Researchers have genetically engineered a bacterium that can sniff out toxic chemicals at parts-per-billion concentrations. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s the level at which human health effects are often first seen, say the system’s developers, Michael Simpson of Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Gary Sayler of the University of Tennessee. Unlike other bacterial sensors, which require large and expensive instrumentation, this device is small and potentially inexpensive. Bacteria engineered to detect specific chemicals are deposited on chips less than two millimeters long. Upon exposure to the target chemical, the bacteria glow with an intensity proportional to the concentration of the chemical. The sensors can detect environmental pollutants such as compounds that mimic estrogen, residue from jet fuel in ground water, and chemicals that indicate food spoilage. The researchers have built a working prototype and hope an upcoming alliance with Perkin-Elmer will bring the device to market within three years.
Geoffrey Hinton tells us why he’s now scared of the tech he helped build
“I have suddenly switched my views on whether these things are going to be more intelligent than us.”
ChatGPT is going to change education, not destroy it
The narrative around cheating students doesn’t tell the whole story. Meet the teachers who think generative AI could actually make learning better.
Meet the people who use Notion to plan their whole lives
The workplace tool’s appeal extends far beyond organizing work projects. Many users find it’s just as useful for managing their free time.
Learning to code isn’t enough
Historically, learn-to-code efforts have provided opportunities for the few, but new efforts are aiming to be inclusive.
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