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SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 35/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/08/dopamine-gene-therapy-remyelination.html

Dopamine gene therapy, Remyelination cell therapy, Algebraic brain topology, Ginko custom microbes, Ultrasound protein imaging, MegaMIMO bandwidth boost, Thought activated DNA-bots, Light controlled CRISPR, Whole transparent organisms, Massively multicore chips.

1. Gene Therapy for Dopamine Production
A new treatment for Parkinson’s Disease is currently entering human clinical trials that involves genetically engineering the neurons of patients by administering large amounts of viruses that carry genes to better enable the brain to produce and manage dopamine https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602193/manufacturing-dopamine-in-the-brain-with-gene-therapy/. Early results with initial patients show promise, not only for restoring cognitive function, but also for circumventing the main drawback to conventional L-Dopa and dopamine treatments which is the development of resistance and the need for ever greater amounts of drug that has less effect. There are currently 48 human clinical trials underway for brain and CNS gene therapies and cell treatments.

2. Cell Therapy Boosts Remyelination in Brain
A cell therapy product incorporating macrophages and microglia is showing promise in animal studies for remyelinating neurons in the brain and actively reversing the demyelination associated with many diseases including Multiple Sclerosis https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/08/development-of-a-cell-therapy-to-increase-remyelination-in-the-brain/. Such a treatment might not only be used in treating various neurological diseases but administered on a routine basis to restore myelin levels to youthful states as desired.

3. Understanding the Brain with Algebraic Topology
Mathematical tools from the field of algebraic topology are being used to better characterise and understand the structure and function of the brain and its connectome https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602234/how-the-mathematics-of-algebraic-topology-is-revolutionizing-brain-science/. These new tools provide a different way of classifying nodes and loops, and for identifying these features at small and large scales. It should only be a matter of time before these additional tools and insights are incorporated into artificial machine learning systems.

4. Ginkgo Bioworks’ Custom Engineered Microbes
Synthetic biology company Ginkgo Bioworks continues to grow and develop custom genetically engineered yeasts that metabolise standard feedstocks under standard fermentation conditions to produce a range of different fragrances, flavours, cosmetics, and pesticides http://news.mit.edu/2016/startup-ginkgo-bioworks-engineered-yeast-0825. The company has scaled up, building a large automated foundry dedicated to rapid prototyping and rapidly generating custom yeasts to design specifications. These industrial synthetic biology facilities are starting to proliferate and at some point we can expect their capabilities to distributed to end users.

5. Engineered Proteins for Ultrasound Imaging
Newly engineered protein-shelled nanostructures known as gas vesicles, which reflect sound waves, can now give off far more distinct signals, target specific types of cells, and be used to generate “colour” ultrasound images https://www.caltech.edu/news/designing-ultrasound-tools-lego-proteins-51834. Swapping and modifying different proteins on the surface of the vesicles alters cell targeting, molecule targeting, and sensitivity to different ultrasound frequencies. Such devices can be injected wholesale into an animal for medical imaging purposes, or a gene therapy could deliver the code to cells needed to produce the vesicles from scratch. Applications include e.g. using ultrasound to produce overlapping images showing tumour cells, the immune cells attacking them, and the vascular cells supplying nutrients. I also wonder if these vesicles might be co-opted to facilitate respirocytes.

6. MegaMIMO Boosts Network Bandwidth
The MegaMIMO wireless data system has recently demonstrated three times faster bandwidth and twice the wireless range of conventional Multiple-Input Multiple-Output systems http://news.mit.edu/2016/solving-network-congestion-megamimo-0823. The system manages to synchronise transmitter phases to coordinate multiple access points at the same time on the same frequency without creating interference and in order to maximise the efficient utilisation of the available spectrum. Such a system should provide needed boosts to both cellular and WiFi communications.

7. DNA Robots Activated by Thoughts
This is an interesting if somewhat convoluted proof of concept for triggering the activation of DNA nanobots in a living animal just by thinking http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2016/08/thought-controlled-nanoscale-dna-robots.html. In this system (i) an EEG headset records and recognises particular mind states, (ii) particular mind states influence the strength of an electromagnetic field, (iii) the strength of the electromagnetic field heats up metal nanoparticles injected into an animal (the subject themselves or another), and (iv) past a certain threshold the heated metal nanoparticles cause programmed DNA origami structures on their surface to reversibly activate. In this case they proved that the DNA nanobots were able to induce a cellular effect.

8. Modified CRISPR Controlled by Light
On the topic of controllable nanobots, the CRISPR system is being further engineered and modified to produce versions that can be controllably switched on and off in different ways http://news.mit.edu/2016/using-light-control-genome-editing-0825. Some approaches modify the Cas9 enzyme itself to achieve this, but the present work builds on earlier approaches that engineered light-activated RNA interference in order to produce modified RNA guide strands that are only activated in the presence of certain wavelengths of light. This allows precision experiments for controlling the precise timing of gene editing and other cellular signalling events. Next steps are exploring therapeutic applications and improving the design with a more universal system.

9. Making Whole Organisms Transparent for Imaging
Continual improvements and refinements in imaging and chemical techniques for making organs transparent have resulted in methods that can now make entire organisms transparent while labelling almost any desired internal structure for imaging and analysis http://www.en.uni-muenchen.de/news/press-services/press-releases/2016/ertuerk_imaging.html. In this work with the new uDISCO technique whole rats were rendered transparent and their nervous systems labelled with fluorescent tags in order to produce high resolution images and maps of entire neuronal networks with subcellular detail while still embedded in their original tissues.

10. Massively Multicore Chips
The KiloCore chip contains 1,000 independently programmable processors was fabricated by IBM https://www.ucdavis.edu/news/worlds-first-1000-processor-chip/. The chip can process 115 billion instructions per second while dissipating just 0.7 Watts and has a number of novel features for applications including encoding/decoding, video processing, encryption. In related news a 25 core chip called Piton that is designed to more efficiently power massive cloud computing architectures https://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S47/19/67G69. Piton is designed to be scalable and so chips with thousands of cores and data centres with half a billion cores are envisaged.

