Eric sez, "Australian scientists developed a cheap blood test for African sleeping sickness and gave it away under a Creative Commons license."
Zablon Njiru and Andrew Thompson of Murdoch University led a team that developed the elegantly simple way to check for trypanosomes -- protozoan parasites that are sometimes carried by tsetse flies.
To catch an infection in the earliest stages, when it is most treatable, technicians must look for a very small number of parasites in a sea of body fluids. That is not an easy thing to do, but there is a trick to make it easier: By mixing the liquid sample with a cocktail of molecules that can copy trypanosome DNA, they can make the serum resistance associated gene, a signpost of the disease, stand out -- transforming each test into a manageable task.
Instead of using the polymerase chain reaction, which amplifies the microbe DNA with the aid of an expensive instrument called a thermocycler, the researchers employed another gene multiplying technique called loop-mediated isothermal amplification. It requires little more than a warm water bath and a few chemicals. After that procedure, which takes less than a half hour, the scientists can simply add some SYBR green dye and watch the brew change color if it contains a boatload of duplicated genetic material from the pathogen.
Since its publication in late 2015, science writer Oliver Morton’s The Planet Remade: How Geoengineering Could Change the World has swept many “best book” (best science book, best business book, best nonfiction book) and with good reason: though it weighs in at a hefty 440 pages and covers a broad scientific, political and technological territory, few science books are more important, timely and beautifully written.
After years of speculation and wrangling over his remains, Kennewick Man turns out to be closely related to contemporary, local Native Americans after all. Discovered near Kennewick, Wash., in 1996, the skeleton ended up in a tug of war between tribes in the pacific northwest who wanted to bury the remains, and scientists who wanted […]
White hat hackers get paid to find holes in their own employers’ online systems, and plug those holes before they become serious security risks. It’s a job that pays handsomely…mostly because few job candidates, even experienced IT professionals, have the skills to scamper over firewalls and infiltrate the deepest recesses of a battle-tested network. But […]
Why buy one of those expensive and confusing universal remotes, clogged with enough buttons to launch a space shuttle, when you could accomplish the same electronic control right on your favorite mobile device? The Blumoo Universal Remote, now just $52.99 in the Boing Boing Store, harnesses the audio power of all your household equipment right […]
You may not love Microsoft Word, but you’ve definitely used it. Other than being one of the most ubiquitous programs on the planet, it’s been the go-to word processing system for more than a quarter-century because it’s as basic as it gets. But occasionally, you’ve got assignments that beg for a lot more options than simple […]