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Do New Tools Need New Ethics?

Do New Tools Need New Ethics?

Symbols of countries on a chessboard.

(© warloka79/Fotolia


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Jeffrey Kahn
Jeffrey Kahn is the Andreas C. Dracopoulos Director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, and the Levi Professor of Bioethics and Public Policy. He is also Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management in the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. His research interests include the ethics of research, ethics and public health, and ethics and emerging biomedical technologies. He speaks widely both in the U.S. and abroad, and has published four books and over 125 articles in the bioethics and medical literature, and is currently co-PI for the Johns Hopkins Center of Excellence in Ethics and Policy Research on Genomics and Infectious Disease (NIH-NHGRI). He is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and Fellow of the Hastings Center, and has chaired or served on committees and panels for the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control, and the Institute of Medicine/National Academy of Medicine, where he is currently chair of the Board on Health Sciences Policy. His education includes a BA in microbiology (UCLA, 1983), MPH (Johns Hopkins, 1988), and PhD in philosophy (Georgetown, 1989).
Scientists implant brain cells to counter Parkinson's disease

In a phase 1 research trial announced late last month, patients reported that their symptoms had improved after stem cells were implanted into their brains.

Martin Taylor

Martin Taylor was only 32 when he was diagnosed with Parkinson's, a disease that causes tremors, stiff muscles and slow physical movement - symptoms that steadily get worse as time goes on.

“It's horrible having Parkinson's,” says Taylor, a data analyst, now 41. “It limits my ability to be the dad and husband that I want to be in many cruel and debilitating ways.”

Today, more than 10 million people worldwide live with Parkinson's. Most are diagnosed when they're considerably older than Taylor, after age 60. Although recent research has called into question certain aspects of the disease’s origins, Parkinson’s eventually kills the nerve cells in the brain that produce dopamine, a signaling chemical that carries messages around the body to control movement. Many patients have lost 60 to 80 percent of these cells by the time they are diagnosed.

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Sarah Philip
Sarah Philip is a London-based freelance journalist who writes about science, film and TV. You can follow her on Twitter @sarahph1lip.
Scientists experiment with burning iron as a fuel source

Sparklers produce a beautiful display of light and heat by burning metal dust, which contains iron. The recent work of Canadian and Dutch researchers suggests we can use iron as a cheap, carbon-free fuel.

Adobe Stock

Story by Freethink

Try burning an iron metal ingot and you’ll have to wait a long time — but grind it into a powder and it will readily burst into flames. That’s how sparklers work: metal dust burning in a beautiful display of light and heat. But could we burn iron for more than fun? Could this simple material become a cheap, clean, carbon-free fuel?

In new experiments — conducted on rockets, in microgravity — Canadian and Dutch researchers are looking at ways of boosting the efficiency of burning iron, with a view to turning this abundant material — the fourth most common in the Earth’s crust, about about 5% of its mass — into an alternative energy source.

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Sachin Rawat
Sachin Rawat is a freelance science and tech writer based in Bangalore. He holds a master's degree in biotechnology. Find him on Twitter at @sachinxr.