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Jorge Rangel
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The Hangouts section disappeared from my new Google Plus interface, but it can be accessed here.
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Carol Gunn lost her sister to a diagnostic mistake that might have been prevented. Now she's on a mission to bring down the high rate of errors in medicine.
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SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 49/2015.
Live from Fort Worth
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/12/better-crispr-rolling-dna-motor.html

Better CRISPR, Rolling DNA Motor, Polarized 3D Imaging, Metacage Light Isolation, AI plays Go, Brain protein imaging, Single molecule switches, Lasers & optics, Mass cloning, Longevity genes.

1. A Better Re-Engineered CRISPR
The revolutionary CRISPR gene-editing technology has been re-engineered to create an improved system that significantly reduces off-target editing errors http://news.mit.edu/2015/overcome-crispr-cas9-genome-editing-hurdle-1201. The changes amounted to just 3 of the enzymes 1,400 amino acids being changed but this had the result of reducing off-target DNA editing to undetectable levels and the new enzyme eSpCas9 is being made available globally to other research groups. Such low levels of off-target edits combined with other methods to reduce errors even further will make the technique even safer to use in humans. And here is George Church on CRISPR and beginning to reverse human aging in 5 or so years https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2015/12/interesting-comments-by-george-church.php, and a proposal for CRISPR-Gene-Drives to mitigate the effects of ocean acidification on plankton http://nextbigfuture.com/2015/12/gene-drive-one-of-many-ways-to-prevent.html

2. Rolling DNA Motor
A new DNA motor system uses specific strands of DNA bound in high number to tiny glass beads that bind to specific strands of RNA; the binding is facilitated by an enzyme that destroys the RNA on the surface after binding, an event that causes the tiny beads to be pulled along and so allow another DNA strand to bind to the next RNA in its path and so on http://phys.org/news/2015-12-nano-walkers-speedy-dna-based-motor.html. The movement of these DNA and enzyme-powered motors can be imaged and filmed by a smartphone camera and the system is sensitive enough to detect single base mutations and other contaminants. The motors move in a straight line and it would be interesting to see if they can steer such things in future and carry different payloads.

3. Polarization Enables 1000-Fold Better 3D Imaging
A new method uses simple polarizing filters to enable basic 3D imaging systems to produce 3D models up to 1000 times as accurately as before http://news.mit.edu/2015/algorithms-boost-3-d-imaging-resolution-1000-times-1201. An Xbox Kinect can typically produce centimeter resolution from a few meters away, but by rotating in three different polarization filters and taking 3 images the resolution is boosted to tens of micrometers, exceeding high-end laser scanning technologies. This offers the possibility for low resolution depth sensing cameras to be used in smartphones and autonomous vehicles to produce quick convenient 3D models of their surroundings. I've used an Xbox Kinect for 3D scanning and the resolution does indeed match the first image in the article.

4. Metacages for Isolating and Shielding Light
Nanowires measuring 5 - 20nm can be arrayed on a surface in arbitrary shapes and architectures to produce customized regions that can either completely isolate light within or completely block light from entering http://phys.org/news/2015-12-optical-metacage-blocks.html. The gaps between the nanowires are typically the same scale as the nanowires themselves, and freely allow the passage of gas and fluids, with applications in microfluidic chips with biological cells and also in optical circuits where it is important to isolate light and interference. Nested structures might even provide more complete isolation and protection from interference, which might possibly be important for quantum computing and entanglement applications. Meanwhile interesting discoveries with light scattering nanoparticles could lead to invisibility cloaks and smaller optical antennas http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/semiconductors/materials/light-scattering-nanoparticles-could-lead-to-smaller-optical-antennas

5. Tackling the Game of “Go” with AI
While computers have trumped humans at Chess for some time now (search space of 10^60), humans still easily beat the best computers at Go (search space of 10^100). New research from Facebook’s artificial intelligence group might soon change this with a system that combines features of a neural network with a search-based machine to create a Go engine that plays at an advanced level and seems have have plenty of room for further optimisation and improvements http://www.technologyreview.com/view/544181/how-facebooks-ai-researchers-built-a-game-changing-go-engine/. It’s been interesting to see such systems get progressively better at playing games over the years, for example with the game-playing engines developed by DeepMind.

6. Protein Imaging for Brain Structure
SWITCH is a new tissue imaging technique that is able to preserve and image the same tissue repeatedly using different fluorescent protein labels that target different cells each time http://news.mit.edu/2015/protein-imaging-detailed-brain-architecture-1203. As part of the proof-of-concept the group labelled 22 different proteins (scope to use much more in future) in a small section of brain tissue and were able to easily see brain connectivity and other structures. Time is the limiting factor in this method, with approximately one day being required for each labelling protein to diffuse through the small tissue sample used in this case. 

7. Stable Single Molecule Switches
Single molecules comprised of simple organometallic structures arranged around a single molybdenum atom and connected to electrodes have been formed into simple, single-molecule switches http://phys.org/news/2015-11-molecule-manner-electron.html. The molecules themselves are only a couple of nanometers long, function similarly to a silicon transistor, require only two electrodes instead of three, and possess two stable states that have conductivities that differ by three orders of magnitude. An early but promising prototype for future memory storage and computational applications. 

8. Wondrous Laser & Optics Developments
Another big week in laser and optics technology. First, lasers to make diamond structures at room temperature and ambient pressure https://news.ncsu.edu/2015/11/narayan-q-carbon-2015/ and also to efficiently fabricate graphene http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/semiconductors/materials/laserinduced-graphene-looks-to-diplace-batteries-with-supercapacitors. Second, light can be used with engineered viruses to control gene delivery to cells, with one wavelength holding them together and a second wavelength breaking them apart http://news.rice.edu/2015/12/01/red-means-go-to-therapeutic-viruses/. Third, a much improved photonic sintering method fuses nanoparticles much more precisely and effectively than previously possible http://oregonstate.edu/ua/ncs/archives/2015/dec/photonic-%E2%80%9Csintering%E2%80%9D-may-create-new-solar-electronics-manufacturing-technologies. Finally, a new SPRINT device can capture single photons on demand http://wis-wander.weizmann.ac.il/tapping-particles-of-light#.VmOD-lWrSJc

9. Setting Up a Chinese-Korean Cloning Factory
A new cloning factory being developed hopes to clone up to one million cows per year by 2020 http://nextbigfuture.com/2015/12/boyalife-ceo-plans-to-clones-woolly.html. The company is also doing pet cloning, developing mammoth cloning and plans to do racehorses, dogs, and primate cloning. With this capability they would be well placed to do human cloning if they wanted to - there wouldn't be any technical challenges at least, but I wonder what the applications are and who the customers would be? 

10. Genes to Prolong Human Life
Combing through 40,000 genes from three different organisms has revealed 30 genes that are conserved and regulated in a similar way that also significantly influence aging processes https://www.ethz.ch/en/news-and-events/eth-news/news/2015/12/genes-for-longer-healthier-life-found.html. Interfering with these genes had varying levels of influence on aging, with a dozen of such interventions resulting in lifespan extensions of at least five percent; for a couple of examples the mechanism of action was identified, suggesting other methods to achieve the same effects. While the genes are conserved there haven’t been any human studies yet. And if aging interventions and therapies don’t arrive soon enough for you then improved methods of preservation via vitrification or ice-free cryopreservation might be worth considering https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2015/11/an-example-of-present-work-on-improving-vitrification.php

Archive: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/12/better-crispr-rolling-dna-motor.html
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SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 01/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/01/crispr-in-adults-cheap-genome.html

Short week for the first week and holiday week.
CRISPR in adults, Cheap genome sequencing, Better brain algorithms, Intracellular chips, Smartphone 3D scanning. 

1. CRISPR Corrects Genetic Defect in Adult Animal
CRISPR has been packaged into an adeno-associated virus (AAV) delivery vector for the first time to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy in mice http://today.duke.edu/2015/12/crisprmousedmd. One of the key advances here was using a different CRISPR system from another bacterial species that was smaller and able to fit inside the virus. The therapy worked for both direct injection into muscles and also, most importantly, injection into the bloodstream that resulted in some correction of muscles throughout the body including the heart. Perhaps multiple rounds might increase percentage of cell coverage each time, and engineering or evolving larger AAVs able to deliver larger payloads would also be advantageous. Such an advance is as important for disease as it is for enhancements. 

