In the kitchens of today's cutting-edge chefs, food processors share prep space with appliances straight out of the lab. See our gallery of the most extreme kitchen tech—as well as some more accessible gizmos for the home chef
By Anne Wootton and Abby SeiffPosted 10.10.2007 at 2:00 am 2 Comments
A kitchen equipped for "molecular gastronomy"-gourmet cuisine as cooked by Mr. Wizard, basically-is all about the tech. Devices that wouldn´t be out of place in a chemistry lab fill the kitchens of some of the world´s most adventurous chefs, enabling far-out dishes like whipped-cream pancakes, lobster sorbet (shells and all) and meat-flavored mushrooms.
Animal rights activists might not like it, but over the past few years many of the leaps and bounds we've made in understanding human diseases can be traced to one source: genetically-mutated mice. Thanks to the "knockout" technique, mice can be created with one or more specific genes silenced in order to help decipher the genetic causes of human illness; switching off the genes that ensure the production of healthy embryos, for instance, can help scientists study birth defects. Cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure are just some of the more than 500 diseases researchers have replicated in mice using the technique.
Yesterday, the 2007 Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to Mario R. Capecchi of the University of Utah, Oliver Smithies of the University of North Carolina, and Sir Martin J. Evans of Cardiff University for just that technique. Creating the first knockout mice in 1989, the three men have been working independently on the intersecting technology since the 80s. When the mouse and human genomes were decoded in 2001, the influx of unidentified genes made the mice's role even more invaluable.
Nevertheless, it seems a scientific coup and winning the most prestigious award in medicine doesn't count for much these days. The BBC reports that just one day after the prize announcement, a talk by Sir Martin J. Evans on the ethical issues of stem cell research was cancelled due to "lack of interest." Hopefully, his cut of the 10 million krona award helps ease the pain.—Abby Seiff
A day after trading was halted, PopSci got official confirmation from NASA that their COTS agreement with Rocketplane Kistler had not yet been terminated and the stock paid out at $0. A tricky prediction to pin down, the market nevertheless guessed correctly: RKPLOVR was trading at $32.75 when halted.—Abby Seiff
By M HarbisonPosted 10.09.2007 at 3:36 pm 0 Comments
Ive been waiting for this one for a few years now: The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize in Physics to the two scientists who discovered the so-called giant magnetoresistive effect, a phenomenon that made the iPod (or, more specifically, the really tiny hard drive inside the iPod) possible.
Giant magnetoresistance (GMR) occurs in thin films composed of alternating magnetic and non-magnetic metal layers; hit the layers with a magnetic field, and the electrical resistivity within the layers drops by an unusually large degree (GMR shows 50% drop in electrical resistance, where regular magnetoresistance drop is around 5%). This property is useful when trying to read bits off of a magnetic hard disk—as the sensitivity of the head increases, one can make the bits much smaller on the disk, resulting in higher storage densities and consequently smaller drives.
Albert Fert of the University Paris-Sud and Peter Grünberg of Jülich
Research Centre independently discovered giant magnetoresistance in
1988.I admit, Im biased. But I love it when the non-particle physicists carry the day.—Martha Harbison
By Gregory MonePosted 10.09.2007 at 1:11 pm 1 Comment
After Halo 3 reportedly tallied $300 million in worldwide sales through its first week, the game's developer, Bungie Studios, announced plans to split from its corporate parent, Microsoft.
The two companies do plan to remain friends. Bungie says it's going to continue to develop games with a focus on Microsoft platforms, but it might start dabbling with other consoles, too.
Bungie started as an independent company in 1991 before Microsoft snapped it up in 2000. Now it looks like the studio managed to retain its independent streak. Let's hope that translates into even better games. You can find more details here and here.—Gregory Mone
By Gregory MonePosted 10.09.2007 at 1:09 pm 0 Comments
The news that Sprint CEO Gary Forsee is stepping down could be a bad sign for the roll-out of the company's planned WiMAX network.
WiMAX has been touted as WiFi on steroids, with better performance and range. But it's not going to be cheap for the company setting up the network: Sprint's estimated price tag for its proposed Xohm system would run to several billion dollars over the next three years.
Sprint's plans call for an initial rollout to several U.S. cities at the end of this year. But then it really gets moving: Xohm is supposed to cover 100 million people by the end of 2008. Forsee was a big supporter of the program, and a few bloggers have expressed concern that his resignation could stall progress.—Gregory Mone
By Gregory MonePosted 10.09.2007 at 1:08 pm 0 Comments
The alien microbes are supposed to be discovered when spacecraft return to Earth, not before they've left, right? Not according to a new study of several NASA clean rooms—the supposedly sterile environments in which engineers assemble and test the components of various spacecraft before launch.
By sampling the air and surfaces in clean rooms at the Jet Propulsion Lab, Johnson Space Center and Kennedy Space Flight Center, scientists uncovered nearly 100 types of bacteria. And about 45% of them are believed to be novel. The study should help scientists improve the clean room environment, which will in turn reduce the risk of interplanetary spacecraft dropping our organisms on far-off worlds.—Gregory Mone
By Dave ProchnowPosted 10.08.2007 at 3:03 pm 0 Comments
If youve been looking for a portable soldering iron, modPRO has a battery-operated model that might be able to handle your remote soldering chores. Although this Chinese product could be difficult to locate, its 3-AA battery power source could warm you up to the task of finding a dealer. The suggested retail price is approximately $50 USD.
By Dave ProchnowPosted 10.08.2007 at 3:02 pm 0 Comments
Does your latest project cry for a fuel cell? Or, maybe you are starting to feel the holiday mood and youre seeking some artificial snow? Well, those folks who claim to make science sizzle can help you out. Educational Innovations in Norwalk, CT is a catalog supply company run by teachers serving teachers. Dont let that motto stop you, however. Even those of you lacking in higher ed can buy some slick science stuff from Educational Innovations.
CEATEC in Japan was bursting with techno gadgets. Some were full-fledged products with price tags, others simply way-out science experiments. Launch the gallery here for a quick roundup of things from both categories.
For our complete coverage of the show, click here. —Sean Captain