TED Science worth knowing newsletter

Image: Flickr / dierk schaefer (CC BY 2.0)

Meet the rose hip cell

What looks like a rose without its petals but actually seems to control the flow of information in the brain? A new kind of neuron, delineated by researchers at the Allen Institute for Brain Science, among others. These "rose hip cells" seem to act as a brake on the flow of current in the brain, inhibiting the firing of yet more neurons. More intriguingly, the new cells have only been found in the human brain -- and there may be yet more novel neuron cell-types just waiting to be discovered.

Playlist: How the brain takes care of itself

Image: Flickr / Alan O'Rourke (CC BY 2.0)

Social scientists know which research is bunk

For the past decade or so, social science has been grappling with a replication crisis; too many experiments, when repeated by other scientists, don't yield the same results that the original scientists published. Recently, a group of researchers replicated 21 social science experiments from two prestigious journals between 2010 and 2015 -- with a twist: they used a prediction market to ask other scientists which experiments they predicted would fail. The good news? Thirteen of the studies did in fact replicate. The better news? The peer scientists accurately predicted which experiments would fail to replicate. As the analysis puts it: "failures to replicate were not the result of chance alone."

TED Talk: Advice to a young scientist

Image: Flickr / Daniel Story (CC BY 2.0)

Moose -- and other ungulates -- learn how to migrate

Many different kinds of animals migrate, and for many their migration pattern is genetic. But a new study shows that moose and bighorn sheep, who often migrate to find the best foliage to eat, may be capable of learning brand-new migration patterns from one another -- rather than relying on preprogrammed knowledge. The study tracked three kinds of moose and bighorn sheep: those that lived in one area for decades or even centuries, those that been relocated a few generations ago, and those that had just been relocated (and thus might be expected to have trouble migrating). Those who had moved recently did indeed struggle to migrate appropriately at first, but slowly learned. Turns out bighorn sheep have a migration culture.

Playlist: Unexpected lessons from the animal world

Recently discovered

Neandertal mother, Denisovan father!
Up until 40,000 years ago, at least two groups of hominins inhabited Eurasia -- Neandertals in the west and Denisovans in the east. Now, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany have sequenced the genome of an ancient hominin individual from Siberia, and discovered that she had a Neandertal mother and a Denisovan father. (Max Planck Institute)

Ice on the moon: reflections reveal frozen water at the lunar poles
In the darkest and coldest parts of its polar regions, a team of scientists has directly observed definitive evidence of water ice on the Moon's surface. Learning more about this ice, how it got there and how it interacts with the larger lunar environment will be a key focus for future NASA missions, if and when we return to the Moon. (Cosmos)

What was lost in Brazil's devastating museum fire
Two hundred years of work -- and millions of priceless specimens ranging from one of the oldest relatives of today's scorpions to an irreplaceable collection of pterosaurs -- were destroyed in a fire at Brazil's National Museum in Rio on Sunday evening. The 11,600-pound Bendegó meteorite did survive the blaze. (The Atlantic)

A CRISPR cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy is closer after a trial in dogs
Dogs suffering from muscular dystrophy are having their genomes edited with CRISPR, a tool for modifying genes, and the results are "mind-blowing." Researchers from Texas this week unveiled data showing how CRISPR could reverse the molecular defect responsible for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a devastating illness that affects about one in 5,000 boys. If the treatment can stop muscular dystrophy in dogs, that would set the stage for giving the experimental treatment to boys, according to the research team. (MIT Technology Review)

On this day in science

September 7 is the birthday of television, otherwise known as the day Philo T. Farnsworth demonstrated the first electronic TV system in San Francisco in 1927. It is also the day the last known thylacine -- or Tasmanian tiger -- died of neglect in his cage at the Hobart Zoo in 1936.

Was this email forwarded to you? Subscribe now
View the "Science worth knowing" archive
You are receiving this email because you've subscribed to our mailing list.

Copyright © 2018 TED, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list