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The Moral Roots of Liberals and Conservatives

Do you really, honestly, truly wish to better understand the world and your fellow man? To do so we need to break out of our limited moral matrix that dictates the lens through which we view the world and take a red pill, step outside of our comfort zone and take a renewed look at reality.

I thought this talk[1] by Psychologist Johnathan Haidt was so insightful that I should transcribe and summarise his presentation; when watching just be aware that it is presented to a particular audience.

I think presentations like this are crucially important for wider dissemination and consideration, especially in today’s toxic political climate. This toxicity usually stems from moral self-righteousness and a terribly tribalistic us versus them mindset. It births simplistic, outrageous, and misleading commentary on political candidates and political movements everywhere and one wonders if this might at some point threaten the very democratic process that has made all we have achieved possible.

Introduction

The worst idea in all of psychology is that the mind is a blank slate at birth; the initial organisation of the brain provides a first draft that experience then modifies. This initial first draft provides five core moral predispositions along particular axes:

1. Harm/Care
2. Fairness/Reciprocity (Golden Rule)
3. Ingroup/Loyalty
4. Authority/Respect
5. Purity/Sanctity

This initial first draft of human morality, present in the new human, is going to be altered and influenced depending on the environment that human grows up in. Regarding #3, the Ingroup/Loyalty measure, humans are the only animal that forms groups much larger than the family. This stems from our long tribal history, and is driven by a tribal psychology that is so deeply pleasurable that even when we don’t have tribes we go ahead and make them anyway. My post on cults from yesterday relates to this.

To study these five factors Johnathan’s team used http://www.yourmorals.org/ to collect measurements from a sample population of 30,000 people, and you can go a fill out the questions to see where your own morals fall as compared to everyone else. There are two very distinct categories that liberals and conservatives fall into; basically liberals believe morality only includes Harm/Care and Fairness/Reciprocity, while conservatives believe morality also includes the other three categories of Ingroup/Loyalty, Authority/Respect, and Purity/Sanctity.

The most important thing for those espousing only a two-channel morality is to understand why those espousing a five-channel morality believe that the other three channels matter. And in reverse, why the other three are discounted by those driven mainly by the two.

Conservatism is Important Because Order Tends to Decay
Cooperation with strangers and tragedies[2] of the commons are crucial problems that need to be solved by any successful and sustainable society, and the only way to do so is to enforce punishment of transgressors and cheats. Relying on people’s good motives is simply not enough, and those groups employing this strategy will fall into decline and fail. Interestingly, as an adaptation religion turns out to be very good at enforcing and incentivising prosocial behaviour.

The creation and maintenance of our civilisation necessitates the deployment of our entire moral toolbox, all five channels, in order to see the bigger picture and even have the hope of achieving higher, nobler outcomes. Order is desired even if it is sometimes unfair to some, and rampant diversity is suspect as it can lead to conflict and chaos.

Liberalism is Important as a Check to Oppression
Liberals reject the three channels and value diversity over the ingroup, disavow authority, and reject controls over what people can do to their body. This is often driven by noble motives as traditional morality can sometimes be oppressive and restrictive to individuals or groups. Change and justice is sought even at risk of losing order to chaos.

The fact is that order is very hard to achieve and very easy to lose.

Our morally righteous minds were designed to unite us into teams, set us against other teams, and blind us to the truth . . . because on issues of morality everybody thinks they are right. The goal needs to be to avoid self righteousness at all costs and to cultivate moral humility.

If you want the truth to stand before you, never be for or against. The struggle between “for” and “against” is the mind’s worst disease. - Sent-ts’an

1: TED presentation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SOQduoLgRw
2: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tragedy_of_the_commons

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No matter how tolerant, language barriers make things very difficult. Cultural differences and economic difficulties just pile on. All of these do not interact well with human psychology. This would test any society. As to whether more could be and could have been done I can say such is the case for some of the Eastern European countries which wilfully allowed many deaths but nothing like that for Sweden (although I do think they might now updating too much in the opposite direction)
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SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 34/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/08/jumping-robot-legs-uber-launches.html

Purifying carbon nanotubes, Anti-inflammatories for Alzheimer’s, Jumping robot legs, Protein sweeteners, Fortified GMO rice, Uber launches autonomous cars, Bacterial conducting nanowires, Superconducting electron superfluids, CRISPR for EvoDevo, Massively engineered genomes.

1. Purifying Carbon Nanotubes
One of the biggest obstacles to developing carbon nanotube applications is separating mixtures of carbon nanotubes to obtain pure samples of either metallic or semiconducting nanotubes depending on the requirements of the application. A new method for doing this involves a newly engineered polymer based on a template that was able to wash away semiconducting carbon nanotubes to leave metallic versions for use, but is now able to selectively wash away metallic carbon nanotubes to leave semiconducting versions for use http://dailynews.mcmaster.ca/article/mcmaster-researchers-resolve-a-problem-that-has-been-holding-back-a-technological-revolution/. Next step will be to make more efficient polymers and scale up production.

2. Anti-Inflammatory Drugs Treat Alzheimer's
Recent work shows that certain types of common Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs are effective in treating Alzheimer’s disease in animal models by completely reversing memory loss and brain inflammation http://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/news/treatment-option-for-alzheimers-disease-possible. Next steps will be to confirm that the effect carries over to humans and, with these drugs already on the market for other NSAID-related indications, seek approval for repurposing in light of side effects.

3. Explosive Jumping Robot Legs
A new “GOAT” robot leg design is capable of explosive jumping to twice its height that can also walking, running, and compliant landings http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/goat-robot-leg-demonstrates-explosive-jumping. Next step is to improve the hardware then mount the legs onto both bipedal and quadruped robots, which I think will be very impressive to see. In related robotic automation news, agricultural fruit and vegetable picking robots continue to get better with the demonstration of a new automated apple picker http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/industrial-robots/sri-spin-off-abundant-robotics-developing-autonomous-apple-vacuum.

