Are we Engineering a Flu Pandemic?

Avian Flu Virus

At a mid-September influenza conference in Malta, Ron Fouchier of the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, reported that his team had managed to take the avian H5N1 virus (which has high mortality in humans but is difficult to transmit) and engineer it so that it became highly contagious, at least among lab animals. They had in fact engineered a super-bug which, although currently contained in their facility, has the capacity to cause a devastating flu pandemic. In a sort of scientific synchronicity, similar experiments have been reported by Continue reading

Trillion Frames-per-Second Camera Explained

MIT has been recently in the news because Ramesh Raskar and his team have demonstrated a camera which can visualize the motion light through a scene. The New York Times has a writeup here. More details can be found on the group project page.

One thing that commentators have been confused about is what it means to show light in flight through a media. In fact the group’s video makes it more confusing to the layman when Raskar says “We have built a virtual slow-motion camera where we can see photons or light particles moving through space.” This gives that impression that we can see single Continue reading