Rats are notorious for spreading nasty diseases. Think the plague, lassa fever and even salmonella. But could some jumbo-size African rodents help health workers diagnose diseases more quickly? They just might. A group in Tanzania is training rats to detect tuberculosis in people. The critters in question are African giant pouched rats. They are about twice the size of your average house gerbil — and half as pretty.
PITTSBURGH-Online crowds can be an important tool for teaching the ins and outs of innovation, educators at Carnegie Mellon University and Northwestern University say, even when the quality of the feedback provided by online sources doesn’t always match the quantity.
In a pilot study that invited the crowd into their classrooms, Carnegie Mellon and Northwestern instructors found that input from social media and other crowdsourcing sites helped the students identify human needs for products or services, generate large quantities of ideas, and ease some aspects of testing those ideas. More…
Drew Endy wants to build a programming language for the body.
Endy is the co-director of the International Open Facility Advancing Biotechnology — BIOFAB, for short — where he’s part of a team that’s developing a language that will use genetic data to actually program biological cells. That may seem like the stuff of science fiction, but the project is already underway, and the team intends to open source the language, so that other scientists can use it and modify it and perfect it.
Neuroscientist and former software engineer Ruggero Scorcioni found himself consistently distracted by the phone while he was trying to work. “If I’m busy coding or thinking about research and have phone calls coming in, it’s hard to get back into the same mental state,” says Scorcioni, 42. “Maybe you had a great idea, but then it’s gone.” In January, on a whim, he entered an AT&T app-development hackathon, and came up with a solution.