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Eric Jensen
Attended Technical University of Denmark
Lives in Richland, Washington, USA
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RIP SCOTUS Justice Antonin Scalia.

Though he gave descenting opinions on cases where I would probably agreed with the rest of the court he was, to the best of my knowledge, an intelligent and informed man.
I hope Obama can get a liberal judge confirmed before his term is up.
The conservative stalwart has passed at age 79.
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Interesting development. You'd think the response would be to lower prices and improved service, maybe offer a month or two free if you stay.
Comcast touts more on-demand video, voice remote; leaves out price and data caps.
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A disturbing development in Sweden. I wonder why the police were so passive during the raid. Did they know about it? What were the refugees doing that the police had to declare it unsafe? Were they assaulting people for money and food?
 
I don't have time to write an explainer for this, so you'll just have to settle for the raw news. Short version: In the past few months, a large number of street kids, mostly refugees from Morocco, have been living near Stockholm's main train station. The police have been wanting more powers to get rid of them, but haven't gotten much. Last week, they announced that the main train station was now "unsafe" and had been "taken over" by said street children. 

Yesterday, a group of about 200 masked men stormed the station, distributing leaflets and beating anyone who "didn't look Swedish." This action was coordinated by the NMR (a local Nazi group), and a follow-up rally was held this morning in Stockholm by the SDP (a far-right party, think the Swedish version of Donald Trump). 

Police made no attempt to stop the attack. Three people were arrested, one for punching a plainclothes cop, another for possession of brass knuckles; all have been released. The official police statement is that they "could not confirm that violent attacks took place.”

For a little context, the presence of far-right groups and their readiness for actions like these is not even remotely secret, and the police statement that the area was now unsafe and there was nothing they can do was widely read as a coded message that vigilantes were welcome. (There's a whole history of complicated interplays between Swedish police, the local and national government, and these groups, with "if you don't let us do something, I guess it'll just have to be them" being a classic negotiating tactic)

Important notes here are the extreme coordination of the group (200 people showing up on schedule, dressed in black with balaclavas, literature ready to distribute, and ready for an organized attack), and the tacit cooperation of the police.

NB that violence against immigrants, Muslims, and Jews has been on a sharp rise across all of Europe, and far-right parties have been making significant political inroads, but this is the first highly coordinated attack. Earlier attacks have primarily been by small groups (3-5 people) on individuals, and haven't shown signs of organization, uniforms, etc.

There's lots more that could (and should) be written here, to give context about just why there were so many refugees living there, the six-month ramp-up of the conflict, and the political shifts within Sweden and more broadly within Europe as a result, but I'll have to leave those for someone else to write.

Useful additional coverage: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/sweden/12131460/swedish-far-right-migrant-attack-stockholm.html

(And yes, I realize that I just linked the Daily Mail as the primary source below. Going through English-language coverage of the story, theirs was actually the most thoroughly researched and informative, and didn't have any egregious biases that I could spot. Damned if I know why their coverage was the best, but it was. Normally the Mail is mostly suitable for wrapping fish in.)
A mob of black-clad masked men went on a rampage in and around Stockholm's main train station last night targeting refugees. At least three people were beaten up, according to witnesses.
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Shout-out to all the Danes! ☺
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Is this because the red systems are easier to implement AMD sustain?
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Typical roleplay :-)

Got this link from a good friend!
Written by Jasmine Walls, Illustrated by Amy Phillips
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(1), (2), and (4) seem ideally suited to improve and prolong the lifetime of our bodies. The work on Alzheimer's combined with the aptameres and improved transport over the blood brain barrier could not only address many brain related illnesses that are manifested physically, but could perhaps be used to improve neuroplasticity and keep our brains younger for longer, thus making it easier to learn new stuff. I they start clinical trials of the anti-ageing therapies soon, so we can get the results 10-15 years from now!
(3) and (6) offer some interesting options, such as sensor chips that can transmit data when the sun shines. For gating the transistors I'm thinking a grid of wires with sub-nanometer openings could have promise. Enhanced optional transmission and constructive interference would provide the gate. Of course optronics using surface plasmons might also be the way to go.
(5) holds a lot of promise. DNA origami could provide the scaffolding to create interesting structures. If the DNA structure was heated with the nanoparticles in position, would the DNA be burnt off and the metal nanoparticles melt together, thus becoming the structure? The idea of sending molecular production machinery into humans with this technology is a great one by +Mark Bruce​!
I think the discovery in (7) is super cool! Perhaps modeling can allow us to design surfaces with superconducting circuits in the electronic layers above? Perhaps these superconducting circuits would be mediated by the light when the photon binds and creates a plasmon?
Could (8) be used for quicker biometric unlocking? The idea of making ai navigate by sight is an excellent one from +Mark Bruce​​!
I'm quite sceptical of the graphene electrodes in (9). The idea has been tried before and it might survive in the beginning, but 50-200 cycles in, it dies.
(10) is interesting. I wonder what the heat conductivity is? Could it be used as flexible backing for solar panels?
 
SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 06/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/02/better-gene-delivery-better-dna.html 

Better gene delivery, Better DNA aptamers, Light effect transistor, Rejuvenation advances, Atomically precise materials, Integrated photonics modem, Electronic nematicity, Deep learning chips, Graphene lenses & electrodes, Flexiramic materials. 

1. Delivering Genes Across the Blood Brain Barrier
Using high-throughput screening techniques combined with methods of directed evolution, researchers screened millions of viral variants to create a novel, modified adeno-associated virus that is able to efficiently get past the blood-brain-barrier and deliver genes and genetic engineering tools to neurons and other cells of the brain http://www.caltech.edu/news/delivering-genes-across-blood-brain-barrier-49679. This obviates the need to drill a hole through the skull to inject these vectors and provides a far more elegant tool that can be used for CRISPR-powered modifications. In related news rats have been cured of a genetic liver disorder with a more effective CRISPR-delivery system involving a different adeno-associated virus carrying guide RNA and repaired-gene-insert and lipid nanoparticles carrying Cas9 mRNA instructions http://news.mit.edu/2016/crispr-curing-disease-repairing-faulty-genes-0201; 6% of liver cell transformations are sufficient for disease curing, which is 15 times more effective than other methods, but the group hope to boost this % in future. 

2. Better DNA Aptamer Technology
DNA aptamers can be artificially engineered to target and bind any molecular target in the body - proteins, viruses, bacteria, cells, tumours - but are limited by poorer binding-efficiency and instability due to enzymatic digestion. These two limiting factors have now been addressed http://www.a-star.edu.sg/Media/News/Press-Releases/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/4496.aspx with (i) the inclusion of an artificial base into the DNA that boosted binding ability by 100 times compared to existing aptamers, and (ii) the inclusion of a DNA-mini-hairpin structure that serves to restrict enzymatic digestion and boost lifetime in the body from hours to days. DNA aptamers like these could in theory be used instead of antibodies for therapeutic and diagnostic applications but are cheaper, quicker, and simpler to produce and obviate potential inflammatory side effects. 

3. Developing a Light-Effect-Transistor
Prototype light effect transistors have been developed with the aim of replacing standard field effect transistors in future chip designs https://www.technologyreview.com/s/600702/the-nanodevice-aiming-to-replace-the-field-effect-transistor/. A light effect transistor comprises a wire that conducts electricity when exposed to light and insulates when it is dark; a light-controlled switch in which light functions like a gate and with benefits including no reliance on dopant atoms and the ability to achieve smaller size dimensions to continue Moore’s Law. The demonstrations include semiconducting nanowires whose conduction changes by six orders of magnitude when switched, and can also function as an optical amplifier that performs logic operations when two or more laser beams are used. But the biggest unsolved question is how a chip would accurately address more than a billion nanowires with light? 

4. Rejuvenation via Senescent Cell & Amyloid Clearance 
First, venture-backed company Unity Biotechnology joins competition with Oisin Biotechnology aiming to develop and launch therapeutics that clear senescent cells from adult animals https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/02/25-median-life-extension-in-mice-via-senescent-cell-clearance-unity-biotechnology-founded-to-develop-therapies.php. Their latest work extends the median lifespan of mice by 25% and should help to attract additional funding and support for this approach; investors will want to get this into humans as soon as possible. And back in the lab another group finds a 35% lifespan extension by clearing senescent cells http://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/mayo-clinic-researchers-extend-lifespan-by-as-much-as-35-percent-in-mice-2/. Second, a partnership between companies Pentraxin and GSK is slowly bearing fruit with clinically-tested drug therapies that very effectively clear amyloid (misfolded protein clumps that accumulate) deposits from tissues and body fluids, intended for Alzheimer’s and other diseases but providing a platform for this area of rejuvenation therapies https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/02/what-next-for-transthyretin-amyloid-clearance-therapies.php. Boosting mitophagy also rejuvenates cells to a more youthful state http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-02/nu-mst020316.php

