The Daily Dose: Iranian Scientist assassinated; U.S. military working on telepathic communication.

Israel has reportedly assassinated an Iranian scientist for involvement in he country’s nuclear weapons program. Per the Associated Press, “An Iranian scientist that Israel alleged led the Islamic Republic’s military nuclear program until its disbanding in the early 2000s was killed in a targeted attack that saw gunmen use explosives and machine gun fire Friday, state television said.” Assassinating scientists isn’t kosher in our book.

An article in STAT takes an in-depth look at the evolution of mRNA vaccine technology from a promising but flawed idea to potentially game changing vaccines against COVID-19. According to the article, Pfizer and Moderna took a gamble that may pay out handsomely. “Both are banking on a genetic technology that has long held huge promise but has so far run into biological roadblocks. It is called synthetic messenger RNA, an ingenious variation on the natural substance that directs protein production in cells throughout the body. Its prospects have swung billions of dollars on the stock market, made and imperiled scientific careers, and fueled hopes that it could be a breakthrough that allows society to return to normalcy after months living in fear.” It’s undoubtedly good news and cause for optimism. However, we’ll save the celebration for the day the vaccines hit the open market.

Fierce Biotech is reporting progress in the field of virus-driven cancer medication. Like mRNA vaccine technology, this has been an idea that has proven difficult to execute in the real world because the immune system normally clears out the tumor-killing virus before it can do its intended job. Now, it appears researchers may have worked their way around it. Per Fierce, “The team took human adenovirus and re-engineered it so it can’t be captured by the immune system and sent to the liver for destruction. In mouse models of metastatic lung cancer, the virus prolonged survival. About 35% of the animals were cleared of their tumors.” The adenovirus is quickly becoming the workhorse of the drug development industry.

Sauropods were giant long-necked dinosaurs. They became the dominant group of large herbivores in terrestrial ecosystems due to the extinction of multiple related towards the end of the Early Jurassic. A new paper shows that the extinctions may have resulted from a shift in the global climate. Per the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, “We show that eusauropod dominance was established after a massive magmatic event impacting southern Gondwana (180–184 Ma) and coincided with severe perturbations to the climate and a drastic decrease in the floral diversity characterized by the rise of conifers with small scaly leaves. Floral and faunal records from other regions suggest these were global changes that impacted the terrestrial ecosystems during the Toarcian warming event and formed part of a second-order mass extinction event.”

Apparently, the United States military is hard at work on giving its soldiers the ability to communicate with each other telepathically. No lies. It is. Per c4isrnet, “New research funded by the U.S. Army Research Office successfully separated brain signals that influence action or behavior from signals that do not. Using an algorithm and complex mathematics, the team was able to identify which brain signals were directing motion, or behavior-relevant signals, and then remove those signals from the other brain signals — behavior-irrelevant ones.” Considering the U.S. military’s history with telepathy research, 5e news shouldn’t be that much of a surprise.

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