Jeff Horwich is the interim host of Marketplace Morning Report and a sometime-Marketplace reporter. He is the former host of "In The Loop" from Minnesota Public Radio and a former business and economics correspondent for MPR. He is a graduate of Duke University and has a Master's in applied economics from the University of Minnesota.
Features by Jeff Horwich
You don't take on a physics god and not expect to pay the price.
It's not entirely clear what went down, but Antonio Ereditato has stepped down from his research-head post at Italy's National Institute of Physics. Ereditato was central to an experiment which seemed to show particals moving faster than the speed of light -- something supposedly impossible is E=MC(sq) holds up.
Word is, a faulty cable might have caused the measurement error. Point: Einstein.
Yeah... I’m not going to claim that I really understand what the heck is going on here. But I do know "nifty" when I see it. Evidently it’s possible to build working simulations of human organs on something that looks like a piece of plexiglass the size of a USB stick. Folks at Harvard's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have just unveiled the “gut-on-a-chip.” Real intestinal cells, real “wave-like peristaltic motions” that move stuff through the tiny digestive tract -- no word on whether there’s a tiny toilet attached to the end of it. Here it is, in language much more accurate than any attempt at my paraphrasing it:
The new device mimics complex 3D features of the intestine in a miniaturized form. Inside a central chamber, a single layer of human intestinal epithelial cells grows on a flexible, porous membrane, recreating the intestinal barrier. The membrane attaches to side walls that stretch and recoil with the aid of an attached vacuum controller. This cyclic mechanical deformation mimics the wave-like peristaltic motions that move food along the digestive tract. The design also recapitulates the intestinal tissue-tissue interface, which allows fluids to flow above and below the intestinal cell layer, mimicking the luminal microenvironment on one side of the device and the flow of blood through capillary vessels on the other.
What's the point, you say? Implications include investingating intestinal ailments like Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, and testing new drugs to treat them. The gut-on-a-chip follows 2010's lung-on-a-chip project, which appears to be part of a larger effort to bascially make all of your organs -- you guessed it -- on-a-chip.
Given my previous post, I kind of hate to drag things further into the... you know. But American technical ingenuity has spawned a popular new export to the very place that typically exports everything to us: iconic Wisconsin plumbing company Kohler is doing gonzo business in China with the “Numi,” a $6,400 robotic toilet with a remote that looks more complicated than your home entertainment system. The Numi features “leg-warming porcelain, a built-in stereo system and three bidet settings.” And it's now on backorder, as evidently Chinese demand has far surpassed projections.
Hey, in the modern economy, we need to exploit every technical edge we can find -- and this is a great example of applying American technological and scatological know-how, which also happens to boost American manufacturing.
Now the Chinese can literally continue to crap all over us... but it’s all good.
What else are Americans good at? Advertising. Now if this doesn't make you want to rush out and either buy a Numi, or make out with one, you are a cold, cold consumer indeed. (Not that I have that kind of money to flush down the toilet.)
A new forecast from IDC looking at all the ways we compute and connect -- stationary and on-the-go -- dubs Android the soon-to-be king. Android will dominate mobile given its wide accessibility to hardware makers, and mobile will continue to supercede PCs as we’ve known them. (Apple? Destined to remain a fairly distant third. All that proprietary-ness means mountains of cash, but not world domination.)
The U.S. House has killed an amendment designed to prevent this whole “prospective-employer-demands-your-Facebook-login-info” thing. The Democrat-introduced amendment, added to an FCC reform bill, basically gave the FCC the right to craft regulations to prevent that sort of activity. To House Republicans, though, it evidently posed the danger of opening the door to creative FCC regulation of all kinds, giving the agency too much power. (In the Senate, the approach has been different, simply calling on the DOJ and EEOC to investigate whether laws have already been broken.)