Roughly 8 percent of people in the US suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). SSRIs, such as Zoloft and Paxil, are the only currently-approved therapy, but their effectiveness is marginal. Researchers have found that blueberries could be an effective treatment.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/03/nanoparticles-stimulating-neurons.html
Nanoparticles stimulating neurons, Nanotubes stimulating neurons, Bioprocessing aptamer hydrogels, Controlling circadian rhythms, Making CRISPR better, DNA nanofabrication, Festo’s insect robots, Magnetic heat & sound, Nanolasers & photonic guides, Plasma shielding.
1. Stimulating Neurons with Gold Nanoparticles.
A promising new technique for precisely stimulating neurons has been developed that involves coupling gold nanoparticles to other molecules that specifically bind to neuronal sodium channels without blocking them http://news.uchicago.edu/article/2015/03/12/new-technique-uses-light-take-genetics-out-optogenetics. When irradiated with light of a specific wavelength the gold nanoparticles heat up and this causes the channels to open up and initiate a signalling cascade; antibodies were also used to bind the particles to different neuronal channels. The particles also remained bound to the cell surface and the neurons didn’t suffer reduced signalling efficacy after prolonged and repeated artificial activation. Referred to as optogenetics without the genetics, future applications might include artificial vision restoration. A very flexible platform with different nanoparticles perhaps responding to different wavelengths of light and so potentially allowing simultaneous addressable signals; I wonder if they can signal output in a similar fashion too? Other nanoparticles sensitive to radio waves have also been shown to open up the blood brain barrier http://www.nouvelles.umontreal.ca/udem-news/news/20150325-nanorobotic-agents-open-the-blood-brain-barrier-offering-hope-for-new-brain-treatments.html.
2. Carbon Nanotube Fibers Interface with the Brain.
In related neuronal stimulation news, carbon nanotube fibers have been developed that allow for intimate two-way brain stimulation and measurement and have proven superior to metal electrodes http://news.rice.edu/2015/03/25/carbon-nanotube-fibers-make-superior-links-to-brain-2/. The fibers measure one quarter the width of a human hair, terminate at a functional tip about the width of a neuron, and are made by wet-spinning millions of carbon nanotubes together. The strength and conductivity of the fibers are certainly attractive, but what convinced the group to pursue this avenue was their flexibility, softness, and biocompatibility. The plan is to develop the platform into deep-brain-stimulation applications at first before exploring other possibilities.
3. Bioprocessing with Hydrogels and DNA Aptamers.
A new microfluidic system comprises flexible fins capped with DNA aptamers that are embedded in a hydrogel able to respond to different stimuli https://www.seas.harvard.edu/news/2015/03/catching-and-releasing-tiny-molecules. When a biological solution is run through the chip, the aptamers bind to the target molecule they were designed for, and when the stimulus is applied the hydrogel moves the aptamers into a different environment to release the molecules; thus specific molecules can be quickly sorted and separated from a complex solution. The proof-of-concept involved pulling the thrombin enzyme from a mixture of proteins. The hydrogel can be made sensitive to temperature, light, electric/magnetic fields, ionic gradients, etc while the aptamers can be specifically targeted and respond to pH, temperature, and salt. Seems like a nice, modular, and extensible technology with lots of applications.
4. Controlling Circadian Rhythms and Improving Sleep Cycles.
A couple of interesting studies this week provided insights into the control of circadian rhythms in the brain and improving sleep, a summary of both can be found here http://www.kurzweilai.net/neuroscientists-identify-key-cell-type-in-the-brain-that-controls-body-clock. First, a key group of neurons were identified in the suprachiasmatic nucleus that produce a signalling neuropeptide called neuromedin S, which is both necessary and sufficient for the control of circadian rhythms in the animal; this provides an interesting target to hack. Second, the latest evidence for artificial light, particularly blue light, having a negative impact on our sleep and health has been demonstrated and makes a strong case for limiting the exposure of such light before sleep.
