All entries by this author

Jellies tell the story of the oceans’ woes

Jellies tell the story of the oceans’ woes

Almost everything humans are doing to the ocean that is bad for most marine organisms – overfishing, pollution, rising sea temperatures, acidification, coastal construction, and the like – turns out to be good for jellies. “Like the proverbial miner’s canary, jellyfish act as environmental indicators,” said conceptual artist Mark Dion. “Only instead of dying in this degraded environment they thrive. Dion’s latest installation, “The Trouble with Jellyfish,” opens Friday at Le Laboratoire in Kendall Square. Read more here. html. pdf.



The Peril of The Seas — Coming to a Coast near You..

The Peril of The Seas — Coming to a Coast near You..

I am working on a story which recalls a Sherlock Holmes adventure The Adventure of The Lion’s Mane. The detective is his own chronicler in this one because trusty ol’ Watson has become a family man. This story introduced me to the idea that a jellyfish can be a killer. “Cyanea!” I cried. “Cyanea! Behold the Lion’s Mane!” The strange object at which I pointed did indeed look like a tangled mass torn from the mane of a lion. It lay upon a rocky shelf […]



Pill-tracking App helps you get the best deals on drugs too

Pill-tracking App helps you get the best deals on drugs too

Medisafe, the Israeli tech startup that moved to Boston over the winter, launched an app in 2013, which currently helps some 2 million users stay on top of their meds. If you missed a dose, your loved one will get an alert to remind you. Still, forgetfulness may not be the only reason why patients skip pills, the app makers have realized. So, the app maker now included a feature that addresses a major stumbling block for some patients – the cost of the drugs. […]



One scan to detect clots could replace many

One scan to detect clots could replace many

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital have invented a new molecular probe which, upon injection into a vein, will travel through the body and find blood clots wherever they are present. Peter Caravan, director of the Institute for Innovation in Imaging at MGH, presented his team’s findings at the 250th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, which wrapped up in Boston Wednesday. “We have invented a new molecular probe which, upon injection into a vein, will travel through the body and find blood clots wherever […]



Google Glass and Poison Treatment

Google Glass and Poison Treatment

With toxin coursing through their veins, patients, who come in for poison treatment, are often in an altered mental state. They cannot tell the physician on duty, who typically is not an expert in poisons, what went wrong. So what happens next? For most physicians evaluating a potentially poisoned patient, the only solution is a discussion over the phone with a regional poison control center, says Peter Chai, a Fellow in Medical Toxicology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester. Almost daily, he […]



Millipede Catalyst

Millipede Catalyst

Swarms of this cyanide-secreting millipede have entered houses, writhed on railway tracks causing delays, and, in short, made themselves a nuisance in Japan, their host country. But Chamberlinius hualienensis, the arthropod native of Taiwan which invaded Okinawa Island in 1983, could soon become a source of catalysts in chemical factories. Thanks to a group of enzymes called Hydroxynitrile lyases (HNLs), some plants and bacteria, which have reserves of cyanide-containing compounds, release hydrogen cyanide as defense chemicals. Chemists employ the enzyme for the reverse reaction, combining […]



Retinal selfie

Retinal selfie

Taking a selfie is easy: just point your smartphone toward your face and shoot. But taking a selfie of the interior of an eye is impossible, imaging specialists might’ve told you, until now. Researchers at the Camera Culture Group, headed by Ramesh Raskar at the MIT Media Lab, have designed the eyeSelfie, an inexpensive hand-held device for taking a photograph of the retina, the optic nerve, and the vasculature, which is located all the way at the back of one’s eye. Digital snapshots of the […]



Job Title: Curiosity Rover Driver

Job Title: Curiosity Rover Driver

The first motorized vehicle Vandi Verma ever operated was a tractor. “I must’ve been 11 years old at the time,” she says. During school vacations, she visited her grandparents, who lived in a village in central India. At their farm, her uncle let her take a few turns behind the tractor wheel. Later, when she was a teenager, her father, who was a pilot with the Indian Air Force, taught her how to drive a car. That was unusual in India at that time, where […]



A rubella-based murder mystery

A rubella-based murder mystery

In 1943, while pregnant with her first child, Hollywood actress Gene Tierney came down with German measles (rubella), contracted during her solo appearance at the now-defunct Hollywood Canteen. (It was very early in the pregnancy and the star was simply trying to do her bit to rally the troops.) The infant, Daria, who was born prematurely, deaf, blind and  mentally retarded, eventually, had to be institutionalized. A year after the birth of her child, a former marine approached Tierney at a tennis party and revealed […]



The Naming of Exoplanets

Last September when I was in Oslo, I sat next to Thierry Montmerle at the banquet hosted by the Norwegian Science Academy. He was the general secretary of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) which had just announced the NameExoWorlds contest to crowd-source names for 20 to 30 exoplanets. So we got talking about this contest. In the past, the naming of planets and planetary satellites fell to Western scientists — the names of heavenly bodies reflect that. Neptune, Jupiter, Pluto, Charon and so are all […]