Food for Thought: Weekly Wrap-Up
Sebastian Matthes, Thomas Kuhn, Dieter Duerand and Susanne Kutter this week in Wirtschaftswoche introduce the winners of Innovationspreis 2011 (innovation award 2011). In the “Startup” category, the winner is Human Machine Intelligence, a Heidelberg-based IT company that developed the “Lingua” software able to understand and answer complete spoken sentences. “Big corporation” category winner is machine building company Freudenberg for its development of production processes that save 85% steel and do not produce waste. In the “medium-sized business” category, the winner is med tech firm Carl Zeiss Meditec which developed Intrabeam, a new cancer radiation therapy device that saves breast cancer patients week-long radiation therapy cycles and improves quality of life.
Also in Wirtschaftswoche, Andreas Menn features innovative printing technologies based on conductive ink and provides glimpses into the future of organic electronics for everyday products: flexible and printed electronic displays for ads and packages, loudspeakers from plastic foil, broadcasting metro tickets and pill containers that inform a cell phone software once a patient has withdrawn a pill. Among others, the article introduces German startup Printechnologics, based in Chemnitz, whose Aircode Touch technology can mark any type of paper with an invisible code that can be recognized and processed by smartphone touchscreens so that it can direct users to websites and/or authenticity certificates. Another German startup, Heliatek in Dresden, is developing printed solar cells that are to be sold by the meter in building supply stores.
Steven Salzberg in Forbes this week features a vitriolic comment of the decision of respected BioMedCentral (BMC), owned by Springer Science publishing house, to add a journal devoted to “Traditional Chinese Medicine”, or TCM, to its portfolio of respected, peer-reviewed scientific journals. He introduces a “laughably bad study” and states, readers should bring “a high tolerance for quackery”, concluding: “BMC should be embarrassed to be publishing journals that promote anti-scientific theories and otherwise muddy the literature. By supporting these journals, they undermine the credibility of many excellent BMC journals. They should cut these journals loose.”
The Economist this week writes about “a serious gap in biologists’ understanding of the diversity of life”, featuring metagenomics research results that points to the existence of a new domain of life in the oceans, adding to the already known domains of archaea, bacteria, and eukaryotes. Another feature deals with back-scattering interferometry (BSI) that can be applied to studying membrane proteins unmodified and in situ using a laser in a simple, low-cost way. The technology may be used to study the interference of membrane receptors with drug candidates and to understand side effects and differences in the response of patients to already marketed drugs. Already, the inventors founded a startup, Molecular Sensing, in San Francisco, Calif.
In New Scientist this week, Helen Thomson reports that a brain electronic implant in a paralyzed women successfully passed the 1,000-day milestone. Wendy Zukerman describes that a new, non-invasive test might soon be available to diagnose the nerve damage associated with diabetes to predict the amputation risk of diabetes patients, and Peter Aldhouse writes about his first encounter with robots at Complete Genomics, a California-based startup that offers large-scale, complete human genome sequencing services as an end-to-end outsourced service to companies and research institutions.