5. Increasing CRISPR Efficiency Eightfold.
A new development of the CRISPR genetic engineering system results in the system being eight times more efficient at inducing genetic modifications in cells https://www.mdc-berlin.de/44343169/en/news/2015/20150325-mdc_researchers_greatly_increase_precision. The advance was made possible by introducing genetic elements that inhibit one of two methods of DNA strand repair, which are (i) homology-directed repair in which introduced genetic elements contain flanking DNA used as a template to splice the cut, and (ii) non-homologous end-joining in which free DNA ends are joined without a template and tiny deletions occur. Basically, the new system inhibits (ii) from occurring and so making it far more likely that (i) will work to incorporate your genetic change of interest. In tests up to 60% of all cells were modified in one go with the new system, something that holds promise for effective and widespread somatic cell engineering at some point.
6. DNA Origami & DNA Modular 3D Building Units.
DNA origami and DNA as a programmable molecular building material took another important step forward this week with a new approach to joining and modular 3D DNA building units by snapping together complementary shapes http://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/short/article/32303/. This group has been a powerhouse in pushing DNA origami technology over the years. The new work programs DNA to self-assemble into 3D building blocks that are precisely shaped to fit together by incorporating the short-range binding mechanism known as nucleobase stacking that can snap multiple blocks together; currently the platform allows three different binding mechanisms to be used. The team used this platform to build micrometer sized filaments and nanoscale machines with moving parts, including nanoscale actuators able to switch or cycle between states orders of magnitude more often and more stably than any prior DNA origami technology.
7. Festo Robotics Continue to Impress.
Festo is an incredible innovative company that continually produces amazing robots that have previously included a kangaroo, seagull, dragonfly, air jellies, and others. This week it showed off its latest insectoid additions, cooperative ant robots with 3D printed bodies and electronics are able to operate autonomously or work together to achieve goals, and truly elegant butterfly robots that really have to be seen to be appreciated http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/industrial-robots/festo-bionic-ants-and-butterflies - be sure to check the videos. In related robotics news a new Amazon contest hopes to spur faster and more efficient robotics automation in warehouses http://www.technologyreview.com/news/536086/amazon-robot-contest-may-accelerate-warehouse-automation/.
8. Controlling Heat and Sound with Magnets.
Vibrations through 3D materials, known as acoustic phonons that propagate both heat and sound, have been shown for the first time to possess magnetic properties that allow them to be manipulated with magnetism http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/semiconductors/materials/for-first-time-reseachers-demonstrate-heat-and-sound-are-magnetic. In one proof-of-concept the team demonstrated they could reduce the amount of heat flowing through a semiconductor by 12%. Using the technique heat and sound waves can be steered magnetically, which is an interesting result and a new phenomenon to manipulate. But the experimental setup was precise and it isn’t obvious how immediate applications might be developed.
9. Nanolasers and Photonic Guides.
One of the most efficient, easy to build, and compatible nanolasers ever build has been fabricated out of a monolayer sheet of tungsten diselenide atop a standard optical cavity base that is hoped to enable the device to more easily integrate and speed-up modern electronics http://www.kurzweilai.net/a-nanolaser-and-a-bendable-light-material-promise-to-speed-up-microelectronic-devices. Also, mentioned in the same article in related news is the fabrication of a 3D printed spatially-variant photonic crystal able to bend light around tight 90 degree corners without the losses that would occur in conventional fibers and other materials; yet another enabling photonic feature able to benefit improvements in modern electronics.
10. Dynamically Generated Plasma to Dampen Shockwaves.
Boeing has developed (or at least filed a patent on) a technology able to dynamically generate plasmas able to mitigate or prevent damage from shockwaves caused by nearby explosive blasts for example http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/aerospace/military/boeing-files-patent-for-electromagnetic-arc-generator-to-protect-against-explosive-shockwaves. The system detects an explosion nearby and calculates when and where-from the shockwave will arrive, then uses an electromagnetic arc generator (and a LOT of energy) to heat a specific region of air in the path of the shockwave into a plasma able to attenuate or absorb the shockwave. Patents don’t get granted without demonstrating enablement and I do wonder if we’ll get to see this system successfully demonstrated.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/04/bigger-immune-responses-probabilistic.html
Bigger immune responses, Probabilistic computer vision, Self-powered camera, Quantum bits in silicon, CRISPR controls epigenetics, Laser perovskites, Multi-cameras, Metamaterial energy harvesting, Lots of robots, Accessible cell therapies.
