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This “Supermouse” Has Human Brain Cells

miceEven though rats and mice can be trained to do all kinds of lab experiments, run through mazes, and figure out how to get rewards, their intelligence has its boundaries, largely because of the limitations of their tiny brains. But University of Rochester Medical Center researchers wanted to see if they could alter the brains of lab mice by injecting them with human cells. It might sound crazy, but it actually worked—the test mice became smarter than the others.

The research team used glial cells from human fetuses that had been donated to science. Glial cells are much more numerous than neurons. Glia ensure that the neurons function properly by transporting nutrients to neurons, keeping the neurons in place and insulating them, as well as digesting dead ones. The baby mice used in the experiment had their normal mouse neurons, but then the researchers injected them with 300,000 human glia each, which became astrocytes, star-shaped glial cells abundant in the human brain and spinal cord that help strengthen synapses.

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This Divergent Series: Insurgent Still Runs Through The Wilderness

InsurgentWith the second to last Hunger Games already in theaters, the next title up in the lucrative dystopian young adult market is the adaptation of the second book in Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy: The Divergent Series: Insurgent. Lionsgate has unveiled the first still from the film, as well as set a release date for the next trailer and signed a director for the third chapter.

First up, this photo shows heroine Beatrice “Tris” Prior (Shailene Woodley with her newly trimmed hair), the hunky love interest Four (Theo James), and Tris’ brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort), running through the woods, guns in hand. Insurgent picks up after Tris and the others flee their home in post-apocalyptic Chicago and the oversimplified society where everyone is divided based on one of five personality traits. In this follow up, war looms, sides are being chosen, and Tris must continue to discover what exactly makes her so dangerous to those in charge, as well as what makes her so powerful.

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Prometheus Writer Jon Spaihts’ Sci-Fi Romance Passengers Finds A New Home

PrometheusIt’s been a bumpy ride for Passengers, but it looks like the Jon Spaihts-penned script finally has a home at Sony, despite all of the studio’s recent troubles with being massively hacked and having a ton of their upcoming films leak out online.

Written by the Doctor Strange and Prometheus scribe, Passengers is a described by Deadline as a science fiction romance that is set in deep space. The story takes place on giant spaceship that carries thousands of citizens on their way to a distant colony. When a sleep pod malfunctions, one passenger wakes up a full 90 years before anyone else, which basically means he’s going to grow old and die completely alone well before anyone else is there to join him. Instead of just living out his days by himself, he wakes up another of the travellers, which kicks off what definitely sounds like a different kind of love story. Despite the setting and premise, this seems like a small, intimate tale, with essentially two characters.

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Predestination: Watch The First Seven Minutes Of The Twisted Time Travel Thriller

Now that both Interstellar and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1 are out in theaters, there’s not a ton of new science fiction coming to your local cinema before the end of the year. Right now the main focus is on prestige pictures and getting those films onto screens so they qualify for the various end-of-the-year awards. Fortunately we don’t have to wait too far into 2015 to get our first dose of sci-fi, as the Spierig Brothers’ fantastic Predestination drops on January 9, and now you can watch the first seven minutes of the film here.

I like this move because this extended clip from Crave Online gives you a better feel for the movie than any of the trailers we’ve seen up to this point. January can be a dead zone where studios dump movies that didn’t turn out as well as hoped, but if you think that’s the case with the Ethan Hawke starring Predestination, you’re wrong. The film is quite good, but it simply feels like they’re not sure how to go about selling it to audiences, and that’s a fair problem, because this is a very unusual movie.

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Watch Sci-Fi Short Film Skydancers And Never Look At Marketing The Same Way

We’ve all seen those wacky waving inflatable arm-flailing tubemen flapping around on the side of the road trying to draw your attention to a car dealership, a new fast food joint, a tax service, or maybe a strip mall sidewalk sale. But what if, instead of an eye-catching marketing device, they were really an enslaved alien race on the verge of revolution? That’s the premise of the clever new sci-fi short Skydancers, and you’ll never look at those thrashing bags of air in quite the same way.

Skydancers from Luke Guidici on Vimeo.

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Roberto Orci Is Off Star Trek 3, Find Out Who Is In Line To Replace Him

Star TrekThis is news that I suspect is going to make a lot of Star Trek fans out there very, very happy. The much-maligned Roberto Orci has vacated the director’s chair of the upcoming Star Trek 3. That alone is newsworthy, but the first name to be mentioned in regards to filling that slot up again is an exciting one: Edgar Wright.

A writer and producer on the first two films, Orci was tapped to take the directing job on Star Trek 3, which would have been his first job helming anything, let alone a blockbuster feature, after J.J. Abrams left the rebooted franchise for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Deadline reports, however, that this is no longer the case. It’s unclear if the decision was Orci’s, or if the Paramount brass had anything to do with pulling the plug. He’s still going to stay on as a producer and writer, which seems unlikely if he was fired, but who the hell knows, maybe they gently suggested he step down.