5. Atomically Precise Materials and Devices
Structural DNA technology can self-assemble nanoparticles into diamond-shaped crystal lattices https://www.bnl.gov/newsroom/news.php?a=11810. The DNA forms the rigid frame of the material, while complementary DNA binding ensures the nanoparticles bind in specific locations, leading to a diamond lattice about 100 times larger than conventional diamond; interesting platform for novel materials development. Bacteria produce self-assembled microcompartments to concentrate enzymatic production of certain molecules, and these compartments are being used as templates to engineer variants with novel functions and molecular production capabilities https://newscenter.lbl.gov/2016/02/04/toward-nanoscale-chemical-factories/, slowly building a platform of contained molecular production machinery that might one day be introduced inside human cells for exmample. 

6. NASAs Integrated Photonics Modem
NASA is building the first fully integrated photonics modem, simplifying optical on-chip systems design, and reducing the size of the large prototype down to conventional system-on-chip scales http://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2016/nasa-engineers-tapped-to-build-first-integrated-photonics-modem. The chip uses lasers to encode and transmit data at 10 - 100 times faster than equipment available today. While testing of the device in space won’t begin until 2020 we might see commercial applications of this earlier, particularly in data centers and Internet backbone lines. 

7. Electronic Nematicity Key in Superconductivity
New studies indicate that the phenomenon of electronic nematicity, in which electron clouds in a material snap into an aligned and directional order, is a generic property common to high-temperature superconductors https://uwaterloo.ca/stories/waterloo-physicists-discover-new-properties. The electrons involved in superconductivity form patterns that exhibit different symmetries that preferentially align in one direction and which can compete with, co-exist, or enhance superconductivity. Hopefully this understanding allows for the future design of higher-temperature superconductors. 

8. Dedicated Deep Learning Chips on Smartphones
Eyeriss is a newly designed and developed dedicated deep learning chip for use in smartphones and other low-power applications http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/semiconductors/processors/a-deep-learning-ai-chip-for-your-phone. The chip is designed to allow these devices to run computationally demanding neural network algorithms quickly and efficiently on the device without offloading to the cloud, and using only one tenth of the energy of a typical mobile GPU. Agnostic to the type of neural network being run the chip can process image, sound, and other types of data as  needed and might also find deployment in autonomous platforms such as cars and drones. In related news Google’s DeepMind game-playing AI can now also navigate environments in first-person-shooters https://www.newscientist.com/article/2076552-google-deepmind-ai-navigates-a-doom-like-3d-maze-just-by-looking/ and I wonder if this can be transferred to robots to help in realworld environments, perhaps by using these dedicated chips. 

9. Graphene Lenses and Electrode Benefits
First, graphene has been formed into a clever fresnel lens by using a laser to pattern concentric rings of graphene oxide on its surface, and allowing optical focusing in the visible and infrared down to scales of 200nm http://www.swinburne.edu.au/news/latest-news/2016/01/focus-on-results.php. Second, graphene-coated electrodes turn out to be an excellent option for applications involving interfacing with neurons http://graphene-flagship.eu/graphene-based-interfaces-do-not-alter-target-nerve-cells. Finally, graphene cages formed around silicon anodes appear to enable higher capacity batteries that avoid the problem of cracking that such materials are usually limited by http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/semiconductors/materials/graphene-cages-cover-silicon-anodes-for-high-capacity-batteries

10. Flexiramics: Ceramics that Act Like Paper
A new material dubbed flexiramics is being developed and commercialised by a company called Eurekite http://arstechnica.com/science/2016/02/dutch-researchers-have-created-flexiramics-flexible-ceramics-for-circuit-boards/. Flexiramics appear to be a new class of materials that possess the mechanical properties of paper or thin textiles in being thin, foldable, and flexible while also exhibiting the properties of ceramics in being fireproof and nonconducting. The fabrics withstand 1,200 degrees Celsius for 24 hours without burning or melting. Printed PCBs will be the first application apparently but the possibilities are endless. 