1. Engineering a Broader Immune Response Against Cancer.
A new discovery allows a much broader immune response to be generated against different types of cancer than was previously possible http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/using-entire-immune-system-halts-tumor-growth-0414. This works by activating both the adaptive and the innate immune systems at the same time by conjugating interleukin 2 molecules to antibodies that target specific cancer cells. In tests tumours disappeared completely in up to 90% of mice and when tumour cells were reintroduced they were quickly destroyed by the immune system.
2. Computer Vision with Probabilistic Programming.
New probabilistic programming techniques can in many cases produce effective code that accomplishes in 50 lines of code what normally takes many thousands of lines of code http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/better-probabilistic-programming-0413. This is a result of making machine learning applications easier to build - probabilistic programming was developed to quickly utilise machine learning techniques that have worked elsewhere. Example applications include taking 2D pictures of faces and accurately reproducing 3D models of those faces.
3. A Self-Powered Camera.
A self-powered camera has been developed that, as the name implies, doesn’t require any power to function via a photodiode image sensor that also harvests light energy http://www.cs.columbia.edu/CAVE/projects/self_powered_camera/. This is essentially combining the functions of a solar panel and image sensor into one device that switches operation - capturing energy at one point in time in order to power the device to capture image information the next. Check out the videos - this camera can currently record an image per second. Imagine passive cameras saturating the environment that record events and never need to be recharged or connected to power.
4. Electrical Control of Quantum Information in Silicon.
Quantum information has been encoded in silicon using electrical pulses for the first time https://newsroom.unsw.edu.au/news/science-tech/breakthrough-opens-door-affordable-quantum-computers. This group has been working in the space for a while now and has steadily improved the technology; from the first single atom qubits in silicon to improved control to long qubit lifetimes and now to control via electric fields. Using existing silicon-based chip fabrication methods might just enable manufacturing quantum computers in future.
5. Using CRISPR to Control Epigenetics.
CRISPR can now be used to directly target and modify epigenetic changes in the genome http://pratt.duke.edu/news/pulling-strings-our-genomic-puppetmasters. To accomplish this the Cas9 enzyme was modified to remove the DNA-cutting region, which was replaced with another enzyme for transferring acetyl groups to DNA. This allows precise targeting and control of specific gene promoters and enhancers to control gene activity; remember each cell contains the same genome, it’s just a matter of which genes are switched on or off that give rise to differences. For the first time promoters and enhancers can be probed and characterised in such an effective way.
6. Perovskites Now Made into Lasers.
Perovskite compounds are one of the most exciting materials in solar photovoltaics at the moment, and the same properties that make them effective in this application apparently also make them promising for lasers http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/semiconductors/devices/perovskite-leads-to-100percent-efficient-nanowire-lasers. A simple method can make perovskite crystals that function as high-efficiency, ultra-small nanowire lasers. Under testing these lasers demonstrate some of the best performance criteria of any lasing material, including near 100% efficiency in which every photon that the material absorbs is used to produce a photon of laser light.
7. NextGen Photography with Multi-Camera Modules.
A company called Light is launching new camera modules comprised of multiple lenses and image sensors that all fire simultaneously to produce images that are combined into a higher-resolution, higher-quality final image with adjustable focus http://www.technologyreview.com/news/536816/a-way-to-get-much-higher-resolution-selfies/. The first Light cameras are expected in smartphones by 2016, boasting a resolution of 52-megapixels, and along with other improvements hopefully squeeze the quality of an expensive DSLR camera into smaller, cheaper devices. This is like advanced space telescopes that combine images from multiple devices to produce much clearer images; I think it is a great idea.
