Popular Science News
You've probably heard of Watson, IBM's super-intelligent supercomputer that dominated on Jeopardy! not too long ago. Turns out he's not a bad cook, either.
At South By Southwest, IBM has set up a food truck staffed with chefs from the Institute of Culinary Education, who are whipping up (strange, uncanny, surprisingly tasty) daily recipes dreamed up by the machine.
Here's the background. For about two years, IBM has been working on a way to harness Watson's data-driven computing into more creative fields--the kinds of things where, unlike a game show, there's no one right answer. The first experiment with that has been in the kitchen. By mining a database of freely available online recipes (as well as recipes from professional chefs and a molecular textbook) and estimating which ingredients might combine for a dish pleasing to a human palate, Watson has been creating unlikely culinary works. The quintillion possibilites--seriously, quintillion--are narrowed down and ranked by presumed tastiness and novelty.
With that data uploaded and organized by type of food, regional origin, and tastiness, the company designed an app that can make logical decisions on what might make for a good dish.
A person piloting the app starts with an ingredient; I chose bacon during a demo from IBM Watson Group researcher Patrick Wagstrom. (Because I am in Austi, I have been walking, and I am hungering for grease.) After that, I selected a region, opting for something English with influences from another country. Watson spit out a list of potential dishes it could make with those restrictions--it seems to be some kind of Michelin-star-worthy soup auteur--and I went with a quiche. Following a second of number-crunching, it showed me a list of ingredients it was planning on using. (Wagstrom admits it's bugged out a few times in this section, forgetting dough, etc.) A few tweaks later, I had a recipe for a respectable-sounding quiche made with comte cheese.The IBM Food Truck IBM Research
Well, "recipe" might be a stretch. There's an option where Watson can compute some vague thoughts on how one might cook a quiche ("cook the butter," "add the cheese") but nothing you'd feel comfortable taking as gospel. Instead, Watson turns cooking into a game of artificially-intelligent Chopped, giving you the ingredients and letting you mix, combine, and remix to taste. "Watson doesn't have a mouth," Wagstrom says.
If you have some talented chefs, though, that could lead to a spark of constraint-induced creativity. At the food truck in Austin, ICE chef Michael Laiskonis, a pastry chef by training, had Watson select a Vietnamese-themed kebab dish that included apple, as determined by an online poll from IBM. Apple isn't exactly your typical kebab ingredient--and neither are strawberries, which were also included in the recipe--but the result was subtly sweet, and surprisingly pleasant next to a bit of ground pork.
Laiskoni's been working with Watson for about two years now. "My experience with it has already changed my approach to creativity," he says. One time, he tells me, Watson requested a dish created by cottage cheese and pork belly. And the result wasn't bad.
But, Wagstrom says, there's still the occasional hiccup when you're dealing with (literally) 1 quintillion potential recipes: "Every once in a while it might recommend lemon juice and cream." Tweaks are being made.
You can read the recipe and instructions for the apple kebabs below, or check it out at IBM's site.Ingredients
ground pork: 8 ounces
scallion: 1 tablespoon of white portion, finely minced. green portion thinly sliced and held in ice water
Granny Smith apple: 1 tablespoon, brunoise, additional for garnish
ginger: 3 1/s teaspoon, divided
lime zest: 1 teaspoon, divided
lemon zest: 1 teaspoon, divided
mint: 1/2 teaspoon, finely chopped
Vietnamese curry powder: 1 teaspoon, divided
vanilla bean: one split and scraped, pod discarded, divided
lard: as needed
vegetable oil : 2 teaspoons, more as needed
lime juice: 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon, divided
lemon juice: 2 teaspoons
chicken breast: 8 ounces
pineapple: 1/2, trimmed, sliced and juiced
shiitake mushrooms: 2 ounces, thinly sliced
carrot: 1/4 cup, sliced into fine julienne
cucumber: cut into fine diceInstructions
1) First, make the pork meatballs. Thoroughly mix ground pork, scallion, 1 Tbsp apple, ½ tsp grated ginger, 1 pinch lime zest, 1 pinch lemon zest, ½ tsp mint, ½ tsp Vietnamese curry powder, pinch white pepper, ½ vanilla bean, split and scraped, until combined. Season with salt and add lard as needed. Portion and roll the mass into 24 meatballs, weighing approximately 10g each.
2) Arrange the meatballs in a single layer into lightly greased roasting pans and place in a 160˚C/320˚F convection oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until thoroughly cooked. Remove from the oven and season with salt. Reserve.
3) To prepare the curry chicken whisk together the water, oil, 1 tsp lime juice, 1 tsp lemon juice, and ½ tsp curry powder. Marinate the chicken in the curry mixture for about 30 minutes. Transfer the chicken and remaining marinade into a shallow saucepan over low heat, stirring, until chicken is thoroughly cooked, about 10 minutes. Allow the chicken to cool in the marinade. Remove the chicken and cool.
4) To prepare pineapple broth, combine the pineapple juice, 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped, 2 tsp grated ginger, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1 tsp lime juice, and 1 pinch each lemon and lime zest. Gently heat to 60˚C/140˚F. Cover and allow to infuse one hour. Strain and season with salt and white pepper; reserve warm.
5) Next, make the flash pickled shiitake mushrooms. Sauté the mushrooms in a shallow pan with vegetable oil and season to taste. Add the carrot, ginger, lemon juice, and lime juice. Slowly reduce until liquid has absorbed. Remove from heat. Allow to cool and remove sliced ginger. Adjust seasoning and acidity as desired.
6) To assemble, into each dish place two of the warmed pork meatballs and portioned chicken. Top with a small amount of the diced, apple, cucumber, and strawberry, followed by the pickled shiitake and carrot mixture. Pour a small amount of the pineapple broth into the dish and finish with the scallion, mint, chive, and 1 pinch lime zest. Season with Maldon salt and an additional grind of white pepper
Here's a roundup of the week's top drone news, designed to capture the military, commercial, non-profit, and recreational applications of unmanned aircraft.
