proving it's politically valuable for an elected official to open the books and let the public look at whether people have been wrongfully convicted. The overwhelming majority of district attorneys in Texas are inclined to view the Innocence Project of Texas as their enemy rather than as their friend.

We are a homegrown, Texas entity. The people in my project live in this state. We believe in Texas. We believe in the ability of Texas to do better, to reform the system, and we're here to stay. We're not well financed. We scrape for every dime we get, and most of that money so far has been spent on paying for DNA tests. And we're going to keep doing it.


Outer Limits: Where Science and Technology Meet

Advertising Adventures

The suits on Madison Avenue are always seeking creative ways to pitch products to consumers. Cyber-space offers advertisers fertile fields to sow the seeds of product awareness and brand loyalty. Now a Mesquite, Texas, company is positioning itself as the frontrunner in a race to deliver a new breed of online advertising.

Id Software is launching an online, multiplayer game called Quake Live, pioneering one of the first large-scale applications of in-game advertising.

The company already changed the world in 1992, when it released Wolfenstein 3D, a game credited for launching the era of the first-person shooter - a game in which the player views the action through the eyes of the computer character. Id Software then created other popular game series, including Doom and Quake, each of which has sold millions of copies.

In-game advertising has long been considered a viable strategy but so far, has been applied only sporadically. According to the Dallas Business Journal, Id Software will release Quake Live for free with revenue coming from in-game advertisers instead of gamers.

Heart Beats

Millions of Americans suffer from cardiac arrhythmia, or abnormal heartbeat. Severity ranges from mild to life-threatening. At St. David's Medical Center in Austin, doctors are testing a new, less invasive treatment for arterial fibrillation, a type of arrhythmia in which the upper chambers of the heart don't beat efficiently.

Arterial fibrillation often leads to pooling of blood in the heart, which eventually leads to blood clot formation and puts the sufferer at great risk of stroke.

The new procedure, endoscopic catheter ablation, involves "an investigational, endoscopically guided laser catheter that allows for minimally invasive treatment of heart rhythm disorders that can result in a stroke," according to a hospital news release.

According to St. David's, the doctors run a catheter through a patient's leg to the heart. The catheter has an endoscopic video camera and a laser emitter. Once the trouble spot is located, doctors can use the laser to remove the tissue causing the arrhythmia.

Gas Up on Glycerin

You probably use or consume glycerin daily without realizing it. Glycerin is found in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and foodstuffs, and generally serves as a thickening agent for sweeteners, cough syrup and toothpaste. Now, researchers at Rice University in Houston have found another use for the uber-ingredient - creating biodiesel.

According to the university, biodiesel production creates waste glycerin as a byproduct. Ramon Gonzalez, assistant professor of chemical engineering, said his research team found that treating waste glycerin with a strain of E. coli produces ethanol, another sought-after biofuel.

This method of producing ethanol costs 40 percent less than the traditional technique of processing corn. With increased biodiesel demand, producers are find they're oversupplied with glycerin, can't sell it and must pay to dispose of it. Gonzalez's findings could turn out to be both environmentally friendly and profitable.

One pound of glycerin is produced for every 10 pounds

Chad Vander Veen  | 

Chad Vander Veen is the former editor of FutureStructure.