Woodie Flowers looks exactly as you’d imagine a man named Woodie Flowers to look. And before you ask: Yes. That is his real name. At 67, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Professor Emeritus wears his thinning white hair in a low ponytail and sports a thick mustache. For one of the most prominent faces of the University, Flowers has a style you could easily call “hippie intellectual.” His bright eyes smile behind his glasses and with a sense of charm and self-deprecating humor, Flowers regales story after well-rehearsed story of his modest beginnings in the small town of Jena, Louisiana.
We usually recycle without giving it much thought. After all, it’s common knowledge that our discarded bottles, cans, and newspapers are taken from their street corner, deposited blue bins and turned back into something usable. But that’s not what’s going to happen to your barely obsolete laptop. now that you’ve upgraded to an iPad. In an effort to be responsible, you head to the recycling center, just like you would recycle your bottles and cans, or last weeks’ half completed New York Times crossword puzzle. Unlike paper, your machine won’t be compressed and made into a new computer. It probably won’t even stay in the United States. In fact, there’s a disturbingly high chance that your electronic waste will join millions of other tons of electronic trash in noxious dumps -- poisoning and endangering developing nations.
This was written as a piece for a children's magazine.
Miles off the east coast of the United States, workers dressed like fishermen in bright orange slickers and thick blue gloves ignore the constant rolling of their workbenches as for long, tedious hours they sort into baskets piles of still-squirming fish, rays, and squid…
With so many people getting their information from the open-source encyclopedia and its seemingly exponential expansion in the last ten years, it’s time to as the pivotal question, is Wikipedia finally a credible resource?
"There's an App for that."
With Apple and, more recently, Android products dominating the mobile market, apps are on the forefront of people’s minds and available for download by the thousands right at their fingertips. With over 450,000 apps across the iPhone and Android markets, many of which are free, consumers have a wide range of products to download. And download they do. Earlier last month, the iPhone’s App Store reached its ten billionth download since its launch in mid-2008. In fact, in 2010 the American Dialect Society announced “app” as word of the year. But the question remains, what is an app?
“Red Bull gives you wings.” It’s a sentiment that’s easy to believe if you’re a 14-year-old boy watching a corporate sponsored snowboarder do an impressive 180 off of a snow bank. Energy drinks like Red Bull sponsor everything from break-dancing shows to extreme sporting events; and because of its aggressive advertising campaigns, Red Bull has led the way for the energy drink market boom in America. While high-caffeine soft drinks have existed in the US since the 1980’s when Jolt Cola was introduced to the market, energy drinks have only been around for a little over ten years, having made their way here from Austria in the form of Red Bull. Since then, the market has exploded, earning Red Bull’s parent company billions of dollars and spurring the proliferation of new brands. As many as 500 new energy drink products were introduced in 2006, all fighting for the same demographic: males ages 13 to 24. Their marketing has been extremely successful, and more kids are drinking these caffeine packed beverages than ever before. But the health and science community is concerned about the potential affects these energy drinks will have in the long term.
Researchers from the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and Children’s Hospital Boston have discovered a new way to reprogram adult cells into pluripotent stem cells, which are very similar to embryonic stem cells. Their process, which uses mRNA to reprogram the cell without weakening its genetic integrity is up to 100 times more efficient than the current methods used to create these induced pluripotent stem cells, also known as iPS cells, says lead researcher Derrick Rossi, PhD.
A team of international researchers at the University of Sydney has created an aluminum alloy that is as strong as steel but much lighter. Aluminum, which is the most abundant metal in the earth’s crust, is normally very weak, easily bending to weights its stronger metal cousin, steel, can hold up. For years, scientists have been trying to manufacture a titanium-like metal, something both lightweight and stronger than steel, but without titanium’s high price-tag.
In many ways, we are the sum of our collective memories. First kisses, proms, weddings, and birthdays – we cling to cherished moments, letting them shape our lives and our interactions with others. But for many people, Alzheimer’s disease strips them of their memories and of their past.
Families afflicted with Alzheimer’s never know how fast their loved ones are going to react to the disease, which can progress from confusion and memory-loss into full-blown dementia. But researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine have uncovered a way to predict the rate that Alzheimer’s disease will progress.
I'm Emily Greenhalgh, a Boston-based science writer, editor, and illustrator.