Despite having served burgers with cheese below the patty at the Googleplex a few weeks ago, the company has fixed the hamburger emoji in Android 8.1 Developer Preview 2. A few other emojis have received mild overhauls as well.
Emojipedia, the emoji experts of the Internet, discovered these changes. The folks there created some great graphics depicting the changes. For the burger emoji, nothing aside from the cheese slice’s relocation (and its shadow) has changed.
Android 8.1 feature spotlight: DP2 corrects hamburger emoji, puts cheese above the patty was written by the awesome team at Android Police.
Thin Crust Planet
Thanks to some new methods of studying the structure of planetary density, we now know that the crust of our closest neighbor, Mars, is much thinner than scientists previously thought. A paper published in Geophysical Review Letters explains that the estimated density of about 2,580 kg per cubic meter (2.58 grams per cubic centimeter), is 96% of our own crust density on Earth, at 2.7 grams per cubic centimeter.
This sounds moot at first blush, but a significantly lower crust density on Mars transforms our understanding of (inter)planetary science.
Obviously, Earth’s proximity makes it easy for us to study the blue mote’s gravitational field, relative to distant bodies like Mars. While measurements taken to calculate density of other planets are limited, NASA researchers expanded the scope of data to make it easier to calculate a more accurate estimation of a planet’s density. To make their calculations, they combined topological data about the geography and structure of the Martian surface with the gravitational data they already had. In a statement, the researcher Greg Neumann said, “As this story comes together, we’re coming to the conclusion that it’s not enough just to know the composition of the rocks. We also need to know how the rocks have been reworked over time.”
These findings will help researchers learn more about what is going on under the surface of the Red Planet. Aside from the information about the planet’s density, the researchers were also able to learn more about the makeup of the planet.
They gleaned that the surface of Mars is much more porous than previously thought, with volcanic regions showing denser makeup than others. Tanya Harrison, Martian scientist and director of research for the Space Technology and Science Initiative at Arizona State University told Gizmodo, “The cool thing about this study is that the method they developed can be applied to any body where we have data about its gravity and topography.”
All of this information could help us better prepare for future missions to the Red Planet, when we’ll finally have a shot at studying it in person. Ultimately, this new method advances the study of (other) rocky planets, allowing us to peer into their history, adding to our study of the composition of matter in the greater universe; its distribution, behavior, and origin.
The post NASA’s New “Gravity Map” Corrects Fundamental Assumption About Mars appeared first on Futurism.
Correcting Mutant Genes
Last week, reports circulated that doctors had successfully edited a gene in a human embryo — the first time such a thing had been done in the United States. The remarkable achievement confirmed the powerful potential of CRISPR, the world’s most efficient and effective gene-editing tool. Now, details of the research have been published in Nature.
The procedure involved “correcting” the DNA of one-cell embryos using CRISPR to remove the MYBPC3 gene. That gene is known to cause hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a heart disease that affects 1 out of 500 people. HCM has no known cure or treatment as its symptoms don’t manifest until the disease causes sudden death through cardiac arrest.
The researchers started with human embryos created from 12 healthy female donors and sperm from a male volunteer who carried the MYBOC3 gene. The defective gene was cut out using CRISPR around the time the sperm was injected into the eggs.
As a result, as the embryos divided and grew, many repaired themselves using the non-edited genes from the genetic materials of the female donors, and in total, 72 percent of the cells that formed appeared to be corrected. The researchers didn’t notice any “off-target” effects on the DNA, either.
The researchers told The Washington Post that their work was fairly basic. “Really, we didn’t edit anything, neither did we modify anything,” explained Shoukhrat Mitalipov, lead author and a researcher at the Oregon Health and Science University. “Our program is toward correcting mutant genes.”
A [Controversial] New Era?
Basic or not, the development is remarkable.“By using this technique, it’s possible to reduce the burden of this heritable disease on the family and eventually the human population,” Mitalipov said in an OHSU press release.
However, gene editing is a controversial area of study, and the researchers’ work included changes to the germ line, meaning the changes could be passed down to future generations. To be clear, though, the embryos were allowed to grow for only a few days and none were implanted into a womb (nor was that ever the researchers’ intention).
In fact, current legislation in the U.S. prohibits the implantation of edited embryos. The work conducted by these researchers was well within the guidelines set by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine on the use of CRISPR to edit human genes.
University of Wisconsin-Madison bioethicist Alta Charo thinks that the benefits of this potential treatment outweigh all concerns. “What this represents is a fascinating, important, and rather impressive incremental step toward learning how to edit embryos safely and precisely,” she told The Washington Post. “[N]o matter what anybody says, this is not the dawn of the era of the designer baby.”
Before the technique could be truly beneficial, regulations must be developed that provide clearer guidelines, according to Mitalipov. If not, “this technology will be shifted to unregulated areas, which shouldn’t be happening,” he explained.
More than 10,000 disorders have been linked to just a single genetic error, and as the researchers continue with their work, their next target is BRCA, a gene associated with breast cancer growth.
Mitalipov hopes that their technique could one day be used to treat a wide-range of genetic diseases and save the lives of millions of people. After all, treating a single gene at the embryonic stage is far more efficient that changing a host of them in adults.
The post First U.S. Human Embryo Gene Editing Experiment Successfully “Corrects” a Heart Condition appeared first on Futurism.