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Idiot-Proofing the Defibrillator

How a device that shocks a failing heart back to life became one of the greatest engineering success stories in medicine

13 min read
Illustration of defibrillator process
Illustration: Jason Lee

At its best, the human heart is a supple machine. When the hydraulics work as they should, an electric current rhythmically moves blood through the heart’s four chambers. Electric impulses travel along specialized fibers and then dart from cell to cell, causing the muscle fibers to contract and relax as regularly as a second hand ticking around a clock face. When they contract, the muscle fibers create high-pressure regions that push open the heart’s valves. Blood pours out of one chamber into another, and just ahead of the blood travels the current, methodically exciting the right fibers and cells in sequence.

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Paying Tribute to Computer Science Pioneer Frederick Brooks, Jr.

He helped develop the IBM System/360 and its operating system

3 min read
portrait of an elderly man in a a red tie and blazer with a bookcase in the background
University of North Carolina

Frederick P. Brooks Jr., a prolific computer scientist and longtime professor of computer science, died on 17 November at the age of 91.

While working as a project manager at IBM in the 1960s, the IEEE Life Fellow led the development of the System/360 computer family. It was the first vertically compatible family of mainframe computers. Brooks also developed IBM’s OS/360, the world’s largest software project at the time. He is credited with coining the term computer architecture, which is used to describe how hardware and software are organized to make up a computer system and the operations which guide its function. He wrote The Mythical Man-Month, a book of essays published in 1975 that detailed lessons he learned from challenges he faced while developing the OS/360.

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NYU Tandon Exploring “Megabase-Scale” Genetic Engineering

A team led by David Truong is building technology to rewrite large chunks of DNA cheaply, safely, and efficiently

7 min read
Illustration of a strand of DNA with a piece of genetic material detached from it

This is a sponsored article brought to you by NYU Tandon School of Engineering.

The human genome is built from 23 chromosomes. Within those chromosomes are around 3 billion base pairs of DNA. Within these base pairs are every subtlety of what makes you uniquely you — the way your eyes change color in different lighting, the sound of your laugh, your freckles.

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