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Scientific Discoveries of the Week

Science has been taking many strides forward, with new discoveries and inventions. This week, there were seven notable scientific discoveries and developments that can change the face of the world, and how we perceive it.

1. New Prosthetic Limbs Allow Amputees to “Feel”

This Week in Science

A newly developed prosthetic leg allows amputees to feel some of the sensations that they would normally feel in their foot. The limb was designed by Professor Hubert Egger, of Austria’s University of Linz. While the “feeling” mechanism is not perfect, test subjects say that they can tell if a surface is slippery, grainy, and even if it is covered with small stones. This new technology will allow amputees to conduct their lives with greater ease, as well as relieve symptoms of “phantom limb” (a feeling that an amputated limb is still there).

2. The U.S. Will Be Able to Run on 100% Renewable Energy Soon

This Week in Science

A group of engineers from Stanford University performed an in-depth study into moving the United States from its current fossil-fuel-based energy production into 100% renewable energy by the year 2050. The team calculated what it would take to replace everything that requires fossil fuels (including cars and home-heating) into electricity, and found that by using renewable energy sources, such as wind turbines, hydroelectric dams, geothermal power, etc. it could be done by the year 2050. The only obstacle they can foresee is a lack of government support.

3. 75-Million-Year-Old Red Blood Cells Were Found in a Fossil

This Week in Science
Sergio Bertazzo

By scanning dinosaur fossils with powerful electron microscopes and a mass spectrometer, scientists believe that they discovered the blood cells of a dinosaur from 75 million years ago. If the discovery is confirmed, could we see “Jurassic Park” in real life?

4. The Lost Comet-Exploring Spaceship Lander Philae Came Back to Life

This Week in Science

In December 2014, the European Space Agency (ESA) landed a spacecraft on the Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet. This was the first time in history that a spacecraft landed on a comet. Due to a mistake in landing, the Philae spacecraft landed in an area that was not exposed to the sun, preventing it from using solar energy to replenish its batteries. After 60 hours, the Philae’s batteries died, and all contact was lost. On the 13th of June 2015, the Philae spacecraft sent new signals to the ESA, letting them know that its batteries are full, and it is back to life.

5. Scientists Injected Electronics into a Brain

This Week in Science
Lieber Research Group / Harvard University

This sounds like science-fiction, but it happened. Researchers from Harvard University and China’s National Center for Nanoscience and Technology developed flexible microscopic electronics that were injected into the brains of mice to monitor their biological activity. The needle used was 0.1 millimeter in diameter, about 1/8 the size of the needle used to take blood. This can usher in an era of minimal intrusion monitoring systems for medical purposes and more.

6. Chimpanzees Like Alcohol

This Week in Science

This is no monkey business; chimps were spotted drinking palm wine in Guinea, West Africa. Locals prepare traditional wine by cutting out wedges into the trunks of palm trees, letting the sugary sap seep out and ferment. The local chimpanzee population discovered this and seemed to have developed quite a taste for the booze. The wine contains between 3% and 7% alcohol, and one male was observed drinking over three liters of wine.

7. A Tiny Carnivorous Dinosaur Was Discovered in Wales

This Week in Science
Bob Nicholls / National Museum of Wales

Fossil hunters Nick and Rob Hanigan found the skeleton of the dinosaur while walking on a cliff in Wales’ Vale of Glamorgan. The size of this dinosaur was about 20 inches (50cm) in length and is a theropod species. The newly discovered dinosaur is believed to be 201.3 million years old and has yet to be named.

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