The Download, Mar 10, 2017: CRISPR Viable Embryo Test, WikiLeaks’ Hollow Offer, and Safer Drone Crashes
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CRISPR’s First Test in Viable Human Embryos
Chinese researchers have corrected genetic mutations in viable human embryos. New Scientist reports that the small trial aimed to correct two genetic conditions in six otherwise normal embryos. The experiments were partially successful, correcting the mutations in some embryos, but failing or giving rise to “mosaics,” where just some cells are corrected, in others. The results do appear to be more successful than previous (notionally more ethical) attempts to modify abnormal embryos that could never fully develop—but the research is still a ways off clinical use and remains incredibly controversial.
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WikiLeaks’ Hollow Offer to Help Secure Hardware
Tech firms may not take up WikiLeaks on a promise to help in the wake of the CIA data leak. On Tuesday, WikiLeaks published thousands of CIA files which described some predictable, but nonetheless troubling, security exploits. Yesterday, Julian Assange vowed to work with affected companies, promising “exclusive access to ... additional technical details” to help them secure flaws. But according to the Financial Times (paywall), the offer is hollow, because it could prove legally dangerous for firms to look at, let alone act on, the details without government permission.
Taking the Edge Off of Drone Collisions
When a drone hits your face, bad things happen. As the aircraft become increasingly fast and agile, the problems caused during a crash increase—just ask the test dummies that regulators are now using to understand what happens during human-drone collisions. An obvious solution is to enclose the rotors of the vehicles, but alternatives are now being suggested by researchers: some have developed drones that can soften on impact, while others think that in-flight airbags could save the day.
Ten Fascinating Things
How do you test the future of super-fast 5G wireless internet? With these toaster-oven-sized radios.
A team of researchers is trying to recreate baker’s yeast with laboratory-made DNA. The ultimate goal: to understand how to build new synthetic lifeforms.
Drug dealing, people trafficking, household burglaries—these are all established crimes. But, like most others, they’re now facilitated by technology.
Your phone can give away your passcode to an eagle-eyed thermal imaging camera for up to 30 seconds, because your hot fingers warm the screen as you type.
Metallurgists have developed a new kind of steel with a nanostructure based on human bone, and the resulting material is far less likely to crack.
Elon Musk has promised that Tesla could build 100 megawatts of battery storage to ease South Australia's energy woes in 100 days—and if it fails, it's free.
Google’s reCAPTCHA tool used to have you complete simple puzzles to prove you weren’t a robot. Now, it’s advanced enough to become invisible.
A new Ebola vaccine for apes appears to work—but the researchers testing it say that new rules mean that it may never save the animals that need it.
The iconic Energy Star efficiency rating that appears on all sorts of consumer technology may be scrapped by the Environmental Protection Agency.
What does an Internet troll look like? This.
Quote of the Day
"No, I would not agree that [carbon dioxide] is a primary contributor to the global warming that we see."
— Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt makes it very clear that he disagrees with the mainstream scientific consensus on climate change.