8. Metamaterial Energy Harvesting from Light.
New metamaterial designs have resulted in surfaces that are able to absorb 93% of incident electromagnetic waves they have been tuned to, which is significantly higher than classical antennas http://www.aip.org/publishing/journal-highlights/harvesting-energy-electromagnetic-waves & http://scitation.aip.org/content/aip/journal/apl/106/15/10.1063/1.4916232. In this case the light was from the 3 GHz spectrum, but the group hope to extend these capabilities with related designs into the infrared and ultimately visible spectrum. Applications for the current capability includes efficient wireless power transfer for devices and chips.
9. Lots of Cool New Robots.
We had a whole bunch of new robots this week. First, an innovative robotic kitchen and cooking robot from Moley https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NnUDhjG95jI. Second, in line with Baxter and others yet another collaborative dual-armed manufacturing robot called YuMi https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=115&v=2KfXY2SvlmQ - lots of competition in this space. Third, a nurse robot able to accurately insert needles into arm veins to inject drugs or take blood https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IpdTeGPruFA. Four, a taste of things to come for the DARPA robotics trial https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=43&v=L4B5BhDoS9o. Five, solar-powered flying bird-robot https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vo9lIkY74n0.
10. Accessible Cell Therapies.
RepliCel Life Sciences bill themselves as a regenerative medicine company and are developing - and plan to sell - a couple of cell therapies including treatments for (i) chronic tendinosis to improve healing of tendons, and (ii) baldness to encourage and improve hair growth https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2015/04/the-low-hanging-fruit-of-cell-therapy-development.php. These areas are considered “low-hanging-fruit” and aim to provide / introduce cells into areas of the body that have become deficient in certain cell types, for example, isolating hair follicles as a cell source, massively amplifying these cells to large numbers, and reintroducing them to the patient via injection to the appropriate areas. In animals the approach caused hair to grow in places it normally doesn’t, or made hair thicker in places it does.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/04/artificial-kidney-membrane-nanoscale-3d.html
Artificial kidney membrane, tissue engineered gonads, nanotube computing, 3D imaging chip, Nanoscale 3D imaging, Simpler CRISPR, Maintaining youthful stem cells, Tactile manipulators, Acoustic cell isolation, Acoustic metamaterials.
1. Living Artificial Kidney Membrane.
In a similar vein to recent efforts in microfluidics to develop “organs on a chip” artificial membranes can now be produced that are coated by a living monolayer of kidney cells http://phys.org/news/2015-04-kidney-membrane.html. The primary application the group is pursuing relates to kidney transplants and dialysis treatments by ultimately scaling the device up to achieve clinical relevance. One can imaging rolling layers of membranes with relevant cells into tubes to form an artificial kidney or other organ system - artificial organs and tissue engineering needn’t be limited to conventional biological architectures. I also like the idea of controlled cell membranes in general; they might be programmed to mass produce any biological product of interest.
2. Tissue Engineering: Artificial Testicles.
In related tissue engineering news we had an interesting article this week about the ongoing development of artificial testicles capable of producing functional sperm http://www.vice.com/read/the-science-of-artificial-testicles. The current (complex) device is designed to mimic the complex inner structure of testicles and the primary applications in mind are for aiding men struggling with infertility for a range of reasons to have children via IVF. The key here is engineering the right environment to naturally stimulate stem cells - convincing them that they are part of a testicle - to divide and differentiate into sperm cells, to take tissue engineering to the point of creating a sperm-making machine.
3. Carbon Nanotube Computing.
Circuits made of carbon nanotubes take another step closer to fruition with a simple, scalable method to remove metallic carbon nanotubes from arrays and leaving the desired semiconducting nanotubes behind to do work http://phys.org/news/2015-04-purify-arrays-single-walled-carbon-nanotubes.html. Making defined arrays of nanotubes into circuits can already be done but until now making these circuits functional by removing metallic carbon nanotubes has not been possible. In related news carbon nanotube and polymer composites, inherently disordered bulk materials, can nevertheless be trained to produce a desired electronic output (mimicking a particular electronic circuit) as part of a process of materials evolution http://phys.org/news/2015-04-single-walled-carbon-nanotube-composites-great.html; understanding how these structures form might be very useful http://munews.missouri.edu/news-releases/2015/0409-engineers-now-understand-how-complex-carbon-nanostructures-form/.
