March 2020 – Discover more
This is a new segment we will be trying, where every month the editors pick out a couple of interesting articles, research papers and other media formats that cover topics in STEM, written/presented by professionals in their respective fields, ideally over the past month. In this way, we hope to provide a contrast to our usual articles, and provide a way for you to delve further into whichever field of STEM particularly interests you. Without further ado…
Short read: Seth Berkeley, COVID-19 needs a Manhattan project. Published in Science, 27th March 2020, Vol. 367, Issue 6485
This article takes an interesting spin on the current pandemic, looking not at the underlying biology or the ways in which we can all prevent spreading/being infected with the virus, but instead looks further ahead, at the research into finding a vaccine – finding a cure. Rather than considering the Scientific shortfalls of any research, Seth heavily focuses on the logistical aspects of the vaccinology research, giving us multiple reasons on why 18-months to actually find a cure for the virus is not a pessimistic comment after all. Takes about 3 minutes to read, as well!
Short read: Mark Buchanan, Machines learn from Biology. Published in Nature Physics, 6th March 2020, Volume 16 Issue 3
Yes, the title has the word biology in it, but this is actually a physics article, and more specifically one which covers the omnipresence of technology, the prioritization between service quality and energy minimization and methods in which one can combat the increasing reliance on batteries and consequently energy. He proposes three methods – improving battery lifetime through element ‘buffers’ (eg microscopic capacitors), power-neutral operation where energy storage requirements are eliminated, and so-called intermittent operation, an ambitious proposal which has some links to biological viruses…?
Book: Sonia Contera, Nano Comes to Life: How Nanotechnology is Transforming Medicine and the Future of Biology. Princeton University Press, Published 11/05/2019. ISBN: 9780691168807
A slightly longer read at 240 pages instead of 1, and albeit not actually published last month, the books explores the methods in which nanotechnology is enabling a new nanoscale interdisciplinary field which brings together physics and cellular biology, through allowing us to design and build artificial structures and machines using DNA, proteins and other biological molecules. Consequentially, this field may have a huge impact on medicinal biology, both in terms of developing specific drugs which target resistant pathogens and in terms of engineering tissues and organs for transplants and further research. Written by one of the great researchers in Nanotech, and endorsed by Princeton Unversity, it’s definitely worth a read if you’ve got some time on your hands.