May 2017

All aboard! Urban farming trend is coming to a city near you

What's tall, Dutch and able to ship 2 million pounds of produce across Europe?

Answer: The continent's first industrial-scale, high-tech, organic indoor farm, which will open in the city of Dronten, the Netherlands, this year.

Around the world, urban or "vertical" farming is transforming from isolated, eye-catching experiments (Trends Journal, Summer 2013) into a new agricultural economy. It thrives, tucked away from weather and drought, does away with toxic herbicides and never sees crop-damaging insects.

Driverless cars in our lifetime? Don’t hold your breath

Take a second and Google the cities with the worst traffic. Search for images of typical traffic jams in cities from New York to Rio de Janeiro, or from Istanbul to Manila.

Notice how taxis and public-transportation vehicles play a big role in those traffic snarls? There's a lot of yellow in that New York City image, isn't there?

Now picture a robotic driverless vehicle navigating through any of those traffic messes.

From plant to sustainable plastic

A research team working under the US Department of Energy's Catalysis Center for Energy Innovation has developed a new way to turn plants into plastic.

The scientists converted plant sugars to furfural, a compound common in bran. Then they converted furfural into something called tetrahydrofuran, also called oxolane, which is a precursor of plastics. Finally, they dehydrated the oxolane, which created a material called phosphorus all-silica zeolite.

A cure for AIDS?

Genetic engineering may hold the key to curing AIDS.

Once inside the body, the often-lethal HIV virus that causes AIDS is hard to stamp out, partly because the virus incorporates itself into the genes of normal cells. That makes it hard to target with conventional drugs.

Now a research team at Temple University has engineered a way to get hold of those cells and prevent them from reproducing.

Using gene-editing technology known as CRISPR, the team delivered genes to the HIV virus' DNA that make it impossible for HIV genes to reproduce.

A 3D snapshot of inner you

One barrier to printing or culturing replacement organs has been the difficulty of getting them to grow blood vessels needed to keep them alive once implanted into a body. Now, nanoengineers at the University of California at San Diego have solved the problem.