Biological Sciences

Working out makes hydrogels perform more like muscle

In particular, the scientists mechanically trained the hydrogels by stretching them in a water bath. And just as with skeletal muscles, the reps at the “gym” paid off. The training aligned nanofibers inside the hydrogels to produce a strong, soft, and hydrated material that resists breakdown or fatigue over thousands of repetitive movements. [Read the full story]

No ‘Red Flags’ Yet for Long-Haul Astronaut Health

Early results from NASA’s study of astronaut Scott Kelly and his earthbound identical twin Mark Kelly have so far raised “no red flags” about the effects of long-term space travel on health … A year in space does change a man, however. Scott Kelly’s time in low earth orbit onboard the International Space Station revved up his immune system and caused an unexpected shed of mitochondrial DNA fragments into his bloodstream. (Read the full story)

Leg Nerves Activated by Light Offer Path to Restored Mobility

The first applications of the technology might be to restore motion to paralyzed limbs or to power prosthetics, but an optogenetic system has the potential to restore limb sensation, turn off unwanted pain signals or treat spastic or rigid muscle movements in neurological diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS… (Read the full story)

Personalized “deep learning” equips robots for autism therapy

Children with autism spectrum conditions often have trouble recognizing the emotional states of people around them — distinguishing a happy face from a fearful face, for instance. To remedy this, some therapists use a kid-friendly robot to demonstrate those emotions and to engage the children in imitating the emotions and responding to them in appropriate ways. (Read the full story)