News briefs from around Kentucky at 1:58 a.m. EDT

Thursday, April 10, 2014

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Last Corvette retrieved from Kentucky sinkhole

The mangled remains of a powerful Corvette - barely recognizable to its former owner - were pulled from the depths of a sinkhole at a Kentucky museum Wednesday, completing weeks of painstaking work to retrieve eight classic cars that were gobbled up by the gaping hole.

The 2001 Mallett Hammer Z06 Corvette was buried in dirt and rocks, deep beneath the surface of the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green. The mood was somber as the crumpled car, which boasted 700 horsepower thanks to performance enhancements, was pulled to the surface.

“It looks like a piece of tin foil,” said Kevin Helmintoller, of Land O’ Lakes, Fla., who donated the car to the museum last December. “I’m still glad I’m here, because I would have never believed it was this bad. I’m not positive I would have recognized it.”

At around the time it was donated, the car was appraised at $125,000 because of the performance modifications, said museum spokeswoman Katie Frassinelli.

The cars looked like toys piled in a heap amid dirt and concrete fragments after the 40-foot-wide-by-60-foot-deep sinkhole opened beneath a museum display area in mid-February. It happened when the museum was closed, and no one was injured.

The other cars that took the plunge were a 1962 black Corvette, a 1993 ZR-1 Spyder, a 1984 PPG Pace Car, a 1992 White 1 Millionth Corvette, a 2009 white 1.5 Millionth Corvette, a 2009 ZR1 Blue Devil and a 1993 Ruby Red 40th Anniversary Corvette. The eight cars are widely believed to have a total value exceeding $1 million, the museum said.

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Scientists try 3-D printer to build human heart

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - It may sound far-fetched, but scientists are attempting to build a human heart with a 3-D printer.

Ultimately, the goal is to create a new heart for a patient with their own cells that could be transplanted. It is an ambitious project to first, make a heart and then get it to work in a patient, and it could be years - perhaps decades - before a 3-D printed heart would ever be put in a person.

The technology, though, is not all that futuristic: Researchers have already used 3-D printers to make splints, valves and even a human ear.

So far, the University of Louisville team has printed human heart valves and small veins with cells, and they can construct some other parts with other methods, said Stuart Williams, a cell biologist leading the project. They have also successfully tested the tiny blood vessels in mice and other small animals, he said.

Williams believes they can print parts and assemble an entire heart in three to five years.

The finished product would be called the “bioficial heart” - a blend of natural and artificial.

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