2. Genome Sequencing for $330
Full Genomes is a company now offering possibly the cheapest ever genome sequencing services and using conventional Illumina DNA sequencing platforms http://nextbigfuture.com/2016/01/whole-genome-sequencing-for-330.html. $330 is the cheapest rate with interpretation, but up to $1,600 orr so will get you 30-fold coverage of your genome for much better accuracy; the final DNA sequence file is about 50GB in size. This is a pretty impressive price and one that is becoming sorely tempting; I wonder what the price will be in five years and also how many hundreds of times I’ll be sequenced in a couple of decades?

3. Brain Architecture and Abstract Thought
New Big Data analysis pulling together 20 years of fMRI data has resulted in a new geometry-based method for understanding human thought and cognition https://www.umass.edu/newsoffice/article/how-brain-architecture-leads-abstract. The analysis showed that an agglomeration of many different cortical areas give rise to cognitive function and abstract thought, showing a basic operational paradigm of cognition that consists of certain hierarchies. The group expect the new geometric algorithm to be a very useful data science tool moving forward and will also help with the design of next generation neural networks and deep learning systems; they are using the new approach to make a massively recurrent deep learning network for a more brain-like and superior learning AI.

4. Inserting Chips Into Cells
Multiplexed silicon planar arrays have been reduced in size by a factor of a billion, producing devices that measure just three micrometers on a side and which are able to be inserted into individual cells, taking up just 0.35% of the cell volume, and allowing multiple tests and analysis on individual cells http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=42212.php. These chips can be functionalised and interrogated via confocal laser scanning microscopy to determine various physicochemical intracellular parameters. I wonder what other functions and logic we’ll building into intracellular chips like this?

5. 3D Scanning via Smartphone
A new image capture method using structured lighting on an object and novel algorithms allow simple devices like smartphones to perform high-quality 3D depth-scanning and produce 3D images and models http://www.kurzweilai.net/algorithm-turns-smartphones-into-3-d-scanners. The key innovation here is that the algorithms can work without needing the camera to be synchronised to the source of the structured light patterns being projected onto the object. Closer and closer to cheap ubiquitous 3D scanning capabilities. 

Archive: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/01/crispr-in-adults-cheap-genome.html
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Of all the asinine things that I read about nutrition—and let me tell you, I read a lot of them—this one has got to be the asininniest: Broccoli has more protein than steak. I've seen this idiotic ...
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Our thoughts and well wishes go out to the Lexcen family, and to Teegan's speedy recovery. +CBS Miami reports how doctors at Nicklaus Children's Hospital used Cardboard to better visualize and understand 3D imagery before performing Teegan's lifesaving operation.
Doctors at Nicklaus Children's Hospital used Google Cardboard to save a 4-month-old girl's life.
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Juniper Networks: it gets murkier.

There appear to be two distinct issues at play here in connection with Juniper Networks switches.

https://theintercept.com/2015/12/23/juniper-firewalls-successfully-targeted-by-nsa-and-gchq/
GCHQ acquired the capability to target 13 different models and, with NSA help, exploited several networks in one year.
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An improved CRISPR-Cas9 system for gene editing
Team re-engineers system to dramatically cut down on editing errors; improvements advance future human applications.
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Dogs have a conscience too

The most interesting result arising from the confirmation of a consciousness of self is that, based on these results, other behavioral traits may be deduced such as, for example, empathy.
 
Dogs Have A Conscience Too

The basis of the test is that the subject who understands the concept of "self" and "the other" is able to distinguish between the two entities and, therefore, to recognize himself or herself in the reflection. The most interesting result arising from the confirmation of a consciousness of self is that, based on these results, other behavioral traits may be deduced such as, for example, empathy.

The research is in Ethology, Ecology and Evolution. (full access paywall)

#psychology #conscience #animals
That man's best friend has a conscience is what every owner would be willing to bet, without even thinking about it for a moment. This means that dogs have self-consciousness. But the problem in scien
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Android developer
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Some of my interests: Android Development, Machine Learning, Artificial Neural Networks, Deep Learning, Python, Google App Engine, Biology, Bioinformatics, Futurism, Game Development.
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