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SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - Week 22 of 2012
A Top 10 selection of the scientific and technological advances that I discovered this week.

1. Creating Matter From “Nothing”.
The team that formulated the original mathematics to describe invisibility cloaks via metamaterials and also wormholes that transport waves, have described a system that can create matter waves inside a cavity “out of nothing” First step is to make a minimal proof-of-concept device that is able to do just that, next would be the creation of an entire atom or molecule. Makes me wonder whether, maybe way down the track, you could produce whole, complex, macroscopic objects if you were able to inject enough energy into the system, a la the Star Trek replicator? Related news shows a team trapping exitons in a condensate trap to form a giant matter wave

2. Mechanical Metamaterials That Stretch When Compressed.
Wow. Just wow. So this team has created metamaterials that contract under tension (or being pulled) rather than stretching, and that stretch or expand when being compressed (or squeezed) This is completely counter-intuitive and amazing for being an effect of purely mechanical force . . . but then again all everyday forces that we apply are mediated by the electromagnetic force, which is routinely manipulated by metamaterials. Quoted applications include body armour for military uses, but I think that is lazy thinking. The force characteristics of this phenomenon remind me of the gluon-mediated nuclear strong force between quarks and nucleons, because when you try to pull these things apart the force holding them together increases - opposite to that between charged or massive bodies. I think the applications from this could be so much more

3. Cleverly Repairing Spinal Injuries.
Researchers have enabled paralysed rats to walk again with a combination of electrical and chemical stimulation applied to their spine, in a process that allows voluntary initiation of the circuits - mainly in the lower spine - that control walking. Related news showed a group discovering how the zebra fish can heal its spinal cord after injury, that might possibly lead to spinal regeneration for humans in future. 

4. New Milestone In Whole-Brain Mapping Reached.
A neuroscience laboratory has used a new shot-gun automated imaging method to complete the first draft of a mouse brain connectome or complete circuit diagram Much of the data is publicly accessible too, and you can explore this brain yourself at Just like the early days of automated DNA sequencing (slow, error-prone, expensive, etc) this marks an important milestone in the drive to develop the platform and so allow rapid, accurate, and cheap whole-brain mapping. 

5. Next Generation Modular DNA Origami.
This new modular design for DAN Origami creates discrete DNA origami units or tiles, which are themselves customisable, and which can be programmed to self-assemble into a myriad of different structures The expanding toolkit of DNA Origami never ceases to amaze me. To use such completely programmable matter to make digital structures such as the 100nm letters in this study is an easy-to-grasp proof-of-concept there is just so much more that this can and will be used for including self assembly of other custom materials, therapeutic interventions at a cellular level, and many others. 

6. Making Logic Gates Out Of Cells.
Researchers have engineered cells to function as AND or OR boolean logic gates, able to produce an output (or not) that is based on particular inputs While simple cellular systems have been made in the past, these more advanced cellular switches were made possible with protein-mediated chemically inducible dimerisation. Related news was the development of an integrated chemical chip that is able to use ions and molecules (instead of electrons and holes) to compute logic functions, and so interface chemical-based computational units directly with biological circuits in muscles for example

7. Wireless Recharging and Tracking Systems For Quadcopters.
This research team has demonstrated a proof-of-concept system for wireless power transfer between a hovering quadcopter and a stationary coil, which could serve to either charge the quadcopter from mains-connected coils, or else use the quadcopter to charge other devices that are running low on power and unable to source energy otherwise. Another team has created a cheap on-board tracking system for UAVs (could be used for quadcopters) that enables them to track vehicles or circle structures on the ground.

8. Miniaturised Optical Cell Analysis.
Researchers have created a miniaturised microfluidic system with integrated optics that is able to quickly and cheaply perform a range of optical measurements to rapidly screen cells in a sample for cancer, HIV, etc Conventional equipment to do this costs $100,000 and yet this system can be put together for $1,000 - representing the ongoing drive to make the capabilities of well-equipped laboratories accessible to everyone. 

