From the Editor: Issue 88.4 “Ancient Ink, Modern Scripts”

Here at the Yale Scientific Magazine, we write about science because it inspires us. Some of the biggest responsibilities in science fall to our smallest molecules. Miniscule proteins called ubiquitin ligases are tasked with identifying and attacking deviant cancer cells (pg. 11). Such power can be dangerous. The simplest proteins known to exist are capable of spinning cell growth out of control to cause tumors (pg. 16) — dangerous, yes, but still impressive.

And the researchers we interview are inspiring, in their creative approaches to answering questions and in their dedication to making a real-world impact. Want to know how human metabolism has changed with the modernization of society? Find people who continue to live as hunter-gatherers for comparison (pg. 10). Intrigued by the level of detail in medieval manuscripts? In our cover story, scientists take on the vast medieval corpus with an innovative and efficient computer algorithm (pg. 22). Others are extending the reach of their research far beyond laboratory walls. A project for a Yale engineering class turned into a new device that better preserves human organs for transplant, which became the company Revai (pg. 7). A collaboration between a mechanical engineer in New Haven and a theater company in London has culminated in exciting technology that allows the visually impaired to experience their surroundings (pg. 9).

For this issue of our publication, we asked also: What inspires these scientists? Their research questions can stem from a single curiosity in the realm of biology or chemistry or physics. Often, they’re motivated to improve some aspect of the world, whether it’s human health or the environment. Scientists design solutions to achieve these improvements. For ideas, they turn to history: An ancient Chinese herbal remedy has resurfaced as a powerful 21st century drug (pg. 18). Or, they look to nature: Solar panels might be more effective if they were modeled after plant cells — after all, the basic operation of both solar cells and plant cells is to convert sunlight into useable energy (pg. 20). Even everyday electronics can be inspired by nature — particularly, by the inherent ability of certain materials to self-assemble (pg. 32).

Between these covers, we’ve written about a diversity of topics in science, bringing you stories from the lab, from the field, and from the far corners of the universe. Whether you’re fascinated by the cosmos, natural disasters, or advanced robots, we hope you’ll see inspiration in this issue of the Yale Scientific.