Another week, another amazing set of scientific discoveries. From stem cells performing astonishing repair jobs on stroke-hit brains to researchers now being able to peer inside an atom and snap a picture of an electron for the first time, this week certainly doesn't disappoint.
If that wasn't enough, we've also got an incredible real-time video of the truly weird phenomenon of quantum entanglement. Plus the discovery of a large, fully-grown female woolly mammoth preserved in fantastic condition, frozen in the Siberian ice complete with blood that bizarrely still flows, despite it being -10C. It seems there could be hope for mammoth-cloning yet.
Frozen mammoth found with blood still flowing -- Scientists in Russia have discovered a frozen female mammoth carcass in great condition, trapped in the Siberian ice. To their surprise they also found the mammoth's blood had been preserved separately, in an ice pocket below the body, and that it was still in a liquid state despite the ambient temperature hitting -10 Celsius.
It seems the blood had some cryoprotectant properties, and was collected for analysis. The mammoth, which was between 50 and 60 years old at its death, had its lower part completely encased in ice, preserving it fantastically "like fresh meat" for between 10,000 and 15,000 years. The remarkable discovery re-ignites the debate over whether we should bring back the woolly mammoth through cloning. It is possible, given the immaculate condition of the mammoth muscle tissue, that some of the new specimen might be preserved well enough to recover complete cells and DNA, ready to bring the mammoth back from the dead. [RT]
Watch quantum entanglement in real time -- Quantum entanglement, or "spooky action at a distance" as Einstein called it, is a phenomenon of quantum mechanics. Essentially what happens is that two particles, which interact at one point becoming entangled and are then separated (like two particles fired from the same source), are still linked in some way.
When one particle is altered, normally by measuring its properties, it changes the other in a counter-active manner. So, if one particle is measured with a clockwise spin, the other entangled particle will instantly have a counter-clockwise spin. The weird thing is that there is nothing physically tying the two particles to each other. Add that to the fact that it doesn't matter how far the two particles are separated, and that this phenomenon happens as near as instantaneously as we can tell, but at least 10,000 times faster than the speed of light, it really is "spooky action at a distance".
Now researchers from the University of Vienna and the Austrian Academy of Sciences have managed to demonstrate the effect on video, in real time, using photons and ICCDs (essentially turbo-charged versions of the image sensor in your camera).
The remarkable video above clearly demonstrates that as you change the polarisation of one photon, it instantly changes the polarisation of its partner, despite the two not physically interacting after release. This is quantum entanglement in action, something we could one day use for something like instant, long-range, totally wireless communications in deep space, or for incredibly fast point-to-point internet. Amazing stuff. [Scientific Reports (opens in new tab)]
Stem cell breakthrough for stroke-damaged brains on the horizon -- A small clinical trial, using stem cell therapy to try and repair brain damage in stroke victims, has shown some amazing results. A year after treatment, patients in the small nine-person trial are unexpectedly able to lift previously paralyzed limbs, grip objects, and even walk unaided for the first time.
ReNeuron, the company that developed the treatment, isn't quite counting its chickens just yet, but is looking to conduct a larger 41-patient trial to collect more data on long-term safety and treatment success. However, the results look good so far, which could mean that stem cells might be the answer to repairing brain damage and restoring normal function to stroke victims, as well as other patients suffering brain damage related issues. [New Scientist (opens in new tab)]