Spring 2016: In and Out of Focus

We are happy to release our Spring 2016 issue: In and Out of Focus! Articles are posted individually as blog posts (the links are listed below). We also have a PDF version available on our Archives page. Print issues will be available around Harvard’s campus starting early Fall 2016!   Table of Contents: NEWS BRIEFS LIGO’s Discovery: Understanding the GravityContinue reading “Spring 2016: In and Out of Focus”

The Battlefield is the Lab: Curing Type I Diabetes

By: Felipe Flores Diabetes has aroused great interest in public health experts, physicians, patients and researchers because of its many accompanying conditions and complications, including stroke, blindness, and limb loss (1). However, research is promising to find better forms of treatment, and even a cure. To understand all of this research, one should first understandContinue reading “The Battlefield is the Lab: Curing Type I Diabetes”

Lower Extremity Exoskeletons

By: Patrick Anderson In the late 1960s, researchers started to address the prospect of wearable robotic technologies for humans. The majority of these first attempts were intended for enhancing the physical capabilities of able-bodied people, particularly those serving in the military (3). Despite the failure of these initial powered prototypes to attain widespread usage either forContinue reading “Lower Extremity Exoskeletons”

Survival of the Fittest: Darwin’s Evolutionary Theory Applied to Programming Languages

By: Eleni Apostolatos Living organisms are physical manifestations of genetic data. Formally known as deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), the genetic code of living creatures is composed of two strands with varying configurations of four bases—adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine. DNA is interpreted and expressed by native molecular machinery within cells. In transcribing and translating the bases,Continue reading “Survival of the Fittest: Darwin’s Evolutionary Theory Applied to Programming Languages”

LIGO’s Discovery: Understanding the Gravity of the Situation

By: Alex Zapien History was made on February 11, 2016 when the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) Scientific and Virgo collaboration teams confirmed the existence of gravitational waves, ripples that propagate in the fabric of spacetime generated by gravitational interactions once predicted by Albert Einstein. The announcement sparked widespread excitement in the scientific community. Many describedContinue reading “LIGO’s Discovery: Understanding the Gravity of the Situation”

Immunotherapy Against Cancer

By: Eliot Eton The statistics are alarming: in 2012, there were about 14 million new cases of cancer, and 8.2 million cancer-related deaths (1). Over the next twenty years, the number of new cases is likely to increase by over 70% (1). Approximately 42% of men and 38% of women are expected to develop cancer overContinue reading “Immunotherapy Against Cancer”

Solving the Brain Puzzle

By: Kristina Madjoska Each one contributes to a story, forms a unique context with the pieces around it, and finally emerges as part of a collection of stories that make up one human brain. Scientists from around the world have endeavored to make sense of the way these nanoscale puzzle pieces, or neurons, communicate with eachContinue reading “Solving the Brain Puzzle”

Getting a Feel for Cosmic Events

By: William Bryk Monday morning, October 30, 1961, began quietly on an abandoned patch of tundra in an archipelago located in the extreme north of Russia. A grain tumbled in the mild wind, floating here and there until finally smacking the ground, sending several bacteria to their unfortunate end. Moments later, quite unexpectedly, a 50Continue reading “Getting a Feel for Cosmic Events”

Cellular Senescence: Age and Cancer

By: Una Choi With age comes a bevy of age-related diseases and tissue deterioration. Cellular senescence heavily impacts this process and describes the final, irreversible period during which cells — most often fibroblasts or connective tissue cells — flatten and cease to undergo mitosis after around fifty rounds of replication (1). Senescent cells are at theContinue reading “Cellular Senescence: Age and Cancer”

Critical Periods: Envisioning New Treatments for Lazy Eye

By: Audrey Effenberger “How many circles do you see?” “Two red.” “Two red,” the physician echoes. “I really thought that there was nothing that could be done for my condition beyond childhood,” says adult patient Zach Fuchs in a recent TIME interview (1). He has amblyopia, or lazy eye, a developmental disorder that occurs whenContinue reading “Critical Periods: Envisioning New Treatments for Lazy Eye”

Prions and Small Particles: Micro Solutions for a Macro Problem

By: Caroline Wechsler  Since their formal discovery in 1982, prions have been a mysterious scourge. Very small and not well-defined, these mysterious disease-causing agents are the source of great confusion and grief in the scientific world. But some recent discoveries are shedding new light on how to conceptualize and potentially treat such diseases. What areContinue reading “Prions and Small Particles: Micro Solutions for a Macro Problem”

Eye in the Sky

By: Grace Chen Look up at the night sky. The starry heavens inspire a primitive, instinctive fascination in the human mind. In the 21st century, however, the skies are populated with more than just celestial bodies. Many of the glimmering lights we watch in our night sky are satellites – and they are watching you,Continue reading “Eye in the Sky”

Human Genome Editing: A Slippery Slope

By: Alissa Zhang On January 14, 2016, the Human Fertilization & Embryology Authority (HFEA) approved a research license renewal for research project R0162. The application, submitted by Dr. Kathy Niakan of the Francis Crick Institute in London, proposed to study the roles of certain genes in the early development of human embryos, with promising potentialContinue reading “Human Genome Editing: A Slippery Slope”

Sleeping On Your Desk

By: Jeongmin Lee Maybe it’s 10 in the morning or maybe it’s 2 o’clock p.m., but as soon as that professor starts his or her lecture, blackout. The natural circadian rhythm is severely altered throughout life. For many students, the sleeping cycle hits during class. While some people stay attentive all day working nine toContinue reading “Sleeping On Your Desk”

Space Tourism and You

By: Priya Amin Apollo, Gemini, and Mercury: these missions achieved several goals, including the first trip to the moon, and allowed the United States to succeed in the Cold War. NASA, or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, has been at the forefront of space exploration since Chuck Yeager’s X-1 flight, which successfully broke theContinue reading “Space Tourism and You”

Redefining Home?: The Discovery of “Planet X”

By: Alex Zapien How should we define the solar system? Most people would point to and agree with the Merriam Webster definition: “the Sun together with the groups of celestial bodies that are held by its attraction and revolve around it”(1). For decades, people have been accustomed to the familiar names of the Sun and theContinue reading “Redefining Home?: The Discovery of “Planet X””