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Startup offering to preserve brain with '100 percent fatal' procedure for $10,000

Need a way to hold on to your memories forever? One startup is offering a special, but fatal, procedure to help you keep your brain active.

>> Read more trending news

Researchers at Nectome, a medical company founded by MIT graduates, have discovered a way to maintain brain functionality after death with high-tech embalming, a process used to prevent a body from decay. 

“Our mission is to preserve your brain well enough to keep all its memories intact: from that great chapter of your favorite book to the feeling of cold winter air, baking an apple pie, or having dinner with your friends and family,” co-founders Robert McIntyre and Michael McCanna wrote on the business’ website.

 >> On AJC.com: If you don’t get enough sleep, your brain could start eating itself

They will target patients suffering from terminal illnesses. The individuals will be sedated, connected to heart and lung machines, and injected with the embalming chemicals while they are alive. 

The procedure is “100 percent fatal,” the founders warned, but the solution “can keep a body intact for hundreds of years, maybe thousands, as a statue of frozen glass.”

The analysts believe their investigations will help future scientists “recreate consciousness” and retrieve information from the brain’s molecular details. 

>> Related: A few glasses of wine a day can keep your brain ‘clean,’ study says

“You can think of what we do as a fancy form of embalming that preserves not just the outer details but the inner details,” McIntyre told MIT Technology Review.

“If the brain is dead, it’s like your computer is off, but that doesn’t mean the information isn’t there,” added Ken Hayworth, a neuroscientist and president of the Brain Preservation Foundation -- the organization that awarded McIntyre for his recent work on preserving the pig brain.

>> Related: Scientists worry brain-wasting 'zombie deer' disease could spread to humans

The surgery is not yet available to the public as they are still unsure if the memories will be found in the dead tissues. However, they are inviting prospective customers to join a wait list for a $10,000 deposit, which is fully refundable. So far, 25 people have signed up. 

“When a generation of people die, we lose all their collective wisdom. You can transmit knowledge to the next generation, but it’s harder to transmit wisdom, which is learned,” McIntyre said. “That was fine for a while, but we get more powerful every generation. The sheer immense potential of what we can do increases, but the wisdom does not.”

Astronaut Scott Kelly’s DNA doesn’t match twin Mark’s after year-long space mission

A trip to space would be a life-changing experience. But scientists didn’t realize how much it changes astronauts when it comes to the building blocks of life.

NASA sent astronaut, and twin, Scott Kelly, to the International Space Station for a one-year mission to study the effects of space on the human body, KTLA reported

>> Read more trending news 

Scott Kelly was in space from March 2015 to March 2016, Newsweek reported.

His identical twin brother Mark kept his feet firmly planted on Earth. 

The two men were identical, down to their cellular level, before the trip, but that can’t be said now. 

Scott now differs from Mark when it comes to their DNA.

Getting into the science specifics. 

Scientists looked at the spaceman’s metabolites, cytokines and proteins before and after his voyage. They said the mission caused Scott’s “space genes” to switch on, and they didn’t turn off after he returned to Earth. The experts believe they were turned on because of the stress of space travel, KTLA reported.

NASA said in the study that Scott’s cells showed changes in the length of telomeres, the ends of chromosomes that show biological aging. They were lengthened while he was in space, but they returned to almost normal days after he landed. There was also damage to his DNA that was caused by radiation and the restriction on his calories. His collagen, blood clotting and bone formation also changed and because of zero gravity and fluid shifts.

Kelly’s year-long trip in space was a precursor to planned three-year missions to Mars. Scientists needed to test how space missions that are longer than what is currently done impacts astronauts, KTLA reported.

Click here to read NASA’s study.

Related video:

Stephen Hawking dead at 76: Celebrities, public figures, scientists pay tribute

Stephen Hawking, the renowned British physicist, professor, author and pop culture icon, died Wednesday at age 76.

>> MORE: Stephen Hawking dead at 76  |  Photos  |  Notable deaths 2018  |  Memorable quotes  |  MORE

Hawking, whose life was chronicled in the 2014 film "The Theory of Everything," had battled amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – aka ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease – for more than five decades.