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You're right Eric, #2 and #4 are directly applicable to #1 as a means of getting into the brain to do some work and I really like your idea of addressably gating the optical transistors with constructive interference via a layer of wire grids or patterned mask. 
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Cool week! I remember reading about the AlphaGo (1) and I'm also excited to see the system applied to different problems. I wonder how quick it is at calculating the next move? Looking forward to the scene from Transcendence where the AI rearranges and corrects it's code for improved efficiency :-)
Improved wearable sensors (2) are a great thing. Not only for the Quantified Self people, but for hospital patients. With small wearable sensors it might be possible for some patients to have more mobility. Their status would wirelessly be transmitted back for monitoring.
While creating what might be next generations plastics (3) is interesting, the block copolymer superconductor sounds more immediately applicable. Nanoscale superconducting circuitry could be a significant advance in the energy efficiency of sensors and small scale circuits!
The folding in (4) almost sounds like removing and adding a dimension at whim! :-) I love the idea of the surgical tool being folded up. The hydrogen 3D printing my be used for self-regulating valves.
The advance in (5) is fantastic! We can easily grow more fructose and now use it to create the plastics we use every day!
More applications for plastics (6)! Superconducting and conducting polymers made from apples and self-assembled into whatever microscale structure we want is great :-) I'm really hoping that the conductive plastic can be 3D printed.
Couldn't (7) also be used to remotely monitor a CPU?
I'm thinking (8) could be used as a link into optronics. Leading the wave into a groove will create a high field which might be useful for either sensing or re-emitting the light.
When I read about (9) I was thinking along the same lines as +Jesse Powell​ does in the comments of the original post by +Mark Bruce​. Do I really want my immune system trained to fight telomerase? It will be interesting to see what the long term effects are!
Cool new results in (10)! I wonder if it can be combined with (7) for a noninvasive measurement?
Thanks for a great collection!
 
SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 05/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/01/googles-alphago-wearable-sensors-lego.html

Google’s AlphaGo, Wearable sensors, Lego molecules, Programmed 3D assembly, Scalable bioplastics, Conductive plastics, Nerve magnetic fields, Electric charge wakes, Universal tumour vaccine, Decoding human thoughts. 

1. Google General Machine Learning Masters Go
Google’s new AlphaGo machine learning system is the first to routinely defeat human players at Go, and proved itself by defeating the European champion 5-0 https://googleblog.blogspot.com.au/2016/01/alphago-machine-learning-game-go.html. The system combines advanced tree search with deep neural networks 12 layers deep containing millions of neural connections that let it evaluate a Go board, predict the other player’s next move (57% of the time), and execute its own next move to win. In march AlphaGo will face off against the top Go player in the world. This marks the successful completion of one of the grand challenges of AI, but importantly this is a general machine learning system that figured out itself how to win at Go, and it’ll be exciting to see the system extended to helping with important real-world problems. In related news new methods to grant short-term memory to recurrent neural networks offer significant benefits http://spectrum.ieee.org/computing/software/the-neural-network-that-remembers, and another machine learning system automatically fixes bugs in software code http://news.mit.edu/2016/faster-automatic-bug-repair-code-errors-0129

2. Flexible Wearable Sensors
Flexible and transparent pressure sensors just 8 micrometers thick have been created that are able to measure the pressure distribution of rounded surfaces and retain accuracy even when bent over a radius of just 80 micrometers http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-01/uot-fat012216.php. The sensor patch includes carbon nanotubes and graphene to form nanofibers in an elastic polymer as well as organic transistors and electronic switches; testing with small artificial blood vessels showed accurate measurement of small pressure changes. Interesting in wearables, implantables, and robot / device skins. In related news a complete wearable smart sweat sensor detects the wearer’s sodium, potassium, lactate, and glucose levels and sends these via Bluetooth to a smartphone or other device http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/biomedical/diagnostics/smart-wearable-sensor-takes-sweatmonitoring-to-next-level; very promising platform technology. 

