Short Science, May 3, 2015

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 May, 2015, 6:51am
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 May, 2015, 6:51am

Test subjects tricked into feeling 'ghosts'

Neuroscientists have succeeded in creating "ghosts" in the laboratory by tricking the brains of test subjects into feeling an unexpected "presence" in the room. Under normal circumstances the brain is able to form a unified self-perception, but lead researcher Olaf Blanke explained that when this malfunctions the brain creates a second representation of its body. Blanke is director of the Centre for Neuroprosthetics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. Reuters


3D printing used to save lives of children

In a new medical breakthrough for 3D printing, US doctors have saved the lives of three children with a fatal airway disease by creating personalised implants that their bodies can absorb. Three babies who were on the brink of death from tracheobronchomalacia, an incurable disorder which causes the windpipe to collapse, were given airway splints that allowed them to recover and breathe freely, said the research published in the journal Science Translational Medicine. While not yet approved by US regulators, the personalised devices, created by means of 3D printing, were given an emergency medical exemption and are still considered high-risk. Kaiba Gionfriddo, the first child to undergo the procedure, was three months old when he had the surgery. Now he is a healthy three-year-old who attends preschool, researchers say. The other two boys were five months and 16 months old when they had the surgery. They also continue to do well and have suffered no complications. About one in 2,000 children are affected by the condition worldwide. AFP


Astronauts take in 'Gravity' on new screen

Nasa astronaut Scott Kelly and the rest of the crew are enjoying the 165cm projection screen that was delivered to the International Space Station nearly two weeks ago. The screen, rolled up for compact storage, flew up on a SpaceX Dragon capsule. One month into a year-long mission, Kelly said the screen was useful for work as well as entertainment. Last weekend, for instance, the crew used it to watch the 2013 space thriller Gravity about a disaster that destroyed the ISS. Until the projection screen arrived, astronauts had to huddle around their laptops for training sessions and films. AP