Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/03/dna-nanotubes-injected-hydrogels-super.html
DNA nanotubes, Injected hydrogels, Super atomic bonds, Quicker multicore chips, DeepMind plays games, DNA minicircle applications, Optogenetic pain control, Superatom superconductors, 5G at 1Tbps, New agricultural tools.
1. Self-Assembled DNA Nanotubes
Continuing the development and evolution of DNA origami techniques we saw the demonstration of a new method of directed DNA self-assembly to produce DNA nanotubes http://www.mcgill.ca/channels/news/building-tailor-made-dna-nanotubes-step-step-243039. The new method adds modular block subunits iteratively, results in fewer errors, and by incorporating fluorescent tags the group were able to observe the addition of successive blocks to the nanotube. The prototype DNA nanotubes constructed with the technique reached about 20 units, or 450nm in length. I imagine such structures being used as atomically precise scaffolding in future.
2. Drug Delivery via Injected Self-Healing Hydrogel
A new self-healing hydrogel comprised of a mesh of nanoparticles and polymer strands can be implanted into patients simply by injecting through a syringe http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/self-healing-nanogel-drug-delivery-0219. Such gels might carry one or more drugs at a time that are released at a controlled rate over a defined period of time; the prototype performed successfully in mice and released both a hydrophobic and hydrophilic drug over several days. I’d also be interested to see if such a gel could be loaded with functional cells - either bacterial or modified versions of the patients own - and protect such cells from the immune system as they respond to the environment and produce useful biochemical factors.
3. Confirmation of Metastable Innershell Molecular States
Metastable Innershell Molecular States were a theoretical prediction of short-lived molecules formed by high-energy collisions and bound together by deep electrons in the inner, as opposed to outer, shell or orbital. Bond strengths for these short-lived molecules are up to 1,000 times stronger and lengths 100 times shorter than normal molecules, and their dissociation would produce high-energy X-rays http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metastable_inner-shell_molecular_state. New work seems to confirm that these entities do in fact exist http://nextbigfuture.com/2015/02/confirmation-of-ultra-high-energy.html. Possible future applications include high intensity X-rays, advanced lithography, superexplosives, and inertial fusion.
4. Boosting the Speed of Muticore Chips
A new scheduling technique distributes data and computation throughout multicore chips with such efficiency that a test 64 core chip realised a computational speed increase of 46% and a power consumption decrease of 36% https://gigaom.com/2015/02/20/mit-researchers-claim-they-have-a-way-to-make-faster-chips/. The advance addresses problems in communication and memory access in increasingly parallel systems by trying to co-locate data and the associated computation. That’s a pretty decent contribution; one piece of work from one team produces the equivalent of an additional full year of Moore’s Law type increases.
5. Google DeepMind Learns to Play Many More Games
Originally demonstrating the ability to independently learn to play and master a couple of very simple computer games, the team behind Google-acquired DeepMind has successfully developed the system further to the point where it has now taught itself to play and master a much wider range of more complex 1980s Atari games http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/robotics/artificial-intelligence/google-ai-learns-classic-arcade-games-from-scratch-would-probably-beat-you-at-them. The system, known as a deep Q-network, the result of the evolution of deep learning techniques, and running on a single GPU-equipped desktop computer achieved impressive results in the games. The team next hope to address requirements for sophisticated exploration and long-term planning, and plan to move onto games from the 1990s.
6. Cancer Detection and Cell Manipulation with DNA Minicircles
DNA minicircles (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minicircle) are short plasmid derivatives about 4,000 basepairs long able to function as transgenic elements to get DNA inside cells, but lack bacterial DNA and so less likely to be recognised as foreign, and can also be made to replicate or not (and degrade) in the host cell. By injecting into mice DNA minicircles (in a carrier), that encode a gene only active during embryonic development, and controlled by a promoter region that is only active during embryonic development and in most (all?) cancer cells (never in healthy adult cells), researchers have caused mice with cancer (but not those without) to express a protein that can be easily detected in blood within two days to diagnose the presence and approximate amount of cancer http://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2015/02/customized-dna-rings-aid-early-cancer-detection-in-mice.html. Other applications include producing fluorescent proteins to image cancer cells directly, using different elements able to respond & manipulate different cells behaviour in different ways, and ideally via oral delivery.
7. Controlling Pain via Optogenetics
By shining specific wavelengths of light onto the anterior cingulate cortex of mice brains modified by optogenetics (certain neurons producing light-sensitive channel proteins) researchers were able to controllably stimulate inhibitory neurons to drastically reduce the experience of pain for the mice http://www.uta.edu/news/releases/2015/02/mohanty-pain-inhibition.php. This was far more effective than electrode-based stimulation, which leads to activation of both inhibitory and excitatory neurons involved in these circuits. The group has also built up considerable expertise in near-infrared two-photon stimulation to allow deeper and more precise targeting and activation of optogenetically modified neurons.
