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This Week In Science: Ebola (and Fear) Spreads, A Mighty Little Pulsar, And the 2014 Nobel Prizes

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Seven days; lots of science in the news. Here’s our roundup of this week’s most notable and quotable items:

Nobel Prizes were awarded to the scientists who discovered the brain’s GPS system, invented the blue LED, and found new ways to make microscopes see even tinier objects. Researchers think they’ve spotted the footprint of a Majorana fermion, a particle made of both matter and antimatter. Killer whales were found capable of imitating dolphin noises. Astronomers discovered a pulsar—a rotating dead star—that packs a mass equivalent to our sun in an area the size of San Francisco and emits X-rays with the energy of about 10 million suns; it’s the brightest pulsar ever detected.

Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, passed away. Five major U.S. airports introduced increased Ebola screening,despite public health experts’ concerns that the type of screening proposed is historically ineffective, that screening wouldn’t catch patients like Duncan that have not developed symptoms while traveling, and that there are no direct flights from the three countries affected, making tracking a logistical nightmare. The epidemic is still raging in West Africa, with more than 8,000 cases and nearly 4,000 deaths in the region; in Sierra Leone, 121 people died of Ebola in a single day.

What might be the oldest example of human art was found on a cave wall in Indonesia: 12 stencils of human hands, and two drawings of animals made at least 40,000 years ago. Antarctic sea ice is at a 35-year high. Korean and Japanese researchers made a Möbius strip out of 46 carbon atoms—12 more than the previous record. Scientists managed to transform human stem cells into functional pancreatic beta cells—rising hopes for a cure for type 1 diabetes.

Lab-grown penises may soon be ready for human trials. The International Space Station is set to get an inflatable private room in 2015. Sexting may just be the new normal for teenagers. White people have smellier earwax than East Asians.

Image: NASA


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