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The Narrative Frays for Theranos and Elizabeth Holmes

“This isn’t how you introduce technology that claims to be groundbreaking and revolutionary in the health care field,” said Michael Cherny, an analyst at the investment bank Evercore Partners who was an early and vocal skeptic about many of Theranos’s claims. “Every other person goes through some level of peer review,” Mr. Cherny told me this week. Theranos “decided to shun that approach.” “In my view,” he said, “that calls…

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New report: 50 sci-tech advances for sustainable development

When the Millennium Development Goals were launched in 2000, the rallying cry was around the need for more development aid. As international institutions coalesce around the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals, it is likely there will be a heavy emphasis on the role of science and technology in achieving them. Through the post-WWII history of efforts to alleviate global poverty, a small number of breakthrough technologies have had transformative impact: the…

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New book and TV series, ‘How We Got to Now’

We all know how important the printing press has been to human history. Invented in the 1400s, it allowed the mass production of books, newspapers and magazines. That fueled rapid increases in literacy and spawned new industries such as publishing. It also laid the foundation for colossal changes in how citizens expected to be governed, leading to more open and democratic societies. But did you know that the printing press…

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Venture Capitalists Return to Backing Science Start-Ups

Mike Massee/XCOR Aerospace Vestaron makes an eco-friendly pesticide derived from spider venom. Bagaveev uses 3-D printers to make rocket engines for nanosatellites. Transatomic Power is developing a next-generation reactor that runs on nuclear waste. They all have one thing in common: money from Silicon Valley venture capitalists. After years of shying away from science, engineering and clean-technology start-ups, investors are beginning to take an interest in them again, raising hopes…

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Obama Orders Regulators to Root Out ‘Patent Trolls’

WASHINGTON — One company threatened to sue 8,000 coffee shops, hotels and retailers for patent infringement because they had set up Wi-Fi networks for their customers. Another claimed that hundreds of small businesses were violating its patents by attaching a document scanner to an office computer system. One claimed rights to royalties from anyone producing a podcast. Now the Obama administration is cracking down on what many call patent trolls,…

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The promises and pitfalls of carbon capture

Extreme weather events, like Superstorm Sandy that just drenched the northeastern coast of the United States, often refocus the public’s attention on climate change. With Sandy, there were no straightforward connections, partly because it’s hard to connect climate change to a single weather event. Nevertheless, the storm may leave the US public more willing to tackle some of the challenges of climate change. One of these big challenges is mitigating…

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Envisioning emerging technology

Okay — so we like cool visuals (click on the poster image to the right). Envisioning Technology is a technological trend forecasting firm headed by emerging technology strategist Michell Zappa. Zappa and his company focus on explaining where society may be heading by extrapolating on current developments. Granted, futurists in the late 1800s predicted that big cities would soon be knee-deep in horse manure because they didn’t foresee the growth…

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