By Spencer WoodmanPosted 06.21.2012 at 3:35 pm 0 Comments
One of the most vexing problems that confronted surgeons after they completed the first successful human organ transplant, in 1954, was: Where would they get more organs? Medical researchers have since figured out how to transplant hearts, eyes and even entire faces. But half a century later, they still struggle to keep up with the demand for parts. For example, in the U.S., every year 1,400 people die awaiting livers and 4,500 more awaiting kidneys.
“Our .50-caliber bullet can guide itself to a hit half a mile away”
By Larry Shipers, as told to Flora LichtmanPosted 06.07.2012 at 1:08 pm 27 Comments
For years, people have tried to come up with ways to steer bullets, and everyone has consistently said you can’t do it. And you couldn’t—if the bullet was spinning. A spinning bullet is too stable; you can’t apply enough force to turn it off its axis of revolution. The secret sauce is that our bullet doesn’t spin. It’s kind of like a musket ball, which doesn’t rotate, but with technology added to let us control where it goes.
By Stephanie WarrenPosted 05.24.2012 at 10:08 am 4 Comments
The problem: Although scientists have been studying deep-sea animals since the 1860s, they still don't know much about them. That's in large part because the fish, octopuses and other creatures that thrive at the bottom of the ocean die quickly at the surface. In some cases, the lower pressure and higher temperature melt the lipids in their cell membranes. Even hardier animals, such as crabs, can survive at sea level for no more than a few weeks.
Sometimes, in the name of progress, doctors have nobody to test their medical theories on but themselves. And in these five cases--though several of them perished from the self-inflicted experiments--that testing was warranted, leading to key advances in the treatment of yellow fever, blunt force impact, ulcers, and more.
Last year, Nature and Science prepared to publish research describing how to mutate H5N1, a deadly bird flu, into more-contagious forms. The papers could help scientists create a treatment should a similar mutation occur in nature. But according to the U.S. government, the papers could also help terrorists create a weapon.
Barb Stuckey hands me a plastic tray of mashed potatoes sealed with an opaque layer of film. “We packaged these up over a year ago,” she says. The United States Potato Board has asked Stuckey and her colleagues at Mattson, a commercial food lab in Foster City, California, to devise a way to put fresh, ready-to-eat mashed potatoes into a package that can sit unrefrigerated on a supermarket shelf for months. Just open, warm, and serve.
By Vijay Kumar as told to Flora LichtmanPosted 04.30.2012 at 5:12 pm 3 Comments
If you want a robot to maneuver aggressively, it has to be small. As you scale things down, the “moment of inertia”—the resistance to angular motion—drops dramatically. Our nano-quadrotor robots are made to be as lightweight as possible: less than a fifth of a pound and palm-sized.
Society must make two big leaps in order to enable truly self-driving cars. The first is technological. Engineers need to improve today’s cars (which can warn a driver that he’s drifting out of his lane) beyond current Google and Darpa prototypes (which maintain the lane on their own) to the point where automobiles can edge forward through a construction zone while their owners sleep inside.
By Ryan BradleyPosted 04.20.2012 at 10:25 am 20 Comments
At London's Heathrow, which moves more international passengers than any other airport, the fuel jockeys of the Aircraft Service International Group oversee refueling. Filling an Airbus A380 can take two hours, at a rate of about 1,000 gallons per minute.
By Ryan BradleyPosted 04.17.2012 at 4:45 pm 4 Comments
Neri Oxman, the director of the Mediated Matter research group at the MIT Media Lab, designs skins and body armors inspired by human tissue. “Most patterns in nature—whether scales or spiderwebs—have some kind of logic that can be computationally modeled,” she says.