Pentagon Reveals North Korean Drone
In a report by the Department of Defense on the North Korean military, there's a little eye-catching nugget: North Korea reverse-engineered an American drone. Despite what Fox News or North Korea's press claim, however, the unmanned aircraft in question is no "strike drone." Instead, North Korea copied an MQM-107 Streaker target drone. It's the kind of flying dummy that American pilots and anti-aircraft missiles literally use for target practice. North Korean press described their drone as "being capable of precision strike by crashing into the target," in which case North Korea took an American target and made it into an awkward cruise missile.MQM-107E Streaker Target Drone U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Michael Ammons via Wikimedia Commons
Earthquake Damage Filmed Up Close
When the earth upends itself in a violent fashion, as it tends to near Christchurch, New Zealand, the unsettled ground isn't the safest place to send people surveying for damage. Instead, the University of Canterbury's geography department is flying a drone to film the damage, so that people don't have to risk their lives exploring uprooted buildings.
The drone used here is a Draganfly quadcopter. Watch the video below:
Facebook Considers Drone Purchase
New Mexico-based Titan Aerospace's Solara is a very interesting drone: Covered in solar panels, it flies above the clouds and then stays there, for up to five years straight. Online timesink Facebook is in negotiations to buy Titan Aerospace and take advantage of Solara's role as an "atmospheric satellite." Solara drones could store the cloud in the clouds and serve as wireless relays for areas with poor internet access.
Judge Strikes Down FAA Ban On Commercial Drones
Yesterday, a federal judge in the case Pirker v Huerta (Huerta is the administrator of the FAA) ruled that the FAA does not have explicit legal authority to prohibit commercial use of a hobbyist airplane. This is big news. Until the FAA has a legal definition that distinguishes "model airplane" from "drone" (or, in the technical terms of the courts, "unmanned aircraft system"), the FAA cannot claim that internal memos grant legal authority to fine people for using drones. This is a victory for hobbyists that want to use drones as more than just recreational vehicles, and it sets an important precedent in drone law.
Dolphin Stampede On Film
From the Dodo:
This amazing footage was shot by Captain Dave Anderson, who operates a whale-watching company in Dana Point, and combined with other video of grey whales migrating off of San Clemente, and a mother whale snuggling with her calf in Maui -- all filmed from the vantage point of a drone.
The drone used appears, based on its shadow, to be a DJI Phantom with a GoPro camera slung underneath. Watch the video below:
Drone Laws Advance In New England
In the absence of federal drone regulation, states are doing it for themselves. Massachusetts state Sen. Robert Hedlund introduced a bill that would regulate unmanned aircraft in the Bay State. Here's the strongest provision in Hedlund's bill:
" Data collected on an individual, home, or area other than the target that justified deployment shall not be used, stored, copied, transmitted, or disclosed for any purpose, except with the written consent of the data subject. Such data shall be deleted as soon as practical, and in no event later than 24 hours after collection."
This means that any incidental data collected by a drone couldn't be used, so if the drone catches an illegal U-turn while following a different high speed chase, the illegal turner isn't in jeopardy. The bill is currently referred to Joint Committee on Transportation.
In neighboring Rhode Island, state Rep. Teresa Tanzi introduced the Plantation State's own bill regulating unmanned aircraft. For data protection, the Rhode Island bill states "Any aggrieved person or entity may move to suppress the contents of any information or data derived from the use of an unmanned aerial vehicle." In addition, Tanzi's bill requires state agencies to hold public hearing before even acquiring drones.
Both the Massachusetts and Rhode Island bill explicitly prevent unmanned vehicles from being armed. Why? To prevent things like this stun-gun drone, probably.
Did I miss any drone news? Email me at email@example.com.
So you want to keep bingeing on Netflix, but you need to wake up early tomorrow. What’s the worst that could happen?
This article originally appeared in the March 2014 issue of Popular Science.
Chaotic Moon Studios, a startup making, uh, about anything you can think of, invited me to their Austin offices today during South By Southwest to check out a live demonstration of a stun gun-loaded drone. Obviously, I came.
The gentleman here is an intern named Jackson, who is the most fearless person I have ever encountered. He got stunned like a pro.
The drone, Chaotic Moon says, could be used to incapacitate criminals. It's menacing enough already, but maybe we could put a police siren on it one day, just to get the full effect.
Globally, deforestation driven by clearing land for cattle alone accounts for close to one-fifth of global greenhouse gas pollution. The amount of poop, urine, and farts produced by hundreds or thousands of cows in CAFOs (concentrated animal feedlot operations) often leads to water pollution and air pollution, the latter largely methane, a powerful heat-trapping gas that contributes to destabilizing the climate. Livestock account “for 14.5% of human-induced greenhouse-gas emissions, exceeding that from transportation,” notes the report.
To add to the environmental insults, meat animals are fed about 1 billion metric tons a year of the same cereal grains that humans consume, increasing the pressure on supplies of food and fresh water.
But globally, more and more people are turning to farmed animals for dietary protein. Meat production is on track to more than double by 2050. In response, an international research team suggests eight ways to make ruminant agriculture—raising cows, goats, sheep, buffalo, camels, llamas, reindeer, and yaks for meat and dairy—environmentally sustainable. Publlished this week in the journal Nature, the strategies favor diverse approaches tailored to local conditions, rather than a universal approach that ignores local cultures, geographies, economies, and environmental realities.
With around 70 percent of cereal grains consumed in developed countries going to feed animals, and around one-third of the world's grain supply worldwide, the most important step may be feeding animals less human food.
Far from being incompatible, the researchers emphasize that “[C]rop and livestock farming complement each other. Half the world's food comes from farms that raise both,” they point out. “Animals pull ploughs and carts, and their manure fertilizes crops, which supply post-harvest residues to livestock.”
Instead of feeding livestock grains like wheat, corn, and soybeans, stress the researchers, cows, goats, sheep, and other ruminants should get as much food as possible from sources humans cannot consume. These include grazing, fodders like hay and straw, and silage (a feed created from the entire cereal plant, not just the grain). It's how ruminants are supposed to eat, judging from the fact that they naturally have “forestomachs” that can break down fibrous plant matter into nutritious calories and high-quality microbial protein before sending it on to the main stomach for digestion.
"We need to be able to use ruminants in the way that they evolved. Maximize grazing, and then using byproducts as well from other industries," says co-author Michael Lee of Bristol University, in a podcast that accompanies the article. "We need to reduce the amount of imported soya and cereals into ruminant systems, which is not sustainable. In other words, and very simply, less human food into animal feed."
It can be done: 95 percent of milk in the European Union comes from grass-fed livestock, the article notes, while in New Zealand milk cows get just 10 percent of their diet from grains, and 90 percent from grazing.
