My picks, 2016-10

These are the latest articles and videos I found most interesting.

  1. Curing Cancer with Proton Beams
  2. Acoustic holograms
  3. Hummingbirds
  4. How to raise successful kids – without over-parenting
  5. Human Neurons Continue to Migrate After Birth

Curing Cancer with Proton Beams

Suzie Sheehy

Particle accelerators do more than just particle physics research. Suzie Sheehy takes a look at the history and promise of proton therapy: using particle accelerators to fight cancer.

The discovery of X-rays in 1895 was the start of the first breakthrough in modern cancer treatment. Wilhelm Röntgen used a cathode ray tube to generate X-rays. It didn’t take long for the destructive power of these rays to be turned to medicinal benefit. X-rays kill cancer cells through ionization. By stripping electrons from water molecules, the X-ray photons leave a highly chemically reactive wake. The reactive water molecules bind to, and destroy, DNA.

But X-ray beams don’t differentiate between healthy and cancerous cells, so their destructive force is hard to localize to the problem zones alone. One option is to use protons, rather than X-ray photons. Particle accelerators can take protons from inside a Hydrogen atom, form them into high energy beams and more specifically target a tumour.

However, instead of passing through the body like X-ray photons, the protons stop at the tumour, thanks to a phenomenon called the ‘Bragg peak’. By tuning the energy of a proton beam, the dose can be much more carefully controlled.

Acoustic holograms


Researchers can create complex patterns in air and water using ultrasonic waves. By placing 3D printed plates in front of speakers, they can levitate water droplets and propel small objects.


Battle in the Air
Hummingbird’s Face Resembles Baby Octopus
Stunning Slo-Mo Footage of Hummingbirds Hovering in Air

Hummingbirds’ unmatched flying skills

How to raise successful kids – without over-parenting

Julie Lythcott-Haims

By loading kids with high expectations and micromanaging their lives at every turn, parents aren’t actually helping. At least, that’s how Julie Lythcott-Haims sees it. With passion and wry humor, the former Dean of Freshmen at Stanford makes the case for parents to stop defining their children’s success via grades and test scores. Instead, she says, they should focus on providing the oldest idea of all: unconditional love.

Human Neurons Continue to Migrate After Birth

UC San Francisco (UCSF)

Researchers at UC San Francisco have discovered a previously unknown mass migration of inhibitory neurons into the brain’s frontal cortex during the first few months after birth, revealing a stage of brain development that had previously gone unrecognized.

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