If you needed another reason to like goat milk, here it is. Scientists are using genetically modified goats to produce a drug that protects against deadly chemical agents such as sarin and VX, according to the Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences.
The drug known as Protexia is based on an enzyme produced in very small quantities by the human body. Scientists inserted the DNA for producing the enzyme into goat embryos. The adult goats then become drug-producing biofactories, producing the enzyme in their milk.
While Protexia still needs to undergo safety trials, the U.S. Department of Defense is throwing $213 million behind the development efforts of biotech firm PharmAthene. Researchers have already suggested that the drug is more effective than those currently carried by U.S. troops, in that it would prevent permanent neurological damage.
Now that youve learned how to program your Create (see Lesson 1) and wirelessly communicate with your Create (see Lesson 2), its time to explore the iRobot Command Module expansion ports—and expand your create. Armed with four ports, dubbed ePorts, the Command Module provides unprecedented access to the I/O pins of its onboard Atmel ATmega 168 AVR microcontroller.
The only trouble is how can you tap into these I/O pins?
While the jury is still out on the iRobot Command Module Breakout Board (#4818; suggested retail should be $5.99), Element Products sells the eProto board which can plug into any of the four Command Module ePorts. Priced at $4.95, eProto is supplied as a two-part kit: DB-9 male plug and a sweet 1 3/16 x 1 1/4-inch PCB. Whats so sweet about a PCB without any components? Plenty, you can add your own.
Assembly is easy enough—just solder the supplied DB-9 plug to the underside of the PCB. Done. Hey, time yourself; you just assembled an electronic kit is less than 5 minutes.
Just finished a great article from today's New York Times science section on the race to find evidence of the Higgs Boson, or "God particle" as it is often called. PPX players will want to take note—it's mandatory reading if you're following our BOSON proposition (check it out here for the current market price) which seeks to predict who will win the race to find the elusive particle.
In (incredibly) simplified terms, some physicists believe the Higgs boson is the key to understanding several mysteries of the universe's formation that current theoretical models have failed to define—namely, the origin of matter. Heavy stuff, for sure, requiring some equally heavy machinery to study—the likes of which can only be found at the world's top physics labs such as Fermilab in Illinois and CERN's Large Hadron Collider, a powerful particle accelerator currently under construction at CERN's laboratory facilities near Geneva, Switzerland (check out more amazing VR photos like the one at the top of this post).
The article also does a great job in illustrating just how competitive these physicists can get, and the role of their personal blogs, where rumors of findings are posted, re-posted and commented on—taking data previously familiar to only a few dozen hardcore particle physicists in a laboratory lunch room and hurling it into whirlwind of science blogs accessibly to anyone, scientist or not. The article points to Cosmic Variance, a blog maintained by several leading physicists that lives in many a PopSci staffer's favorites list, as well as countless others. Check them out for some delightfully geeky gossip. Oh, and watch that PPX prop! —John Mahoney
NYTimes: "At Fermilab, the Race Is on For the God Particle"PPX: BOSON
By Gregory MonePosted 07.23.2007 at 3:55 pm 0 Comments
While some space officials are worrying about the fate of the Martian rovers as a giant dust storm continues to rage on the Red Planet, others are having a bit of fun. An astronaut spacewalking outside the International Space Station tossed a 200-pound camera mounting out into the void. Mission Control reportedly called it "a fantastic throw." The next toss will be a 1,400-pound ammonia tank that made its way up to the station in 2001. Meant to serve as a backup coolant in case of a leak, the ammonia never proved necessary, so the astronauts are jettisoning it soon. Both hunks of space junk will orbit Earth for a while before re-entering. The camera mount should disintegrate completely, but scraps of the much larger ammonia tank may make it through—and, according to researchers, will probably land in the ocean.
