As soon as scientists began decoding the human genome, speculation started about an impending age of personalized genetic medicine. Health care Cassandras spun enticing yarns about a future where a patient's disease predispositions would be quickly and cheaply identified. And years after Craig Venter decoded the first human genome (his), the best we've got is a mail order service that guesses at your risk for Alzheimer's.
Now, a new gene sequencing device designed by Stanford engineer Stephen Quake may finally usher in the long predicted practice of personalized genetic medicine. By using a new refrigerator-sized machine to decode the DNA, Quake has cut both the cost and time of the process by at least a fifth.
For blind people who can't perfect the system of clicks and whistles designed in Spain for human echolocation, researchers at the University of Bristol in England have created a new solution: a helmet that automatically transforms a map of the surrounding area into sound.
Neutrinos, the infinitesimally small particles so faint physicists used to call them "the ghost particle," have driven scientists to construct immense underground facilities simply to catch a glimpse of a single one. Now, with even the most massive detectors failing to trap certain high-energy neutrinos, astronomers have turned to a larger filter: the Moon.
Using special techniques developed to sequence RNA, researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, have published the first complete genome of HIV. Laying bare the complete genetic make up of the virus opens up a new era of research, drastically widens the possible experiments that scientists can perform on the virus, and may significantly accelerate our understanding of how HIV infects humans and evades our immune system.
Every little boy lives in a world that is as much fiction as reality. For a kid sitting in the back seat of a car during a long road trip, that Batman action figure isn't a plastic doll, it's actually the Dark Knight himself. And that arm rest with the drink holder? The towering precipice of a Gotham high rise. And its exactly that imaginary world that Frantz Lasorne looks to make a bit more concrete with his augmented reality toys.
Any pilot will tell you that flying is the easy part, it's landing that's hard. That adage is especially true for robotic planes like the Predator and Reaper drones. While the UAVs can follow a pre-programmed flight path, they still need a human to bring them safely down to the tarmac. And that means a lot of UAVs crashing due to human error.
What do you do when you're under attack? Call for help, naturally. Unfortunately, if you're an ear of corn, and you're being attacked by parasitic beetle larvae, you have nothing to call for help with. Until now.
Scientists at the University of Missouri have genetically modified corn to release a chemical distress signal when under attack from beetle larvae. The chemical 911 call attracts droves of parastitic roundworms that naturally attack the larvae. Within three days of receiving the distress signal, the worms had killed them all.
Flies may not seem like nature's ace pilots when they're bumping up against a closed window or getting squashed beneath a rolled-up copy of the New York Times Magazine, but a German company hopes to unravel the secrets of insect flight by tapping their brains. Literally.
Just the sound of a dentist's drill is enough to send most people into a panic. Add to that the awful inconvenience of walking around for a day with half your face numb, and it's easy to see why getting a cavity filled or a tooth replaced is one of life's most annoying chores. Fortunately, some new research may make the common drill-and-fill a thing of the past.