An international team reports discovering the mutation responsible for Proteus syndrome. This very rare and troubling developmental disorder causes severe, uncontrollable outgrowths of soft and bony tissue, leaving those affected painfully deformed. Roughly 500 people in the developed world are know to have it. Joseph Merrick (pictured) who lived from 1862 to 1890 and toured Europe as ‘The Elephant Man,’ is probably the disease’s most famous victim. The finding ends a long search for the cause of the disease and may provide some useful insight for treatment given that the gene involved, AKT1, is a well-researched target in cancer.
NASA is losing its most senior power couple — a symbol of the poor outlook for the agency. Laurie Leshin, the top scientist in NASA’s exploration division, and her husband, Jon Morse, the head of astrophysics in the science division, are leaving NASA and heading to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York to take on senior academic posts. Morse, who has overseen the astrophysics division through its toughest times, will become RPI’s associate vice-president for research, the university announced today. Leshin will become the new dean of the school of science. Both will start at the beginning of October. Read more
Republican appropriators pushed legislation through a US House subcommittee on Wednesday that would eliminate funding for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change while scaling back money for various international climate programmes. Read more
The Earth has a very skittish dance partner. Locked ahead of the Earth’s orbit lies a 300-metre lump of rock — Earth’s first Trojan asteroid, astronomers report today in Nature. Read more
Today, the two big detectors at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) delivered a plenary at the Europhysics Conference on High-Energy Physics in Grenoble. The results were largely the same as those given on Friday, but there was also a taste of what’s to come.
In a victory for supporters of human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research, a US district judge ruled today that government funding of the research is legal, despite an existing law that prohibits US funding of research in which an embryo is destroyed.
While walking on water may be a dream for humans, it has become a step closer for robots. Qinmin Pan, and colleagues at the Harbin Institute of Technology, China, have developed a water-walking robot, mimicking the abilities of the water strider, an insect which can effortlessly skim along the surface of the water. The machines could be used to monitor water pollution, and develop surveillance robots.
China’s deep diving submersible has cracked the 5,000 metre depth barrier.