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Hervé Musseau
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With today's news, it certainly seems that senescent cell clearance has come of age as an approach to treating aging and age-related conditions. Some of the leading folk in the cellular senescence research community today published the results from a very encouraging life span study, extending life in mice via a method of removing senescent cells. This is much the same approach employed in one of the first tests of senescent cell clearance, carried out in accelerated aging mice a few years ago, but in this case normal mice were used, leaving no room to doubt the relevance of the results. The researchers have founded a new company, Unity Biotechnology, to develop therapies for the clinic based on this technology. Clearance of senescent cells has been advocated as a part of the SENS vision for the medical control of aging for more than a decade now, and it is very encouraging to see the research and development community at last coming round to this view and making tangible progress.
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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. 

SciTech Tip Jar: http://www.scitechdigest.net/p/donate.html 
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Experiments with self-driving cars will take a new direction on Thursday when the WEpod trials in Wageningen take to the...
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Electric cars are improving fast, and thus depreciating fast too.  How will they handle being like cell phones for a few years?
I've been electric car shopping, but one thing has stood out as a big concern. Many electric cars are depreciating fast, and it may get even faster. I think part of this is due to the fact that electric cars are a bit more like electronics devices than they are cars. Electric cars will see major ...
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In his final State of the Union, President Obama hinted about building a “21st century transportation system.” Now we know he was actually sitting on a plan to dramatically change the way Americans get around.
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SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 02/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/01/protein-fabrication-moving-brain.html

Protein fabrication, Moving brain recording, Touchable holograms, 3D printed ceramics, Modular robot arm, Wireless power charging, EEG mind reading, Cheap LIDAR, New elements, Nanofabrication of wires and ribbons.

1. Cell-Free Protein Synthesis
A new microfluidic system incorporating a nanoporous membrane works as an effective bioreactor to advance the field of cell-free protein synthesis https://www.ornl.gov/news/ornl-cell-free-protein-synthesis-potential-lifesaver. The dual-channel of the device allows the transfer of molecules through the membrane from metabolic feeder to bioreactor channels and back again. This technology is a milestone on the path towards true nanofabricators. The current chip offers many avenues for optimisation and improvement and is able to produce on demand different proteins as needed and offering the possibility of producing proteins on-site without the need for pre-production and sensitive storage.

2. Recording Whole Brain Activity in Moving Animal
New microscope techniques now allow the activity of individual neurons in a living brain to be captured in 3D in real-time while the animal is moving in and responding to its environment https://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S45/14/90K98/index.xml. While this is presently limited to comparatively simple organisms like nematode worms, it still provides never-before-possible insights into brain activity and body movement and response. The technique produces a lot of data that the group are still analysing, but the hope is this will help in generating new models of brain function.

3. Touchable Haptic Holograms & VR
New technology uses ultrasound to let users “feel” holograms, although the demonstration is currently limited to two boxes, one of which displays the hologram to the user and the other requires the user to insert their hand to explore the volume of space in which the holographic object is apparently located http://qz.com/584704/japanese-scientists-have-created-a-new-type-of-hologram-that-you-can-actually-feel/. Pretty nice technology but I’m struggling to think of viable applications at this stage; perhaps the ultrasound could respond to the user’s movements to allow molding the virtual object into different shapes? Other recent technologies enabling users to touch and feel virtual environments include full body suits such as this one http://mic.com/articles/128253/the-tesla-suit-simulates-touch-and-lets-you-feel-hugs-from-miles-away#.qXYawbtrJ.

4. Better 3D Printed Ceramics
A new 3D printing process can produce nearly flawless ceramics in arbitrary shapes that achieve the incredible heat resistance that has so far proved elusive http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/a18801/3d-printed-wonder-ceramics-wont-shatter/. These new printable materials start off looking like plastics and polymers that, when subsequently heated in a furnace, transform into more conventional ceramics with desireable ceramic properties. Silicon carbide ceramics were formed this way for the first time, other ceramics are expected by adjusting the resin composition, and the ceramics produced this way turn out uniform and lacking the pores and defects that has hampered other efforts.

