The Download

What's up in emerging technology

Yesterday National Institutes of Health James H. Shannon Building

The US government wants to speed gene-editing therapies to patients

The National Institutes of Health wants to help researchers cure inherited diseases using genome-editing technology.

New funding: The US biomedical research agency says it is dedicating $190 million over the next six years to researchers conducting gene-editing… Read more

Image credit:
  • NIH

Subscribe and get the bimonthly magazine and unlimited access to online articles.

Starting at $9.99/3 months

Inside an optics lab

The US is getting left behind as an innovator

A new ranking claims countries in Europe and Asia have nudged America off the leaderboard of the world’s 10 most innovative nations.

The findings: Every year, Bloomberg scores countries on metrics relating to innovation—R&D activity, patents, productivity,… Read more

Source: Image credit:
  • Penn State

Editor's Pick

Job of the future: Wind farmer

Most people who work over 30 stories up do so in the safe confines of a skyscraper. Meredith Halfpenny, however, can feel the breeze in her hair from the top of a wind turbine.

By her own estimation, Halfpenny has helped build around 400 turbines and...

Read the full story →
Yesterday That's a lot of screen time

The average American spends 24 hours a week online

We’re using the internet far more than we used to. So says new data from USC Annenberg (PDF) about the digital lives of Americans.

Nearly always on: Since 2000, time spent online every week by an average American has risen from 9.4 hours to 23.6. Of… Read more

Source: Image credit:
  • Awmleer | Unsplash
Surgeons working

Future surgeons could be trained by VR doctors

Shafi Ahmed is, by some measures, the world’s most-watched surgeon—and now he thinks he can use VR to make medical training more accessible.

The streaming surgeon: Last year, Ahmed used Snap’s Spectacles to walk viewers through a hernia operation. Millions… Read more

Source: Image credit:
  • Piron Guillaume | Unsplash
Working in the shadows

Hackers stole $172 billion from people in 2017

As many as 978 million people in 20 countries lost money to cybercrime last year, according to a new report by security firm Norton.

The individual impact: Norton says that victims lost an average of $142 to hackers in 2017, and that each victim spent… Read more

Source: Image credit:
  • Bruno Fontes | Flickr
January 22, 2018 solar panels

Trump’s solar tariffs shoot US clean energy in the foot

President Donald Trump approved a plan to enact tariffs on imported solar cells and modules, committing an unforced error that promises to raise the price on one of the most promising renewable-energy sources. 

Circling the wagons: The move was precipitated… Read more

Image credit:
  • US Army

Editor's Pick

We’re about to kill a massive, accidental experiment in reducing global warming

Studies have found that ships have a net cooling effect on the planet, despite belching out nearly a billion tons of carbon dioxide each year. That’s almost entirely because they also emit sulfur, which can scatter sunlight in the atmosphere and form...

Read the full story →
January 22, 2018 A photo of a computer chip

An artificial synapse could make brain-on-a-chip hardware a reality

Background: Neuromorphic computer chips are designed to work like the human brain. Instead of being controlled by binary, on-or-off signals like most current chips, neuromorphic chips weight their outputs, mimicking the way different neurons fire at… Read more

Image credit:
  • Johannes Plenio | Unsplash
computer code displayed on a screen

The ICO craze is making cybercriminals rich, too

Besides entrepreneurs and investors, hackers are also cashing in on initial coin offerings.

The news: Professional services firm Ernst & Young examined 372 ICOs and found that roughly $400 million of $3.7 billion raised so far has fallen into the hands… Read more

Source: Image credit:
  • Markus Spiske on Unsplash