Infant is world’s first to have three biological parents

It sounds like the setup of a wacky science fiction comedy, but this is actually real life. A five-month old baby boy was just revealed to be the first kid in the world with three biological parents, according to New Scientist. The infant was created by a technique that has only been legally approved in the UK, and it lets parents with genetic disorders have healthy babies. The study is believed to fast track progress in the field, and is the latest in a series of advances in genetic science we’ve seen recently.

The method used in this case was slightly different from the one legalized in the UK. Instead of fertilizing both the mother’s and a donor’s eggs with the father’s sperm and then replacing the donor’s nucleus with the mom’s, this scenario first swapped out the nucleus of a donor egg for the mother’s, then fertilized the resulting egg with the dad’s sperm. This prevented the destruction of two embryos, which the family involved were not supportive of for religious reasons.

Neither of the above techniques are allowed in the US, so the New York City-based doctor and his team went to Mexico to carry out the procedure. Five embryos were created, but only one developed normally and was implanted in the mother, who carries the genes for Leigh’s disease. Around a quarter of her mitochondria have the disease-causing mutation, according to New Scientist, and she had already lost her first two children to Leigh’s.

The three-parent technique was banned after it was last tried out in the 1990s, since the children born from that went on to develop genetic disorders. According to the Independent, critics have described the method as tantamount to playing God.

In this case, the team used a male embryo to avoid passing on any inherited mitochondrial DNA. They tested the baby’s mitochondria and found less than 1 percent of it to carry the mutation. The team plans to describe its findings at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s Scientific Congress in Salt Lake City in October. Embryologists believe this case should fast-forward progress in the field, according to New Scientist.

Source: Infant is world’s first to have three biological parents

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This is how SpaceX plans to send people to Mars

paceX plans to send humans to Mars with on a ship called the Interplanetary Transport System, and in a video published today, the company revealed how the ITS will actually perform. The ITS is capable of carrying up to 100 tons of cargo (that’s supplies and people) and it will rely on a few different power sources to make it all the way to Mars.

Liftoff requires 28,730,000 pounds of thrust, which suggests the ITS will use roughly 40 Raptor rocket engines, which each generate 680,000 pounds of thrust. Once the ship reaches orbit, its booster will return to Earth and immediately re-launch with a refueling pod, which matches up with the ITS to top off its propellant. Then, the ITS deploys its solar arrays, two wing-like panels that fold out from the base of the ship and provide 200 kW of power, and it sets off.

Once humans on the ITS actually make it to Mars and successfully land, SpaceX teases that the planet will be terraformed, transitioning from classic red to lush greens and blues.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk will outline the company’s plans to colonize Mars in a talk at 2:30 PM ET called “Making Humans a Multiplanetary Species.”

Source: This is how SpaceX plans to send people to Mars

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Anti-Vax Activists Are Trying to Dox a 12-Year-Old Budding Scientist They Think Is a ‘Hoax’

The anti-vaccine movement has met its newest foe, and it is a 12-year-old boy who loves lizards. Several anti-vax organizations have been pooling their collective intellectual powers for weeks to try to debunk, discredit, or “unmask” Marco Arturo, a budding scientist who made a viral Facebook video about vaccines. Also, he’s a child. They’re attacking a child.

Arturo lives in northern Mexico with his family; he had a surprise smash hit with a video he posted on May 24 called “Vaccines DO cause autism,” where he unfurled a folder filled with the evidence. The folder is full of empty white pages, because vaccines don’t cause autism. Continue reading

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Anti-Vaccination Mom Changes Mind After All Three Kids Contract Rotavirus

Kristen O’Meara, a teacher who lives just outside of Chicago, decided not to vaccinate her three daughters when they were born, citing belief in scientifically unsound anti-vaccination “research.” She has since changed her mind after her daughters (who are all under the age of seven), and she and her husband, contracted rotavirus, a painful illness that can cause diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration.

“I put my kids at risk,” she said in an interview that aired on Good Morning America on Monday. “I should have taken more time to research both sides.” and “I scoured everything I could possibly find about why vaccines might be harmful. I became pretty convinced.”

 A recent study from the American Academy of Pediatrics found that the number of doctors encountering parents who have refused their child vaccines for non-medical reasons has increased 74.5 percent to 87 percent between 2006 and 2013.

