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Popular Science
February 2005

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Navy jets off the decks of aircraft carriers. The Kingda Ka’s launch catapult produces explosive acceleration by releasing compressed hydraulic fluid and nitrogen gas stored in small tanks at pressures of up to 4,500 pounds per square inch. The system consumes three megawatts of power and can be fired and reloaded every 45 seconds, enabling the coaster to carry 1,400 riders an hour. After blasting out of the station and reaching maximum speed, the ride tips skyward and ascends to a record height of 456 feet before nosing more than 90 degrees into a 41-story plunge embellished by a 270-degree spiral twist.

They never intended it for the menial task of churning out term papers and memoranda. In fact, when Hewlett-Packard Laboratories engineers developed the first nozzle array in 1979, they kicked around the idea of using the device for medicine and materials science before deciding that the printing biz would net more profits. Their first machine hit the market in 1984, and more than 20 years later—now that the inkjet dominates the industry—big players like HP, Epson and Canon can afford to take a step back and figure out ways to squeeze new uses out of the machine.

Stem cells can replicate indefinitely and give rise to more than 200 kinds of tissue types found in the human body. So-called cancer stem cells are thought to work in the same way, cranking out diseased tissue types instead of healthy ones. Although scientists first isolated cancer stem cells in the early 1990s, Dirks and his group are the first to show that the cells can rebirth entire brain tumors inside a living animal. In their study, investigators extracted cancer stem cells from human brain-tumor tissue and injected about 100 of them into the brains of healthy mice.

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