Science & Technology


Nintendo promotes Wii U product to stay competitive

December 6, 2012

Most of us have grown up hearing the name Nintendo and associating it with the video game industry. In fact, Nintendo has been around since 1889, back when the entertainment systems it sold were simply packs of cards. Nintendo’s famous creation, Mario, ...


Argus II helps blind patients read braille

December 6, 2012

Have you ever tried tracing braille with the tip of your fingers? Do you find it hard to distinguish each letter? Even though blind people certainly get a lot of practice, it is still often difficult for them to read quickly with accuracy. However, Second Sight Medical Products, a company that specializes in manufacturing visual prosthetics, introduced a new device called Argus II that allows blind patients to see braille.


’Tis the season to celebrate sustainability

December 6, 2012

Whatever holidays you may be celebrating this season, odds are that there will be some gifts and decorations involved! During this high-consumption time of the year, is it also possible to be eco-conscious and give Mother Nature a little gift of her own? Why don’t you join the Homewood campus, already wired with LED holiday lights, and celebrate sustainably? The News-Letter caught up with Jon Smeton, the Students for Environmental Action Membership Outreach Chair, and Ashley Pennington, the freshmen ECO-Reps advisor and Hopkins Office of Sustainability Outreach Coordinator, via email to ask about their shopping tips and tricks for this holiday season, as well as some goals for the campus.


Professor Cone inspires biophysics and beyond

November 29, 2012

Richard Cone, a Hopkins professor in the Biophysics Department, is a man of many quirks. He would rather roll up his black jeans and risk arriving late to class on a bike than leisurely drive up in a car. Cone prepares for a class by scribbling notes on a sheet resembling an unfolded napkin, and rather than lecturing about the laws of thermodynamics and molecular binding, he explains nearly every biological phenomenon using the laws of diffusion. His white chinstrap beard appears a shadow for the smile that always adorns his face.


Dangers of energy drinks shown

November 29, 2012

As busy college students, most of us are looking for ways to stay alert throughout the day, despite dwindling levels of sleep around final exams period. Some blare music as they prep for the day, others turn to the more conventional cup of coffee every few hours, and many others crack open a can of their favorite energy drink when drowsiness starts to hit during those 9 a.m. classes.


HRWG hosts panel on JHU drone research

November 29, 2012

The debate over the U.S. military’s use of drones has been heating up in the media and on campus for some time now. In a recent panel held in Mergenthaler Hall, experts discussed the hot-button topic and specifically Hopkins’ involvement in classified drone research.


Animal Antics: Fossils in ancient books surprise researchers

November 29, 2012

For those who love fossils but lack the time or stamina to dig through the dirt, try checking out some medieval library books — and be careful not to breathe in all the dust! A recent study reported that white spots found in some of these old books are actually fossil records of European beetles. Each of them is actually a wormhole, the result of hatching beetles chewing through the woodblocks used to print arts and illustrations between the 1400s and 1800s. And you thought that bookworm infestations were scary!


3D ID software traces demographic origins

November 29, 2012

When a skeletonized body turns up, medical examiners often have difficulty determining the victim’s identity and place of origin. For these challenges, they call on experts like Amanda Ross, a professor of anthropology at North Carolina State University, to help with the clarification.


3D printer used to manufacture firearms

November 29, 2012

Materializing weapons from a printer may sound like something from a computer game, but thanks to Defense Distributed’s “Wiki Weapon” project, this fantasy may soon turn into a reality. Defense Distributed aims to create a working gun comprised entirely of parts from a 3D printer.


Cell membrane contributes to binding event

November 29, 2012

Proteases, which play an essential role in many of our physiological systems, are enzymes that cleave other proteins. Until recently, it was thought that they recognize certain amino acid sequences to know when to cleave other proteins.


Plant maturity process found in chloroplasts

November 15, 2012

Plants have always been an integral part of human life, both as food sources and as decorations. For that reason, the question of how plants mature has long been plaguing the minds of scientists. Recently, biologists at the University of Leicester found that the plant’s maturing process—the ubiquitin proteasome system, also known as UPS—not only occurs in the center of plant cells, but also in the chloroplasts.


10 JHU professors named AMS fellows

November 15, 2012

On Nov. 1, the American Mathematical Society (AMS) recognized the achievements of prominent international mathematicians, naming over 1000 Fellows to the inaugural class. The list included nine Krieger School of Arts and Sciences professors from the Department of Mathematics and one professor of the Whiting School of Engineering.


Twitter to enter the world of photo filters

November 15, 2012

Have you ever wished that you could both filter and share images on Twitter? According to employees, Twitter plans to introduce its own filter technology in the coming months, which will allow users to share altered images without relying on popular photo-sharing sites like Instagram.


Fermi measures light content of universe

November 15, 2012

Even after stars cease to shine, their light continues to make its way throughout the universe. Astronomers have been able to make the most accurate measurement of extragalactic background light (EBL), the aggregate starlight in the cosmos, to date. They used data from NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, whose primary mission was to measure the EBL of our universe.


Rise in sea level may be grossly underestimated

November 15, 2012

According to geologist Billy Hay from the University of Colorado, the old estimate in 2007 on projected sea level rise given by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) could be way off due to several key factors that their models were missing.


Smart software identifies gene promoters

November 15, 2012

Like Skynet from the movie Terminator, computers in our generation are actually capable of analyzing inputted data and learning how to react differently to it. In the field of genetics, two groups of researchers have designed software that can analyze and learn new data in genomes to ultimately identify which sequence variations can become a health hazard. Each publication focused on different genes — the brain and melanocytes.


Thanksgiving: Bring on the turkeys

November 15, 2012

With Thanksgiving just lurking around the corner, many of us are probably in the midst of planning the dinner menu for the big night. Regardless of the side dishes, a roasted stuffed turkey is always the highlight at the table. In honor of this unfortunate species, this is a good time to point out some turkey facts and misconceptions.


Animal Antics: Drunken elephants rampage Indian cities

November 15, 2012

Since the 1990s, Indian pachyderms have made the news for their supposedly drunken behaviors. In 1999, a herd of elephants rampaged through the village of Assam, killing four people and injuring six others. The causes, according to the papers, were habitat loss and a few casks of rice beer.