As if growing working artificial brains and implanting fake memories that never happened were not enough awesomely disturbing scientific breakthroughs, scientists have now created “the world’s first living organism that has a fully synthetic and radically altered DNA code.” Although the godlike feat has only been performed using a small microbe, the possibilities for what may eventually be achieved with this technology are thought-provoking and, in some ways, frightening.
Science continues to push the limits of what is possible as researchers revealed last week that they have successfully grown “mini-brains” with detectable brain waves at the University of California. Their home-grown organs have reportedly developed functional neural networks that are comparable to those found in preterm babies, and are growing at approximately the same weekly rate as the brains of unborn infants do. The team of researchers hopes their experiment will help shed light on the role of network activity in the developing human cortex.
In a controversial first, a team of researchers have been creating embryos that are part human and part monkey. Spanish-born biologist Juan Carlos Izpisúa Belmonte, who operates a lab at the Salk Institute in California has been working with monkey researchers in China to perform the disturbing research. Their objective is to create “human-animal chimeras,” in this case monkey embryos to which human cells are added.
It’s probably just swamp gas… right? Along with the moon, Mars has been making space-related headlines frequently in recent weeks, this time with the news that NASA captured a photo of a strange white light glowing on the Martian surface. While scientists are offering a possible explanation for the unexpected light, citing that it’s "likely an effect of the Sun", the find is still a bit of a mystery and opens up questions about life, or at least the plausibility of life, on Mars.
Space scientists have used eight radio telescopes around the world to assemble data and create the first image of a supermassive black hole. The creation of this black hole picture (an object estimated to be 6 BILLION times bigger than the SUN) is a momentous occasion for science, as it took two years, 200 scientists and supercomputers, and hundreds of terabytes of data to generate it… and it looks just like the blurry Eye of Sauron.
For the last 5 years, Chapman University in California has conducted a battery of surveys focusing on in-depth examinations of American fears. Their research studies a range of topics, from government, health and environmental matters, to disaster preparedness, personal anxieties, and paranormal beliefs.
A listener of The Confessionals recently reached out via social media and then email for opinions about a strange rock he found in Texas. He first submitted photos of the rock/skull to the Paleontology Department at the University of Colorado, which responded that it “vaguely resembled a skull.” We think that the weathered-looking artifact, though it is no bigger than a man’s thumb, looks a bit more than “vaguely” like a skull. The object appears to have eye sockets, a nasal cavity, and possible mouth with teeth. The closest comparison we can draw at present is to a fetal chimpanzee skull, though there are many other possibilities as to what it could really be. Here are the details of its discovery:
You’re hiking happily through the woods and come upon a huge boulder jutting out of the earth. It’s impressive, picturesque, and ancient-looking, so you decide to take a closer look. Your hike quickly changes from happy to creepy when you realize, upon closer inspection, your boulder isn’t a boulder at all - it’s a giant finger bone.