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Hervé Musseau
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SciTech Digest - 09/2017.
Abridged this week due to becoming a father for the first time!

Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2017/02/better-optogenetic-devices-autophagy.html

Better optogenetic devices, Autophagy booster, Room temp superconductors, Engineering casimir forces, DeepMind PathNet, BCI thought typing, CRISPR 2.0, Transcription epigenetics, Cellular atlases, Clever drones.

1. Three-in-One Optogenetic Fibers
One device for delivering genetic changes to neurons and optical and electrical inputs and outputs http://news.mit.edu/2017/multifunctional-tiny-fibers-brain-0221

2. Drug Boosts Autophagy
New drug functions as an autophagy enhancer to better clear metabolic wastes and aging damage
https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2017/02/identification-of-a-potential-autophagy-enhancement-drug/

3. Room Temperature Superconducting Cuprates
New models predict cuprates will superconduct at room temperature if the positioning of dopants is atomically precise
http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2017/02/recipe-for-room-temperature.html

4. Nanostructures Engineer Casimir Forces
Surfaces with engineered silicon nanostructures can measure the Casimir forces between them and can generate non-monotonic forces and possibly repulsions
http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2017/02/casimir-forces-measured-between-silicon.html

5. DeepMind’s PathNet
DeepMind demonstrates PathNet, a network of neural networks aiming to solve the Transfer Learning problem of neural network applications
https://medium.com/@thoszymkowiak/deepmind-just-published-a-mind-blowing-paper-pathnet-f72b1ed38d46#.8dru5v4ek and in related news neural networks can synthetically age photos of faces
https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603684/neural-network-learns-to-synthetically-age-faces-and-make-them-look-younger-too/

6. Accurate Typing with Brain-Computer-Interfaces
A new BCI allows paralysed patients to type at an average of eight words per minute
http://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2017/02/brain-computer-interface-allows-fast-accurate-typing-by-people-with-paralysis.html

7. CRISPR 2.0
A good review article of the improvements and advances being made to make CRISPR better
http://www.sciencemag.org/custom-publishing/technology-features/editing-editor-genome-editing-gets-makeover-crispr-20

8. Transcription Epigenetics
Studies in epigenetics have begun to reveal in detail how transcription products (mRNA) are often epigenetically tagged (in addition to the conventional DNA tags) to modify mRNA translation and reulation http://www.nature.com/news/an-epigenetics-gold-rush-new-controls-for-gene-expression-1.21513

9. Cellular Atlases
The Human Cell Atlas Project aims to produce detailed 3D virtual reality maps of tumours, organs, tissues, and perhaps the entire body that show the location of every cell type http://www.nature.com/news/the-race-to-map-the-human-body-one-cell-at-a-time-1.21508

10. Ever-Clever Drones
Drones are being engineered to better land on moving platforms http://magazine.uc.edu/editors_picks/recent_features/fuzzydrones.html and provided with flame throwers to potentiall clean debris from power lines http://technology.inquirer.net/59085/watch-drones-flamethrowers-take-flight-china

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Stanford researchers improve extraction of uranium from seawater
In the recent work, Stanford researchers improved on all three variables related to extracting uranium from seawater: capacity, rate and reuse. Their key advance was to create a conductive hybrid fiber incorporating carbon and amidoxime. By sending pulses o...

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Molten Silicon thermal energy storage system has higher energy density and ten times lower cost than lithium ion batteries for utility storage
1414 Degrees had its origins in patented (Australian) CSIRO research and has built a prototype molten silicon storage device which it is testing at its Tonsley Innovation Precinct site south of Adelaide. Chairman Kevin Moriarty says 1414 Degrees' process ca...

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SciTech Digest - 08/2017.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2017/02/mems-afm-on-chip-low-power-voice-chip.html

MEMS AFM on-chip, Low power voice chip, Wireless power, LysoSENS development, Chiral carbon nanotubes, MOF molecular looms, Molecular biology of sleep, Electrical brain interfaces, DNA computer drugs, Printable solar cells.

