Ray guns, robotic cheetahs and other science stories of the week

Welcome to your weekly science update – a curated list of this week’s most interesting stories in science.

The global state of innovation. Forbes says we are living in the golden age of innovation.

And now the cheetah will jump. MIT researchers have trained their cheetah robot to see and jump over hurdles as it runs.

Ray guns are coming. The laser weapons of science fiction are getting closer to becoming a reality on the battlefield.

Genetic McCarthyism. Should you be worried about the DNA you leave behind?

Genetic pain. Scientists have discovered a gene linked to our ability to sense pain by studying people who can’t sense pain. This finding could lead to new approaches for pain management without drugs.

What keeps Bill Gates up at night? the catastrophic disease outbreak that’s going to decimate humanity, which we could prepare for, but don’t.

Serendipity and science. The heads of the world’s largest research funding agencies met in Tokyo this week for an annual gathering. Discussions focused on the role of serendipity in breakthrough research and, paradoxically, how to institutionalise serendipity in the design of research grants.

Virtual reality for all! Google and GoPro are teaming up to make filming and watching virtual reality content accessible to most consumers.

3D printed human skin. 3D bioprinting company Organovo has signed a deal with global cosmetics brand L’Oreal to create new product testing methods using synthetic human skin printed by a 3D printer. Procter & Gamble is also getting into the 3D bio-printing game.

A beautiful mind. Nobel laureate mathematician John Nash, 86, and wife Alicia, 82, whose lives inspired the book and motion picture A Beautiful Mind, were killed in a car crash on Saturday 23 May.

Oceans of beauty untold. This week saw outcomes of the largest global survey of ocean plankton conducted to date. In addition to scientific value, the studies produced beautiful photography of some of Earth’s most diverse and wonderful mini-creatures.

Bacterial alarm bells. Two studies this week show that bacteria can be genetically engineered to detect cancer and diabetes.

Author: David Gleicher is Senior Programme Manager, Science and Technology, at the World Economic Forum

Image: Health inspection and quarantine researchers work in their laboratory at an airport in Qingdao, Shandong province August 11, 2014. REUTERS/China Daily

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