Today, science is developing itsy bitsy heroes for the world of surgery, recruiting strains of E. coli bacteria to produce diesel fuel, making plans to eradicate polio, and gearing up for this weekend’s Engineering Discovery Days at UW.

Tiny new surgical tools are heat activated and retrieved with magnets
John’s Hopkins engineers and doctors are testing “mu grippers”—star-shaped, dust particle-sized devices that obtain tissue samples by closing their tiny “fingers” on clusters of cells. (Think of the popular claw arcade game, but astronomically more precise, with the gripper part dropping untethered into the “prize bucket.”)

The grippers are stored on ice before being used for biopsies and then inserted into the target area via endoscopy. As the body’s heat warms the grippers, their fingers curl inwards, capturing cells. The grippers contain magnetic material, and are then pulled out through an existing body orifice using a magnetic catheter. Scientists have successfully used the mu grippers on live animals, but they have yet to be tested on humans.

Some E. coli bacteria can produce diesel fuel on demand
A team from the University of Exeter has found a way to use specific strains of E. coli bacteria to produce diesel that’s nearly the same as conventional diesel fuel. So far only small amounts have been created in labs, but the team hopes to expand the project towards replacing conventional diesel with “carbon neutral biofuel.”

Health experts plan to eradicate polio by 2018
On April 25, the strategy for eradicating polio forever is to be presented at an international health meeting in Abu Dhabi. International efforts to administer vaccines have steadily reduced the case rate, with just 223 confirmed cases of paralytic polio in 2012.

Engineering Discovery Days are this weekend at UW
What: Robots, solar-powered toy cars, DNA extraction from fruit, electromagnetic fishing poles, a beloved glowing pickle, nanotechnology, synthetic biology, and more.
Where: The promenade along Rainier Vista and Drumheller Fountain, and engineering buildings.
When: Friday & Saturday, 9am - 2pm

The events on Friday are at capacity, and mainly geared towards children, but everyone is welcome to come explore on both days. More info here.

We leave you with an electric pickle (to see one in person, check out Engineering Discovery Days):