Big Science and Technology Advances
With so many remarkable things happening in the science and tech worlds, it’s hard to choose which to talk about. Here are a few ongoing developments worth keeping your eyes on.
Stem Cell Heart Generation– For the first time, a human heart has been created using stem cells, a major step forward in organ generation. A couple years ago scientists rebuilt the heart of a rat using stem cells; the same team is behind the latest breakthrough. If all goes as planned, the heart will continue to grow and eventually begin beating automatically. The implications of this development are huge, including overcoming the problems of transplanting donated hearts.
Hybrid MRI / PET Imaging –
Simultaneous positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) could provide the broadest spectrum of diagnostics possible, at least by current-tech standards. MRI is especially useful for examining soft tissues in the body, and when combined with PET (which is better at structural evaluation) it can provide extremely detailed imaging of organ tissue. The duo would work especially well in evaluating the true extent of liver damage, as one example, without exposure to high levels of radiation. The problem is that these technologies don’t play well together, so integrating them is no small challenge.
Applied Sciences & Engineering
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Mimicking Porosity in Nature – “Graduated porosity” in beehives, trees, seashells, bones and many other marvels of nature allows these materials to endure incredible stress without compromising the integrity of the entire structure. Bones, for example, can fracture in one place without affecting the rest of the bone. The problem is that these structures have evolved for specific purposes, and it’s not easy to synthesize eons of complexity. We are, however, getting closer to figuring out what clams and bees already know.
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