Nanobiotechnology: Seeding the seeds

November 5, 2009

Carbon nanotubes find an unusual use as fertilisers

MANURE, compost and ash were used as fertilisers for centuries before the 1800s, but people did not understand how they worked until the science of chemistry was developed in the 19th century and it became clear that they supply plants with nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Today, something similar may be happening with a different sort of fertiliser altogether. For reasons that are not yet entirely clear, it looks as though exposing seeds to carbon nanotubes before they germinate makes the seedlings that subsequently sprout grow faster and larger.

A carbon nanotube is, as its name suggests, a tiny cylinder of carbon atoms. Such tubes have been proposed for all sorts of fancy uses, particularly in electronics, but they and other nanoparticles (so called because their dimensions are measured in nanometres, or billionths of a metre) have also been objects of concern. The fear is that if they became ubiquitous, they might damage living creatures, people included, by interfering with the way cells work. …

Surgery Museum Makes You Grateful for Modern Healthcare

November 2, 2009

Old hemorrhoid tools, trepanation devices and bone saws. Your comfy, reclining dentist’s chair doesn’t look so bad anymore.

Shattering Myths About Squalene in Vaccines

October 29, 2009

Fears about the adjuvant squalene and myths about its link to Gulf War Syndrome have kept some from getting their H1N1 vaccines. But the real truth is the substance is simply not present in any vaccine administered in the United States.

Wired Readers Respond to ‘Epidemic of Fear’

October 29, 2009

Wired receives more reader responses to “An Epidemic of Fear” than any other story in memory. Writer Amy Wallace responds to the hundreds of messages (470 and counting) that weigh in on the issues.

DIY Botox: Site Offers Injectable Drug Without Prescription (With How-To Video)

October 27, 2009

Give yourself a Botox treatment? Wired.com looks into a site that seems to offer clients the drugs and tutorials to do just that. Video how-to demos show how to inject the drug, derived from botulinum toxin, into one’s own face.

Timeline Covers Decade of Vaccine Panic

October 26, 2009

Learning about the autism-and-vaccines issue has been likened to becoming an expert on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Here’s a 14-point chronology of recent events to get you started.

DIY Laser Market Exploding, Cosmetic Surgeons Vexed

October 23, 2009

The market for at-home laser hair removers and other cosmetic devices is growing by leaps and bounds. It’s DIY body modification gone mainstream.

Task Force on the Study of Biotech Competitiveness

October 20, 2009

Earlier today, Gov. Charlie Crist released the final report and recommendations from the state’s Task Force on the Study of …Click Here to Read More

The Misinformants: Prominent Voices in the Anti-Vaccine Crusade

October 19, 2009

From Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy to Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Joe Lieberman, well-known figures wield their celebrity power to speak out against vaccines.

The rise of epigenomics: Methylated spirits

October 15, 2009

The human genome gets more and more complicated

IT WAS, James Watson claimed, something even a monkey could do. Sequencing the human genome, that is. In truth, Dr Watson, co-discoverer of the double-helical structure of DNA back in the 1950s, had a point. Though a technical tour-de-force, the Human Genome Project was actually the sum of millions of small, repetitive actions by cleverly programmed robots. When it was complete, so the story went, humanity’s genes—the DNA code for all human proteins—would be laid bare and all would be light.

It didn’t quite work out like that. Knowing the protein-coding genes has been useful. It has provided a lexicon of proteins, including many previously unknown ones. What is needed, though, is a proper dictionary—an explanation of what the proteins mean as well as what they are. For that, you need to know how the genes’ activities are regulated in the 220 or so different types of cell a human body is made from. And that is the purpose of the American government’s Roadmap Epigenome Programme, results from which are published this week in Nature by Ryan Lister and Mattia Pelizzola of the Salk Institute in California, and their colleagues. …