Sponsored by

Science

Looking Inward, Way Inward

Until about six weeks ago I never fully appreciated that, just like all the strange characters in science fiction movies, I am a mutant. It all began in June when a friend mentioned his results from a genetic testing outfit. A few years ago, I’d considered paying one of the services to find out my …

Looking Inward, Way Inward Read More »

Transhumanism

It was my first interview with an artificial intelligence—a talking head without a body. The conversation was awkward, but considering that Bina48 is an android, it went better than I expec-ted. Bina48 is a synthetic replica of a real woman named Bina Rothblatt. We met at a Juniata College conference called Our Transhuman Future. The …

Transhumanism Read More »

Building STEM Solutions

Our region is facing a potentially crippling workforce shortage, with too few young, skilled workers to replace an older generation poised for retirement. According to research by the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, the gap could be yawning—as many as 144,000, with the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) fields especially hard hit. No one expects …

Building STEM Solutions Read More »

A Stitch in Time

Through the long, painful decline of Big Steel and the subsequent efforts of Pittsburgh to remake itself and regain economic viability, observers echoed a consistent theme: Pittsburgh will rise again because of the industriousness and talent of its workforce. Indeed, that committed workforce helped the region shape a multifaceted economy that grew supple and strong. …

A Stitch in Time Read More »

The Awe of Night

For nearly three centuries, a scientific debate lingered about the brilliant rings rotating around Saturn: Were they solid discs or made of some other matter? The debate finally came to rest in Pittsburgh, of all places. Astronomer James Edward Keeler, using a spectrograph attached to a refracting telescope with a 13-inch lens, observed that the …

The Awe of Night Read More »

Three Percent of You Isn’t You

Susan Lambie was desperate. It was the summer of 2009 and her mother’s health was deteriorating rapidly. What began as a cold turned into pneumonia. Then her mom developed Clostridium difficile—a nasty bacterium that causes severe diarrhea. Each year, C. diff strikes more than a half million people, especially the elderly after taking antibiotics, as …

Three Percent of You Isn’t You Read More »

Bridging the STEM Gap

If America is unable to meet our growing need for young people with STEM skills, it isn’t because we aren’t aware of the looming crisis. According to the online clearinghouse STEMconnector, more than 3,700 organizations across the country are working to bridge the STEM Gap. The problem is so Hydra-headed that it’s hard to know …

Bridging the STEM Gap Read More »

The STEM Dilemma

When Elizabeth Roeske was growing up in the small New Jersey town of Salem, she seemed a natural for a career in science. Several members of her family are scientists, and she was planning to study chemistry and environmental science in college. But she found little peer support—”No one from my high school was planning …

The STEM Dilemma Read More »

Ancient Dig

Twelve thousand years ago, a Native American hunter left a flint spear point at a campsite beneath an overhanging rock along Cross Creek, a tributary of the Ohio River some 29 miles southwest of Pittsburgh. The three-inch by one-inch point was a re-sharpened remnant of a larger spear or arrow head. But the wear and …

Ancient Dig Read More »

DNA Decoding: An Economic Driver

Mapping the entire human DNA blueprint was ultimately done to advance medicine, but it has had a bonus impact: giving a jump start to a stagnating economy. A May 2011 report by Battelle Technology Partnership Practice of Columbus, Ohio, said the $3.8 billion federal investment in the Human Genome Project from 1988 to 2003 drove …

DNA Decoding: An Economic Driver Read More »

Pasteur’s Quadrant

Among scientific researchers, you’re in the zone if you can create something that falls into what is known as Pasteur’s Quadrant. Back when the National Academy of Science was getting organized, its president, Vannevar Bush, developed a methodology for allocating federal funding by classifying research as either basic or applied. Basic research seeks to increase the …

Pasteur’s Quadrant Read More »

Planetary Hollywood

First the lights dim. In the darkness, you feel the intense drumbeat and techno-pop rhythms of the synthesizer pounding deep in your gut. Next a fiery, red globe materializes above you like a cosmic disco ball of galactic proportions. Look left and a futuristic spacecraft emerges from the solar system beyond. It begins to circle …

Planetary Hollywood Read More »

It’s Pay Dirt

Graham Hatfull, Ph.D., is clearly pleased when presented with a film canister brimming with soil dug from a Penn Hills back yard. Common, every day dirt. An odd gift, to be sure, but one often suggested to anyone meeting the head of the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Biological Sciences for the first time. “Beautiful,” …

It’s Pay Dirt Read More »

Saving Science

On a quiet afternoon inside Seville Elementary School’s modest, unprepossessing building in Pittsburgh’s northern suburb of Ross, something electric is happening—literally and figuratively. The subject at hand is electricity: what it is and how to create it. But there’s a charge in the atmosphere, too, the kind that might make the hair on parents’ necks …

Saving Science Read More »

Top