Cell-free biotech will make for better products
A new type of biological engineering should speed up innovation
Computer security is broken from top to bottom
As the consequences pile up, things are starting to improve
An insect’s eye inspires a new camera for smartphones
A series of eyelets can make cameras much smaller
The 48 uses of dragon’s blood
Komodo dragons could be the source for a new generation of antibiotics
How to predict and prepare for space weather
Sometimes the sun burps. It flings off mighty arcs of hot plasma known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs). If one of these hits Earth it plays havoc with the planet’s magnetic field. Such storms are among the most spectacular examples of what astronomers call space weather, a subject to which a session at this year’s meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), in Boston, was devoted.
Cultural evolution and the mutilation of women
The consequences of FGM for a woman’s reproductive output
Searching for particles on a benchtop
The beams of protons that circulate around the 27km-circumference ring of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s biggest particle accelerator, carry as much kinetic energy as an American aircraft-carrier sailing at just under six knots. Andrew Geraci’s equipment, on the other hand, comprises a glass bead 300 billionths of a metre across, held in a lattice of laser light inside an airless chamber. The power it consumes would run a few old-fashioned light bulbs.
Two strange mammals illuminate the process of natural selection
What distantly related pandas reveal about genetics
A cardboard centrifuge separates blood cells from plasma
TAKE a cardboard disc and punch two holes in it, close to, and on either side of, its centre. Thread a piece of string through each hole. Now, pull on each end of the strings and the disc will spin frenetically—first in one direction as the strings wind around each other, and then in the other, as they unwind. Versions of this simple children’s whirligig have been found in archaeological digs on sites across the world, from the Indus Valley to the Americas, with the oldest examples dating back to 3,300BC. Now Manu Prakash and his colleagues at Stanford University have, with a few nifty modifications, turned the toy into a cheap, lightweight medical centrifuge.