9. The Energy Storage Applications of Ionic Liquids.
Ionic liquids are an exciting class of customisable materials with tremendous applications across most areas of chemistry, especially as electrolytes for batteries. Good news for the company Boulder Ionics, nearing commercialisation for their electrolytes that might double the storage capacity of ultracapacitors or improve rechargeable metal-air batteries by an order of magnitude

10. Cutting Graphene into Arbitrary Shapes Using an AFM.
This group is using an atomic force microscope (AFM) robot to cut graphene into arbitrary shapes; such capabilities are important due to the electrical properties of graphene being dependent on the size, geometry, and edge structure of the graphene substrate. 

Bonus: An App for Peer-2-Peer Ad-Hoc Mobile Internet.
Implementing ad-hoc peer-2-peer mobile networking has been discussed for many years and has been implemented in many small settings, but this smartphone application (available now on iPhone or Android via Appstore or Google Play) allows users to seamlessly set up such ad-hoc networks on the fly So, if a lot of users in an area have this set up then you might make a video call over WiFi, with the packets jumping from one node to the next and so on until reaching the recipient directly or via a conventional DSL line that one node was connected to, or I can also think of running this on my AR Drone and setting up smartphones around the local environment to massively increase the range of the Drone way beyond the usual 50 or 60 meters for a single WiFi connection.
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thanks for the share - always like your compilation of stories.
As always a great list. Thank-you!
Wow! Thanks +Allison Sekuler :) I had no idea until you mentioned it! Its always great to know that a larger audience might enjoy some great science and technology news with +ScienceSunday content!
didn't check earlier - we had 4 up there tagged with #ScienceSunday  a few minutes ago though, and a few other science/tech ones that weren't tagged. So that's great!
I wish #ScienceSunday  was trending in addition to being in "What's hot" but I guess I shouldn't be greedy. Nice job +Mark Bruce 
Thank you +Chad Haney!

+Skoti Brendel I think the point is that the rat, which was paralyzed before the experimental treatment, is actually walking at all. I'm sure they'll give him a choice of where to walk after he has proven that he can walk. 
+Mark Bruce, thanks for your wonderful editorial efforts. Updates like yours make G+ worth it.
Many thanks +Hemant Shah - comments like yours make the effort worthwhile! I'm glad you enjoy the content :)
what happens to the mice after the experiment? do they remain paralyzed?
+Retta Sloan I don't know exactly what happens to these rats after the experiment - I didn't look into the protocols they used in that much detail. I do suspect however, that, there was probably a control group of rats that remained paralyzed in order to confirm that the experimental treatment was the thing causing the reversal of paralysis. The rats that were successfully treated, I suspect, probably retained some portion of the movement that they regained after the treatment.

I also suspect that, sometime after the experiment was complete, all rats in the study were humanely euthanized so to remove and closely study the section of spinal cord that was damaged in order to compare the spines of rats that regained movement to those that did not and determine what changes occurred in the spines of rats that responded to the treatment. If you follow the links you should be able to find the original scientific paper that the scientists published and this may shed light on additional details.  
har kisi ko aga badna ka haq hai keep it up..........
Rats are very noble animals which are used for experiments, to help humans causes like many other animal species.
yo thats called step by step rise your life
Sorry but how is this going to help the world or people?
just wondering..
Damn it! What have they done to Stuart Little!
you could make anything.A couple of in human slaves might help.
+arthur deyta each of these scientific advances - if developed through to their full potential - have the chance of improving all of our lives. Although you haven't specified if you refer to all of them or just one of them. If you mean the paralysed rats walking again then the outcomes of this research could well be translated into humans - paraplegics and quadriplegics - in order to repair their spines and enable them to walk again and so providing a massive quality of life improvement.  
it is all very well but.... there is some poor animal tortured on this image;;
yes...don't be so brave or don't be so coward....:_P
Is this post supposed to be sarcastic or a satire (like a onion article) ... just wondering
well, i'm not a fan of mice, but i still think it's cruel -  humanely euthanized? that's probably best, considering what they go through during all of this
I know it is important for science but everything wants to live even a mice, look at this poor thing.... Scientist must first create bound with animal so it recognize and trust them. Once they achive that ; there is no stoping them from cruelity.
Maybe we as humanity are advancing but over many dead bodies of innocent animals
+Kshama Nagaraja no this is not satire or sarcasm. These are just 10 of the most interesting discoveries made by scientists from around the world last week. 
I have reservations about the wording "Creating something out of 'nothing'". The creation/destruction of matter is not possible.
Hi +Steve WhatsItTooYa matter can be created/destroyed . . . so long as it is created out of energy or annihilated into energy - but as you say not out of nothing, no. That's why nothing is in quotations - there was no matter in the cavity, only small quantum waves that they have managed to coax into forming recognisable mater waves. 
Would like to see some of those really changing our world. BUt usually those kind of affirmations arent really like that but journalist "titulars" trying to sell newpapers.
"Create Matter From Nothing"? 

