News for Nerds - The Printed Heart Edition

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  • Posted by: Dom Testa|
  • 9/27/2013 |
  • 10:00 am
News for Nerds - The Printed Heart Edition

Welcome back to News for Nerds! This week we'll debunk some myths about the human brain, we'll show you how science is getting closer to developing a real-life light saber, and we'll gross you out with a nose on a forehead. But first, here are your headlines.

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By now you're probably (at least vaguely) familiar with the 3D printing movement. But are you prepared for the massive impact its going to have in our lives?

There have been plenty of stories about the 3D printing revolution lately, but some of the most interesting applications have to do with the field of medicine. According to USA Today, we are within about 10 years of scientists using 3D printers and human cells to create new, fully-functioning human hearts.

This isn't science fiction. 3D printing is already being used to create models of human bones and organs, along with personalized prosthetics. Earlier this month, a specially-designed splint was created via 3D printer which ultimately restored a baby's breathing, thus saving its life. Scientists in Kentucky have used the technology to grow new ulna bones in rabbits, and to make models of human parts for teaching and surgery planning.

Next stop: human tissue and organ creation. Not only will this allow more people to receive necessary transplants, but since patients' own cells will be used to produce the organs, it could drastically reduce the number of cases where a body rejects a transplanted organ.

Says one doctor working at the forefront of this technology: "You'll be able to custom-make parts and get them when you need them." Wow.

- from USA Today

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Everyone has a different definition of the word 'miracle', but no matter what your belief system is, I think we can all agree: the fact that we're here at all is a miracle by any standard.

When you think about all of the things that have to be just right for life to exist on our planet -- the climate, the atmosphere, the proximity to the sun, the chemical composition, the timing -- it's astounding that humans exist at all. We are a textbook example of being in the right place at the right time.

But how much longer can we expect to be around? A graduate student from Great Britain has crunched the numbers, and he says life on Earth has about 1.75 billion years left. If we're lucky, we might squeeze out as many as 3.25 billion years.

Those numbers reflect how long our planet will be in the habitable zone, or the so-called 'Goldilocks zone', where conditions are not too hot and not too cold, but just right. As time passes, our sun will get bigger and more luminous. Eventually, the 93-ish million miles between the Earth and the sun won't be enough of a buffer, and things will start to get pretty uncomfortable around here.

Then again, humans will likely be long gone by then anyway. Even a fluctuation of just a few degrees in average temperature spells trouble for our species -- not to mention the scary implications of war, asteroids, or the dreaded Broncos-Raiders rivalry -- so a couple billion years from now, our planet might revert to mostly microbes anyway.

- from MSN

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Here are a few other cool science stories you might enjoy:

  • Quick, true or false? Humans only use 10 percent of their brains. Even though we've been told this all our lives, it's actually a myth. There are a lot of myths about the human brain. LiveScience sets the record straight.
  • Star Wars fans, rejoice. Scientists have created a new form of matter -- called photonic molecules -- which are changing the way we think about light and lasers. Long story short: if light can have mass, then maybe we can all have light sabers.
  • And finally, I give you a story that is not for the faint of heart. But if you're curious, then you can check out this article (and the hard-to-believe picture that accompanies it) about the man with a nose on his forehead. Pretty wild stuff.

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That's all for now! I'll be back with more News for Nerds next week, but be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter, and to sign up for the free e-Newsletter so that you can properly get your nerd on every single month! And please send any juicy News for Nerds tips to me right here!

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