5. Versatile Modular Robotic Arm
KATIA is a versatile programmable robotic arm that uses swappable modular hands to enable it to perform a very wide range of tasks http://techcrunch.com/2016/01/06/this-robotic-arm-can-do-everything-from-3d-printing-to-laser-cutting-to-cake-decorating/. A 3D printing module allows it to be a 3D printer, a 3D laser-scanner allows it to be a 3D scanner, a laser module allows it to be a laser cutter, other modules allow it to decorate cakes or grip, manipulate and move objects. The arm can also be trained simply to do repetitive motions much like ReThink’s Baxter robots and the versatility offered by swappable custom modular hands allows applications in industry, biotech, manufacturing, and packaging.

6. Wireless Power Technology is Coming
There are an increasing number of advances and announcements with wireless power technology, the most recent of which comes from Ossia and their new wireless charging product Cota http://spectrum.ieee.org/energywise/consumer-electronics/gadgets/ossias-cota-wireless-power-tech-promises-to-enable-the-internet-of-everything. The system uses a base unit with 1,000s of tiny antennas to transmit power via conventional 2.4GHz radio over multiple pathways to embedded receiving antennas in devices up to 10m away. Ossia has figured out how to project energy in the shape of an antenna out to a precise random point in 3D space, tracking the antenna in 3D space via pings and projecting energy to the last reported location many times per second. And it can also do data transfer of course. Such a technology, when ubiquitous, would be transformative for our devices, homes, and implantables.

7. Basic Mind Reading with EEG Scans
A limited form of mind reading has been demonstrated with EEG scans of people’s brains http://techxplore.com/news/2016-01-decipher-words-mind-spoken.html. People were scanned while thinking about certain words and speaking them aloud, and the pattern of EEG signals was stored in a database. When the people recited the words the researchers determined if they could predict the exact word before it was spoken. With a limited vocabulary the group correctly interpreted up to two seconds beforehand, the words about to be spoken 25% percent of the time, although they achieved 90% if the vocabulary was further limited to Japanese characters or syllables. The group hopes further development will further boost accuracy and building on related work taking place to give us full mind control over devices and a form of technological telepathy in future.

8. More Cheap LIDAR Solutions
Quanergy launched a small compact LIDAR unit for $250 as the start of a roadmap leading to a $100 device in a few years with custom chips and and mobile device integration http://spectrum.ieee.org/cars-that-think/transportation/sensors/quanergy-solid-state-lidar. This is solid-state LIDAR with no moving parts required to rapidly track a laser over an environment to determine distances, but rather uses a phased optical array - a grid of tiny antennas that can steer laser light passing through it by shifting the phase of the light electronically - to send out 1,000,000 pulses per second at up to 150m range. We’ve seen huge price drops in LIDAR for autonomous vehicles over the years (from $70k) driven by Quanergy and an ecosystem of competitors, which is excellent, but also great to see phased optical array technology being developed; such a thing might power 3D holographic displays in future.

9. Four New Elements for the Periodic Table
Superheavy elements 113, 115, 117, and 118 were officially recognised and added to the periodic table this week, completing the seventh row after waiting for data concerning the existence of the element to be double-checked by an international team http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/four-new-elements-are-added-periodic-table-180957705/?no-ist. The issue of course is that such elements are so heavy and unstable that they only exist for the briefest fractions of a second after being synthesised before decaying again. Personally I’m waiting for element 126 and others with “magic numbers” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_number_(physics) that might be stable enough to be actually useful.

10. New Nanofabrication Tricks
We had a few new interesting nanofabrication tricks this week. First, fabricating silicon nanowires that span ultradeep trenches in silicon, by carving away the silicon block to leave them intact http://phys.org/news/2016-01-fabrication-silicon-nanowires-bridging-thick.html. Second, individual graphene nanoribbons can now be interconnected via a molecular assembly technique to produce larger branched ribbon structures that retain the original properties but which might form circuits in future http://phys.org/news/2016-01-electronically-graphene-nanoribbons-high-speed-electronics.html. Finally, a new 3D printing technique using metal nanoparticles in a solvent can form grids of metal walls 80nm to 500nm thick that might be used as transparent electrodes in touch screens https://www.ethz.ch/en/news-and-events/eth-news/news/2016/01/nanowalls-for-smartphones.html.

Archive: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/01/protein-fabrication-moving-brain.html
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The first autonomous vehicle to begin testing on public roads in the Netherlands has started operation this week. The vehicle is a Wepod shuttle and the company behind the shuttle hopes to begin op…
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Driverless pods to be used on London's streets from July (Wired UK)

'These driverless pods will be the first autonomous vehicles to hit the streets of London.

