Tech news stories

NASA ‘space laser’ detects eco-disaster in ocean
26th December 2016 | | Animal Life, Earth, Space, Tech

A tiny organism at the base of the food chain, but vital for life to exist on Earth, is under threat, according to data collected by a NASA satellite that has been firing a laser into the ocean for a decade.

Gut bacteria may hold key to treating autoimmune disease
25th December 2016 | | Humans, Tech

Defects in the body’s regulatory T cells (T reg cells) cause inflammation and autoimmune disease by altering the type of bacteria living in the gut, researchers from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston have discovered.

‘Pregnancy fluid’ reverses ageing bones
25th December 2016 | | Humans, Tech

Cells in the amniotic fluid that surrounds a developing baby can revive ageing and weak bones, say UK scientists.

The findings in mice, published in Scientific Reports, showed cells in the fluid strengthened bone and cut fractures by 80%.

Related: Plastics compound, BPS, often substituted for BPA, alters mouse moms’ behavior and brain regions

First babies from menopausal mothers’ own eggs may be born soon
25th December 2016 | | Humans, Tech

It’s time to turn back the biological clock. Next year could see the first post-menopausal woman give birth to a baby made using her own eggs.

Earlier this year, a fertility clinic in Athens, Greece, claimed it had reversed the menopause in a group of their patients. The team injected the women’s ovaries with platelet-rich plasma from their own blood.

Nestlé has found a way to cut the sugar by 40% and keep chocolate just as sweet
25th December 2016 | Tech

Nestlé has figured out a way to reduce the amount of sugar used in its products without changing the taste—by reshaping the structure of sugar crystals.

Related: Sugar guidelines unreliable says study funded by sugar industry

An (Edible) Solution to Extend Produce’s Shelf Life
25th December 2016 | | Tech

What if a Florida tomato could be left on the vine long enough to turn red and fully develop its flavor — and still be ripe and juicy when it arrived at a grocery store in New York days later?

That is precisely the promise of a start-up here in Southern California, Apeel Sciences, that aims to make obsolete the gas, wax and other tricks growers use to keep fruits and vegetables fresh over time.

Nanoparticles May Bring an End to Death by Venomous Snakes
25th December 2016 | Tech

A team of scientists engineered a nanoparticle to help remove the toxins found in a wide variety of snake bites.

This could impact the estimated 4.5 million people who are bitten by snakes each year, and the 100,000 who die from the venom.

Is this the new way to manufacture medicine? Artificial leaf can act as a ‘mini-factory’ for producing drugs by using sunlight
25th December 2016 | | Tech

An artificial leaf that can act as a mini-factory for producing drugs has been developed by scientists.

It mimics nature’s efficiency at harvesting sunlight by using new materials called luminescent solar concentrators.

Alt: Artificial leaf copies nature to manufacture medicine

Japan cancels failed $9bn Monju nuclear reactor
24th December 2016 | | Earth, Tech

Japan is a scrapping an experimental reactor which has worked for just 250 days of its 22-year lifespan and cost $9bn (£7.2bn).

Monju will cost at least 375bn yen ($3.2bn; £2.6bn) to decommission and will only be fully dismantled by 2047.

South Korea comes a step closer to limitless energy: Country’s fusion reactor sustains plasma for more than a minute in a new world record
24th December 2016 | | Earth, Tech

Engineers in South Korea have pushed the boundaries of nuclear fusion by setting a new record for maintaining plasma.

Alt: Another nuclear fusion record just got broken in South Korea
Related: New EU Wood Energy Rules Threaten Climate, Forests

EU says UK surveillance laws are illegal and not ‘justified within a democratic society’
24th December 2016 | | Misc., Tech

The European Union has ruled that the “general and and indiscriminate” collection of computer data by governments is only permitted when used to fight serious crime. The decision, handed down today by the European Court of Justice, directly challenges the UK’s recently passed surveillance legislation

Alt: European court deals blow to controversial UK surveillance law

Herbal medicine may make tuberculosis easier to treat
24th December 2016 | | Humans, Tech

A centuries-old herbal medicine, discovered by Chinese scientists and used to effectively treat malaria, may help treat tuberculosis and slow the evolution of drug resistance.

A new study shows the ancient remedy artemisinin stopped the ability of TB-causing bacteria, known as Mycobacterium tuberculosis, to become dormant. This stage of the disease often makes the use of antibiotics ineffective.

Discrimination by algorithm: scientists devise test to detect AI bias
23rd December 2016 | | Tech

There was the voice recognition software that struggled to understand women, the crime prediction algorithm that targeted black neighbourhoods and the online ad platform which was more likely to show men highly paid executive jobs.

UN to debate ‘killer robot’ ban next year as experts warn time is running out to stop AI weapons
23rd December 2016 | | Tech

Over 100 nations that are part of the international Convention on Conventional Weapons will debate a ban on so called ‘killer robots’ next year, it has been announced.

At their five-year review conference in Geneva, the 123 nations that are part of the international Convention on Conventional Weapons, agreed to formalize their efforts next year to deal with the challenges raised by weapons systems that would select and attack targets without meaningful human control.

A drone that flies (almost) like a bird
23rd December 2016 | Tech

A drone has been equipped with feathers to increase its precision during flight. The bio-inspired device can spread or close its wings while flying, making it easier to maneuver and more resistant in high winds.

7-Eleven beats Google and Amazon to the first regular commercial drone delivery service in the U.S.
23rd December 2016 | | Tech

7-Eleven, the world’s largest convenience store chain, shared new numbers from its drone delivery experiment today. Seventy-seven customers in Reno, Nev., have now received items ordered from 7-Eleven delivered to their doorsteps via drone.

Living Machines: These Robots Are Made From Living Tissue
23rd December 2016 | Tech

Think of a traditional robot and you probably imagine something made from metal and plastic. Such “nuts-and-bolts” robots are made of hard materials. As robots take on more roles beyond the lab, such rigid systems can present safety risks to the people they interact with. For example, if an industrial robot swings into a person, there is the risk of bruises or bone damage.

Related: Kazuo Ishiguro: ‘We’re coming close to the point where we can create people who are superior to others’

News stories covering technology, and the latest inventions and medical advancements.