4. Protein-based Artificial Sweeteners
A protein that occurs naturally in a West African fruit turns out to be 2,000 sweeter than sugar http://phys.org/news/2016-08-protein-big-sweetener.html. Producing the protein at scale for commercial uses has been problematic however, although in this recent work the use of genetically engineered yeast to produce larger amounts of the protein via fermentation is showing promise. A reliable source of protein-based, non-sugar, non-aspartame sweeteners would benefit the food and beverage industry by circumventing the different problems surrounding conventional sweeteners.

5. Engineered Rice Addresses Zinc & Iron Deficiency
A new type of genetically engineered rice that fixes and stores significantly more zinc and iron has been created that can improve the lives of those suffering from deficiencies, especially in the third world http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2016/08/modified-rice-has-five-times-zinc-and.html. This is a similar approach to the Golden Rice that has been around for a while that was engineered to produce more Vitamin A. In this case the iron and zinc content of grains was increased from ~3ppm to 15ppm and from 16ppm to 45ppm respectively. Next steps are to introduce the rice for cultivation in Bangladesh.

6. Uber Introduces Autonomous Car Service
Uber and Volvo will introduce a driverless taxi service in Pittsburgh this month using a fleet of 100 Volvo vehicles http://spectrum.ieee.org/cars-that-think/transportation/self-driving/uber-will-start-driverless-service-in-pittsburghthis-month. This won’t be a general-purpose service, but will rather ferry passengers between fixed points of interest around the city and the collaboration will further develop technology and mapping resources. The cars will apparently include “safety drivers” in the cars for the first rollout, not only to intervene if necessary but also to condition customers to get comfortable with autonomous taxis.

7. Producing Conducting Nanowires with Bacteria
Genetically engineered bacteria can now be controllably harnessed to produce electrically conducting nanowires http://www.onr.navy.mil/Media-Center/Press-Releases/2016/Geobacter.aspx. This builds on earlier work that first discovered and characterised the natural bacterial nanowires, which allowed the rational design of modified nanowires by rearranging amino acids into an improved architecture. The nanowires produced by the bacteria are protein-based, 2,000 times more conductive than natural counterparts, and measured 1.5 nanometers wide. Future applications include electronics, sensors, and as power conductors in microbial circuits.

8. Electron Superfluid Critical for High Temperature Superconductivity
Recent analysis of materials that perform as high temperature superconductors reveals that their atomic architecture facilitates the formation of electron pairs into an electron superfluid that flows without resistance https://www.bnl.gov/newsroom/news.php?a=11864. Analysing different types of these copper oxide materials (that include lanthanum and strontium) showed that differences in transition temperature between materials are determined by differences in the density of electron pairs. This challenges conventional theories of superconductivity and is hoped that this better understanding will lead to the design of materials with much higher, room-temperature transition temperatures.

9. CRISPR Accelerating the Field of Evolutionary Developmental Biology
CRISPR is having a transformative effect on the field of evolutionary developmental biology by allowing experiments to not only be done that could never be contemplated before but by significantly accelerating the rate and progress of the field http://www.nature.com/news/crispr-s-hopeful-monsters-gene-editing-storms-evo-devo-labs-1.20449. Recent work traced the gene changes required for (i) turning fins into feet, (ii) improving photoreceptors in butterflies to detect a broader spectrum of colours, and (iii) how crustaceans acquired claws. Future work will look to modify the genes and pathways involved in building chicken beaks to find the sequences required for building theropod dinosaur snouts; we might yet get our chickenosaurus.

10. Most Engineered Bacterial Genome
The most engineered and radically rewritten bacterial genome has been produced recently http://www.nature.com/news/radically-rewritten-bacterial-genome-unveiled-1.20451. The synthetic genome was synthesised with 3.8% of the original genome edited to replace 7 of 64 codons with code that produces the same components and so create an organism that functions on 57 instead of 64 codons. This would not have been possible even a few years ago and represents the largest completely synthesised genome with the most functional changes; next step is to boot it up into a functional cell.

Bonus: Festo’s Fantastic Flying Robots.
The latest robots from Festo are always a pleasure to behold http://spectrum.ieee.org/video/robotics/robotics-hardware/festos-fantastical-flying-robots

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+Adrian Reef Do you have a theory on Superconductivity that can predict what alloys will yield room temperature results?
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Proton Radius Anomaly

Obviously last week's news but still interesting, novel, and unexpected enough that I wanted to add it to this collection.

Recent work investigating the size of the simplest nuclei when orbited by electrons or muons revealed variations in the diameter of these simplest nuclei that are not accounted for by the best current theories.

The proton was measured to be slightly larger when orbited by an electron than when orbited by a (much heavier) muon. Likewise a deuteron (proton plus neutron) is also slightly larger when orbited by an electron than when orbited by a muon. Further, this effect appears to scale compared to the proton and offers the tantalising suggestion of new and unexplored fundamental physics.

There are a couple of other possible explanations that will need to be ruled out first of course.

Main: https://www.quantamagazine.org/20160811-new-measurement-deepens-proton-radius-puzzle/
Proton: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proton
Deuteron: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deuterium
Muon: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muon 
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Perdón no se ese idioma en inglés x fabor tradusirme grasias
 ·  Translate
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SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 32/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/08/negative-poissons-ratio-ibm.html

Negative Poisson’s ratio, IBM lab on chip, IBM neuromorphic computing, Single pixel cameras, Magnetic atom chains, On-chip LIDAR, Code patching bots, Airship fixing bots, Resistant productive microbes, Novel electrical materials.

1. Materials with Negative Poisson’s Ratio
Materials with a positive Poisson’s ratio contract when stretched, but those with a negative ratio actually expand when stretched, and while rare metamaterials are being engineered to create materials that possess this property of expanding when stretched http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=44123.php. This review article digs into the negative Poisson’s ratio materials that already exist as well as laying out avenues for exploring ever better materials with beneficial mechanical properties such as shear resistance, indentation resistance, and fracture toughness. I’d even just like to play with a strip of this stuff.

2. IBM’s Latest Lab on a Chip
IBM’s latest microfluidic lab on a chip devices are capable of size-based separation of biological particles down to 20nm, a scale that allows DNA, viruses, and cellular exosomes to be separated out http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/50275.wss. Working with researchers they are examining exosome communication and signalling between cells, and working with clinicians they are using the new capability in a similar way to diagnose cancer and other diseases. The architecture of the device allows variable particle separations under continuous flow and can actually split a mixture of many different particle sizes into a spread of defined particle streams, analogous to a prism splitting light. Meanwhile other microfluidic systems are replicating the connections between neurons and muscle fibers http://news.mit.edu/2016/replicating-connection-between-muscles-and-nerves-0803.

3. IBM’s Latest Neuromorphic Computing Device
IBM’s latest brain-like computing hardware has demonstrated chips that produce spiking neuromorphic features using phase-change materials to store and process data http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/50297.wss. IBM’s phase-change technology platform has already demonstrated novel memory techniques, but these new neuromorphic applications can perform data correlation detection and also unsupervised learning at high speed and low energy; updating these phase-change neurons requires just five picojoules. When will we start to see these things appearing in robots?

4. Single Pixel Camera Advances
The latest advance in computational photography using single-pixel cameras now enables single-pixel camera devices to not only produce human-like foveated images in which the center is captured in high-resolution and periphery in low-resolution, but can now also move this foveated region around to follow objects in the field of view https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602090/single-pixel-camera-reaches-milestone-mimicking-human-vision/. The system can produce two moveable foveated regions, works in visible and infrared, and might enable applications in terahertz imaging for which single pixel sensors are available and arrays are not, as well as allowing conventional trade-offs between resolution and framerate to be optimised on the fly for general imaging systems.

5. One Dimensional Magnetic Atom Chains
That’s a headline I didn’t expect to write this side of 2020. By combining a process of evaporating metals onto a surface with the controlled introduction of oxygen, one dimensional magnetic atom chains bordered by oxygen can now be created, and all via a process of self-assembly http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/semiconductors/materials/onedimensional-magnetic-atom-chain-forged. Metals explored as part of the proof-of-concept include Mn, Fe, Co, & Ni. The atom chains cover the entire surface, space 0.8nm apart, and up to 500 atoms long without a single structural defect. In the new one dimensional state the different metal atoms exhibit altered magnetic properties including non-magnetic, ferromagnetic, & anti-ferromagnetic. Such structures may have applications in high-density data storage but the advance will be a boon to studying and controlling one dimensional systems in general.

6. On-Chip LIDAR Systems
Recent advances in developing on-chip LIDAR systems for 3D mapping and ranging local environments using conventional semiconductor fabrication techniques look set to produce complete LIDAR systems smaller than a dime at less than $10 per unit http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/semiconductors/optoelectronics/mit-lidar-on-a-chip. While not only being orders of magnitude smaller than conventional systems, and orders of magnitude cheaper, the devices have 1,000 times faster image scanning. There is a roadmap to boost field of view from 50 to 100 degrees, from 2m to 10m soon and 100m later in range, and further boosting resolution. These systems are going to be absolute game changers for autonomous vehicles, robots, drones, and our smart devices generally, massively boosting their ability to move about in the real world. Spectrum shared a big drone sporting big LIDAR system navigating a barn this week, as part of http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/drones/video-friday-drone-with-lidar-robot-tai-chi-strange-android.

7. Smarter Bots Fix Malicious Code
New machine learning approaches are able to search hacker marketplaces and other hidden parts of the Web to help find and identify zero day exploits and other critical software vulnerabilities in order to drastically improve the ability of organisations to fix broken code and distribute patches before they can be exploited https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602115/machine-learning-algorithm-combs-the-darknet-for-zero-day-exploits-and-finds-them/. In related news DARPA’s Grand Cyber Challenge continues to encourage the development of ever-better software systems able to quickly find and fix a range of different software bugs better than human teams can http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/telecom/security/autonomous-supercomputers-seek-and-destroy-software-bugs-in-darpa-cyber-grand-challenge.

8. Spider Bots Monitor Airships
Lockheed Martin has developed a SPIDER bot platform that involves groups of robots that move around and inspect the skin of an airship for tiny pinholes that are difficult for humans to detect, which can then be quickly patched and sealed to prevent the leakage of Helium http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/industrial-robots/how-lockheed-martin-spider-blimp-fixing-robot-works. While this is a prototype autonomous inspection and repair system that should contribute to airship safety and cost reduction, the team hope that further development will allow such systems to function in-flight as needed in a range of conditions.

9. Resistant Productive Microbial Fermenters
To combat the problem of undesirable contaminant microbes growing in fermenters and bioreactors with productive microbes and so serving to decrease and contaminate yields, productive microbes are being engineered to be able to extract the vital growth nutrients nitrogen and phosphorous from unconventional xenobiotic compounds http://news.mit.edu/2016/microbial-engineering-technique-could-reduce-contamination-biofermentation-plants-0804. In some cases this involved the addition of six genes to provide the enzymatic processing network needed to extract nutrients from the xenobiotic compounds; contaminant microbes lacking these pathways are unable to use the nutrients and are massively outcompeted by the productive microbes.

10. Novel Electrical Materials
Some interesting new electrical materials and devices this week. First, nanoparticles of topological insulators appear to provide a platform for strong coupling between a single photon and a single electron that could be useful for photonics and optoelectronics in future http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/newsandeventspggrp/imperialcollege/newssummary/news_4-8-2016-11-5-15. Second, a layer of buckyballs proves important in creating tiny on-chip diodes that conduct electricity 1,000 times more effectively on one direction as opposed to the other http://science.energy.gov/bes/highlights/2016/bes-2016-08-a/. Third, graphene appears to facilitate a novel property of electrons called pseudospin http://phys.org/news/2016-08-electrons-electronics.html. Finally, the ability to create and manipulate two-dimensional sheets of silicon, or silicene, for electronics applications takes a major step forward http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/semiconductors/materials/breakthrough-in-silicene-production-promises-a-future-of-silicenebased-electronics.

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6 has space applications all over the place. A tiny LIDAR unit like that would save weight on any spacecraft intended for docking manoeuvres, including those rendezvousing with asteroids. It would speed up the autonomous driving of planetary rovers which currently rely heavily on image recognition software to plot a safe course. 100m is about half of Curiosity's daily progress, so would be plenty of range for such applications.

Nice to see graphene still makes a regular appearance too!
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Patreon

Who else uses Patreon? Which creators do you support? I signed up last month in order to contribute at least a small, token monthly amount towards YouTube creators whose content I appreciate and some of which have videos that are occasionally demonetised by YouTube. These include:

Kraut and Tea
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCr_Q-bPpcw5fJ-Oow1BW1NQ
Rationalist social and political commentary by an eloquent yet forcefully spoken German.

Gad Saad
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLH7qUqM0PLieCVaHA7RegA
Great interviews with diverse guests, rationalist social and political commentary and dissections, free speech promotion, all from a Jewish Lebanese Canadian Professor.

Computing Forever
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCT9D87j5W7PtE7NHOR5DUOQ
Mix of technology reviews and social / political commentary by a principled Irishman.

The Rubin Report
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJdKr0Bgd_5saZYqLCa9mng
Interesting, frank, and open interviews with diverse thinkers, conversations on free speech and political correctness, led by a Californian.

Sargon of Akkad
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-yewGHQbNFpDrGM0diZOLA
Rationalist social and political commentary on many matters from a thorough Englishman.

Black Pigeon Speaks
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmrLCXSDScliR7q8AxxjvXg
Rationalist cultural and political commentary by a skilled video producer of unknown origin who collates exhaustive links and references.

Aside from Patreon and Paypal or Bitcoin does anyone use any other online tipping or subscriber / payment support platform?


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I love the Rubin Report! Computing Forever looks good, thanks!
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CS Lewis' Humanitarian Theory of Punishment

This is CS Lewis' (the Narnia author) essay on the Humanitarian Theory of Punishment[1] and is wonderfully narrated and animated by the CSLewisDoodle channel[2]. This essay argues a critique of the humanitarian (as opposed to retributive) theory of punishment and presents a range of interesting ideas and concepts on criminal justice that I hadn't explicitly encountered before. I found it interesting as the first criticism I've ever heard of humanitarian punishment being potentially unjust and immoral.

There are several key words or sentences in the presentation that may trigger objections or counter points, and the positions put forth by Lewis are not without criticism[3]. But overall I found it interesting, as an atheist, that I'm able to appreciate - if not completely swallow - the positions put forth by a prominent Christian apologist. The style of writing or wordsmithing is itself excellent, and of a sophistication that we may have lost.

The essay on subjectivity[4] is also very good for similar reasons as it forces you to think about and question some fairly fundamental things from a perspective that you may not have encountered before.

1. Main video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxwnHVr192A
2. CSLewisDoodle channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCw-kYN6wWXWDyp_lB0wnlxw has a library of these essays.
3. Selected criticisms http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com.au/2007/05/c-s-lewis-resources-pro-and-con.html
[4] The Poison of Subjectivity https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lgcd6jvsCFs

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Deen Abiola's profile photoPaul Forster's profile photoBill DeWitt's profile photoJason Anderson's profile photo
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Good video.
I've been stuck on jury duty for two weeks now (and not done yet), and it too has made me rethink my opinions on the legal system.
The subjectivism video is good as well.
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Modern Day Cults can Wield Considerable Influence

This is an excellent presentation and blog post reviewing a book that resulted from the psychological study and research of cults and cult-like behaviour. There were a number of times when I felt chills down my spine while listening, as I realised that the behaviour and actions being discussed were descriptive of influential mainstream groups, organisations, and movements in the real world today. Some of which wield considerable cultural and political power.

Also, we’re all a little bit cultish in our behaviour and even if that typically doesn’t manifest to the extent of actual “cult membership” it is more prudent, more necessary, and more important than ever to question one’s beliefs regularly and deeply. Deliberate exposure to ideas and content outside of your typical media consumption and social exposure can make this necessary process easier.

I’ve started to wonder if the dynamics of the Internet and the media consumption behaviours it encourages in all of us actually serve to exploit the idiosyncrasies of human psychology to make the formation of cults and cult-like behaviour much easier, and much more effective than we really appreciate. The filter bubbles. The echo chambers. The self-righteous morally outraged victimhood culture. The politics of the other. The suppression and censorship of dissent. All feedback powerfully one on the other to make modern day cults that much more powerful, invisible, and pervasive.

Groupthink, wrongthink, and doublethink are all endemic to cults.

Selected Excerpts

Here’s a selection of key excerpts if you don’t have time for the entire presentation, which lasts for a bit of 30 minutes, or for the blog post, which is lengthy. But I’d encourage one or the other if you can manage it.

The structure of cults is basically authoritarian; obedience and hierarchical power tend to take precedence over truth and conscience when they conflict, which they often do. Unfortunately, certain psychological benefits can make authoritarian groups very attractive – they provide the opportunity to feel protected and cared forIntelligent, well-educated people join cults because they simultaneously desire a sense of working for a higher purpose and because they are afraid of being on their own.

What I wish to stress is not that every group is a cult, but that cult thinking is the effect of psychological forces endemic to the human mind, and that these forces operate in the everyday life of each of us; they distort perception, bias thinking, and inculcate belief … and while not all cults require a formal leader as such, the authority figures … empower the group by giving them a source of confidence and righteousness that enables them to delegitimise dissenting points of view through their air of authority.

Projection offers protection from the anxiety of being bad and the punishment of being abandoned. In addition, by making other people bad in our own mind, we can legitimise behaviour toward them that would otherwise be morally unacceptable, even to the point of sanctioning cruel and vicious actionsProjection is is infused with self-righteousness to increase moral security. If the group member represents all that is good and the outsider represents all that is bad, it is natural to feel morally superior. It allows the group member to separate the world into a false dichotomy in which they have chosen the sacred path and the path the outsider has chosen is profanePerhaps the most important thing to understand about devaluing the outsider is that it is a necessary preliminary to harming others, to doing violence.

Only a lively appreciation of dissent’s vital function at all levels of society can preserve it as a corrective to wishful thinking, self-inflation and unperceived rigidity.

A cult is a group fantasy created and maintained around specific beliefs for the emotional protection of its members. If information or opinions exist that contradicts the dogma or goals of the group, the only protective measure the group can take is suppression. Thus the core philosophy of the group becomes rooted in the distortion, if not outright fabrication, of reality. This censorship does not have to be as overtly authoritarian as one might imagine.

Care to suggest any groups this reminds you of?

Sources
Main video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htqOIjzi-jE
Blog transcript: https://therationalists.org/2016/08/17/cult-behaviour-an-analysis/
Second video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxO_UWr43Rw - this covers case studies of actual cults and is also worth a listen.

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Matthew J Price's profile photoTim Stoev's profile photoJason Anderson's profile photoMark Bruce's profile photo
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Aye +Jason Anderson, the various offshoots of progressivism seem to me to be the most insidious and dangerous cults operating today. More so because their tactics are more sophisticated, exploiting altruism to turn it against itself. 
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Prediction for Google's Fuchsia OS

My prediction for Google's mysterious new Fuchsia OS program isn't one that I've seen suggested yet, although given the nature of ideas I'm pretty sure this has occurred to a great many people already. The framework certainly has.

I don't buy the Internet of Things angle, for which we have Brillo, nor the Android + Chrome merger angle, for which we already have Android Apps hitting Chrome this year, nor the VR OS for which we've already seen Daydream and other approaches.

The only option that makes sense to me is that Fuchsia is the predictable evolution for Google Assistant into a stand alone AI OS. We've seen Google Now develop into Google Now on Tap and this year into Google Assistant, which will play an ever bigger role in the latest iteration of Android N as well as power key messaging apps such as Allo and others to start with. Then combine this with App Streaming that Google is playing with and this year's release of Instant Apps, and you basically have embryonic capabilities for genuinely app-less functions on demand with different chunks of apps or core capabilities available on demand as needed and depending on the context of the situation.

I'll go out and "predict" that Fuchsia will be an "app-less" AI OS, an ever-more-capable Google Assistant that you interact with to get anything and everything done.

Main: http://www.androidpolice.com/2016/08/12/google-developing-new-fuchsia-os-also-likes-making-new-words/
Instant Apps: http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2016/05/android-instant-apps-will-blur-the-lines-between-apps-and-mobile-sites/
Google Now: http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2015/05/android-ms-google-now-on-tap-shows-contextual-info-at-the-press-of-a-button/
Google Assistant: https://techcrunch.com/2016/05/18/google-unveils-google-assistant-a-big-upgrade-to-google-now/
Framework, Future without Apps: https://medium.com/fwd-thoughts/the-future-is-without-apps-ddf43ec52aab#.t3ks89jzs 
Every single operating system developed by Google to date has one thing in common: they're based on the Linux kernel. Chrome OS, Android, Chromecasts, you... by Corbin Davenport in Development, News
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Google gift.....
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SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 33/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/08/engineering-biological-machines-neural.html

Engineering biological machines, Neural dust developments, Tailored AFM probes, BEC optical computer, Faceless recognition systems, Propelled liquid metals, Nanobead optical superlens, Custom ion pores, Optogenetic neural networks, Proton size discrepancy.

1. Engineering Biological Machines
An interesting advance in synthetic biology involved engineering a light-driven cell membrane proton-pump in order to enable it to be further controlled by being chemically switched on and off http://www.unibe.ch/news/media_news/media_relations_e/media_releases/2016_e/media_releases_2016/synthetic_biology_engineering_a_chemical_switch_into_a_light_driven_proton_pump/index_eng.html. The interesting thing here is the use of two types of the protein, each of which is oriented facing-in or facing-out from the cell, driven by light to create or remove proton gradients across the cell wall that is crucial for driving many cellular processes. One or the other of these processes can then be controlled at will in order to control the gradient that is needed for driving a particular process or application.

2. Latest Developments in Neural Dust
Neural dust has taken the next step with a 3mm long batteryless implantable device for implantation against muscles and peripheral nerves, and most recently demonstrated in animal experiments http://news.berkeley.edu/2016/08/03/sprinkling-of-neural-dust-opens-door-to-electroceuticals/. The devices are powered by external ultrasound to detect, process, and transmit neural signals for remote control of devices and prosthetics for example. The roadmap includes coating with materials able to last more than a decade in the body, commercialising applications for these larger peripheral devices, and further miniaturising towards 50 microns for genuine brain-computer interfaces.

3. Tailored AFM Probes
New 3D confocal laser lithography techniques allow custom atomic force microscope probes to be fabricated on demand depending on the required purpose http://www.kit.edu/kit/english/pi_2016_111_tailored-probes-for-atomic-force-microscopes.php. Custom probes are usually made manually and expensive; this new approach allows researchers to design the shape of the probe they need then have the system automatically sculpt a probe tip that can then be placed on any commercially available AFM measurement needles to begin working straight away. Nice example of the benefits of modularity in technology.

4. BEC Optical Computer
For the first time a Bose-Einstein Condensate has been harnessed to work as an optical computer http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/semiconductors/optoelectronics/a-polariton-boseeinsten-condensate-for-switching-and-storing-optical-data. BECs can be induced to form quasiparticles comprised of photons and electron-hole pairs (called exciton polaritons) that are able to store information in a couple of ways. When this type of BEC is trapped between thin layers of semiconductor low-energy voltage pulses can be used to read and write data in the BEC. This appears to be one of the first times a practical device has been built with a BEC, a good fundamental advance.

5. Faceless Recognition Systems
Automated face recognition systems have now reached the point of being faceless recognition systems, at least as far as this new prototype neural network system is concerned http://motherboard.vice.com/read/faceless-recognition-system-can-identify-you-even-when-you-hide-your-face. The system predicts the identity of obscured faces by examining other salient features in the scene; recognition accuracy rises from 70% with just 1.25 instances of a fully-visible face, to 92% for 10 instances of the person’s face. While the system is particular to certain situations and does have some weaknesses, it does constitute a privacy concern for those seeking to remain anonymous.

6. Self-Propelled Liquid Metals
Work with liquid metals including non-toxic alloys of gallium promises malleable, self-propelled liquid metal systems for electronics and other applications https://www.rmit.edu.au/news/all-news/2016/august/liquid-metals-propel-future-electronics. These latest materials were tested in microfluidic systems in which tweaks to the pH and salt of the surrounding fluid induced controllable movements and shape changes of liquid metal droplets, and used to create moving objects, switches, and pumps. The end-goal here in future might be things like reconfigurable electronic circuits, displays, and other devices.

7. Nanobead Optical Superlens
Titanium dioxide nanoparticles have been used to fabricate a 3D superlens that uses the refractive properties of the nanoparticles to achieve super-resolution optical microscopy with conventional microscopes, and appearing to resolve surface features below 60nm http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-08/bu-sti080816.php. As a proof of concept the group used the lens with a conventional microscope to image the groves and information stored on the surface a Blu-Ray disc, something that is impossible with conventional microscopes. Cheap, easy, and versatile extension to any optical microscopy system.

8. Custom Ion-Selective Pores
A new synthetic ion-recognition system has been developed for selective ion transport that can be customised and fine-tuned depending on the ion that needs to be isolated http://www.research.a-star.edu.sg/research/7539/ringing-the-changes. The basic architecture consists of a macrocycle ring molecule whose internal cavity is adjusted in order to pick out particular metal ions from many different others. The current prototypes are selective for Cs, Ag, and K, but the platform provides many avenues for further engineering to capture other metal ions. Applications will include molecular sensing, water purification, microfluidics, and even synthetic biology.

9. Reprogram Brain Networks with Optogenetics
The latest work on optogenetics in mice demonstrates that neural networks in the brain trained to fire together can be reactivated later if just one neuron is stimulated, and also lending direct support to Hebbian learning http://datascience.columbia.edu/researchers-reprogram-network-brain-cells-light. The work involved stimulating just 20 neurons out of the mouse’s 100 million and was achieved by using two-photon stimulation and two-photon calcium imaging. The optogenetically-treated and stimulated neurons were located in the mouse’s visual cortex and the group propose behavioural tests to determine if stimulating the network with light induces an image or visual artifact in the animal’s awareness.

10. Better Measurements of Proton and Deuteron
Another excellent article by Natalie Wolchover covering recent work investigating measurements of the size of fundamental particles including the proton and deuteron suggests that fundamental theories may need to be updated https://www.quantamagazine.org/20160811-new-measurement-deepens-proton-radius-puzzle/. The proton is measured to be slightly larger when orbited by an electron than when orbited by a (much heavier) muon. New work shows that a deuteron (proton plus neutron) is also slightly larger when orbited by an electron than when orbited by a muon, an effect that appears to scale compared to the proton and offering interesting avenues to explore.

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David Alan Gilbert's profile photoJames Field's profile photoAdrian Reef's profile photo
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wish I could play with those toys on a daily basis x) that super lens though,I wonder when we will have the pleasure to see it applied to telescopes! Astonishing!
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Explaining a Quantum Phenomenon Classically

Strong coupling is the phenomenon whereby light and matter are both affected by the interactions of one on the other and has been considered a purely quantum mechanical effect. To study this a group looked at a collection of tens to hundreds of millions of electrons on the surface of liquid helium, locked in a cavity containing electromagnetic waves.

http://www.oist.jp/news-center/news/2016/8/2/bridging-gap-between-quantum-and-classical-worlds

Based on their observations and data collected the group were able to create a classical, predictive model to describe the strong coupling phenomenon they were observing.

I like this result because it is an example of curious people striking out against the entrenched dogma of a field, daring to ask questions that might not be typically tolerated - especially in this case as strong coupling is often important for quantum computing applications (although it does not imply that quantum computing fundamentals are classical of course). 
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It seems like i can relate to this between two people, 
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SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 31/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/07/assembling-protein-nanostructures.html

Assembling protein nanostructures, Superatom molecules, Printable Lego Microfluidics, Advanced 3D printing, Cockroach milk, Drone 3D mapping, Microbial production systems, Telomerase therapeutics, WiFi contact lens, Nanostructures control light.

1. Large Self-Assembling Protein Nanostructures
A DARPA project has used computational methods to screen hundreds of thousands of different protein combinations to find those candidates that self assemble into cages, and then successfully produced these structures inside living cells http://www.darpa.mil/news-events/2016-07-21. Progress appears to be quite rapid with the group successfully creating a 120-subunit icosahedron out of self-assembling proteins inside a genetically engineered cell, being the largest of a diverse family of different protein cages that have now been produced. The team claims this work “opens the door to a new generation of genetically programmable protein-based molecular machines.” It’ll be interesting to see how they further functionalise these things.

