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Stanford Science Digest for 10/31/2018
Science news, information and analysis from Stanford University sent directly to your inbox every other week. In this week's issue: Technology | Health & Medicine | Environment & Climate | Life Sciences | Space & Physics.


A decade of data reveals that heavy multitaskers have reduced memory
People who frequently engage with multiple types of media at once performed worse on simple memory tasks, based on the last decade of research.

Directional light detectors work like gecko ears
Nanowires structured to mimic geckos’ ears can record the incoming angle of light, a technology that could have applications in robotic vision, photography and augmented reality.

Robots learn tasks from people
With a smartphone and a browser, people worldwide will be able to interact with a robot to speed the process of teaching robots how to do basic tasks.

Small flying robots haul heavy loads [VIDEO]
Small flying robots can perch and move objects 40 times their weight with the help of powerful winches and two previous inventions – gecko adhesives and microspines.

Virtual reality can help make people more empathetic [VIDEO]
People who undergo a virtual reality experience that mimics homelessness are more empathetic and more likely to sign a petition in support of affordable housing.

Researchers design new, flexible electrodes for studying heart cells
A team of Stanford researchers has developed a soft, thin electrode that can track electrical activity in cardiac muscle cells without interfering with their contractions.

Health & Medicine

Anti-inflammatory drug effective for treating lymphedema symptoms
Two early-stage clinical trials have shown that ketoprofen can improve skin damage in patients with lymphedema.

Study identifies link between DNA-protein binding, cancer onset
Understanding when and where proteins bind to DNA may be the ticket to identifying cancer at the cellular level.

Juul e-cigarettes pose addiction risk for young users
Teens are struggling to recognize the addictive potential of Juul e-cigarettes, a product that appeals to youth.

Tackling concussion [VIDEO]
Stanford researchers are working together to better understand what causes concussions, how to diagnose and treat them and, perhaps most important, how to prevent them from happening in the first place.  

Genes behind rapid deer antler growth, hardening identified
Researchers identify two key genes responsible for the rapid growth of deer antlers. They hope their insights will open the door to new approaches for treating bone diseases and fractures.

Skeletal stem cells regress when tasked with extensive regeneration
New research shows that skeletal stem cells in mice assume a more primitive developmental state in response to extensive regeneration needs and environmental cues.

How a new system improved wait times for Stanford kidney transplant patients
A new system helps patients become healthy enough to receive kidney transplants faster.

Stumped by medical school? A Q&A with a learning specialist
Curious about the challenges facing medical students now? Lisa Medoff, a learning strategies specialist, discusses her work helping medical students juggle competing demands.

How a chief wellness officer can tackle clinician burnout head-on
Installing a chief wellness officer as an executive leader can help academic medical centers and other health systems prioritize physician wellness, physician leaders including Dean Lloyd Minor explain.

Environment & Climate

How do we cope with demands for water as we enter an era of scarcity?
In addition to reusing water, we’ll have to augment the supply from reservoirs with recycling, stormwater capture, desalination and other strategies.

Climate change, overharvesting may doom a pricey parasite
Warmer winters and booming demand for one of the world’s most expensive medicinal species may hurt ecosystems and communities in the Himalayas.


Life Sciences

New way to find relatives from forensic DNA
Investigators may be able to use forensic DNA to track down family members in public genealogy databases, creating new ways to generate leads while also raising issues about genetic privacy.

How the brain decides what to learn
The way our brains choose what to focus on while they learn has been traced to an unexpected place.

Space & Physics

Q&A: Finding Earth-like exoplanets requires new space telescopes
An advanced telescope could allow astronomers to directly imaging Earth-like exoplanets. 

Studying the stars with machine learning
To keep up with an impending astronomical increase in data about our universe, astrophysicists turn to machine learning.

Aron Wall wins Breakthrough New Horizons Prize
Aron Wall employs concepts from across theoretical physics, from black holes to the holographic principle, in the quest to answer a fundamental question: What is spacetime?

Researchers switch material from one state to another with a single flash of light
Switches like this one, discovered with SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory’s ultrafast "electron camera," could offer a new, simple path to storing data in next-generation devices.

SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory joins new LaserNetUS network to boost high-intensity laser research
The initiative will give scientists more access to powerful lasers at universities and labs.

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Stanford Science Digest is published by University Communications.  Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305.
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