Tag Archive | "Google"

Polio vaccine discoverer Dr Jonas Salk’s 100th birthday marked by Google

Google has marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of Dr Jonas Salk, an American virologist who discovered and developed the first successful inactivated polio vaccine, with a new doodle.

The colourful doodle on the Google home page shows children running and playing freely in the street with a sign saying “Thank You Dr Salk!”

The picture indeed tells a thousand words because until 1957 when Salk introduced the vaccine to the public, polio was considered the most frightening public health problem in the US and indeed around the world.

A 1952 polio epidemic struck 58,000 people of which 3,145 died and 21,269 were left in various states of paralysis.

The majority of the epidemic’s victims were children.

A miracle worker

Born to Jewish parents on 28 October 1914, Dr Salk stood out from most of his peers because he chose to go into medical research rather than become a practicing physician.

While based at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Dr Salk assembled a skilled research team and devoted seven years to come up with a polio vaccine.

The field trial involved 20,000 physicians and 220,000 volunteers. Over 1.8m school children across the States took part in the trial.

When news of the vaccine’s success became public in 1955 Dr Salk became a national hero and was hailed a miracle worker.

The drug became publicly available two years later in 1957.

Famously Dr Salk refused to patent the vaccine. When asked who owned the patent he replied: “There is no patent. Can you patent the sun?”

Had the vaccine been patented, it would be worth US$7bn in today’s money, according to Forbes

Posted in Healthcare, Innovation, Medical Research, NewsComments (0)

Google to roll out driver less cars

Google is building cars that do not have steering wheels, accelerator pedals or brake pedals, in an ambitious expansion of the company’s efforts to develop self-driving cars.

The small electric cars are currently prototypes that Google has been building through partnerships with suppliers and manufacturers, Google co-founder Sergey Brin said.

He made his comments at the Code conference in California yesterday.

Google aims to build up to 200 such cars in the near term and hopes the vehicles will be available in various cities within a couple of years.

Google has been testing self-driving cars since 2009, incorporating laser sensors and radars into standard cars such as the Prius from Toyota and sport-utility vehicles from Lexus.

While those vehicles require a human to remain in the driver’s seat and to take over in certain situations, the new cars operate completely autonomously.

Mr Brin said the cars could operate as a service, picking up passengers when summoned, and potentially even operate as fleets of interconnected “trains”.

“Ten seconds after getting in I was doing my email, I had forgotten I was there,” Mr Brin said of his experience riding in one of the pod-like vehicles, which resemble a cross between a Smart car and Volkswagen Beetle.

“It ultimately reminded me of catching a chairlift,” he said.

Mr Brin declined to specify whether Google intended to build and sell the cars itself, saying only that the company would “work with partners”.

The driverless cars are currently limited to a maximum speed of 40km/h, but Mr Brin said there was no reason the cars could not go as fast as 160km/h or more once they had been proven to be safe.

The front of the cars contains about 61cm of foam and the windshield is made out of plastic instead of glass to make the cars safer, he said.

“Within a couple of years I hope we will surpass the safety metrics we’ve put in place, which is to be significantly safer than a human driver, and we will start testing them without drivers and hopefully you’ll be able to utilise them at some limited cities,” Mr Brin said.

A handful of US states, including California and Nevada, have passed legislation to allow testing of self-driving cars on public roads.

Mr Brin said he was optimistic that the new, passenger-only se

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