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.
Today's robots represent islands unto themselves that don't share either software or hardware with each other. But researchers have begun developing a common operating system that could revolutionize robotics and permit easier collaboration with less reinvention of the proverbial wheel. The change could rival that which rippled through the PC industry when Microsoft's Disk Operating System (DOS), and later Windows, burst onto the scene and became standard.
Don't forget to tune in to the premiere of our new show on the Science Channel, PopSci's Future Of. Tonight the topic is Superhumans, and host Baratunde Thurston will guide us through the amazing work being done in body-enhancement tech, from prosthetic limbs better than biological ones, a powder regrows missing body parts, and a bionic eye that turns your world into a computer screen.
Any green home worth its weight in compost draws heavily on solar energy. Mine is equipped with all the standard offerings, such as a solar-powered boiler, the subject of my last column. Trouble is, the sun doesn’t always shine. So to make up the difference during cold, dark winters and rainy spells, I’m turning to another eco-friendly energy source: my backyard. The two 325-foot-deep geothermal wells I’m boring there will use the constant 50°F temperature of the Earth at that depth to meet all my extra heating and cooling demands.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports today on an Aussie man who traveled all the way to Beverly Hills to receive bone-anchored hearing aids, which are implanted behind the ear and use conductive technology to transmit sound more effectively than regular in-ear aids. But here's the real bonus--these let you plug in your MP3 player or cellphone directly via a standard headphone jack.
An Israeli company wants to keep adults focused using a magnetic field to stimulate the brain. The technique, called transcranial magnetic stimulation, involves hooking someone up to a device that creates a magnetic field. The field then induces an electrical current in specific brain regions, which activates that part of the brain. It's worked for depression, and now may help the estimated 8 million adults with ADHD.
It takes researchers years, sometimes decades, to pin down subtle, important findings about your health, but it takes bumbling journalists (or their editors) just a few seconds to screw it all up. Here, a selection of the most misleading headlines, and a few tips to help you spot the hype early.
By Jonathon KeatsPosted 08.10.2009 at 12:25 am 3 Comments
In 1950, Alan Turing, the father of computer science, proposed a test for machine intelligence: Ask a human and a computer a question, and see if another person could discern the digital answer from the biological one. Now IBM engineers have devised a tougher task for Watson, their latest supercomputer: Jeopardy.
Electric motorcycle friendlier to rider and environment
By Matthew CokeleyPosted 08.07.2009 at 3:41 pm 2 Comments
Harley riders might have a hard time getting used to the first street-legal electric motorcycle to hit stores. It sounds more like a Prius than an exhaust-spewing hog—that is, silent. But the Brammo Enertia is meant for commuters, not Hell’s Angels. The same electronics that make it whisper-quiet also make it simpler for beginners to ride.
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.