The feverish pace of technological evolution during the twentieth century must have been mind-boggling. My grandparents (one born in the nineteenth century and the others born slightly after the start of the twentieth century) had front row seats to witness the transition from horse carts to automobiles, from hot air balloons to trans-oceanic flights, from communicating via telegrams to watching television and using phones, and from cooking over a wood-burning stove to using microwaves. My grandparents and parents also witnessed the emergence of computers, and people walking on the moon. Compared to the last century, technology may not appear to be evolving as rapidly, but it does.
From the window, I still note the presence of winter. I grab my blanket to avoid the cold draft’s frigid grasp. Low and behold, I start seeing small pops of color piercing the stark white blanket of snow. Crocuses of every shade imaginable herald the long-awaiting news of the winter’s ending reign of tyranny. The crocuses also foretell the ominous arrival of … bunnies!
What do redwoods, quahog clams, Greenland sharks, bowhead whales, and Galapagos tortoises have in common? Although this sounds like a riddle that could keep the greatest of philosophers up at night, the answer is quite simple: These organisms are among the longest-lived on the planet. While these organisms will outlive us by hundreds to thousands of years, we still have many things in common, including the need to regularly replenish the proteins we make (and which make us).
In the game of poker, players wager that their dealt hand will win the pot of cash. But the person with the best hand doesn’t always prevail: The player holding the worst hand can still seize control of their fate to win the pot.
Remember the ice bucket challenge? Sure, it was a great way to rapidly refresh on a balmy summer day while producing a short video that could make you a short-lived Facebook trend. However, the challenge had the far more noble purpose of raising money and awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The hallmark of this disease is the continuous deterioration of one’s ability to move until death, which occurs 3-5 years after diagnosis. Genetics alone accounts for only about 10% of the cases. The causes of the other 90% of cases are unknown and the subject of many research projects.
What do you enjoy looking at the most? A grinning baby? A beautiful sunset? A cherished loved one? What if you learned that you would no longer be able look at those ever again? For the nearly two million people who are diagnosed with some form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) each year in the U.S., this is a brutally cold reality (Brown et al., 2005).
Increase productivity immediately! Get the results faster! Get more funding now! Publish first! These are just a few of the internal and external time pressures that many scientists face every day regardless of geography or lab setting. To meet these demands, a scientist may find he or she must order critical experimental laboratory reagents from vendors promising quick delivery. The reagent arrives quickly, as promised, and the scientist conducts the experiment, presuming that the vendor and/or manufacturer has spent the time and energy needed to test the quality of the reagent and its usefulness for the particular experiment type being done. As it turns out, this is an often wrong presumption to make, resulting in multiple bad outcomes.
Time. There never seems to be enough of it. With our hectic lives, even the simplest of inconveniences, such as a car breaking down or a heart attack, can totally sour the afternoon and derail our well-laid plans. Wouldn’t it be nice to have advance warning for when we might expect to encounter an interruption to those plans? In part to gain us such a portent, several groups recently assessed a new technology for determining an individual’s cardiovascular disease risk, and the development of a warning test. Their combined efforts may indeed allow us to better plan our lives, or at least serve as a wake-up call that we need to change something in order to have more time to live.
Although the summer Olympics are over for another four years, the world is again amazed at the amount of training these Herculean athletes endure in order to capture gold. A young body usually recovers quite easily after an intense training session; thus, permitting young athletes to continue their quest. However, age inevitably starts to take its toll on the body. Repairing damaged muscles becomes increasingly more difficult with advancing age, though “why” the ability to regenerate muscle is lost is largely unknown. To try to figure it out, a research group led by Jerome Feige and C. Florian Bentzinger at the Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences decided to look the effects of age on muscle stem cells, in the context of their normal contribution to muscle regeneration.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) robs people of their memories and their independence. Determining those at greatest risk for the disease as early as possible may prove key for warding off AD for as long as possible. Although changes in the brain can show up between 4 and 17 years prior to manifestation of AD symptoms, these are only seen by using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); not ideal for wide-spread population screening.1 What is needed is a non-invasive, readily accessible and inexpensive diagnostic test that would help clinicians manage patient health through early intervention.