8. Superconductivity in Superatoms
Superatoms (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superatom) made of a homogenous cluster of aluminium have been found to form cooper-pairs and superconduct at a temperature of 100 Kelvin http://news.usc.edu/76293/these-superconductors-are-just-getting-warmed-up/. Contrast this to bulk aluminium, which superconducts at 1 Kelvin. Another impressive feat demonstrated by the group was the ability to construct superatoms with a defined number of atoms, from 32 all the way up to 95 atoms and to precisely probe the electron energy levels of each. The hope is that further research on other types of elemental superatoms might reveal far higher superconducting temperatures, always striving for room temperature, and fabricating tracks of connected superatoms on circuits might enable nanoscale superconducting paths for a range of applications. See also superatom crystals http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/2013/06/artificial-superatoms-new-periodic-table.
9. 5G Cellphone Speeds of 1 Terabit per Second
New prototype wireless transmitters and receivers were demonstrated for future 5G networks that successfully facilitated data transfers of 1 terabit per second over a distance of 100m http://nextbigfuture.com/2015/02/5g-cellphone-wireless-speeds-of-1.html. The group ultimately hope to bring the end-to-end latency of the system down below one millisecond. This compared to Ofcom, which hopes to have 5G networks offering 50 Gpbs across the UK by 2020.
10. A Trio of Agricultural Developments
There were a few interesting agricultural projects this week. First, vertical farming continues to spring up around the world with a new facility next to a Wyoming parking lot called Vertical Harvest able to produce 37,000 pounds of greens, 4,400 pounds of herbs, and 44,000 pounds of tomatoes http://www.theverge.com/2015/2/26/8112889/vertical-farm-wyoming-hydroponics-grow-food. Second, we saw a new beehive design called the Flow Hive demonstrated that automatically extracts honey via tap without disturbing the bees http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2015/02/honey-on-tap/. Finally, new company Afforestt offers a new system for regrowing forests that can produce a mature forest in just ten years http://nextbigfuture.com/2015/02/growing-mature-forest-in-ten-years.html.
Concetta Antico is a tetrachromat artist and describes what it's like living in a world where colours are popping out everywhere. The experience of having a fourth type of cone cell is actually heightened further for her because of her art work, focusing her attention on the differences between colours, including those that normal people can't differentiate between.
"Because white’s not white to me. Right now I am looking at some white and there’s some really pale blue, and pale yellow, and violet, and other colors in it"
...punchline, she married a guy who is colour blind.
Studies like this just make me eager for a generation that has all kinds of data from millions of people over decades.
But I can search for it (international holiday pancakes) and it comes up. Very odd.
Why would some posts not appear on my page?
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/02/autonomous-atom-assembly-human.html
Autonomous atom assembly, Auto face detection, Human epigenome map, DNA data storage, UberBlox modular tools, Ultrasound vs brain barrier, Strong limpet teeth, Measuring synaptic transmission, Early cancer tests, Silicon nanofiber batteries.
1. Autonomous Assembly of Atoms into Nanostructures
NIST researchers have developed a new system that enables the computer-controlled autonomous assembly of individual atoms into precisely defined nanostructures on a copper surface using a scanning tunnelling microscope http://www.nist.gov/cnst/automated_atom_assembly.cfm. The system first scans the surface to determine the precise locations of the atoms available for assembly, calculates the coordinate transformations necessary to move the atoms to new locations, then instructs the STM tip to move the atoms as desired. As a possible application the group quote the production of tailored quantum states for information processing and nanophotonics.
2. Face Detection Algorithms at Human Performance Levels
Deep Sense Face Detector is a new face detection algorithm, built on a deep convolutional neural network, that is able to quickly and accurately spot human faces at any angle and orientation in an image, even when partially occluded http://www.technologyreview.com/view/535201/the-face-detection-algorithm-set-to-revolutionize-image-search/. Key applications of course include image search and robotics, particularly robotic interaction with humans. Such detection capabilities combined with ever-better face recognition capabilities provide a glimpse into the near-future capabilities we’ll have for searching for people through both personal images and surveillance footage. In related news software is being developed to determine where a video was shot based based on the scenery and ambient sound http://www.gizmag.com/video-geolocation-algorithms/36172/.
3. First Human Epigenome Map
A map of the human epigenome has been generated for the first time, and in the process creating a valuable tool that embodies genomic epigenetic changes, their regulatory effects, and comparisons across a wide range of cell and tissue samples http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/human-epigenome-map-0218. The data generated involved 150 billion sequencing reads and 3,174-fold coverage of the human genome and relied heavily on machine-learning algorithms to translate these massive datasets. The goal here is to understand the dynamic epigenetic code and how it might be manipulated; how it relates to cell and tissue specialisation and gives rise to various traits.
