Developments in genetics are now making it possible to invite custom-engineered symbiotic creatures into our bodies to help perform the functions we can't. In two separate developments, scientists have created a strain of bacteria that stimulates insulin production in the stomach of diabetic mice, and a different strain that produces a protein that treats the stomach disease colitis. This is the first time genetically engineered bacteria have been used directly as therapeutic agents.
In one corner, we have the "hairy" frog, Trichobatrachus robustus, hailing from Cameroon.
In the other corner, meet the Spanish ribbed newt, Pleurodeles waltl, hailing from the Iberian peninsula.
Which skin-busting, bone-poking amphibian will win the PopSci deathmatch?
Human activity has widely affected our planet, reshaping surfaces, moving or extinguishing species, and warming the air and water. Now scientists say our reach has been extended even further -- warming oceans may even start to shift the Earth's axis of rotation.
By Emily StonePosted 08.24.2009 at 4:15 pm 8 Comments
An enemy missile has no strategic value if its computer is down. A high-power-microwave emitter can disable a missile's electronics on the launchpad, leaving bystanders unharmed -- and now Texas Tech University engineers have a plan to scale down the truck-size tech.
For all the visualizations, artist's renderings and animations of the birth of our universe, it is still exceedingly hard to imagine the Big Bang: from nothing emerges everything.
But what if you could create a big bang on a lab bench -- make a model of the universe's emergence. University of Maryland engineering professor Igor Smolyaninov has proposed just that, describing the opportunity to create a "toy big bang" using precisely designed metamaterials that are mathematically analogous to certain conditions of the real-world big bang.
While their peers worry about zits, these rising young stars are designing lunar bioreactors and new cancer drugs. What did you accomplish before turning 18? Meet our eight future Edisons here
By Blaire BriodyPosted 08.24.2009 at 1:06 pm 16 Comments
Farming for Inventors
Every year, instead of prepping for prom or hanging out at the mall, thousands of high-school students are busy in labs, basements and classrooms finding fresh solutions to age-old problems. We've scoured the country to find the brightest among them, settling on eight teen talents who make Thomas Edison (whose first patented invention didn't come until the ripe old age of 21) look like a late bloomer.
Lightning bolts may not bring Frankenstein to life, but their blood vessel-like patterns could form the foundation for artificial organs. That would rely on a known lab trick that imprints electricity patterns inside plastic blocks.
It's known that driving a nail into one end of an electrically charged block results in an electric discharge running throughout the plastic. PopSci previously examined this process of trapping lightning, so to speak.
The promise of OLED technology is that, unlike its inorganic counterpart, it can be used to create flexible and nearly transparent ultra-thin screens, opening up myriad possibilities for what we can do with displays and lighting.
Airplane design could be improved with a little inspiration from mammalian chompers. Or so said aerospace engineer Herzl Chai of Tel Aviv University in a press release Wednesday.
He and his collaborators studied hundreds of extracted teeth from people and sea otters (apparently our molars are quite similar) to see why teeth can take the wear and tear of a lifetime of peanut brittle. When they submitted the teeth to severe mechanical pressure, they found that pearly whites' complex layers of wavy fibers develop many microcracks instead of a few large fractures.
And you thought your connection was fast. NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is currently scanning the moon with powerful sensory equipment, gathering the most detailed data to date from the lunar surface. But to transmit all those images and data across the 238,800-mile void separating the moon from Earth, the LRO relies on a super-charged wireless connection that beams 461 gigabytes per day back to the blue planet. And the instrument that makes it all possible is a mere 13 inches long.