Hazardous chemicals crossing borders

Anyone who has stood in line to have their bags, boots and body checked before getting on an aeroplane will know that international borders are well protected. After all, that young mother with her squealing baby could so easily be carrying more than the requisite quantity of fluid in a plastic bottle in her hand luggage. The old gentleman with the walking frame? Who’s to say he hasn’t packed it with old-school sticks of dynamite ready to hijack an autumnal tourist flight packed with mini-breakers. That surly teenager’s personal music player with its incessant “tss, tss, tss” and fragile glass touch screen? It could so easily be converted into a lethal weapon with a sharp blow to the arm of the aircraft seat releasing a shard of sharp glass with which to threaten the crew while they point to the exits and mime putting on an oxygen mask in case of the aircraft losing cabin pressure…

Biological mechanisms discovery by globally-distributed research force

Not every scientist has the comfort of a well-equipped lab. However, newly available open platforms for biomedical in silico discovery could soon spark the brains of millions of researchers forming a geographically-distributed work force across the globe. This no longer requires working in a high-tech lab to contribute to the discovery of new mechanisms in health and diseases. Meanwhile, new opportunities for trainees, scientists and patients to practice annotation of genetic databases, could push the boundaries of open science towards countries where it has not yet been possible to work on such projects. In the second part of a two-part series, Barend Mons from the Leiden University Medical Centre, The Netherlands, explains how it could work in practice, and how close we are to realising this initiative.