Back to the Future: TB Detection

PHILIP HOLLIS FOR TIME

DOWN TO EARTH: Morgan, at left, and Pillinger developed a mass spectrometer that detects TB

Five years ago, British scientist Colin Pillinger convinced the world's biggest medical-research charity, the Wellcome Trust, to bet on a project far beyond its usual scope: a probe to find life on Mars. Detecting life on other planets, he argued, would be a giant leap for mankind toward understanding the origins of life back on earth. But in 2003, the Beagle 2 probe — worth tens of millions of dollars, and carrying a gas-analysis unit bankrolled by Wellcome — disappeared without a trace into the Martian atmosphere. Four years later, scientists and funders alike are delighted, if a bit bewildered, to...

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