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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, June 22, 2024

Science

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Science

Quantum computers: Available for free from your own home

As you’re reading this, millions of dollars are being invested by big tech companies into developing quantum computers around the globe. Luckily, industry leaders like Microsoft and IBM have also decided that the pursuit of science should have no price tag. Thanks to them, you can run experiments on real quantum computers for free from the comfort of your own home.


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Science

Say ‘Shoo!’ to the flu this fall

When someone mentions “fall,” a few things may come to mind, like the changing leaves, a new NFL season or “Gilmore Girls” (2000–07). However, fall is also host to something much more insidious: the start of flu season. The influenza virus infects millions of Americans every year, with tens of thousands dying. The flu is known for constantly mutating, so scientists are annually working on vaccines to combat new strains. Time Magazine reports in 2023 that twice a year, the World Health Organization collaborates with professionals to evaluate which strains should be combated via vaccine in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.




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Science

Henrietta Lacks and her legacy

Henrietta Lacks died of cancer in 1951 at age 31, not knowing that her cells would create the foundation for modern-day medicine and that her treatment would play a predominant role in the rise of medical ethics. During a hospital visit, doctors collected a tissue sample from Lacks without her consent. Biotech companies later went on to tremendously profit from Lacks’ cells without ever compensating her or her family. Sadly, this is one of many instances of blatant racism in the medical system, many of which do not receive nearly as much media attention.


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Science

ChatGPT: Love it or hate it, you have to understand it first

If you have been active on social media over the last four months, it is very likely that you have heard about the hype of ChatGPT. You might have experimented with it or used it for an assignment. But do you know how it works? Is it going to replace your job? Is this the start of an artificial intelligence powered apocalypse?



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Science

Despite progress, STEM professions still lack gender representation

Edith Linwood Bush followed in her father’s footsteps, graduating from Tufts University in 1903. She was the head of mathematics at Chelsea High School and principal of Provincetown High School before being appointed as the assistant professor of mathematics at Tufts University in 1922. While this story doesn’t seem to be anything special today, it is one of its kind since, according to the Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts History, this made her the first female professor to teach in the College of Engineering.



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Science

Bite-Size Science: The contentious and groundbreaking endeavor of genome editing

Imagine if we could curate the ‘perfect’ human being — from changing their eye color to developing resistance against deadly illnesses. Is this a groundbreaking pursuit or an unethical idea? When He Jiankui, a Chinese scientist, announced in 2018 that he had changed the genetic makeup of three babies to make them resistant to HIV, he was placed in prison for three years. Nevertheless, the influence of his actions on the scientific field is strong and persistent.


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Science

Bite-Size Science: FDA approves over-the-counter Narcan, an antidote for opioid overdose

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Narcan for over-the-counter sale on March 29. Narcan, which is also known by its generic name, naloxone, is a fast-acting nasal spray medication produced by Emergent BioSolutions that reverses opioid overdoses. The decision comes two weeks after the Nonprescription Drugs Advisory Committee and Anesthetic and Analgesic Drug Products Advisory Committee unanimously voted in favor of allowing the nasal spray to be sold over the counter.


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Science

Bite-Size Science: The return of analog computing, a brief on the latest quantum computing innovation

While digital computers have become entrenched in our daily lives, a new analog quantum computer offers a stark contrast in both its design and capabilities. A team of physicists from Stanford University and University College Dublin created the “Quantum Simulator platform,” making it possible to solve previously unsolvable problems. This new analog computer represents a breakthrough in how scientists understand superconductivity and its merits.


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Science

Tufts professors receive $8 million investment for biotech startup

Morphoceuticals, a biotech company co-founded by Tufts professors Michael Levin and David Kaplan, recently received $8 million in seed funding from Prime Movers Lab and Juvenescence. The company is taking a new approach to the challenge of regenerative medicine by exploring the bioelectric controls of the human body to induce the regeneration of tissue, limbs and organs. Levin hopes their work can revolutionize regenerative applications and help millions of people with various injuries and health conditions.


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Science

Collaboration between universities yields novel biodetection methods using proteins, silk

Imagine if there were ways for your mask to detect a COVID-19 infection or your bra to detect signs of breast cancer. Researchers at Tufts University and the University of Washington are working to make these speculations a reality. Labs at the two universities recently developed a novel way to detect viruses, toxins and other biomarkers through the use of de novo protein switches in a silk fibroin matrix. The research, published in Advanced Materials in December 2022, stemmed from a collaboration between the Silklab at Tufts and the Institute for Protein Design at the University of Washington.


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Science

Bite-Size Science: Sweetgreen's robotic model

The redefinition of the salad-making worker is upon us. Heralded by Sweetgreen, what once was a person in a plain Sweetgreen uniform now has the potential to be a singular robotic arm. In 2021, Sweetgreen acquired Spyce, a robotically staffed, automated restaurant. Together with Spyce, technology is being developed to roboticize Sweetgreen’s salad-making experience.


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Science

Bite-Size Science: New FDA proposal eases blood donation restrictions for gay and bisexual men

Donating blood — it’s a simple act that can save a life, or several. Yet, current Food and Drug Administration regulations require that gay and bisexual men only donate blood under the condition that they have not engaged in sexual intercourse with another man for the past three months. This restriction, a product of the 1980s AIDS crisis, precedes the widespread research and education regarding the AIDS and HIV now available. This outdated policy has drastically reduced the amount of possible blood donors across the United States, along with the number of possible lives that could be saved. 


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Science

Bite-Size Science: First Indigenous woman in space inspires future generations

On Oct. 5, 2022, Nicole Mann became the first Native American woman to launch into space. Born in Petaluma, Calif., Mann is a member of the Wailacki of the Round Valley Indian Tribes. Her astronaut career began at the United States Naval Academy where she studied mechanical engineering and went on to earn a master's degree from Stanford University. In 2013, Mann was selected for NASA's 21st astronaut class, where she underwent extensive training in International Space Station Systems, robotics, spacewalks and much more. Last fall, Mann launched from Florida's Kennedy Space Center in the Dragon Endurance Spacecraft as SpaceX's first woman commander. This endeavor took her and her crew to the International Space Station, where, on Jan. 20, 2023, Mann became the first Indigenous woman to venture out on a spacewalk to prep the ISS for more solar panels. 




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Science

Connections across industry, academia promise progress in cellular agriculture

Lab grown meat used to be something out of a science fiction movie, but Tufts has been at the forefront of progress to make it a reality. In 2021, the United States Department of Agriculture awarded Tufts a $10 million grant which helped found the Tufts University Center for Cellular Agriculture. The Center for Cellular Agriculture is a partnership across multiple different Tufts schools, with researchers who specialize in tissue engineering, nutrition and livestock. In October, the center announced the creation of the TUCCA Consortium, which will see Tufts partner with different companies and nonprofits to solve fundamental challenges in developing lab-grown meat.


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Science

Tufts researchers lead preliminary study on new treatments for Alzheimer’s 

The path of life is a whirlwind, filled with the good, the bad and the ugly. But the memories you make along the way are what make you who you are. But somewhere down the road, you have lost that part of you, because the very memories that built your foundation have dissipated. This is the reality for more than 6 million Americans who have lost who they are and who they were to become due to Alzheimer’s disease (AD).


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