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ICYMI: Searching for a Lost Submarine, Computer Controlled Brain Implants

Scientists are working to expand the genetic code.
Duncan Hull
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flickr.com
  • Scientists aid search for lost submarine: Argentina lost contact with one of its military submarines in mid-November, and there’s been an international effort to locate it. The Woods Hole-based research ship Atlantis is involved, and so is an international group that typically monitors nuclear test activity. It's not the first time either group has been called on to help find a lost submarine or downed airliner.
  • Smart implants could help treat mental health disorders: Researchers funded by DARPA are working to develop brain implants that can deliver electrical pulses to alter or rectify brain activity. Deep brain stimulation, as it's known, isn't a new idea. The hope is that smarter devices could improve the success rate of electrical treatments by monitoring brain activity and only providing stimulation when needed.
  • Researchers expanding the genetic code: All DNA we've ever encountered is made up of just four chemical bases, or building blocks, known by their initials - A, T, C, and G. All proteins have to be encoded using three-letter combinations. Researchers are hoping to expand the realm of possibilities by adding additional, synthetic DNA bases. They've already grown E. coli bacteria containing two newly invented bases, X and Y.
  • Scientists in Zimbabwe optimistic about political change: Researchers in Zimbabwe are hopeful that the departure of former president Robert Mugabe could bring a restoration of government funding and international collaborations, plus the return of colleagues who fled the previous regime.
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Elsa Partan is a producer for Living Lab Radio. She first came to the station in 2002 as an intern and fell in love with radio. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. From 2006 to 2009, she covered the state of Wyoming for the NPR member station Wyoming Public Media in Laramie. She was a newspaper reporter at The Mashpee Enterprise from 2010 to 2013. She lives in Falmouth with her husband and two daughters.