Scientists, public figures and celebrities, including astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and pop singer Katy Perry, flocked to social media to pay tribute to Hawking. Here's what they had to say:

Stephen Hawking quotes: Words of wisdom, humor from the physicist and pop culture icon

World-renowned physicist and pop culture icon Stephen Hawking not only had a brilliant scientific mind but also a way with words. Here are nine memorable quotes from Hawking, who died Wednesday at age 76:

>> MORE: Stephen Hawking dead at 76Photos |  Notable deaths 2018  |  Celebrities react

1. "Life would be tragic if it weren't funny." 

– New York Times interview, 2004

2. "So next time someone complains that you have made a mistake, tell him that may be a good thing. Because without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist." 

– "Into the Universe With Stephen Hawking," 2010

3. "People who boast about their IQ are losers." 

– New York Times interview, 2004

4. "Mankind's greatest achievements have come about by talking, and its greatest failures by not talking." 

– British Telecom ad, 1993

5. "Women. They are a complete mystery." 

– New Scientist interview, 2012

6. "However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. While there's life, there is hope." 

– Hong Kong press conference, 2006

7. "I have noticed that even people who claim everything is predetermined and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road." 

– "Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays," 1993

8. "We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn't want to meet." 

– "Into the Universe With Stephen Hawking," 2010

>> Read more trending news 

9. "My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all." 

– "Stephen Hawking's Universe," 1985

Photos: Stephen Hawking through the years

Professor Stephen Hawking died at his home in Cambridge, England, on March 14, 2018. He was 76.

NASA mission unlocks more secrets about Jupiter

Information compiled by the Juno space mission to Jupiter shows that the atmospheric winds of the solar system’s largest planet run deeper than had originally been thought, NASA reported on its website.

>> Read more trending news

Other data released Wednesday revealed that the massive cyclones that surround Jupiter’s north and south poles are unique to the solar system. The findings are part of a four-article series that will be published in the March 8 edition of the journal, Nature, NASA said.

“These astonishing science results are yet another example of Jupiter’s curve balls, and a testimony to the value of exploring the unknown from a new perspective with next-generation instruments. Juno’s unique orbit and evolutionary high-precision radio science and infrared technologies enabled these paradigm-shifting discoveries,” said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “Juno is only about one third the way through its primary mission, and already we are seeing the beginnings of a new Jupiter.”

Children unable to properly hold pencils because of technology, report says

Does your kid spend a lot of time on smart devices? It could affect their writing early on, according to a new report. 

>> Read more trending news 

Doctors from England recently expressed concerns about children’s ability to properly hold pencils compared to youth from 10 years ago.

“Children coming into school are being given a pencil, but are increasingly not able to hold it because they don’t have the fundamental movement skills,” Sally Payne, head pediatric occupational therapist at the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, told The Guardian

She said technology may be preventing children from developing the hand muscles they need to control and grip pencils. 

“It’s easier to give a child an iPad than encouraging them to do muscle-building play, such as building blocks, cutting and sticking, or pulling toys and ropes,” Payne said. “Because of this, they’re not developing the underlying foundation skills they need to grip and hold a pencil.”

>> Related: Ohio lawmakers could mandate students learn cursive handwriting again

A 2012 study, which videotaped 120 fourth-graders writing, revealed that four “mature” pencil grasps yielded the best results for legibility and speed: the dynamic tripod, dynamic quadrupod, lateral tripod and lateral quadrupod. Researchers also noted one “immature” grasp pattern and one alternating grasp pattern, which they said both negatively affected legibility and speed. The findings were published in American Journal of Occupational Therapy.

Another small study from 2012 explored the effects the handwriting experience can have on functional brain development in pre-literate children. Researchers observed children, aged 0 months to 4 years old, as they wrote, traced or typed letters and shapes. The individuals were then shown images of the letters and shapes while the scientists captured images of their brain from an MRI scan. The scientists discovered that handwriting was most effective for “recruiting components of the reading systems in the brain.” 

