Best of Last Week: 99-million-year-old snail, 40-seat drone bus, laughing gas for depression

June 14, 2021 by Bob Yirka
cone snail
Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

It was a good week for biological research as an international team of researchers discovered a 99-million-year-old snail fossilized in amber shortly after giving birth—it is one of the few land snail fossils that have preservation of soft tissue. Also, a team with members from the University of Central Florida College of Optics and Photonics, IMEC U.S. and the University of Arizona, found that infrared imaging left invasive pythons nowhere to hide—near-infrared cameras were found to help people spot the invasive snakes in the Everglades better than conventional cameras. And a new discovery by a team with members affiliated with several institutions in the U.S., showed that human cells can write RNA sequences into DNA.

In technology news, the largest password data breach in history was leaked online—the attack, dubbed, RockYou2021, has reportedly compromised 3.2 billion passwords from multiple databases—possibly impacting a sizable portion of the world's internet user base. Also, a team at Université Paris-Saclay- CNRS developed a bio-inspired technique to mitigate catastrophic forgetting in binarized neural networks—it was inspired by the idea of synaptic meta-plasticity, where junctions between nerve cells adapt over time in response to experiences. And an international team of researchers found surprising results when testing 6G cellular networks—more options. Also, startup Kelekona announced plans to develop a 40-seat drone bus for carrying passengers along commuter routes.

In other news, an international team of researchers made an unexpected discovery that could open the door to a new way to regulate blood pressure—and it involves the role that zinc plays in regulating blood pressure. Also, a team at MIT created a new material made from carbon nanotubes that can generate electricity by stealing energy from its environment—it involves the use of tiny carbon particles that can create a current by interacting with the liquids that surround them.

And finally, if you are one of the millions of people suffering from chronic depression, you may want to check out research conducted by a combined team from the University of Chicago and Washington University—they found that low doses of "laughing gas" could be a fast and effective treatment for severe depression.

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