4. Chip-Based 3D Imaging for Devices.
A new millimeter-scale silicon chip incorporates a nanophotonic coherent imager - in which each pixel is an independent interferometer able to measure both intensity and distance information - that works as part of a LIDAR system to generate 3D images of objects in realtime http://www.caltech.edu/news/new-camera-chip-provides-superfine-3-d-resolution-46425. These are just begging to be incorporated into smartphones, Kinect / Leap Motion devices, and autonomous vehicles to name a few; remember one of the major expenses on an autonomous vehicle is the LIDAR system - chips like this will slash these costs. I wonder if the chip might be used in a different set-up to emit rather than capture 3D images?
5. Nanoscale Optical 3D Imaging.
In related 3D imaging news, but this time at the nanoscale, a new imaging technology combining cathodoluminescence and tomography allows the use of visible light to generate nanometer resolution three-dimensional images of nanoscale objects http://news.stanford.edu/news/2015/april/nano-3d-imaging-040715.html. The technique takes many 2D images at many angles and uses algorithms to stitch these together to generate and identify the 3D structure of the object. There is a nice embedded video overview of the process. This is a nice new imaging platform that I’d expect to see used in many fundamental research investigations over time; the team quote applications in producing optimised and more efficient LEDs and photovoltaic materials.
6. Simpler Mini CRISPR.
As if CRISPR couldn’t get any easier. The CRISPR gene editing toolkit has been expanded with a new Cas9 enzyme that is encoded by a gene that is only 75% of the size of the conventional Cas9 gene http://www.nature.com/news/mini-enzyme-moves-gene-editing-closer-to-the-clinic-1.17234. This makes the overall genetic package require to be inserted into cells that much smaller and that much easier / more effective to insert. This is particularly important for gene therapy approaches in which you typically need to package genes into a small virus particle. In proof-of-concept experiments the team used the new technique to successfully transfect the livers of mice and get a test gene into 40% of liver cells in one go - a pretty good result for somatic cell genetic modification.
7. Maintaining Youthful Stem Cell Activity with Age.
New experiments in mice show that removing just two factors known as TIMP1 and TIMP3 (Tissue Inhibitors of MetalloProteinases) was enough to maintain tissue (breast tissue in this demonstration) in a youthful state in aged mice https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2015/04/loss-of-timp1-and-timp3-maintains-youthful-stem-cell-activity-in-aging-mice.php. With age tissue loses its ability to develop and repair due to a decline in the stem cell population. Removal of TIMP1 & 3 led to an expansion in the pool of stem cells, the maintenance of consistently high levels, and their remaining functional throughout the life of the mice, and all without an increased predisposition to cancer (which was originally predicted). I wonder when we might see the results of, e.g., RNAi knock-down of TIMP1 & 3 in humans?
8. Sensitive Robot Manipulators.
A couple of interesting advances in robotic hands enabling more sensitive manipulations this week. First, engineering new robotic hands that are much more touch sensitive by using touch sensors interacting with myriad different materials to build a “language” of touch that both a computer and human can understand and interpret http://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/science_nation/robotictouch.jsp?WT.mc_id=USNSF_51, with the hope this results in prosthetics that provide a genuine human touch experience to amputees. Second, the use of shape-memory alloys (wires) as muscle fibers in lightweight robotic and prosthetic hands and limbs http://www.kurzweilai.net/an-artificial-hand-that-can-respond-sensitively-thanks-to-muscles-made-of-shape-memory-wires and leveraging useful properties such as the highest energy density of all known drive mechanisms.
9. Isolating Circulating Tumour Cells with Sound.
Building on work first demonstrated last year a group has developed an even better (20 times faster) microfluidic cell sorting chip powered by two acoustic transducers that produce a standing wave along the microchannel http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/sound-waves-detect-rare-cancer-cells-0406. It turns out that cancer cells and normal cells respond differently to the sound gradient due differences in compressibility and other factors. In tests 83% of cancer cells were isolated samples with as few as 1 cancer cell per 100,000 and blood samples from real cancer patients were successfully analysed. The order-of-magnitude improvement from last year makes the device clinically relevant.
10. Acoustic Metamaterials.
On the topic of acoustic technology there were two interesting acoustic metamaterial advances this week http://nextbigfuture.com/2015/04/new-industrial-bubble-wrap-material-and.html. First, a bubble metascreen comprised of a 4mm thick rubber film with embedded bubbles can dampen sound and especially reflected sonar signals by 10,000 times - 100 times better than thought possible. Second, another acoustic metamaterial dubbed a phononic crystal can, when coated onto an object, cause sound waves hitting that object to flow around its surface without being reflected.
Just a half dozen songs I've discovered relatively recently from artists I've never heard of before and really gotten into. As I've gotten older I've found it becomes quite difficult to discover new music to really get into and so, thinking others might be in the same boat I thought I'd share this little playlist.
As they say, there's no accounting for taste, and it might not be your thing but it'd be great if you could share a few recent (last six months or so) songs from relatively unknown groups that you've also gotten into. And which myself and others might too.
For those that don't know, my favourite artist of all time is Maynard James Keenan and pretty much everything he turns his hand to. With Eminem in second place. But other than that my musical tastes are all over the place and include everything from Beethoven's Fur Elise through to Fear Factory's Replica.
“These bacteria are not agnostic to artificial sweeteners,” says computational biologist Eran Segal of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, one of the two scientists leading the study. The investigators also found that the microbial populations that thrived on artificial sweeteners were the very same ones shown—by other researchers—to be particularly abundant in the guts of genetically obese mice."
Calories in do not equal calories out, ever, and the effects of calories vary depending on a number of factors, not least their role in nourishing, or not, our digestive symbionts.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/04/bacterial-batteries-bacterial-digital.html
Bacterial batteries, Magnetic biosensors, Bacterial digital memory, 3D NAND chips, Magnetic BCI compass, DNA-protein lattice, Engineering chlorophylls, Machine vision advances, Brain function imaging, Molecular membrane transport.
1. Bacterial Magnetic Batteries
Interesting new work on iron metabolising bacteria show that they use microscopic magnetite particles as a type of battery, loading and unloading electrons during the course of metabolism http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150326151654.htm. The cycle was repeated many times with iron-oxidising bacteria removing electrons during the day and iron-reducing bacteria adding electrons during the night to recharge the particles. The group speculate whether such a system might be used for toxic environmental cleanup, and whether other (industrially useful) bacteria might be engineered to do the same. I wonder whether this system can be co-opted as an implantable bio-battery for various devices?
2. Magnetic Biosensors
On the topic of intersecting biology and magnetism a new biosensor has been developed that comprises a cylinder of hydrogel sandwiched between two small magnets in a device measuring only two micrometers http://www.nist.gov/pml/electromagnetics/20150327_gem_biochemical_sensor.cfm. The hydrogel is chemically altered to be sensitive to the parameter you wish to measure; in this example the hydrogel contracted or expanded depending on the pH. The expansion and contraction alters the distance between the two magnetic disks and this produced a change in the magnetic profile that was able to be determined via NMR or MRI readouts from anywhere - even deep within - the body. Future work will explore a range of functionalised hydrogels that respond to different parameters as well as different magnetic disk materials that produce different magnetic profiles and so might be used simultaneously with other sensors.
3. Bacterial Digital Memory
This recent synthetic biology development involved engineering bacteria to be able to record data of events by writing and later reading DNA http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cbic.201500061/abstract. Using a DNA recombinase enzyme to power this cellular memory system integrates single stranded DNA into the bacterial genome in response to external signals, which can be read at a later time to determine whether and how often those signals - such as light in this case - were present. The memory storage was reversible and is a significant improvement over previous efforts. What signals might be useful to record inside your own cells for later read-out?