The vehicles, which are already being used on tracks at Heathrow Airport, will be adapted for use in Greenwich from July. The consortium behind the trial said changes would be made so the pods didn't need to run on tracks.

Seven of the electric pods -- developed by the GATEway group -- will be placed on the tarmac of the Greenwich Peninsula, with routes likely to include residential streets and areas close to the O2 Arena.'

http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2016-01/29/driverless-autonomous-cars-london
Autonomous pods used at Heathrow Airport will be adapted to be used on the streets of Greenwich
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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
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SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 03/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/01/deep-learning-hardware-dna-origami.html

Deep learning hardware, DNA origami pores, Insect drone vision, Compressible torsional materials, Choreographic crystals, 3D printing metals, Implantable sensors, 3D NAND chips, Bone thymus rejuvenation, deep learning software.

1. EIE Chip Accelerates Deep Learning
New software and hardware architecture has been developed into a chip called EIE that significantly boosts the performance of deep neural network applications http://www.nextplatform.com/2015/12/08/emergent-chip-vastly-accelerates-deep-neural-networks/. EIE basically maximises the role of SRAM in processing the inference side of neural networks and uses newly developed “deep compression” to pare these networks down to their most essential components while retaining accuracy to allow ultra-fast, ultra-efficient processing. The chip performs inference operations between 13x and 189x faster compared to benchmarks, while delivering energy efficiency between 3,000x and 24,000x better compared to benchmarks. Interesting questions arise relating to the nature of neural networks and the drastic pruning you can inflict. How long until these chips start being integrated into servers and mobile platforms?

2. DNA Origami Membrane Pores
Self assembling DNA origami techniques have been used to create synthetic molecular membrane pores in biological membranes that can be controllably opened and closed http://phys.org/news/2016-01-dna-blocks-pave-drug-delivery.html. The pores were anchored to the membranes of vesicles and the addition of different complementary strands of DNA was shown to open and close the pore to allow the passage of certain molecules through the 2nm channel, or at least alter their rate of passage by 140-fold. In related news DNA origami structures are being used to functionalise gold nanoparticles and form well-ordered arrays and novel materials out of the particles https://www.mcgill.ca/newsroom/channels/news/printing-press-nanoparticles-257609.

3. Insect Drones & Catcher Drones
In a simple yet effective development, drones operating with insect-inspired vision strategies that become unstable in flight at a specific distance from a landing zone, can utilise this very instability to estimate distance, correct their flight, and execute far smoother and more precise landings http://www.tudelft.nl/en/current/latest-news/article/detail/door-nieuwe-theorie-kunnen-drones-afstanden-zien-met-een-oog/. It also allows the drone to shed other sensors and weight. In other drone news a new anti-drone system employs remote or autonomous drones to shoot a net to capture rogue drones in mid-flight http://www.mtu.edu/news/stories/2016/january/drone-catcher-robotic-falcon-can-capture-retrieve-renegade-drones.html and 100 drones can now be coordinated together in flight http://www.gizmag.com/100-drones-guinness-world-record/41328/.

4. Torsional Materials and Extreme Compressibility
New materials designed with coordination geometries, where subunits in the bulk material form a coordinated framework and are free to rotate, move, or deform independently, have been developed that exhibit properties of extreme compressibility http://phys.org/news/2016-01-atomic-gears-torsion-springs-contribute-extreme.html. Such materials have negative thermal expansion coefficients, shrinking in volume when heated for example, and under pressure deform and compress to a larger extent than any other crystalline material. In these materials compression doesn’t induce the normal shortening of bonds, but rather the structural deformation of subunits that move and rotate to bring nearby subunits closer together.

5. Crystal with Time-Dependent Symmetry
A new type of crystal has been described that possesses symmetry not in the way its atoms are structured but rather in the way it’s particles move in time http://gizmodo.com/physicists-discover-a-new-kind-of-crystal-inspired-by-s-1751911893. It is interesting that the discovery was inspired by satellite orbits as gravity wave detectors because the movement does remind me of quadrupole motion. This is a type of dynamic symmetry, and these hypothetical materials are now known as choreographic crystals; the work also involved some clever mathematics to identify all possible such arrangements above the tetrahedron analogue discovered here. As these are currently confined to theory it remains to be seen whether such materials can be discovered or fabricated - and what their properties might be, for example new metamaterials are able to boost MRI sensitivity by 50% http://phys.org/news/2016-01-metamaterials-boost-sensitivity-mri-machines.html.