1. On-chip MEMS AFM
A MEMS-based atomic force microscope has been created on a single chip complete with all of the sensors and components needed to control the device http://www.utdallas.edu/news/2017/2/15-32432_Jonsson-School-Engineers-Shrink-Microscope-to-Dime_story-wide.html. The one square centimeter sized device operates an oscillating cantilever that is moved across the surface of the sample to be imaged. While it might not have the sensitivity of a high-end laboratory system such a device should make entry-level AFM applications much cheaper and more widespread - a lot more people having access to and using an AFM can only be a good thing.

2. Low Power Voice Control Chip
A low power voice-control and speech recognition chip has been developed that achieves an energy saving of between 90% - 99%, effectively running speech-recognition software for between 0.2 - 10 milliwatts instead of the usual 1 watt that a phone uses http://news.mit.edu/2017/low-power-chip-speech-recognition-electronics-0213. Such low-powered capabilities are ideally suited to internet of things applications and low-power sensors and interfaces with embedded communications. The chip itself incorporates three different hardware implementations of neural networks of varying complexity.

3. Better Wireless Power Transfer
Disney research has demonstrated a quasistatic cavity resonance device for transferring power wirelessly to receivers in devices with 40% to 95% efficiency, and can transfer 1900 watts in this way safely https://www.disneyresearch.com/publication/quasistatic-cavity-resonance-for-ubiquitous-wireless-power-transfer/. I’ve covered several different technologies attempting to do similar wireless power transfer but this latest attempt appears to significantly improve the range, power, and efficiency. Again, a mature technology would be a key enabler of internet of things devices, sensors, and applications.

4. LysoSENS Moves Towards the Clinic
Ichor Therapeutics has demonstrated very promising results in cells for clearing types of lysosomal garbage and is now seeking to complete animal studies and move into a Phase 1 human clinical trial https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2017/02/ichor-therapeutics-announces-lysoclear-sens-rejuvenation-therapy-and-series-a-fundraising-for-further-development/. The therapy comes from bacterial enzymes that can break down certain types of lysosomal garbage, and which have also been modified to be targeted to the lysosomes of target cells. In this specific, niche case the therapy breaks down the garbage and removes the accumulated damage A2E metabolic waste aggregates in retinal cells that leads to different types of macular degeneration, and so represents a good, early, embryonic rejuvenation and anti-aging therapy.

5. Catalysts for Chiral Carbon Nanotubes
New work reveals that different carbon nanotube growth catalysts can preferentially form carbon nanotubes with different chiralities - the pattern of graphene hexagons around the tube that control metallic or semiconducting properties of the carbon nanotube https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170215131554.htm. Tungsten carbide produces semiconducting carbon nanotubes with 80% - 90% purity, while molybdenum carbide helps produce metallic carbon nanotubes. Meanwhile carbon nanotubes and graphene have been combined into functional 3D graphene rebar structures http://news.rice.edu/2017/02/13/graphene-foam-gets-big-and-tough/.

6. Molecular Looms from MOFs
Metal Organic Framework materials are now being used to precisely position (four-armed in this case) monomer molecules that are then cross-linked in a precise array similar to two-dimensional polymer textiles http://www.kit.edu/kit/english/pi_2017_020_metal-organic-frameworks-used-as-looms.php. This is a clever nanotechnology application for building precisely structured and formulated materials with near perfect atomic organisation. After formation the molecule-thick 2D polymer sheets are actually held together by the mechanical forces resulting from the weave pattern. A versatile platform for creating a wide variety of different, precise, 2D polymer sheets with customisable properties and structures at the atomic scale.