Among the report's other strategies for sustainable livestock:
- Raise regionally appropriate livestock, instead of importing breeds that while very productive in the temperate climates of most industrialized nations, don't thrive on locally available animal fodders, or in the heat, humidity, diseases and parasites of tropical areas.
- Keep animals healthy, and prevent transmission of illness to humans. This includes improved quarantine, hygiene, and cross-border disease surveillance practices, as well as low-density husbandry (the antithesis of the typical U.S. cattle feedlot).
- More support for research into using low-cost supplements, such as native plants and plant extracts proven to help ruminants thrive, and produce meat and milk with “proportionally less by-product greenhouse gas and ammonia.” One example: An enzyme in red clover improves a ruminant's ability to metabolize dietary protein.
- Choose quality over quantity: The average American eats about 276 pounds of meat a year, compared to 7 pounds a year in India. A good target to shoot for would be about 11 ounces (300 grams) of high-quality red meat a week, suggests the report. “[H]igh-quality animal foods [are] rich in protein, essential amino acids, iron and various essential micronutrients that improve chances for normal physical and cognitive development,” states the report. But eating lots of poor quality meat “such as burgers, sausages, and ready meals” won't cut it, environmentally or nutritionally.
- Support husbandry practices that mesh with local cultures using livestock beyond their value at producing food or pulling things on wheels. “Keeping animals provides wealth, status and even dowry payments.” And short-terms savings accounts: “When families encounter large expenses..they can sell an animal or two to cover the cost.”
"It's about developing the correct system for the correct environment," says Lee in the podcast.
In the above video, a drone piloted by Austrian Raphael "Trappy" Pirker flew over, and filmed, the University of Virginia's medical school campus. Pirker sold the video to an advertising company, which prompted the Federal Aviation Administration to file a $10,000 complaint against him. Yesterday, a federal judge in the case Pirker v Huerta (Huerta is the administrator of the FAA) ruled that the flight was legal, as the FAA did not have any explicit legal authority to prohibit such commercial use of a hobbyist airplane.
This is big.
Commercial use of drones is a legal gray area. Model airplanes, radio controlled and flown within sight of the pilots, are legal, and have been for decades. In recent years, advances in video streaming technology, as well as reduced costs for aviation components, have enabled drones that can do far more than the model airplanes of the 20th century. One change in particular is that drones can now be piloted through first-person video, meaning the drone is neither out of sight nor within sight of pilot. And because the drone is recording video, the mere act of flying a drone includes producing film, which, before this latest ruling, was legal if kept by the pilot but illegal if sold.
The FAA is working on incorporating drones into U.S. airspace; the agency authorized six states as drone test sites in December, but the full plan for integration isn't expected until 2020. In the meantime, the law was super vague, especially on three points directly relevant in the case of Pirker v Huerta: What's the difference between a drone and a toy? Below what altitude does the FAA's jurisdiction end? And what counts as piloting a vehicle?
The ruling in Pirker v Huerta primarily addresses the first point: the difference between a model aircraft and an aircraft. Here's the relevant text from the ruling;
It is concluded that, as Complainant: has not issued an enforceable FAR regulatory rule governing model aircraft operation; has historically exempted model aircraft from the statutory FAR definitions of "aircraft" by relegating model aircraft operations to voluntary compliance with the guidance expressed in AC 91-57, Respondent's model, aircraft operation was not subject to FAR regulation, and enforcement,
The ruling also clarifies that a 2005 memorandum within the FAA regarding unmanned aircraft isn't sufficient as law the public is expected to obey, saying
As policy statements of an agency are not - aside from the fact that the guidance policy therein, expressed is stated, as for internal FAA use -binding upon the general public, and as any regulatory effect is disclaimed, these Policy Memoranda cannot be, and are not, found as establishing a valid rule for classifying a model aircraft, as an UAS, or as finishing basis for assertion of FAR regulatory authority vis & vis model aircraft operations.
Here is what this means: Until the FAA has a legal definition that distinguishes "model airplane" from "drone" (or, in the technical terms of the courts, "unmanned aircraft system"), the FAA cannot claim that internal memos grant legal authority to fine people for using drones. This is a victory for hobbyists that want to use drones as more than just recreational vehicles, and it sets an important precedent in drone law.
Of course, the battle isn't over. As University of Washington law professor and robot expert Ryan Calo notes,
the Pirker decision applies to the narrow class of “drone” he was flying—a “Ritewing Zephyr powered air glider.” Presumably it applies to all model aircraft. There are suggestions here and there that the order could apply more broadly. The judge mentions that the classification “unmanned aircraft system” does not appear in the Federal Aviation Regulations either and that the public notice the agency filed around the term was defective. Nevertheless, I would not assume that any aircraft without a pilot is suddenly outside the FAA’s jurisdiction.
Pirker v Huerta is just the first ruling in what will be a long and gradual struggle to integrate robots into the skies. There are likely many more rulings to follow.
Update 3/7 5:15 pm: The FAA is definitely appealing Pirker v Huerta. Here is the FAA's statement in full:
The Federal Aviation Administration today issued a notice appealing a decision by an NTSB Administrative Law Judge in the civil penalty case, Huerta v. Pirker.
"The FAA is appealing the decision of an NTSB Administrative Law Judge to the full National Transportation Safety Board, which has the effect of staying the decision until the Board rules. The agency is concerned that this decision could impact the safe operation of the national airspace system and the safety of people and property on the ground."
The above image, allegedly of Marie Curie, adorns stamps around the world. But there's a problem: It's not Marie Curie.
It's instead a photo of Susan Marie Frontczak, snapped by Paul Schroder in 2001. Frontczak makes a living portraying the famous scientist on stage, and has done so for 13 years, in some 350 performances across 30 U.S. states and nine countries, she told Popular Science. The image (of Frontczak) can be found on "Marie Curie"-themed stamps in Mali, the Republic of Togo, Zambia, and the Republic of Guinea.
Frontczak said she had mixed feelings about the stamps. "I find it a compliment that it was similar enough that they were convinced," Frontczak told Physics Buzz. "There's some essence [of her] that got captured." But she isn't necessarily happy about her likeness being used without permission.
She hopes to turn her one woman show Manya: The Living History of Marie Curie into a film.Marie Curie, actually Here's the (real) image of Marie Cure that Frontczak modeled her shot after. Courtsey of Susan Marie Frontczak The Republic of Togo thought Frontczak was indeed Marie Curie, on this stamp made in 2011 on the 100th anniversary of Curie's Nobel Prize in chemistry. Courtsey of Susan Marie Frontczak
He’s the legendary astrophysicist and director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History. Tyson's new TV series, Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey, will premiere on Sunday, March 9 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, and again on March 10 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on the National Geographic Channel.
Popular Science: Would you rather have a jetpack or flying car?
Neil deGrasse Tyson: What I would rather have is a transportation system that requires neither: a wormhole.
PS: What incredible thing will we see in our lifetime?
NDT: I think that we will know whether or not there’s life on planets other than Earth. And I think the best location would be on Mars or on Jupiter’s moon Europa.
PS: When we find life on other planets, is it going to come and eat us?
NDT: No. People’s first thought every time scientists discover something new is, “Oh, my gosh, you created a virus, so there’s gonna be a killer virus.” I’m not more afraid of something I might find on Mars than I am of a polar bear who’s pissed off because his ice floe is melting.
PS: What technical advance do we really need in astrophysics?
NDT: The ability to observe a spectrum of light passing through the atmosphere of an exoplanet. It would be able to tell us if there are biomarkers indicating that life thrives on the surface.
PS: What technical advance do we really need in space exploration?
NDT: Ways to shield us from cosmic rays from the galaxy and from the sun. Also, we’ll never travel to the stars unless we understand the fabric of space-time better or find out how to make a wormhole.
PS: China put its first rover on the moon in December. How will this affect the U.S. space program?
NDT: China says it wants to put stuff on Mars, and there’s no question that they are going to follow through with their plans. I don’t claim any deep geopolitical insight. But I do know that if we go back into space in a big way, it will not happen unless we feel militaristically motivated. Or, unless we feel we can make scads of money.
PS: What would a space program with only scientific goals look like?
NDT: If I put on my pure scientist hat, you wouldn’t send humans into space. You have to feed them and keep them warm. A robot couldn’t care less. We can design robots to do what humans can do and better.
This article originally appeared in the March 2014 issue of Popular Science.
In 2007, a little-known German doctor applied to speak at a prestigious AIDS conference, claiming to have cured a single case of the disease. He described a 41-year-old man, dubbed the “Berlin patient,” who had had both AIDS and leukemia. The patient received a bone-marrow transplant from an HIV-resistant donor and no longer showed any sign of the virus.
Perhaps the conference organizers didn’t know what to make of the case. They asked the doctor, Gero Huetter, to present the results on a poster instead of in a talk. So he did. The poster ended up hidden toward the back of a room.
“I ran into the poster by mistake. No one was paying attention to it; there was no buzz,” says Stephen Deeks, professor of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco. Deeks was blown away by the poster’s claim and recalls thinking, “Why does no one seem to care about this remarkable case?” He moved on and didn’t discuss it with any of his colleagues.Gero Huetter AP Photo/Michael Sohn
Weeks later, Jeffrey Laurence, a researcher at Weill Cornell Medical College, stumbled across Huetter’s abstract in the conference program. As the first author of a seminal 1984 paper showing that HIV causes AIDS—a controversial idea at the time—Laurence was all too familiar with the deadening silence that can greet revolutionary discoveries. He wanted to believe Huetter’s claim, and so in his role as a consultant for AmfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, he organized a think tank of 12 people in September 2008.
Huetter was there, as were Deeks, Harvard University immunologist Judy Lieberman, and David Margolis, a leading AIDS researcher at the University of North Carolina. After scrutinizing the evidence, this jury of sorts unanimously decided that the Berlin patient, by then identified as Seattle native Timothy Ray Brown, was indeed cured of AIDS. “It was absolutely a turning point,” says Deeks.
Until then, the best scientists had hoped for was to control HIV infection by impeding the virus’s ability to reproduce. Brown’s case galvanized them into action. There are now dozens of labs investigating how to eliminate HIV from the body entirely. Several companies are developing techniques that mimic the genetic mutation that made Brown’s donor resistant to the virus; a handful are now in clinical trials. Funding agencies have changed course as well. In December, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced it would dedicate $100 million over the next three years to accelerate such efforts.
“It’s a huge shift,” says Nobel Laureate David Baltimore, who is spearheading one of the new trials. “There is a real recognition that it’s possible that we can get a cure.”
Even among intractable diseases, AIDS is particularly challenging. It starts with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), which embeds itself in a victim’s DNA. Once infected, cells cannot get rid of it, as they can most other viruses. What’s more, HIV targets cells in the immune system, converting them from disease fighters into mini factories, which then churn out more copies of the virus. Months or years later, the number of immune cells drops so low that a person becomes susceptible to all sorts of opportunistic infections and develops AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome).
If taken early enough, antiretroviral medication can prevent AIDS by keeping HIV levels in check, and there are more than 30 drugs designed to do that. Brown began taking antiretro-virals when he was diagnosed with HIV in 1995. Ten years later, he developed an unrelated case of acute myelogenous leukemia and deteriorated so rapidly that he soon needed a bone-marrow transplant. Bone marrow is the source of all of the body’s blood and immune cells, so a transplant essentially replaces the old immune system with a new one.
Huetter, Brown’s hematologist, recalled reading about a genetic mutation that prevents HIV from infiltrating cells. Called CCR5-delta32, it’s a mutant form of CCR5, a receptor that HIV needs to gain entry into one of its well-known targets: CD4+ T cells. The mutation occurs naturally in only about 1 percent of people, and Brown was lucky enough to find a matching bone-marrow donor who carried it.
“I was told that if I got his stem cells, it would probably take care of my HIV,” Brown says. “I thought, ‘That would be nice,’ but I didn’t really believe it.”
Before his bone-marrow transplant on February 6, 2007, Brown underwent a punishing regimen of chemotherapy and total-body irradiation to wipe out his immune system. Two weeks later, he left the hospital with someone else’s. “That was the beginning of my new life,” he says.
Huetter’s original treatment plan called for Brown to continue taking antiretroviral drugs after the procedure. But Brown says his partner at the time, a massage therapist, had an “intuition” that the stem cells from the transplant wouldn’t reproduce properly if flooded with the chemicals. The transplant team was likewise reluctant to risk damaging the fragile new cells, says Huetter, and so Brown went drug-free. After the first few months, it slowly became clear that even without the medication, Brown showed no sign of HIV.Deeks was blown away by the poster’s claim and recalls thinking, “Why does no one seem to care?”
