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Mark Bruce has been at 1 events

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NASA3,045,252The most advanced robot ever sent to another world is set to land on Aug. 5, 2012 (PDT). Will you be watching? Mars Science Laboratory will deliver the Curiosity rover to the surface of Mars at approximately 10:31 p.m. PDT on Aug. 5 (1:31 a.m. EDT and 5:31 a.m. UTC on Aug. 6). Curiosity, carrying laboratory instruments to analyze samples of rocks, soil and atmosphere, will investigate whether Mars has ever offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life. NASA TV will broadcast live from mission control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., during Curiosity’s critical entry, descent and landing phase. Two live feeds of video during key landing activities from mission control rooms at JPL will be carried on NASA TV, NASA TV online http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html and Ustream http://www.ustream.tv/ between 8:30 and 11:00 p.m. PDT on Aug. 5 (11:30 p.m. Aug. 5 to 2:00 a.m. Aug. 6 EDT), and between 12:30 and 1:30 a.m. PDT on Aug. 6 (3:30 to 4:30 a.m. EDT). The NASA TV Public Channel and http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl will carry a feed including commentary and interviews. The NASA TV Media Channel and http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2 will carry an uninterrupted, clean feed. Follow the mission on Facebook and on Twitter at http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity and http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity.NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover Landing2012-08-06 02:00:002175  

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Most comments: 45

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2017-04-16 11:11:29 (45 comments; 4 reshares; 20 +1s; )Open 

Jordan Peterson - One of the Greatest Public Intellectuals Around

Prof. Jordan Peterson rose to fame late last year after daring to speak up for free speech and other enlightenment values. He's one of the most different and challenging commentators around and as a clinical psychologist has built his life's work on fascinating areas such as how humans create and derive meaning, on beliefs and major personality traits, and deep investigations into collectivism and individualism. I've gone back over a couple of his recent talks to pick out some key transcripts below, have a few others I want to do, and have finished the first lecture in his Maps of Meaning lecture series. Whether you agree with him or not, he will make you think and ponder questions most people haven't considered before.

The Equity Authoritarians Must Be Stopped. Now!... more »

Most reshares: 26

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2017-01-22 05:39:07 (7 comments; 26 reshares; 85 +1s; )Open 

SciTech Digest - 04/2017.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2017/01/atmospheric-laser-lenses-emp-artillery.html

Atmospheric laser lenses, EMP artillery, Virus communications, Smartphone DNA sensing, Learning software creates learning software, Functionally imprinted polymers, Better RNA aptamers, Manipulating the vacuum, Safer Tesla autopilot, Filtering radioactivity.

1. Atmospheric Laser Lenses
The atmosphere can play havoc with light and lasers but a Laser Developed Atmospheric Lens system proposes methods to use powerful lasers to turn regions of the atmosphere into lenses, mirrors, and “deflector shields” http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/aerospace/military/laser-weapons-will-turn-earths-atmosphere-into-lenses-deflector-shields. This system would produce ordered hot and cold layers or structures of air in order to control the refractivecon... more »

Most plusones: 106

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2017-01-29 05:53:21 (7 comments; 18 reshares; 106 +1s; )Open 

SciTech Digest - 05/2017.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2017/01/synthetic-genetic-code-bioprinting-skin.html

Synthetic genetic code, Bioprinting skin, Deep learning skin cancer, Insect cyborgs, Chimeric tissue farming, Construction robots, Evolved optoelectric metasurfaces, Better immunotherapies, Human initiator sequence, Autonomous shipping.

1. Improved Semi-synthetic Genetic Code
Improving on work from 2014 in which a semi-synthetic organism was created with the addition of an extra basepair into its DNA, expanding its genetic code from four letters to six, this improved version survives significantly longer without losing the synthetic addition
http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/48114/title/Improved-Semisynthetic-Organism-Created/. Improvements include the addition of CRISPR to force the modified bacteria to keep the... more »

Latest 50 posts

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2017-05-03 14:13:49 (19 comments; 3 reshares; 6 +1s; )Open 

Paul Bloom on Effective Altruism vs Pathological Empathy

Excerpts:
Empathy is myopic, innumerate, concrete, and biased, and ultimately leads to bad decision making resulting from emotionally-based arguments. There are many cases where our empathy pushes us one way, and our morality - our more attuned moral sense - pushes us in a different way, and in these cases empathy is clouding you to a more objective moral judgement.

Empathy is a spotlight, it zooms your attention into an individual and motivates your concern and your kindness. Empathy can catalyse an otherwise indifferent moral response. However, research shows that you will give more to save one person, than you will for five people, so long as that one person has a face and a name. The spotlight of empathy has a narrow focus, only points in the direction that we point it in, and sometimes we point it in the wrong... more »

Paul Bloom on Effective Altruism vs Pathological Empathy

Excerpts:
Empathy is myopic, innumerate, concrete, and biased, and ultimately leads to bad decision making resulting from emotionally-based arguments. There are many cases where our empathy pushes us one way, and our morality - our more attuned moral sense - pushes us in a different way, and in these cases empathy is clouding you to a more objective moral judgement.

Empathy is a spotlight, it zooms your attention into an individual and motivates your concern and your kindness. Empathy can catalyse an otherwise indifferent moral response. However, research shows that you will give more to save one person, than you will for five people, so long as that one person has a face and a name. The spotlight of empathy has a narrow focus, only points in the direction that we point it in, and sometimes we point it in the wrong direction. This personal focus can lead to one person’s kidnapping receiving 13 times more media coverage than 100,000 people starving to death.

Studies also show that the neural signatures of empathy are exquisitely sensitive to in-group out-group, race, nationality, etc. Even giving food or money to beggars in Africa for example has been shown to often result in supporting criminal, despotic organisations. Effective Altruism seeks to overcome these failings of empathy, and true moral action involves distancing rather than engaging ourselves.

To be a good person you need two things, (i) superior reasoning and understanding in order to anticipate the consequences of your actions, and (ii) self-command, because even if you know the right thing to do you might be tempted to do something else and such impulses need to be controlled.

Interestingly, studies show that psychological tests on callousness & empathy have no predictive power on future criminality. ___

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2017-05-03 13:57:12 (8 comments; 0 reshares; 14 +1s; )Open 

Strengthen the Individual: A Counterpoint to Modern Political Correctness

Near-Complete Transcript:
When people examine something horrifying that humanity has done, for example Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia, they make the assumption that it is other people doing it. That is a big mistake because if a lot of human beings have done something terrible you can be sure that, being a human being, that you are capable of it. In order for us to come to terms with this we need to understand not only how it happened, but more importantly, what role we still play as individuals in acting in such a way that such things are not only likely but desired.

Nietzsche left a major problem behind. If it is the case that the ideational foundation of western civilisation was predicated on an illusion (that God was the foundation), then what would we do next? Nietzsche thought that what we... more »

Strengthen the Individual: A Counterpoint to Modern Political Correctness

Near-Complete Transcript:
When people examine something horrifying that humanity has done, for example Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia, they make the assumption that it is other people doing it. That is a big mistake because if a lot of human beings have done something terrible you can be sure that, being a human being, that you are capable of it. In order for us to come to terms with this we need to understand not only how it happened, but more importantly, what role we still play as individuals in acting in such a way that such things are not only likely but desired.

Nietzsche left a major problem behind. If it is the case that the ideational foundation of western civilisation was predicated on an illusion (that God was the foundation), then what would we do next? Nietzsche thought that what we will certainly do next is descend into an unholy combination of nihilism and totalitarianism, because they will be the things that beckon most clearly in the chaotic aftermath after the dissolution of the value structure upon which our society had been predicated. Nietzsche further prophesised that as a result of this millions of people would die in the twentieth century, purely as a result of communist revolutions.

Jung’s idea was that we weren’t going to be able to create our own values because human beings can simply not create their own values. You can make resolutions and you can act in a particular way that you believe will make you better, but you find out very quickly that you can’t enslave yourself and tell yourself what to do or boss yourself around. You do have an underlying nature and you can’t just arbitrarily mold and shape that nature because you will rebel against your own will. Jung contended that we would have to go back inside ourselves, into the symbolic background of our psychological structure and rediscover what we had lost.

A belief system exists because we have to deal with an infinitely complex world and we have to simplify it down to portions that we can manage because we do not have infinite cognitive or emotional or physiological resources. We are very bounded creatures living in an unbounded environment; we have to impose simplifications on the world or we get so stressed we die. For example, people can develop post traumatic stress disorder when they encounter an event that they cannot compute, sending them into emergency preparation mode, being hyper-responsive to threats, which is so physiologically demanding that over the long term it demolishes your health; it isn’t merely psychological, it damages your brain.

We organise ourselves into these structures of simplification - that is what our cultures are - we negotiate them, we inhabit them jointly. Because of this, when we run into people who do that differently the probability that we will engage in conflict is extraordinarily high. I can’t give up my beliefs just because you have different beliefs, and if we don’t have the same beliefs then we can’t peacefully occupy the same territory. If we can’t negotiate then we have to fight.

Nietzsche's contention was that what had happened in the West was that the Judeo-CHristian tradition and even the precursors to that tradition from which that tradition emerge had insisted for millennia that the pursuit of truth was the highest moral value. One of the consequences of that was that the West developed science as part of that pursuit of the truth. Then the tools of science, once successfully grasped and universalised, were then turned against the dogmatic structure of the church when everyone woke up “as scientists” and thought that we are living by a set of superstitions that are not true and that need to be dispensed with.

One of the most terrible things about discovering that a system you believed in no longer functions, is no longer sufficient, or can be undermined is that it raises the spectre that all such systems have the same flaws. For example, someone may jump from atheism to christianity to socialism, and be faithless from within the perspective of a given system but you’re faithful to the idea that there are in fact systems that will work. But if your system fails enough you can end up in a situation where you no longer have faith that systems as such can work. And that makes you nihilistic. Fundamentally hopeless.

Nietzsche also talked about the rise of totalitarianism as a medication for the loss of all meaning. If you’re in a chaotic state because you no longer know what to believe, and someone offers you a set of certainties to guide your life by, then it is very attractive for you to reach out and grip onto those with all of your being because that stops you from merely being adrift.

The terrible thing about being nihilistic is that nothing that you do has any meaning. But this is actually untrue because there are forms of meaning in life that nihilism won’t protect you from or may even increase your exposure to. Those are the tragic meanings of life. I don’t care how nihilistic you are and what you don’t believe it, you’re going to believe in your own pain, you’re going to believe in your own anxiety, you’re going to believe in the fact of pain and anxiety for everyone else, and you’re going to believe in catastrophe. You can’t think yourself out of the catastrophe of the world by being nihilistic. The negative meanings remain.

You can dispense with the positive meanings, which seems to be a bad bargain, but the upside of doing so is straightforward. Here are your alternatives: nothing you do matters or has any meaning, or, everything you do matters and has meaning. The first option may appear horrifying but on examination the second is more horrifying because it means that the things that you do, for better or for worse, actually do matter, and you are responsible for them. Not only for the effect that they have on you in the immediate circumstances of your life, but for the effect they have radiating out from you to the other people that you are networked to, and for the effect they have radiating out through time.

It could be that everything you do does matter, that every choice that you make matters. And I do believe that that is the case, that you are constantly making choices between good and evil, and that that determines the destiny of being. And it isn’t obvious to me at all that that is something that you would wish upon yourself. One of the advantages to being nihilistic is that is enables you to be totally irresponsible, even though the price you pay for that is the sacrifice of all positive meaning.

The story means that structure extracts habitable order from chaos through speech. That is what we do. This has meaning that is utterly profound. It means something that we cannot forget, for we forget it at our peril. There is something about the human being, that makes us conscious, that interacts with the chaotic potential that constitutes reality and extracts out from that the order in which we live. This represents the ineradicable value of the human being. This leads to the idea that each individual, even the worst and most reprehensible people, have to be treated with the respect due a divinity because we partake in the capacity to extract habitable order from chaos with our consciousness, with our speech, and with our capacity to communicate. We recognise each other as valuable, as we each have something to offer each other, and something vital.

You know this. If you engage in a real conversation with someone, a meaningful conversation that suspends your sense of fragile mortality for a moment you understand that in that communication between people something of inestimable value emerges that you have to pursue. You live for this. You live for this relationship with yourself, you live for that discovery of that relationship when you are engaged in an artistic pursuit; it is the core of meaning in life. It is not an illusion, in fact, it is a manifestation of the highest functions of your nervous system.

Because what your nervous system does is signal to you that you are in a place and time that you cannot see when you are engaged in something meaningful. It comes upon you. It is the cure for catastrophes of tragic mortality, that wonderful engagement in what is meaningful that you can and do experience. Your nervous system has learned, over billions of years, that when you’re standing on the border between chaos and order, and keeping them in balance, that this is what manifests itself as meaningful.

People live in an amalgam of nature and culture, which is a variant of the juxtaposition of the order of culture and the chaos of nature. We live in the balance between nature and culture, and if it is properly balanced it is as close to paradise as it can get. But paradise is flawed because there is always something lurking in it that can turn it upside down. The circuits that we use to process the things that turn our lives upside down are the same circuits that our tree-dwelling ancestors used to identify predators 60 million years ago. The symbolic structure has remained exactly the same.

That which lies outside what you understand is predatory and dangerous. But due to their intelligence human beings also have noted that that terrible predator that lurks outside the domains of what you understand is also the thing that bears gold. This is the classic dragon myth: the hero goes out beyond the confines of order and culture into the chaotic unknown to confront the ultimate predator that simultaneously offers the best that can possibly be gathered. Human beings are simultaneously predator animals and prey animals.

Respect for logos and respect for free speech are the same thing. Without that respect our society cannot maintain its structure, differentiate, and progress. We use our free speech to face the chaotic potential of the world and its horrors, to structure it, to understand it, to communicate about it, and to reach consensus. It is the mechanism by which we adapt. There can be no restrictions put upon that unless you want to sacrifice adaptation. Without adaptation things get stale, old, decayed, dead, and dangerous with extraordinary rapidity if people don’t maintain their responsibility to update the state. This is an ancient idea and the reason we haven’t forgotten it is because everyone who forgot it, died.

Nietzsche said that after God had died there would be two things that would happen. One would be the emergence of nihilism as a temptation as a logical consequence of the collapse of value systems and as a place for the irresponsible to hide. Nietzsche believed that once you experienced the collapse of a value system you were unlikely to put your faith in any value systems. Nationalism and communism were both absolutely catastrophic evolutionary dead ends. Nationalism is easier to understand. You need an identity, and it has to be collective because human beings live collectively. It is the fact that we share an identity that we can all sit here in this room peacefully because the identity is partly who you think you are and partly what you expect from the world and from others. You can sit together peacefully because you both desire the same thing; this is what it means to have a shared culture.

You have to defend that culture and it has to be of sufficient tightness and magnitude so that it makes sense for you to belong to it and it isn’t so diverse and chaotic that it means nothing. One of the reasons why we’re seeing a return to nationalism in places like Europe is because the European identity is so amorphous that people can’t establish a relationship with with it. And that is not a good thing because identity is something you have to have a relationship with.

It is your identity, it is the identity of you within your family, it is the identity of your family within the small community, then the broader community of the town, then the somewhat broader community of the province and the state. But as it expands it gets vague and it disperses. At some point the identity that is universal is so all-encompassing that it means nothing at all and leaves people chaotic. This is also happening in the United States and elsewhere as well, because we’ve been pushed so quickly forward to adopt a global identity that people are shaking because that is too amorphous for them. We pull back and say we need to be around people that we understand.

We’re trying to sort out the proper balance between differentiated identity at the nation-state level, and the global identity that seems to be manifesting itself partly because of our widespread electronic communication. When religion collapses nationalism can fill the void; Gallop polls revealed that if you were a lapsed catholic then you were 10 times more likely to be a separatist in Quebec. You have to have an identity, and so people can often turn from church to state. But the state cannot be the ultimate identity, which is technically wrong. The problem with the state is that the state is what is uniform across people and the thing is that we need is what is actually diverse across people in order to rejuvenate the state and keep it awake.If you reduce individuals to what is homogenous about them across all people you eradicate the very variability that allows people to adapt to new things.

Because we are constantly being presented with new things we need to keep that individual variability paramount. Because it is upon that variability that the very state depends. That is what the west discovered. That is why we’ve always subordinated the state to the divinity of the individual. This is expressed as the primacy of free speech in our civilisation. It is because the individual has something to offer the state. State identity can structure, and it can reassure, but it also constrains to too great a degree. Societies that become only state immediately become old and blind, malevolent, and collapse.

If you find that the tragedy of life is too much for you to bear without you becoming resentful and bitter and murderous and genocidal it means that you haven’t picked up enough responsibility. Because if you pick up enough responsibility for the revivification of the state and the eradication of unnecessary suffering you’d find enough meaning that the idea of meaninglessness would vanish in an instant. You’d have more meaning than you knew what to do with.

Postmodernism is a response to the Nietzschean dilemma. The cornerstone of civilisation has been demolished by rational critique. It needed to be criticised and more deeply understood. Criticism and understanding are the same thing unless the criticism is only destruction. Postmodernists are the logical conclusion to the dilemma, because the post modernist dogma is that all value structures have collapsed and are only there for the purposes of exclusion and have no intrinsic value. It allows people to dispense with their moral responsibility.

The problem with postmodernism is that if all value structures have collapsed then there is nothing to do. In order to do something one thing has to be better than another. People who are ensconced in the post modernist tradition are undermined by their own philosophy; they can deconstruct their own deconstruction and in which case they might as well just sit there and do nothing. Postmodernists don’t believe in logic, dialogue they don’t believe in, because these represent the logos, which they have dispensed with. They revert to the Marxist doctrines from which postmodernism emerged, and to the degree that they are communitarian they take out their nihilistic resentment and arrogance and ingratitude on every single person we deem to have something more than they have.

This explains why certain values can exist in the absence of any value you have to look no farther than to understand that people who are desperate and chaotic will still be angry and destructive. They can manifest that perfectly with the moral mast that says “I’m not really after what you have because you have a little more than me, I’m speaking on behalf of these people who have even less.” This is the mindset of those with damaged mental health that hurt our society and bring things down. The postmodernists manage to be nihilistic and totalitarian at the same time, while combining both with the worst aspects of dogmatic religion because what they have essentially established is a cult into which children who attend University are now indoctrinated.

The alternative is a proper return to the past, to journey into the chaos, to look at the worst possible thing and to pull the dead father up from the chaotic depths. That is how you stop being a puppet, someone whose strings are being pulled by forces they do not understand behind the scenes. You find out about what is great about your culture, that thing that has provided us with everything we see around us, the fact that our buildings are warm, that the electricity goes on, that we have the computational resources that we do, and that we can all sit here peacefully, and that no one is hungry. We should have some gratitude for what has been produced that has brought us to this point.

I learned that the reason the Cold War existed was because I was not good enough. The reasons that the terrible situations in the world exist now is because you are not good enough. We can solve any problem if we used all of the resources that were available to us. If we lived properly we have no idea what we could turn what we’re in, into. You support free speech because it is the mechanism that maintains the sanity of the individual and the society. You live in relationship to the spoken truth to the best of your ability. Because the alternative is hell. If hell is what you want then you can remain arrogant and resentful and deceitful. But if you want to better the world, to bring it up to what it might be, then you speak forthrightly, you clarify yourself, and you act properly in the world and then you see what happens. Aim for the highest possible good that you can conceive of and speak the truth. The act of faith here is that whatever the truth reveals is the best of all possible worlds regardless of how it appears to you now.

What would happen if you just said what you thought, stupid as it is, inaccurate as it is? And listen to people criticise you in response, to shape you and make you more articulate? What would your life be like? The answer is that your life gets better, and better, and better, and richer, and deeper, but this comes with a heavier and heavier burden of responsibility. You use the observation of your own capability to bear responsibility, to buttress yourself against the terrors of being finite. You say, weak and miserable as I am, I can still stand up to the terrible tragedy of life and prevail. And that is good enough. ___

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2017-05-03 13:16:54 (41 comments; 4 reshares; 22 +1s; )Open 

The moment you’re using violence to prevent someone from speaking you are on the wrong side of the argument, by definition. - Sam Harris

Transcript:
It has been instructive to see that there is virtually no space to occupy between the extreme left and the extreme right that doesn’t get you attacked by both sides on this issue. By virtue of that conversation I’m getting attacked as an Islamist shill and as a racist xenophobe. It is incredible. There is no place, not even a razors edge where you can stand to make sense of this issue.

That’s what I’m feeling about political debate. There is no sensible center. It is becoming extremely partisan. Majorities come and go, and sooner or later people from opposing sides have to get together and agree on some basics. Because if they don’t the outcome could be much worse. We could all get out of the echo-chamber alittle more... more »

The moment you’re using violence to prevent someone from speaking you are on the wrong side of the argument, by definition. - Sam Harris

Transcript:
It has been instructive to see that there is virtually no space to occupy between the extreme left and the extreme right that doesn’t get you attacked by both sides on this issue. By virtue of that conversation I’m getting attacked as an Islamist shill and as a racist xenophobe. It is incredible. There is no place, not even a razors edge where you can stand to make sense of this issue.

That’s what I’m feeling about political debate. There is no sensible center. It is becoming extremely partisan. Majorities come and go, and sooner or later people from opposing sides have to get together and agree on some basics. Because if they don’t the outcome could be much worse. We could all get out of the echo-chamber a little more and listen to the arguments from people on the other side of the debate.

Milo Yiannopoulos at Berkeley, was one of the best things that could have happened to Milo in terms of proving his points and raising his stature. What worries me about this moment, politically, is that the left seems capable of doing everything wrong in response to the rise the alt-right and the Trump presidency. This antipathy to free speech, this idea that rioting to prevent a lecture as an example of liberal free speech in action is just so confused and destructive. I have to say that the Left is irredeemable at this point. There just seems to be so little insight. And coming fresh out of my interview with Bill Maher I can see this.

There are people who have contacted me who heard in my discussion with Bill a horrifying expression of racist hatred, or who are pretending to have heard such a thing and this judgement is echoed by the usual suspects on the left. That position is so crazy that I just don’t know how to interact with it, so it is not an accident that people on the right can’t see any way to interact with it. All I can say is that if I’m a bigot and a racist and a xenophobe, if that is how i appear to you based on what I said on RealTime, what words are you going to use for the real bigots and racists and xenophobes?

Milo is at this point a professional troll. Some of his criticism of the left is no doubt sincere, but he is a kind of performance artist, he’s just winding up the left. I haven’t seen anything from him that is real racist bigotry; the Milo I have seen is very far from being a Neo-Nazi or someone whose attitudes is truly of the right. That probably is not an accident: he is flamboyantly gay and half-Jewish. But this response at Berkeley wouldn’t even be warranted even if he was a KKK member.

The moment you’re using violence to prevent someone from speaking you are on the wrong side of the argument, by definition. How is that not obvious on the left? You’re, what, going to burn down your own University to prevent someone from expressing views that you could otherwise just criticise? All of these protests we’re seeing in response to rightwing speakers being invited to college campuses are so uncivil and unproductive. Again, this is almost entirely a phenomenon of the left. If you heard generically, that some college campus had erupted in violence because a student mob had prevented a lecture from taking place, and the people who wanted to hear that lecture were spat upon and finally attacked you could bet with 99% confidence that this was coming from the left.

In the age of Trump, when you really want to be able to say things against creeping right wing authoritarianism, having an authoritarian anti-free speech movement subsume the Left is a disaster politically. But I actually think the Left is irredeemable at this point, which is why I’ve begun to use the phrase “The New Center” to our politics. I don’t know how you get people writing at the Intercept or the people at The Young Turks to be reasonable human beings given what they’ve done in recent years, but that is the Left as it currently stands.

Of course it is no accident that the women's march, which otherwise seemed like a great thing, was vitiated by its alliance with Linda Sarsour and these closeted Islamists who have co-opted the women's movement and have convinced millions of people apparently that the Hijab is a sign of women's empowerment. That is fairly mind-boggling. Just so there is no confusion on this point, I think that you should be free to wear that Hijab if you want to, but you should recognise that most women the world over who are veiled to some degree are living that way not out of choice, and are living in a community that will treat them like whores or worse if they don’t veil themselves; this is not the political empowerment of women.

Someone like Linda Sarsour, one of the principal organisers of the women's march is a theocrat who lies about this, who attacks Ayaan Hirsi Ali. This is how the left will die. On the basis of its own moral relativism, locking arms with Islamism and stealth theocracy, which is what it has done. Just as you know that if you travel too far right on the political spectrum you will encounter the most repulsive, callous, authoritarian attitudes, I think you should know that if you travel too far left you will encounter a kind of moral confusion and identity politics that is in its actual application to the world, [no] better. I don’t see how that changes at this point.

Closely related to Sam's comment about a sensible center is an excellent discussion by independent journalist Tim Pool concerning this very problem, that of there being no centrist space to occupy in reporting or journalism, and how this poisons our discourse and how any impartial attempt at reporting results in attacks from both sides, here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3diqe04ezek. ___

2017-05-02 12:49:58 (11 comments; 3 reshares; 9 +1s; )Open 

Revisiting the failure of the media in attacking Pewdiepie and YouTube ad revenue in February and thinking about possible links to the recent advertiser boycott on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLrS3UopPF8

Revisiting the failure of the media in attacking Pewdiepie and YouTube ad revenue in February and thinking about possible links to the recent advertiser boycott on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLrS3UopPF8___

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2017-04-30 14:04:35 (7 comments; 16 reshares; 69 +1s; )Open 

SciTech Digest - 18/2017.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2017/04/plastic-artificial-womb-3d-printing.html

Plastic artificial womb, 3D printing buildings, Remote control diabetes cells, Machine learning chemistry, Desktop metal 3D printing, Lyrebird synthetic voices, Ultra neuron mapping, DNA origami sensors, Graphene innovations, All-electric aircraft.

1. Plastic Bag Artificial Womb
Artificial wombs took another step forward with a new system that might allow premature babies to have a high probability of survival from 22 weeks instead of the current 27 weeks, and comprising a plastic bag containing simulated amniotic fluid and various fluid & blood pumps for nutrient and oxygen exchange https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms15112.

2. 3D Printing Buildings
A new 3D building printing system uses a tracked industrial... more »

SciTech Digest - 18/2017.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2017/04/plastic-artificial-womb-3d-printing.html

Plastic artificial womb, 3D printing buildings, Remote control diabetes cells, Machine learning chemistry, Desktop metal 3D printing, Lyrebird synthetic voices, Ultra neuron mapping, DNA origami sensors, Graphene innovations, All-electric aircraft.

1. Plastic Bag Artificial Womb
Artificial wombs took another step forward with a new system that might allow premature babies to have a high probability of survival from 22 weeks instead of the current 27 weeks, and comprising a plastic bag containing simulated amniotic fluid and various fluid & blood pumps for nutrient and oxygen exchange https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms15112.

