Science Wrap: Neuralink to start human trials, asteroid threat for Earth, and more

Debodinna ChakrabortySeptember 23, 2023 | 09:00 IST

This week's science news is filled with cannons for the future, which also carry their fair share of concerns for Earth.

We have Elon Musk going above and beyond his own standard as he gets ready to launch his brain chips for human trials. On the other hand, NASA has issued a warning to Earth about an asteroid that might hit the planet in 159 years.

Here are a few of the top science news stories of this week, discussed in detail.

Musk's Neuralink to start first human trials

It seems like Elon Musk just cannot escape headlines nowadays, but he has gone a bit beyond this time with Neuralink.

The world was left in awe when Elon Musk, the founder of Neuralink, received the green signal to conduct human trials of his brain chip. This particular "Brain Chip" is focused on potentially curing patients suffering from paralysis by restoring body mobility.


These chips, known as "The PRIME Study," short for Precise Robotically Implanted Brain-Computer Interface, aim to enable people to operate computers using their minds.

What will the human trials check?

  • The trial will commence with a microchip being inserted into the area of the brain that controls the body's intent to move.
  • This particular chip will help in moving the body by transmitting signals from the brain to the limb you want to move, just with a thought.
  • The Neuralink officials even claimed that their chip might be able to cure blindness.

The two supposed 'alien corpses' undergo tests

The alien saga is still going strong as the two supposed "alien corpses" displayed in front of the Mexico Congress have been tested for authenticity. The results of these tests were quite surprising.

Last week, Mexican journalist and self-proclaimed "Ufologist," Jaime Maussan, unveiled two mummified and supposed "alien" bodies in an event, claiming them to be of extraterrestrial origin. This event sent the whole world into a frenzy, speculating about alien life on Earth.

Recently, José de Jesús Zalce Benitez, a military doctor, and forensic expert, tested the two bodies to check their authenticity. The three tests conducted were:


  • Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan to obtain detailed imaging of the two bodies.
  • A basic X-Ray to check the bone structures and determine if they were artificially assembled.
  • Finally, a Fluoroscopy Study to examine specific characteristics of the two bodies.

The results

According to Benitez, the results of these three tests clearly indicate that these two bodies have complete skeletons and are not artificially assembled. They also do not show any signs of skull manipulation. This has only fueled speculations that these two bodies might be of actual aliens.

NASA warns Earth about incoming asteroid

NASA has recently discovered signs indicating that Bennu, an asteroid roughly half a kilometer wide, will cross Earth's path in 159 years from now.

The size of Bennu in comparison to Empire State Building. (Photo: NASA)

Scientists at NASA have been researching Bennu for approximately a quarter of a century and have now found data that suggests the asteroid could impact Earth by the year 2182.

Here are a few findings from NASA's research:

  • Bennu approaches Earth every six years, and scientists suggest a minimal 0.037% probability, equivalent to 1 in 2,700 odds, of it colliding with Earth during these approaches.
  • Bennu has made three close flybys in 1999, 2005, and 2011. NASA scientists have stated that another near encounter is scheduled for September 25, 2135, with a slight chance of it passing through a 'gravitational keyhole'.

In 2020, NASA's OSIRIS-REx (Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer) mission successfully landed on the asteroid's surface and collected approximately 2 pounds of rock and dirt samples.

Scientists find modified 476,000-year-old wooden logs

A recent study, published on September 20 in Nature, has uncovered modified wooden logs dating back approximately 476,000 years. These logs potentially represent the earliest known evidence of wooden structures in human history.

Larry Barham, archeologist at University of London, with his team at the dig site. (Photo: University of London)

Unlike stone or bone artifacts, wooden items are rare in the archaeological record due to their propensity to decompose. This discovery implies that the utilization of wood for structural purposes may have a much longer history among our human ancestors. According to an article published by Nature, it also suggests the presence of advanced cognitive abilities and a potentially less nomadic lifestyle in certain hominid groups than previously believed

It’s a challenge to preconceptions about what are considered sophisticated, complex behaviors..
- Larry Barham, an archaeologist at the University of Liverpool in England.
Last updated: September 23, 2023 | 09:00
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