Other cases have since emerged that hold similarly tantalizing promise. Last March, a team of scientists reported that a three-year-old girl born with HIV in Mississippi remains free of the virus months after she stopped aggressive therapy. And French researchers published results showing that 14 people (now 19) who had been treated with antiretrovirals within 10 weeks of being infected have remained healthy for years after going off the drugs—more than 11 years in one instance.
Of these cases, only Brown has had a follow-up long and thorough enough—including brain, gut, colon, and lymph-node biopsies evaluated by multiple labs—to merit the unequivocal label of “cure.” But bone-marrow transplants are hardly an option for the 34 million people infected with HIV worldwide: They’re arduous and highly risky procedures-; up to one third of transplant recipients don’t survive.
The transplants may not even work consistently. In July 2012, doctors announced that two men in Boston seemed HIV-free following bone-marrow transplants like Brown’s. But unlike Brown, the men had remained on antiretroviral therapy after their procedures. When they stopped taking the drugs early last year, their infections came roaring back. It’s not yet clear why—whether it’s because their transplants didn’t come from HIV-resistant donors, or because their pretransplant treatment didn’t eliminate all of the infected immune cells, leaving some HIV hiding out in the body.
Still, Brown’s case offers hope. It is evidence of something that until recently had been only a theory: that even after many years of infection, when HIV has presumably wormed its way deep into a person’s body, it is possible to eliminate it entirely, given the right approach.
HIV tests typically measure the amount of viral RNA in the blood. If you imagine blood vessels as highways, with some number of cars, or HIV-infected CD4+ T cells, traveling along them, the tests essentially try to extrapolate the number of cars on the road into the number of cars in the whole country.
The problem with this logic, says Mike McCune, professor of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco, is that there may be only a few cars on the highways because people have chosen not to drive, or gas stations have run out of fuel, or the factories that make the cars have been bombed.
In fact, in 1995, a team led by Robert Siliciano at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that the vast majority of HIV hides silently in “resting” CD4+ T cells. When people go off therapy, the virus from this latent reservoir of infected cells rapidly resurges. In the analogy, this means that cars are idling in garages, waiting for an opportune moment to pull out.
But even that is probably not the whole picture. For example, scientists have begun to realize that the reservoir contains other types of infected immune cells, such as dendritic cells, monocytes, and macrophages. In October, Siliciano and his colleagues reported in the journal Cell that the reservoir of resting CD4+ T cells alone may be up to 60 times larger than was previously thought.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle to curing AIDS, then, is this: No one knows what the reservoir is, where it is, or how to rouse the latent virus from it, much less how best to determine that it has been eradicated once it has been roused. These questions have prompted a tremendous amount of research, with scientists around the globe studying as many infected tissues as possible, both in people and animal models.The goal is to somehow jump-start the dormant virus and then destroy it once it’s vulnerable.
So far, one of the most popular strategies for obliterating the reservoir is the “shock and kill” approach. The goal is to somehow jump-start the dormant virus into becoming active, and then destroy the infected cells once they’re vulnerable—in other words, lure the cars out of the garages and onto the highways, and then blow them up.
Of the three AIDS research collaborations the NIH has recently funded, one focuses on this approach; academic researchers and the pharmaceutical giant Merck hold weekly calls to share unpublished results. “The idea is to find agents or small molecules or drugs that can reverse latency,” says Janet Siliciano, a virologist at Johns Hopkins University and a member of the group. “That’s a really, really hard problem. Right now there’s nothing out there that’s doing that.”
Brown’s case, she says, “created huge, huge excitement. It was a proof of principle that you could eliminate the reservoir if you could give someone a bone-marrow transplant.”
The Mississippi baby was given antiretroviral drugs starting at birth, and the most popular theory is that she was treated so early that the HIV reservoir never had a chance to fully form. The group of patients in France had also been treated soon after infection. As a result, their reservoirs may be so small that their immune systems can control the virus. The French researchers estimate that as many as 15 percent of patients who receive similarly early intervention may become “elite controllers”—a concept akin to that of cancer remission.
But Robert Siliciano cautions that these are unusual cases. “In most people, we’re going to have to deal with this reservoir somehow or other,” he says. “We’re not going to cure anybody unless we get rid of it.”
Scientists have known for many years that HIV’s dependence on the CCR5 receptor might prove to be its downfall. Brown’s case has given that hypothesis new momentum. Two California companies, Sangamo Biosciences Inc. and Calimmune, are using gene-therapy techniques to disable or delete CCR5.
In Calimmune’s trial, researchers take blood from an HIV-
infected person, isolate stem cells, disable CCR5, and then transplant the stem cells back into that individual, where they will develop into new immune cells.
Theoretically, this approach has two advantages: The stem cells provide a steady stream of HIV-resistant immune cells, and altering a patient’s own stem cells rather than those from a donor circumvents the risk of rejection. The trial kicked off last summer, however, so it’s too soon to say if the strategy is as powerful in practice as it is in theory.
Sangamo’s approach is further along. It also modifies CCR5 but in T cells, which is easier to do. The company uses molecular scissors called zinc-finger nucleases to snip both copies of the CCR5 gene out of an HIV-infected individual’s T cells. Researchers then grow the modified T cells to large numbers and transplant them back into the patient.
In a trial of nine people, Sangamo found that a single infusion of the engineered T cells shrank the size of the reservoir in all of the participants three years later. In a separate trial of eight people, one person has maintained undetectable levels of the virus for 20 weeks (as of December) after stopping therapy.
“This is the first study to show a long-term durable increase in CD4 counts but a concomitant reduction in the reservoir,” says Geoff Nichol, Sangamo’s executive vice president of research and development.
Still, it’s way too early to say whether this effect will persist. Because T cells have a limited life span, it’s not clear how long a single infusion’s benefits will last. Sangamo is planning to apply the same technology to stem cells, which might be able to provide an unending supply of HIV-resistant T cells.Experts seem to agree that any global strategy for eradicating HIV may need to combine a cure with a vaccine.
A more interesting question is why this approach should have any effect on the latent reservoir—that is, why should an infusion of healthy immune cells decrease the number of cells that are already infected?
