game pros from n00bs; bacteria that act like electric cables.
Recreating the march of ancient moai statues. Have you ever wondered how those instantly recognizable statues on Easter Island got there? So have scientists, who have been perplexed by the stone-faced sculptures for years. CSU Long Beach archaeologist Carl Lipo and his colleagues offer one possible answer in their new paper for the Journal of Archaeological Science: the statues walked there. Well, no, this isn't a quite an X-file. They believe the makers of the ancient moai lashed ropes onto the statues, some as heavy as 74 tons and as tall as 33 feet, waddling them through the fields to their resting places. To prove the feasibility of his hypothesis, Lipo and his fellow researchers traveled to Easter Island and attempted to move a model statue. "Here we have this giant 5-ton thing, now figure out how it actually moves," he says of the process. "It was quite frustrating." See the fruits of their labor in the video below: [Nature]
Babies with three parents possible. Families already come in all different types of configurations, and science may end up producing even more parental permutations. Researchers at Oregon Health & Sciences University wer able to create embryos bearing genes from one man and two women, which could theoretically lead to babies born to three genetic parents. One of the women would only have a 1 percent share in the genetic make-up of the child though, making this potential third parenthood biologically minimal. British experiments produced similar results four years ago, causing debates about whether the research should be used to foster children into the world. Scientists say the process could guard against passing down certain horrible diseases from parent to child, but detractors raise questions about the ethics of "designer babies." The issue of safety has also come up, for the potential children and their future offspring. There's a one in 5,000 chance that babies will inherit a mitochondrial defective gene, leading to strokes, epilepsy, and many other problems. A British bioethics group announced this summer that they would consider the technology ethical if it were demonstrated to work safely. [The Washington Post]