An epic fusion reactor, life trapped in crystal, and risky antibody business

Alison Crawford in Science:

Weekly-102315The bizarre reactor that might save nuclear fusion:

Tokamak or stellarator? That’s the question fusion enthusiasts are asking as a research lab in Germany prepares to flip the switch on the largest fusion device ever built, dubbed the “stellarator.” For Star Wars lovers, this epic construction device looks like Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon and sports some of the most complex engineering models ever devised. We’ll soon find out if the stellarator is strong enough to withstand the enormous forces and temperature ranges in order to surpass tokamaks in the effort to advance nuclear fusion.

Scientists may have found the earliest evidence of life on Earth

When did life on Earth begin? A controversial new study presents potential evidence that traces of life arose more than 4 billion years ago. Clues lie hidden in microscopic flecks of graphite trapped inside a single large crystal of zircon found in the Jack Hills in Western Australia. These zircon crystals barely span the width of a human hair, but they are nearly indestructible and provide a rare glimpse into Earth’s earliest history.

Designer antibodies may rid body of AIDS virus

Anti-HIV drugs have extended life for millions of people, but they have never eliminated the virus from anyone because HIV integrates its genetic material into the chromosomes of some white blood cells, helping it escape notice of the immune system. New findings show that artificial antibodies could “redirect” the immune response to latently infected cells and help drain the HIV reservoirs into the body. The dual-action concept to reverse latency and then do the mop-up work is both promising and exciting, but it is also risky and won’t be tested in people for at least a year.

More here.