4. High Density 3D NAND Memory Moves into Production
Intel and Micron announced that they are moving their new 3D NAND memory chip architecture into production this year http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/computing/hardware/intel-and-micron-move-3d-nand-into-production. The architecture is based on a 32-layer design that should enable the equivalent of flash storage USB drives with 3.5 terabytes of storage or a standard 2.5 SSD with 10 terabytes of storage. I remember having a 4MB memory stick for on of my first digital cameras. Similar 3D chip efforts from Samsung, Toshiba, and SanDisk suggest that 3D memory chips are a reality and will soon be found in our devices.
5. Brain Computer Interface Compass
Blind rats, which had a geomagnetic compass and microstimulator plugged into their brains via a brain-computer-interface, were able to incorporate this new location information and navigate a maze nearly as well as normal sighted rats http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-04/cp-wgc032615.php. The research team quoted that: this demonstrated that the mammalian brain is flexible even in adulthood--enough to adaptively incorporate a novel, never-experienced, non-inherent modality into the pre-existing information sources. In related news yet another brain computer interface allowed a man to control a prosthetic hand via thought http://www.uh.edu/news-events/stories/2015/March/0331BionicHand.php.
6. DNA Self-Assembled Protein Lattice
Building on work for self-assembling nanoparticle lattices via complementary DNA binding the same group has demonstrated the ability to self-assemble protein lattices made out of one or two different proteins http://phys.org/news/2015-04-dna-protein-lattice.html. In the proof-of-concept study DNA was attached to two well-studied enzymes via click chemistry; with DNA radiating from their surfaces the enzymes maintained their normal structure and active enzymatic sites. When formed into a lattice the enzymes maintained their activity albeit with an expected reaction rate reduction due to the reactivity of the core of the lattice being dependent on molecular diffusion through the lattice. This is a pretty exciting platform for further development of new materials and applications.
7. Synthesising Molecules to Absorb any Solar Wavelength
One of the most thorough studies of chlorophyll molecules aimed at understanding from first principles how these structures absorb particular wavelengths of light has resulted in new capabilities in designing and synthesising new molecules able to absorb any desired visible wavelength http://phys.org/news/2015-04-scientists-molecules-absorb-sunlight-oranges.html. Give the group a compound found in a plant or bacterium and they can predict what wavelength it absorbs; tell the group you need a chlorophyll-like molecule able to absorb a specific wavelength and they can design and synthesise it for you. A next, but more complex step, would be to alter the synthetic enzymes in bacteria or plants to have them produce the modified pigments.
8. Machine Vision Technology Moves into Ever-More Areas
Machine vision technology is being cast into an ever-wider net of applications and in just this week alone we had another three interesting examples. First, the adaptation of machine vision systems developed for autonomous driving to home security applications able to distinguish between your pet (for example) and an intruder http://spectrum.ieee.org/view-from-the-valley/consumer-electronics/gadgets/autonomous-vehicle-technologies-migrate-to-the-internet-of-things. Second, the adaptation of machine vision systems to identify key anatomical features to assist surgeons in the near term (and robotic surgeons in the long?) http://www.wired.com/2015/03/google-robot-surgery/. Finally, the power of machine vision in studying and classifying galaxies http://www.technologyreview.com/view/536411/how-machine-vision-is-reinventing-the-study-of-galaxies/.
9. Rapid Imaging of Brain Function
A new photoacoustic microscopy method is able to detect and record blood flow, blood oxygenation, and oxygen metabolism inside living brains orders of magnitude faster than ever before https://news.wustl.edu/news/Pages/rapid-imaging-living-brain.aspx. Spatial resolution also gets a big boost; in the study a mouse brain was mapped blood vessel by blood vessel and the team believe in future the technique will allow analysis of individual cells and complement fMRI. In related brain news a wikipedia of sorts for neurons has been launched http://www.cmu.edu/news/stories/archives/2015/march/wikipedia-for-neurons.html.
