The male birth control pill has lingered for years tantalizingly just out of reach, in the realm where rumor meets science. Recently developed hormonal and mechanical contraceptives never found an audience, serving only to highlight the absence of a male pill. Now, an examination of how smoking pot lowers fertility may make the male pill more than a persistent rumor.
It seems like a perennial story in the Golden State: the temperatures go up, air conditioners across the state kick into high gear and power utilities simply can't keep up. Now, a group of Southern California utilities plans to combat the state's searing summers with ice, building a 53-megawatt distributed energy storage project that will lock away off-peak cooling power for use during the sweltering mid-day peak.
It's after dark on a warm Monday night in April, and I'm lying face-up in a 13-ton tube at the Henry H. Wheeler, Jr. Brain Imaging Center at the University of California at Berkeley. The room is dimly lit, and I am alone. A white plastic cage covers my face, and a blue computer screen shines brightly into my eyes. I'm here because a neuroscientist named Jack Gallant is about to read my mind. He has given me strict instructions not to move; even the slightest twitch could affect the accuracy of what he's about to do. As I stare straight up, I notice an itch on my thigh.
The body is a resilient biological structure, but there's one thing medical science, an increasing number of Baby Boomers, and the majority of professional athletes will all tell you: Take care of your joints, because once you burn up the cartilage you started with, you're not getting any more. But a breakthrough by Northwestern University scientists will now allow adult joints to naturally grow new cartilage for the very first time.
An interesting report from CNN over the weekend: a tabletop hydrogen fuel cell recharging station could bring hydrogen power to the individual home, allowing portable devices and eventually automobiles to charge up on the universe's most abundant element cleanly from the comfort of home.
Humanity's search for the secrets to immortality has inspired Ray Kurzweil's Singularity vision and DARPA's hunt for ageless synthetic beings. Now scientists have discovered a single gene that appears to control how quickly individuals will biologically age, The Telegraph reports. The discovery could not only encourage people to adopt healthier lifestyles earlier, but may eventually help people live longer if scientists can figure out how to manipulate the gene.
This week has been the gift that keeps giving, as far as the future's concerned. What could be better than android astronauts, and turtles launched into space? Or the opportunity to wipe your last company progress report all over your you-know-what? We've rounded it all up for you in another installment of This Week in the Future.
Check out this week's future news, after the jump.
In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, a poor woman with a middle-school education, made one of the greatest medical contributions ever. Her cells, taken from a cervical-cancer biopsy, became the first immortal human cell line—the cells reproduce infinitely in a lab. Although other immortal lines have since been established, Lacks's "HeLa" cells are the standard in labs around the world. Together they outweigh 100 Empire State Buildings and could circle the equator three times.
Over five years ago, scientists succeeded in teleporting information. Unfortunately, the advance failed to bring us any closer to the Star Trek future we all dream of. Now, researchers in Japan have used the same principles to prove that energy can be teleported in the same fashion as information. Rather than just hastening the dawn of quantum computing, this development could lead to practical, significant changes in energy distribution.
In a study that challenges the diagnosis of vegetative state, doctors found that the brain of a seemingly unconscious, vegetative man responded to yes-or-no questions in the same fashion as an alert, conscious person. This discovery not only complicates the medical definition of consciousness, but seems to call into question centuries of philosophy dealing with the nature of life and the self.