Discovered: Wizard-like scientists make objects invisible; death is close when chromosome tips are worn down; pregnant women who contract flus are more likely to have autistic babies; prosthetic skin that heals itself.
Well done, science! Do scientists belong to Gryffindor or Hufflepuff? Whatever house they're at, 100 points to them for finally perfecting a real-life invisibility cloak. OK, a couple caveats: it only works for centimeter scale cylinders, is only made invisible from one angle, and only applies to microwave visibility. But still, this Imperial College London's John Pendry and Duke University's Nathan Landy have taken a huge step forward in demonstrating the principle of invisibility. Previous efforts always had some incident light reflection, but this latest effort adjusted how the edges of a microwave cloak line up, making it diamond-shaped. This ensured that the invisibility was complete. Smith says, ""This to our knowledge is the first cloak that really addresses getting the transformation exactly right to get you that perfect invisibility." [BBC News]
Telomere length can be an omen of death. Telomeres play a crucial role in protecting chromosomes. Without these end-caps, DNA would be eaten away. As we age, these telomeres get shorter and shorter, and now researchers at UC San Francisco and Kaiser Permanente have found that shortened telomeres are strongly linked with encroaching death. The researchers studied telomere length in 110,266 people in northern California, finding that the 10 percent of people with the shortest telomere length had a 20 percent higher chance of dying soon. This was true regardless of the patients' unhealthy habits such as drinking and smoking. "It seems as though once your telomeres get critically short, your risk of dying goes up," says Kaiser epidemiologist Catherine Schaefer. "It’s a modest increase, but it’s not nothing." [ScienceNews]