In a small, sparsely furnished room, a young boy in a black T-shirt backs himself into a corner. He's cautious. Cameras capture his movements, and microphones record every sound. But this doesn't intimidate him; he doesn't even seem aware that he's being observed. His mom, sitting nearby, is not the object of his focus either. Brian (his name has been changed here to protect his privacy) is autistic, and he's staring across the room at a two-wheeled, gray, humanoid robot with big, cartoonish eyes.
While the world waits to see if a "top kill" operation can seal off the devastating Deepwater Horizon oil leak in the Gulf, the staggering proposition of dealing with the more than 11 million gallons of crude spilled to date remains. To combat the massive slick, BP's primary weapon is chemical oil dispersant. The company has already used an unprecedented amount of dispersant—over 840,000 gallons—and is poised to deploy more.
So what exactly does oil dispersant do?
Feeling a bit obsessive-compulsive? New research suggests maybe it's not all in your head after all. More likely, researchers say, it's in your bones. A Nobel laureate at the University of Utah claims he has cured an OCD-like behavior in mice by giving them bone marrow transplants.
BP's latest attempt to plug the Gulf oil leak is now more than 24 hours old, and initial assessments look promising. While we're by no means out of the woods yet, government and BP officials are cautiously optimistic that the so-called top kill is succeeding to stem the flow of oil from the busted riser into the Gulf of Mexico.
Blue light smells like bananas -- if you're a genetically modified fruit fly.
Scientists in Germany figured out how to modify fruit fly larvae so they can "smell" light, encouraging them to move toward it, rather than away from it like they normally would. Before you get excited about actually smelling Skittles when you see a rainbow, however, bear in mind that the fruit fly larvae are much easier to manipulate than humans.
In the next five years, the world will need a hundred-fold increase in nano workers — the people who will build nanomaterials and develop new uses for them. In Colombia, some of these workers might very well come from the slums. At least according to one nano educator.
Add drywall to the growing list of toxic imports from China. Today a report from the largest investigation in the history of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission has cited 10 Chinese manufactures as sources of sulfur-laden drywall found in thousands of homes constructed in the United States between 2005 and 2009, when a post-Katrina building boomed created a run on drywall and forced builders to seek out new suppliers.
The loss of a tooth is a minor deformity and a major pain. Although dental implants are available, the healing process can take months on end, and implants that fail to align with the ever-growing jawbone tend to fall out. If only adult teeth could be regenerated, right?
According to a study published in the latest Journal of Dental Research, a new tissue regeneration technique may allow people to simply regrow a new set of pearly whites.
When the J. Craig Venter Institute announced last week that it had created the first "synthetic cell," whose genome had been synthesized artificially one base pair at a time, Venter himself mentioned that the genetic code had been tagged throughout with watermarks that identify it as man-made rather than natural code. Now we're hearing that those watermarks weren't arbitrary.