Today, science hopes a recent decision about gene patents will help fight breast cancer, finds that melanoma is smell-able (how very Hannibal of us), learns warm ocean water is responsible for more Antarctic ice melt than we thought, and possibly invents the first Mars-based sport.

The US Supreme Court rules that naturally occurring human genes can’t be patented—but synthetic versions can
Thursday’s ruling throws out patents that Myriad Genetics held over two isolated human genes—BRCA1 and BRCA2—that can indicate an increased risk of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. Myriad can no longer hold a monopoly on testing these genes for mutations, so other companies could offer more affordable tests for patients, and the two could be included existing multigene cancer test panels, according to UW Professor Mary-Claire King, who discovered BRCA1 gene in 1990.

But complementary DNA (cDNA) is still eligible for patent, as are methods of isolating genes, if they are new (the methods used by Myriad were “well understood by geneticists"). The decision is seen as a win by many in the medical community, but critics worry that this patent-ability of cDNA may still prove to be a significant barrier to research, especially because of the potential for loopholes.

Melanoma can be detected based on the smell of human skin
Scientists hope to make a scent-based detector that can help diagnose melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer. Scientists in Philadelphia used a nano-sensor to distinguish between the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) of normal skin cells versus ones with melanoma.

Warm ocean water melts the underside of Antarctic ice shelves
A study released in Science finds that from 2003 to 2008, this water accounted for 55 percent of ice shelf loss. Previously, we thought that icebergs calving into the sea were a larger source of this loss. Antarctica still holds about 60 percent of the planet’s fresh water in a massive ice sheet.

NASA scientists slide dry ice down a hill
To identify the source of long, mysterious “dune troughs” seen by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, scientists tried sliding dry ice down a hill, and one engineer suggests we may have discovered a pretty awesome new pastime: