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Sorin Miron
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Sorin Miron

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SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 19/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/05/towards-artificial-womb-printed.html

Towards artificial wombs, Printed terahertz lens, Autonomous robot surgeons, Cloud quantum computing, Machine learning development, Rejuvenation updates, Biomimicking bee navigation, Modular microfluidics, Femtosecond clock synchronisation, Holographic displays.

1. Towards an Artificial Womb
An artificial placenta has been developed that successfully kept alive extremely premature baby lambs outside the womb http://labblog.uofmhealth.org/health-tech/artificial-placenta-holds-promise-for-extremely-premature-infants. The device utilises extracorporeal membrane oxygenation to help oxygenate the tissues when the lungs are not fully developed; in humans this might allow the current limit of 24 weeks to be pushed back significantly. Meanwhile new protocols allow human embryos to reach the 2 week stage of development for the first time, and was only cut short due to established ethical policies that will hopefully be overturned http://www.theverge.com/2016/5/4/11591318/cambridge-rockefeller-university-human-embryo-study-ethics-limit. I can see this gap continuing to shrink.

2. 3D Printed Terahertz Lens
A lens for focusing the terahertz spectrum of light has been developed by 3D printing a metamaterial structure with a gradient refractive index https://3dprint.com/132220/northwestern-terahertz-lens/. This method used a curable photopolymer to build up the precise features of the lens, which might be useful in imaging, security, and biological applications. In other 3D printing news a better recipe has been developed for 3D printed bones http://inbt.jhu.edu/2016/05/04/building-a-better-recipe-for-3d-printed-bones/.

3. Autonomous Robot Surgeons
In certain surgical tasks robots are now outperforming humans, as demonstrated in recent work in which a robot stitched up a pig’s small intestine http://spectrum.ieee.org/the-human-os/robotics/medical-robots/autonomous-robot-surgeon-bests-human-surgeons-in-world-first. This was done on both intestine samples and also on living anesthetised pigs; the intestines repaired by robots had more consistent stitches and were more resistant to leaks. This is considered a breakthrough as the first time a robotic system has outperformed human surgeons on soft tissue repair work.

4. Quantum Computing in the Cloud
IBM launched a new cloud service to provide users everywhere with access to their 5-qubit quantum computer processor http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/49661.wss. While the current system is not a universal quantum computer the main purpose here is to provide the scientific community with access to the system in order to help accelerate innovations in the field and discover new applications for the technology.

5. Latest Machine Learning Developments
Machine learning is well on the path to ubiquity with Qualcomm’s announcement of a new deep learning SDK for their Snapdragon 820 processors, which will find their way into many if not most mobile devices launched this year and next https://www.qualcomm.com/news/releases/2016/05/02/qualcomm-helps-make-your-mobile-devices-smarter-new-snapdragon-machine. Nvidia demonstrates a deep learning system that taught an autonomous car how to drive after watching humans drive for just 72 hours, and which continuously learns after deployment http://www.digitaltrends.com/cars/nvidia-gpu-driverless-car/. And another deep learning system suggests autonomous cars would respond to new situations in a similar manner to humans https://www.kuleuven.be/english/news/2016/machines-can-learn-to-respond-to-new-situations-like-human-beings-would.

6. Latest Rejuvenation Biotech Updates
FightAging! had a trio of interesting rejuvenation developments this week. First, another senolytic drug candidate working via a different mechanism to kill senescent cells https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/05/abt-737-is-another-new-senolytic-drug-candidate-working-via-bcl-w-bcl-xl-and-induced-apoptosis/. Second, a new study shows how macrophages repair broken and leaky blood vessels in the brain, suggesting another benefit of boosting macrophage activity https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/05/macrophages-repair-broken-capillaries-in-the-brain/. Finally, an interesting new drug that enhances autophagy in the cell, boosting cellular cleanup of damage and wastes https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/05/auten-67-as-an-example-of-an-autophagy-enhancing-drug-candidate/.

7. Bee Navigation for Drones
The latest improvements in computer models of how bees navigate the world using vision to detect movement in the world around them and avoiding collisions look set to provide superior navigation and object avoidance abilities to robots and autonomous drones http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/news/nr/bee-model-1.573018. The new work provides a system able to detect both motion direction and motion speed using the optical flow of the visual world around them. Definitely looking forward to seeing autonomous drones using this to zip effortlessly through a forest.

8. Modular Plug-n-Play Microfluidics & Lablets
Microfluidics takes a step forward with the development of standard modular components including microvalves and micropumps that can be reliably used plug-n-play style to develop and evolve different microfluidic circuits and applications http://www.research.a-star.edu.sg/research/7504/small-devices-make-a-big-impact. Drilling down to smaller scales electronic microlabs (lablets) measuring 140 micrometers can control specific chemical reactions with voltage codes designed to enable an interesting platform for chemical evolution http://rubin.rub.de/en/featured-topic-when-science-and-science-fiction-merge/electronic-micro-labs-control-chemical; this is a fascinating chemical synthesis and control platform.

9. Femtosecond Clock Synchronisation
DARPA has a femtosecond clock synchronisation project (QuASAR & PULSE) underway aimed at facilitating advanced applications in ultraprecise satellite formations and radio astronomy http://nextbigfuture.com/2016/05/femtosecond-clock-synchronization-for.html. The most recent work demonstrated the most accurate clock ever with uncertainty measuring 2 parts in 10^18, or 1 second in 14 billion years, giving 10,000 times better performance than existing GPS clocks, and with novel time and motion compensations in both free space and atmospheric conditions.

10. Flexible Holographic Displays
HoloFlex is a new flexible smartphone with a holographic display http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/consumer-electronics/gadgets/holoflex-a-flexible-smartphone-with-a-holographic-display. The display is a 1080p flexible OLED screen with a layer of 3D printed flexible lenses - over 16,000 individual lenses - that enable a holographic lightfield display and 3D glasses-free images over a 35 degree field of view. An interesting display platform to keep an eye on.

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Video: Scientists Create Artificial Stingray From Rat Cells
Scientists have created a synthetic stingray that's propelled by living muscle cells and controlled by light.
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A team of researchers has created the simplest drone in the world. The ‘monospinner’ was demonstrated at the ETH Zurich Flying Machine Arena and has just one moving part.
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