Technology Tuesday: May 8th

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Welcome to Technology Tuesday! Every week The Job Shop Blog will bring you our 5 top science and technology news stories from around the web.

This week: CRISPR kits for your home, fighting E-Coli outbreaks with genetic editing, perfectly fitted clothes through science, nuclear reactors for other planets, and flying Ubers.


AT HOME CRISPR KIT CAN DIAGNOSE WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU

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CRISPR is moving out of the lab and into your home.

Mammoth Biosciences, a new biotech company co-founded by CRISPR pioneer Jennifer Doudna, is developing an at-home CRISPR diagnostics kit. If it reaches the commercial market, this kit could replace “Dr. Google” as the average person’s go-to source for health diagnostics. And given how much the internet makes us freak out about our health (usually for no reason), that really can’t happen soon enough.

CRISPR is well known for its gene-editing capabilities, but at its core, it’s really “biology’s search engine,” as Trevor Martin, CEO of Mammoth Biosciences, told The Verge. It’s able to make precise genetic edits because it’s really good at finding the exact spot in a gene that it needs to slice.

 

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FIGHTING E. COLI OUTBREAKS WITH GENETIC EDITING

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Sorry, salad lovers. Unless you like it with a side of E. coli, romaine lettuce simply isn’t on the menu right now.

Yes, the E. coli outbreak spread by romaine lettuce that started on April 13 still isn’t fully contained, according to the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC’s) latest update. Thanks to advances in genetic sequencing, though, we may soon have the ability to end food-borne outbreaks way faster — maybe even before anyone gets sick.

We haven’t always been great at addressing outbreaks of food-borne illness. In the past, we typically only knew something was wrong when a lot of people got sick at the same time or in the same area. Investigators would interview these people, looking for connections between them — maybe they all ate food from the same restaurant, or bought the same brand of groceries.

 

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ILL-FITTED CLOTHES MAY BE A THING OF THE PAST

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We’ll pay you for 3D scans of your body.

No, it’s not a proposition you’d find on Craigslist. We’re asking for a friend — that is, for Amazon.

Those scans are part of the company’s latest (almost) too-weird-to-be-true project. According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, Amazon is offering $250 gift cards to people willing to send in 10 3D body scans over the course of 20 weeks. The goal of the project, Amazon says, is to improve the retailer’s understanding of how bodies change shape over time.

 

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NUCLEAR REACTORS FOR MARS AND BEYOND

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If the power goes out in your home, you can usually settle in with some candles, a flashlight, and a good book. You wait it out, because the lights will probably be back on soon.

But if you’re on Mars, your electricity isn’t just keeping the lights on — it’s literally keeping you alive. In that case, a power outage becomes a much bigger problem.

NASA scientists think they’ve found a way to avoid that possibility altogether: creating a nuclear reactor. This nuclear reactor, known as Kilopower, is about the size of a refrigerator and can be safely launched into space alongside any celestial voyagers; astronauts can start it up either while they’re still in space, or after landing on an extraterrestrial body.

 

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UBER GIVES US OUR FIRST GLIMPSE OF FLYING CABS

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You already know that Uber wants to clog up the skies the way it has roads in cities all over the world. But now we know what the airborne Uber vehicle could look like.

Today, Uber has finally unveiled a design called the Common Reference Model (CRM).

Yes, the name is not sexy. But the vehicle itself actually kind of is. The all-electric VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) vehicle can seat up to four humans, back-to-back, cutting a two hour commute down to just 15 minutes. The design was released at Uber’s Elevate summit in Los Angeles, hosting around 700 industry leaders, to discuss the future of flying taxis.

 

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