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Engineering Is: Curing Illness

Biomedical Engineering
The chemotherapy drugs that Mark Davis’ wife needed to battle breast cancer made her horribly ill. Davis, a chemical engineer at the California Institute of Technology, resolved to find a better way. Most chemo drugs attack healthy as well as cancerous cells, thus causing awful side effects.

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Engineering Is: Reducing Poverty

Nearly half the world’s population lives on less than $2 per day. But abject poverty shouldn’t be tolerated as a natural part of the human condition. Noted physicist and futurist Freeman Dyson believes that technology can help raise people out of destitution. He’s chairman of the Solar Electric Light Fund, which brings affordable solar power to rural areas in the developing world.

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Engineering Is: Fighting Terrorism


Harvard University engineer Robert Wood is developing a robotic fly. Propelled by tiny, flapping wings, the microrobot (right) weighs no more than a few grains of rice and flits about just like a real fly. It’s pretty cute, but it’s also a deadly serious device.

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Engineering Is: Developing Alternative Energy


A growing gust of support is giving clean, inexhaustible wind energy a real lift. The U.S. Department of Energy says it’s possible for wind to produce 20 percent of the nation’s electricity by 2030.

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Engineering Is: Brewing New Fuels

greenfuelsCorn and soy aren’t just foods. They’re also the feedstocks for alternative fuels such as biodiesel and ethanol. Some say that increased demand for those crops has led to spiraling food costs and shortages. But the new hope for biofuels is a plant that won’t compete for farmland: algae. Yep, pond scum.

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