3. Self Assembled Lego Molecules
New chemistry research has created methods to produce libraries of giant molecules out of different precisely arranged modular nano building blocks made of smaller orthogonally functionalised nanoparticles http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-01/acs-fwl012216.php. The orthogonal functionalisation of the building blocks ensures that they can only come together in a specific fashion and in a specific order, and so allowing the controllable or programmable self-assembly of complex molecular superstructures and novel materials. With further work and scale such atomically precise molecular fabrication technology should transform device creation and function. In related news self-assembling block copolymers have formed the first self-assembled superconductor http://phys.org/news/2016-01-self-assembled-superconductor.html.

4. Programmatic Assembly of Complex 3D Structures
In related news a fundamental origami fold or tesselation called the Miura-ori is being used to fold a 2D surface into almost any 3D structure http://www.seas.harvard.edu/news/2016/01/designing-pop-up-future. This is a fascinating exploration of simple geometry, as the structures can be folded flat before expanding back to their defined 3D shape as needed - think of a surgical tool introduced through a small cut before expanding to a functional shape. The group designed a program that can take an arbitrary 3D structure and calculate the placement and size of folds needed to create it from a 2D surface and fold it flat. And a new 4D printing technique involves the creation of 3D printed hydrogels into structures that fold and change shape over time depending on environmental conditions http://wyss.harvard.edu/viewpressrelease/239/

5. Scalable Renewable Bioplastics
A joint venture between DuPont and ADM has successfully created a breakthrough in industrial chemistry for the efficient mass conversion of fructose into one of the key fundamental building blocks used in the mass production of polymers http://www.adm.com/en-US/news/_layouts/PressReleaseDetail.aspx?ID=703. This has been a long-sought-after goal in industrial chemistry and is a platform technology that will enable the cost-efficient production of a wide range of renewable, high-performance chemicals and polymers independent of conventional materials and sources from the oil and petroleum industry. 

6. Plastics Conduct Current 1,000 Times Better
On the topic of advanced new plastics and chemistry, charge transport in certain polymers have boosted by three orders of magnitude http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-01/uu-beu012816.php. These materials are based on relatively conventional semiconducting organic polymers, but by creating a technique able to control the chain and crystallite orientation within the bulk polymer film these materials can now have electron mobilities 1,000 times faster, and all without metallic doping. This is just one order of magnitude shy of electron mobilities in silicon devices, and the result should greatly improve applications in organic solar cells and photodiodes. 

7. External Measurement of Nerve Magnetic Fields
For the first time the tiny magnetic fields produced by individual nerves have been measured non-invasively from outside the body at room temperature http://www.technologyreview.com/view/546146/first-laser-measurements-of-magnetic-fields-of-single-nerves/. The sensor uses a laser beam to detect the effect of a magnetic field on a gas of caesium atoms that polarises light depending on the magnetic field properties; this is a highly sensitive optical magnetometer that has been made to work at room temperature and can be used to detect the precise activity of nerves from several millimeters away. Further improvements might allow the technique to reach larger distances and smaller nerves, perhaps even neurons, and with the possibility of not just measuring activity but directly modulating activity. 

8. New Charge Wake Phenomena on Metal Surfaces
An interesting new phenomenon has been discovered on gold surfaces in which the two-dimensional equivalent of Cherenkov radiation can be produced and controllably steered around the surface http://www.research.a-star.edu.sg/research/7443/left-in-the-wake. This starts by (i) shining polarised light on the surface, (ii) excited electrons produce a wave of charge whose velocity results in (iii) surface plasmon wakes being produced that (iv) can be steered using an array of nanostructured apertures. Interesting nanoscale photonics with possible future applications in holograms and special directional lenses. 

9. Possible Universal Tumour Vaccine
An early experimental cancer vaccine against seeks to target two properties shared by all growing and metastasising tumours, (i) increased proliferation facilitated by active telomerase, and (ii) angiogenesis and blood vessel growth https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/01/one-possible-approach-to-a-universal-tumor-vaccine.php. Co-immunization in mice against both of these factors was shown to have a more potent inhibitory effect on tumours than either alone. The vaccine, which with further tests and development might be a possible universal vaccine against cancer, takes the form of a recombinant adenovirus that expresses key telomerase and angiogenesis proteins and induces potent immune-cell mediated attack of tumour cells and suppression of angiogenesis. 

10. Decoding Human Thoughts in Realtime
Improved signal analysis techniques with electrodes implanted into the brains (temporal lobes) of patients are now able to predict - after training - what class of images the person is viewing with 96% accuracy http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-01/uowh-sdb012716.php. These predictions and measurements are calculated within 20 milliseconds of the patient observing a particular image. The study only investigated a couple of distinct visual phenomena but the promise is that with very high-density electrode arrays you would be able to calculate not only what sensory information the person was taking in in real-time but also perhaps what sensory phenomena they are thinking about. 

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Nice additional point RE the conductive polymers being, ideally, 3D printable!
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Great selection from +Mark Bruce​​! It sounds like Seres (1) is trying to create a controlled effect similar to what is attempted with a fecal transplant. It would be great if bioms could be identified that directly affect metabolism, mental health, and physical health. Maybe illnesses like celiac could be combatted with the correct bacteria? Synlogic seems to want to upgrade the biome. It would make sense to be able to resist toxins, especially if we want to travel to other planets. This could eventually be part of the requirement to live on another planet with similar, but different biochemistry.
Being able to track 1000 neurons simultaneously is great (2). It can probably be used in multiple mice to try and identify similarities in the reaction to specific stimuli and thereby map out more complex pathways. Eventually an upgrade to the technology will increase the number of neurons until a mouse brain can be introduced into an artificial construct.
(3) is super cool! Get it? :-) Not only could this contribute to quantum computing (I'm thinking complex states that store the current state of the quibits when powering off, or quantum encryption, or understanding of how the quantum state shared by multiple quibits can generate strange phenomena resulting in errors), but could maybe be used to create folded space quantum states also known as one of the potential candidates for dark matter!
I wonder if (4) could be used as scaffolding for artificial neurons. 3D designs are a clear way to reduce energy consumption.
Of all the advanced in (5) the tissue engineering sounds the most exciting to me. BMI is one step closer!
The system in (6) sounds like the right direction for a personal pharmacy. It is controlled by electricity and doesn't readily allow access to the liquids. Of course it could also be used in crime scene investigation of point of care analysis. Certain chemicals, kept out of equilibrium can be highly reactive which would generate a rapid response. If course the microfluidics and electrodes would have to be reasonably cheap.
I'm not really worried about (7). Sure there might be a lot of trouble in the beginning, but once the planet cools and the sun enters a stable phase, conditions are better.
It will be interesting to see if the memristors (8) find a market.
Yay for vertical farming and similar setups (9)!!! Maximizing on a plant level might generate more output once the initial setup cost is paid. Traditional farming can be very cheap (relatively). In the ultra simplified setup you plant seeds and harvest some time later. With indoor/vertical farming you have to supply everything (light, water, nutrients, support, temperature, gas) yourself. This allows for optimizations, such as the purple diodes used in Japan that increase yield, but the technology has to be developed.
Yay for graphene (10)! Nuf'said.
 
SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 04/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/01/gut-microbe-therapeutics-better-brain.html

Gut microbe therapeutics, Better brain imaging, Superfluid knots, Weaving molecular chains, New brain insights, Living microdroplet reactors, Fermi Paradox nonequilibrium, Memristor chips on market, Modular food computer, Graphene advances.

1. Therapeutics via the Gut Microbiome
Seres and Synlogic are companies trying to launch modified bacteria as drugs designed to live in and complement the human gut microbiome http://www.technologyreview.com/news/545446/companies-aim-to-make-drugs-from-bacteria-that-live-in-the-gut/. Seres wants to introduce specially-selected bacteria into the gut to help restore a healthy microbiome, while Synlogic wants to introduce genetically modified bacteria designed to take up residence and perform useful functions such as metabolising toxins and other compounds that some people have trouble with. I’ve been thinking about different ways you might functionalise the gut microbiome in beneficial ways for years now and think the opportunities here are immense - it’s good to see these early approaches entering clinical studies but I worry if they go the conventional route they might suffer similar difficulties to that of bacteriophage therapies.

2. Better Brain Imaging and Sensors
The nVista system is an implantable miniature microscope that allows researchers to track brain activity in mice in realtime http://gizmodo.com/gopro-for-mouse-brains-records-neural-circuits-in-real-1746582790. The device is very light to allow animals to move around relatively unobstructed and is capable of tracking the activity of up to 1,000 individual neurons simultaneously. In related news a new type of tiny sensor can be implanted to monitor brain temperature and pressure and then later dissolve away when no longer needed; measurements are conveyed via an implanted wireless transmitter https://news.illinois.edu/blog/view/6367/312684 - the group are moving towards clinical trials and exploring other application areas.

