Traumatic brain injuries affect as many as 20 percent of warfighters returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Now the Pentagon's whiz kids at DARPA have turned to optogenetic brain implants that use light pulses to control brain cells, and hopefully reroute brain activity, Wired's Danger Room reports.
Algal blooms that feed on nutrient-rich manure and fertilizer runoff can deplete oxygen in the water when they die, creating inhospitable dead zones -- but the same green scum might also serve as a preventive solution upstream. A microbiologist with the U.S. Agricultural Research Service used algae to recover almost 100 percent of nitrogen and phosphorus nutrients from manure, and suggested that the dried-out algae can then act as slow-release fertilizer for farms.
U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers will deploy with the XM-25 weapon this summer, so that they can shower enemies hidden inside buildings with lethal smart rounds. Veterans of the Afghanistan conflict who tried the weapon predicted it would be a "game changing" gun capable of taking out insurgents hidden behind cover, Military.com reports.
The XM-25 resembles a highly sophisticated grenade launcher that fires laser-guided smart rounds. The laser gauges a distance to target and allows the warfighter to set where the round will detonate, adding or subtracting increments of 3 meters from the laser-spotted point. Then the scope tells a microchip inside the round how far it should travel before exploding.
Robots run amok have occasionally maimed or killed industrial workers, giving German researchers cause to wonder about a future where humans host robots in every home. In their study, the BBC reports, a robot arm was programmed to strike, stab and puncture using an array of household tools that included a steak knife, kitchen knife, scissors and screwdriver. Stabs and cuts inflicted on a silicone lump and the leg from a dead pig were deemed potentially lethal.
Caution has prevailed in a Brooklyn judge's ruling that refused to admit brain scan evidence in an employer-retaliation case. But advocates of using brain scans as high-tech lie detectors will get another shot in an upcoming federal case in Tennessee, Wired reports.
Future vaccination against measles, tuberculosis or even cervical cancer might be as simple as huffing from a plastic sack. Scientists have refined a powdered inhalable vaccine that is slated to undergo human clinical trials for preventing measles later this year in India.
Brain scans may become accepted evidence in a civil trial for the first time, if a Brooklyn lawyer gets his way, Wired reports.The case could set a legal precedent for allowing brain scans as evidence to determine whether or not a person is telling the truth.
Tiny organisms such as algae offer great promise for a clean energy future by creating biofuels or even hydrogen, if only scientists can figure out how to use them in a cost-efficient way. A startup named Joule Unlimited has hit upon a possible solution, with a genetically tailored organism that sweats out its fuel and lives on to continue making more, New York Times reports. The company broke ground recently on a Texas pilot plant that will house the single-cell plant organisms in flat structures resembling solar panels facing the sun.
SimCity players have struggled to keep their virtual towns alive against fires, tornadoes, and even UFOs, but can they handle strained water supplies and rising energy costs in CityOne? IBM's so-called "serious game" challenges urban planners to navigate the labyrinthine issues facing today's growing cities -- and perhaps to test better real-world policies.
Staying alive on the organ transplant waiting list could get a bit easier with organs that last longer outside the body. That's the hope of Harvard startup Hibergenica, which looks to commercialize a liquid solution that preserves the metabolism of hearts and livers for about 10 days, Technology Review reports.