Here Are the First Hints of How Facebook Plans To Read Your Thoughts

Back in April, at Facebook’s annual developer conference, the company announced an ambitious—and very creepy!—plan to read its users’ minds. Facebook’s secretive hardware R&D division, Building 8, planned to develop its own “brain-to-computer interface” hardware that would allow a user to send words straight from her brain to a computer by merely thinking. But until now, we’ve heard scant details as to how exactly Facebook plans to accomplish this. Read More >>

Psychologists Think Google Probably Shouldn’t Be Your Therapist

A few weeks ago, Google announced that it had teamed up with a mental health advocacy group to take a stab at addressing the epidemic of depression. People who type the words “clinical depression” into Google search via mobile in the US are now presented automatically with a link to a screening questionnaire to assess their depression. The assertion that Google has the answer to everything just got taken to a whole new level. Read More >>

A Genetic Testing Company Just Screwed Up 50,000 Cancer Screenings

As fun as it is to find out where your great-great-great grandparents came from, the real promise of genetic testing is in the realm of disease. By screening for the genetic markers associated with hereditary disease, people can make proactive, potentially even life-saving decisions about their health. That is, as long as the tests are accurate. Read More >>

23andMe Wants to Turn Your Genetic Data into a Drug-Discovery Goldmine

Since launching a decade ago, the consumer genetic testing company 23andMe has sold people more than two million DNA tests revealing information about their health and ancestry. Mail-in spit tests, though, aren’t the company’s long-term plan for striking it rich. On Tuesday, we got a peek at what is: Turning the genetic data from millions of customers into a massive drug-discovery pipeline. Read More >>

Could a DNA Test Really Predict What You Look Like?

In 2012, the artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg exhibited a work that predicted a terrifying future: She extracted DNA from discarded hairs, gum and cigarette butts and used it to predict what those anonymous strangers might look like. The traces of ourselves that we are constantly leaving behind, she thought, could unleash an era of biological surveillance in which little more than a hair could reveal a person’s identity and location. Read More >>

I Tried a Bunch of DNA Tests and All I Got Was a Bunch of Useless Data

As a young child, every morning at sunrise I would wake up to tap dance on the patio outside my mum’s bedroom door, much to my poor mum’s chagrin. These sunrise salutations became an enduring family story, as did my habit of getting up with the sun. Imagine my surprise, then, when a DNA test recently suggested that I am, in fact, a night owl. Read More >>

The First ‘Living’ Therapy to Treat Childhood Leukemia Has Been Approved in America

On Wednesday, America's Food and Drug Administration approved a treatment that genetically modifies a patient’s own blood cells in order to attack childhood leukemia: a landmark decision that opens the door for an era of government-sanctioned human gene modification. Read More >>

A Fascinating Potential Link Between Gut Bacteria and Health

These days, you can’t throw a rock without hitting some start-up trying to boost our microbiomes. For the health-obsessed, microbiome has become the buzzword of the day. That’s because it’s becoming ever-clearer that all the trillions of microorganisms that inhabit our bodies, and particularly our gut, play an important role in our overall health. Read More >>

Scientists Made Music From the Human Microbiome, and It’s Seriously Cool

There are many mysteries of human biology. Among those perhaps least considered, what do our bodies sound like? Read More >>

What Present-Day Hunter-Gatherers Can Tell Us About the Bacteria in Our Gut

The Hazda are a small group of hunter-gatherers living in the central Rift Valley of Tanzania, one of the few remaining groups of people left in the world who still collect the majority of their diet through foraged foods. Modernity has still managed to touch their lives, of course, but far less than it has for those of us in the post-industrialised West. For this reason, scientists have long been interested in studying their biology, in hopes of gleaning something about humanity’s evolutionary path. Read More >>

It Turns Out That Knowing More About Science Doesn’t Correct Misbelief

When Kevin Esvelt, an evolutionary biologist at MIT, started thinking about using genetically engineered mice to fight Lyme disease, among his first stops was a community meeting in the small Martha’s Vineyard town of Chilmark. Esvelt makes regular field trips to talk to the public about his work. If the potential of tools like CRISPR to solve the problems of disease, hunger and environmental catastrophe is ever to be realise, he reasons, first the public will have to be convinced it is not about to usher in the apocalypse. Read More >>

Encryption Technology Could Protect the Privacy of Your DNA 

Your DNA is some of the most intimate information out there — encoded in it is information about your health, your personality, your family history. It’s not hard to imagine how such sensitive details could be damaging should they fall into the wrong hands. And yet, the privacy practices of the people and programs handling that information isn’t exactly up to snuff. Read More >>

For the Second Time, Researchers Have Used an Artificial Womb to Incubate a Lamb

It may look like a glorified freezer bag, but the artificial womb could one day save the lives of the thousands of babies born every year prematurely. Read More >>

Can Trauma Experienced by Your Great-Great-Grandparents Be Passed on to You?

Our families pass on pieces of themselves to us in more than one way. Your eye color may be thanks to genetic inheritance, but not everything we inherit is encoded in the letters of our DNA. An affinity for Russian literature might be something your parents passed on via social influence, reading it to you before bedtime, just as their parents did for them. Life experiences like trauma, researchers have recently found, can be passed on, too. Children can inherit the changes that occur in how their parents' genes are expressed due to environmental stressors. Read More >>

DNA Testing Data Is Disturbingly Vulnerable to Hackers

Hidden within our genetic code is a vast treasure trove of personal information about our health, relationships, personality and family history. Given all the sensitive details that a DNA test can reveal, you would hope that the people and programs handling that information would be vigilant in safeguarding its security. But it turns out that’s not necessarily the case. Read More >>