2. 3D Printing Buildings
A new 3D building printing system uses a tracked industrial robot arm with different print heads to create complete buildings - including a large dome structure as a proof of concept - and including printing polyurethane foam molds and filling with concrete http://news.mit.edu/2017/3-d-printing-buildings-0426.

3. Smartphone Controlled Diabetes Cells
Genetically engineered cells that produce insulin in response to red light are loaded into implants that can communicate wirelessly with a smartphone to receive signals from a glucose monitor that records the patient's blood in order to remotely control the patient's blood glucose levels http://spectrum.ieee.org/the-human-os/biomedical/devices/smartphonecontrolled-cells-keep-diabetes-in-check. This is a fascinating platform that would open up a wide range of different remote engineered cell-based therapeutics.

4. Machine Learning for Efficient Chemistry
Machine learning algorithms can now be used to quickly find the optimal chemical reaction pathway needed to take standard feedstocks and produce particular chemical compounds of interest https://www6.slac.stanford.edu/news/2017-04-24-machine-learning-dramatically-streamlines-search-more-efficient-chemical-reactions.

5. Desktop Metal 3D Printing
Desktop Metal is a company that has raised $100m and will soon launch it's desktop 3D metal printing device for producing parts that then undergo a microwave sintering process in order to form final metal structures and much more cheaply than other metal sintering processes https://www.technologyreview.com/s/604088/the-3-d-printer-that-could-finally-change-manufacturing/.

6. Lyrebird Synthetic Voice AI
Lyrebird has demonstrated a set of speech processing algorithms that can clone anyone’s voice by listening to just a minute of audio, and also infuse a range of emotions as needed to create the most advanced synthetic voice generator to date http://www.theverge.com/2017/4/24/15406882/ai-voice-synthesis-copy-human-speech-lyrebird.

7. UltraTracer Neuron Mapper
UltraTracer is a new neuron tracing or mapping system that massively speeds up the neuron tracing process to handle billions or trillions of voxels http://neurosciencenews.com/ultra-tracer-neurons-6523/. This should speed up major brain mapping projects.

8. Plasmonic DNA Origami Sensors
New DNA origami structures respond to environmental cues such as pH to move attached plasmonic nanostructures different distances apart, leading to different and distinct optical signatures being generated to indicate that environmental cue remotely http://sci.aalto.fi/en/current/news/2017-04-24-002/.

9. Graphene Currents & Defects
First, electric currents have been precisely mapped in graphene for the first time https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/articles/seeing-the-electricity-inside-graphene-for-the-first-time. Second, precise graphene defects enable selective permeability of the membrane to different gases http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=46505.php. Finally, graphene can withstand high pressures and might enable more productive desalination membranes http://news.mit.edu/2017/graphene-high-pressure-desalination-more-productive-0424.

10. Electric Aircraft
The Kitty Hawk Flyer is an electric aircraft that has received the necessary approvals for operation in the USA and publicly revealed their working prototype recently http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2017/04/google-backed-venture-demonstrated-an-all-electric-flying-vehicle-that-could-lead-to-flying-cars.html. Also, Lilium is another all-electric aircraft with approximately 36 motors that has also completed test flights and hopes to go on sale soon https://lilium.com/.

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2017-04-25 13:55:33 (4 comments; 7 reshares; 22 +1s; )Open 

How the Mainstream Media Works, Fake News, and Propaganda

Award winning, ground-breaking, freelance journalist Tim Pool discusses various aspects of the media, its failures, and how the Internet has helped drive established media outlets towards the current state of affairs. 15 Minutes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYXeNfxFfs4

This seems more relevant than ever because I’m still baffled by just how often I see some conventional news article or another being uncritically shared as if it portrayed some objective truth worth knowing, when even a cursory look typically reveals an incomplete account designed to support some narrative.

This relates closely to my collective thoughts on this topic The Failure of The Fourth Estate, here https://failureofthefourthestate.wordpress.com/

In addition I wanted to raise another related and importantp... more »

How the Mainstream Media Works, Fake News, and Propaganda

Award winning, ground-breaking, freelance journalist Tim Pool discusses various aspects of the media, its failures, and how the Internet has helped drive established media outlets towards the current state of affairs. 15 Minutes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYXeNfxFfs4

This seems more relevant than ever because I’m still baffled by just how often I see some conventional news article or another being uncritically shared as if it portrayed some objective truth worth knowing, when even a cursory look typically reveals an incomplete account designed to support some narrative.

This relates closely to my collective thoughts on this topic The Failure of The Fourth Estate, here https://failureofthefourthestate.wordpress.com/

In addition I wanted to raise another related and important philosophical concept, that of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. While Plato’s Cave refers to deeper knowledge of reality, it nonetheless provides a powerful yet conceptually simple metaphor with which to view the workings and failure of the media to accurately portray reality. More information on Plato’s Cave here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegory_of_the_Cave, and this YouTube video provides an excellent adaptation and summary https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69F7GhASOdM.

The best stand-alone image variation I could find to represent this concept is here http://i.imgur.com/VyD1E9v.jpg ___

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2017-04-25 12:48:40 (3 comments; 4 reshares; 9 +1s; )Open 

Novel and quite brilliant relationship advice. You've got to train each other, be explicit, and reward little wins https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VM1UA0pCMQ

Novel and quite brilliant relationship advice. You've got to train each other, be explicit, and reward little wins https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VM1UA0pCMQ___

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2017-04-23 15:21:13 (9 comments; 13 reshares; 55 +1s; )Open 

SciTech Digest - 17/2017.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2017/04/cheap-microfluidic-chips-3d-printed.html

Cheap microfluidic chips, 3D printed glass, Solid state LIDAR, CRISPR antibiotics, SynBio directed evolution, Memory rejuvenation drug, Brick laying robot, Colour night vision, Steerable sound, Smallest integrated photonics.

1. Super Cheap Microfluidic Chips
New techniques employ 3D printers and laser cutters to use cheap materials such as plastics, paper, and laminates to quickly create custom microfluidic chips, thus opening up the technology to pretty much everyone by avoiding the need for photolithography and other expensive tools http://news.mit.edu/2017/makerspaces-could-enable-widespread-adoption-of-microfluidics-0421.

2. 3D Printing Glass
A new process allows for the production of 3D printed glass structures by... more »

SciTech Digest - 17/2017.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2017/04/cheap-microfluidic-chips-3d-printed.html

Cheap microfluidic chips, 3D printed glass, Solid state LIDAR, CRISPR antibiotics, SynBio directed evolution, Memory rejuvenation drug, Brick laying robot, Colour night vision, Steerable sound, Smallest integrated photonics.

1. Super Cheap Microfluidic Chips
New techniques employ 3D printers and laser cutters to use cheap materials such as plastics, paper, and laminates to quickly create custom microfluidic chips, thus opening up the technology to pretty much everyone by avoiding the need for photolithography and other expensive tools http://news.mit.edu/2017/makerspaces-could-enable-widespread-adoption-of-microfluidics-0421.

2. 3D Printing Glass
A new process allows for the production of 3D printed glass structures by printing a mix of a polymer binder and quartz glass nanoparticles; the final structure is then sintered to remove the polymer and fuse the glass https://www.kit.edu/kit/english/21780.php.

3. Solid State LIDAR
The solid-state LIDAR ecosystem is heating up with Velodyne set to launch a new solid-state device for automotive market applications http://spectrum.ieee.org/cars-that-think/transportation/sensors/velodyne-announces-a-solidstate-lidar.

4. CRISPR Antibiotics
CRISPR is being combined with bacteriophages to target specific drug resistant pathogenic bacteria and cause infected cells to cut critical genes that results in cell-death, thus acting as a new kind of antibiotic https://www.technologyreview.com/s/604126/edible-crispr-could-replace-antibiotics/.

5. Directed Evolution in Synthetic Biology
Using directed evolution to design/discover ever better and more efficient enzymes and genetic pathways in synthetic biology is becoming ever-more common and routine http://blogs.plos.org/synbio/2017/04/18/directed-evolution-in-synthetic-biology-an-interview-with-professor-frances-arnold/.

6. Rejuvenating Memory with Umbilical Cord Protein
A protein found in umbilical cord blood, known as TIMP2, has been found to rejuvenate and boost brain function and cognitive performance in old mice, and is an interesting candidate for treating age-related cognitive decline in humans https://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2017/04/protein-in-umbilical-cord-blood-rejuvenates-old-mices-memory.html.

7. Brick-Laying Robot
The latest brick-laying robot enables the automatic construction of novel and previously infeasible masonry for creative architecture http://www.wired.co.uk/article/archi-union-bricklaying-robot.

8. Full Colour Night Vision
X27 is a new night vision sensor produced by SPI that is the first to offer high-resolution day-like imagery in the darkest conditions by utilising a broad spectrum thin film array http://tribunist.com/technology/this-companys-full-color-nightvision-is-going-to-revolutionize-combat-for-us-forces-video/. The video has to be seen to be believed.

9. Steerable Sound
A new audio system uses 64 speaker modules with 4,096 transducers to create a steerable sound system that is being tested in train stations to simultaneously send 16 different messages to different gates at the same time; I wonder if we’ll ever see such things in the home? http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/consumer-electronics/audiovideo/holoplots-steerable-sound-beams.

10. Smallest Integrated Photonics Circuits
A new method for controlling light propagation in waveguides using arrays of nanoantennas has enabled the creation of the smallest such devices with the largest operating bandwidth, and which offer a range of advanced computing, communications, and imaging applications http://engineering.columbia.edu/news/nanfang-yu-light-propagation-waveguides.
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2017-04-16 11:11:29 (45 comments; 4 reshares; 20 +1s; )Open 

Jordan Peterson - One of the Greatest Public Intellectuals Around

Prof. Jordan Peterson rose to fame late last year after daring to speak up for free speech and other enlightenment values. He's one of the most different and challenging commentators around and as a clinical psychologist has built his life's work on fascinating areas such as how humans create and derive meaning, on beliefs and major personality traits, and deep investigations into collectivism and individualism. I've gone back over a couple of his recent talks to pick out some key transcripts below, have a few others I want to do, and have finished the first lecture in his Maps of Meaning lecture series. Whether you agree with him or not, he will make you think and ponder questions most people haven't considered before.

The Equity Authoritarians Must Be Stopped. Now!... more »

Jordan Peterson - One of the Greatest Public Intellectuals Around

Prof. Jordan Peterson rose to fame late last year after daring to speak up for free speech and other enlightenment values. He's one of the most different and challenging commentators around and as a clinical psychologist has built his life's work on fascinating areas such as how humans create and derive meaning, on beliefs and major personality traits, and deep investigations into collectivism and individualism. I've gone back over a couple of his recent talks to pick out some key transcripts below, have a few others I want to do, and have finished the first lecture in his Maps of Meaning lecture series. Whether you agree with him or not, he will make you think and ponder questions most people haven't considered before.

The Equity Authoritarians Must Be Stopped. Now!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7HPbjsYYGg

Meaning is to be found in responsibility. People find meaning in the responsibility of their careers, their families, their friends, the charity work they do for others, the education they pursue, the voluntary obligations they undertake, and the suffering they endeavour to reduce. It is not the rights that are granted to you by others so that you can be awarded your rewards and privileges that will make your limited and mortal life worthwhile. It is instead the sacrifices you can make to the highest good that you can conceptualise and strive to obtain. Beware the peddlers of rights who wish to turn you into someone who is simultaneously privileged and victimised; whiny, narcissistic, noisy, demanding, chronically unhappy, and of little use to themselves or to other people. Instead sort yourself out and shoulder your responsibility. Make yourself useful to others. Find the heaviest burden you can bear and bear it stoically, forthrightly, and admirably.

I need to say a few words about the newest form of political pathology to manifest in this our desperately confused and chaotic western society. However, it is not the newest. Rather, it is the resurgence of an exceptionally dangerous, logically incoherent, and thoroughly discredited old idea. One that doomed entire societies and huge populations to unnecessary suffering in a bloody and unfortunate and all to readily forgotten twentieth century. The idea: Equality. Not equality of opportunity, but equity and equality of outcome. It is the ultimate rabid wolf in the most caring of sheep’s clothing.

The flag of equity is being raised everywhere and it is the very social justice warriors, the very post-modern neo-marxist activists whose words I despise who are waving it everywhere. The danger this presents can barely be overstated. It needs to be stopped. We have to draw a line before the functional structures that make up our society are undermined and damaged beyond repair. I am going to talk to you today about the great errors that the self-righteously carried attitude of the equity purveyors hide within the confines of their low-resolution inconscious algorithmic ideological propaganda.

Are we going to insist that everyone must be equally popular and outgoing, equally assertive and enthusiastic, equally private and introverted, caring, polite, or demanding and competitive, industrious and orderly, creative and interested in ideas. Why are these outcomes less important or less worthy of note than corporate position of economic compensation? It isn’t what you deserve for intrinsic reasons that determines your outcome, it is the worth that others attribute to your offerings.

The problem of resource distribution is so complex that it has to be outsourced to the collective intelligence. No person, group of persons, or imaginable computational device can perform the calculations of price. This is because the price of anything is dependent on the price of everything else, which is always shifting. Flawed as the free market system is we don’t have anything better. If we transfer determination of power, status, privilege, and desire to a group of people, how to do we regulate their biases and correct for their ignorance, how do we limit their power, how do we protect ourselves against their ideologies and hatreds and resentments, how do we discriminate the desire to help the unfortunate from the wish to destroy the well constituted and successful. We don’t. We can’t. And we won’t.

What will happen is that those best at political maneuvering, most convinced of their righteousness, least aware of their ignorance and limitations of knowledge, and most swiftly filled with resentment and hatred will instantly rise to dominate such positions and then all hell will break out. This has already happened and it killed 100 million people and made untold others destitute and miserable, and it just about destroyed the world. We already ran this experiment and it failed. And then we ran it again, and it failed. And then we ran it again, and it failed. And then we replicated the failure. No one who is not ignorant would dare to experiment with such things again unless they were truly malevolent. So which is it, you purveyors of equity, you merchants of yesterdays poison, are you ignorant or malevolent?


Recent Interview
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJMCQ94t98k
This is one of the more recent interviews with Jordan. A couple of transcripts:

History is the biography of the human race. The reason you study history is to understand who you are. You are a cultural construct. History is your story. Get in there and figure out what it has to say so that you can be a stronger, more credible, more powerful, more responsible person. Is the story about Nazi Germany about the Nazis? No, it’s a story about the line between good and evil, about the line that runs down every human heart. It is your story; you’re the Nazi prison camp guard. And you’re the Jew. There is something there that you need to learn.

The doctrine of equity is pernicious. Those who promote it are promoting a doctrine that is known to be murderous. Most people see equality as meaning equal opportunity, equality under the law, no special favours, no group rights - but when SJW radicals use it they mean equality of outcome. Equality of outcome is a method of horrific oppression. The problem with the equity doctrine is that it is technically impossible because there is no limit to the multiplication of groups, and this combinatorial explosion is the death-knell of equity. Individual focus is the only focus that takes into account all of the differences between people, which is what the west discovered.___

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2017-04-16 04:29:15 (12 comments; 18 reshares; 75 +1s; )Open 

SciTech Digest - 16/2017.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2017/04/creating-negative-mass-solar-water.html

Creating negative mass, Solar water harvesting, CRISPR diagnostics, Complex 2D microchips, Complex cellular biocomputers, Cellular reprogramming for Parkinson’s, Generative adversarial networks, Prototype magnonic device, Chatbots that empathise, Adaptive robotic grasping.

1. Creating Negative Mass
An experimentally verified physical system exhibiting properties of negative mass has been achieved by cooling a Bose-Einstein condensate to a superfluid state and using a second laser to change the spin of atoms; pushing the system results in it accelerating backwards https://news.wsu.edu/2017/04/10/negative-mass-created-at-wsu/.

2. Solar Powered Water Harvesting
Porous metal-organic framework materials have been configureds... more »

SciTech Digest - 16/2017.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2017/04/creating-negative-mass-solar-water.html

Creating negative mass, Solar water harvesting, CRISPR diagnostics, Complex 2D microchips, Complex cellular biocomputers, Cellular reprogramming for Parkinson’s, Generative adversarial networks, Prototype magnonic device, Chatbots that empathise, Adaptive robotic grasping.

1. Creating Negative Mass
An experimentally verified physical system exhibiting properties of negative mass has been achieved by cooling a Bose-Einstein condensate to a superfluid state and using a second laser to change the spin of atoms; pushing the system results in it accelerating backwards https://news.wsu.edu/2017/04/10/negative-mass-created-at-wsu/.

2. Solar Powered Water Harvesting
Porous metal-organic framework materials have been configured such that any suitable heat or light source causes the material to remove and condense water from the air, even at very low humidity levels http://news.mit.edu/2017/MOF-device-harvests-fresh-water-from-air-0414. 1 kg of material would be able to provide approximately 3 liters of water from dry air with only 20% humidity.

3. CRISPR Diagnostics
A modified CRISPR enzyme that targets and cleaves RNA has been developed into the SHERLOCK diagnostics platform for rapid point-of-care testing for specific viruses, bacteria, and other relevant mutations http://news.mit.edu/2017/scientists-unveil-crispr-based-diagnostic-platform-0413. CRISPR is also being used to mine bacterial genomes for pharmaceuticals https://news.illinois.edu/blog/view/6367/486265.

4. Complex 2D Microchip
The most complex two-dimensional microprocessor chip with more than 100 transistors has been demonstrated from the three-atom thick material molybdenum disulfide http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/semiconductors/devices/the-most-complex-2d-microchip-yet.

5. Cellular Biocomputers with Logic Circuits
New synthetic biology tool BLADE uses DNA-recombinase enzymes to function as molecular logic gates in human cells, and currently demonstrating over 100 different Boolean logic functions for regulating gene activity based on environmental cues https://singularityhub.com/2017/04/12/scientists-hacked-a-cells-dna-and-made-a-biocomputer-out-of-it/.

6. Cellular Reprogramming for Parkinson’s
New cellular reprogramming techniques manipulate an animal’s cells in vivo and in tests in mice appear to convert one type of cell (brain support cell in this case) into a dopamine producing cell to reverse Parkinson’s symptoms https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2017/04/cellular-reprogramming-approach-reverses-parkinsons-symptoms-in-a-mouse-model/.

7. Generative Adversarial Networks
Generative Adversarial Networks pit two neural networks against one another in order to come up with much better and more accurate solutions than either would be able to do so on their own and might one day deliver forms of unsupervised learning https://www.wired.com/2017/04/googles-dueling-neural-networks-spar-get-smarter-no-humans-required/.

8. Prototype Magnonic Device
Competing with conventional prototype spintronics devices, a prototype magnonic device has been demonstrated that instead manipulates oscillating spin-waves that travel throughout magnetic materials without requiring electric currents http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/semiconductors/devices/move-over-spintronics-here-comes-magnonics-to-the-rescue-of-electronics.

9. Chatbots that Empathise
Chatbots have been developed that assess the emotional content of a user’s text and can respond appropriately by conveying specific emotions https://www.technologyreview.com/s/604157/emotional-chatting-machine-assesses-your-emotion-and-copies-it/.

10. Adaptive Robotic Grasping
Soft Robotics has a new adaptive grasping system able to handle arbitrarily-shaped objects with uneven surfaces http://www.roboticgizmos.com/soft-robot-adaptive-grasping/ - this modular robotic gripped could benefit a range of different robotics platforms.
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2017-04-09 12:54:36 (2 comments; 15 reshares; 64 +1s; )Open 

SciTech Digest - 15/2017.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2017/04/on-chip-particle-accelerator-diamond.html

On-chip particle accelerator, Diamond laser amplifier, Tensor processing units, Robot cloud brains, Memory circuit formation, Octopus gene regulation, CycleGAN deep learning, Tailored thymus organoids, Self assembling transistors, Blockchain voting applications.

1. Particle Accelerator on a Chip
The accelerator on a chip project continues to make progress towards the end-goal of getting the power gradient of a 3.2km long accelerator down to 30m http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/semiconductors/devices/nanofabrication-enables-acceleratoronachip-technology, but with applications including desktop accelerators that might produce medically-relevant particle beams for example.

2. Diamond Laser Amplifier
Ultrapure diamond... more »

SciTech Digest - 15/2017.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2017/04/on-chip-particle-accelerator-diamond.html

On-chip particle accelerator, Diamond laser amplifier, Tensor processing units, Robot cloud brains, Memory circuit formation, Octopus gene regulation, CycleGAN deep learning, Tailored thymus organoids, Self assembling transistors, Blockchain voting applications.

1. Particle Accelerator on a Chip
The accelerator on a chip project continues to make progress towards the end-goal of getting the power gradient of a 3.2km long accelerator down to 30m http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/semiconductors/devices/nanofabrication-enables-acceleratoronachip-technology, but with applications including desktop accelerators that might produce medically-relevant particle beams for example.

2. Diamond Laser Amplifier
Ultrapure diamond crystal lenses are being used at the point of convergence to combine incoming laser beams into a single, more powerful output laser beam, which would have a range of obvious applications http://www.mq.edu.au/newsroom/2017/04/03/the-star-wars-superlaser-may-no-longer-be-sci-fi-new-australian-research/.

3. Google’s Tensor Processing Units
Google’s custom machine learning chips, known as Tensor Processing Units, have been demonstrated to be 15x - 30x faster than conventional chips for these applications, and offer 30x - 80x better efficiency https://techcrunch.com/2017/04/05/google-says-its-custom-machine-learning-chips-are-often-15-30x-faster-than-gpus-and-cpus/?ncid=rss.

4. Cloud Brains for Robot Pickers
RightHand Robotics has a robotic hand picking system for warehouses and assembly lines that uses cloud-based learning and memory so that every robot hand gains the benefits of each hand learning distinct and independent picking tasks for different objects and situations https://www.technologyreview.com/s/604038/a-robot-with-its-head-in-the-cloud-tackles-warehouse-picking/.

5. Better Understanding Memory Formation
New research provides better insight into human memory formation, and shows that in the neural circuits underlying this process in the brain, memories are actually formed simultaneously in the hippocampus and cortex-located long-term storage http://news.mit.edu/2017/neuroscientists-identify-brain-circuit-necessary-memory-formation-0406.

6. Novel Gene Regulation in Octopuses
An unusual type of gene regulation has been found to be very common in octopuses, which is based on extensive RNA editing to a degree much greater than any other animal group https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/04/octopuses-do-something-really-strange-to-their-genes/522024/. Lots of interesting questions to be answered here, and lots of implications including the counter-intuitive finding that the octopuses genome evolves at a much slower rate than other animals.

7. More Deep Learning Image Processing
Seems like not a week goes by without some project or announcement concerning the application of deep learning to image processing. This week CycleGAN is particularly impressive for genuinely impressive artistic photo conversions http://gizmodo.com/someone-finally-hijacked-deep-learning-tech-to-create-m-1793957126.

8. Tailored Thymus Organoids
More progress in creating functional thymus tissue has led to the point of now being able to custom-produce thymus tissue that produces T-Cells with specific desired characteristics https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2017/04/tailored-thymus-organoids-produce-specifically-configured-t-cells/.

9. Self Assembling Carbon Nanotube Transistors
A new method selects out semiconducting carbon nanotubes from solution and self assembles these into transistors on a circuit of gold electrodes http://www.rug.nl/sciencelinx/nieuws/2017/04/20170405_loi?lang=en.

10. Blockchain Voting Applications
Blockchain technology continues to demonstrate prototype voting applications that might be coming to us soon for a range of secure voting applications. For example, Broadridge has a stockholder blockchain voting system http://www.coindesk.com/broadridge-is-building-a-global-blockchain-for-stockholder-voting/, and Open Vote Network uses Ethereum to achieve similar ends http://www.coindesk.com/voting-scheme-ethereum-doesnt-give-away-vote/.
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2017-04-09 11:33:44 (28 comments; 3 reshares; 23 +1s; )Open 

Janet Albrechtsen on Political Correctness

Janet Albrechtsen is a superb author, journalist, and columnist. Indeed she is one of the key reasons you might pick up a copy of The Australian. Janet appears almost prophetic in this short talk on political correctness from 2011, discussing very worrying events and trends that have only gotten worse over the ensuing six years. The rise of political correctness runs counter to that driver of civilisational progress, the contest of ideas fueled by free speech. It shouldn’t be surprising that it was one of the factors at play in the political turmoil of the last 12 months.

Excerpts:

Great literature unsettles us; it is meant to. It forces us to think about our reaction and if we’re offended it forces us to think about why we are offended. By denying us the ability to think, political correctness is a heresy if we’retruly... more »

Janet Albrechtsen on Political Correctness

Janet Albrechtsen is a superb author, journalist, and columnist. Indeed she is one of the key reasons you might pick up a copy of The Australian. Janet appears almost prophetic in this short talk on political correctness from 2011, discussing very worrying events and trends that have only gotten worse over the ensuing six years. The rise of political correctness runs counter to that driver of civilisational progress, the contest of ideas fueled by free speech. It shouldn’t be surprising that it was one of the factors at play in the political turmoil of the last 12 months.

Excerpts:

Great literature unsettles us; it is meant to. It forces us to think about our reaction and if we’re offended it forces us to think about why we are offended. By denying us the ability to think, political correctness is a heresy if we’re truly committed to liberalism. Political correctness after-all aims to tell us what to think, and has birthed a growing list of tactics aimed at curbing free speech and worse, of stifling free inquiry and independent thinking.

This also powers the victim game. We now live in an age in which feelings are treated as a measurement of moral values, such that you measure your feelings against the feelings of another to determine morality. This has led to us living in the marketplace of outrage where different groups vye for victimhood status, each claiming that their feelings have been hurt more than others. This focus on relative vulnerability is used as justification enough to curb enlightenment values such as freedom of expression.

Free speech must include the right to offend, because if we prosecute offensive opinions we just encourage ever more ridiculous claims to victimhood and protection. In doing so we fuel that marketplace of outrage and end up shutting down the true genius of western civilisation, the contest of ideas.

And quoting Mark Steyn:
Free speech is not a left-right thing. It is a free-unfree thing. Principles matter. You don’t get to cry in favour of free speech just to defend those with whom you agree.

On the corruption of human rights.
Janet gave another short talk on August of 2015 along similar lines: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6b0nKVdGDEM

The very notion of free speech doesn’t seem to cut it anymore. Now we talk about fair speech and words that don’t offend or insult people. Forty years ago the left abandoned libertarian notions of human rights and embraced this new definition of egalitarian rights. This shift began with the elevation of this so-called right to equal concern and respect, for which no one really knows the meaning of. Yet here was the beginning of a recalibrated human rights movement in favour of victimhood as defined by the paternalistic left. Feelings have now become the measurement of human rights and this new victimhood movement has ditched enlightenment ideals around the very notion about what it means to be a human being.

