More than 350 years ago, the English natural philosopher Robert Hooke looked through a microscope at a thin slice of cork and discovered that it was made of small, box-like compartments, which he named “cells.” From that moment on, Hooke and countless inquisitive minds after him strove for a better view of these fundamental building blocks of life. And now, the window into the cellular world has become a lot clearer.


In a new study in the April 20, 2018 issue of Science, researchers from Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s (HHMI) Janelia Research Campus, Harvard Medical School, and collaborating institutions report the development of a microscope capable of capturing, in unprecedented detail, 3-D images and videos of cells inside living organisms. Adapting a technique used by astronomers to study distant stars, the research team, led by Nobel laureate and Janelia group leader Eric Betzig, showcased the new technology by generating a series of stunning movies: cancer cells crawling through blood vessels, spinal nerve cells wiring up into circuits, immune cells cruising through a zebrafish’s inner ear, and much more.


The resolution of the microscope is stunning and so powerful it can even capture subcellular details such as the dynamics of miniscule bubbles known as vesicles, which transport molecular cargo through to the cell. “This is the miracle of being able to see what we have never been able to see before. It’s simply incredible,” said study co-author Tomas Kirchhausen, HMS professor of cell biology, and the Springer Family Chair of pediatrics and a senior investigator at Boston Children’s Hospital.

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  • CRISPR-Cas9 shows promise for correcting genetic defects in a reliable manner 
  • Using the gene-editing system to ‘fix’ embryos has caused ethical controversy and it is unclear whether or not it is safe
  • New research from Weill Cornell University suggests that DNA in sperm could be fixed with CRISPR using a brief but powerful electrical shock  


Scientists may be able fix faulty DNA in a father’s sperm before it has even fertilized an egg, according to new research presented this week. 


CRISPR gene-editing technology has shown promise for snipping out bad DNA and replacing it in embryos, but as their cells multiply, the fixed DNA may make it into some cells and not others.  Changing the genetic makeup of sperm cells would solve that problem but, so far, scientists have struggled to find a way to gene-edit them without killing them. But scientists at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York think they may have found a way: by delivering an electrical pulse to the sperm, breaking its outer shell and allowing them to deliver CRISPR to the cell. 

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For toddlers, playing with toys is not all fun-and-games—it’s an important way for them to learn how the world works. Using a similar methodology, researchers from UC Berkeley have developed a robot that, like a child, learns from scratch and experiments with objects to figure out how to best move them around. And by doing so, this robot is essentially able to see into its own future.


A robotic learning system developed by researchers at Berkeley’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences visualizes the consequences of its future actions to discover ways of moving objects through time and space. Called Vestri, and using technology called visual foresight, the system can manipulate objects it’s never encountered before, and even avoid objects that might be in the way.



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AI will help bring novel therapies to market at lightning speeds, at much lower cost, and with no requirement for massive infrastructure and investments.


What if we could generate novel molecules to target any disease, overnight, ready for clinical trials? Imagine leveraging machine learning to accomplish with 50 people what the pharmaceutical industry can barely do with an army of 5,000.




What they’re doing is extraordinary, and it’s an excellent lens through which to view converging exponential technologies.

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As a chameleon shifts its color from turquoise to pink to orange to green, nature’s design principles are at play. Complex nano-mechanics are quietly and effortlessly working to camouflage the lizard’s skin to match its environment.


Inspired by nature, a Northwestern University team has developed a novel nanolaser that changes colors using the same mechanism as chameleons. The work could open the door for advances in flexible optical displays in smartphones and televisions, wearable photonic devices and ultra-sensitive sensors that measure strain.

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Artificial intelligence is giving scientists new hope for studying the habitability of planets, in a study from astronomers Chris Lam and David Kipping. Their work looks at so-called ‘Tatooines’, and uses machine learning techniques to calculate how likely such planets are to survive into stable orbits. The study is published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Circumbinary planets are those planets that orbit two stars instead of just one, much like the fictional planet Tatooine in the Star Wars franchise. Tens of these planets have so far been discovered, but working out whether they may be habitable or not can be difficult.

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