Sounds like our fiscal policy :)
loving this discovery very much its going to be  a revolution
Aaaah technology..... for me it answers the infamous question "why am I alive?" The answer is "To innovate life itself by the likes of technological advancements". We need to reach to a star wars level before I die! Lol
Thank you for sharing this! I didn't see this until now. Ill read over it in the morning more. Great to see we're advancing so fast. Although, the most amazing thing is what you DIDN'T post ;P. By the time you post it, there will be something else in the dark.
Absolutely right +Darnell M. Johnson - next week there will be another 10 as amazing as this. Which is amazing in itself :)

Cheers +Benjamin Kirsop 

Stick around and enjoy the ride +Emilio Don - we're in for surprises none of us can imagine! 
Good One Mark ,Keep Finger Cross:)
This "Creating Matter From “Nothing”. is so exciting!
Something tells me that the folks over at +South Park would have a field day with this - great science no doubt but somehow also an extremely compelling yet funky meme
GREAT POST!!! haha.. at 0K?! macroscopically, things will be just so boring -_-zzZ. but when we look into the microscopic world, without the thermal interference, everything will be so different and so unintuitive. have to ask those studying cold condense matter.
I love this animal. Don`t do this again. It might be in trouble
It's nice to see that we're progressing in something.
So what happened to the law of conservation of matter?
Nothing +Jim Kennedy - it is alive and well of course! (Matter and energy being inextricably linked) . . . that is why it is "nothing" and not literally nothing ;) It's an interesting article if you care to check out the link
abe ab ye kya hawaii jahaz udayega
from energy maybe but no from nothing...
All very interesting... saved for later reading.  Can't let these goodies cross my path and leave unattended.
I just found your post in my feed! This is awesome! <3 Weekly recaps of technology and science break-throughs. Thanks for posting!
I think the first article was misinterpreted here.  The purpose was not synthesis of waves, but the masking of waves.  If you read the link the whole thing is about the concept of invisibility.  In star trek, think cloaking devices as opposed to replicators.  The basic principle is that   researchers think that they can hide a wave emission (sound, light, microwave, or matter wave) by amplifying all of the other waves around it, effectively making a space that's hidden.  The 'making something out of nothing' comment had to do with what happens when the cloak is dropped.  It's basically a rabbit out of a hat trick (their analogy).  Still a very interesting idea, but they admit that the background is being transmitted too loud.
10. I'm curious what the tip material is made of and if they are reverse imaging the tip to insure against material loss due to cutting.  Is this a simple drag and cut or is this performed in tapping mode? What is the tip curvature in nm?  I've never heard of this journal, I will try to look it up on SciFinder tomorrow.
2.  My work involves investigating properties of various alloyed materials under stress via deconvolution of harmonic motion under the presence of an externally applied magnetic field.  Using varying materials and composites I am experimentally producing macro data that shows changes in the materials. This paper is strictly a theoretical paper that does not take into account the macroscopic properties of the material at hand.  Microfine structure, material defects, growth and roughness are all of extreme importance and can be difficult to control at best, especially in a reproducible manner. They describe the phenomenon for a theoretical material that they don't even name, but do give properties for.  The materials scientist in me knows how nearly impossible their proposition sounds. It is a novel idea, but may remain practically unattainable for some time to come.
You're right +Linda van Rosmalen for #2, actually going beyond theory to make an actual physical material with those properties is a whole different question :) But I sure hope someone figures it out one day! Nice to see a materials expert like yourself drop by and assess the work so we all might benefit from your insight!
Great !! Australian make the future , we all shall be proud of you. reg from Germany
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