No longer are people seen as autonomous, resilient, rational human beings; under this new framework people are seen as weak, as vulnerable, as quivering masses in need of protection. The marketplace of ideas is that place where we critique and analyse and strengthen the very best of ideas, and this is being usurped by a marketplace of outrage.

Two viruses comprising victimhood politics and this persistent strain of anti-westernism have corroded our most basic freedoms, and weakened our very ability to defend our most basic values.
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2017-04-08 12:32:51 (4 comments; 0 reshares; 9 +1s; )Open 

I Believe

I believe in much, but not all, of what Simon Penner believes. And that’s okay.

This is a different sort of blog post and all the more interesting for both the personal insights it affords, and the breadth of topics it invites the reader to contrast and contemplate and ask themselves. It would be a good act of deep introspection to write one these myself one day.

https://status451.com/2017/03/05/what-i-believe/


I Believe

I believe in much, but not all, of what Simon Penner believes. And that’s okay.

This is a different sort of blog post and all the more interesting for both the personal insights it affords, and the breadth of topics it invites the reader to contrast and contemplate and ask themselves. It would be a good act of deep introspection to write one these myself one day.

https://status451.com/2017/03/05/what-i-believe/
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2017-04-08 08:46:03 (4 comments; 4 reshares; 24 +1s; )Open 

Hacking Culture: Memetic Cyber Warfare

There are more thoughts and arguments for establishing meme warfare units within conventional cyber and intelligence warfare operations. These efforts claim to incorporate colloquial meme tactics used in online communities, but are intended to go far beyond this, for example along the subversion tactics used by the soviets during the cold war.

A brief review paper Hacking Hearts and Minds: How Memetic Warfare is Transforming Cyberwar summarises recent thoughts and examples in this space.

Via: https://www.openpublications.org/single-post/2017/04/05/Hacking-Hearts-and-Minds-How-Memetic-Warfare-is-Transforming-Cyberwar

Full paper: https://media.wix.com/ugd/b3eb9d_c4eaab8cf2df4d068a33457d53774666.pdf 

Hacking Culture: Memetic Cyber Warfare

There are more thoughts and arguments for establishing meme warfare units within conventional cyber and intelligence warfare operations. These efforts claim to incorporate colloquial meme tactics used in online communities, but are intended to go far beyond this, for example along the subversion tactics used by the soviets during the cold war.

A brief review paper Hacking Hearts and Minds: How Memetic Warfare is Transforming Cyberwar summarises recent thoughts and examples in this space.

Via: https://www.openpublications.org/single-post/2017/04/05/Hacking-Hearts-and-Minds-How-Memetic-Warfare-is-Transforming-Cyberwar

Full paper: https://media.wix.com/ugd/b3eb9d_c4eaab8cf2df4d068a33457d53774666.pdf ___

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2017-04-08 08:31:23 (8 comments; 10 reshares; 35 +1s; )Open 

AKASHA

AKASHA is a distributed & decentralised peer-2-peer social network built on Ethereum & Inter-Planetary File System: https://akasha.world/

Found via overview here: https://bitcoinmagazine.com/articles/akasha-project-unveils-decentralized-social-media-network-based-on-ethereum-and-ipfs-1462551273/

There's been ongoing discussion of new and alternative social networks, e.g. Mastodon most recently. However, if I was placing bets AKASHA's blockchain implementation and fully distributed bit-torrent-like storage is what the Technium seems to want at some point.

Local client software available now, web-based version in a few months. 

AKASHA

AKASHA is a distributed & decentralised peer-2-peer social network built on Ethereum & Inter-Planetary File System: https://akasha.world/

Found via overview here: https://bitcoinmagazine.com/articles/akasha-project-unveils-decentralized-social-media-network-based-on-ethereum-and-ipfs-1462551273/

There's been ongoing discussion of new and alternative social networks, e.g. Mastodon most recently. However, if I was placing bets AKASHA's blockchain implementation and fully distributed bit-torrent-like storage is what the Technium seems to want at some point.

Local client software available now, web-based version in a few months. ___

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2017-04-05 15:39:08 (12 comments; 4 reshares; 18 +1s; )Open 

Truth and Freedom and the Enemies of Both

This article on free speech by Brendan O’Neill is probably the best article I have read all year. It gets to the heart of the trouble and conflict coursing through today’s zeitgeist. It provides explanatory power for what is going on in many Colleges and media outlets generally. It gets to the heart of the evils of censorship and the profound costs of political correctness. And despite the ugliness of the political upheavals we’ve witnessed over the last year it suggests the shifts are helping us swing back towards greater freedom, liberty, and truth. Those disputing this always seem to be those who have most fully bought into the very dogmatic prejudices that Brendan discusses.

It also makes a great case for free speech being the core, foundational axiom upon which everything we hold dear is built. It is the key enabler of theselec... more »

Truth and Freedom and the Enemies of Both

This article on free speech by Brendan O’Neill is probably the best article I have read all year. It gets to the heart of the trouble and conflict coursing through today’s zeitgeist. It provides explanatory power for what is going on in many Colleges and media outlets generally. It gets to the heart of the evils of censorship and the profound costs of political correctness. And despite the ugliness of the political upheavals we’ve witnessed over the last year it suggests the shifts are helping us swing back towards greater freedom, liberty, and truth. Those disputing this always seem to be those who have most fully bought into the very dogmatic prejudices that Brendan discusses.

It also makes a great case for free speech being the core, foundational axiom upon which everything we hold dear is built. It is the key enabler of the selection pressure that powers the evolution of ever-better ideas and ever-truer truths. It helps our culture better identify and climb maxima on the fitness landscape of knowledge and ways of being.

http://www.spiked-online.com/spiked-review/article/truth-and-freedom/19610#.WOOKOvmGOUm

Selected excerpts:

In 2017 there are two things that really animate the political and cultural elites of the West: first, their self-styled urge to defend truth, their pose as warriors for honesty against the misinformation of the new populists; and secondly, their agitation with unfettered discussion and with the expression of what they consider to be hateful or outré views. This is striking, because truth without freedom, without the freest possible space in which to debate and doubt and blaspheme, is not truth at all. It is dogma. It represents an assumption of intellectual and moral infallibility rather than a winning and proving of it in the only way that counts: through free public contestation. That our rulers both claim to love truth and fear freedom of speech utterly explodes the pretensions of their moral panic about a ‘post-truth’ era. It’s not truth they want to protect - it’s the authority of their prejudice.

Anybody genuinely concerned with the idea of truth, with deepening humanity’s understanding of itself, nature and society, with encouraging the deployment of reason in order to render the world more knowable, ought to have a natural and in fact quite fierce disposition to freedom of thought and speech. The two go hand in hand. Truth is reliant on freedom.

Censorship is hostile to truth both in its implicit doubting of the public’s capacity for critical, truthful thought and in its weakening of the kind of conditions in which old ideas might come to be superseded by newer, more truthful ones. Milton strikingly argued that if someone thinks something is true simply because he has been told it’s true, then this isn’t ‘truth’ in any meaningful sense. That is, he has outsourced his own moral universe to a higher authority; his belief in truth is passive and childish; truth has been given to him, not discovered or learned by him.

In “On Liberty”, Mill argues that truth and understanding are impossible to achieve in any meaningful way without the fullest possible freedom of speech. Every attempt to silence speech is an ‘assumption of infallibility’ on the part of the authorities, he argued. Censorship encourages dogmatic thinking and rigid conformism, not truth.

The very same section of society currently arguing for greater respect for truth — what we might call the new clerisy: the insulated, technocratic-leaning political class that has dominated public life for the past 30 years or so — is often at the forefront of using either law or the considerable power of social stigma to prevent or weaken the expression of problematic views.

What is really happening in this era of concern about ‘post-truth’ is that the prejudices of the 21st-century elites are being reimagined as ‘truths’ that may not be contested freely — that is, they are being turned into dogmas, and put beyond open, unstigmatised public discussion.

If you believe something is true, you will be happy to subject it to as much criticism and dissent as possible. As Mill said, the greatest beliefs have ‘no safeguard to rest on but a standing invitation to the whole world to prove them unfounded’. That the new clerisy is unwilling to issue such an invitation, or to permit any strong contradiction of their values and ideas, confirms they have not the remotest interest in truth, and rather are concerned with the maintenance of their dogmatic prejudices over the 21st-century masses.

And as if on cue
This week we were subjected to the most recent and egregious case of authoritarian censorship and infringement of free speech in the name of dogmatic prejudice. Ayaan Hirsi-Ali’s speech was once again effectively censored as she was forced to cancel her speaking tour in Australia amid elevated security threats and boycotts by dogmatic activists claiming absurdly that she is a white supremacist. A good background and summary of the reasons for this can be found here: https://www.steynonline.com/7740/the-big-shut-up. Selected excerpt:

I don't care what side you pick on the great questions of the age but, if you're on the side that says the other guy isn't entitled to a side, you're on the wrong side. One of the reasons why free speech most certainly is a first-order priority is because, without it, the major problems of our time cannot be honestly addressed.
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2017-04-02 12:56:30 (1 comments; 4 reshares; 9 +1s; )Open 

Yuri Bezmenov: Deception, & the Promotion of Marxist Ideology was My Job

Follow-up to yesterday's 1983 talk, in this 1984 interview former KGB propagandist and defector Yuri Bezmenov discusses his life and the path from childhood to KGB agent to defector from the Soviet Union and the profound evils he witnessed under the Communist regime. Selected excerpts:

Most of the people who embrace the Marxist project would be marked for extermination. They will suffer psychological shock at what they will see in the future, at what the beautiful society of total equality and social justice actually means in practice. They will revolt. They will be very unhappy and frustrated people. A Marxist regime does not actually tolerate these types of people, who will join the ranks of dissenters and dissidents. Under a Marxist regime there is no place for political dissidents who are... more »

Yuri Bezmenov: Deception, & the Promotion of Marxist Ideology was My Job

Follow-up to yesterday's 1983 talk, in this 1984 interview former KGB propagandist and defector Yuri Bezmenov discusses his life and the path from childhood to KGB agent to defector from the Soviet Union and the profound evils he witnessed under the Communist regime. Selected excerpts:

Most of the people who embrace the Marxist project would be marked for extermination. They will suffer psychological shock at what they will see in the future, at what the beautiful society of total equality and social justice actually means in practice. They will revolt. They will be very unhappy and frustrated people. A Marxist regime does not actually tolerate these types of people, who will join the ranks of dissenters and dissidents. Under a Marxist regime there is no place for political dissidents who are simply squashed like cockroaches. Nobody will reward them for their beautiful noble ideas of equality. They do not understand this and it will be the greatest shock to them.

Exposure to true information does not matter anymore. A person who is demoralised[1] is unable to assess true information and can derive nothing from facts. Even after being presented with information, with authentic truth and documents and pictures, even if I take him to a soviet concentration camp he will refuse to believe it until he receives a kick in his fat bottom by a military boot. That is the tragedy of successful demoralisation.

To combat this there must be a very strong national effort to educate people in the spirit of real patriotism and to explain the real danger of the soviet / communist / welfare state / big brother government. If people fail to grasp the impending danger of that development there is nothing that can help the United States and you can kiss goodbye to all the freedoms you take for granted, which will evaporate and vanish.

[1] Yuri’s demoralisation process summary, noting that Yuri’s use of “demoralisation” seems to be used in a very literal sense to mean the removal or destruction of the moral values or virtues (and not only the morale) of a people: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_kd-ZzSgzK7o/TL4V0kxxReI/AAAAAAAAASo/GdOj219ajRU/s1600/subversion+process.jpg
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2017-04-02 12:45:04 (9 comments; 12 reshares; 67 +1s; )Open 

SciTech Digest - 14/2017.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2017/04/stretchy-neural-implants-blackest.html

Stretchy neural implants, Blackest blacker black, First rocket re-use, Human teaching for AIs, Boosting DNA repair, Better solar cells, RNA zika vaccine, Colloidal crystal proof, Smallest polymer features, Bitcoin botnet protocol.

1. Stretchy Neural Implants
A rubber-like flexible polymer fiber functions as an effective neural implant for forming both optical and electrical connections with neurons for stimulation and recording, and which has mechanical properties compatible with tissues http://news.mit.edu/2017/stretching-boundaries-neural-implants-0331.

2. Blackest Blacker than Black Material
A spray-on form of Vantablack has been developed, which despite not being quite as black and only blocking 99.8% of all light... more »

SciTech Digest - 14/2017.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2017/04/stretchy-neural-implants-blackest.html

Stretchy neural implants, Blackest blacker black, First rocket re-use, Human teaching for AIs, Boosting DNA repair, Better solar cells, RNA zika vaccine, Colloidal crystal proof, Smallest polymer features, Bitcoin botnet protocol.

1. Stretchy Neural Implants
A rubber-like flexible polymer fiber functions as an effective neural implant for forming both optical and electrical connections with neurons for stimulation and recording, and which has mechanical properties compatible with tissues http://news.mit.edu/2017/stretching-boundaries-neural-implants-0331.

2. Blackest Blacker than Black Material
A spray-on form of Vantablack has been developed, which despite not being quite as black and only blocking 99.8% of all light (instead of 99.96%), it can be used to coat just about any object to make it appear like a two-dimensional hole http://www.sciencealert.com/this-object-has-been-sprayed-with-the-world-s-blackest-pigment-and-it-s-freaking-us-out. Vantablack achieves this by comprising a tangled forest of 20nm carbon nanotubes that absorbs all light.

3. First Re-Use of SpaceX Booster
SpaceX successfully re-launched a rocket booster that had been previously recovered from a successful barge landing after its first launch; after delivering its payload to orbit the rocket was again recovered via a barge landing http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-39451401.

4. Teaching Virtual Agents Like Humans
Baidu’s AI group successfully taught a virtual AI agent to navigate a simply environment in a similar manner to how humans are taught things; using natural language commands through positive and negative reinforcement and instilling a zero-shot learning ability and a basic sense of grammar https://techcrunch.com/2017/03/30/baidus-ai-team-taught-a-virtual-agent-just-like-a-human-would-their-baby/?ncid=rss. In related news deep neural networks can now transfer the style of one photo to another http://www.theverge.com/2017/3/30/15124466/ai-photo-style-transfer-deep-neural-nets-adobe.

5. Boosting DNA Repair to Slow & Reverse Aging
The NAD signalling molecule has been revealed as a key regulator of DNA repair enzymes, which was demonstrated in mice treated with NAD to mitigate both age-related and radiation-induced DNA damage http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/03/harvard-scientists-pinpoint-critical-step-in-dna-repair-cellular-aging/. Human trials are expected later this year.

6. Better Solar Cells
First, copper oxide on silicon solar cells are projected to reach 40% energy efficiency; watch this space http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2017/03/a-copper-oxide-solar-cells-on-top-of.html. Second, commercial plants look set to begin producing spray-on solar cells next year http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2017/03/pilot-commercial-plants-for-spray-on.html.

7. RNA Zika Vaccine
A programmable mRNA vaccine that encodes Zika virus proteins packaged in virus-sized dendrimer nanoparticles that can enter cells appears to produce a strong and effective immune response against the Zika virus http://news.mit.edu/2017/rna-nanoparticles-zika-vaccine-0329.

8. Prove Mermin-Wegner Fluctuations
A model colloidal system has provided a proof of the Mermin-Wegner theorem that states it is impossible for long-range ordering and crystal formation of particles in lower (one- and two-) dimensional atomic structures https://www.uni-konstanz.de/en/university/news-and-media/current-announcements/news/news-in-detail/das-anwachsende-ende-der-ordnung/. The positions of particles naturally deviate from perfect lattice sites.

9. Smallest Ever Polymer Features
New techniques with block copolymers facilitate controlled fabrication of sub-10 nanometer features including the complex patterning required for chips http://news.mit.edu/2017/self-assembly-smaller-microchip-patterns-0327.

10. Bitcoin Botnet Internet of Things Protocol
NeuroMesh claims to have developed a bitcoin-based “unhackable” botnet product intended to support security applications for internet-of-things devices and protocols http://www.coindesk.com/this-bitcoin-botnet-is-vying-to-be-future-of-secure-iot/.

SciTech Tip Jar: http://www.scitechdigest.net/p/donate.html
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2017-04-01 10:46:15 (4 comments; 0 reshares; 17 +1s; )Open 

Glorious Oxford Comma Master Race!

Use of the Oxford comma or Serial comma conveys meaning, context, and intellect ;)
http://www.news.com.au/finance/work/at-work/missing-comma-costs-business-13-million/news-story/988e5732b9098f6a1b6f55288a24305d 

Glorious Oxford Comma Master Race!

Use of the Oxford comma or Serial comma conveys meaning, context, and intellect ;)
http://www.news.com.au/finance/work/at-work/missing-comma-costs-business-13-million/news-story/988e5732b9098f6a1b6f55288a24305d ___

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2017-04-01 06:39:48 (5 comments; 5 reshares; 16 +1s; )Open 

Yuri Bezmenov on Psychological Subversion Warfare

Never thought you’d allocate an hour to watch a lecture from 1983? Give this guy 5 minutes and you just might - also helps that ole’ Yuri is endearing and has a sense of humour.

If the Sahara Desert became a communist state we would have a sand shortage. - Yuri, former KGB propagandist.

In summary: 85% of the KGB’s resources were devoted to cultural subversion initiatives of this nature, which were founded on the four long-term phases of Demoralisation, Destabilisation, Crisis, and Normalisation. This never involves direct force, but rather continual prompting and guiding of cultural evolution towards outcomes more likely to be in the propagandist’s favour. Politics is downstream from culture after all.

Yuri spent his life as a reporter and propagandist for the Soviet KGB before defecting toCanada ... more »

Yuri Bezmenov on Psychological Subversion Warfare

Never thought you’d allocate an hour to watch a lecture from 1983? Give this guy 5 minutes and you just might - also helps that ole’ Yuri is endearing and has a sense of humour.

If the Sahara Desert became a communist state we would have a sand shortage. - Yuri, former KGB propagandist.

In summary: 85% of the KGB’s resources were devoted to cultural subversion initiatives of this nature, which were founded on the four long-term phases of Demoralisation, Destabilisation, Crisis, and Normalisation. This never involves direct force, but rather continual prompting and guiding of cultural evolution towards outcomes more likely to be in the propagandist’s favour. Politics is downstream from culture after all.

Yuri spent his life as a reporter and propagandist for the Soviet KGB before defecting to Canada via US intelligence. In this talk he presents a summary of the strategy of subversion and psychological warfare employed by the KGB against the West and the US in particular. Listening to his frank discussions and examples makes him appear prophetic when considering the many related socio-cultural phenomena that we see at play today that are founded on the cultural marxism and postmodernism that were an early component of this subversion process. Indeed there are large groups of the population for whom this process appears complete. Just listen to what the purported goals of KGB subversion efforts were and the outcomes we were left with.

Take all of this with a grain of salt of course. And note that it would be fallacious to link mid-late 20th century propaganda efforts like this to anything in recent times; the USSR and Russia are very different beasts and the current Neo-McCarthyite hysteria and witch-hunts being driven by the establishment are incredibly suspect.

Yuri finishes:
The answer to ideological subversion is very simple. You don’t have to shoot people or aim missiles at people; to prevent subversion you simply have to have faith. To avoid being a victim of subversion don’t try to be the person using overwhelming force against an enemy and having your power used against you. Instead, strike with the power of your spirit and moral superiority. If you do not have that power it is high time to develop it.

[1] Yuri: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yuri_Bezmenov
[2] Yuri’s subversion process summary: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_kd-ZzSgzK7o/TL4V0kxxReI/AAAAAAAAASo/GdOj219ajRU/s1600/subversion+process.jpg
[3] Yuri’s chart for moving from destabilisation to crisis: https://unifiedserenity.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/541a1-scan0014.jpg

h/t +Jason Anderson
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2017-03-26 12:49:34 (13 comments; 13 reshares; 87 +1s; )Open 

SciTech Digest - 13/2017.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2017/03/tetrachromatic-filters-optogenetic-stop.html

Tetrachromatic filters, Optogenetic stop light, Automated Lego lab, CRISPR applications, Antiaging breakthroughs, More medical implants, Molecular moire patterns, Quantum dot lasers, Cryo-Electron microscopy, Robot bug zapper.

1. Filters for Tetrachromatic Vision
New lenses filter out different parts of the spectrum and when fitted to glasses allow the wearer to see colours that are normally hidden (known as metamers), and which might provide tetrachromatic vision and beyond https://techxplore.com/news/2017-03-filters-tetrachromatic-vision-humans.html.

2. Optogenetic Stop Light
Optogenetics gets an expanded toolkit with a newly engineered protein that responds to green light by shutting off cellular signalling... more »

SciTech Digest - 13/2017.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2017/03/tetrachromatic-filters-optogenetic-stop.html

Tetrachromatic filters, Optogenetic stop light, Automated Lego lab, CRISPR applications, Antiaging breakthroughs, More medical implants, Molecular moire patterns, Quantum dot lasers, Cryo-Electron microscopy, Robot bug zapper.

1. Filters for Tetrachromatic Vision
New lenses filter out different parts of the spectrum and when fitted to glasses allow the wearer to see colours that are normally hidden (known as metamers), and which might provide tetrachromatic vision and beyond https://techxplore.com/news/2017-03-filters-tetrachromatic-vision-humans.html.

2. Optogenetic Stop Light
Optogenetics gets an expanded toolkit with a newly engineered protein that responds to green light by shutting off cellular signalling http://ist.ac.at/news-media/news/news-detail/article/when-green-means-stop/6/.

3. Lego Lab Automation
A new DIY lego robot design and free software download lets anyone build an automated life sciences and chemistry robot for carrying out lots of sequential tests, reactions, and measurements http://spectrum.ieee.org/the-human-os/biomedical/devices/diy-lego-robot-brings-lab-automation-to-students.

4. CRISPR Applications
First, CRISPR is being used to target cancer cell’s synthetic lethal vulnerabilities in which two genes have dependent effects such that if one is mutated cancer results but if the other is also mutated then cell death results http://www.genengnews.com/gen-news-highlights/crisprcas9-reveals-cancers-synthetic-lethal-vulnerabilities/81254065. Second, CRISPR is enhancing T-Cell immunotherapy treatments for cancer and might provide off-the-shelf cells rather than necessitating patient-derived cells http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2017/03/crispr-gene-therapy-is-enhancing-t-cell.html.

5. Antiaging Breakthroughs
First, cell-penetrating peptides comprising specific sequences demonstrate the ability to block particular cellular interactions and cause apoptosis of senescent cells, and demonstrating pretty decent antiaging effects in mice models http://www.bbc.com/news/health-39354628. Second, immortalised cell lines have been engineered that could mass produce red blood cells, while the osteopontin protein has been discovered to rejuvenate white blood cell activity http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2017/03/two-separate-breakthroughs-will-combine.html.

6. Better, More Natural Medical Implants
First, a new technique prevents scar tissue formation around implanted medical devices http://news.mit.edu/2017/blocking-immune-cells-scar-tissue-better-implants-0320. Second, another new technique quickly grafts PEDOT polymer films on metal substrates that can improve the interfacing of neurons with biomedical implants http://www.udel.edu/udaily/2017/march/materials-breakthrough/.

7. Molecular Moire Superstructures
I first came across the very cool Moire patterns via Numberphile https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QAja2jp1VjE. But now molecular moire superstructures can be formed via block copolymers https://phys.org/news/2017-03-moire-superstructures-block-copolymers.html.

8. Flying Saucer Quantum Dots
While specific sizes of quantum dots produce distinct colours of light, altering the specific shape of quantum dots produces far more efficient quantum dot lasers that might solve the heating issues that have plagued this application http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/semiconductors/materials/flying-saucer-quantum-dots-the-secret-to-better-brighter-lasers.

9. Cryo-Electron Microscopy Imaging
Cryo-Electron Microscopy has been significantly extended with the new ability to produce three dimensional atomic-scale images and models of complex biological structures including complete viruses http://newscenter.lbl.gov/2017/03/23/cryo-electron-microscopy-achieves-unprecedented-resolution-using-new-computational-methods/.

10. Underwater Bug Zapper
Perhaps inspired by the device that zapper mosquitoes with lasers, a new underwater robotic drone zapps lice to protect fish in fish-farms http://spectrum.ieee.org/semiconductors/optoelectronics/licehunting-underwater-drone-protects-salmon-with-lasers.

SciTech Tip Jar: http://www.scitechdigest.net/p/donate.html___

2017-03-19 13:06:08 (1 comments; 2 reshares; 16 +1s; )Open 

Challenging Thought Pieces
Here's a handful of interesting, challenging, and well-written articles I've come across over the last two weeks that comment on and dissect our current zeitgeist in some way.

Cementing Russian Electioneering via The Backfire Effect
https://theintercept.com/2017/03/16/key-democratic-officials-now-warning-base-not-to-expect-evidence-of-trumprussia-collusion/

Sacrificing Skepticism for Tribalistic Egregores
https://status451.com/2017/03/08/the-new-confessional-is-the-porcelain-throne/amp/

An Election Policy Strategy Unlike Many Others
https://www.degruyter.com/downloadpdf/j/for.2016.14.issue-4/for-2016-0040/for-2016-0040.pdf, [grain-of-salt] commentary here http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2017/03/scholarly_study_reveals_how_badly_hillary_screwed_up_campaign_advertising.html
... more »

Challenging Thought Pieces
Here's a handful of interesting, challenging, and well-written articles I've come across over the last two weeks that comment on and dissect our current zeitgeist in some way.

Cementing Russian Electioneering via The Backfire Effect
https://theintercept.com/2017/03/16/key-democratic-officials-now-warning-base-not-to-expect-evidence-of-trumprussia-collusion/

Sacrificing Skepticism for Tribalistic Egregores
https://status451.com/2017/03/08/the-new-confessional-is-the-porcelain-throne/amp/

An Election Policy Strategy Unlike Many Others
https://www.degruyter.com/downloadpdf/j/for.2016.14.issue-4/for-2016-0040/for-2016-0040.pdf, [grain-of-salt] commentary here http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2017/03/scholarly_study_reveals_how_badly_hillary_screwed_up_campaign_advertising.html

Implicit Confirmation Bias
https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/deep-down-most-of-us-are-racist-or-are-we/article34265471/

The Pursuit of Moral Supremacy over Liberty.
https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-exhaustion-of-american-liberalism-1488751826
I read this before it was pay-walled. Looking around I think a full copy is here http://luxlibertas.com/the-exhaustion-of-american-liberalism/. ___

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2017-03-19 06:44:34 (14 comments; 13 reshares; 64 +1s; )Open 

SciTech Digest - 12/2017.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2017/03/superfluid-helium-entropy-military.html

Superfluid Helium entropy, Military robots, Metal foams, DeepMind memory trick, Persistent DNA origami, Transparent ceramics, How DNA is packaged, X-Raying integrated circuits, Cleavable cell control, Antenna-less smartphones.

1. Another Link Between Superfluid Helium & Black Holes
Yet another parallel between superfluid helium and black holes has been inferred, that being that the entropy of the system grows at the same rate as the area of the system and not the volume https://www.sciencenews.org/article/superfluid-helium-behaves-black-holes.

2. Military Robots
First, much bigger fully robotic tanks up to 20 tons in size will soon be entering service... more »

SciTech Digest - 12/2017.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2017/03/superfluid-helium-entropy-military.html

Superfluid Helium entropy, Military robots, Metal foams, DeepMind memory trick, Persistent DNA origami, Transparent ceramics, How DNA is packaged, X-Raying integrated circuits, Cleavable cell control, Antenna-less smartphones.

1. Another Link Between Superfluid Helium & Black Holes
Yet another parallel between superfluid helium and black holes has been inferred, that being that the entropy of the system grows at the same rate as the area of the system and not the volume https://www.sciencenews.org/article/superfluid-helium-behaves-black-holes.

2. Military Robots
First, much bigger fully robotic tanks up to 20 tons in size will soon be entering service http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2017/03/future-of-completely-robotic-tanks-is.html, and second, in news surprising no one hacked commercial drones are being turned into Improvised Explosive Devices http://defense-update.com/20170306_drone_ieds.html.

3. Metal Foams & Laser Melted Structures
First, a new selective laser melting method can produce functionally graded crystallographic metallic materials with fine internal structures that convey different properties https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-03/ptgs-nao031017.php. Second, new composite metal foams show effective capabilities in ballistics armour, radiation shielding, and heat resistance https://news.ncsu.edu/2017/03/composite-metal-foams-2017/.

4. DeepMind’s Memory Trick
DeepMind shows how using a parameter known as neural episodic control results in an order of magnitude fewer interactions with the environment required to learn a task, and leading to much faster AI learning https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603868/how-deepminds-memory-trick-helps-ai-learn-faster/.

5. Long Life DNA Origami
Specifically designed block copolymers can now be created to self-assemble and envelop DNA origami structures, significantly boosting lifetime and resistance to decomposition in biological media https://tu-dresden.de/tu-dresden/newsportal/news/blockcopolymer-mizellisierung-als-schutzstrategie-fuer-dna-origami?set_language=en.

6. Super-Hard Transparent Ceramics
For the first time popular industrial ceramic cubic silicon nitride has been synthesised, resulting in a super-hard window resistant to harsh industrial conditions http://www.desy.de/news/news_search/index_eng.html?openDirectAnchor=1200&two_columns=1. It is the third hardest ceramic after diamond (but can withstand double the temperature) and boron nitride (which is not transparent).

7. How DNA is Packaged in a Cell
A new imaging technique known as Hi-C has allowed the first direct 3D structural images of DNA is packaged in a cell to be observed for the first time https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/03/heres-the-first-3d-glimpse-of-how-dna-is-packaged-up-in-a-single-cell/.

8. X-Rays of Integrated Circuits
X-Rays can now be used to produce complete 3D models of integrated circuits from conventional computer chips, and allowing such chips to be reverse engineered much more rapidly http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/semiconductors/processors/xray-ic-imaging. Interesting not just for competitor chip makers but also “personal” security given Vault7 leaks concerning deliberate hardware vulnerabilities.

9. Cleavable Cell Light Control
Cell processes can now be controlled in a new way with light via linking two proteins together via a molecular bridge that breaks in response to light of a certain wavelength, releasing the proteins to initiate their normal functions https://www.ualberta.ca/science/science-news/2017/march/biochemists-develop-new-way-to-control-cell-biology-with-light.

10. Antenna-less Smartphones
Fractus is a company trying to commercialise its antenna-less smartphone technology, which involves replacing the smartphone antenna with a much smaller component known as an antenna booster that co-opts the phone’s existing circuitry to radiate signals http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/telecom/wireless/fractus-antennas-pitches-new-antennaless-smartphone-technology.

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2017-03-18 13:18:40 (7 comments; 1 reshares; 64 +1s; )Open 

Declassified Nuclear Weapons Tests

A big bunch of declassified nuclear weapons tests have recently been digitised and declassified. I always wondered why they said an atmospheric blast can cause more damage than a ground-detonated charge . . . and this GIF helps show why.
via https://www.businessinsider.com.au/new-nuclear-explosion-youtube-videos-llnl-2017-3?r=US&IR=T
Full playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLvGO_dWo8VfcmG166wKRy5z-GlJ_OQND5

Declassified Nuclear Weapons Tests

A big bunch of declassified nuclear weapons tests have recently been digitised and declassified. I always wondered why they said an atmospheric blast can cause more damage than a ground-detonated charge . . . and this GIF helps show why.
via https://www.businessinsider.com.au/new-nuclear-explosion-youtube-videos-llnl-2017-3?r=US&IR=T
Full playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLvGO_dWo8VfcmG166wKRy5z-GlJ_OQND5___

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2017-03-12 07:52:06 (7 comments; 13 reshares; 68 +1s; )Open 

SciTech Digest - 11/2017.
Abridged due to an exceptionally busy week.

Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2017/03/synthetic-yeast-20-human-crispr-editing.html

Synthetic yeast 2.0, Human CRISPR editing, Automated gene therapy, Mitochondria delivery, Synthetic DNA robot, Molecular switches, Single-atom magnet, Baidu speech synthesiser, Metamaterial radar imaging, Magnetic Mars shield.

1. Synthetic Yeast 2.0 Project
The Synthetic Yeast 2.0 project has produced the first fully designed, partially synthesised, made-from-scratch eukaryotic genome, building on synthetic bacteria work and offering a range of industrial applications https://www.wired.com/2017/03/synthetic-yeast-genome/.

2. CRISPR Edits Human Embryos
CRISPR has been used to edit and correct the mutations in the cells of viable human embryos, correcting the... more »

SciTech Digest - 11/2017.
Abridged due to an exceptionally busy week.

Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2017/03/synthetic-yeast-20-human-crispr-editing.html

Synthetic yeast 2.0, Human CRISPR editing, Automated gene therapy, Mitochondria delivery, Synthetic DNA robot, Molecular switches, Single-atom magnet, Baidu speech synthesiser, Metamaterial radar imaging, Magnetic Mars shield.

1. Synthetic Yeast 2.0 Project
The Synthetic Yeast 2.0 project has produced the first fully designed, partially synthesised, made-from-scratch eukaryotic genome, building on synthetic bacteria work and offering a range of industrial applications https://www.wired.com/2017/03/synthetic-yeast-genome/.

2. CRISPR Edits Human Embryos
CRISPR has been used to edit and correct the mutations in the cells of viable human embryos, correcting the genetic disease beta-thalassemia for example https://www.newscientist.com/article/2123973-first-results-of-crispr-gene-editing-of-normal-embryos-released.

3. Cheaper Automated Gene Therapy
A new device called Prodigy automates the gene therapy process to genetically alter a patient’s cells - to treat disease or target cancer - before being collected and introduced back into the patient’s body much quicker and cheaper than manual techniques https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603762/this-lab-in-a-box-could-make-gene-therapy-less-elitist/#comments.

4. Mitochondria Delivery as Therapy
Proof-of-concept experiments show that healthy mitochondria can be delivered into different cells types in animals to provide healthy replacements for defective mitochondria, and combined with other methods for targeting and destroying defective mitochondria might provide an early stage rejuvenation therapy https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2017/03/a-demonstration-in-mice-of-whole-mitochondria-delivered-as-a-therapy/.

5. Synthetic DNA Robot
A DNA-powered micro-robot combines 27 molecular components inside a fluid vesicle and including membrane proteins bound to tags that can reversibly link to specific DNA sequences that in turn bind tags linked to microtubule proteins; when the DNA is activated a cytoskeleton forms that can deform in a cell-like manner http://spectrum.ieee.org/the-human-os/biomedical/devices/celllike-robot-programmable-with-dna. A platform that might be loaded with sensors, drugs, or other tools.

6. Molecular Switches
First, a single molecule switch has been demonstrated, a molecular tripod bound to surfaces supporting a molecular “cantilever” that can be reversibly switched into two different states mechanically and electrically https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-03/uok-sms031017.php. Second, light-driven molecular crystal motors have also been demonstrated https://www.oia.hokudai.ac.jp/blog/on-the-path-toward-molecular-robots/.

7. Single-Atom Magnet
The smallest magnet ever produced - a single atom - has been demonstrated and used to store and retrieve a single bit of data http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/semiconductors/nanotechnology/single-atom-serves-as-worlds-smallest-magnet-and-data-storage-device.

8. Baidu’s Synthetic Speech
Baidu has demonstrated a deep learning system called Deep Voice that functions as a text-to-speech system that can learn to talk in a few hours with little to no human interference https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603811/baidus-artificial-intelligence-lab-unveils-synthetic-speech-system/. This is an improvement on DeepMind’s WaveNet system.

9. 3D Radar Imaging with Metamaterials
A new metamaterial has been formed into a dynamic metasurface that functions as an antenna at radio wavelengths that can be used exert a range of precise controls over radio beams for much higher-resolution, cheaper, quicker 3D radar imaging and jamming applications https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603839/how-metamaterials-are-reinventing-3-d-radar-imaging/. Achieving this for shorter wavelengths would be transformative.

10. Magnetic Shield for Mars
An interesting proposal suggests that placing a 2 Tesla magnet at Mars’ lagrange point would shield the planet from the Sun’s solar wind and allow the atmosphere to thicken over time, greatly assisting any terraforming efforts http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2017/03/2-tesla-magnetic-shield-placed-at-mars.html.

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2017-03-05 07:04:11 (8 comments; 21 reshares; 71 +1s; )Open 

SciTech Digest - 10/2017.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2017/03/handle-robot-thawing-cryopreserved.html

Handle the robot, Thawing cryopreserved organs, Complex nanoparticle crystals, Engineering a supersolid, 3D printed blood vessels, Nucleoskeleton structure, Machine learning earthquakes, DNA computing, Custom photoacoustics, 3D fog printing.

1. Boston Dynamics’ Handle
The most impressive demonstration of the week was undoubtedly Boston Dynamic’s Handle robot, a bipedal wheeled robot that attempts to make the best of both fixed limbs and wheels http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/humanoids/boston-dynamics-handle-robot. The videos of Handle scooting, falling, and jumping up onto tables while in motion really do have to be seen. It can carry 45kgs and has a range of 24km. “Simply” providing bipedal robots with wheeled feet offers amuch la... more »

SciTech Digest - 10/2017.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2017/03/handle-robot-thawing-cryopreserved.html

Handle the robot, Thawing cryopreserved organs, Complex nanoparticle crystals, Engineering a supersolid, 3D printed blood vessels, Nucleoskeleton structure, Machine learning earthquakes, DNA computing, Custom photoacoustics, 3D fog printing.

1. Boston Dynamics’ Handle
The most impressive demonstration of the week was undoubtedly Boston Dynamic’s Handle robot, a bipedal wheeled robot that attempts to make the best of both fixed limbs and wheels http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/humanoids/boston-dynamics-handle-robot. The videos of Handle scooting, falling, and jumping up onto tables while in motion really do have to be seen. It can carry 45kgs and has a range of 24km. “Simply” providing bipedal robots with wheeled feet offers a much larger range of locomotive abilities and flexibility in navigating variable terrain at reduced energy cost.

2. Thawing Cryopreserved Organs
A new approach to rewarming frozen tissues involves first adding silica-coated iron oxide nanoparticles into solution to circulate through the tissues before being cryogenically frozen - when the tissue needs to be thawed it is placed in an external magnetic field that heats up the nanoparticles to generate uniform heat throughout the sample https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-03/aaft-wut022717.php. This appeared to avoid the tissue damage that can result from conventional warming and thawing. If it could be combined with a technique to freeze the tissue without ice crystal damage then cryogenic preservation takes a big step forward.

3. Complex Nanoparticle Crystal Designs
The most complex nanoparticle crystals ever produced have been created via DNA mediated self-assembly processes https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-03/nu-mcn022817.php. In this demonstration gold nanoparticle bipyramids complex crystal structures known as clathrates thanks to DNA sequences attached to their sides that direct the assembly process into an ordered geometric arrangement. Applications might include control of light, pollution capture, drug delivery - and really a whole range of new materials applications depending on the type of nanoparticles used.

4. Supersolid Created for First Time
Beginning with a Bose-Einstein condensate of sodium atoms researchers were able to use precise lasers to manipulate the motion and spin of the atoms to essentially create a mixture two Bose-Einstein condensates coupled one to the other, which realised the first ever supersolid state of matter http://news.mit.edu/2017/mit-researchers-create-new-form-matter-0302. This appears to be an elegant reduction to practice of pre-existing theory and hypotheses the predicted this state of matter. Of course, this doesn’t explain the mind-bending nature of this quantum state of matter, that of a solid that flows without viscosity.

5. Better 3D Printed Blood Vessels
In a step towards solving one of the biggest challenges in tissue and solid organ engineering, functional vasculature, biomimetic blood vessel networks have now been 3D printed http://jacobsschool.ucsd.edu/news/news_releases/release.sfe?id=2142. The 3D printed vasculature network can integrate with the body’s own blood vessels to circulate blood, and the printed structures follow similar design principles by branching out from larger to many smaller vessels like capillaries. The custom 3D printing process uses UV light to cure or set a polymer solution into a desired, patterned polymer scaffold that encapsulates live cells that grow to become biological endothelial tissue, and animal tests in mice confirmed the structures and blood flow integrate with and merge successfully with the existing blood supply.

6. Nucleoskeleton Structure Revealed for First Time
3D electron microscopy has revealed the precise architecture of the lamina support for the nuclear wall at molecular resolution for the first time http://www.media.uzh.ch/en/Press-Releases/2017/structure-of-the-cell-nucleoskeleton.html. This molecular scaffold stabilises the cell nucleus and defects are often characteristic of certain diseases. Just beneath the nuclear membrane that houses the protein pores for shuttling molecules in and out of the nucleus lies the 14nm thick lamina and its delicate mesh network of 3.5nm thick laminin filaments that help stabilise the nuclear membrane and also contribute to structural and regulatory processes that control the cell’s DNA.

7. Machine Learning Attempts Earthquake Prediction
A new machine learning algorithm is able to predict that a laboratory earthquake to give way by listening to the sounds it emits under strain https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603785/machine-learning-algorithm-predicts-laboratory-earthquakes/. While the model laboratory system has many similarities to real-world fault lines, including the same size distribution of small and large slips, how it makes such accurate predictions is not known to the group that developed it and importantly real-world experiments need to be conducted before anyone can claim that the technique should be used in quake forecasting. In related news neural networks promise to produce the sharpest ever astronomical images https://www.ras.org.uk/news-and-press/2950-neural-networks-promise-sharpest-ever-images.

8. DNA Computing
There were a couple of interesting advances in DNA computing this week. First, a new method to encode digital data in DNA sequences has produces the highest-ever large-scale data storage scheme ever invented, and capable in theory of storing 215 petabytes per gram of DNA http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/03/dna-could-store-all-worlds-data-one-room. Second, there is an interesting proposal for building a non-deterministic universal turing machine out of DNA that might provide an exponential speed boost over electronic and quantum computers, essentially replicating DNA and growing to process ever more paths and greater equivalent computational output for certain problems http://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/news/scientists-reveal-new-super-fast-form-of-computer-that-grows-as-it-computes/.

9. Photoacoustic Ultrasound from Light
New 3D printed structures with specifically-designed surface profiles function as precise photoacoustic conversion interfaces - when a pulse of light strikes the material it is absorbed and produces a precisely shaped sound wave in response https://publishing.aip.org/publishing/journal-highlights/optical-generation-ultrasound-photoacoustic-effect. By tailoring the surface a sound wave of nearly any shape can be produced in response. An algorithm developed by the group can take a desired sound shape and produce the 3D surface structure necessary to produce it; applications include acoustic tweezers and channels for sample analysis.

10. 3D Printing with Nanoparticle Fog
A new 3D printing method employs a fog of microdroplets that contain silver nanoparticles that, as the liquid fog is evaporated, remain behind to be deposited at specific locations in order to build up complex delicate structures https://news.wsu.edu/2017/03/03/novel-3-d-manufacturing/. While silver was used in the proof-of-concept almost any nanoparticle could be used in the same way. A range of microscaffolds were engineered that might be used as porous anodes and cathodes for batteries, electronic interconnects, and perhaps biomaterials for implantation.

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2017-03-01 14:34:35 (32 comments; 10 reshares; 24 +1s; )Open 

The Failure of the Fourth Estate

How the mainstream media increasingly lies to and manipulates the public, rarely speaks truth to power, never accounts for its innumerable failures, and seems driven to polarise people and turn them against one another.

My essay on the fourth estate and our mainstream media, and complete with many sources, transcripts, examples, concepts, narratives, and other thoughts.

I've been putting this together for quite a while and it is one of the main reasons I haven't made many posts here over the last couple of months. 

The Failure of the Fourth Estate

How the mainstream media increasingly lies to and manipulates the public, rarely speaks truth to power, never accounts for its innumerable failures, and seems driven to polarise people and turn them against one another.

My essay on the fourth estate and our mainstream media, and complete with many sources, transcripts, examples, concepts, narratives, and other thoughts.

I've been putting this together for quite a while and it is one of the main reasons I haven't made many posts here over the last couple of months. ___

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2017-02-26 10:33:59 (26 comments; 13 reshares; 85 +1s; )Open 

SciTech Digest - 09/2017.
Abridged this week due to becoming a father for the first time!

Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2017/02/better-optogenetic-devices-autophagy.html

Better optogenetic devices, Autophagy booster, Room temp superconductors, Engineering casimir forces, DeepMind PathNet, BCI thought typing, CRISPR 2.0, Transcription epigenetics, Cellular atlases, Clever drones.

1. Three-in-One Optogenetic Fibers
One device for delivering genetic changes to neurons and optical and electrical inputs and outputs http://news.mit.edu/2017/multifunctional-tiny-fibers-brain-0221

2. Drug Boosts Autophagy
New drug functions as an autophagy enhancer to better clear metabolic wastes and aging damage
https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2017/02/identification-of-a-potential-autophagy-enhancement-drug/

3.... more »

SciTech Digest - 09/2017.
Abridged this week due to becoming a father for the first time!

Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2017/02/better-optogenetic-devices-autophagy.html

Better optogenetic devices, Autophagy booster, Room temp superconductors, Engineering casimir forces, DeepMind PathNet, BCI thought typing, CRISPR 2.0, Transcription epigenetics, Cellular atlases, Clever drones.

1. Three-in-One Optogenetic Fibers
One device for delivering genetic changes to neurons and optical and electrical inputs and outputs http://news.mit.edu/2017/multifunctional-tiny-fibers-brain-0221

2. Drug Boosts Autophagy
New drug functions as an autophagy enhancer to better clear metabolic wastes and aging damage
https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2017/02/identification-of-a-potential-autophagy-enhancement-drug/

3. Room Temperature Superconducting Cuprates
New models predict cuprates will superconduct at room temperature if the positioning of dopants is atomically precise
http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2017/02/recipe-for-room-temperature.html

4. Nanostructures Engineer Casimir Forces
Surfaces with engineered silicon nanostructures can measure the Casimir forces between them and can generate non-monotonic forces and possibly repulsions
http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2017/02/casimir-forces-measured-between-silicon.html

5. DeepMind’s PathNet
DeepMind demonstrates PathNet, a network of neural networks aiming to solve the Transfer Learning problem of neural network applications
https://medium.com/@thoszymkowiak/deepmind-just-published-a-mind-blowing-paper-pathnet-f72b1ed38d46#.8dru5v4ek and in related news neural networks can synthetically age photos of faces
https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603684/neural-network-learns-to-synthetically-age-faces-and-make-them-look-younger-too/

6. Accurate Typing with Brain-Computer-Interfaces
A new BCI allows paralysed patients to type at an average of eight words per minute
http://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2017/02/brain-computer-interface-allows-fast-accurate-typing-by-people-with-paralysis.html

7. CRISPR 2.0
A good review article of the improvements and advances being made to make CRISPR better
http://www.sciencemag.org/custom-publishing/technology-features/editing-editor-genome-editing-gets-makeover-crispr-20

8. Transcription Epigenetics
Studies in epigenetics have begun to reveal in detail how transcription products (mRNA) are often epigenetically tagged (in addition to the conventional DNA tags) to modify mRNA translation and reulation http://www.nature.com/news/an-epigenetics-gold-rush-new-controls-for-gene-expression-1.21513

9. Cellular Atlases
The Human Cell Atlas Project aims to produce detailed 3D virtual reality maps of tumours, organs, tissues, and perhaps the entire body that show the location of every cell type http://www.nature.com/news/the-race-to-map-the-human-body-one-cell-at-a-time-1.21508

10. Ever-Clever Drones
Drones are being engineered to better land on moving platforms http://magazine.uc.edu/editors_picks/recent_features/fuzzydrones.html and provided with flame throwers to potentiall clean debris from power lines http://technology.inquirer.net/59085/watch-drones-flamethrowers-take-flight-china

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2017-02-19 02:55:02 (10 comments; 23 reshares; 90 +1s; )Open 

SciTech Digest - 08/2017.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2017/02/mems-afm-on-chip-low-power-voice-chip.html

MEMS AFM on-chip, Low power voice chip, Wireless power, LysoSENS development, Chiral carbon nanotubes, MOF molecular looms, Molecular biology of sleep, Electrical brain interfaces, DNA computer drugs, Printable solar cells.

1. On-chip MEMS AFM
A MEMS-based atomic force microscope has been created on a single chip complete with all of the sensors and components needed to control the device http://www.utdallas.edu/news/2017/2/15-32432_Jonsson-School-Engineers-Shrink-Microscope-to-Dime_story-wide.html. The one square centimeter sized device operates an oscillating cantilever that is moved across the surface of the sample to be imaged. While it might not have the sensitivity of a high-end laboratory system such a device should make entry-level... more »

SciTech Digest - 08/2017.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2017/02/mems-afm-on-chip-low-power-voice-chip.html

MEMS AFM on-chip, Low power voice chip, Wireless power, LysoSENS development, Chiral carbon nanotubes, MOF molecular looms, Molecular biology of sleep, Electrical brain interfaces, DNA computer drugs, Printable solar cells.

1. On-chip MEMS AFM
A MEMS-based atomic force microscope has been created on a single chip complete with all of the sensors and components needed to control the device http://www.utdallas.edu/news/2017/2/15-32432_Jonsson-School-Engineers-Shrink-Microscope-to-Dime_story-wide.html. The one square centimeter sized device operates an oscillating cantilever that is moved across the surface of the sample to be imaged. While it might not have the sensitivity of a high-end laboratory system such a device should make entry-level AFM applications much cheaper and more widespread - a lot more people having access to and using an AFM can only be a good thing.

2. Low Power Voice Control Chip
A low power voice-control and speech recognition chip has been developed that achieves an energy saving of between 90% - 99%, effectively running speech-recognition software for between 0.2 - 10 milliwatts instead of the usual 1 watt that a phone uses http://news.mit.edu/2017/low-power-chip-speech-recognition-electronics-0213. Such low-powered capabilities are ideally suited to internet of things applications and low-power sensors and interfaces with embedded communications. The chip itself incorporates three different hardware implementations of neural networks of varying complexity.

3. Better Wireless Power Transfer
Disney research has demonstrated a quasistatic cavity resonance device for transferring power wirelessly to receivers in devices with 40% to 95% efficiency, and can transfer 1900 watts in this way safely https://www.disneyresearch.com/publication/quasistatic-cavity-resonance-for-ubiquitous-wireless-power-transfer/. I’ve covered several different technologies attempting to do similar wireless power transfer but this latest attempt appears to significantly improve the range, power, and efficiency. Again, a mature technology would be a key enabler of internet of things devices, sensors, and applications.

4. LysoSENS Moves Towards the Clinic
Ichor Therapeutics has demonstrated very promising results in cells for clearing types of lysosomal garbage and is now seeking to complete animal studies and move into a Phase 1 human clinical trial https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2017/02/ichor-therapeutics-announces-lysoclear-sens-rejuvenation-therapy-and-series-a-fundraising-for-further-development/. The therapy comes from bacterial enzymes that can break down certain types of lysosomal garbage, and which have also been modified to be targeted to the lysosomes of target cells. In this specific, niche case the therapy breaks down the garbage and removes the accumulated damage A2E metabolic waste aggregates in retinal cells that leads to different types of macular degeneration, and so represents a good, early, embryonic rejuvenation and anti-aging therapy.

5. Catalysts for Chiral Carbon Nanotubes
New work reveals that different carbon nanotube growth catalysts can preferentially form carbon nanotubes with different chiralities - the pattern of graphene hexagons around the tube that control metallic or semiconducting properties of the carbon nanotube https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170215131554.htm. Tungsten carbide produces semiconducting carbon nanotubes with 80% - 90% purity, while molybdenum carbide helps produce metallic carbon nanotubes. Meanwhile carbon nanotubes and graphene have been combined into functional 3D graphene rebar structures http://news.rice.edu/2017/02/13/graphene-foam-gets-big-and-tough/.

6. Molecular Looms from MOFs
Metal Organic Framework materials are now being used to precisely position (four-armed in this case) monomer molecules that are then cross-linked in a precise array similar to two-dimensional polymer textiles http://www.kit.edu/kit/english/pi_2017_020_metal-organic-frameworks-used-as-looms.php. This is a clever nanotechnology application for building precisely structured and formulated materials with near perfect atomic organisation. After formation the molecule-thick 2D polymer sheets are actually held together by the mechanical forces resulting from the weave pattern. A versatile platform for creating a wide variety of different, precise, 2D polymer sheets with customisable properties and structures at the atomic scale.

7. The Molecular Biology of Sleep
The molecular biology underpinning and controlling sleep is being further mapped out as part of a huge study in mice with the discovery of two new genes that play a key role in regulating sleep https://www.quantamagazine.org/20170214-sleep-control-machinery-in-the-brain/. The first, Sik3, influences the total amount of sleep needed, while the second, Nalcn, influences the amount of REM dreaming sleep that is attained. This study took years and involved mutating the genes of thousands of mice and hooking them up to brainwave monitors while they slept. With these targets identified there is further scope to rationally design interventions able to modify sleep in humans.

8. Better Electrical Brain Interfaces
In just one week we had three different improved electronic brain interfaces announced. First, a new complementary metal oxide semiconductor nanoelectrode array can image and map the changing electrical signals within a large group of living cells http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/semiconductors/devices/nanoelectrode-array-measures-electrical-signals-across-network-of-cells. Second, ultra-flexible nanoelectronic threads can act as reliable brain probes that enable scar-free integration for neural signal recording https://cns.utexas.edu/news/new-ultra-flexible-probes-form-reliable-scar-free-integration-with-the-brain. Finally, glassy-carbon electrodes transmit more robust signals to restore function in people with damaged spinal cords http://newscenter.sdsu.edu/sdsu_newscenter/news_story.aspx?sid=76593.

9. DNA Computer Smart Drugs
A new DNA computer is able to process the presence and concentration of multiple specific antibodies in the body at once in order to diagnose particular disease states https://www.tue.nl/en/university/news-and-press/news/17-02-2017-dna-computer-brings-intelligent-drugs-a-step-closer/ or see the paper http://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms14473. In this process DNA strands are designed to bind to different antibodies, and when mixed with complementary reporter DNA sequences, these sequences only release the “signal” strand when those specific antibodies are present. These output signals are then processed by a range of DNA computer and logic elements to provide information on the nature of the disease that is present. I’m impressed by how sophisticated the DNA computing and health diagnostics platform is becoming.

10. Printable Perovskite Solar Cells
A new chemical reaction allows an electron-selective solar cell layer to be grown in solution out of nanoparticles directly on top of electrodes and that also incorporate perovskite solar-power ink http://news.engineering.utoronto.ca/printable-solar-cells-just-got-little-closer/, and at much lower temperatures than was previously possible. The solar cells created with this process in the lab demonstrated an energy efficiency of 20.1%. The promise of printable solar cells is being able to cheaply produce high-efficiency panels via established printing techniques or even custom-printing onto most desired surfaces.

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2017-02-13 13:00:03 (6 comments; 3 reshares; 68 +1s; )Open 

Departures from Reason: When Ideology Trumps Science

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZY3wrRbGopw

Gad Saad, Professor of Evolutionary Psychology, presents “Departures from Reason: When Ideology Trumps Science” in which he begins by comparing biological parasites or viruses that infect humans and damage the ability to function healthily, to cultural viruses that infect human minds and damage the ability to reason effectively. One of his pet-hates are cases of political correctness that parasitise our ability discuss certain facts or ask certain questions, and it is such strong a pet-hate that he jokingly declares this a result of OPS syndrome.

His own field of evolutionary psychology is perfectly placed as a target to be dismissed in this manner. The main arguments he tends to see declaring Evolutionary Psychology is wrong tend to be (i) humans are cultural beingstha... more »

Departures from Reason: When Ideology Trumps Science

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZY3wrRbGopw

Gad Saad, Professor of Evolutionary Psychology, presents “Departures from Reason: When Ideology Trumps Science” in which he begins by comparing biological parasites or viruses that infect humans and damage the ability to function healthily, to cultural viruses that infect human minds and damage the ability to reason effectively. One of his pet-hates are cases of political correctness that parasitise our ability discuss certain facts or ask certain questions, and it is such strong a pet-hate that he jokingly declares this a result of OPS syndrome.

His own field of evolutionary psychology is perfectly placed as a target to be dismissed in this manner. The main arguments he tends to see declaring Evolutionary Psychology is wrong tend to be (i) humans are cultural beings that transcend biology, (ii) it is morally dangerous and excuses reprehensible actions, (iii) it can be falsified with individual examples that contradict the population norm, (iv) it consists of unfalsifiable “just-so” stories.

While the first three are trivially idiotic he takes time to destroy the common “just-so” story dismissal. As an example a nomological network of disparate evidence from a wide body of work across different fields can adequately explain mating and body shape preferences for men and women. Data to support this include psychological studies, studies across different times, studies across different cultures, local and global advertising, medical data and health benefits, and studies ruling out socialisation theories. Nomological networks inherently protect against bias in any one area. As Gad concludes: To call this “just-so” storytelling is to advertise that you know nothing about biology and you know nothing about evolutionary psychology.

And: Nomological networks leverage vast amounts of cumulative evidence to provide credible and veridical answers to complex questions and phenomena, and dismiss or reveal as idiotic other explanations put forth that often emerge from ideological dogma. All of the objections against evolutionary psychology are always rooted in ideology. There is almost never a very sound scientific argument against evolutionary psychology; it is always rooted in someone’s pet ideology being ruffled by evolutionary theory.

Unlike the anti-science evolution-deniers who reject Evolutionary Psychology, Gad is a great thinker, an engaging speaker, and a funny guy who doesn’t take himself too seriously.___

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2017-02-12 04:06:10 (10 comments; 24 reshares; 92 +1s; )Open 

SciTech Digest - 07/2017.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2017/02/nanoparticle-selection-screening.html

Nanoparticle selection screening, Forming helium compounds, Resilient brain implants, Chip based micro-organs, Reversed hall effect, Ostrich delivery bots, Millimeter computers, Deep learning protein structures, Mammalian gene drives, Acid powered pill.

1. Screening Nanoparticles for Drug Delivery
A new nanoparticle screening system helps to rapidly identify those nanoparticles that can best enter different tissues and organs in the body http://news.mit.edu/2017/nanoparticle-screen-could-speed-drug-development-0207. The technique first generates a family of nanoparticles that vary on some particular trait (PEG structure in this case), then tags each with specific DNA sequences that act as bar codes, then all particles are injected into the body,... more »

SciTech Digest - 07/2017.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2017/02/nanoparticle-selection-screening.html

Nanoparticle selection screening, Forming helium compounds, Resilient brain implants, Chip based micro-organs, Reversed hall effect, Ostrich delivery bots, Millimeter computers, Deep learning protein structures, Mammalian gene drives, Acid powered pill.

1. Screening Nanoparticles for Drug Delivery
A new nanoparticle screening system helps to rapidly identify those nanoparticles that can best enter different tissues and organs in the body http://news.mit.edu/2017/nanoparticle-screen-could-speed-drug-development-0207. The technique first generates a family of nanoparticles that vary on some particular trait (PEG structure in this case), then tags each with specific DNA sequences that act as bar codes, then all particles are injected into the body, and samples from different parts of the body are finally sequenced to determine which nanoparticle composition was most effective in getting into which tissues. These lipid nanoparticles can then be loaded with DNA for gene therapy or RNA for gene regulation to preferentially target a specific tissue.

2. Helium Forms Compounds
Conventional chemistry dictates that helium cannot form stable compounds with other elements. A new study however shows that this isn’t the case under intense pressure, and helium can for example form stable compounds with sodium with the formula Na2He https://www.usu.edu/today/?id=56480. This result was completely unexpected, with the novel chemical bonding structures produced by these elements under these pressures fortuitously possessing the precise structural stability required to form the stable helium compound. An interesting scientific curiosity for now, we’ll have to wait and see if a family of different compounds can be formed in this manner and whether they may have any useful applications.

3. Practical, Resilient Brain Implants
Many invasive brain implants being trialled for advanced brain-computer interfaces to allow the patient to interact with their environment with machines just by thinking typically suffer declining performance due to implant degradation and scar tissue formation. A new implant avoids penetrating the brain and instead rests on the surface with an array of microscopic coils that control targeted magnetic fields to instead stimulate particular neural locations https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603602/this-technology-could-finally-make-brain-implants-practical/. Monkey trials are planned next month in which the visual cortex will be stimulated to recreate activity normally generated by the eyes, which is ultimately aimed at using a camera to provide or enhance vision.

4. Micro-Organs on Chip
Standard 96-well plates have been used to create vascularised micro-organs in each well, with each miniature tissue being a much better model for reproducing human drug responses than earlier model systems https://eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-02/uoc--usc020817.php. The vascularisation and blood flow is key here, and in proof-of-concept work was shown to deliver nutrients to multiple tissues including heart, pancreas, brain, and different tumours. The platform proved itself as an effective drug screening tool for tumours. Linking these micro-tissues together would also provide an interesting tool for micro-human-on-a-chip in which multiple interconnected organs might be tested. In related news we have microfluidic chips that emulate human kidney function https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-02/bu-rdd020917.php, and beating 3D heart tissue being created http://news.yorku.ca/2017/02/09/matters-of-the-heart-yorku-researchers-create-3d-beating-heart/. .

5. Metamaterial with Reversed Hall Coefficient
The Hall Effect is the occurrence of a transverse electric voltage across an electric conductor passed by current flow, if this conductor is located in a magnetic field, and can be negative or positive. In a nice experimental confirmation of theoretical predictions, a metamaterial with a positive Hall Effect coefficient has been created out of negative coefficient materials http://www.kit.edu/kit/english/pi_2017_006_metamaterial-mail-armor-inspires-physicists.php. The geometry must be precise, resembling interlinked ring structures, and was created by 3D printing high-resolution polymer scaffolds and then coating with semiconducting zinc oxide; while the charge carriers remain negatively charged electrons the material responds as if they are positively charged. Further work will further develop different versions of the material and alter the direction of the response.

6. Cassie the Robot Delivery Ostrich
Agility Robots has developed Cassie, an agile bipedal robot intended for research, disaster relief, and package delivery http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/industrial-robots/agility-robotics-introduces-cassie-a-dynamic-and-talented-robot-delivery-ostrich. Partially inspired by ostrich leg and locomotion dynamics, Cassie manages dirt, grass, wobbly docks, rain and other environmental challenges. It is intended as a platform on which to build a range of peripherals including sensor systems, arms, and other devices. In related robot news rethink robotics gets a major software upgrade for its Sawyer platform of assistive train-by-imitation robots http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/industrial-robots/rethink-robots-get-massive-software-upgrade, and DARPA has developed a novel platform for launching and landing larger drones http://www.darpa.mil/news-events/2017-02-06.

7. Millimeter Computers with Deep Learning
The latest version of micro-mote computers that measure just one cubic millimeter have been demonstrated that are intended to be tiny energy efficient computing sensors for internet of things applications http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/robotics/artificial-intelligence/millimeterscale-computers-now-with-deep-learning-neural-networks-on-board. Some designs now use only a few nanowatts of power, increased radio range to 20m from 50cm a year ago, embedded flash memory from 8KB to 1MB, and dedicated deep learning neural network processors. This has always been an interesting platform to follow, something that seems intent on birthing genuine smart “dust” in future.

8. Machine Learning Elucidates Protein Structures
In related machine learning news new algorithms are helping to quickly generate complete 3D structures of protein molecules http://www.kurzweilai.net/new-machine-learning-algorithms-may-revolutionize-drug-discover-and-our-understanding-of-life. This approach better utilises electron cryomicroscopy, which takes tens of thousands of low-resolution images of frozen protein samples from different positions, which is typically stitched together on a large computing cluster. This can take days or weeks and up to 500,000 CPU hours. The new system makes many structure determinations possible in minutes using a single personal GPU.

9. Mammalian Gene Drives for Pest Eradication
Building on work to develop gene drives in mosquitos, the technology has now been demonstrated in mice for the first time, in which the modified mice only ever produce male offspring and so would result in a crash of the local population if released into the wild https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603533/first-gene-drive-in-mammals-could-aid-vast-new-zealand-eradication-plan/. The proposal under consideration is to repeat the feat in rats, and introduce animals to islands that have been overrun with mice and rats - considered an invasive pest that threaten native birds and fauna - and so drastically reduce numbers or eradicate the population completely. CRISPR was again used to engineer the modifications. Speaking of CRISPR a new genetic engineering platform called PfAgo that creates artificial restriction enzymes appears to surpass even CRISPR’s amazing capabilities in many areas http://www.igb.illinois.edu/misc_news/new-genetic-engineering-method-indispensable-biotechnological-tool.

10. Acid Powered Pill
A pill-sized ingestible electronic device has been developed that can be powered by stomach acid and other environments with large pH differences http://news.mit.edu/2017/engineers-harness-stomach-acid-power-tiny-sensors-0206. This system can generate enough power without a battery to run small sensors or operate a drug delivery device over extended periods of time in the gastrointestinal tract. Inspired by the classic “lemon battery” the demonstrations of the device powered a temperature sensor and transfer data to a receiver two meters away every 12 seconds. Next steps will be further miniaturization and performance in lower pH areas further down the GI tract.

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2017-02-05 07:20:35 (2 comments; 18 reshares; 70 +1s; )Open 

SciTech Digest - 06/2017.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2017/02/human-proteome-increased-transgene.html

Human proteome, Increased transgene expression, Mapping nanoparticle atoms, Radioisotope dating, Biomimicking bat robot, BCI for locked-in patients, Deep learning image processing, Immune system reconstruction, Microbial manufacturing, Aerogel consumer products.

1. Human Proteome Milestone
In a major milestone for the Proteome Tools component of the Human Proteome Project, 330,000 human peptides have now been synthesised to create a reference library representing all cananonical proteins from the human proteome https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/detail/article/33694/. The data is freely available to foster collaboration. Next steps in the project will comprise the continuing generation of an additional one million peptides,... more »

SciTech Digest - 06/2017.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2017/02/human-proteome-increased-transgene.html

Human proteome, Increased transgene expression, Mapping nanoparticle atoms, Radioisotope dating, Biomimicking bat robot, BCI for locked-in patients, Deep learning image processing, Immune system reconstruction, Microbial manufacturing, Aerogel consumer products.

1. Human Proteome Milestone
In a major milestone for the Proteome Tools component of the Human Proteome Project, 330,000 human peptides have now been synthesised to create a reference library representing all cananonical proteins from the human proteome https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/detail/article/33694/. The data is freely available to foster collaboration. Next steps in the project will comprise the continuing generation of an additional one million peptides, essentially variants corresponding to splice variants, mutations, and post-translational modifications such as phosphorylation, acetylation, and ubiquitination. The end-goal is a range of vastly better diagnostic tools and devices for improving patient health.

2. Increasing Transgene Expression 100-Fold
An adeno-associated viral vector has been used to deliver a new mini-intronic plasmid that can carry a gene of interest and significantly enhance the subsequent expression of this gene after it has been delivered into cells http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2017/01/new-system-for-therapeutic-gene.html. Experiments demonstrated that transgene expression in cells was between 40 and 100 times higher compared to conventional methods. Such enhanced gene expression and protein production for example, significantly reduces the dosing needed and the number of cells needed to be transformed in order to adequately achieve a minimum therapeutic response. This will be an interesting platform to watch for future gene therapies.

3. Determining the Location & Identity of all Atoms in a Nanoparticle
For the first time powerful electron microscopes have been used to map the identity and precise 3D location of each of 23,000 atoms in a nanoparticle made of iron and platinum https://newscenter.lbl.gov/2017/02/01/nanoparticle/. Despite generally being a genuine step for nanotechnology, determining that this particular nanoparticle had precisely 16,627 platinum atoms and 6,569 iron atoms, such detailed knowledge of materials at this scale better helps map material composition to material properties and will help provide ways to better engineer and analyse materials at this and higher scales.

4. Radioisotope Dating Flaws
Subtle flaws have been discovered in a common radioisotope dating technique in which the ratios of different strontium and rubidium isotopes are measured along with known decay rates to determine the age of formation of a particular rock formation or meteorite https://news.ncsu.edu/2017/01/radioisotope-dating-flaw-2017/. The group discovered that these isotopes are subject to differential mass diffusion through the rock they are embedded in, in which different isotopes will diffuse through the material at different rates depending on material composition; despite being a very slow process, over geological timescales the difference can impact measurements and thus dating accuracy. Important to note that this doesn’t apply to carbon dating. It’ll be interesting to follow this work to see how it is applied to generate more accurate dates, and how much difference there will be for the standard ages we currently apply to events from deep history.

5. Bat Robot Biomimicry
Work on flying bio-mimicking robots is getting increasingly complex and elegant with a newly demonstrated bat-robot http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/drones/bat-robot-offers-safety-and-maneuverability-in-bioinspired-design. A bat’s wings and flight surface actually has 40 degrees of freedom that allows a huge amount of aerial agility - replicating this in a robot is incredibly difficult. The bat-robot design includes 5 degrees of freedom that in theory can replicate 57% of bat maneuverability, and this is all enabled by a very thin, flexible, deformable membrane stretched over limbs that control various deformations as needed during flight.

6. BCI for Locked-In Patients
A non-invasive brain computer interface appears to have allowed patients with locked-in syndrome, who cannot even move their eyes to communicate, to respond to yes/no questions simply via thought http://www.wysscenter.ch/en/brain-computer-interface-allows-completely-locked-in-people-to-communicate/. Tests with a range of patients suffering from late-stage ALS revealed that the system was able to interpret correct responses about 70% of the time. This particular technique uses near-infrared spectroscopy combined with EEG measurements to determine the activity of particular parts of the brain.

7. Neural Network Image Processing Tricks
First, we have a neural network PaintsChainer tool that can take balck and white drawings and line art and automatically - and artistically - colour them in a dreamy watercolour / coloured pencil style https://techcrunch.com/2017/02/02/this-neural-network-based-software-will-automatically-color-in-your-line-art/?ncid=rss. The user can specify what colours to apply or simply allow the tool to decide for itself. Second, a neural network tool called PixelCNN can produce photo-realistic higher-resolution images from extremely low resolution starting images that might plausibly represent a great many different images https://arxiv.org/pdf/1702.00783v1.pdf. This isn’t to say that the algorithm reproduces the original image, but just one that could pass for the original. Finally, deep learning software reported last week can also be used to diagnose cataracts as well as a human http://spectrum.ieee.org/the-human-os/biomedical/diagnostics/ophthalmologists-vs-ai-its-a-tie.

8. Immune System Reconstruction for Autoimmunity
Recent clinical trials support efforts to treat autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis by destroying the existing population of immune cells and recreating them from the patient’s own blood-forming stem cells https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2017/02/more-results-for-the-use-of-immune-system-reconstruction-to-treat-autoimmunity/. While incredibly promising for those suffering terrible and debilitating autoimmune diseases the future promise is in finding more selective methods to destroy these specific populations of cells and so enable poorly functioning immune systems for a wide range of disorders including disease and simple aging to be rebuilt to healthy, youthful functioning status.

9. Microbial Manufacturing
Manus Bio is developing genetically engineered microbes as well as manufacturing fermentation facilities to mass produce flavours, fragrances, and other specialty chemicals http://news.mit.edu/2017/microbial-manufacturing-manus-bio-0203. In many cases this entails extensive engineering to add complex metabolic pathways to bacteria, for example adding the natural biochemical pathway to cheaply produce the natural sweetener Reb M from the stevia plant, and producing the molecule with 95% purity. Other examples include the 17 step biochemical process for producing the pharmaceutical drug Taxol. A great platform producing commercial products and with almost unlimited applications.

10. Consumer Aerogel Products
I always like seeing advanced technology trickle its way down into consumer products that people can use routinely and directly. A good recent example is aerogels, unique insulators that trap huge amounts of air by weight, that have now made their way into jackets and other cold weather clothing http://newatlas.com/oros-nasa-aerogel/47573/. Despite being around for a long time this application of aerogel was only made possible recently with new synthesis processes that made aerogels that were flexible and able to be used in flexible clothing - resulting 2 - 8 times better insulated clothing that is much lighter.

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2017-01-29 05:53:21 (7 comments; 18 reshares; 106 +1s; )Open 

SciTech Digest - 05/2017.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2017/01/synthetic-genetic-code-bioprinting-skin.html

Synthetic genetic code, Bioprinting skin, Deep learning skin cancer, Insect cyborgs, Chimeric tissue farming, Construction robots, Evolved optoelectric metasurfaces, Better immunotherapies, Human initiator sequence, Autonomous shipping.

1. Improved Semi-synthetic Genetic Code
Improving on work from 2014 in which a semi-synthetic organism was created with the addition of an extra basepair into its DNA, expanding its genetic code from four letters to six, this improved version survives significantly longer without losing the synthetic addition
http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/48114/title/Improved-Semisynthetic-Organism-Created/. Improvements include the addition of CRISPR to force the modified bacteria to keep the... more »

SciTech Digest - 05/2017.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2017/01/synthetic-genetic-code-bioprinting-skin.html

Synthetic genetic code, Bioprinting skin, Deep learning skin cancer, Insect cyborgs, Chimeric tissue farming, Construction robots, Evolved optoelectric metasurfaces, Better immunotherapies, Human initiator sequence, Autonomous shipping.

1. Improved Semi-synthetic Genetic Code
Improving on work from 2014 in which a semi-synthetic organism was created with the addition of an extra basepair into its DNA, expanding its genetic code from four letters to six, this improved version survives significantly longer without losing the synthetic addition
http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/48114/title/Improved-Semisynthetic-Organism-Created/. Improvements include the addition of CRISPR to force the modified bacteria to keep the extra basepair, modifying the synthetic base transporter to be less toxic, and changing one of the synthetic bases to one that showed better retention. The ongoing challenge of course is to design functional genes and proteins that incorporate the new bases (almost limitless design options here), and recoding fundamental genes such as DNA polymerase with the new base to evolutionarily force the synthetic organism to keep the base.

2. Bioprinting Skin
A 3D bioprinter has been developed that can create functional human skin that can be transplanted to patients or used in research for pharmaceuticals and cosmetics http://www.uc3m.es/ss/Satellite/UC3MInstitucional/en/Detalle/Comunicacion_C/1371227676752/1371215537949/Spanish_scientists_create_a_3D_bioprinter_to_print_human_skin. The device replicates the structure of the skin with the epidermis and stratum corneum along with the deeper layer comprising the dermis. Newly developed bioinks are the key to this working, with specific formulations designed to nurture and maintain the cells and protect them from deterioration. The system can produce allogeneic skin at large scale for industrial purposes or autologous skin from a patient’s own cells for therapeutic purposes.

3. Deep Learning Diagnoses Skin Cancer
A deep learning system based on GoogleNet Inception architecture is able to recognise and diagnose cases of skin cancer from photos as well as expert human dermatologists http://spectrum.ieee.org/the-human-os/biomedical/diagnostics/computer-diagnoses-skin-cancers. The system will need to be proven on other skin conditions, melanomas, and different cancers before it is ready for testing and release with patients and customers. Even though dermatologists note that touch can be important for diagnosis, such a system has significant potential to drastically reduce doctor visits and health costs, as well as catch genuine skin cancers and other conditions earlier, improving health outcomes and reducing late-stage costs.

4. Turning Insects into Cyborgs
The DragonflEye project is developing a miniature backpack for dragonflies that incorporates solar panels, battery, electronics, guidance & navigation, wireless communications, and optrodes that can control optogenetically-modified dragonflies for a range of applications http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/industrial-robots/draper-dragonfleye-project. The optrodes work to activate dragonfly steering neurons with pulses of light, indirectly controlling muscles and steering, while avoiding clumsy and imprecise implanted electrodes that can degrade over time. Such a cyborg insect, with solar powered electronics and a living insect that eats normally, can function as a long-lived autonomous sensor for a range of environmental, industrial, military, and civilian applications.

5. Chimeric Tissue Farming
Another approach to solve the shortage of organs for transplantation took a step this week with the latest proof-of-principle demonstration of creating chimeric animals that grow the particular organs of another species https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2017/01/a-demonstration-of-chimeric-tissue-farming-mouse-pancreatic-tissue-grown-in-rats/. In this case rats are genetically engineered to be unable to make (for example) a pancreas, and during early development pluripotent mouse stem cells are transplanted, meaning that the pancreas formed by the animals can only come from mouse cells. The pancreas functioned well in the rats, and islets harvested and transplanted into diabetic mice were able to rescue the mice from diabetes. Human applications might do the same with pigs for example.

6. Construction Fabricator Robot
In Situ Fabricator1 is a new construction robot able to construct novel structures on a building site, uses a bunch of tools with sub-5mm accuracy, senses and responds to its environment, operates semi-autonomously, tolerates the dirty conditions in such environments, and can move through standard spaces to reach a workspace https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603429/robotic-fabricator-could-change-the-way-buildings-are-constructed/. Demonstrations include building a complex, undulating wall out of 1,600 bricks, and welding wires into a complex, curved steel mesh design for filling with concrete. Future versions aim to reduce the weight of the robot and increase its strength. While 3D printing a building is an interesting space to follow, the need for robots like this that can build structures much bigger than themselves.

7. Evolved Optoelectronic Metasurfaces
Effective optoelectronic metasurfaces can now be evolved and fabricated out of titanium nitride for the first time http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=45701.php. Such surfaces can be effective in high resolution imaging and 3D holography, but this new work also enables control of polarisation and ultrasensitive biosensing. The use of titanium nitride also solves a number of problems including CMOS compatibility, high strength, and high temperature operation. The group used evolutionary algorithms as part of an optimise-and-prototype platform to develop ever-better patterned titanium nitride metasurfaces.

8. Better Immunotherapies
Two babies have been cured of their cancer (leukemia) in a world first involving the injection of genetically engineered T-cells from a donor https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603502/two-infants-treated-with-universal-immune-cells-have-their-cancer-vanish/. Other approaches by the likes of Novartis, that take a patient’s own immune cells & engineer them before returning them, are logistically complex and still trying to reach first sales. This work used the most-engineered cells to date (four genes modified) in order to a make an off-the-shelf treatment that creates large batches of cells that can be given to many different people in need of similar treatments, and resulting in logistics that are much simpler and cheaper.

9. Human Gene Initiator Sequence
After a convoluted history the main initiator DNA sequence in promoter regions for human genes has been locked down http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/pressrelease/uc_san_diego_biologists_unlock_code_regulating_most_human_genes. This initiator sequence is the most common sequence identifying the start site for transcription of genes and further improves the knowledge of and methods for tweaking how genes are turned on and off; it is located precisely at the start site of more than half of all human genes. One of the immediate benefits should be improved function of gene delivery and genetic engineering generally.

10. Autonomous Shipping
Semi-autonomous and fully autonomous ships and shipping logistics are well under development as outlined in this excellent overview article http://spectrum.ieee.org/transportation/marine/forget-autonomous-cars-autonomous-ships-are-almost-here. Most of the attention for autonomous vehicles goes to cars, trucks, and planes / drones, but international shipping is a fundamental aspect of the global economy and autonomous capabilities here provide a similar range of benefits in safety, efficiency, and cost. With 75% - 96% of marine accidents caused by human error, and a number possibilities to drastically reduce the incidence of piracy there are many benefits to be had.

Bonus: 5G wireless communications standards are being made possible by merging a range of advanced communications technologies http://spectrum.ieee.org/video/telecom/wireless/everything-you-need-to-know-about-5g.

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2017-01-22 05:39:07 (7 comments; 26 reshares; 85 +1s; )Open 

SciTech Digest - 04/2017.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2017/01/atmospheric-laser-lenses-emp-artillery.html

Atmospheric laser lenses, EMP artillery, Virus communications, Smartphone DNA sensing, Learning software creates learning software, Functionally imprinted polymers, Better RNA aptamers, Manipulating the vacuum, Safer Tesla autopilot, Filtering radioactivity.

1. Atmospheric Laser Lenses
The atmosphere can play havoc with light and lasers but a Laser Developed Atmospheric Lens system proposes methods to use powerful lasers to turn regions of the atmosphere into lenses, mirrors, and “deflector shields” http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/aerospace/military/laser-weapons-will-turn-earths-atmosphere-into-lenses-deflector-shields. This system would produce ordered hot and cold layers or structures of air in order to control the refractivecon... more »

SciTech Digest - 04/2017.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2017/01/atmospheric-laser-lenses-emp-artillery.html

Atmospheric laser lenses, EMP artillery, Virus communications, Smartphone DNA sensing, Learning software creates learning software, Functionally imprinted polymers, Better RNA aptamers, Manipulating the vacuum, Safer Tesla autopilot, Filtering radioactivity.

1. Atmospheric Laser Lenses
The atmosphere can play havoc with light and lasers but a Laser Developed Atmospheric Lens system proposes methods to use powerful lasers to turn regions of the atmosphere into lenses, mirrors, and “deflector shields” http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/aerospace/military/laser-weapons-will-turn-earths-atmosphere-into-lenses-deflector-shields. This system would produce ordered hot and cold layers or structures of air in order to control the refractive conditions that light must pass through. This might be used to produce large atmospheric lenses for terrestrial or space-based telescopes, or a region that disperses incoming lasers and directed energy and act as a shield. This would spark an arms race of defensive and offensive capabilities.

2. EMP Artillery
In related news artillery shells capable of delivering a targeted EMP or ElectroMagnetic Pulse are being developed http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2017/01/us-army-develop-155mm-shells-that-will.html. These munitions are intended of course to knock out all electronics within a region. While shielding may protect certain key electronics, those driving any wireless communications when the EMP hit would of course be knocked out. Of course, the atmospheric lenses from above may also provide protection from such EMP blasts (depending on strength) as well as modifying the effects of an EMP in an offensive manner.

3. Virus Communication System Discovered
A viral communication system has been discovered for the first time in which viruses sense chemical signals left behind by earlier viral copies to decide whether to kill or just infect their bacterial hosts http://www.nature.com/news/do-you-speak-virus-phages-caught-sending-chemical-messages-1.21313?WT. Evolutionarily this makes sense, because if the virus is running out of bacterial hosts (having killed too many), then it is best to insert into the host cell’s genome and await reactivation at a later date to re-establish growth. This mechanism might also be present in viruses that infect human cells that have an active and dormant phase, such as HIV and HSV; forcing the viruses to stay dormant via a drug would be therapeutically beneficial.

4. DNA Mutation Detection and Molecular Diagnostics via Smartphone
A new 3D printed device combines sample wells, a moveable stage, lenses, and laser diodes, and docks with your mobile phone to allow your phone camera to detect mutations present in the DNA of cells in the sample as part of performing remote, distributed, point of care molecular diagnostic analysis http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/smartphone-microscope-offers-cost-effective-dna-sequencing-and-genetic-mutation-analysis. Cells of interest are loaded into the device along with fluorescent DNA probes for mutations and DNA sequences of interest, and after following the protocol the phone camera can confirm via imaging the sample whether certain sequences are present or not. These might be as common as thermometers at home one day.

5. Machine Learning System Creates New Machine Learning Systems
Researchers at Google Brain have developed machine learning system that designed another machine learning system that was able to run a language-processing software benchmark better than software designed by humans https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603381/ai-software-learns-to-make-ai-software/?set=603387. So here we have learning software making learning software, which can be expected to more rapidly disseminate machine learning tools and capabilities across the digital ecosystem. Other experiments demonstrated learning systems creating new learning systems with a better ability to generalise and able to master new tasks with less additional training than usual. Meanwhile machine learning is getting ever-better at creating pop music https://arxiv.org/pdf/1611.03477v1.pdf.

6. Functionally Imprinted Polymers
Novel polymers can now be functionally imprinted with DNA molecules, and retain the ability to bind to that specific DNA sequence https://phys.org/news/2017-01-imprint-stable-chemically-polymer-equivalents.html. In this process the target (DNA or other molecule) is added to a solution of special monomers that assemble around the target before being electrochemically polymerised. Applications for such molecular imprinting include creating recognition films for chemical sensors and also in for purification of solutions, removing specific contaminants and other molecules as needed.

7. Evolving Better RNA Aptamers
A better way to evolve more effective and stable RNA aptamers has been discovered simply by utilising naturally occuring stable RNA structures as a starting point http://cen.acs.org/articles/95/i4/Making-aptamers-biologys-help.html. As part of the proof-of-concept the group used pieces of natural riboswitches and ribozymes as scaffolds to evolve RNA aptamers that bind target molecules of interest such as amino acids and other small molecules. This work provides a robust set of design principles that others can use to quickly generate RNA aptamers that specifically bind target molecules of interest, and which fold correctly and remain stable in cells, which was a major problem solved by this work.

8. Manipulating the Vacuum Group State
As part of a new way to study the quantum vacuum ground state physicists claim to demonstrate the detection of signals from completely empty space https://phys.org/news/2017-01-quantum-vacuum-traffic-space.html. In this work femtosecond light pulses are used to probe electromagnetic fluctuations that apparently lack intensity, probing discrete time points instead of discrete frequency bands, and these are believed to be vacuum fluctuations. The thrust of the work appears to be the direct detection of electromagnetic background noise & fluctuations in a small region of space. They claim to be able to manipulate the vacuum in this way such that the measured noise is lower than the conventional vacuum ground state. The group aim to determine whether this qualifies as a weak measurement system that leaves quantum systems unperturbed. I wonder if such a method might help with “hidden variables” type experiments.

9. Tesla’s Autopilot Ten Times Safer
Federal data analysis reveals that Tesla’s first generation Autopilot reduced the crash rate incidence by 40%, while the second generation software is set to reduce the crash rate by 90%, or ten times lower than human drivers https://electrek.co/2017/01/20/tesla-autopilot-reduce-crash-rate-90-ceo-elon-musk/. This software is built on 1.3 billion miles of data collected from the suite of sensors carried by the cars and the 90% reduction rate is made possible by new upgradeable hardware introduced in October 2016. It only has to be better than human drivers at saving lives; ten times better (and beyond that in future) is so compelling it cannot be ignored.

10. Extracting Radioactive Elements from Water
An inexpensive “oxidatively modified carbon” material has been developed that is efficient at absorbing radioactive elements including cesium and strontium from contaminated water http://news.rice.edu/2017/01/19/treated-carbon-pulls-radioactive-elements-from-water-2/. Conventional absorbents often have to be stored as nuclear waste, but this material can be burnt in a nuclear furnace to produce a much smaller amount of radioactive ash for storage and handling. Cleaning contaminated water and soil would be a great application of course, but I also wonder about the utility here for extraction and harvesting of particular elements from the oceans for example.

Bonus: I couldn’t pass up this fascinating method for making huge soap bubbles and the accompanying discussion on using modifications to this for manufacturing huge complex structures in space http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2017/01/single-soap-bubble-made-on-earth-that.html.

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2017-01-15 05:48:47 (5 comments; 9 reshares; 60 +1s; )Open 

SciTech Digest - 03/2017.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2017/01/neuromorphic-tank-spotting-novaseq-dna.html

Neuromorphic tank spotting, NovaSeq DNA sequencers, Cavity regeneration, BIC Lasers, Long carbon nanotubes, DIY antiaging, Reactive 3D printing, Superior alumina alloys, Scarless wound regeneration, Digital DNA replicator.

1. Neuromorphic Tank Spotting.
The US air force has successfully used IBM’s neuromorphic TrueNorth chips to rapidly identify military and civilian vehicles from aerial imagery https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603335/air-force-tests-ibms-brain-inspired-chip-as-an-aerial-tank-spotter/. Part of the work involved competing the neuromorphic chip against other machine learning systems, for which performance and accuracy was similar but with TrueNorth using less than 5% of the power used by other systems. In related newsG... more »

SciTech Digest - 03/2017.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2017/01/neuromorphic-tank-spotting-novaseq-dna.html

Neuromorphic tank spotting, NovaSeq DNA sequencers, Cavity regeneration, BIC Lasers, Long carbon nanotubes, DIY antiaging, Reactive 3D printing, Superior alumina alloys, Scarless wound regeneration, Digital DNA replicator.

1. Neuromorphic Tank Spotting.
The US air force has successfully used IBM’s neuromorphic TrueNorth chips to rapidly identify military and civilian vehicles from aerial imagery https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603335/air-force-tests-ibms-brain-inspired-chip-as-an-aerial-tank-spotter/. Part of the work involved competing the neuromorphic chip against other machine learning systems, for which performance and accuracy was similar but with TrueNorth using less than 5% of the power used by other systems. In related news Google continues to roll out it’s RAISR machine learning image upscaling technology for saving 75% of bandwidth on image downloads https://www.blog.google/products/google-plus/saving-you-bandwidth-through-machine-learning/, and a deep learning system beats professional poker players http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2017/01/deepstack-ai-has-beaten-professional.html.

2. NovaSeq DNA Sequencers
Illumina has launched a new generation of DNA sequencers called NovaSeq that it intends to develop to the point of being able to sequence an entire human genome for $100 http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2017/01/illumina-introduces-novaseq-seriesa-new.html. The device is actually designed to sequence up to 48 whole genomes per run and subsequent generations may even hit $10 per genome after that. New innovations packed into NovaSeq include reengineered dyes and surface chemistries, improved optics for 4x faster scan speed, higher density flow cells to include more genomes per run, and better analysis software.

3. Drug for Tooth Repair
A drug that has been used in clinical trials for treating Alzheimer’s disease has been shown to be effective in stimulating stem cells in the pulp of teeth in order to generate new mineralised dentine in large cavities http://www.kcl.ac.uk/newsevents/news/newsrecords/2017/01-January/Natural-tooth-repair-method-using-Alzheimer%27s-drug-could-revolutionise-dental-treatments.aspx. The drug was delivered by being embedded in biodegradable collagen sponges applied to the site, and which degraded over time to be replaced by new, strong, dentine. This could reduce the need for fillings and ideally would be formed into a product people could take at home as a preventative from time to time.

4. Bound States in the Continuum Lasers
Lasers have been created for the first time using a novel phenomenon known as bound states in the continuum (BIC) http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/pressrelease/new_laser_based_on_unusual_physics_phenomenon_could_improve_telecommunicati. The device uses an etched nanostructured semiconducting membrane that, when powered with a laser beam, induces a BIC state able to emit its own frequency laser beam. BIC systems contain waves that are perfectly confined or bound in an open system, remaining localised and trapped rather than escaping. Benefits of BIC lasers would include easy tuning to emit different wavelengths and custom shaped beams. Next step is for the group to make the BIC laser electrically powered rather than optically powered.

5. Making Long Carbon Nanotubes
Commercial manufacturing processes can now produce carbon nanotubes with lengths up to 10mm and diameters of only 5 - 12nm http://www.chemengonline.com/a-process-for-making-longer-carbon-nanotubes-2/. The new nanotubes are produced in a custom designed heated reactor and because they are longer these new carbon nanotubes better facilitate being spun into yarns using textile processing equipment, which have also been woven into sheets for armour and area-heating applications given they emit infrared heat when a voltage is applied.

6. DIY Health & Antiaging
A couple of DIY antiaging initiatives this week. First, you can now go to a clinic and pay for a transfusion of blood plasma collected from teenagers and young adults as a first commercial effort to offer the antiaging rejuvenation benefits seen in many parabiosis experiments https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603242/questionable-young-blood-transfusions-offered-in-us-as-anti-aging-remedy/. This is pitched as a clinical trial but has come under harsh criticism; still, watch this space. Second, an increasing number of people are doing their own gene therapy experiments on themselves by designing the vectors, ordering from reagent companies, and arranging for professionals (or otherwise) to administer the treatment https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603217/one-mans-quest-to-hack-his-own-genes/; in this case additional copies of human growth hormone were added to muscle cells.

7. Reactive 3D Printing Advances
New materials and polymers used in standard 3D printing processes can be chemically activated by UV light after printing in order to enable incredibly useful properties http://news.mit.edu/2017/technique-enables-adaptable-3-d-printing-0113. These properties include the ability to chemically incorporate monomers from solution in order to grow the polymers already in the 3D printed structure, which can alter properties such as strength, stiffness, hydrophobicity, and swelling. They can even cause two different structures to fuse and chemically join together. In related news an interesting type of liquid metal 3D printing has been developed http://www.buffalo.edu/news/releases/2017/01/020.html.

8. Superior Alumina Alloys
Alumina materials that incorporate dilute lanthanide dopants for the first time have been developed and resulting in delayed phase transitions and improved temperature resilience that might be very useful for laser gain media http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=45533.php. 400ppm of lanthanide ions results in the alumina becoming stable at temperatures up to 300C hotter than previously; as a laser gain media this enables significant boosts to thermal conductivity and rapid heat dissipation, which would allow much more powerful lasers to be operated.

9. Wound Healing Without Scars
Skin wounds can now be prompted to regenerate back to a healthy state without scarring by first stimulating the formation of new hair follicles, which subsequently stimulate the conversion of some surrounding cells into new fat cells https://www.pennmedicine.org/news/news-releases/2017/january/using-fat-to-help-wounds-heal-without-scars. This gives the healed skin a normal, healthy look. In addition to better healing and regeneration of wounds, whether from injury or surgical procedure, the technique might also be used to reverse and prevent major wrinkles of the skin as aged skin contains many of the same hallmarks of wounded skin.

10. Tiny Digital DNA Duplicator
An innovative new DNA replication device makes clever use of adaptive PCR (polymerase chain reaction) https://news.vanderbilt.edu/2017/01/11/dna-duplicator-small-enough-to-hold-in-your-hand/. In this system, in addition to your DNA of interest, a copy of the sequence in the form of left-handed DNA with fluorescent tags is added (must be ordered / synthesised elsewhere) to the same vessel. Left handed DNA is the mirror image of DNA in life and doesn’t react with anything but because the sequence is identical it has the same temperature response and the fluorescence is dependent on whether the left handed DNA is denatured or not. The device can then image the same and determine exactly when it is fully denatured, annealed, and elongated, and cycle the temperature precisely and accurately in order to achieve this. I think that is pretty clever.

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2017-01-09 12:58:25 (21 comments; 4 reshares; 25 +1s; )Open 

New Way To Read

It took me a long time to get half way through the latest book I read, The Age of Em, while reading on Amazon Kindle for Android. At some point I discovered a menu option called “Word Runner” and gave it a try; an example is below. I remember first seeing this technique after it was first developed some years ago now and thought it was pretty cool. I persevered and decided to read the remaining half of the book in this way; I was finished in less than a week and suspect I could read a book per week this way.

When starting the software presents words slowly to get your brain used to the cadence then builds up to your selected word speed. I found that (i) too slow and it seemed disjointed and hard to follow, (ii) too fast and it was like skimming the page with flashes of narrative jumping out but difficult to take it all in.

At the moment I’mhappy... more »

New Way To Read

It took me a long time to get half way through the latest book I read, The Age of Em, while reading on Amazon Kindle for Android. At some point I discovered a menu option called “Word Runner” and gave it a try; an example is below. I remember first seeing this technique after it was first developed some years ago now and thought it was pretty cool. I persevered and decided to read the remaining half of the book in this way; I was finished in less than a week and suspect I could read a book per week this way.

When starting the software presents words slowly to get your brain used to the cadence then builds up to your selected word speed. I found that (i) too slow and it seemed disjointed and hard to follow, (ii) too fast and it was like skimming the page with flashes of narrative jumping out but difficult to take it all in.

At the moment I’m happy with about 250 words per minute, a rate that lets me take everything in to the point where I frequently stop to highlight a particularly poignant or insightful passage for later review - which I enjoy doing.

The main thing is that this method forces you to focus and pay attention to the book. Looking away or getting distracted results in missing whole sentences or paragraphs and having to restart. For The Age of Em simply concentrating like this for 3 - 5 minutes at a time was enough to get through a section heading of a chapter, and four or five of those got through a whole chapter.

I’ll be reading my next book entirely in this manner and this seems to work well for me for non-fiction. Not sure if I’d be happy this way for fiction.

Has anyone else tried this? Could you read a book like this?
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2017-01-09 12:35:44 (22 comments; 6 reshares; 50 +1s; )Open 

The Age of Em: Work, Love, and Life when Robots Rule the Earth

The Age of Em, by Robin Hanson, is a book that aims to present and paint a picture of our world not that far in the future in which (i) computer technology has continued to advance significantly, (ii) brain scanning technology has advanced to the point of being able to produce digital copies of a person’s brain, and (iii) these digital copies can be run on the advanced computers to produce functional, aware, and near-identical instantiations of that brain or mind. These instantiations are called human emulations, or ems for short.

Given these three premises, if we accept them as true or becoming true at some point in future - the actual date or predicted timeframe isn’t that important - and it seems reasonable to suppose that all three will be true at some point, then there are a great many implications andeff... more »

The Age of Em: Work, Love, and Life when Robots Rule the Earth

The Age of Em, by Robin Hanson, is a book that aims to present and paint a picture of our world not that far in the future in which (i) computer technology has continued to advance significantly, (ii) brain scanning technology has advanced to the point of being able to produce digital copies of a person’s brain, and (iii) these digital copies can be run on the advanced computers to produce functional, aware, and near-identical instantiations of that brain or mind. These instantiations are called human emulations, or ems for short.

Given these three premises, if we accept them as true or becoming true at some point in future - the actual date or predicted timeframe isn’t that important - and it seems reasonable to suppose that all three will be true at some point, then there are a great many implications and effects this will have both directly and indirectly on human societies and our civilisation in general.

Ultimately this is an intellectual exercise, a work of futurism and arguable fancy, but an extraordinarily detailed one at that. It attempts to describe and predict just about every aspect of life, or the bounds within which those aspects occur, for these ems and to a lesser extent for the humans around at the time. These aspects include em economics, society, relationships, sex, work, culture, risks, rewards, wealth, subsistence, virtual vs real interfaces, morality, politics, cities, resources, and others.

Because ems are copies of humans they still have very human drives, hopes, emotions, virtues, and failings. Because they are human copies there is a good chance they will arrive on the scene before fully fledged Artificial Intelligence. Because they are as smart as the smartest humans and can tweak themselves for greater intelligence they can do every job a human could conceivably do, and because they can copy themselves easily they can do every job all humans could conceivably do, and because they run on fast hardware they can think and act a thousand to a million times faster than humans.

Because of this their era, subjectively to them, might last for a millennium but objectively to us, would be over in a few years. This might represent a firm - if not hard - takeoff given objective economic doubling times of days or weeks.

This was a tough but worthwhile read. Tough because of the way it is written; it can be tedious at times. But in Hanson’s defence I can’t imagine it being written in any other way. Worthwhile because (i) there are a plethora of surprising and unexpected conclusions in this scenario that follow from very logical chains of thought and straightforward arguments, (ii) there are many insights regarding humans and our current socio-cultural-economic reality that are fascinating in their own right, and more so when contrasted with what is to come, (iii) the references for the claims and data presented are exhaustive.

And worthwhile because it left me torn as to whether this was a desirable future or not. The benefits are unfathomably immense. But the sacrifice . . . the sacrifice needed to achieve it?


SELECTED EXCERPTS:

Comments on the current era.

Whereas geography mattered greatly for prosperity during the farming era, social institutions came to matter more for prosperity during the industry era.

We have also, I will argue, become increasingly maladaptive. Our age is a “dreamtime” of behavior that is unprecedentedly maladaptive, both biologically and culturally. Farming environments changed faster than genetic selection could adapt, and the industrial world now changes faster than even cultural selection can adapt. Today, our increased wealth buffers us more from our mistakes, and we have only weak defenses against the super-stimuli of modern food, drugs, music, television, video games, and propaganda.

Not only is individual fertility maladaptive, our cultures today also seem maladaptive, in the sense that they don’t promote their own adoption as much as they could, via war, trade, teaching, and proselytizing. Our cultures also do not much encourage adaptive individual fertility.

Whether you accept it or resist it, know that our era is indeed an unusual dreamtime that probably cannot last.


Comments on Em nature.

A stolen copy of an em mental state might be interrogated, tortured, or enslaved, resulting in exposed secrets, credible threats of punishment, and stolen training investments. By making many copies and then repeatedly trying different approaches on different copies, the thief might learn how to persuade the original of many things.

The natural oscillation periods of most consciously controllable human body parts are greater than a tenth of a second. Because of this, the human brain has been designed with a matching reaction time of roughly a tenth of a second. As it costs more to have faster reaction times, there is little point in paying to react much faster than body parts can change position.

To a kilo-em (brain running 1,000 times faster than normal) the Earth’s surface area seems a million times larger, a subway ride that takes 15 minutes in real time takes 10 subjective days, an 8-hour plane ride takes a subjective year, a boat trip from China to the U.S. takes a century, and a one year flight to Mars and back takes a millennium.

Em sociality might thus become more like that of our forager ancestors, who only ever met a few hundred people at most in their entire lives, and were quite familiar with the history, personality, and abilities of everyone they met. When they stick to associating with one-names, ems might know well who they liked or didn’t like, and how best to flatter or insult each one. There might be clan jokes analogous to our ethnic jokes, such as “How many Freds does it take to screw in a light bulb?” One-name ems cannot “start over fresh” by moving to a new city or job; strong reputations follow them everywhere.


Comments on Em work.

A habit of punishing the worst performers tends to give stronger incentives for overall performance, compared with rewarding the best performers. When evaluating things, marking low quality also works better than marking high quality. However, organizations today are reluctant to punish, and so they tend to focus on positive rewards and evaluations. After all, workers tend to leave organizations that focus on negatives.

Today, people who are more productive at work tend to have more health, beauty, marriage, religion, intelligence, extraversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness, and non-neuroticism. Such features also predict more education and occupational prestige today. We weakly expect ems to have more of these features, when compared with people today. In our world, achievement rises with intelligence, although at the very highest levels smart people seem at more risk of becoming “maladjusted” to their society. Smarter people are less accident-prone and more long-lived, cooperative, patient, trusting, trustworthy, rational, focused, and law-abiding. They tend to support more economically efficient policies within lab experiments, and on national policy surveys they tend toward optimism and favor efficient policies such as using markets, avoiding make-work jobs, and trading with foreigners. Smarter nations are more entrepreneurial, less corrupt, have more economic freedom, and have better institutions.

The em world makes heavy use of “spurs,” who are em copies who are newly copied at the beginning of their workday, and then retire or are erased at the conclusion of their workday. Such a workday might last 10 minutes or 10 hours. Ems see spurs as appropriate for short-term tasks that they expect are worth doing, but not worth directly remembering.

As spurs are so central to the em economy, it will be important for ems to have an intimate familiarity with the experience of being a spur. This will assist in choosing tasks to assign to spurs, and tools and environments to support spurs. A simple way to achieve this is to, on rare random occasions, switch the roles of the spur and the mainline em when the spur completes its task. Mainline ems would then remember many previous experiences of being a spur.

Spurs who end instead of retiring can help ems to deniably do things of questionable legal or moral status, if the main evidence of their actions was erased when their minds were erased.

For example, an em plumber might split into 1000 copies every day, with each copy doing a typical plumbing job that takes an average of an hour. One of those copies might then be saved, to experience most of a subjective day of leisure and then repeat the process the next day. Objectively, this person’s life is 2% leisure, but his memories of life are of spending 96% of time in leisure. While at some level this em might know that only 2% of life is leisure, he or she need not dwell much on this fact.

A rapidly growing em economy also discourages transport of physical goods over long distances. First, high interest rates greatly discourage the use of products or resources that require travel or shipping delays of several economic doubling times. More important, a rapidly changing economy needs the flexibility to swiftly adapt to changing circumstances. Today, 58% of U.S. exports by value are sent by air. Such transport is typically so time sensitive that an extra day in transit is equivalent to a product tax of 0.6% to 2.3% (Hummels and Schaur 2013). Yet 1 day is only one part in 5000 of today’s economic doubling time. If this delay-is-very-costly effect scales with the growth rate of the economy, then for an em economy with a 1 month doubling time it becomes an 8 minute transit delay that is equivalent to a product tax of 0.6% to 2.3%. At typical urban commuting speeds of 10 meters per second, products can only be shipped 5 kilometers in 8 minutes. Thus even shipping goods all the way across em cities is substantially discouraged, and shipping goods between em cities is quite prohibitively expensive.


Comments on Em psychology.

On some topics, the em lifestyle naturally reduces self-deception. For example ems could not as easily claim that their taking “the road not taken” had made all the difference in their lives, because ems have clearer direct evidence about the results of other close copies of them taking different life paths.

Ems are also plausibly divided by their differing speeds. Different speeds likely have distinct cultures. It is hard for fast changing elements of em culture, such as clothing or music fashions, to synchronize their changes across different mind speeds. Such coordinated cultural changes might seem intolerably slow to fast ems, or intolerably fast to slow ems. Differing speed ems may also segregate into different classes, with faster ems seen as higher status.

Ems may be reluctant to expropriate or exterminate ordinary humans if ems rely on the same or closely interconnected legal, financial, and political systems as humans, and if ems retain many direct social ties to ordinary humans.

As ems have such high abilities, they are likely to associate the styles and habits of humans with low competence. Ems may go out of their way to distinguish their styles and mannerisms from those of humans. Ems may treat humans more with sympathy, and ancestral gratitude, but less with respect.


Comments on Em consequences.

While ordinary humans start out owning all of the capital in the economy, the fraction of capital that humans control slowly falls. The relative political power held by ordinary humans may fall even faster, as both labor and capital contribute to political power, and ems quickly constitute almost all of the labor force. Ems later acquire most of the local political power, and later still acquire most local capital and wealth. These transitions might induce disruptive conflict.

What if we look instead at the virtues that have been admired in most eras and cultures, such as intelligence, insight, benevolence, loyalty, determination, etc.? Here the em world can look very good. Ems are strongly selected for their impressive productivity, which tends to correlate with most of these virtues. In this sense, the em world is packed full of people who are more virtuous than most people so far have ever met in a lifetime.

We might note that fast ems could directly monitor and react to an AI at a much higher time resolution.


Comments on Us today.

As successful clans collect a big fraction of the gains in the em world, you should consider the possibility that you (or your children or grandchildren) might start one of these few most copied em clans. Realizing that the odds are greatly against you, you should be willing to take great risks to achieve this, via showing high and reliable productivity and flexibility in tasks and environments most like those of the em world. You should focus on the very high tail of your possible success distribution; the rest of the distribution makes much less difference. Go very big or go home. In sum, to succeed in this new world, prepare to become what it needs.

When they have lived as neighbors, foragers have often strongly criticized farmer culture, and farmers have often strongly criticized industrial culture. Surely many of these people have been tempted to disown descendants who adopt these despised new ways. In addition, many of your ancestors would be tempted to disown you, if they were told many things about you. While they’d be pleased and impressed by many of your features, other things about you might horrify them.
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2017-01-08 08:02:42 (3 comments; 19 reshares; 67 +1s; )Open 

SciTech Digest - 02/2017.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2017/01/polymer-assembled-antibodies-polymer.html

Polymer assembled antibodies, Polymer assembled nanoparticles, Optical computer processing, Commercial ceramic matrixes, Optogenetic cell protein control, Google’s machine learning, Biopolymer nanopore sequencing, Topological zero resistance, CES highlights, All about graphene.

1. Polymers Assemble Arrays of Antibody Sensors
By attaching a certain type of polymer to protein antibodies, both of which naturally repel one another, a solution of the combined molecules spontaneously self assembles into ordered arrays up to 100 layers deep on surfaces http://news.mit.edu/2017/3-d-antibody-arrays-sensing-malaria-diseases-0104. This has the potential to make diagnostic antibody sensors up to 100 times more sensitive and able to detect much lowerc... more »

SciTech Digest - 02/2017.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2017/01/polymer-assembled-antibodies-polymer.html

Polymer assembled antibodies, Polymer assembled nanoparticles, Optical computer processing, Commercial ceramic matrixes, Optogenetic cell protein control, Google’s machine learning, Biopolymer nanopore sequencing, Topological zero resistance, CES highlights, All about graphene.

1. Polymers Assemble Arrays of Antibody Sensors
By attaching a certain type of polymer to protein antibodies, both of which naturally repel one another, a solution of the combined molecules spontaneously self assembles into ordered arrays up to 100 layers deep on surfaces http://news.mit.edu/2017/3-d-antibody-arrays-sensing-malaria-diseases-0104. This has the potential to make diagnostic antibody sensors up to 100 times more sensitive and able to detect much lower concentrations of target molecules. The structures naturally form tiny channels through which the target solution can flow through and so should be compatible with many microfluidic technologies too. The technique also formed ordered layered arrays of fluorescent proteins and so showing the promise of creating different functional surfaces.

2. Polymers Assemble Custom Nanoparticle Arrays
In related polymer self assembly news a different approach attaches different polymer chains to the surface of nanoparticles in order to direct the programmed self assembly of the nanoparticles into various micrometer sized structures https://www.cmu.edu/mcs/news/pressreleases/2016/1224-Polymer-Nanoparticles.html. This process is reversible and allows the structures to be “dissolved” if needed. Such programmed self assembly is similar to the DNA origami directed self assembly of nanoparticles that we’ve seen in other work previously, and the latest work for which is building DNA nanotubes between molecular surface supports, offering to build custom structures anchored to defined surface locations http://hub.jhu.edu/2017/01/05/dna-nanotubes-build-bridge-between-molecules/.

3. Optical Computing Processor
Hewlett Packard has demonstrated its latest all-optical, 1,000 component, computer processor http://spectrum.ieee.org/semiconductors/processors/hpes-new-chip-marks-a-milestone-in-optical-computing. This is the biggest and most complex optical chip in which all of the photonic components work together to perform a computation. Specifically this chip embodies an Ising Machine in which processing is performed on four different spins (or polarisations) of light, and the problem to be solved is built into the temperatures of the heaters on the chip used to alter the index of refraction of the interferometers in which the light is combined. Future applications are in speeding up specific rather than general purpose computing applications.

4. Ceramic Matrix Composites Get Field Tested
Interwoven coated ceramic fibers embedded in a ceramic matrix form ceramic matrix composite materials that are strong, light, and withstand temperatures much higher than metal alloys https://www.ornl.gov/news/ceramic-matrix-composites-take-flight-leap-jet-engine. The LEAP aircraft engine has recently become the first widely deployed CMC product that needs less cooling and achieves 15% fuel savings for the aircraft. This particular CMC contains silicon carbide ceramic fibers coated in boron nitride and embedded in silicon carbide; these materials avoid the brittleness that characterises ceramics and act more like a piece of wood.

5. Optogenetic Control of Proteins in Cells
A significant advance in the field of optogenetics was made possible with a computational approach for analysing protein structure and determining which parts of a protein could be modified without changing normal function, and then targeting these protein loops with optogenetic modifications that now allow a much wider range of proteins to be controlled with light or other triggers, to be turned on and off like a switch http://uncnews.unc.edu/2017/01/05/scientists-use-light-control-logic-networks-cell/. The engineered proteins can have their normal activity switched on and off as quickly as the light can be toggled; changing light intensity controls the proportion of protein activation and controlling the time of light exposure controls how long the proteins are active in the cell. This might create a light-controlled CRISPR for example, or a broad range of controllable catalysts, DNA repair, or other applications.

6. Google’s Machine Learning Advances
First, it looks like Google’s DeepMind has well and truly mastered Go with their AlphaGo platform, not merely defeating expert human opponents in televised tournaments but now - initially secretly - defeating everyone in online Go games for a consecutive 51 game winning streak http://www.kotaku.com.au/2017/01/google-the-mystery-account-destroying-online-go-was-ours/. Second, an independent project successfully used the TensorFlow system to create and train an agent able to play and master MarioKart 64 (lots of fond memories!) http://kevinhughes.ca/blog/tensor-kart, and even used Google’s autonomous car system to train and drive in the MarioKart 64 courses.

7. Nanopore Sequencing for Other Biopolymers
Nanopore DNA sequencing involves a strand of DNA being threaded through a 2nm wide nanopore and the change in voltage measured as different bases pass through the pore provides identification and sequence data. This same technique is now being applied to identify and sequence other large, complex biopolymers such as polysaccharides and proteins http://spectrum.ieee.org/video/biomedical/diagnostics/zaps-of-electricity-can-identify-mysterious-molecules. Quickly identifying complex sugars simply hasn’t been possible until now and this should further help to classify the large range of different sugars that the body makes use of.

8. Zero Resistance Conductance on Topological Insulators
Theoretical computer simulations suggest that certain pulses of light can be used to induce edge paths in atomically thin topological insulators such as tungsten disulfide that exhibit zero electrical resistance for the flow of electrons https://www6.slac.stanford.edu/news/2017-01-04-slac-study-light-can-switch-topological-materials.aspx. Further, this could be done in such a way as to avoid heating of the material that would quickly prevent the effect. The effect only lasted for as long as the light was hitting the material and the next step will be to reduce theory to practice; the group will collaborate with other labs to create and test the materials for the predicted effect.

9. CES Sensor & Battery Highlights
At the CES conference this year Elliptic Labs is seeking to get its software proximity sensor technology into every smartphone, which utilises the speaker and microphone and removes the need for a dedicated infrared proximity sensor, which would allow phone screens to expand to a lot more real estate http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/consumer-electronics/portable-devices/ces-2017-littleknown-elliptic-labs-could-reshape-the-smartphone-industry. Meanwhile Panasonic has a bendable lithium-ion battery available for flexible and curved devices such as wearables http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/consumer-electronics/portable-devices/ces-2017-panasonic-shows-off-bendable-lithiumion-battery-for-iot-wearables.

10. Graphene^5
Big graphene week this week. First, a new graphene manufacturing technique should be able to mass-produce graphene sheets using roll-to-roll manufacturing http://www.exeter.ac.uk/news/featurednews/title_558117_en.html. Second, graphene can now be used to create flexible OLED electrodes https://www.fraunhofer.de/en/press/research-news/2017/january/milestone-in-graphene-production.html. Third, the huge currents graphene can carry are being better characterised http://www.tuwien.ac.at/aktuelles/news_detail/article/124630/. Fourth, sheathing tiny copper wires on chips with graphene can protect the wires and prevent them blowing when carrying large currents http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/semiconductors/devices/graphene-girded-interconnects-could-enable-next-gen-chips. Finally, new porous 3D forms of graphene have only 5% of the density of steel but 10 times the strength http://news.mit.edu/2017/3-d-graphene-strongest-lightest-materials-0106.

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2017-01-04 13:26:48 (3 comments; 0 reshares; 27 +1s; )Open 

The Atom: The New Economics of Technological Disruption

Congratulations to +Kartik Gada on the opportunity to present a Google Tech Talk outlining and discussing the thesis presented in his ATOM book, The Accelerating TechnOnomic Medium - the talk can be found here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIBLbNGnGHM.

I first covered The ATOM in this post https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/abE3TTSa7gv and can well appreciate the difficulty in condensing the thesis to less than an hour given the many different interwoven technological, economic, financial, and social themes that are required to justify the conclusion of the thesis, while also establishing a baseline familiarity with each for a possibly lay audience so that the argument can be followed. I think Kartik pulled this off quite well.

As summarised in the original post:
“Basically, this book is ap... more »

The Atom: The New Economics of Technological Disruption

Congratulations to +Kartik Gada on the opportunity to present a Google Tech Talk outlining and discussing the thesis presented in his ATOM book, The Accelerating TechnOnomic Medium - the talk can be found here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIBLbNGnGHM.

I first covered The ATOM in this post https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/abE3TTSa7gv and can well appreciate the difficulty in condensing the thesis to less than an hour given the many different interwoven technological, economic, financial, and social themes that are required to justify the conclusion of the thesis, while also establishing a baseline familiarity with each for a possibly lay audience so that the argument can be followed. I think Kartik pulled this off quite well.

As summarised in the original post:
“Basically, this book is a proposal and policy recommendation for dealing with technological unemployment and economic slowdown . . . by balancing technological deflation with a perpetual and ever-growing quantitative easing program in which central banks create money . . . and provide this money not to the big banks via asset purchases but rather to each individual citizen as a regular stipend . . . and gradually accelerating the velocity of money in the economy and abolishing individual income taxes in the process. This superficially resembles a universal basic income but with quite important differences.”

The ATOM ebook can be found here: http://atom.singularity2050.com/

A good, short, accessible summary can be found here: https://medium.com/emergent-culture/an-exciting-new-idea-in-basic-income-b1b7bf622845#.qry64du9s

But give the video a watch when you get the chance; the 20 or so minutes of questions at the end made for a good discussion too in my opinion and offer further clarifying points.
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2017-01-01 11:42:39 (12 comments; 5 reshares; 39 +1s; )Open 

2016 Was A Great Year!

I’ve seen 2016 compared to 1989 and 1945 in terms of historical significance and have been saturated with two competing narratives claiming 2016 was a great year, and a far louder, depressing, outraged, and at times infantile narrative claiming 2016 was a terrible year. I utterly reject the depressingly myopic 2016-is-terrible narrative for a wide range of reasons.

From my familiarity with all things scientific and technological and year-long deep dives into society, politics, and culture, I can’t help but remain incredibly optimistic for the future. 2016 was a great year and we’ve got a lot to look forward to. Happy New Year to everyone and may 2017 bring you everything you need and a some of what you want!

Here’s a few pieces from today to cheer you up and grant you a little more optimism:

2016 Has Been One of TheGreates... more »

2016 Was A Great Year!

I’ve seen 2016 compared to 1989 and 1945 in terms of historical significance and have been saturated with two competing narratives claiming 2016 was a great year, and a far louder, depressing, outraged, and at times infantile narrative claiming 2016 was a terrible year. I utterly reject the depressingly myopic 2016-is-terrible narrative for a wide range of reasons.

From my familiarity with all things scientific and technological and year-long deep dives into society, politics, and culture, I can’t help but remain incredibly optimistic for the future. 2016 was a great year and we’ve got a lot to look forward to. Happy New Year to everyone and may 2017 bring you everything you need and a some of what you want!

Here’s a few pieces from today to cheer you up and grant you a little more optimism:

2016 Has Been One of The Greatest Years Ever for Humanity
by Brendan O’Neill
http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2016/12/2016-one-greatest-years-ever-humanity/
Yes, they disrupted politics as normal. Good. That’s been the theme of this brilliant year: disruption. We disrupted nature and squished her sicknesses. We disrupted poverty and helped vast numbers of people to live longer, many of them in cities. We disrupted the universe with Juno, and listened in on the universe’s own disruptions from billions of years ago. We disrupted a politics that simply wasn’t working. We helped the poor to see, saved children from HIV, and expanded our urban footprint and invited more and more humans to join it. If you must weep over 2016, it should be with joy.

The Glad Tidings We Refuse to Believe
by Daniel Hannan
https://capx.co/the-glad-tidings-we-refuse-to-believe/
Optimism, in the present age, represents a victory of intellect over intuition. It reflects the rich, secure, interconnected world of voluntary exchange and private property, not the Hobbesian terror of the tribe. Despite grim headlines, the world continues to get cleaner, greener, healthier and wealthier. We always believe ours is a uniquely troubled age, but we're wrong.

People Are Hopeful, Optimistic, and Excited for 2017
by Carl Benjamin
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C1CQRIPUoAATw4S.jpg, from: https://therationalists.org/2016/12/31/this-year-in-stupid-2016/
A recent YouGov poll showed that the second most popular event in 2016 in Britain was Brexit. And a poll in America said that 72% of Americans feel hopeful about 2017. That’s nearly three-quarters of Americans who are hopeful about next year, with 61% saying they are optimistic about it, and 51% saying they are feeling excited. So when the mainstream media talking heads are doing nothing but telling you that 2016 was the worst year ever and that things couldn’t get any worse - that’s just for them. For most people, things are looking up. People are looking to the future with some positivity, for the first time in years. This is amazing! 2016 was a brilliant year for anyone against the retrograde forces of the regressive left.
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2017-01-01 10:55:54 (5 comments; 24 reshares; 74 +1s; )Open 

SciTech Digest - 01/2017.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2017/01/assembling-1d-nanowires-embryo.html

Assembling 1D nanowires, Embryo selection for IQ, MitoSENS & LysoSENS, DIY gene drives, Programmable silk materials, Stem cell spine repair, Deep learning machine failure, BEC atom interferometry, Ebola vaccine, Precise magnetic field sensing.

1. Self Assembling One Dimensional Nanowires
New materials comprising tiny basic diamond subunits called diamondoids combined with a copper and sulfur atom spontaneously self assemble in solution to create stable wires three atoms wide https://www6.slac.stanford.edu/news/2016-12-26-researchers-use-worlds-smallest-diamonds-make-wires-three-atoms-wide.aspx. In this case the wire forms a solid, crystalline, semiconducting core from the copper and sulfur, and an insulating shell provided by the diamondoids.... more »

SciTech Digest - 01/2017.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2017/01/assembling-1d-nanowires-embryo.html

Assembling 1D nanowires, Embryo selection for IQ, MitoSENS & LysoSENS, DIY gene drives, Programmable silk materials, Stem cell spine repair, Deep learning machine failure, BEC atom interferometry, Ebola vaccine, Precise magnetic field sensing.

1. Self Assembling One Dimensional Nanowires
New materials comprising tiny basic diamond subunits called diamondoids combined with a copper and sulfur atom spontaneously self assemble in solution to create stable wires three atoms wide https://www6.slac.stanford.edu/news/2016-12-26-researchers-use-worlds-smallest-diamonds-make-wires-three-atoms-wide.aspx. In this case the wire forms a solid, crystalline, semiconducting core from the copper and sulfur, and an insulating shell provided by the diamondoids. This is an interesting materials platform as swapping the copper and sulfur for other atoms produces wires with different properties; cadmium for LEDs and zinc for solar and piezoelectrics. In related work, needle and thread-like diamonds can be custom grown https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-12/lmsu-dat122916.php.

2. Selecting Embryos Based on Intelligence
Growing genetic analysis of large population sets has brought us to the point of being able to screen and select human embryos, based on DNA sequence, for greater intelligence http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2016/12/predictions-of-human-intelligence.html. One technique, outlined in recent work shows that higher polygenic scores translate on average to higher IQ scores and cognitive abilities. NBF also includes basic cost-benefit analysis for selecting for higher IQ, as well as a summary of recent technologies and trends leading to this selection becoming feasible today - and quite possibly commonplace in future.

3. MitoSENS and LysoSENS Advances
There were two advances this week in the Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS) this week. First, for MitoSENS a Phase I/II clinical trial was successfully completed in patients via delivery and allotopic expression of a mitochondrial gene https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/12/results-from-the-gensight-biologics-trial-of-nd4-allotopic-expression/, in this case the patient group suffers a mutation in that gene and resultant visual impairment, while resoration dramatically improved visual acuity. Second, for LysoSENS genes have been identified from bacteria that can break down cholesterol and these will be introduced into human macrophages to enable metabolism of cholesterol and the prevention of atherosclerosis https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/12/an-effort-to-equip-macrophages-with-bacterial-enzymes-to-prevent-atherosclerosis/.

4. Gene Drives Move into DIY
Students competing in the iGEM synthetic biology competition planned to create a gene drive and “reverse drive” in yeast http://gizmodo.com/college-students-show-how-easy-it-is-to-use-terrifying-1790526457. In this case the gene drive would cause a particular gene to spread throughout an entire population of yeast cells, while the reverse drive genetic sequence would later reverse these changes when later triggered to do so. Despite running out of time and unable to fully execute the plan the work nonetheless demonstrated how accessible transformative genetic technology is becoming - with the right DNA sequences and very basic and cheap lab equipment the ability to engineer organisms in an ecosystem widely displaced from the point of origin is something that do-it-yourself home biologists might seriously consider.

5. Programmable Silk Materials
Silk proteins are being fabricated into solid materials preprogrammed with biological, chemical, or optical responses http://now.tufts.edu/news-releases/engineers-create-programmable-silk-based-materials-embedded-pre-designed-functions. The group created a range of proof of concepts including surgical pins that change colour as they near mechanical strain limits, screws that can be heated on demand in response to infrared light, and devices for sustained release of biological components. This is a nice example of embedded functional elements in biopolymers, to create devices that can quickly report on various environmental signals.

6. Stem Cell Spine Repair and Regeneration
The completion of a recent Phase I human clinical trial successfully used oligodendrocyte progenitor cells to repair damaged spines http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2016/12/oligodendrocyte-progenitor-cells-repair.html. The treatment involved injection of 10 million of the cells into the patient’s damaged spine, and two months later the patient, paralysed from the neck down, was able to feed himself, write his name, and use his cell phone. In related news a new type of synthetic stem cell shows promise in repairing cardiac muscle damage from heart attacks without the risk of possible cancer and other complications http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/12/26/synthetic-stem-cells-promise-muscle-regeneration-without-cancer/.

7. Deep Learning Predicts Machine Failure
3DSignals uses deep learning algorithms to understand the noise patterns generated by troubled or poorly performing machines and predict the emergence of problems in advance http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/artificial-intelligence/deep-learning-ai-listens-to-machines-for-signs-of-trouble. This is accomplished by distributing different microphones around the machine of interest - anything from car to robot to turbine - and uploading the audio data to the cloud for processing by the algorithms where patterns and signals can be teased out and reported on, after a suitable training period of course. The company claims that, once trained, the system can predict specific problems in advance with 98% accuracy. Such predictive maintenance could be lucrative, especially when combined with insurance products.

8. Atom Interferometry with BECs
Atom interferometers using Bose-Einstein Condensates have been made more precise than ever by eliminating sources of error caused by different wells or clouds of atoms in a system having different numbers of atoms http://news.mit.edu/2016/technique-could-yield-hyperprecise-gravitational-measurements-1227. To create an atom interferometer a BEC is trapped by a laser standing wave into a number (10 in this case) of groups of atoms of roughly equal amount (approx. 2,000 in each group in this case), but in this new work a second condensate was introduced along with a magnetic field and by using some clever manipulation of atomic spins the group was able to force the atom interferometer to spontaneously settle into equal groups of exactly the same number of atoms. Applications include extremely precise force measurements, including gravity.

9. An Effective Ebola Vaccine
A major clinical trial in Guinea has confirmed that an experimental Ebola vaccine is effective against the virus and able to prevent infection https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-12/tl-tlf122116.php. The vaccine was manufactured by Merck, Sharpe & Dohme and is made from a harmless virus called vesicular stomatitis virus in which a gene has been replaced that encodes an Ebola virus surface protein; when administered the immune system attacks this recombinant virus and develops a memory for and response against the Ebola protein.

10. High-Precision Magnetic Field Sensing
A newly developed, highly-sensitive digital radio receiver effectively eliminates the noise and interference of the antenna itself on high-precision magnetic field measurements - for example in MRI imaging - by casting the copper antenna and signal droplet of water in a polymer whose magnetic susceptibility exactly matched the copper antenna https://www.ethz.ch/en/news-and-events/eth-news/news/2016/12/hochpraezise-magnetfeld-messung.html. For the first time this allows precise magnetic field measurements in extremely high magnetic fields, for example, effectively measuring magnetic field changes a trillion times smaller than the 7 Tesla field strength used in the experiments.

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2016-12-25 03:18:38 (14 comments; 14 reshares; 96 +1s; )Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 52/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/12/melting-electron-crystals-crispr-for.html

Merry Christmas!

Melting electron crystals, CRISPR for non-coding RNAs, Drone biomimicry, Accelerated robot motion, Working with antimatter, 4kC materials, Antiaging with youthful tissues, Radio through water, MRI gene expression, Spintronic neural networks.

1. Melting Electron Crystals
For the first time a two dimensional crystal sheet of electrons on a semiconducting surface has been observed undergoing a fundamental phase transition, melting from a tightly compacted and ordered state into a disordered quantum fluid http://news.mit.edu/2016/quantum-crystal-electrons-melt-1220. This seems to be an elegant experimental confirmation of a theoretical prediction from 1934, with formation of the... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 52/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/12/melting-electron-crystals-crispr-for.html

Merry Christmas!

Melting electron crystals, CRISPR for non-coding RNAs, Drone biomimicry, Accelerated robot motion, Working with antimatter, 4kC materials, Antiaging with youthful tissues, Radio through water, MRI gene expression, Spintronic neural networks.

1. Melting Electron Crystals
For the first time a two dimensional crystal sheet of electrons on a semiconducting surface has been observed undergoing a fundamental phase transition, melting from a tightly compacted and ordered state into a disordered quantum fluid http://news.mit.edu/2016/quantum-crystal-electrons-melt-1220. This seems to be an elegant experimental confirmation of a theoretical prediction from 1934, with formation of the crystal relying on the mutual repulsion of electrons confined on a surface at ultracold temperatures with no heat to jostle them around, forcing them into an ordered, low-energy state.

2. CRISPR Unravelling Role of Non-Coding RNAs
CRISPR continues to transform bioscience and genomics by enabling the study of tens of thousands of human non-protein-coding genes that produce long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) that play a key role in gene regulation https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2016/12/405276/crispr-study-reveals-unexpected-roles-non-coding-rnas. In this experiment a large library of CRISPR guide RNAs was targeted against 16,401 different lncRNA genes across seven different cell lines, and discovered that 499 of these lncRNA impacted cell growth important for cancer, most lncRNAs were highly specific for cell type, and an individual lncRNA could influence the modulation of up to 100 other genes in some cases, and none in others.

3. Drone Biomimicry with Artificial Feathers
Fixed wing drones have had their wings modified with the equivalent of artificial feathers, allowing dynamic adjustable wing size and shape on the fly in order to mimic aspects and benefits of bird flight http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/drones/artificial-feathers-let-drones-morph-their-wings-like-birds. These modifications change the surface area of the wings, allowing large wings for turning and soaring to change to small wings for speed. Such a change in wing architecture also necessitated changes in flight control methods. It’ll be interesting to see how these are developed and whether they can go beyond a research curiosity. In related biomimicry news soft robots can move like human fingers https://www.seas.harvard.edu/news/2016/12/mimicking-biological-movements-with-soft-robots.

4. Dedicated Chips Speed Up Robot Motion
Robot motion such as grasping is typically slowed by intense algorithmic motion planning required to execute correct trajectories while avoiding collisions with objects in the environment; collision detection can take up 99% of a motion planning algorithm’s time. This time consuming processing has been sped up by three orders of magnitude while using 20 times less power by using a new custom FPGA processor developed for these needs http://spectrum.ieee.org/robotics/robotics-software/motionplanning-chip-speeds-robots. Future work will apply the technique to optimising the shortest path for motion execution, and also translate the FPGAs into ASICs to further boost speed, efficiency, and accuracy.

5. Working With Antimatter
For the first time the spectral response of anti-atoms (anti-hydrogen comprised of an anti-proton and positron) has been probed and measured, and providing experimental evidence that anti-atoms behave in the same way as normal atoms with regards to light and electromagnetism http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-38366963. This was achieved at CERN, and involved capturing the anti-atoms in a newly designed magnetic trap and probing the sample with precisely tuned laser light. Future work is looking to improve accuracy by several orders of magnitude to match measurements with normal atoms, and also incorporate sensitive gravitational tests to measure, for the first time, whether atoms and anti-atoms exhibit different gravitational behaviour.

6. Materials Withstand 4,000C
A new record has been set for the most heat resistant materials ever discovered, with hafnium carbide (HfC) demonstrating the ability to withstand temperatures of almost 4,000 degrees celsius, the highest melting temperature ever recorded for any material http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/newsandeventspggrp/imperialcollege/newssummary/news_22-12-2016-10-21-10. Tantalum carbide (TaC) was not far behind. These materials are refractory ceramics and are expected to find application in nuclear reactor cladding and high velocity vehicles, for example, atmospheric reentry and Mach 5 planes.

7. Youthful Tissues Restore Aged Bodies
We appear to be getting ever-more anti-aging advances these days, which is great. First, transplanting a young and active thymus into an older animal restores many aspects of immune function and extends life span https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/12/immune-restoration-results-from-placing-a-young-thymus-into-an-aged-mouse/. Second, delivering signalling molecules from young microglial cells to older brains enhances the removal of amyloid proteins in those brains https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/12/delivering-signal-molecules-from-young-microglia-to-aged-brain-tissue-enhances-removal-of-amyloid/. Finally, cells taken from the amniotic fluid surrounding developing babies has been shown to strengthen bone and reduce fractures in older animals by 80% http://www.bbc.com/news/health-38376955.

8. Transmitting Radio Through Water & Soil
DARPA is developing new ultra-low-frequency and very-low-frequency radio transmitters to enable low-bitrate communications, the frequencies of which can penetrate some distance through water, soil, rock, metal, and building materials http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2016/12/darpa-aims-for-personal-mobile-ultra.html. Conventional transmitter arrays capable of doing this are enormous and use a lot of power. This new project is a miniaturisation effort to produce transmitters that oscillate not electrons, but rather mechanically oscillate tiny magnets and electrets. A range of valuable advanced sensing and communications applications would immediately be possible once demonstrated.

9. Tracking Gene Expression via MRI
A new discovery allows the expression of any particular gene to be verified and imaged with conventional MRI scanners http://www.caltech.edu/news/visualizing-gene-expression-mri-53368. In this technique the cell membrane protein aquaporin, which serves to shuttle water molecules into and out of the cell, is engineered to be a reporter gene for the particular gene of interest; cells are genetically engineered to produce excess aquaporin when the gene of interest is switched on, which results in much greater transport of water across the cell membrane, and this just happens to be visible via MRI, picking out cells anywhere in the body (that have been engineered) that are expressing the gene of interest.

