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Science

The physiology of Himalayan Sherpas has evolved over thousands of years to help them become virtually superhuman mountain climbers, nimbly guiding and assisting others who seek to ascend the extreme heights of Mount Everest.

But what is it in their biology that enables them to overcome the hypoxia (oxygen deficiency) and altitude sickness that plague so many who visit the famous peak?

According to a new study, Sherpas are more efficient at using oxygen to power their bodies, giving them a natural advantage over 'lowlanders' who come from environments at sea level.

"Sherpas have spent thousands of years living at high altitudes, so it should be unsurprising that they have adapted to become more efficient at using oxygen and generating energy," says physiologist Andrew Murray from the University of Cambridge in the UK. sciencealert.com
There is a hidden mysterious world hidden away under Antarctica and researchers have revealed the giant wetlands that are 800 meters beneath the ice.

The Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling, or WISSARD for short, a project that was financed by National Science Foundation, has taken researchers that step nearer to discovering just what lies underneath the ice that covers the majority of Antarctica.

Reports have indicated that Lake Whillans, which was first located in 2007 and which covers more than 20 square miles, is under the 800 meters of ice that is found in Western Antarctica and researchers have said that this is very similar to the wetland.

The researchers are hoping that more studies will mean they can understand better how the level of the sea rises and how the ice is behaving in response to the global warming.  disclose.tv
In a plot that sounds straight out of, if not Bond, then perhaps Kingsman (or even Jonny English), the British government is set to release previously unpublished information it holds on UFO sightings in the UK, once the general election is over in June, a German website has exclusively claimed.

According to Grenzwissenschaft-Aktuell, a “newsblog on frontier science and the paranormal”, the secret dossier will reveal previously unpublished reports of UFO activity spanning 50 years collected by the British Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Back in 2013, the MoD released what it said was all of its UFO-related files via the National Archives, although in 2014 it admitted it had held back 18 documents, due to identifying some content that needed to be re-examined before it could be released to the public under the Freedom of Information Act.

This, of course, prompted claims of a cover-up of the existence of alien life by men with a penchant for dark clothing.  iflscience.com
In the waters of the Yunnan Province of China, a team of conservationists is hoping to find a turtle with some very valuable sperm. 

The Yangtze giant softshell turtle is one of the most critically endangered species in the world.

A male and female are in captivity in the Suzhou Zoo in China, and one wild turtle lives in a Vietnamese lake called Dong Mo. 

In February of last year, a fourth turtle — believed to be nearly 100 years old — died in captivity in Vietnam, reducing the world population by a quarter. 

Yangtze softshell turtles, also called Red River turtles, are the largest freshwater turtles in the world.

They can live for nearly a century and grow to be nearly 200 pounds. nationalgeographic.com
After nine months in space, mouse sperm has yielded healthy mice.

That's the word from Japanese scientists whose results were published Monday.

The freeze-dried sperm samples were launched in 2013 to the International Space Station and returned to Earth in 2014.

The intense radiation of space caused slight DNA damage to the sperm.

Yet following in vitro fertilization on the ground, healthy offspring resulted. The baby mice grew into adults with normal fertility of their own.

Researchers envision missions lasting several years or multiple generations, during which assisted reproductive technology might be used for domestic animals and people, too. cbc.ca
A new examination of two 7.2 million-year-old fossils from southern Europe suggests that humans split off from the great apes several hundred thousand years earlier than we thought.

Thanks to DNA sequencing, we know that humans and chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) once split from a common ancestor, but there's hot debate over the timing and location of this evolutionary parting.

Now, an international team says they might have found a surprising new pre-human candidate, challenging what we think we know about early human evolution.

In a new study, researchers re-analysed Graecopithecus freybergi - a little-known species of dubious taxonomy originally described from a lower jaw bone fossil found in 1944 in Greece. 

In 2012, the Graecopithecus jaw bone was joined by a fossilised premolar found in Bulgaria.

Using micro-computed tomography and 3D reconstructions of the roots and internal structure of the fossilised teeth, the scientists found features characteristic of modern humans and their early ancestors. sciencealert.com
Recently due to my husbands declining health i was researching creamation and was suprised to hear that two types of cremationwas offered: the one that everyone knows about, involving fire, and a new kind, which uses water.

A pamphlet explained that this “gentle, eco-friendly alternative to flame-based cremation” used an alkaline solution made with potassium hydroxide to reduce the body to a skeleton.

“At first, I was thinking, ‘Well, I don’t know about that,’” Olmsted says, "But the more I thought about it, the more I thought that it was the best way to go.”

When we are buried or cremated, we ask our planet for resources a final time - wood for a coffin, cotton for the lining, stone for a monument. 

But cremation has an environmental cost too, to burn a single body, a cremator machine generates enough heat to warm a home in winter for a week, even in freezing Minnesota.

Alkaline hydrolysis is said to be much more environmentally friendly than conventional cremation, the service is offered at the same price and say the new kind of cremation has proved an unexpected hit. bbc.co.uk
HIV has no cure, it’s not quite the implacable scourge it was throughout the 1980s and 1990s, thanks to education, prophylactics, and drugs like PrEP. But still, no cure.

Part of the problem is HIV’s ability to squirrel itself away inside a cell’s DNA, including the DNA of the immune cells that are supposed to be killing it.

The same ability, though, could be HIV’s undoing. All because of CRISPR. You know, CRIPSR: the gene-editing technique that got everyone really excited, then really sceptical, and now cautiously optimistic about curing a bunch of intractable diseases.

Last week, a group of biologists published research detailing how they hid an anti-HIV CRISPR system inside another type of virus capable of sneaking past a host’s immune system.

What’s more, the virus replicated and snipped HIV from infected cells along the way, at this stage, it works in mice and rats, not people.

But as a proof of concept, it means similar systems could be developed to fight a huge range of diseases herpes, cystic fibrosis, and all sorts of cancers. wired.co.uk