2. Building Molecules Out of Superatoms
Superatoms, nanoscale clusters of atoms that behave as a single atomic entity, offer a fascinating and huge space of new materials exploration. In recent work, simple molecules or supermolecules, are being created out of superatoms http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/2016/07/molecule-clusters-superatoms-superatomic-structure. These supermolecules have well defined surface definition, bonding, and electrochemistry and were made with cobalt selenide superatoms, demonstrating a versatile platform for exploring the space of superatom molecules and properties. Interesting, fundamental materials platform. Meanwhile super-ions are boosting perovskite solar cell performance http://phys.org/news/2016-07-materials-based-clusters-atoms-super-ions.html.

3. Modular Lego Microfluidics
3D printable Microfluidic Evolutionary Components (MECs) represent a powerful new modular microfluidics experimentation and prototyping platform https://3dprint.com/143152/3dp-modular-lab-instruments/. So far there is a library of 200 different MECs for different microfluidic functions such as pumps, valves, storage, mixing, etc that can be 3D printed and connected together via standard interfaces to create custom circuits to perform as novel chemical and biological research instruments. This has the potential to be transformative for both DIYers and industrial research labs, able to accelerate innovation, and deliver unexpected results.

4. Pushing the Envelope with 3D Printing
The Lawrence Livermore Lab is pushing 3D printing this week. First, they can now hierarchically build ultralight flexible metallic structures with fractal lattices that have feature scales in the nm to cm range https://www.llnl.gov/news/new-study-unlocks-potential-ultra-lightweight-and-flexible-3d-printed-metallic-materials, although the technique first prints in polymer that is removed after coating in metal. Second, newer metal 3D printers are being used to build lasers, supports, and optics, and including diagnostic sensors to confirm the part will perform as predicted once finished https://www.llnl.gov/news/3d-printing-could-revolutionize-laser-design.

5. Cockroach Milk?
It turns out that certain cockroaches produce a type of protein-crystal “milk” to feed it’s young, and this protein complex happens to four times as nutritious as cows milk, contains proteins with all essential amino acids, as well as fats and sugars like a complete food http://www.sciencealert.com/scientists-show-why-we-should-all-start-drinking-cockroach-milk. The gene sequence has now been identified and efforts are underway to engineer yeast to produce bulk volumes artificially. Maybe a future version of the Soylent food replacement powder / drink will include a dose of cockroach milk protein as a more robust and well-rounded food supplement?

6. High-Res 3D Mapping via Drones
Lockheed Martin has developed Hydra Fusion, a system that allows drones to quickly and easily produce 3D topographic maps of landscapes and features https://www.newscientist.com/article/2098120-stitching-a-drones-view-of-the-world-into-3d-maps-as-it-flies/. People have been trying to do this for a while of course, and the article mentions a number of other efforts in this space in addition to applications including estimating mining ore volumes, toxic material released, crop growth, construction project progress, rail movements, and others. I wonder if Google will ever commission a Drone-view project to embed high-res 3D topography across Maps/Earth like it does for Street-view?

7. Advanced Microbial Production Systems
Another DARPA project has resulted in the creation of a microbe bioreactor for producing different pharmaceuticals as needed http://news.mit.edu/2016/portable-device-produces-biopharmaceuticals-on-demand-0729. The device is a microfluidic chip containing a population of genetically engineered yeast cells that respond to different simple feedstocks to produce doses of either human growth hormone or interferon, plus systems for keeping the cells alive and filtering media. Different cells might be used to produce a huge range of different drugs from the same chip in future; I see this as another step on the path towards mature productive nanosystems. Meanwhile smart building bricks have been created with microbial fuel cells embedded to produce electricity, clean water, and create detergents http://info.uwe.ac.uk/news/uwenews/news.aspx?id=3428.

8. Telomerase Therapeutics for Aging
Recent human clinical trials have shown that dosing patients with the synthetic male hormone danazol actually works to stimulate the production of the telomerase enzyme, and causing telomeres to be extended in cells at a rate about 3-fold greater than the rate they would normally be lost http://www.sciencealert.com/a-new-hormone-treatment-can-reverse-cell-ageing-in-humans. This is a commonly available drug, used off-label in many cases, but check the wikipedia listing for possible side effects. Still, might be an interesting temporary drug to try in order to gain a few extra healthy years, similar to Bioviva’s telomerase gene therapy. A recent review of Telomerase as a therapeutic target provides far more detail and nuance https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/07/a-review-of-telomerase-as-a-therapeutic-target/.

9. WiFi Enabled Smart Contact Lens
New antennas (and antenna materials) and wireless communication protocols employing the phenomenon of backscattering allow tiny unpowered devices to convert Bluetooth signals into power that is then used to produce WiFi signals for data transmission https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602035/first-wi-fi-enabled-smart-contact-lens-prototype/. The devices basically use the equivalent of Bluetooth white noise generated by a nearby device to broadcast WiFi data to a range of a little over 24 inches, which is sufficient for these types of applications. Prototypes include functional contact lenses and implantable devices.

10. Advanced Light Manipulation for Displays and Data
First, new metasurfaces comprised of precisely arranged nano-scale blocks arrayed as pixels can manipulate light to produce colour holograms http://phys.org/news/2016-07-high-efficiency-holograms-metasurface-nanoblocks.html; by changing the orientation of the blocks it is easy to produce different holographic images with different colour properties as desired. Second, new on-chip laser architectures produce vortex lasers with corkscrew encoding to achieve 10 times greater data capacity http://www.buffalo.edu/news/releases/2016/07/034.html.

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Chris Harpner (CSharpner)'s profile photoMark Bruce's profile photoNinja On Rye's profile photoDonald Harlan's profile photo
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Wow high tech 🤘
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Hi, I’m Mark. I am a unique selfplex of knowledgeable, technophilic, and insatiably-curious memes currently residing on organic wetware with a personable and engaging predisposition, which is acutely aware of being a small but furiously spinning cog in the great meme-machine built by the human civilisation. 
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