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Stephen Petranek

Stephen Petranek’s career of over 40 years in the publishing world is marked by numerous prizes and awards for excellent writing on science, nature, technology, politics, economics and more. He has been editor-in-chief of the Miami Herald’s prestigious Sunday magazine, Tropic, and has covered a wide range of topics for Time Inc.’s Life magazine. His presentation 10 Ways the World Could End is one of the most original and most watched TED talks of all time.


Let the Robot Wars Begin

Is Google gearing up to compete with Amazon’s flying drones for delivery services? Or was Jeff Bezos blowing smoke and mirrors when he announced his delivery service idea of using unmanned quadcopters? The CEO of a major bookseller who competes head-on with Amazon told me Saturday that he thought Bezos’ idea was a marketing trick. “It was just to draw attention to Amazon at the beginning of the Internet-buying holiday season,” he said, smiling broadly. I suspect he’s correct.

Dramatic Improvement in Cancer Survival Rate

There’s lots of news from several companies in our portfolio. One is a very risky stock in that its entire success hangs on positive results from its Phase 2 trials of ICT-107. If it moves to Phase 3 studies, the stock will probably triple. Then there’s three companies are working on antiviral drugs -- but their approaches couldn't be more different. All three have good news to report this week...

Garbage Into Gold: The Untold Energy Revolution

You’ve probably heard about the natural gas revolution in North America. But have you heard of drilling for Nat gas... at the dump? Even better, scientists are now extending this idea of making energy -- and money -- from waste to sewage treatment plants. Stephen Petranek explains how scientists are turning “garbage into gold”...

And You Thought You Hated being Fat

What if we could find a way to regenerate our depleted brown fat? Humans lose these cells as they age — one reason we tend to gain weight over time, even if we keep our caloric intake constant. As we age, we also accumulate white fat, which seems to contribute to the onset of Type 2 diabetes. But this isn’t new. The link between brown fat and good health is well known, to the excess of spawning “brown fat diets.” As we accumulate white fat and become obese, our risk of Type 2 diabetes soars. About 22 million Americans contend with it, and the total cost associated with the disease is estimated to be $245 billion for 2012 alone.

The Hope and Promise of Managing Mother Nature

When it comes to breakthrough technologies, messing around with molecules is the cutting edge of advancements that will make our lives better. Part of this world is based in nanotechnology, managing atoms and molecules at the quantum scale to build materials that cannot be found naturally, from making new computer chips to producing energy. The other part of this world is “wet,” based in biology. Someday, these two worlds will merge and you may need to add water instead of electricity to the inside of your computer to keep your biochips thriving. But for now, as exciting as the hardware of nanotechnology is, the biological side is where more life-changing progress is being made.