One controversial idea holds that the reservoir isn’t entirely dormant. Imagine the reservoir as a sink half-filled with water. Each day, the water level is exactly the same as on the previous day. “But what you didn’t realize is that the faucet’s a little bit open, and the drain is also a little bit open,” says Mario Stevenson, professor of medicine and chief of infectious diseases at the University of Miami. So even though the water level seems unchanged, there is fresh water in the sink. In the same way, the reservoir may be dynamic, with some cells getting infected and others dying every day.
In a person infused with the engineered T cells, the virus would gradually kill all infected cells without infiltrating new ones. In a sense, “you allow the infection to proceed untreated until the virus itself eliminates all of the nonengineered host cells,” says Deeks. “It’s a pure Darwinian experiment.”
Even if Sangamo and Calimmune’s approaches prove successful, and even if they turn out to have no serious side effects—and these are big ifs—they are too expensive and invasive to treat everyone infected with HIV. In fact, experts all seem to agree that any global strategy for eradicating HIV may need to combine a cure with a vaccine. After decades of failure with candidate vaccines, that field, too, has seen promising developments.
For example, after working with only a handful of neutralizing antibodies—immune molecules that can drive a vaccine—Dennis Burton and his colleagues at The Scripps Research Institute introduced two powerful new ones in 2009. That catalyzed an explosion of others. “Now there are literally hundreds,” says Burton, a professor of immunology and microbial science.Timothy Ray Brown AP Photo/Eric Risberg
Researchers have also created vaccines that spur healthy T cells to attack HIV-infected cells. They’ve shown dramatic protection in a monkey model of AIDS. And last October, scientists revealed the elusive structure of the protein protruding from HIV that the virus uses to latch onto CCR5. This protein is a target for antibodies elicited by vaccines. Put all of this together, Burton says, and “you start to glimpse the possibility of controlling or even eradicating the virus.”
In the meantime, Brown still holds the distinction of the first and only confirmed patient cured of AIDS. He has some survivor’s guilt, he says, and is often called “lucky” by HIV-positive individuals. But his recovery was speckled with a series of nightmarish scenarios: At various points, he was incontinent and unable to walk, placed in an induced coma because of an acute sepsis infection, and so delirious he had to be admitted to a hospital for people with severe brain injuries.
Through all this, Huetter’s team kept testing Brown and couldn’t find any trace of HIV. But Brown says he didn’t really believe his extraordinary situation until the New England Journal of Medicine published his case report in 2009. “Then I thought, ‘Okay, the medical establishment is accepting that I’m cured,’ ” he recalls. “I guess I’m cured.”Next: The baby who was cured of HIV. The Youth Corps
Each year, an estimated 250,000 children worldwide are born infected with HIV. What if hundreds, maybe even thousands, of them are now free of the virus and don’t know it? This is the hope that the case of a baby in Mississippi offers.
The baby was born to an HIV-positive mother and received antiretroviral drugs within 30 hours. Normally, when a baby is diagnosed as HIV-positive, he or she begins treatment and continues it indefinitely. But the Mississippi baby stopped getting the drugs when she was about 15 months old. By the time she returned to the health care system, she had been off therapy for about a year. Instead of being desperately sick, she showed only a faint trace of HIV.
This discovery has led to speculation that the antiretroviral drugs killed off all of the virus before it had a chance to form a reservoir. To test whether that’s plausible, some groups are embarking on ambitious projects to treat infected newborns within a day or two of birth, discontinue treatment after one or two years, and then monitor them to see if the virus rebounds.
“Essentially the plan, based on the Mississippi baby, is going to be: Can you replicate this under controlled conditions in a larger number of people?” says Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is funding one such trial. If doctors follow enough of these children over time, they may eventually be able to verify that they are cured, Fauci says.
Other groups are looking to see whether HIV-positive teenagers who go on “drug holidays” and temporarily stop taking medication remain free of the virus. “The first step is remission. Maybe cure will be the next one,” says Christine Rouzioux, a virologist at Necker Hospital and University of Paris Descartes in France. “It’s the beginning of the story.”
Update: On Wednesday, scientists announced that a second baby may have been cured of HIV.How HIV Invades Cells—And How To Stop It HIV Invasion Don Foley
1) HIV attacks immune cells that express a surface receptor called CD4. The best known is the CD4+ T cell. First, the gp120 portion of a protein protruding from the viral envelope, or virus’s outer coat, latches onto CD4.
2) The binding triggers a structural change that exposes another viral protein, gp41. This protein docks with a second surface molecule called CCR5 (or for some cell types, another co-receptor called CXCR4), which enables HIV to penetrate the cell’s membrane.
3) The virus then releases its genetic material, which embeds itself in the cell’s DNA. The infected cell either begins churning out copies of HIV or silently waits to be activated.
4) Immune cells that carry a mutant form of CCR5 don’t allow HIV to bind. Several research groups are trying to mimic this natural resistance by introducing mutant versions of CCR5 into HIV-infected people.
This article originally appeared in the April 2014 issue of Popular Science.
Earth has a magnetic field, which begins at the core and stretches far out into space. Typically, this magnetic field is a useful shield for solar activity. However, if the Earth's magnetic field bumps up against the sun's magnetic field, all types of madness can ensue, including geomagnetic storms, or space weather that can affect the International Space Station.
This meeting of the magnetic fields is known as magnetic reconnection. During this process, the sun's electrical currents can enter Earth's atmosphere, and in the process, some of our own magnetic field gets stripped away. A new study from MIT and NASA, published in the journal Science this week, explores how a plume of plasma adds extra reinforcements to keep us earthlings safe during solar activity.
The plume is not terribly unlike a river, with particles that flow through a stream. "This higher-density, cold plasma changes about every plasma physics process it comes in contact with," MIT Haystack Observatory associate director John Foster said in a statement. "It slows down reconnection, and it can contribute to the generation of waves that, in turn, accelerate particles in other parts of the magnetosphere. So it's a recirculation process, and really fascinating."
Since space weather events create radio wave distortion, scientists at the Haystack Observatory have been analyzing radio signals to determine plasma particle concentration, using the data to map the plasma plumes from Earth. While they have been performing the research for 10 years, the researchers note that this is still just an estimate. So the team matched the Earth-based research with space-based data, monitoring a solar storm last January. Three spacecraft crossed one point in the magnetic field where a plasma plume was estimated to be. Data from those craft confirmed that dense plasma plume, which extended to the place where Earth's field met the solar storm.
