​Scientists engineer worms to live the equivalent of 500 human years

In an experiment that even caught the researchers by surprise, nematode worms had their lifespans increased by — get this — five times. By tweaking two longevity-related genes, the researchers created an unexpected feedback effect that radically amplified lifespan. The technique could eventually be used to treat… » 12/16/13 2:20pm 12/16/13 2:20pm

Controversial study linking GM corn to tumors in rats retracted

Since its publication in September 2012, a study that showed rats fed Monsanto’s glyphosate-resistant NK603 maize developed more tumors than controls has been roundly criticized for its poor experimental design and dubious statistical methods. Yesterday, the study was retracted. » 11/29/13 8:00am 11/29/13 8:00am

Why isn't science doing something about goddamn spiders?

Spiders. They're terrible, they're everywhere, and one is probably crawling on you right now. With all the wondrous things that science has achieved, isn't it time to do something about this eight-legged menace? » 8/22/13 1:03pm 8/22/13 1:03pm

Breakthrough technique for cutting and pasting genes into DNA works…

Last year, geneticists developed a new techniquethat allows them directly insert genes into bacterial DNA — or remove them. It was a powerful discovery, one that finally offered researchers a cheap and easy way to remove precise sections of a bacterial genome. And now, MIT researchers led by George Church have proven… » 1/15/13 4:00pm 1/15/13 4:00pm

Scientists build a biological pacemaker by injecting a modified virus…

Our heartbeats are triggered by a steady stream of electrical signals, which cause our heart muscles to contract with a regular rhythm. For some people, however, the ‘pacemaker cells' responsible for generating these pulses can fail, resulting in an erratic heartbeat. Normally, this problem is addressed by surgery and … » 12/17/12 8:00am 12/17/12 8:00am

Geneticists create mice that find the smell of landmines irresistible

Scientists at Hunter College in NYC have genetically engineered mice to be 500 times more sensitive than normal to the smell of TNT. And because they're attracted to the smell, the researchers hope these "hero mice" will be used to detect landmines. Should the idea work, they anticipate the creation of other GMO mice… » 10/22/12 3:30pm 10/22/12 3:30pm

When Robert De Niro plays God, he actually lights a church on fire

This is my favorite scene from one of the most ridiculous mad science movies of all time: Godsend. In which Greg Kinnear confronts Robert De Niro, who's tampered with forces that man was not meant to yadda yadda, and everything goes horribly wrong. To the point where their debate over whether De Niro was wrong to play … » 10/18/12 5:09pm 10/18/12 5:09pm

Should we eliminate the human ability to feel pain?

In yesterday's Daily Explainer we told you all about pain — why it exists, how it works, and how scientists are trying to quantify its effects. Though pain has clearly served an important evolutionary purpose, not everyone is convinced that we still need it. A growing number of forward-looking thinkers are suggesting… » 9/27/12 9:00am 9/27/12 9:00am

How genetically modified crops are helping poor farmers in India

The debate about widespread use of genetically modified crops is still contentious. On one hand, you have the strong-arm tactics from the likes of the Monsanto corporation. On the other, there are stories like this. By using a special form of genetically modified cotton, smallhold farmers in India have been able to… » 7/06/12 6:45am 7/06/12 6:45am