Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
October 26, 2020

Science & Technology



Cats may be deadlier than you think

Vicious killer isn’t necessarily the first thing to come to mind when you think of a cat. However, according to a new study, the cuddly creatures are responsible for a significantly higher body count than scientists had originally anticipated.



Water may have existed in deep Martian basin

Scientists have been collecting evidence to prove the previous existence of water on Mars. There are plenty of sites that may once have been oceans, lakes and rivers. With the help of equipment designed by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), researchers think they have discovered a crater that may once have been a standing lake fed by groundwater.


Some cancers find trick to defy genetic instability

Women who carry a mutated copy of the BRCA1 gene have an elevated risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. However, when a cell does not have fully functional BRCA1 along the way to becoming cancerous, it runs the risk of acquiring so many subsequent genetic mutations that it might kill itself before it can evolve into a tumor.


What you missed over winter break

Data storage in DNA: We all know DNA holds all the information we need to divide cells and create the organs and tissues that make us human beings. But have you ever thought whether DNA can hold other types of information? A study published in Nature demonstrated that DNA can potentially be used as a tool to store information in the future. As the cost of storage is increasing while our budget doesn’t, DNA may become a useful and cost-effective method to store your homework and word documents!



Robotic arm reaches toward success

A recent segment on 60 Minutes detailed the successes of the Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory’s Revolutionizing Prosthetics team in mind-controlled prosthetics, also called Modular Prosthetic Limbs (MPL). Geoff Ling, DARPA program manager for the Revolutionizing Prosthetics program, answered some questions about the team’s work for The News-Letter.


Cholera vaccine campaign funded

The Bloomberg School of Public Health is turning heads as they embark on the cholera vaccine initiative. With the help of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has provided a four-year, $5 million grant to supply the initiative, Hopkins is aiming to promote the benefits of oral vaccinations to prevent cholera all over the world.


Animal Antics: Lemurs endangered by aggressive parasites

Don’t you just hate it when you hear the distinctive buzzing sound of a mosquito right as you’re about to fall asleep? As annoying as your situation seems, the climate change-related challenges that many species of animals have to deal with are far, far worse.


Poles of planet Mercury chill enough for ice

The idea of finding ice on Mercury seems about as plausible as finding snow on the ground in July. And yet, results from NASA’s MESSENGER mission, managed and operated by the Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) since 2004, have confirmed the long-held hypothesis that ice can be found on the poles of this scorcher of a planet.


Hopkins iGEM team tackles new projects

Last year the Hopkins iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) team engineered yeast with the ability to produce beta-carotene. This year, they divided their efforts into two teams and took on two subprojects: one with yeast, and the second with a new cloud-based platform for plasmid design.


Sci-fi tractor beams materialize in real life

In almost every science fiction movie, tractor beams are utilized to repel or attract objects. The seemingly magical force of the tractor beams are no longer works of fiction, according to the researchers at New York University.


Pandemic flu policies reviewed at HUBS event

“Let’s imagine that tonight there is a pandemic flu, and everyone is affected," Ishan Dasgupta said, beginning the evening at “Who Should Live in a Pandemic Flu? You Decide,” an event hosted by the Hopkins Undergraduate Bioethics Society (HUBS) last Thursday.


Efficacy of physician work restrictions evaluated

The Institute of Medicine reports that about 98,000 people die every year from medical errors. Many would argue that some of those errors are made by doctors whose judgment has been impaired by exhaustion. However, lack of sleep does not always lead to poor patient care, and physicians’ work hours may not be the only problem when it comes to the medical errors.


Nintendo promotes Wii U product to stay competitive

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, has been around for about three decades now. But even a company that has existed for over a century and is loved by generations of gamers, can still face serious threats from new developments in technology.


Argus II helps blind patients read braille

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

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

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.


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