Science & Tech Briefs

Informing the Branham community brief by brief.

Omar Ababneh, Staff Writer

DNA editing can save endangered species

Scientists are considering using of a gene-editing tool known as a gene drive to save endangered species. It can copy and paste itself into the genome of an organism. (A genome is the complete set of genetic instructions in an organism.) Once the gene drive is inside the genome, it could alter the genes of an invasive species and kill the species in places it doesn’t belong. Another popular tool, known as CRISPR/Cas9, has also been proposed as an option. The Cas9 component is an enzyme and a molecular scissor that cuts DNA. This tool can be used to insert genes in specific locations in plants and animals. Scientists hope to use these tools to help save animals and plants.


Wearable brain scanner understands how neurons “talk”

Scientists have created a mask-like instrument that can transmit brain signals. When the wearer is moving, the scanner can detect magnetic fields emitted by communicating neurons. This method allows magnetoencephalography (MEG) scientists to understand and study brain behavior while people are in motion. When neurons interact with one another, their weak electrical current generates a small magnetic field. This instrument can measure those magnetic signals to learn how the brain works. Some challenges still remain, like movement restrictions, but scientists are working towards overcoming them to get the most accurate results.


World Cup referees will use watches to check for goals

Hublot is the official timekeeping sponsor of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and they developed a special watch for referees to track if and when a goal is scored. In soccer, the ball must cross the line to be counted as a goal, and in many cases, it is hard for referees to accurately assess if it did actually cross the line or not. The watch’s technology will work in tandem with goal-line technology. Referees will instantly know whether the goal counts or not. Hublot will also release 2,018 watches for public use, each priced at $5,200.


Google partners with YouTube to teach children about fake news

Google wants to invest $10 million with YouTube to teach kids how to spot fake news. YouTube will work with science channels like AsapSCIENCE and SmarterEveryDay, both of whom have over 12 million subscribers cumulatively, to help with the initiative. The goal is to teach kids how to tell what is fact and what is fiction when they’re reading news articles or watching YouTube videos. The program is being established at a time dominated by false information, a prevalent issue on social media platforms used by the younger generations. Google and YouTube hope to combat fake news and put an end to it.