After a class on out-of-body experiences, a psychology graduate student at the University of Ottawa came forward to researchers to say that she could have these voluntarily, usually before sleep. "She appeared surprised that not everyone could experience this," wrote the scientists in a study describing the case, published in February in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.
Pretty crazy, right? One would think that if you could leave your own body and float above it, you'd be a little more... vocal about it. But since it was a common experience for her--one she "began performing as a child when bored with 'sleep time' at preschool... moving above her body" instead of napping--it may have appeared unremarkable. This is way more interesting than what I did, which was indeed napping.
The most exciting thing about this case, to me, is "the possibility that this phenomenon may have a significant incidence but [is] unreported because people do not think this is exceptional," as the authors wrote. "Alternatively," they continued, "the ability might be present in infancy but is lost without regular practice. This would be reminiscent of the discovery and eventual study of synesthesia that some researchers now hypothesized is more prevalent in young people or can be developed.""She was able to see herself rotating in the air above her body"
Those are fascinating suggestions--both that these out-of-body experiences may be more common than previously thought, or could be learned during a critical window early in life.
But back to the case study. The 24-year-old "continued to perform this experience as she grew up assuming, as mentioned, that 'everyone could do it.'" This is how she described her out-of-body experiences: "She was able to see herself rotating in the air above her body, lying flat, and rolling along with the horizontal plane. She reported sometimes watching herself move from above but remained aware of her unmoving “real” body. The participant reported no particular emotions linked to the experience."
An unusual find, wrote the scientists, University of Ottawa researchers Andra M. Smith and Claude Messier--this is the first person to be studied able to have this type of experience on demand, and without any brain abnormalities. Instead of an "out-of-body" experience, however, the researchers termed it a "extra-corporeal experience" (ECE), in part because it lacks the strong emotions that often go hand-in-hand (such as shock & awe, for example).
To better understand what was going on, the researchers conducted a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study of her brain. They found that it surprisingly involved a "strong deactivation of the visual cortex." Instead, the experience "activated the left side of several areas associated with kinesthetic imagery," such as mental representations of bodily movement.
Her experience, the scientists wrote, "really was a novel one." But just maybe, not as novel as previously thought. If you are capable of floating out of your body, don't keep it to yourself!
Update: Unpopular Science blogger Rebecca Watson wrote a critical response to this article. You can read it here.
If you’re getting to bed on time and staying there for the recommended seven to eight hours, but still are routinely fatigued, you may have a sleep disorder. If you answer yes to any of the following, talk to your doctor:Do you unintentionally fall asleep during the day? Does it take longer than 30 minutes for you to fall asleep? To fall asleep at night, do you need pharmaceuticals, alcohol, or other drugs? In bed, do you have the uncontrollable urge to move your legs? Do you snore? Do you wake up easily during the night? If you wake in the night, do you have trouble going back to sleep? Do you have pain that interferes with sleep? Do you have frequent nightmares?
This article originally appeared in the March 2014 issue of Popular Science.
In the U.S. most used plastics are never collected for recycling. Of the roughly 10 percent that is, easily sortable items like bottles tend to be recycled domestically, while most everything else gets exported, typically to countries that can sort it cheaply by hand. About 30 percent of the electronic waste exported by the U.S. is plastic, making used electronic equipment an important part of the plastics-recovery puzzle.Where Plastic Goes Worldwide Plastics Data Courtesy Moore Recycling Associates And The American Chemistry Council, Graphic By Katie Peek
Wish we could free the world from having to make new plastic? Read our feature about the guy that could make this happen: The Garbage Man.
This article originally appeared in the March 2014 issue of Popular Science.
No More Nightmares
The occasional sweaty bad dream is just a bother, but five percent of adults have frequent nightmares, which can disrupt sleep enough to interfere with waking life too. And for the 7.7 million American adults with PTSD, the proportion climbs to 71 percent. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recently came out with two official recommendations for how to chase away bad dreams. Both are commonly used in veterans’ hospitals.
Prazosin, a blood-pressure drug, also alleviates recurring nightmares. While the underlying mechanisms are unknown, the medication may work by blocking the neurotransmitter noradrenaline, a chemical involved in the fight-or-flight response.
Imagery-rehearsal therapy is a cognitive-behavioral technique. During the day, patients rehearse the nightmare in detail but give it a happier ending. Over time, the dream becomes less frequent and less upsetting.Pillbox Of The Future
Current insomnia drugs typically sedate the brain. Suvorexant comes from a new class called orexin-receptor antagonists, which destabilize wakefulness instead. As a result, it won’t cause lingering drowsiness. It’s now in clinical trials and, pending FDA approval, could be on the market next year.
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and University of Toronto are working on treatments for sleep apnea that would target motor neurons in the upper airway to keep it from relaxing and blocking breathing during sleep. (One possible method could be to inhibit potassium channels.) A drug may be available within five years.
At least four independent research groups have identified molecules that help keep circadian rhythms in sync. Suppressing those compounds in mice enables the animals to adjust to major sleep cycle changes (similar to those caused by crossing time zones or working the night shift). In 10 years, the findings could lead to an anti-jet lag drug for people.
This article originally appeared in the March 2014 issue of Popular Science.
We've mentioned this before, but one of the coolest candidates for Material of the Future is silk. It's insanely tough, and in the human body, doesn't put the same strain on tissue that metal does. It can also harmlessly degrade in the body over time, which it makes it handy for use in medical devices.
In a study run by Tufts University researchers, a team harvested silk from silkworm cocoons and used it to make plates and screws. They recently tested the materials in six rats and, after four to eight weeks, the silk had dissolved. Next up: the silk screws and plates could be used to mend broken bones in humans, then allow the silk to melt away, rather than requiring another surgery for removal. The researchers want to use the technique to treat face injuries at first, then expand to other broken bones.
They aren't the first to toy with this idea; other researchers have suggested implants like this could come to humans by 2030. So just don't break anything until then, and you're good.
If a sexually active woman wants to protect herself from unwanted pregnancy and HIV using a single method, she has always been limited to condoms. A new paper, released today in PLOS ONE details a first-of-its-kind device that provides an alternative.
Northwestern University biomedical engineer and professor Patrick Kiser, with lead author Justin Clark, has made a 5.5-cm intravaginal ring (IVR) that contains levonorgestrel, a synthetic progestin hormone, and tenofovir, an anti-retroviral drug.
