PolygamousRanchKid writes: The wars of the 21st will be dominated by ray guns. That, at least, is the vision of a band of military technologists who are building weapons that work by zapping the enemy's electronics, rather than blowing him to bits.
America's air force is developing a range of them based on a type of radar called an active electronically scanned array (AESA). When acting as a normal radar, an AESA broadcasts its microwaves over a wide area. At the touch of a button, however, all of its energy can be focused onto a single point. If that point coincides with an incoming missile or aircraft, the target's electronics will be zapped. BAE Systems, a British defence firm, is building a ship-mounted electromagnetic gun. The High-Powered Microwave, as it is called, is reported by Aviation Week to be powerful enough to disable all of the motors in a swarm of up to 30 speedboats.Disabling communications and destroying missiles is one thing. Using heat-rays on the enemy might look bad in the newspapers, and put civilians off their breakfast.
To every action there is, of course, an equal and opposite reaction, and researchers are just as busy designing ways of foiling electromagnetic weapons as they are developing them.
chrb writes: The DNA of W115 — an anonymous woman who lived to the age of 115 years and left her body to science — has been sequenced. Despite her old age, W115 showed no signs of dementia or heart disease, and tests at the age of 113 showed she had the mental abilities of a woman aged 60-75 years. Dr Henne Holstege, of the Department of Clinical Genetics at the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, has suggested W115 had rare genetic changes in her DNA which protected against Alzheimer's and other late-life diseases.