Carbon Beam Kills Cancer

Siemens aims to move "one-shot" cancer treatment from research labs to a hospital near you

6 min read

19 November 2003�This fall, Siemens AG (Munich, Germany) announced that it had licensed technology to produce devices that fire carbon-12 (12C) ions at cancerous tumors in an attempt to kill them in one shot rather than in weeks of treatment with conventional radiation devices. Siemens says its aim is to bring the technique, whose first applications will likely be the treatment of hard-to-reach cancers near vital organs such as the brain or spinal cord, to hospitals within three years.

Researchers and clinicians have long known that high-energy particles are an ideal weapon for attacking cancerous cells because, when delivered in concentrated bursts, they overwhelm the built-in repair mechanisms of cells. Despite this knowledge, the effectiveness of such therapy was limited by the high cost, large size, and relative clumsiness of the tools at hand. But recent advances have now made it possible to pinpoint the placement of protons and ions of various elements, while strides are being made in the development of lasers that may turn these bank-busting behemoths into compact, inexpensive devices.

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Are You Ready for Workplace Brain Scanning?

Extracting and using brain data will make workers happier and more productive, backers say

11 min read
A photo collage showing a man wearing a eeg headset while looking at a computer screen.
Nadia Radic

Get ready: Neurotechnology is coming to the workplace. Neural sensors are now reliable and affordable enough to support commercial pilot projects that extract productivity-enhancing data from workers’ brains. These projects aren’t confined to specialized workplaces; they’re also happening in offices, factories, farms, and airports. The companies and people behind these neurotech devices are certain that they will improve our lives. But there are serious questions about whether work should be organized around certain functions of the brain, rather than the person as a whole.

To be clear, the kind of neurotech that’s currently available is nowhere close to reading minds. Sensors detect electrical activity across different areas of the brain, and the patterns in that activity can be broadly correlated with different feelings or physiological responses, such as stress, focus, or a reaction to external stimuli. These data can be exploited to make workers more efficient—and, proponents of the technology say, to make them happier. Two of the most interesting innovators in this field are the Israel-based startup InnerEye, which aims to give workers superhuman abilities, and Emotiv, a Silicon Valley neurotech company that’s bringing a brain-tracking wearable to office workers, including those working remotely.

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