“Handwriting is important for the early recruitment in letter processing of brain regions known to underlie successful reading,” they said.

>> On AJC.com: Making the Grade: National program focuses on handwriting skills

However, British scholars agree with the doctors. They also believe kids aren’t developing these fundamentals early enough. 

“One problem is that handwriting is very individual in how it develops in each child,” Mellissa Prunty, vice chair of the National Handwriting Association, said. “Without research, the risk is that we make too many assumptions about why a child isn’t able to write at the expected age and don’t intervene when there is a technology-related cause.”

While they didn’t specify when they’d continue their investigations, they did note that curricula should incorporate handwriting targets. However, they believe excessive technology use may continue at home. 

Want to learn more about the report? Read it at The Guardian.

What is the DASH diet? Heart-healthy diet may also reduce risk of depression

People who eat fruits, vegetables and whole grains may experience lower rates of depression over time.

>> Read more trending news

That’s according to new preliminary research published Sunday in the journal American Academy of Neurology, for which scientists examined 964 participants with an average age of 81 for symptoms of depression.

Participants in the study were monitored for symptoms and asked to fill out questionnaires about their eating habits, including how their habits lined up with the traditional Western diet, Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet.

>> On AJC.com: 5 signs you should ask your doctor about depression

The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is a plan developed to lower blood pressure without medication. The research involved in its development was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.

According to dashdiet.org, the lifestyle meal plan is rich in fruits, vegetables, low fat or nonfat dairy, whole grains, lean meats, fish, poultry, nuts and beans.

>> Related: People with depression are more likely to use certain words — here’s how they express themselves

With a high concentration of key nutrients, such as potassium, magnesium and calcium, the diet has been shown to help lower blood pressure, as well as lower the risk of heart disease, bad cholesterol, heart failure, body weight, diabetes, kidney stones and some kinds of cancer.

Now, researchers say the diet can help reduce risk of depression.

"Depression is common in older adults and more frequent in people with memory problems, vascular risk factors such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, or people who have had a stroke," study author Laurel Cherian said in a news release. "Making a lifestyle change such as changing your diet is often preferred over taking medications, so we wanted to see if diet could be an effective way to reduce the risk of depression." 

>> On AJC.com: What you need to know before starting the keto diet

The participants involved in the study were divided into three groups based on how closely they adhered to the three types of diets. Researchers found those in the two groups that followed the DASH diet most closely were less likely to develop depression than people in the group that did not follow the diet closely.

The people who adhered to the DASH diet most closely were 11 percent less likely to become depressed over time compared to the lowest group, the study found. 

On the other hand, the participants who closely followed a Western diet, which is high in saturated fats and red meats and low in fruits and vegetables, were more likely to develop depression. 

>> Related: Why more US teens are suffering from severe anxiety than ever before — and how parents can help

But Cherian noted that the research shows only an association and does not prove that DASH diets lead to a reduced risk of depression.

"Future studies are now needed to confirm these results and to determine the best nutritional components of the DASH diet to prevent depression later in life and to best help people keep their brains healthy," Cherian said.

>> On AJC.com: Want to try the Mediterranean diet? Study finds it works only for rich people

Cherian and her team will present the research at the American Academy of Neurology's 70th annual meeting in Los Angeles in April.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression, and it’s the leading cause of disability worldwide.

Additionally, approximately 800,000 people die of suicide each year — that’s one person every 40 seconds. From 1999 to 2014, the suicide rate in the U.S. rose by 24 percent. Furthermore, according to recent data released Thursday by Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide rates among 15- to 19-year-old girls doubled from 2007 to 2015, reaching a 40-year high.

College student discovers true paternity in science class

One woman got a whole lot more than she paid for in a college science class when she uncovered a nasty family secret.