7. The Molecular Biology of Sleep
The molecular biology underpinning and controlling sleep is being further mapped out as part of a huge study in mice with the discovery of two new genes that play a key role in regulating sleep https://www.quantamagazine.org/20170214-sleep-control-machinery-in-the-brain/. The first, Sik3, influences the total amount of sleep needed, while the second, Nalcn, influences the amount of REM dreaming sleep that is attained. This study took years and involved mutating the genes of thousands of mice and hooking them up to brainwave monitors while they slept. With these targets identified there is further scope to rationally design interventions able to modify sleep in humans.

8. Better Electrical Brain Interfaces
In just one week we had three different improved electronic brain interfaces announced. First, a new complementary metal oxide semiconductor nanoelectrode array can image and map the changing electrical signals within a large group of living cells http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/semiconductors/devices/nanoelectrode-array-measures-electrical-signals-across-network-of-cells. Second, ultra-flexible nanoelectronic threads can act as reliable brain probes that enable scar-free integration for neural signal recording https://cns.utexas.edu/news/new-ultra-flexible-probes-form-reliable-scar-free-integration-with-the-brain. Finally, glassy-carbon electrodes transmit more robust signals to restore function in people with damaged spinal cords http://newscenter.sdsu.edu/sdsu_newscenter/news_story.aspx?sid=76593.

9. DNA Computer Smart Drugs
A new DNA computer is able to process the presence and concentration of multiple specific antibodies in the body at once in order to diagnose particular disease states https://www.tue.nl/en/university/news-and-press/news/17-02-2017-dna-computer-brings-intelligent-drugs-a-step-closer/ or see the paper http://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms14473. In this process DNA strands are designed to bind to different antibodies, and when mixed with complementary reporter DNA sequences, these sequences only release the “signal” strand when those specific antibodies are present. These output signals are then processed by a range of DNA computer and logic elements to provide information on the nature of the disease that is present. I’m impressed by how sophisticated the DNA computing and health diagnostics platform is becoming.

10. Printable Perovskite Solar Cells
A new chemical reaction allows an electron-selective solar cell layer to be grown in solution out of nanoparticles directly on top of electrodes and that also incorporate perovskite solar-power ink http://news.engineering.utoronto.ca/printable-solar-cells-just-got-little-closer/, and at much lower temperatures than was previously possible. The solar cells created with this process in the lab demonstrated an energy efficiency of 20.1%. The promise of printable solar cells is being able to cheaply produce high-efficiency panels via established printing techniques or even custom-printing onto most desired surfaces.

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Earlier today Methuselah Foundation sent out a retrospective to supporters and donors, looking back at the progress achieved in various initiatives over the course of 2016. It certainly seems like things are moving more rapidly of late, and 2017 is shaping up to provide more of the same. Of particular note here is the progress achieved by the more recent batch of companies funded by Methuselah Foundation, and the news that Methuselah Foundation will be formalizing its notably successful incubator-like activities with the creation of an investment fund.

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Today, Ichor Therapeutics, a biotechnology company that focuses on developing drugs for age-related diseases, announced a series A offering to bring its Lysoclear product for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and Stargardt's macular degeneration (SMD) through Phase I clinical trials.

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Scientists Found A CHEMICAL COMPOUND Capable Of Dissolving The Clustered Proteins That Form CATARACTS !!!

In few years, instead of intrusive and expensive surgery, we might treat cataracts with eye drops.

http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/one-step-closer-cataract-dissolving-eye-drops/

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"Oceanic" is a free, Hugo-winning SF story online, about faith and reason in the very far future.

http://www.gregegan.net/OCEANIC/Complete/Oceanic.html

The swell was gently lifting and lowering the boat. My breathing grew slower, falling into step with the creaking of the hull, until I could no longer tell the difference between the faint rhythmic motion of the cabin and the sensation of filling and emptying my lungs. It was like floating in darkness: every inhalation buoyed me up, slightly; every exhalation made me sink back down again.

In the bunk above me, my brother Daniel said distinctly, “Do you believe in God?”

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