6. Improved 3D Printed Metals
Related to last week’s innovation for much improved 3D printed ceramics, this week we have much improved 3D printed metals and metal alloys using liquid inks and common furnaces http://www.mccormick.northwestern.edu/news/articles/2016/01/a-new-way-to-print-3-d-metals-and-alloys.html. The liquid inks contain metal powders, solvents, and elastomers, are printed normally and then sintered in furnace to make the powder fuse; prior to sintering the printed object can be bent and further altered to achieve different structures, and the technique allows safer metal oxides to be printed then turned into their base metals with the addition of hydrogen.

7. Implantable & Wearable Sensors
A couple of fascinating items from the CES show. First, Lumee is an implantable grain-of-rice-sized device and sensing platform made of hydrogel that sits below the skin that doesn’t trigger scar tissue or an immune response and so can remain for very long periods; the prototype contains a dye that measures oxygen levels and which can be interrogated by shining light through the skin http://spectrum.ieee.org/view-from-the-valley/biomedical/devices/move-over-wearables-make-way-for-implantables - a fantasitc platform with a huge range of sensing and diagnostic applications and these new liquid crystal hydrogels might offer additional customisation and control http://phys.org/news/2016-01-polymer-medical-solutions.html. Second, a tiny flexible sticky sensor patch works on thermoelectric principles, harvesting energy from the temperature gradient between your skin and the air, the prototype for which monitors your hydration levels and sends this information to your smartphone http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/biomedical/devices/power-harvesting-sensor-patch-uses-your-body-as-a-battery - great platform with a larger number of applications.

8. Commercial 3D NAND Chips
Micron claims their new 3D NAND memory chips get Flash-based memory back on Moore’s Law scaling curve http://www.eetimes.com/document.asp?doc_id=1328652. Their first generation 3D NAND chip is a stack 32 layers deep and being offered in versions with 32 and 48 Gigabytes each; the future roadmap includes 2 Terabyte 3D NAND packages enabling solid state drives with a capacity of 32TB. They’ve also designed and released new chips in a partnership with Intel that have a 3D cross-bar architecture (3D XPoint) sandwiching a material to create arrays of resistive RAMs and enabling mass commercial rollout for memristors.

9. Bone & Thymus Rejuvenation Approaches
A new microRNA delivery technology utilises polymer spheres to protect the microRNA cargo and get inside cells and it can slowly release the payload over the course of a month if needed; in the proof of concept the spheres targeted cells at wound sites in bone, delivering microRNAs that instructed the cells to ramp up bone healing and bone building processes http://ns.umich.edu/new/releases/23403-nano-shells-deliver-molecules-that-tell-bone-to-repair-itself. Boosting levels of metabolic hormone FGF21 in the thymus of old mice protects the organ from age-related degeneration, increasing T-cell production, maintaining an active immune system and extending lifespan by 40%; looking forward to human tests http://news.yale.edu/2016/01/11/life-extending-hormone-bolsters-body-s-immune-function.

10. Microsoft’s 152 Layer Neural Network
Microsoft Research won the ImageNet image recognition contest with a powerful new machine learning architecture called a deep residual network that is more complex than previous deep learning architectures and spans 152 layers http://www.wired.com/2016/01/microsoft-neural-net-shows-deep-learning-can-get-way-deeper/. The new architecture can examine many more features of a data set (images in this case) and circumvents the problem of signal dilution that has plagued other attempts by being able to quickly skip layers that it doesn’t need. Closing the feedback-loop of developing these applications the team also created a system that helps build these networks as needed. The potential here is significant.

Archive: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/01/deep-learning-hardware-dna-origami.html
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Hervé Musseau

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This will save more lives than anything Obama might do about Isis.
The American government is officially putting a giant vote of confidence behind self-driving cars. And the cash to back it up.
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Hervé Musseau

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Antibiotics are the drugs used to control bacterial infections. Here I'll point out a couple of recent articles relating to antibiotics research, as counterpoints to the prevailing view that we're in danger of running out of antibiotics that work at some unspecified future date. That would be an existential threat to our desired future of extended healthy longevity, were it to happen, but fortunately I think it is a mirage, as are so many of these predictions of doom. As a general rule predictions of doom rely upon people doing nothing to prevent said doom, and that is never the case.
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