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AP

Buried landmines can now be detected using bacteria engineered to sense explosive vapors, according to a new study in Nature Biotechnology.

Why it matters: There were more than 6,000 landmine-related casualties recorded in 2015. One of the biggest challenges in clearing landmines is finding them. Bacteria — along with plants and animals — have been proposed for detecting undetonated devices before, but this is the first demonstration of how bacterial sensors might work in the field.

How it works: Explosive vapors seep out of buried landmines and build up in the soil above them. Researchers genetically engineered bacteria that emit a fluorescent signal when they come into contact with vapors from the devices. They scattered the bacteria across a test field and then detected those that glowed with a laser. They searched for 18 landmine targets and only failed to detect four of them.

What's next: The researchers envision outfitting drones with the laser scanners, which would require a more compact design. They also caution they need to address how the bacteria can be removed after use and how to scale the technique so they can scan larger land areas.

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
36 mins ago - Economy & Business

The digital dollar is now high priority for the Fed

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The U.S. is starting to get serious about a central-bank-backed digital currency, with recent comments from top officials laying out the strongest support yet.

Driving the news: On Tuesday Fed chair Jerome Powell told Congress that developing a digital dollar is a "high priority project for us," but added that there are "significant technical and policy questions."

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Coinbase files to go public

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase on Thursday filed to go public via a $1 billion direct listing.

Why it matters: This comes in the midst of a crypto boom, and the listing may further legitimize the industry.

Trump’s blunt weapon: State GOP leaders

Trump supporters rally near Mar-a-Lago on Feb. 15. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

President Trump didn't have to punish his critics in Congress — his allies back in the states instantly and eagerly did the dirty work.

Why it matters: Virtually every Republican who supported impeachment was censured back home, or threatened with a primary challenge.

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