Killing Cancer With Heat
Cancer research has found that injecting mice with tiny magnets and turning up their body heat eliminated tumors from the animals' bodies with no apparent side effects.
What's the Latest Development?
That cancer cells can be killed with heat has been known for some time. The trick has been targeting the cancer cells so that the body's healthy cells do not die along with them. "One promising idea, known as magnetic hyperthermia, involves injecting minuscule 'nanoparticles,' basically microscopic lumps of iron oxide or other compounds, into tumors to make them magnetic. ... The magnetic nanoparticles are excited by the applied field and begin to get hot, heating and potentially destroying the surrounding cancer tissue. Because healthy tissue is not altered by the magnetic field, it does not heat up and is not damaged."
What's the Big Idea?
A major focus of nanotechnology has been its role in treating cancer. Nanoengineer Naomi Halas of Rice University in Houston, Texas, is impressed. "This group has solved the key impasse that has arrested the development of magnetic nanotherapies, that is, the weak response of the nanoparticle to the applied magnetic field," she says. "I am so happy that more of these types of nanoparticle-based hyperthermal therapies are being developed to increase the arsenal of weapons against cancer."
Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.
- There's more than one way to make a black hole, says NASA's Michelle Thaller. They're not always formed from dead stars. For example, there are teeny tiny black holes all around us, the result of high-energy cosmic rays slamming into our atmosphere with enough force to cram matter together so densely that no light can escape.
- CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
- Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
- Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.
Military recruits are supposed to be assessed to see whether they're fit for service. What happens when they're not?
- During the Vietnam War, Robert McNamara began a program called Project 100,000.
- The program brought over 300,000 men to Vietnam who failed to meet minimum criteria for military service, both physically and mentally.
- Project 100,000 recruits were killed in disproportionate numbers and fared worse after their military service than their civilian peers, making the program one of the biggest—and possibly cruelest—mistakes of the Vietnam War.
In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.
- The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
- Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
- Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.