SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - Week 7 of 2012A very brief selection of some of the more interesting scientific and technological advances that I discovered this week.
* Very Cool
Implantable, wirelessly controlled drug delivery chip for metered release of drug reservoirs http://www.mit.edu/newsoffice/2012/wireless-drug-delivery-0216.html
but I think this is damn cool
from the perspective of being a platform
that can be further extended and exploited by, for example, being equipped to make its own supply of drugs after being hooked to use resources from the persons own body.
* Very Very Cool
Palm-sized USB-powered DNA sequencer http://www.nanoporetech.com/news/press-releases/view/39
. . . I don't need to say much more, really.
* So Damn Cool It Blows My Mind
Programmable DNA Origami drug delivery system that is able to target particular cells and deliver particular drugs or proteins to modulate or kill that cell http://www.nature.com/news/dna-robot-could-kill-cancer-cells-1.10047
. . . DNA Origami continues to consistently blow my mind.
* Gene Therapy still developing strongly with (i) an effective and new transfection technique http://www.polymtl.ca/carrefour/en/article.php?no=3785
and (ii) more good news for gene therapy clinical trials to cure blindness http://singularityhub.com/2012/02/16/gene-therapy-for-blind-again-a-success-more-patients-to-be-treated/
* Improvements in the fabrication of Metal-Organic-Frameworks for gas & energy storage, catalysis design & sensing http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=24300.php
* Fully-integrated optical microchips cannot get here soon enough http://www.mit.edu/newsoffice/2012/manufacturing-optical-chips-0215.html
* Given the ubiquity of electric motors in our world, and the familiarity we have with our soft meat muscles the development of artificial and effective yet soft motors / muscles will be interesting to watch http://www.physorg.com/news/2012-02-soft-motor-artificial-muscles.html
* I always enjoy developments in computational photography; this new suit of algorithms to remove unwanted passers-by is nice http://www.gizmag.com/remove-app-bystanders-photos/21456/
* All I Can Say is WOW!
Layered mass production and fabrication of 3D MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical-systems) powered robots and other devices http://www.seas.harvard.edu/news-events/press-releases/pop-up-flying-robots
see the video of this post . . . as I pick my jaw off the ground I'll mention some interesting requirements from Disqus commenter "Tom Craver" - (1) Automated design software to enable the rapid conversion of people's designs into actual structures that can be made and (2) Create a 6-degrees-of-freedom micro-assembler (think of the fast 3-armed robots used for sorting on production lines).
* Novel metal alloys that employ different polyhedra structures to encase multiple other structures within http://esciencenews.com/articles/2012/02/07/a.bronze.matryoshka.doll.the.metal.metal.metal
* Proposal for high-density chicken farming . . . with a twist . . . which is . . . the removal of the parts of chicken brains able to experience pain and discomfort http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2012-02/15/andre-ford-chicken-farming
* Spray-on antenna applications for wireless communication might be interesting http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/02/spray-on-antenna-double-cellphone.html
* Mimicking the fine structure of butterfly wings to enable advanced thermal imaging applications http://www.genewscenter.com/Press-Releases/New-Butterfly-inspired-Design-From-GE-To-Enable-More-Advanced-Low-Cost-Thermal-Imaging-Devices-3663.aspx
* Accelerating developments with online University education (i) http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2011/mitx-education-initiative-1219.html
and (ii) http://singularityhub.com/2012/02/13/can-a-free-online-education-land-you-a-job-the-era-of-online-education-dawns/
I personally think that traditional Universities are going to be in big trouble as these systems mature. It is good for the employer (graduate degree from prestigious institute) and good for the graduate (much cheaper, best curriculum, best teachers).
* Boosting the repair of neuronal myelin sheaths in the brain http://www.fightaging.org/archives/2012/02/boosting-repair-of-myelin-sheaths-in-the-brain.php
. . . and an interesting suggestion to design artificial materials to be taken up by existing myelin that serve to enhance neuronal signalling speed - possibly leading to cognition enhancements.
* Metamaterials are always cool. But here's a novel application to use them to shield buildings from earthquakes and seismic waves http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/arxiv/27566/?ref=rss
* A couple of developments with autonomous self-driving cars include (i) Nevada passing legislation to begin allowing such vehicles on its roads http://www.physorg.com/news/2012-02-nevada-self-driving-cars.html
, and (ii) sensor & automatic warning systems starting to trickle down into cheaper vehicles http://www.technologyreview.com/communications/39747/
* Finally, time crystals. Crystals whose ordered structure is only visible across time
? Intriguing. I definitely need to ponder this some more http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/arxiv/27583/?ref=rss