Despite coming from a range of different backgrounds, everyone whose genome has been fully sequenced has had one thing in common: they were all healthy. But now, two teams have decoded the first genomes of people who carry genetic diseases, with one group also performing the first-ever full sequencing of an entire nuclear family.
Despite the impact of mankind, the size of trees, and the sheer numbers of bugs, multicellular terrestrial life only makes up a small portion of the planet's biomass. The majority of life on Earth lives at the bottom of the ocean, much of it beneath the ocean floor.
Thanks to those extreme depths, science knows virtually nothing about the majority of the planet's lifeforms. But a series of deep sea drilling expeditions over the course of the next year looks to finally shine a light on our planet's richest, and most mysterious, habitats.
Between the yelling of sergeants, the rumble of jet engines, and the deafening pop of gunfire, a soldier's sense of hearing rapidly deteriorates in the heat of battle. Luckily, the Dutch company Microflown has designed a special microphone that can do a soldier's listening for him. By measuring the mechanical movement of individual air particles, as opposed to sound waves as a whole, the device can not only pinpoint the origin of sniper fire or approaching aircraft, but detail their make and model, as well.
No longer simply content to rule the world of computers, the Google juggernaut has teamed up with Dish Network to bring its targeted ads and search power to the world of television. The project, currently in the testing phase at some very lucky Google employees' houses, brings customized TV schedules, advertising packages, and web video via YouTube out of the computer and into the living room via an Android-powered set-top box.
In an attempt to shorten the gap between the end of the Space Shuttle and the deployment of its replacement, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) has introduced a bill that would extend the life of the Shuttle by two years. The bill directly contradicts the White House's space policy, which favors a rapid decommissioning of the Shuttle, followed by an emphasis on the private sector to maintain support of the International Space Station (ISS).
One of the interesting side effects of last year's stimulus bill was $400 million in funding for ARPA-E, the civilian, energy-focused cousin of DARPA. And in this week's first ever ARPA-E conference, MIT chemist Dan Nocera showed how well he put that stimulus money to use by highlighting his new photosynthetic process. Using a special catalyst, the process splits water into oxygen and hydrogen fuel efficiently enough to power a home using only sunlight and a bottle of water.
One the problems with cellphones is that they force personal conversations out into the world. Arguing with your spouse? Speaking your PIN and Social Security number to a customer service rep? Having an intimate chat on a cross-country bus trip? Cellphones make all those private details available to anyone who's listening. But with the soundless communication designed by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), you can hold a phone conversation in complete silence.
The seemingly subjective nature of pain always proves problematic for doctors, who have to use a woefully imprecise chart to gauge a patient's suffering. But by using a new interpretation of fMRI scans, doctors at King's College London have found a way to measure the brain's pain response in a quantitative way.