"It is true, and thus the question of whether it is sad or happy has no meaning whatever."
Bernhard Schlink

Science is best when discussed: leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments!!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Old and New Solutions 

Sometimes the newest and shiniest technology is what you need to solve a problem. Nanobots promise to revolutionize science and (especially) medicine, but powering them has been tricky. Now, Japanese researchers have found a way to get nanosized fiber-optic cables to convert light into small electrical currents - the way some bacteria do - which could be used to power the tiny machines. I wonder about the feasability of doing this on a larger scale - i.e., better solar power?

On the other hand, sometimes an old technology turns out to have previously-unknown utility. We've been hearing for some time that male circumcision might reduce HIV risk, but the NIH announced yesterday, in a fairly dramatic press conference, that they have ended two major trial early due to overwhelming positive results. So there you have it: circumcision dramatically decreases HIV transmission. (Jews and Muslims around the world rejoice that there may have been a reason after all!)

Much of our technology, in science at least, goes towards figuring out How We Got Here. Investigation into the origins of life on Earth may have just gotten a big boost from outer space: organic molecules found on comets look like the kind of stuff that, if it had crashed on Earth a few billion years ago (roughly), may have helped catalyze the first chemical reactions of life. "We are ET."

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