10. Molecular Membrane Transport
I like this approach to transporting water molecules across membranes using modular molecules termed “aquafoldamers” that form a regular helix through the membrane and creat a channel through which individual water molecules can flow through http://phys.org/news/2015-04-powered-proton-gradient-world-first-helical.html. This system is driven by a proton gradient that significantly lowers the pressure difference required to move water through the channels. While the team quote next generation water filtration and desalination membranes as applications I’m wondering whether the basic building blocks can be chemically altered to be selective for a range of small molecules and not just water.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFsMMToxxls More: http://www.festo.com/cms/en_corp/14252.htm
- LearningGeneralist (life), present
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- Science & Tech
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- Sustainability & Health
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- a Lateral (divergent) thinker
- a MAVERICK
- an infovore/philomath
- trying to change the world one mind at a time
- INTP (introversion, intuition, thinking, perceiving) [Myers-Briggs Personality Type]
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- Occupy Wall Street
- EDUCATION REFORM
- Commercial (feral) Hemp Legalization (paper, cloth, ethanol, food, CO2 reduction, fertilizer and pesticide reduction)
- PROGRESSIVE LIBERTARIAN (Scientific Conservative) [Grassroots-Organized-Anarchist] [Progressive and Participatory-Tiered-Democracy] [Socialist-Free Market] [Peaceful-Post-Scarcity] [Scientific-Accepting] [Fractal-Unionist] (Why? Because the more "networked" a nation is, the better. The U.S. started out pretty good. It can be done better. Authoritarian Regimes are very dangerous. Power should be as diversified and distributed as possible. It promotes humility.)
- * http://www.votesmart.org/voteeasy/ (The E-Harmony of Politics!) *
"When injustice becomes law, rebellion becomes duty." -Thomas Jefferson
"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any." -Alice Walker
"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." -Helen Keller
"Your competitive advantage comes from the accuracy of your interpretation of reality and the way you articulate your life experience." -Jennifer Sertl
"What looks like luck to most people is when preparation meets opportunity." -Oprah Winfrey
"...the ability to constructively face the tensions of opposing models, and instead of choosing one at the expense of the other, generating a creative resolution of the tension in the form of a new model that contains elements of the individual models, but is superior to each."
The website continues:
"Integrative thinkers build models rather than choose between them. Their models include consideration of numerous variables — customers, employees, competitors, capabilities, cost structures, industry evolution, and regulatory environment — not just a subset of the above. Their models capture the complicated, multi-faceted and multidirectional causal relationships between the key variables in any problem. Integrative thinkers consider the problem as a whole, rather than breaking it down and farming out the parts. Finally, they creatively resolve tensions without making costly trade-offs, turning challenges into opportunities."
- Wealth without Work
- Pleasure without Conscience
- Science without Humanity
- Knowledge without Character
- Politics without Principle
- Commerce without Morality
- Worship without Sacrifice
Maslow's list of Metaneeds:
- Wholeness (unity)
- Perfection (balance and harmony)
- Completion (ending)
- Justice (fairness)
- Richness (complexity)
- Simplicity ( essence)
- Liveliness (spontaneity)
- Beauty (rightness of form)
- Goodness (benevolence)
- Uniqueness (individuality)
- Playfulness (ease)
- Truth (reality)
- Autonomy (self-sufficiency)
- Meaningfulness (values)
- Impact - Douglas Preston (Aliens)
- The Offsite - Robert H. Thompson (Leadership Fable)
- Abundance: The Future is Better than you Think - Peter H. Diamandis - Steven Kotler (Future Abundance and Prosperity through Technology and Post-Scarcity)
- The Power of Pull - John Hagel (Pull-Based Strategies, Distributed Leadership, and Need-Based Supply Webs and Ecosystems)
- Arguing with Idiots: How to Stop Small Minds and Big Government - Glenn Beck (Economics, Government, Progressivism, Conservatism, Freedom, Individual Liberty)
- PERFECT STRANGER
- TRACE BUNDY
- Silversun Pickups - The Royal We
- Linkin Park - The Catalyst
- Trans-Siberian Orchestra
- Manheim Steamroller
- Five Finger Death Punch
- Sysco FoodsOutbound Order Selector, 2015 - present
- UPSPackage Handler, 2014 - 2015
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