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This Week in Science: Aug 1, 2008

Science focuses on China, both its environmental challenges (especially water supply and air pollution) as well as the science behind the Olympic Games (including the effects of aging, doping, and gender).

A news story looks into the debate surrounding a 2005 find of intact blood vessels in a Tyrannosaurus rex bone by NC State's Mary Schweitzer and her colleagues. A new article in PLoS ONE from the Burke Museum's Thomas Kaye argues that the osteocytes isolated from the bone are really biofilms formed by bacteria that colonized the bone after the dinosaur died. Schweitzer isn't convinced as the new research only focused on one part of her research. The article is getting some discussion over at the Aetiology blog, where Tara Smith says, "This paper seems to deal a pretty convincing blow to the 'dino blood' theory, but I'm anxious to see what the dino experts have to say about it, including the origin."

Lawrence Krauss discusses science as a cultural movement. Not only did New York have a science festival, but so did Genoa, Trieste, Ireland, and Edinburgh. "It is high time that our scientific cultural heritage was similarly experienced as entertainment, worth devoting one's weekend to enjoying," writes Krauss.

Japanese researchers report that they have made induced pluripotent stem cells from adult mouse hepatocytes and gastric epithelial cells. They reprogrammed the cells by the retroviral transduction of transcription factors Oct 3/4, Sox2, Klf4, and c-Myc, and report that they did not need to be integrated at specific sites. This, the researchers say, shows that it might be possible to make iPS cells without fear of tumorigenicity after transplantation into patients.

 

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.