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New and Improved R

Work published last week in BMC Bioinformatics unveiled a way to parallelize R statistical analysis by using an add-on package, called R/parallel. The package "extends R by adding user-friendly parallel computing capabilities" and "processing time can be approximately reduced N-fold, N being the number of available processor cores," researchers write in the abstract. Thomas Mailund discusses the difficulties of developing concurrent programs and the fact that the new software leaves it up to the user to determine which loops to speed up. "Knowing what to run in parallel and what not to is a hard problem. It will often depend on the data as well, if nothing else the data size," he says at Mailund on the Internet.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.