Health

17-year-old girl builds artificial ‘brain’ to detect breast cancer

Publication: NBC News   Date: July 24, 2012   View Article

An artificial “brain” built by a 17-year-old whiz kid from Florida is able to accurately assess tissue samples for signs of breast cancer, providing more confidence to a minimally invasive procedure.

The cloud-based neural network took top prize in this year’s Google Science Fair.

Inventor of plumbing on a chip wins $500,000 prize

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: June 4, 2012   View Article

Stephen Quake, a prolific inventor whose application of physics to biology has led to breakthroughs in drug discovery, genome analysis and personalized medicine, has won the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize, a prestigious award for outstanding innovators.

“A big part of physics is trying to figure out how to measure things,” Quake, who is a professor of bioengineering and applied physics at Stanford University, told me. “And so I get interested in a biological problem [and] figure out a way to measure it.”

Tiny Breathing Plant Mouths

Publication: HHMI Bulletin   Date: May 1, 2012   View Article

When Keiko Torii gazed through the microscope at a mutant Arabidopsis thaliana leaf covered in specialized cells called meristemoids, she saw more than a beautiful anatomic anomaly—she saw a new way to probe a fundamental system in developmental biology.

Meristemoids are stem-cell-like precursors that give rise to a pair of guard cells, which form stomata—tiny pores on the skin of almost all land plants that are crucial for the exchange of water vapor and gas during photosynthesis. Close study of meristemoids has largely eluded scientists because the cells, by nature, are transient and few and far between.

“When I looked at this,” Torii says, pointing to a poster-size image of the mutant leaf with a tightly packed honeycomb of DayGlo blue meristemoids hanging on her office wall at the University of Washington, “I thought maybe this could be an economical tool to study what makes a meristemoid a meristemoid.”

Robots: The gateway to ‘mind-blowing sex’?

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: April 25, 2012   View Article

Robotic sex won’t just blow your mind, it may curb many of society’s ills, says a new paper that envisions Amsterdam’s red light district staffed by androids that perform a full menu of sexual services.

Lap dances and intercourse with robot prostitutes could help combat human trafficking and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases while teaching us to be better lovers, according to the arguments laid out in the May issue of the journal Futures.

Hydrogel acts like Velcro at molecular level

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: March 6, 2012   View Article

At some point in the future, ripped contact lenses may heal themselves, thanks to a new stretchy material that behaves like Velcro at the molecular level, bioengineers reported today.

For now, the so-called self-healing hydrogel only works in highly acidic environments, such as our stomachs, where it can be used as a medical suture or a high-tech drug delivery device.

Tiny sensors that measure amplitude are big step

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: February 8, 2012   View Article

Anyone who watched the recent X-Games coverage heard commentators obsess about “amplitude” — how high snowboarders such as Shaun White soar above the lip of the superpipe to perform aerial tricks.

Scientists more concerned with using vibrating sensors to detect harmful chemicals in the air we breathe and food we eat than White’s frontside double cork 1260 share the love for amplitude.

Tiny tweezers help fat fingers do nimble tasks

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: January 18, 2012   View Article

Ever wish you had teeny tiny tweezers to pull a teeny tiny splinter from your pinky?

You’re in luck.

Researchers have developed easy-to-use “microtweezers” that are up to the task, and much more, such as plucking a cluster of stem cells from a petri dish and building all sorts of little mechanical devices.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach