Excerpts from science, technology, environment and health reports from around the web.
Will the world eradicate polio? If it does, some of the credit may go to a 73-year-old billionaire horse-breeder from the Indian city of Pune: he wants to provide injectable polio vaccine at a loss—at least for some time.
Taking inspiration from trees, scientists have developed a battery made from a sliver of wood coated with tin that shows promise for becoming a tiny, long-lasting, efficient and environmentally friendly energy source. Their report on the device—1,000 times thinner than a sheet of paper—appears in the journal Nano Letters.
For decades, scientists have been fascinated by dolphins’ so-called signature whistles: distinctive vocal patterns learned early and used throughout life. The purpose of these whistles is a matter of debate, but new research shows that dolphins respond selectively to recorded versions of their personal signatures, much as a person might react to someone calling their name.
A mini-satellite, no bigger than a loaf of bread, could push itself out of Earth’s orbit as soon as next year if a crowdfunding campaign to support development of a diminutive propulsion system succeeds. If such small spacecraft can be made to operate far from Earth, they could one day make inexpensive expeditions to asteroids, Mars, and beyond.
Android smartphone users will soon have a chance to participate in important scientific research every time they charge their phones. Using a new app created by researchers at UC Berkeley, users will be able to donate a phone’s idle computing power to crunch numbers for projects that could lead to breakthroughs ranging from novel medical therapies to the discovery of new stars.
The prospect of restoring the sight of blind people with stem-cell transplants has come a step closer with a study showing that it is possible to grow the light-sensitive cells of the eye in a dish with the help of an artificial retina, scientists said.
No wonder the big energy companies are spooked by the green dream. Have you seen their share prices lately?
Witness npower last week, which warned that green policies will drive a 20% rise in energy bills by 2020. Npower is owned by the German utility RWE. In 2008, RWE's shares traded at a whopping €100 each. Today they are worth less than €20.
When someone is diagnosed with depression, patient and doctor often begin a long trial-and-error process of testing different treatments. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t, so patients may try several options before finding the best one. But in the future, a brain scan, blood test, or some combination could help guide doctors to the best drugs, or lead them to suggest talk therapy.