Breathe Easy: The Science of Artificial Lungs (and Other Organs)

According to the 1999 film Bicentennial Man, society is about 40 years away from fully-functioning artificial organs. But according to science, the timeline might be a little shorter. Bicentennial Man follows the journey of a robot intent on becoming human, so much so that he studies medicine to build artificial organs for himself (which are also used by humans). Researchers at Case Western Reserve University are hoping to have a human-scale version of an artificial lung in clinical trials within a decade, and did we mention the machine that can print out organs? That’s coming along as well. 

Move Over, Wilbur. Guess Who’s Spinning Spider Silk?

In the well-loved children’s book, Charlotte’s Web, people are amazed by a web-spinning pig (well-worded webs, at that). It’s all a hoax though, as the pig (Wilbur) is in cahoots with a spider (Charlotte), but here in the real world, a web-spinning pig might not be impossible. Silkworms have already been genetically modified to spin spider silk, but that is so 2010. In 2011, Utah State University researcher Randy Lewis made headlines with spider silk–producing goats. Yes, goats.

Getting the Glow

Alex Mack received her super powers through a chemical spill.The 1990s are back – at least, on television. TeenNick announced earlier this year that it would begin airing a retro block of 90s Nickelodeon shows such as All That, Clarissa Explains It All, Rugrats, and Pete & Pete. If you do not see your favorite 90s program on the lineup, do not despair – TeenNick hopes to rearrange the block to showcase other 90s series. That means if you were a fan of the science-fiction series The Secret World of Alex Mack, there is hope!

Intel Inspires Sci-fi Writers with “The Tomorrow Project”

Real science inspires science-fiction, and while we see this often in the consultations we provide, we have another great non-entertainment industry example for you. Last year, Intel Corporation’s The Tomorrow Project introduced four science-fiction writers to the latest research in photonics, robotics, telematics, dynamic physical rendering and intelligent sensors. Then, the writers let their imaginations run wild. The end results are four short science-fiction stories that imagine a future where this latest research is the old research. 

You Lying Liar: Can You Beat a Polygraph Test?

A spike in blood pressure, a quickening in breathing, a rise in the electrical conductivity of skin…. These are the signs of a liar, at least, according to a polygraph test. But what if you were telling the truth? 

Science Online Film Festival

Take apart a copier. Win a prize. Okay, that isn’t exactly how it works but that is how Bill Hammack, the “Engineer Guy,” won the first film festival at the Science Online conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. Carin Bondar and Joanne Manaster hosted the festival, narrowing down the entries to 12 videos, which were then voted on by viewers. 

Villain Science: Bane

In the DC Comics universe, he is known as the “The Man Who Broke the Bat,” and in the recently released teaser trailer for The Dark Knight Rises, Bane appears to be up to his old, violent tricks. The popular villain’s exact role in the film is a highly guarded secret but the first official image of the character (plus the teaser trailer) show Bane with his trademark Venom-injecting mask, meaning the fictional drug will likely be in the film as well. 

In Reality and Fiction, Greed Is Good

It is one of the seven deadly sins but, as Gordon Gekko says, greed is good. Researchers in Switzerland recently found a moderate level of greed is favorable for society – or at least, the researchers’ model society.

Common wisdom leads us to believe greed is bad, that self-interest does not work for the greater good of a society or group. In fact, that is exactly what game theory tells us. In a public goods game, where optional contribution to the common good improves the well-being of participants, greed is problematic. Game theory predicts a free-loader problem where participants stop contributing because they will reap the rewards through others’ contributions. The outcome is known as the tragedy of commons: eventually, no one contributes.