All Science stories

Better formula by editing tobacco genes

The problem: For many parents, breast milk is not an option for feeding their infants. They can turn to formula, but it lacks the hundreds of complex sugars that help babies build their gut bacteria, which is key to developing their immune system.

Charging your electric car in 10 minutes

The problem: Supercapacitors are an alternative to batteries that promise incredibly rapid charging times (think 10 minutes for an EV, and a minute for your phone), but the fact that they store less energy than typical batteries has kept them from being practical.

An HIV vaccine may be within reach

The problem: HIV mutates faster than the immune system can make antibodies to fight it. That’s one reason it has been so hard to develop a vaccine — the version of the virus someone is protected from would be totally different from the one they may be infected with.

Psychedelic toads could unlock new mental health treatments

The problem: Psychedelics like LSD and magic mushrooms are a buzzy research area because of their potential mental health benefits. But they still aren’t well-understood, and might not be practical for people who can’t work a hallucination into their day-to-day lives.

Fighting waste with plastic-eating bacteria

The problem: Plastic waste persists because there aren’t many micro-organisms that can break it down — it’s built differently on a molecular level from the organic trash they typically eat. 

Scientists enlist millions of gamers as research assistants

The human gut has a big impact on someone’s health, but exactly what that looks like is dictated by interactions between trillions of microbes that change drastically based on diet and lifestyle. All of those different variables can make researching it really complicated.

Growing muscles for robots

It’s hard to get robots to move smoothly. All of those rigid parts make for stiff movements and a lot of wasted energy, which — besides looking silly — doesn’t make them all that useful for the commercial settings they are being developed for.

Memories could be locked away in DNA

The problem: No one is exactly sure how memories are formed. Scientists know certain parts of the brain play an important role, as do electrical signals passing between neurons, but precisely how stuff gets encoded in your mind remains a minor mystery.

Turning pigs into organ donors

A lot of people are waiting for life-saving organ donations, especially kidneys. According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, nearly 1,800 kidneys were transplanted in 2022, but 2,813 people were still on waiting lists and 117 died before getting one.

Pet medicine could protect humans from ticks

The problem: Nature-loving Canadians have to be extra diligent about their post-hike tick check thanks to climate change. Longer summers let more ticks survive and reproduce, mild winters mean tick season is starting earlier, and animals looking for new habitats are carrying ticks to more places. All of this adds up to higher rates of Lyme disease, for which there is no human vaccine.