SHORT SCIENCE

The internet of things, DNA discovery, and Africa's moon shot

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 January, 2015, 7:57am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 January, 2015, 11:25am

DNA breakthrough offers clue to disease

New Zealand and Australian scientists have observed DNA moving between animal cells in a breakthrough discovery that could lead to better understanding of a range of human diseases and new gene therapies. The team led by Mike Berridge, of the Wellington-based Malaghan Institute, claimed to be the first in the world to demonstrate mitochondrial DNA movement between cells in an animal tumour. The research laid important groundwork for understanding human diseases other than cancer, since defective mitochondrial DNA was known to account for about 200 diseases. It could also usher in a new field where synthetic mitochondrial DNA is designed to replace defective genes. Xinhua

 

US$100m funding for the Internet of Things

Samsung has promised more than US$100 million in funding for developers and to create an open system to kickstart an Internet of Things revolution. A buzzword, IoT essentially describes an environment where everything is connected to the internet creating "swarm intelligence" from individually dumb devices. Bins, toasters, roads and lights will be able to talk to each other for automatic, more efficient control and monitoring. Samsung sold 665 million devices last year, many of which already have internet connectivity. It aims that by 2017, 90 per cent of those devices will plug into an IoT ecosystem. The Guardian

 

Group aims for an African moon mission

Africans have been urged to back the continent's first moon mission. Organisers of Africa2Moon hope to inspire and educate a new generation of engineers and scientists, as well as shattering prejudices in the rest of the world that often paint Africa as a hopeless, dependent and scientifically illiterate continent. The non-profit foundation, based in Cape Town, South Africa, has turned to online crowdfunding and is seeking US$150,000 by the end of January for the first phase, which will involve addressing and recruiting students at universities across Africa. "The main reason we chose the moon is that you can walk outside and there it is," said Jonathan Weltman, manager of the project and chief executive of the Foundation for Space Development. "Kids across Africa can pull out a telescope and see it." The ultimate aim, which could take a decade, is to put a probe on the moon or in orbit, then beam back live pictures to classrooms all over Africa. Weltman believes the journey is as important as the destination: every year there will be a related project inviting mass participation. The Guardian