To catch a fast-acting virus, response teams have to be faster
By Ryan BradleyPosted 02.28.2012 at 10:05 am 8 Comments
A man who worked in a lead and gold mine in southwest Uganda died suddenly from a hemorrhagic fever. Concerned that it could be the beginning of an outbreak of Marburg virus, which is similar to Ebola, doctors sent a blood sample to the Uganda Virus Research Institute, where pathologists confirmed that Marburg was indeed the cause of death and alerted the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Both the WHO and the CDC are tasked with containing the spread of virulent diseases.
The Department of Homeland Security is carefully watching the internet. They search through publications like this one (actually, specifically this one: we've been on the DHS watch-list for awhile), as well as all of our public social media lives, for possible "Items of Interest," which they find by searching for a whole bunch of sometimes-ridiculous keywords. (Animal New York rounded up a bunch of them.) It got us wondering: We write about a lot of security and military stuff here at PopSci. What's the DHS reading on our site?
2012 marks the first year in three decades that the U.S. is not launching its own publicly funded manned space vehicle, and it could also be China's year to shine, on Earth and in space. It's a transition period for American space exploration, but even amid all this change there's something greater, yet less tangible, that's lacking: As a country, we need a clear mission. America's unofficial space spokesman, Neil deGrasse Tyson, has something to say about that.
Tyson, a science crusader and regular guest on "The Daily Show" and other outlets, has a brand-new book out that tackles some of America's profound space questions. "Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier" is a collection of essays, a few of which have already appeared in other publications.
Scientists needed $3 billion and 13 years to sequence the three billion base pairs encoded in a single human genome—the first time. By 2011, eight years after that first project was completed, the cost of sequencing a human genome had fallen to $5,000, in a process that took just a few weeks. And in January, Jonathan Rothberg, a chemical engineer and the founder of the biotech company Ion Torrent, unveiled an approach that is faster and cheaper still.
Space researchers uses deserts, valleys, and freezing lakes to test equipment and simulate procedures on space missions. Here's where they put future exploration to the test - without leaving our planet
By Katharine GammonPosted 02.24.2012 at 12:40 pm 5 Comments
To get into space, we have to practice at home. That's the idea behind NASA's Earth Analogs program, which tests people, ideas and technology at a variety of inhospitable places around the world. Finding places on Earth with physical similarities to space sites isn't easy - but the space agency has located desert, volcanic, arctic, lake and ocean locations for testing all manner of things.
In the future, implantable computerized dispensaries will replace trips to the pharmacy or doctor’s office, automatically leaching drugs into the blood from medical devices embedded in our bodies. These small wireless chips promise to reduce pain and inconvenience, and they’ll ensure that patients get exactly the amount of drugs they need, all at the push of a button.
For something that might not even exist, black holes do a whole lot of work for modern physics. These regions of compact mass--so dense that not even light can escape their gravitational fields--are a major underpinning of general relativity, and inform much of what we think we understand about how galaxies work. It's a lot to ask of a phenomenon that we've never actually seen.
Then again seeing a black hole is, by definition, a difficult idea to execute. The absence of reflected light makes black holes invisible, and the fact that the really interesting supermassive ones hide obscured at the center of galaxies compounds the problem. You would need to build a telescope the size of planet Earth to capture an image of a black hole. And that's exactly what Sheperd Doeleman, assistant director of MIT's Haystack Observatory, and his colleagues at the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) are trying to do.
Of the panoply of dollar values and percentages that made headlines during yesterday's federal budget unveiling, there's one number that stands out that nonetheless received almost no mention yesterday: Five. That's the number of large-scale space missions, originally designed as joint NASA-ESA operations, that the U.S. has backed out of in the last 12 months.
"Propulsion," the nine-year-old says as he leads his dad through the gates of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. "I just want to see the propulsion stuff."
A young woman guides their group toward a full-scale replica of the massive Saturn V rocket that brought America to the moon. As they duck under the exhaust nozzles, Kenneth Wilson glances at his awestruck boy and feels his burden beginning to lighten. For a few minutes, at least, someone else will feed his son's boundless appetite for knowledge.
Then Taylor raises his hand, not with a question but an answer. He knows what makes this thing, the biggest rocket ever launched, go up.
Greenpeace's fleet of campaign ships has gained a member: the new and improved Rainbow Warrior. Hippie name aside, the boat is pretty darn cool, with unusual A-frame masts that reach 177 feet (nearly the length of the ship) and sails that measure 13,520 square feet. With this setup, the Rainbow Warrior can reach speeds of 14 knots, or around 16 mph.