It might not seem like such a grand idea to add to the heaps of strange items orbiting the Earth, but apparently NASA decided that it needed to move the equipment, and there was no room on any of the remaining shuttle flights to take it down safely.—Gregory Mone
By Gregory MonePosted 07.23.2007 at 3:34 pm 0 Comments
Garth Stewart, a 24-year-old Iraq veteran, took his first normal steps since losing part of his leg in the war, thanks to a prosthetic ankle that operates like the real thing. Most foot prostheses work through simple springs, but this new robo-ankle, developed at MITs Media Lab, has a battery-powered motor, too. When Stewart walks, the energy he exerts is stored in a series of motor-backed springs. Then, when he pushes off with his prosthetic foot, this energy is released, and he moves forward. The motors give this motion more power, and ultimately allow Stewart to expend less energy with each step than he would while wearing a standard prosthetic foot. The robo-ankle also leads to a more natural, fluid gait. MITs Hugh Herr, who led the research team, is also an amputee. He tested the invention himself, and compares it to walking on a moving sidewalk in the airport. The device may be commercially available within a year.—Gregory Mone
By Gregory MonePosted 07.23.2007 at 3:33 pm 1 Comment
It had to happen at some point. A group of security experts from a company called Independent Security Evaluators figured out a way to sneak past the iPhones defenses and pull off the users personal information. To do so, the group set up a web page with malicious code. In the experiment they ran, if someone accesses this page through a Safari browser, the code grabs the persons text messages, the call log, address book, and voicemail data, then makes it all available to the hacker. But the group added that it could tweak the code to swipe passwords, too—it can essentially pull out anything they want. Dont go switching off your iPhone, though. The group has warned Apple already, and suggested a possible fix. Theres also no evidence that anyone has tried this with bad intentions. For those of you who are concerned, Independent Security Evaluators suggest taking the same precautions you would with a laptop. Use only secure WiFi, and dont visit suspicious Web pages, and dont click through links in shady emails. Computer scientist Charlie Miller, one of the team members, will be presenting the detailed results of their study at the BlackHat computer security conference in Las Vegas on August 2.—Gregory Mone
Will too many hot chili peppers kill you? Is the moon on the verge of erupting? PopSci tackles life's whys, hows and who-dunnits in this Q&A-style feature
By the FYI StaffPosted 07.23.2007 at 2:00 am 1 Comment
The world is full of mysteries, and we at Popular Science strive to
do our part to help you make sense of them. What do animals dream about? Is there any way to ensure a blink-free photo? And what is the worst sound on Earth?
When Boston researchers announced the existence of an underground lake in North Darfur recently, the unexpected news brought a fresh surge of optimism that the source of water could help end the Sudanese conflict that has killed at least 200,000 people and displaced more than two million. But a French geologist today suggested that the underground reservoir, roughly the size of Lake Erie, has probably been dry for thousands of years.
Experts have long pointed to Darfur as an example of human conflict thats at least in part a result of environmental destruction and resource scarcity. Lack of water has been cited as a main reason why Arab nomads have been coming into conflict with black African farmers, with the Sudanese government largely backing the Arab janjaweed raiders.
Meanwhile, the French geologist was careful to say there is still enough water in aquifers elsewhere in the embattled country to ease the conflict over resources that is, if people can agree on a political framework for peaceful distribution. —Jeremy Hsu
By Dawn StoverPosted 07.20.2007 at 5:08 pm 1 Comment
Hundreds of rubber ducks and other bathtub toys are expected to start washing up on the beaches of England in the next few weeks. They have been lost at sea for 15 years.
In 1992, a ship en route from Hong Kong to the U.S. spilled 29,000 floating toys into the Pacific Ocean during a storm. Ever since, retired oceanographer and flotsam fancier Curtis Ebbesmeyer of Seattle has been tracking their incredible journey, which provides clues about ocean currents. One group has been circling aimlessly in the north Pacific, while other groups have taken alternative routes. Even when the toys get punctured, they're practically unsinkable.
Thanks to constant exposure to sunshine, the once-yellow rubber ducks have faded to white. But Ebbesmeyer says the turtles and frogs have retained their color. He would like to hear from anyone who finds one of the lost toys (write to email@example.com).—Dawn Stover
The man's brain (left; the black areas are fluid buildups) compared to a normal brain scan (right). Via NewScientist
Jokes about tax collectors and intelligence aside, a French civil servant has lived a largely normal life with only a fraction of his brain intact, the medical journal Lancet recently reported. When he reported to his doctor complaining of weakness in his left leg, a CT scan found that fluid buildup over the years had pushed the mans gray matter to the outer limits of his skull, leaving a large black hole in his head scans.
The 44-year-old man is married with two children. While his IQ of 75 is below average, he is not considered mentally disabled. Whats fascinating to scientists is that the man has functioned as well as he has with so little actual brain tissue. Research in recent years has shown the remarkable plasticity of the brain, but this is among the most extreme examples of the brain can easily adapt to gradual change in its physical makeup.
The unintended neuroscience experiment began with the childhood condition known as hydrocephalus, where cerebrospinal over-fills the brain cavities, increasing cranial pressure. Doctors initially installed a shunt in the mans head to drain the fluid, although the shunt was removed when he was 14. Fascinating stuff. —Jeremy Hsu