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Welcome back to our Cool Stuff Roundup, where we collect the best stories shared on Freethink’s internal Slack channel, and share them with you.

Virtual reality promises to change the way we experience everything from video games to live sports, but will it also change the way we dream? A new study suggests that VR users experience more lucid dreams than conventional computer users. Researchers think it’s because “engagement in dream-like environments—like many virtual-reality programs are—increases lucid dreaming frequency.”

vr
VR headset at SXSW. Photo via Flickr user Nan Palmero

Another incredible stem cell therapy case: Last week we told you about the experimental stem cell treatment that restored Vanna Belton’s vision, and the fight over whether patients should be able to receive that treatment at all. The case of Kris Boesen offers more super promising evidence that stem therapy works: Three months after receiving a stem infusion for a spinal cord injury that paralyzed him from the neck down, Boesen was “able to feed himself, use his cell phone, write his name, operate a motorized wheelchair, and hug his friends and family.”

beoson
Kris Boeson. Image via USC

Turns out DNA is a great way to store data, and not just the genetic kind: In a development you probably didn’t see coming, Microsoft transferred the entirety of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace by translating the 1s and 0s that make up digital data into nucleotides. Lead researcher Karen Strauss says “a shoebox worth of DNA could hold the equivalent of roughly 100 giant data centers.”

Can we cure every disease with $3 billion? Pediatrician Priscilla Chan and her husband, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, want to try. Over the next decade, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is investing $3 billion toward “helping cure, prevent, or manage all disease” within their children’s lifetime. Of that $3 billion, $600 million will go toward the creation of Biohub, a physical facility that will bring together software engineers and medical researchers from Stanford, Berkeley, and other elite Bay Area institutions. Tall order, long runway, best of luck.

The Back to the Future shoes are finally here: Sneaker heads have been fantasizing about the self-lacing shoes worn by Marty McFly for 30 years, and Nike finally made them. The Hyperadapt has a motor in the sole, a censor in the heel, and can lace itself up.

Up Next

Recyclable Electronics
A World’s First: Printable Electronics Now Fully Recyclable
recyclable electronics
Recyclable Electronics
A World’s First: Printable Electronics Now Fully Recyclable
Duke researchers show new recyclable electronics technique that reclaims nearly 100% of carbon-based printed transistors using water and sound.

Duke researchers show new recyclable electronics technique that reclaims nearly 100% of carbon-based printed transistors using water and sound.

CRISPR
These Gene-Edited Pigs Could Help End Organ Shortages
gene-edited pigs
CRISPR
These Gene-Edited Pigs Could Help End Organ Shortages
These gene-edited pigs have organs designed to be more compatible with the human body, bringing xenotransplantation one step closer to reality.

These gene-edited pigs have organs designed to be more compatible with the human body, bringing xenotransplantation one step closer to reality.

Healthcare
Study May Explain Why Cancer Gets More Aggressive as We Age
cancer and aging
Healthcare
Study May Explain Why Cancer Gets More Aggressive as We Age
A molecule in the blood of older people promotes the spread of cancer, which could explain the link between age and metastatic cancer.

A molecule in the blood of older people promotes the spread of cancer, which could explain the link between age and metastatic cancer.

Aerospace
Tracking the Crew Dragon: Return to Earth
Crew Dragon Return
Aerospace
Tracking the Crew Dragon: Return to Earth
A SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft with two astronauts onboard has returned to Earth from the International Space Station, marking a milestone in spaceflight.

A SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft with two astronauts onboard has returned to Earth from the International Space Station, marking a milestone in spaceflight.

Future of Medicine
Reading Your Digital Signature to Detect Depression, Parkinson’s
Digital phenotyping mental health disorders
Future of Medicine
Reading Your Digital Signature to Detect Depression, Parkinson’s
Digital phenotyping uses our smartphones to detect anything from Parkinson's disease to mental health disorders.

Digital phenotyping uses our smartphones to detect anything from Parkinson's disease to mental health disorders.

The Sound of Science
This Electronic Musician Is Transforming the Soundscape of Hospitals
This Electronic Musician Is Transforming the Soundscape of Hospitals
The Sound of Science
This Electronic Musician Is Transforming the Soundscape of Hospitals
Trained as a classical pianist, ambient artist Yoko Sen is on a mission to redesign medical devices' beeps and buzzes and save us from alarm fatigue.

Trained as a classical pianist, ambient artist Yoko Sen is on a mission to redesign medical devices' beeps and buzzes and save us from alarm fatigue.

Sustainability
Growing Food with Seawater
Growing Food with Seawater
Watch Now
Sustainability
Growing Food with Seawater
This designer invented a greenhouse that lets you grow food with seawater.
Watch Now

Water is in short supply in much of the world — but what if we use seawater? It’s been a dream for years, but now technology is making it possible. This new seawater greenhouse uses a clever cardboard design to distill fresh water from salt water cheaply and efficiently. It’s helping grow crops in Somaliland, and could help stop the water crisis in Africa and other parts of the world that are susceptible to drought. The...

Superhuman
Can Virtual Reality Help Fight the Opioid Crisis?
Can Virtual Reality Help Fight the Opioid Crisis?
Watch Now
Superhuman
Can Virtual Reality Help Fight the Opioid Crisis?
VR has long been seen as an escape from the real world. But recently researchers have been putting an unexpected twist on that. They’re now exploring how VR could provide an escape from an unfortunate reality many face everyday: chronic pain.
Watch Now

Opioid addictions have become a dangerous side effect for many that take medications to treat chronic pain. To address this, doctors are exploring alternatives to prescriptions pain medicine. As part of this movement, Dr. Brennan Spiegel at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles has spear-headed some pretty fascinating research. He and his team are using virtual reality to reduce pain. Not only is it surprisingly effective...