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The Next Generation of Batteries Could Be Built by Viruses

In 2009, MIT bioengineering professor Angela Belcher traveled to the White House to demo a small battery for President Barack Obama, who was just two months into his first term in office. There aren’t many batteries that can get an audience with the leader of the free world, but this wasn’t your everyday power pouch. Belcher had used viruses to assemble a lithium-ion battery’s positive and negative electrodes, an engineering breakthrough that promised to reduce the toxicity of the battery manufacturing process and boost their performance. Obama was preparing to…

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Researchers Want to Link Your Genes and IncomeShould They?

The UK Biobank is the single largest public genetic repository in the world, with samples of the genetic blueprints of half a million Brits standing by for scientific study. But when David Hill, a statistical geneticist at the University of Edinburgh, went poring through that data, he wasn’t looking for a cure for cancer or deeper insights into the biology of aging. Nothing like that. He was trying to figure out why some people make more money than others. Along with a team of European collaborators, Hill sifted through the…

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Finally! A DNA Computer That Can Actually Be Reprogrammed

DNA is supposed to rescue us from a computing rut. With advances using silicon petering out, DNA-based computers hold the promise of massive parallel computing architectures that are impossible today. But there’s a problem: The molecular circuits built so far have no flexibility at all. Today, using DNA to compute is “like having to build a new computer out of new hardware just to run a new piece of software,” says computer scientist David Doty. So Doty, a professor at the University of California, Davis, and his colleagues set out…

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