3. Tying Complex Knots in Superfluids
After preparing a superfluid a new technique involving targeting the superfluid with rapidly changing and specifically structured magnetic fields allows the superfluid to be tied in knots; quantum knots in the form of a self-reinforcing soliton comprised of a toroidal ring structure in three dimensions https://www.amherst.edu/news/news_releases/2016/01-2016/node/626688. This builds on previous work in which the group used similar techniques to create synthetic magnetic monopoles. This is a very interesting new natural phenomenon to explore and harness and the group will continue to probe the properties of these knotted superfluid objects.

4. New Materials from Woven Molecular Chains
The first three dimensional covalent organic framework materials have been created by weaving together helical organic threads http://newscenter.lbl.gov/2016/01/21/weaving-a-new-story-for-cofs-and-mofs/. This should result in a new generation of materials with novel properties stemming from the base structure of individual molecular chains being woven together in a precise, ordered, and controlled way. Removing metal from the chains resulted in a 10-fold increase in elasticity of the material while adding metal restored the materials original stiffness. The technique has generalities in that it should allow many long threads of covalently-linked molecules to be woven and cross-together at regular intervals and is applicable to metal organic frameworks, nanoparticles, and polymers.

5. New Brain Insights
We had a trio of interesting brain insights this week. First, it appears synapses can vary in size in far greater increments than originally thought, resulting in estimates for the memory capacity of the human brain being revised upwards by an order of magnitude and helping to explain the computational efficiency of the hippocampus for example http://www.salk.edu/news-release/memory-capacity-of-brain-is-10-times-more-than-previously-thought/; every 2 - 20 minutes your synapses go up or down to the next size. Second, network analysis of brain activity reveals that 70% of all information within cortical regions passes through just 20% of the region’s neurons, further supporting the brain’s preference for efficiency over vulnerability http://news.indiana.edu/releases/iu/2016/01/hub-neurons.shtml. Finally, new micro-tissue engineered neural networks are small columns of biomaterial through which neurons have grown axons and which, when implanted, can connect neuronal populations in the brain (and possibly elsewhere) and replace damaged axonal tracts http://www.uphs.upenn.edu/news/News_Releases/2016/01/cullen/.

6. Mimicking Living Systems with Microdroplet Reactors
A new microfluidic system promises better, easier bioreactors for synthetic biology applications http://phys.org/news/2016-01-microdroplet-reactors-mimic.html. The new system first establishes water-in-oil test sites in discrete wells formed in the microfluidic chip, with each site bordered by electrodes able to apply an AC voltage over the site; water-in-oil droplets introduced in a digital fashion to the channels flow past the reaction sites and (i) when AC is applied the droplets fuse to the site, while (ii) the shear force of the travelling droplets induces fission and the droplet travelling on. Fusion uses the travelling droplets to introduce new molecules to the sites, while fission can carry away waste products, production products, or signalling products for collection and analysis. This does away with complex valves and mixers and is able to maintain chemical reactions in the sites far from equilibrium. In related news a new microfluidic microbubble technique efficiently produces liposomes for study, drug delivery, and artificial cell applications http://phys.org/news/2016-01-closer-artificial-cell-divisionby.html.

7. Fermi Paradox and Planetary Extinction
A new study on early planetary environments and life suggests a “Gaian Bottleneck” that prevents life from evolving beyond the simple single-celled stage, essentially operating as an early Great Filter preventing the rise of complex intelligent life on otherwise habitable planets thought to be ubiquitous throughout the galaxy http://www.anu.edu.au/news/all-news/the-aliens-are-silent-because-they-are-extinct. The authors suggest that new life commonly dies out on fledgling new worlds due to runaway heating or cooling arising from the unstable nature of young planetary environments, and before life has a chance to evolve a complex global ecosystem of simple organisms capable of regulating atmospheric gases.

