The Danish-based Lego is one of the big companies in the world that’s actually making large scale efforts to lower its carbon footprint and run more sustainable business. They don’t seem to be doing it out of a fake corporate responsibility ethos either. Lego is actually innovating. I mean, when a company says it wants to ditch the raw material its business is based on for something that’s more expensive and which might not even exist yet, you know they actually mean it.
For the past couple of years, John Rogers, a materials science professor at the University of Illinois, has been working on his pet-project: the Biostamp. True to its name, the device is basically a tiny electronic stamp, no larger than a quarter, that sticks to the skin and can be worn seamlessly. The whole time, the Biostamp collects on a variety of vital signs, depending on the embedded sensor, and is powered wirelessly via your mobile phone. It can analyze chemicals in your sweat; blood pressure; UV radiation and much more. Basically, it’s transforming the way patients are monitored. In fact, it’s changing the way people, sick or not, monitor their health. Imagine wearing a Biostamp all the time and receiving a notification on your mobile phone to visit your doctor ASAP because your blood pressure has been too high in the last couple of days.
MIT engineers demonstrated a working spectrometer that took a huge leap in scale from a huge, bulky lab gear to a portable piece of equipment that’s small enough to fit in a smartphone. Spectrometer are essential to research nowadays, employed in everything from physics, to biology, to chemistry. To design the spectrometer, the MIT team made use of tiny semiconductor nanoparticles called quantum dots. Having a portable spectrometer could prove to be extremely practical .You can use it to remotely diagnose diseases, detect pollution or food poisoning.
In 2000, the CDC declared measles as eradicated in the US, meaning there was no more endemic transmission. That doesn’t mean though, that it can’t creep out from time to time, especially in communities where heard immunity is poor because of low rates of vaccination. This is attested by a woman who unfortunately died of the virus, making it a first in twelve years. The woman was taking medications that suppressed her immune system due to other conditions, and this made it very difficult for her body to fight another infection.
A team led by scientists at University of British Columbia highlights the impacts of climate change on the world’s oceans and marine life. Two scenarios were analyzed. One followed the changes that would arise if the world banded together to significantly curb greenhouse gas emissions; the other summarized impacts 100 years from now if we’d go on with business as usual. The report outlines the consequences under each scenario and found immediate action is required if we’re to avert at a catastrophic outcome, particularly regarding the planet’s oceans.
A team at University of Chicago made the most comprehensive woolly mammoth genome sequencing ever. By comparing its genome with that of its distant cousins, the Asian and African elephants, the researchers were able to determine which are the mammoth’s specific genes. These were ran with libraries and repositories to identify what these do. We now know which of mammoth’s gene shaped its uncanny skull and small ears, how it got hair to cover all its body or how the mammoth adapted a special fat metabolism and cold coping mechanism. To test their findings, the researchers transplanted a mammoth gene into a human cell. The kidney cell produced new proteins which were tolerant to heat or cold, as suspected showing their other genetic determinations are also likely correct.
Rising temperatures are fundamentally changing the way Australia’s bearded lizards get their gender. Basically, the lizard’s sex is not dependent on their genes as before, but on temperature. In time, the male chromosome could disappear, as more and more females are bred – the preferred sex. What this means is that if temperatures reach a critical level, then the lizards could become extinct due to lack of males. This has never happened before and it’s as scary, as it is interesting.
In the lab, a team UC Santa Barbara demonstrated that an artificial pancreas that can automatically deliver insulin shots at a regular basis to diabetes patients. The biocompatible pancreas constantly monitors glucose levels and administers the insulin when its needed. This way there would be no need for cumbersome daily insulin injections. The researchers will soon start trials on animal models and if all goes well, clinical trials will follow shortly.
This little iron fish may look like a two bit souvenir, but what it can do is far more spectacular, not to mention useful. When added in boiling water, the fish-shaped object leaches just enough iron to offer up to 75 percent of daily iron needs of a person. Tests so far have proven that this simple, yet innovative the solution helped halve the cases of iron-deficiency anemia in Cambodian communities.
Women’s faces are more attractive to men when they hit peak ovulation, past research showed. It’s not clear what the amplifying signals are. One suggestion was that women’s cheeks turn slightly red during ovulation, providing a subtle cue that enhance attractiveness. Using cameras specially designed to distinguish between subtle colour variations, researchers at University of Cambridge found that women’s faces show an increased redness. Peculiarly, this difference is so small that it’s not visually perceptible. Is the cue that subtle or can the enhanced attractiveness be attributed to some other factor or signal?