>> Read more trending news

The unnamed student discovered that her father — the man who had raised her since she was a child and who she called “dad” for her entire life — wasn’t really her father. He was her uncle. And the story is just as bizarre as it sounds. Thankfully, Twitter user “Anya” managed to explain it:

Who was Marjory Stoneman Douglas? 13 things to know about Parkland high school’s namesake

When an accused teenage gunman opened fire on his former classmates last week, he wore a maroon polo shirt emblazoned with the logo of the school from which he’d been expelled -- Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The name Stoneman Douglas has become synonymous with the tragedy that ended with 17 people dead and the accused killer, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, charged with murdering them. But who was Marjory Stoneman Douglas?

Douglas, who died in 1998 at the age of 108, was a journalist and advocate of the women’s suffrage movement. She may be most well-known, however, for her efforts to save the Florida Everglades, which are not far from the school bearing her name.

>> Read more trending news

Below are some of the details from Douglas’ remarkable life.

  • Marjory Stoneman, who was born in 1890 in Minneapolis, showed a tendency for excellence early on. According to the National Park Service, she graduated with a 4.0 GPA from Wellesley College, where she was elected “class orator.”
  • Following a brief marriage to a man named Kenneth Douglas, she moved to Florida in 1915 to reunite with her father, Frank Stoneman, who she had not seen since she was a child. The first publisher of the Miami Herald, Stoneman hired his daughter as a society columnist. 
  • Moving through various duties at the Herald, Douglas established herself as a noteworthy writer, the National Park Service said. It was as a journalist that she embraced activism, fighting for feminism, racial justice and conservation of nature. 
  • It was around 1917 that Douglas took on a passionate role in advocating for the preservation of the Everglades. NPR reported that most people at the time considered the Everglades “a worthless swamp,” but Douglas disagreed. 
  • “We have all these natural beauties and resources,” Douglas said in a 1981 NPR interview, when she was 91 years old. “Among all the states, there isn’t another state like it. And our great problem is to keep them as they are in spite of the tremendous increase of population of people who don’t necessarily understand the nature of Florida.”
  • Douglas in 1947 published her book, “The Everglades: River of Grass,” described by the National Park Service as the “definitive description of the natural treasure she fought so hard to protect.” Later that year, she was an honored guest when President Harry Truman dedicated the Everglades National Park, according to the National Wildlife Federation.  
  • In the 1950s, Douglas railed against a major project of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a system of canals, levees, dams and pumping stations designed to protect marshland -- now used for agriculture and real estate -- from flooding. The National Park Service credits Douglas with fighting the destruction of the wetlands long before scientists realized the effects it would have on Florida’s ecosystem.
  • In 1969, she founded the nonprofit Friends of the Everglades, which continues to fight for the wetlands today. 
  • Co-author John Rothchild, in the introduction to Douglas’ autobiography, described watching her speak at a 1973 public meeting regarding a Corps of Engineers permit: “When she spoke, everybody stopped slapping (mosquitoes) and more or less came to order. She reminded us all of our responsibility to nature and I don’t remember what else. Her voice had the sobering effect of a one-room schoolmarm’s. The tone itself seemed to tame the rowdiest of the local stone crabbers, plus the developers and the lawyers on both sides. I wonder if it didn’t also intimidate the mosquitoes. The request for a Corps of Engineers permit was eventually turned down. This was no surprise to those of us who’d heard her speak.”
  • Douglas was inducted into the National Wildlife Federation’s Conservation Hall of Fame in 1999, and into the National Women’s Hall of Fame a year later
  • When discussing the issue of mankind and humans’ attitude toward nature, Douglas pulled no punches. “I’ll tell you, the whole thing is an enormous battle between man’s intelligence and his stupidity,” she told NPR. “And I’m not at all sure that stupidity isn’t going to win out in the long run.”
  • She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor, by President Bill Clinton in 1993. She later donated the medal to Wellesley College. 
  • On the same day she received the medal from President Clinton, Douglas was invited to witness the signing of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, commonly called the Brady Bill, according to the Daily Beast. The bill, named for Jim Brady, the press secretary critically injured during the 1981 attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan, established a federal background check for those wanting to purchase a firearm.

Cruz passed a background check in February 2017 when he legally bought the assault rifle used in last week’s massacre at Stoneman Douglas. 

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