4. Very Long Term Data Storage via DNA Encoding
Digital data can typically be encoded into DNA for short term applications. But by taking the digitally encoded DNA strands and encapsulating them in silica glass spheres measuring 150 nm researchers created a fossilised storage medium able to potentially preserve the digital information for a million years or more https://www.ethz.ch/en/news-and-events/eth-news/news/2015/02/data-storage-for-eternity.html. The information is retrieved by breaking down the glass with fluorine chemistry and sequencing the DNA found within, but the key enabling development was the addition and use of error-correction codes to handle the inevitable errors that are present. The proof-of-concept successfully stored and retrieved the Switzerland Federal Charter and an Archimedes text.
5. UberBlox: Modular Components for Tools and Devices
UberBlox is a new modular construction set and prototyping system with a standard connection and locking mechanism between units and a variety of control systems for computer enabled automation of a wide variety of tools and devices http://www.gizmag.com/uberblox-modular-construction-set-lego-maker/36006/. UberBlox can be assembled into a range of devices including 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC millers and routers, manipulator arms, rovers, robots, and all compatible with Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and other systems. Modularity enables familiar standards, ease of use, lower costs, and faster evolution of designs; we just need to reach the point of creating something like an UberBlox that can create more UberBoxes.
6. Applications for Opening the Blood Brain Barrier with Ultrasound
Magnetic resonance imaging has previously been used to guide focused ultrasound to temporarily open the blood brain barrier to allow desired drugs to pass through. In a recent study this technique was used on the hippocampus of animal models of Alzheimers disease, and was found to assist with the reduction of plaques, increase neuronal plasticity, and improve cognition and spatial learning, and all without tissue damage or behavioural changes http://www.nibib.nih.gov/news-events/newsroom/attacking-alzheimer%E2%80%99s-ultrasound. Early days but with such a relatively simple technique and promising animal results I’m thinking human tests will be good to see.
7. Limpet Teeth: New Strongest Natural Material
Limpet teeth are made of geothite and recent tests suggest the fibrous structure of this material in limpet teeth may be the strongest known natural material http://www.port.ac.uk/uopnews/2015/02/18/scientists-find-strongest-natural-material/. Interestingly the strength of the limpet teeth was found to be somewhat scale-invariant, with the same relative strength over different length scales - a counter-intuitive finding given larger structures tend to have more defects and so less relative strength. Finding a synthetic process to mimic the fabrication of this material on a large scale would have obvious applications across a wide range of areas.
8. Measuring Synaptic Transmission in Live Animals
For the first time the synaptic transmission between neurons in live animals has been recorded with the aid of optogenetics http://actu.epfl.ch/news/controlling-brain-cells-with-light/. Using optogenetically engineered mice that produce neurons sensitive to certain wavelengths of light, researchers activated a subset of neurons in the sensory cortex with flashes of blue light while simultaneously using implanted microelectrodes to record electrical signals in neighbouring neurons, and used this to directly observe the activation of one neuron from another. Developing this technique the group showed that synaptic transmission differs depending on the type of neuron receiving the signal, and ultimately hope this can be used to build larger pictures of connectivity between other types of neuron across the brain.
9. Developing Liquid Biopsies and Early Cancer Tests
A nice overview article gives an update of the rapid development of liquid biopsies and testing for early stage cancers via DNA sequencing a drop of blood from patients http://www.technologyreview.com/featuredstory/534991/liquid-biopsy/. The technique, originally developed for testing a drop of a pregnant woman’s blood to sequence DNA determine whether her fetus has Down Syndrome, is now making big strides in testing for the presence of early stage cancers with numerous clinical studies underway. The benefits of such a technique being rolled out would have a profound impact on patients as the prognosis for early, pre-symptomatic, cancer detection is much better. The the rapidly declining cost of DNA sequencing strongly suggests that before too long we might all have a weekly or monthly sequencing test.
10. Silicon Nanofibers Enable Better Batteries
I don’t often cover battery technologies because they’re announced all the time with usually little result. But this new paper-like material composed of a high-density matrix of silicon nanofibers as an anode for lithium-ion batteries looks quite promising http://ucrtoday.ucr.edu/27263. Silicon can pack 10 times the electrical charge per unit weight compared to typical graphite electrodes in lithium-ion batteries and should enable similar-sized batteries with several times the storage capacity. Produced via electrospinning the new material solves existing problems of scalability and volume expansion. Multigram amounts were fabricated for prototyping and testing and the group next plans to fabricate a standard pouch-cell lithium-ion battery for testing with real devices. Doubling or quadrupling lithium-ion battery capacity impacts everything from smartphones to drones to electric vehicles.
- Aspen Elementary School1982 - 1985
- Hodgdon High School1985 - 1996
- Wentworth Institute of TechnologyArchitectural Engineering, 1996 - 1998
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