Each month we look beyond the shelves of your local big-box store to dig up the best new ideas in gear. This is the stuff that is better, faster, stronger, and does more than pretty much anything we've seen before it.
Conceptual shelters that will protect us all from the perils of our rapidly changing environment: rising waters, extreme heat, rampant pollution and overpopulation
By Suzanne LaBarrePosted 10.18.2010 at 12:40 pm 27 Comments
Environmental disruptions and technological advances have always influenced where and how people live. Early humans may have left Africa after rapid fluctuations in rainfall destroyed their food supply, and the opening up of the American Southwest occurred roughly in parallel with improvements in air-conditioning technology. In the decades ahead, a warming planet and a booming population will again alter where we live and how we construct our homes.
By Rose PastorePosted 10.15.2010 at 11:11 am 10 Comments
If it’s a particularly contagious virus, it would spread across the planet in a year. “If it starts in New York, it’s going to be in London certainly within a week,” says Ira Longini, a biostatistician at the University of Washington and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle who uses computer models to analyze how viruses globe-trot. “And from there, it will quickly travel to the rest of North America and Europe.” For Longini’s computer forecasts to become reality, though, certain conditions would need to be met.
No one has ever quite nailed down gravity. Newton saw that bodies appeared to attract each other even at a great distance, and from this observation was able to construct a mathematical formula that predicted the motion of the planets with astonishing accuracy.
Dust may help astronomers understand the formation of stars and planets
By Katie PeekPosted 10.11.2010 at 10:11 am 0 Comments
Riding in a car through space, if you were to hang your white-gloved hand out the window, it would come back dirty. The space between the Milky Way's stars is filled with gas and dust—lots of dust.
This summer, the European Space Agency's Planck satellite produced a high-resolution dust map. The ultimate goal of the project is to map the cosmic microwave background, the electromagnetic leftovers of the universe's violent beginning.
This ersatz lung, no bigger than a multivitamin, could represent a new pharmaceutical testing method. On it, researchers have created an artificial alveolus, one of the sacs in the lungs where oxygen crosses a membrane to enter the body’s blood vessels. A polymer sheet that stands in for the membrane is in the blue strip. On one side of the sheet, blood-vessel cells mimic a capillary wall; on the other, lung-cancer cells mimic lung epithelial cells.
Need some natural gas? To generate more of it—and more income—energy companies are resorting to creative measures, eking out every last bit from the gas wells they drill. But environmentalists and public-health advocates warn that one such process, called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, can also taint nearby water supplies. Advances in horizontal drilling technologies have allowed energy producers to reach gas packed in dense rock formations that happen to coexist with the sources of drinking water for a sizeable segment of the U.S. population.
In the U.S., people needing a new lung wait more than a year on average for an organ. That's often too long—237 people on the transplant list died in 2009. Recent advances in cell regeneration, however, could someday allow a patient to "donate" a healthy lung to himself in just a month.