The thing about O’Meara’s technique (scouring everything about why vaccines might be bad for you) is that it conveniently leaves out the settled science that vaccines are actually not bad for you, and are, in fact, good for you, in that they effectively prevent a host of diseases. The act of looking for information isn’t inherently honorable—anyone who scours 4chan for information about why women might be scientifically worse than men is bound to come out an avid men’s rights enthusiast. Check your research methods, people!

Anyway, O’Meara’s kids are now fully vaccinated and she says she feels guilty for putting them at risk.

“I’m frustrated with the amount of misinformation I encountered when I set out on this journey,” O’Meara wrote in a New York Post article called “I was an anti-vax crackpot—until this happened.” “But in the end I am thankful, for the sake of Natasha, Áine and Lena, that I was able to reassess my position and accept information that is based on well-established, sound scientific evidence.” See full video here

Source: Anti-Vaccination Mom Changes Mind After All Three Kids Contract Rotavirus

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The Puerto Rico blackout, from space

fire at a power plant in Puerto Rico left almost 1.5 million homes and businesses without power on Wednesday night. On the ground, businesses were forced to close, and traffic ground to a halt as lights went dark. Around 340,000 people were left without water, and millions were without air conditioning and fans in 90-degree heat. A huge number of Puerto Ricans are still affected, and the scale of the problem is visible from space.NASA’s Earth Observatory shared before-after images of the island, taken by The Visible Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite. The first image, taken at 2:50AM local time on Wednesday, shows the island bathed in artificial light, especially concentrated around the capital city of San Juan in the northeast. The second, captured at 2:31AM on Thursday, paints a very different picture. While San Juan is still fairly lit, surrounding urban areas are not, and many rural areas are pitch black. The southern city of Ponce is almost entirely in the dark.

The images were captured using VIIRS “day-night” band. Earth Observatory explained that this band “detects light in a range of wavelengths from green to near-infrared and uses filtering techniques to observe signals such as gas flares, city lights, and reflected moonlight.” Moonlight is the reason that the shade of the ocean shifts between the two images.

Power had been restored to just under 400,000 homes and business by Thursday night, but millions are still without electricity. The island’s government-owned power authority AEE said it expected more than half of its customers to have power by Friday morning, and 90 percent are hoped to be connected by Saturday.

The Big Picture is a recurring feature highlighting beautiful images that tell big stories. We explore topics as large as our planet, or as small as a single life, as affected by or seen through the lens of technology.

Source: The Puerto Rico blackout, from space

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Americans Waste $2.1 Billion a Year on Premium Gas

Do you put premium gasoline in your car? You’re probably wasting your money. A new study by AAA found that 16.5 million Americans had filled up their cars with premium gas unnecessarily in the past year. That’s $2.1 billion, completely wasted.

Roughly 70 percent of Americans own cars that have no practical need for premium gas and only need regular. AAA conducted tests using 87-octane (regular) and 93-octane (premium) gas in those kinds of cars and found that the premium gas gave absolutely no benefits above the regular gas.

“Drivers see the ‘premium’ name at the pump and may assume the fuel is better for their vehicle,” John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair, said in a statement.

Just 16 percent of Americans own a car that requires premium fuel. And if you’re in that 16 percent you probably know who you are. The remaining 14 percent? Those people need the mid-grade gasoline. At this point I’d suggest checking your car’s manual to figure out which camp you’re in. Continue reading

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Go Exchange Your Explodey Galaxy Note 7 Right Now

Samsung is rolling out mass quantities of replacement Galaxy Note 7 devices to carrier stores. The company says it has shipped more than 500,000 new Note 7 devices to carrier and retail stores and customers can go in for an exchange starting today. Go do it!

According to the CPSC recall announcement from last week, Samsung sold 1 million Galaxy Note 7 phones before it halted sales due to battery explosions. Samsung says that 25 percent of Note 7 devices in the United States have already been exchanged or returned for another device.

You can walk into your carrier store with your Note 7 to do an exchange. Customers that purchased online or from Samsung directly can call Samsung to get a replacement. Samsung is marking all boxes with safe Galaxy Note 7 devices with a special black square on the UPC code. There is also a software update being issued to phones that will show a green battery indicator. If you’ve got that indicator, you can be assured your battery is safe.

Given how much of a nightmare the unofficial recall was, we only hope it’s easier for customers to get safe, replacement phones this time around. So if you’ve got a Galaxy Note 7, get to your local retailer and get a replacement soon.

Source: Go Exchange Your Explodey Galaxy Note 7 Right Now

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