Disappearing ice, superpowers and other science stories of the week

Welcome to your weekly science update – a curated list of this week’s most interesting stories in science.

Disappearing ice. Eighteen years of data prove that Antarctica’s ice sheets are melting faster and faster. Data also shows there is less ice forming during winter months and it may be gone by the end of the century.

Disappearing bees. UK bees get fitted with wearable technology to help scientists track population decline.

Facebook’s A.I. peek into Facebook’s research on deep learning, including an interview with Yann LeCun, Director of Facebook’s Artificial Intelligence Research team.

Google’s A.I. ICYMI, here’s a look inside London based machine learning start-up Deepmind that Google purchased for £400 million last year.

Superpowers and biomaterials. This week’s Nature has a special section exploring the ways in which substances found in the natural world are inspiring imitations that might eventually endow humans with superhuman powers.

The flu gene. Scientists find a genetic mutation that may render some people defenceless to the flu, suggesting severe influenza might be the result of both a virus and a genetic disease.

Rethinking Europe’s Human Brain Project. The flagship European research project will need to redesign its leadership structure and its scientific objectives, an independent report finds.

How to grow a human lung. Scientists have a recipe to coax stem cells into growing 3D mini lungs.

Space and epigenetics. What’s the difference between living in outer space and living in Houston, Texas? Today NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly blasts-off for a yearlong mission to the International Space Station. His identical twin Mark, also an astronaut, will stay on Earth so scientists can study how changes in our environment change how our DNA is expressed.

Epigenetics for the musically inclined. For a better understanding of what is meant by “epigenome” think about the difference between a written musical score and how the notes are actually expressed in performance.

Work site wellness centers actually work. A study published by the Mayo Clinic found that participation in wellness centers at work helped employees lose weight and lowers healthcare costs.

Data encryption for personalised medicine. The key to unlocking the potential of genomics may lie in the hands of cryptographers and data scientists just as much as geneticists.

The ethics of Neuroscience. A new report highlights three areas where advances in neuroscience should require more public debate on ethics: the capacity for consent; neuroscience and the legal system; neural modification and cognitive enhancement.

Just your average Ebola. Studies conclude that the catastrophic Ebola outbreak in 2014 was not caused by a super strain or freak mutation, the virus is really just that bad.

Author: David Gleicher is Senior Programme Manager, Science and Technology, at the World Economic Forum.

Image: A seal swims by icebergs off the British Antarctic Survey’s Rothera base January 23, 2009. REUTERS/Alister Doyle

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