Bloomberg News reporter John Lauerman volunteered to have his DNA sequenced by Harvard researchers to demystify the process for the public. What he didn’t expect to uncover was that he possessed two gene variants–one linked to rare blood disorders and the other to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s.
Reporting in Environmental Science and Technology, researchers write of harvesting electricity from microbe-rich river sediments–enough to power a small LED bulb. Grant Burgess, a marine biotechnologist at Newcastle University, discusses the hunt for electron-burping bugs.
When doctors autopsied tuberculosis patients, they described finding round, white swellings, especially in and around the lungs. Medical historian Howard Markel describes how those potato-like growths led to the disease being called tuberculosis, from the Latin tuber.
Web browser manufactures often market their products to consumers with an emphasis on privacy, assuring users that their products can better control how personal information is used online. Carnegie Mellon privacy researcher Lorrie Cranor explains that many companies have developed quiet ways to step around some of that privacy-protecting code.
Researchers in Italy say a bad connection between devices could explain a startling result they had last year, when they thought they’d witnessed particles traveling faster than the speed of light. Further tests await, but it appears there was a subtle problem with the equipment at the lab, as many physicists had expected. The laws of physics may not need to be rewritten after all.
Three skiers died in an avalanche over the weekend in Washington state. A fourth skier was caught in the snow slide, but survived thanks to an airbag she deployed from her backpack. Audie Cornish speaks with Doug Abromeit, former director of and now consultant for the US Forest Service National Avalanche Center, about how the air bag works.
The WHO upheld its guidelines on the safety of hormone injections for contraception yesterday, despite some data that users are at increased risk of HIV transmission. An expert panel says the evidence isn’t solid yet, and at-risk couples should use a second method, like condoms, for HIV prevention.
In his book Concrete Planet, author Robert Courland discusses why the concrete first used by the Romans is more durable than the concrete used in most present day buildings. Plus, mineralogist Peter Stemmerman tells us about his invention, Celitement and why it is greener than Portland cement.
The wind power industry in this country has grown fast in recent years, but that could come to a screeching halt if Congress doesn’t renew a tax credit that wind farms get for the power they produce. Tens of thousands of jobs now depend on the tax credit, as more wind turbine manufacturers have taken root in the U.S.