Top Stories: Late Nights, Tummy Bugs, and Monkey Avatars

Nicolelis Lab/Duke Center for Neuroengineering; Bernd Brägelmann/Wikipedia Commons; Image generated by Xiaofei Yu, Shipra Vaishnava and Yuhao Wang

Top Stories: Late Nights, Tummy Bugs, and Monkey Avatars

Gut Bacteria May Cause Rheumatoid Arthritis

The bacteria that live in your intestines are a mixed blessing. Scientists have known for decades that the bugs inside us help digest our food and crowd out infectious germs. But they’ve also been implicated in allergies and obesity. Now, a new study adds one more potential malady to the list: rheumatoid arthritis.

Why Late Nights Are Bad for Your Immune System

Jet lag, shift work, and even late nights staring at your smartphone may be making you sick. That's because when the body's internal clock, or circadian rhythm, is thrown off, so is the immune system. According to a new study, one reason may be that the genes that set the body clock are intimately connected to our immune cells: Messing with the circadian rhythm leads to messed-up immune cells.

U.K. Researchers Launch Open-Access Genomes Project

Efforts to put individual genome sequences and accompanying personal health information online in a freely accessible database just got a boost in the United Kingdom. Researchers launched the British Personal Genome Project (PGP-UK), which will recruit volunteers to provide DNA and health data with no restrictions on their use.

A New Reason Why Newborns Can't Fight Colds

In the weeks after birth, babies’ immune systems aren’t fully functional and they’re very vulnerable to infection. There are a handful of theories to explain this liability, and now a research team has added a new one to the list: Newborns suppress their immune systems to stay healthy while necessary bacteria colonize their gut.

Monkeys Use Minds to Control Avatar Arms

Most of us don’t think twice when we extend our arms to hug a friend—our limbs work together seamlessly to follow our mental commands. But for researchers designing brain-controlled prosthetic limbs for people, this coordinated arm movement is a pretty big challenge. Now, a new brain-machine interface allows monkeys to move two virtual limbs using just their thoughts, a major step toward achieving that goal.

Desert Farming Experiment Yields First Results

A project to “green” desert areas with an innovative mix of technologies—producing food, biofuel, clean water, energy, and salt—reached a milestone this week. A pilot plant in Qatar produced a harvest comparable to commercial farms in Europe, while consuming only sunlight and seawater.