8. Commercial Offerings of Memristor Chips
Knowm has launched a portfolio of three memristor chip products made available to customers seeking to include the chips in their computing hardware http://www.eetimes.com/document.asp?doc_id=1328733. Memristors can act as emulators of synapses and brain networks with the promise of offering brain-like computing and energy efficiency; such chips will have powerful deep learning and neural network emulation applications across a range of areas in future. The commercial availability of memristor-based chips is great news although we’ll have to wait and see when they make their way into consumer-facing products and services.

9. Open Source Food Computer
The Food Computer from the Open Agriculture Initiative is a new platform seeking to standardise indoor hydroponics and plant cultivation and so better enable rapid growth, industrial scale, cost efficiencies, and accessibility for the sector http://spectrum.ieee.org/computing/embedded-systems/mits-food-computer-the-future-of-urban-agriculture. The Food Computer is an advanced indoor plant cultivator and hydroponic system that precisely monitors and controls light exposure temperature, humidity, CO2, water cycle, and nutrient exposure to create an optimal “recipe” for each type of plant. The system is inherently modular with Food Computers coming in (i) Personal Food Computer, (ii) Shipping Container, and (iii) Warehouse Scale sizes for personal, small scale, and large scale use - and all benefiting from cheaper and better sensors, computers, and lighting.

10. Graphene, Graphene, and More Graphene
First, a new spongy graphene elastomer functions as a flexible ultra-light pressure and vibration sensor that far exceeds the response range of human skin http://monash.edu/news/show/revolutionary-new-graphene-elastomer-exceeds-sensitivity-of-human-skin. Second, terahertz frequency lasers can now be made tunable thanks to the combination of graphene with a quantum cascade laser http://www.graphene.manchester.ac.uk/latest/?archive=twelvemonths&id=15750. Third, simulations show that fast and accurate DNA sequencing is possible by passing DNA through functionalised graphene nanopores http://www.nist.gov/mml/acmd/nist-simulates-fast-accurate-dna-sequencing-through-graphene-nanopore.cfm. Fourth, specific and controllable placement of molecules is possible via graphene sheets decorated with custom patterns http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/ucla-scientists-create-graphene-barrier-to-precisely-control-molecules-for-making-nanoelectronics. Finally, graphene nanoelectromechanical systems can controllably modulate the emission of light from single-photon nanodiamond emitters http://phys.org/news/2016-01-on-chip-nano-optics-graphene-nano-opto-mechanics.html.

Archive: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/01/gut-microbe-therapeutics-better-brain.html
11 comments on original post
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Mark Bruce's profile photo
 
It's certainly the hope Eric that various bowel disorders can be treated with appropriately engineered bacteria. For 3 I'm not sure / don't know about quantum computing but I think the matter / spacetime manipulation aspect is very very cool!
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Eric Jensen

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It's pretty great there :-)
We also have a multiparty political system and a population that speaks near perfect English.
Google translate is pretty good for the rest.
Learning the language and the culture can be... challenging.
Click to see the pic and write a comment...
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Niels Jensen's profile photo
 
The 33 hour workweek dont hold for professionals these days. It is more like a 48 hour workweek based om latest surveys.
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Excellent burger and potatoes!
Public - 6 months ago
reviewed 6 months ago
Excellent pizza! Great environment and friendly staff.
Public - 7 months ago
reviewed 7 months ago
A great place! They have a beautiful, elegant restaurant with very polite and friendly staff. The food is fantastic with juicy steaks, wonderful sauce and great roasted potatoes with bacon. I can highly recommend it!
Public - a year ago
reviewed a year ago
Wonderful experience! The staff were extremely kind and helpful. The food was fantastic. A simple, high quality steak with potatoes. The dry aged Angus steak was done to perfection with almost zero spices, just sea salt. There was an excellent Argentinian wine as well. For dessert we had saffron pancakes with wild berries and vanilla ice cream. Of course the decor was great, even the bathroom.
Public - a year ago
reviewed a year ago
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Good food, excellent decor, and friendly staff. The burgers were good, but not perfect. I would have liked it a little juicier, but nevertheless it was good.
Public - a year ago
reviewed a year ago
The food was definitely good and the people were kind. However, while the walls were decorated well the decor in general did not blow me away. Go there if you are looking for Thai food in Saarbrücken. They have a great selection.
Public - a year ago
reviewed a year ago
Ok staff :-) Food was ok. Lots of screens showing sports.
Public - 2 years ago
reviewed 2 years ago