What we’re reading: Worm mind control, Camden struggles and reforms, prepping for a marathon, wrapping our minds around a trillion

This week, our staff takes an unusual interest in Camden, New Jersey, and its police problems and medical successes, looks for guidance before running a marathon, and discovers that we can now precisely control an army of nematodes. Who knew?

Lasers Control Nematode Worms Like Robots (Wired Science)—Scientists have figured out how to control nematodes’ cells using tiny lasers, making them stop, turn, and lay eggs on command. Named after Stephen Colbert for his vision of an army of patriots following him in lockstep, the method allows scientists to see precisely what each neuron does.—Sarah Duda, Senior Research and Project Associate

When a Dangerous City Cuts Half Its Police Force (Salon)—Facing a serious budget shortfall, Camden, New Jersey, is laying off half of its police force, but that’s just one of the city’s many problems compounded by the recession.—Geoff Smith, Senior Vice President

The Hot Spotters (New Yorker; subscription only)—Strangely, Camden pops up again, but in a more positive light: Atul Gawande profiles a Camden medical reformer who’s drastically reduced costs and improved care by targeting resources and changing procedures for the costliest patients.—Katie Buitrago, Policy and Communications Associate

My own resolution: Finishing a marathon (ESPN)— I’ve decided to try my first marathon on May 1—the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati, Ohio. I’ve finished over 30 triathlons, but I’m a newbie to marathons. Wish me luck!—Dory Rand, President

What Does $1 Trillion Buy? (Kiplinger) – As the federal government closes the books on 2010 – and a $1.3 trillion deficit – Kiplinger’s tries to put that number into context.—Tom Feltner, Vice President

 

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