The two drugs are vastly different, not just in their purposes, but also in their properties: tenofovir is water-soluble, but levonorgestrel is water-insoluble.Patrick Kiser holds the IVR Northwestern University This presents an engineering problem, since the drugs are diffused through the material of the ring (in this case, the ring)—meaning the material needs to accommodate the properties of the drug. The researchers decided to use two different polyurethane polymers, one for each reservoir, with a third polymer in between the two drug reservoirs to prevent commingling. This ensures that tenofovir is diffused in a much higher dose: 10 milligrams dispensed for every 10 or 20 micrograms of lenovorgestrel. In the image at left, the larger white reservoir contains tenofovir, and the clear, smaller reservoir contains levonorgestrel. The two reservoirs are welded together, basically creating two devices in one.
"That was a big challenge," Kiser says. "The material in the commonly used IVR is not up to the job. It can deliver the hormone, but not the tenofovir."
The innovation, which has been in development for five years, comes amidst what Kiser calls a renewed interest in finding a better way to fight HIV before it's contracted. Innovation in the IVR has remained largely flat since it was invented in 1970.
"It was essentially two different Ph.D. theses. One is making the antiretroviral part of the device, and the other is the contraceptive device," Kiser says.
Kiser had some help, given his prior research to develop an intravaginal ring that is just for HIV prevention, using only the tenofovir. In the new IVR, the two different drugs were chosen for their common use, and because they're already approved by the FDA. Tenofovir is currently taken orally by HIV-positive patients, and levonorgestrel is found in the Mirena IUD and Plan B.
After finalizing the investigational new drug application with the FDA, they'll get ready for clinical trials, with funding help from CONRAD (a reproductive health and HIV prevention organization). If the trials go well, Kiser hopes the IVR could give women around the world, but especially in the developing world, more control.
"Products of this class could, with other drugs, have a realy big impact on women's health," Kiser says. "That's what we're shooting for, here."
Let's be real. It can be embarrassing to go to a pizza joint, walk up to the cashier, and order an extra large Hawaiian pizza with garlic bread crust and a side of extra spicy buffalo wings. But with Pizza Hut's new digital interactive table that allows pizza lovers to order and customize their masterpieces through touchscreen, we can escape the torment of having to interact with anyone to get our hands on a pizza. Oh, and we don't even have to get up from sitting down.
The video above shows how the table works. From pizza size to toppings, everything is at users' fingertips. It looks like payment is synced to your phone, which cuts out the greasy fumbling for credit cards, but provides you with fewer paper receipts to use as napkins. If you brought a friend with you to share in the delight of cheesy-goodness, instead of making small talk while watching the countdown to the pizza's arrival, you can select a game to play.
Nation's Restaurant News reports that about 4,000 of Pizza Hut's dine-in locales would be candidates for the tablet-like table, but the tech is still in concept stage at the moment.
One of last year's biggest health stories came from the case of a Mississippi child apparently cured of HIV: treated with an anti-retroviral drug cocktail shortly after she was born, the virus seemed to have functionally vanished, leaving behind only fragments. Now 3 years old, she still has yet to show symptoms. But was she only an exception to the rule?
Maybe not. On Wednesday, doctors revealed a second, similar case: a Los Angeles-born child infected through its mother was treated with the drugs four hours after its birth, last April. Now, with the child approaching its first birthday, the virus appears to have gone into remission.
The HIV medication used in both cases is usually part of a treatment to suppress the virus in infected patients, but the illness, in those other cases, comes back after the patient is taken off the drugs. Right now, the baby is still getting regular medication, which makes it difficult to tell the status of the virus. (The Mississippi baby stopped being taken to appointments, for reasons that are unclear; the next time doctors saw her, the virus appeared to be gone.) Still, after regular testing, doctors are convinced that the virus is behaving differently from patients only having the virus suppressed, and are continuing to monitor the child in hopes that the virus is in remission.
So, no, it's not definitively a cure, at least not yet. The Associated Press put it like this:
Doctors are cautious about suggesting she has been cured, “but that’s obviously our hope,” [infectious disease specialist Yvonne] Bryson said.
But two cases--and, possibly, more to come through the same process--would indicate that the first treatment wasn't some kind of a fluke. Potentially great news for infected children.
Google Glass might not have done much to move fashion forward, but it has inspired a bevy of copycats—many of which will be on the market before Glass. Some of them are subtle, some futuristic, and some seem plucked straight from 1950s B-movies. The common thread: All of them will transform how we interact with our surroundings. How we’ll look wearing them is another story entirely.
The Awkward Scale: Smart glasses come with sacrifices, such as looking awkward. So we ranked the current models on a scale of 1–5, with 1 being the least awkward. As a baseline, Glass rates a 3.Lumus DK-40 Jonathon Kambouris Lumus DK-40
More than others, Lumus’s glasses could pass for a normal pair of specs. Designers built a system, based on the head-mounted displays that the company makes for jet pilots, which use the glasses’ own lens as a screen. A mini projector on the arm projects the images.
Price: From $200 (est.; through partners); available early 2015 (est.)
Awkward Scale: 2/5
The M-100 doesn’t require a user to wear actual glasses (though they do ship with a pair). Because of its similarity to Bluetooth headsets, the M-100’s “monocular” style may help it blend in, at least a little.
Price: $1,000 (shown with safety glasses)
Awkward Scale: 3/5
With the cycling-centric Jet, bikers can shoot video, track vital statistics, or monitor velocity without fiddling on a phone. Better news: The Jet’s somewhat odd appearance will most likely be overshadowed by its customers’ penchant for skintight spandex bodysuits.
Price: $599 (est.)
Awkward Scale: 3/5
A rotating arm allows users to pivot the screen on the ORA-S between a fully augmented reality display and a second screen “dashboard” just below the eyes. Auto-tinting sunglasses cover up the electronics in sunlight—but indoors, the contraption gives the face a distinctly cyborg-like cast.
Price: $949 (developer version)
Awkward Scale: 4/5
Users control the Moverio via wired remote, like a VCR circa 1981. But what the device lacks in looks it makes up for with some cool apps. One hacker used the remote to fly his Parrot AR.Drone and the HUD to view its video feed.
Awkward Scale: 5/5
This article originally appeared in the March 2014 issue of Popular Science.