Weekly News Bites: Socializing to keep you healthy, male mouse eggs, and a mind-reading AI

Asia Research News monitors the latest research news in Asia. Some highlights that caught our attention this week are how hanging out with friends can keep you healthy, eggs made from male mice, and taking one step closer to a machine that can read our minds.

We all want to do our part to help the environment, but when a soggy paper straw starts to fall apart in our drink we can become a little less motivated… Inha University wants to help by creating new lignin-based straws that are much stronger but still biodegradable. The team combined lignin with potato starch or plant-derived polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) to create their sustainable straw.

Sichuan University researchers say that socializing in your older years can help keep you healthier by encouraging good habits, decreasing stress, and promoting a more active lifestyle than staying at home. So no matter how much you are tempted to cancel on plans, it could be a good idea to go out and build those friendships! 

Osaka University scientists have created eggs made out of cells from only male mice. The team transformed regular male mouse cells into stem cells. They then removed the Y chromosome and replaced it with another X chromosome, allowing it to be changed into an egg. While the breakthrough is still in its very early stages, this could open up more possibilities for human reproduction.

A new species of cockroach Nocticola pheromosa has been discovered in Singapore by the UPLB Museum of Natural History and NUS Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum. The authors, being fans of the Pokemon franchise, named the creepy crawly after the character Pheromosa which has the same spindly limbs as the cockroach. 

Can we invent a machine that reads minds? Scientists from Osaka University are getting close, by training AI to recreate pictures from brain scans of people looking at an image with decent accuracy. The research is still in preprint but shows the promise of this technology in applications such as helping analyze human dreams in the future.