10. Spintronic Neural Networks & Filters
New spintronic devices have been formed into neural networks and exhibit the analogue learning and value retention of synapses, with devices demonstrating the ability to memorise patterns from noisy input signals, leading to fast processing with ultra-low power consumption http://www.tohoku.ac.jp/en/press/spintronics_based_artificial_intelligence.html. A new room-temperature spin-filtering architecture has been demonstrated with structures made out of nickel and graphene films, in which only electrons with a particular spin can pass from one material to the other and helping to produce spin currents for a range of computational applications https://www.nrl.navy.mil/media/news-releases/2016/NRL-Produces-Spin-Filtering-at-Room-Temperature-with-Graphene.

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2016-12-18 10:07:53 (7 comments; 22 reshares; 66 +1s; )Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 51/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/12/writing-dna-macro-quantum-effects-deep.html

Writing DNA, Macro quantum effects, Autonomous drone advances, Deep learning music, Reversing stem cell development, Reversing animal aging, Photovoltaic atomic veins, Noninvasive mind control, Microfluidic blood sensors, Deep learning supercomputing.

1. Writing DNA with Twist
Twist Bioscience has developed a new silicon chip for writing and synthesising DNA sequences, taking the conventional 96 well approach producing one gene to a new architecture that produces 9,600 genes that makes DNA synthesis significantly faster and cheaper https://medium.com/@Hello_Tomorrow/is-dna-the-next-silicon-c88e6e89754d#.v26ntfksi. Combined with rapid, cheap DNA sequencing chips, rapid, cheap DNA synthesis chips will accelerate... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 51/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/12/writing-dna-macro-quantum-effects-deep.html

Writing DNA, Macro quantum effects, Autonomous drone advances, Deep learning music, Reversing stem cell development, Reversing animal aging, Photovoltaic atomic veins, Noninvasive mind control, Microfluidic blood sensors, Deep learning supercomputing.

1. Writing DNA with Twist
Twist Bioscience has developed a new silicon chip for writing and synthesising DNA sequences, taking the conventional 96 well approach producing one gene to a new architecture that produces 9,600 genes that makes DNA synthesis significantly faster and cheaper https://medium.com/@Hello_Tomorrow/is-dna-the-next-silicon-c88e6e89754d#.v26ntfksi. Combined with rapid, cheap DNA sequencing chips, rapid, cheap DNA synthesis chips will accelerate the transformation of biotechnology, allowing custom DNA sequences to be produced for quickly engineering organisms of interest.

2. Quantum Effects in Macro Materials
A new type of topological insulator (conductor on surface, insulator in bulk) made from bismuth and selenium, happens to slightly rotate and change a beam of terahertz light shone through the material http://www.sciencealert.com/this-new-material-might-show-the-link-between-classical-and-quantum-physics. This quantum effect is typically observed only at atomic scales and never in macro materials; it obeyed the same mathematics and is the first time such a quantum effect has been observed in large topological insulators. It is hoped that the link might allow further probing between quantum and classical mechanics.

3. Advances with Autonomous Drones
First, an optimal reciprocal collision avoidance strategy has been developed to allow large numbers of drones to fly through the same airspace, dynamically avoid colliding, and all while minimising g-forces for the purpose of future passenger-transport drones http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/drones/limiting-jerks-for-comfortable-commuting-by-personal-drone. Second, Amazon demonstrated its first autonomous drone product delivery https://www.amazon.com/b?node=8037720011. Finally, drones are being used for cheap but difficult environmental monitoring applications such as methane monitoring, an area we can expect to rapidly expand into drone monitoring of a great many things http://spectrum.ieee.org/energywise/energy/environment/drones-take-to-the-skies-to-screen-for-methane-emissions.

4. Deep Learning Music Composition
A new deep learning system called DeepBach was trained and validated against music composed by the composer Bach, and is able to produce new music in the same style as Bach to the extent of convincing humans about 50% of the time that they were actually written by Bach https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603137/deep-learning-machine-listens-to-bach-then-writes-its-own-music-in-the-same-style/. Interestingly the same humans only picked 75% of the compositions actually written by Bach. This marks another big step on the way of machines producing creative outputs and artworks, suggesting that future deep learning systems might produce novel music (or other works) in any particular artist’s style given some general starting parameters.

5. Reversing Human Embryonic Stem Cell Development
A mixture of three different chemical inhibitors has been demonstrated to further wind back the developmental clock of human embryonic stem cells, finally achieving the same long-hoped-for flexibility that researchers have enjoyed with embryonic stem cells from mice https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-12/jhm-rtb121416.php. These stem cells are now much easier to keep alive and the technique successfully reset 25 human stem cell lines, showed more malleable gene expression profiles, avoided abnormal DNA changes sometimes characterised by other techniques, and could be subsequently differentiated into vascular or neural cell types (for example) at double or triple the frequencies of conventional human embryonic stem cells. Meanwhile stem cells are being used to create and study amniotic sac formation http://ns.umich.edu/new/releases/24415-how-does-the-amniotic-sac-form-u-m-team-uses-stem-cells-to-study-earliest-stages.

6. Reversing Aging in Animals
In related work using conventional reprogramming techniques with four factors that turn cells into induced pluripotent stem cells, researchers demonstrated that administering these factors for short durations had rejuvenating, anti-aging effects https://www.salk.edu/news-release/turning-back-time-salk-scientists-reverse-signs-aging/. Skin cells showed reversal of aging hallmarks while remaining skin cells, mice with progeria looked younger with improved organ function and lived 30% longer, while normally aged mice had improved regenerative and healing capacity. As promising as this is it should be approached with caution due to a number of reasons outlined here https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/12/temporarily-applying-pluripotency-reprogramming-factors-to-adult-mice/. Meanwhile microRNA levels over time appear to correlate well with life span https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/12/microrna-differences-across-the-course-of-aging-correlate-with-life-span/.

7. Atomic Veins Boost Photovoltaic Performance
Adding a network of linear atomic defects by removing atoms on two-dimensional material surfaces such as molybdenum diselenide creates the equivalent of atom-thick wires that can channel electrons and light http://phys.org/news/2016-12-lines-atoms-thin-electronic-materials.html. Early stage research but offering promising avenues to boost photovoltaic performance and explore new properties on these surfaces that influence electrical and optical performance and both semi- and super-conductivity.

8. Noninvasive Mind Control of Robotic Hands
A new 64 electrode EEG system allows people to operate a robotic arm to reach and grasp objects using just their thoughts and without an invasive brain implant https://twin-cities.umn.edu/news-events/umn-research-shows-people-can-control-robotic-arm-their-minds. Studies with human volunteers required them to devote time with the system to learn to imagine moving their own arm, and the robotic arm, without actually moving their arm. In related news a soft prosthetic hand utilises stretchable optical waveguides to detect curvature, elongation, and force and designed to give robots and prosthetics a much better sense of touch http://mediarelations.cornell.edu/2016/12/12/new-robot-has-a-human-touch/.

9. Sensors & Microfluidics for Real-time Blood Monitoring
A microfluidic biosensor chip uses gold electrodes patterned with DNA aptamers to measure molecules of interest in real-time, significantly boosting the accuracy and frequency of measurements and solving other problems that an earlier prototype chip possessed http://spectrum.ieee.org/the-human-os/biomedical/devices/sensor-system-offers-realtime-control-of-drug-levels-in-blood. In one demonstration the concentration of a chemotherapy drug was monitored in rabbits in order to continuously dose the animal with precise amounts of the drug to maintain optimal therapeutic effect while minimising side effects. Different DNA aptamers can be engineered to capture just about any molecule (or combination) of interest, so this is a very interesting platform. In related news another microfluidic chip rapidly detects metastatic cancers cells in drops of blood https://www.wpi.edu/news/wpi-researchers-build-%E2%80%9Cliquid-biopsy%E2%80%9D-chip-detects-metastatic-cancer-cells-drop-blood.

10. Big & Small Supercomputing Initiatives
First, Cray announced the results of a deep learning supercomputing collaboration with Microsoft and the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre that runs larger deep learning models and significantly accelerating the deep learning training process, obtaining results in hours that previously might have taken weeks or months http://investors.cray.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=98390&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=2228098. Second, Nvidia’s DGX-1 supercomputer is a complete dedicated package for machine learning, the size of a briefcase and costing $129,000 that seems to be producing decent advances for ever-more customers https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603075/the-pint-sized-supercomputer-that-companies-are-scrambling-to-get/.

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2016-12-11 06:51:47 (5 comments; 19 reshares; 69 +1s; )Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 50/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/12/scitech-digest-502016-1.html

Equation for intelligence, Faces diagnose diseases, Deep learning everywhere, CRISPR inhibitors, Direct neural implants, Artificial blood nanoparticles, Zero-g experiments via drones, Ultrasound microbubbles open brain, Nanocrystal night vision, Energy technologies.

1. An Equation for Intelligence
A new theory of connectivity based on the equation N = 2^i - 1 attempts to describe very simply how neurons and their networks flexible assemble to gather knowledge and reason about concepts, in short how intelligence works https://singularityhub.com/2016/12/07/this-one-equation-may-be-the-root-of-intelligence/. Not only does the theory question the dogma of “cells that fire together, wire together” but many animal experimentssho... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 50/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/12/scitech-digest-502016-1.html

Equation for intelligence, Faces diagnose diseases, Deep learning everywhere, CRISPR inhibitors, Direct neural implants, Artificial blood nanoparticles, Zero-g experiments via drones, Ultrasound microbubbles open brain, Nanocrystal night vision, Energy technologies.

1. An Equation for Intelligence
A new theory of connectivity based on the equation N = 2^i - 1 attempts to describe very simply how neurons and their networks flexible assemble to gather knowledge and reason about concepts, in short how intelligence works https://singularityhub.com/2016/12/07/this-one-equation-may-be-the-root-of-intelligence/. Not only does the theory question the dogma of “cells that fire together, wire together” but many animal experiments show the equation at work many different brain regions that control key functions including feeding, behaviour, and fear. Basically core wiring is innately determined by genetics, with clusters or cliques of networks being combined to represent ever more greater conceptual complexity. We can expect this to be tested sooner rather than later in deep learning and neuromorphic chip applications.

2. Predicting Diseases from Facial Features
Dysmorphology, the practice of diagnosing disease by observing a patient’s features, exploits the fact that many genetic conditions have associated effects on face development - and new facial recognition software called Face2Gene automates this process, comparing features across a vast database to approach human expert level diagnoses https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603038/diagnosing-disease-with-a-snapshot/. Of 7,000 genetic syndromes, Face2Gene estimates that half have distinct facial patterns, and any tool that accelerates diagnoses to allow more rapid interventions will be a boon for patients and payers. This work relates to that from a couple of weeks ago in which, controversially, facial features were used to predict criminality.

3. Deep Learning is Everywhere
First, a new deep learning system is being used to create vastly improved hearing aids able to extract speech and other important sounds from chaotic background noise, and in tests people’s ability to understand words from background noise was boosted from 10% to 90% http://spectrum.ieee.org/consumer-electronics/audiovideo/deep-learning-reinvents-the-hearing-aid. Second, a new system that correlates descriptive speech with images could provide a fully automated speech recognition capability http://news.mit.edu/2016/recorded-speech-images-automated-speech-recognition-1206. Finally, another deep learning system can turn a single photo of a person’s face into a realistic 3D model and face render http://gizmodo.com/neural-networks-can-now-turn-a-single-photo-into-a-cree-1789786327.

4. CRISPR Inhibitors & iPSCs
Further boosting the safety and utility of the CRISPR genome engineering tool, new discoveries of anti-CRISPR protein inhibitors that turn CRISPR off should further reduce the risk of unwanted off-site changes at unwanted times https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/12/161208143535.htm. Isolated from viruses, and presumably evolved as part of the bacterial-viral CRISPR arms race, the three different inhibitors can be spliced into cells to ensure cell or tissue specificity and drastically minimise off-target cuts. In related news CRISPR editing of induced pluripotent stem cells shows immense promise for therapeutic development http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2016/12/genome-editing-of-pluripotent-stem-cell.html.

5. Direct Neural Implants & Tourniquets
Tiny microcoils measuring 100 micrometers wide and made of silicon and copper can be implanted into the brain to precisely stimulate the firing of only vertically aligned, near-by neurons via magnetic induction http://spectrum.ieee.org/the-human-os/biomedical/devices/tiny-implantable-microcoils-in-the-brain-activate-neurons-via-magnetic-fields. The benefits of this type of implant and brain stimulation are (i) not having long term performance degraded by scar tissue formation, and (ii) being able to target very specific and tiny patches of cells. Experiments in mice showed precise control of whisker movement for example. In related news a new vagus nerve interface and stimulation protocol actually stimulates platelets to better clot wounds, reducing bleeding time by 40% and blood loss by 50%, to function as a type of neural torniquet http://spectrum.ieee.org/the-human-os/biomedical/devices/neural-tourniquet-stimulates-a-nerve-to-stop-bleeding-anywhere-in-the-body.

6. Latest Artificial Blood
The latest advances with ErythroMer are showing promise as a genuine artificial synthetic blood substitute https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/12/erythromer-as-a-step-forward-in-artificial-blood/. ErythroMer uses synthetic nanoparticles to accomplish the functions of red blood cells, and freeze dried, stored, and reconstituted with water prior to use. The nanoparticles are about one fifth the size of a red blood cell and incorporate materials with pH dependent oxygen absorption ability that comes within 10% of normal red blood cell function. In animal tests ErythroMer performed indistinguishably from normal blood, and also resuscitated animals in shock after 40% blood loss. They’ll need chemistry for physiologically comparable carbon dioxide absorption and release before they can claim version 1.0 respirocytes however.

7. Cheaper Zero-G Experiments with Drones
A new autonomous quadcopter platform provides zero-gravity conditions for short periods of time to enable certain types of experiments to be conducted cheaper, quicker, and easier https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603037/robotic-quadcopters-could-offer-zero-g-flights-on-the-cheap/. Sounds simple but there were a range of very difficult technical challenges to overcome in order to guarantee stability, which ultimately involved the design of custom variable pitch rotors able to provide complete six degrees of freedom at all times. In related news autonomous quadcopters can now navigate small gaps using only on-board processing and a fisheye camera https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603088/watch-this-robotic-quadcopter-fly-aggressively-through-narrow-gaps/.

8. Targeted Ultrasound Microbubbles Open Blood Brain Barrier
Building on work that opens the blood brain barrier with ultrasound and microbubbles, the technique can now target the delivery of drugs just to certain brain regions and without exposing the rest of the body to the circulating drug http://www.agenciasinc.es/en/News/Microbubbles-and-ultrasound-open-the-blood-brain-barrier-to-administer-drugs. Drugs are now incorporated into the lipid-coated microbubbles, which are injected into the patient as before, while the desired region of the brain is targeted with focused ultrasound; the ultrasound causes the bubbles to temporarily open the blood brain barrier only in that region, also causing the drugs to be released only in that region. Experiments in mice and monkeys confirmed the effectiveness.

9. Nanocrystal Night Vision
Advances in nanophotonics have for the first time produced semiconductor nanocrystal antennas on optically transparent substrates http://www.anu.edu.au/news/all-news/anu-invention-to-inspire-new-night-vision-specs. Grown as arrays on a thin film and applied to normal glasses lenses the surface might enable cheap and easy night vision. The structures can be designed to shift the direction, frequency, and polarisation of light passing through the device, and might additionally find application in holography and optical computing.

10. Energy Technologies
A couple of unusual but interesting energy-related technologies this week. First, a new nanoceramic material would constitute safer casings for nuclear reactors, more safely handling liquid metal coolants such as sodium, and instead of becoming brittle over time like many other materials under intense radiation, actually becoming tougher and stronger from the radiation https://www.engr.wisc.edu/new-materials-safe-economical-nuclear-reactors/. Second, leading on from unconventional oil and gas fracking technology and the geological deposits that characterise these sources, there are different (vast) rock deposits embedded with hydrocarbons that cannot be obtained via fracking or any other technology, except for this new microwave technology that was developed that can effectively extract oil and water from these rocks http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2016/12/microwave-oil-recovery-could-unlock.html.

SciTech Tip Jar: http://www.scitechdigest.net/p/donate.html
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2016-12-06 13:23:05 (5 comments; 7 reshares; 18 +1s; )Open 

The Pipeline of Rejuvenation Therapies

I recently renewed my regular charitable donation to the SENS Research Foundation as part of their annual fundraising drive, contributing in some small way to the funding of much needed research programs on various aspects of anti-aging http://www.sens.org/donate.

At about the same time FightAging! prepared a list predicting the order of arrival of rejuvenation therapies coming down the development pipeline https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/11/predicting-the-order-of-arrival-of-the-first-rejuvenation-therapies/. As usual FightAging! includes numerous links to news, companies, and resources, and sufficient lay detail to convey the key points. The key therapies and interventions that we can look forward over time include:

1. Clearance of senescent cells
2. Immune system destruction and restoration
3. Clearance of... more »

The Pipeline of Rejuvenation Therapies

I recently renewed my regular charitable donation to the SENS Research Foundation as part of their annual fundraising drive, contributing in some small way to the funding of much needed research programs on various aspects of anti-aging http://www.sens.org/donate.

At about the same time FightAging! prepared a list predicting the order of arrival of rejuvenation therapies coming down the development pipeline https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/11/predicting-the-order-of-arrival-of-the-first-rejuvenation-therapies/. As usual FightAging! includes numerous links to news, companies, and resources, and sufficient lay detail to convey the key points. The key therapies and interventions that we can look forward over time include:

1. Clearance of senescent cells
2. Immune system destruction and restoration
3. Clearance of amyloid and protein aggregates
4. Clearance of glucosepane crosslinks
5. Rejuvenation of thymus for youthful immune function
6. Repair of mitochondria
7. Robust cancer cure
8. Reversing stem cell aging
9. Clearance of lysosomal garbage and other waste

As these therapies are developed and become more widely known we can expect more mavericks like Liz Parish and Bioviva to emerge and take matters into their own hands, further accelerating the development, dissemination, and availability of these interventions. In fact the latest data from Bioviva’s gene therapy is looking pretty good https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/11/data-on-the-effects-of-follistatin-gene-therapy-from-bioviva/.
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2016-12-05 13:41:25 (17 comments; 7 reshares; 19 +1s; )Open 

Principia Qualia

Principia Qualia is a recent work by Michael Johnson seeking to understand the problem of valence in consciousness, or what makes some things feel better than others. This is a very interesting and valuable contribution to, and resource for, the study of consciousness.

Johnson digs into neuroscience and the latest iteration of the Integrated Information Theory (IIT) of consciousness espoused by Tononi that I’ve covered before. This also includes examining critiques of IIT by the likes of Aaronson and others and covers related theories on Perceptronium and the Field Integrated Information Hypothesis. A mathematical derivation of valence is considered in light of distinct differences in qualia, while the amount of mathematical symmetry is considered as the key driver of valence and this flows into treatments of pleasure and pain. This comes with a range ofh... more »

Principia Qualia

Principia Qualia is a recent work by Michael Johnson seeking to understand the problem of valence in consciousness, or what makes some things feel better than others. This is a very interesting and valuable contribution to, and resource for, the study of consciousness.

Johnson digs into neuroscience and the latest iteration of the Integrated Information Theory (IIT) of consciousness espoused by Tononi that I’ve covered before. This also includes examining critiques of IIT by the likes of Aaronson and others and covers related theories on Perceptronium and the Field Integrated Information Hypothesis. A mathematical derivation of valence is considered in light of distinct differences in qualia, while the amount of mathematical symmetry is considered as the key driver of valence and this flows into treatments of pleasure and pain. This comes with a range of hypotheses and experimental tests for Johnson’s valence subset of IIT.

Overall you’ll get a great update to discussions and developments in consciousness research. Some excerpts:

A complex feed-forward neural network can be highly complex, but because it has no integration between its layers, it has zero Φ. Importantly, functionally-identical systems (in terms of input/output) can produce different qualia under IIT, depending on their internal structure, and functionally different systems may produce the same qualia. This relates to why Tononi is confident that IIT implies that ‘virtual neurons’ emulated on a conventional computational system wouldn’t produce their original qualia. This also has implications for the simulation hypothesis, below.

Given a mathematical object isomorphic to the qualia of a system, the mathematical property which corresponds to how pleasant it is to be that system is that object’s symmetry​.

I posit boredom is a very sophisticated “anti-wireheading” technology which prevents the symmetry/pleasure attractor basin from being too ‘sticky’, and may be activated by an especially low rate of Reward Prediction Errors.

In this work and its appendices, I’ve sketched out what I think a “non-insane” Science of Qualia should look like; something that could turn qualia research from alchemy into chemistry, and unify our different modes of knowing in neuroscience.

The cosmological and simulation musings at the end are fun:

Perhaps we are qualia godshatter, slowly recoalescing 14 billion years after the Big Bang in which there existed an incredible amount of integrated information with incredibly fine spatial and temporal grain.

Bostrom’s simulation hypothesis relies on consciousness being substrate-independent. Integrated Information Theory implies consciousness is somewhat not substrate-independent. If we are in a simulation, it wouldn't really 'count' as being a metaphysically separate reality. Instead, we would simply be living in a weirdly-partitioned view of basement reality, since a simulation can’t take on any strong emergent properties over and above the hardware it’s being run on. Importantly, this means the underlying physical rules for consciousness would be the same for us as they would be for the entities running our simulations.

The introduction / summary is here:
http://opentheory.net/2016/11/principia-qualia/

The thesis is here:
http://opentheory.net/PrincipiaQualia.pdf
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2016-12-04 12:43:18 (8 comments; 10 reshares; 93 +1s; )Open 

The Strengthening Case Against Dark Matter.

Another brilliant Natalie Wolchover article exploring the latest theoretical and observational developments that suggest that dark matter doesn’t exist: https://www.quantamagazine.org/20161129-verlinde-gravity-dark-matter/

First, new theoretical work treats gravity as an emergent byproduct arising from quantum interactions between qubits on a hologram, the network of which gives rise to the spacetime and matter that we are familiar with. At large scales dark energy interacts with matter in the right way to create the illusion of dark matter. Intriguingly, working with this new fundamental model the equations of Modified Newtonian Dynamics (MOND) naturally drop out to explain galactic rotation rates without the need for dark matter.

Second, recent observational studies of 153 galaxies show that (i) the rotation speed ofv... more »

The Strengthening Case Against Dark Matter.

Another brilliant Natalie Wolchover article exploring the latest theoretical and observational developments that suggest that dark matter doesn’t exist: https://www.quantamagazine.org/20161129-verlinde-gravity-dark-matter/

First, new theoretical work treats gravity as an emergent byproduct arising from quantum interactions between qubits on a hologram, the network of which gives rise to the spacetime and matter that we are familiar with. At large scales dark energy interacts with matter in the right way to create the illusion of dark matter. Intriguingly, working with this new fundamental model the equations of Modified Newtonian Dynamics (MOND) naturally drop out to explain galactic rotation rates without the need for dark matter.

Second, recent observational studies of 153 galaxies show that (i) the rotation speed of visible matter at any given distance and (ii) the amount of visible matter within the galaxy, are tightly linked. This is exactly what some form of MOND would predict, but is considered a very unlikely outcome for conventional dark matter theories.

Third, testing the theoretical predictions from the work above against data from 30,000 galaxies demonstrates correct predictions for the distortions or gravitational lensing of light from those galaxies, which are normally attributed to dark matter.

Despite decades of searching no candidate dark matter particle has ever been observed.

There exists a lot of additional theoretical work and development for this new theory of gravity to stand up and gain broader acceptance, including accounting for things that conventional MOND or relativistic MOND cannot, such as Bullet cluster dynamics, CMB imprints, and others. Dark matter is entrenched consensus and dogma for the majority of physicists and cosmologists and efforts like these to supplant it will need to be hard fought to succeed.

I’m reminded of Max Planck’s quote, Science advances one funeral at a time. ___

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2016-12-04 04:46:54 (8 comments; 18 reshares; 78 +1s; )Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 49/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/12/allen-crispr-cells-advanced-synbio.html

Allen CRISPR cells, Advanced Synbio tools, Radioelectric diamond power, High temperature ice, Programmably disordered DNA, Endohedral fullerene clocks, Dendrimer atom mimicry, Linked enzyme molecular synthesis, Wireless optogenetic control, Nvidia’s Xavier chips.

1. Allen CRISPR Stem Cell Collection
The Allen Institute for Cell Science has released the Allen Cell Collection, comprising five induced pluripotent stem cell lines genetically engineered with CRISPR to fluorescently tag or label critical structural proteins in the cell http://www.alleninstitute.org/what-we-do/cell-science/news-press/press-releases/allen-institute-cell-science-releases-gene-edited-human-stem-cell-lines. Tagged structures that can bee... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 49/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/12/allen-crispr-cells-advanced-synbio.html

Allen CRISPR cells, Advanced Synbio tools, Radioelectric diamond power, High temperature ice, Programmably disordered DNA, Endohedral fullerene clocks, Dendrimer atom mimicry, Linked enzyme molecular synthesis, Wireless optogenetic control, Nvidia’s Xavier chips.

1. Allen CRISPR Stem Cell Collection
The Allen Institute for Cell Science has released the Allen Cell Collection, comprising five induced pluripotent stem cell lines genetically engineered with CRISPR to fluorescently tag or label critical structural proteins in the cell http://www.alleninstitute.org/what-we-do/cell-science/news-press/press-releases/allen-institute-cell-science-releases-gene-edited-human-stem-cell-lines. Tagged structures that can be easily visualised include the nucleus, mitochondria, microtubules, cell junctions, and cell adhesion complexes. Because these are human stem cells the differentiation into specialised cells and tissues can also be tracked with the same ease and efficiency. Additional collections will be released next year. These tools provide a very useful means by which to study the effects of other mutations and genetic modifications.

2. Advancing Synthetic Biology Tools
First, a number of easy, convenient mini-laboratories are being developed and launched to better allow people to edit, engineer, create, and test their own modified cells http://spectrum.ieee.org/the-human-os/biomedical/devices/tools-for-would-be-biohackers-here-come-3-mini-labs. The core ethos here is to continually reduce the cost and complexity required to tinker and edit cells, in the same way that the cost and complexity of computers was reduced, and so better unleash biological innovations. Second, at the industrial scale synthetic biology development is being driven by advances in automation http://spectrum.ieee.org/biomedical/devices/the-robot-revolution-comes-to-synthetic-biology, for driving high-throughput screening and selection to build organisms to required specifications. I feel like we’re approaching a tipping point here.

3. Radioelectric Diamond Energy Generators
Like thermoelectric materials that generate electricity from heat and piezoelectric materials that generate electricity from movement, a new prototype diamond-based material functions as a radioelectric material to generate electricity from radioactive sources http://www.bris.ac.uk/news/2016/november/diamond-power.html. The prototype synthetic diamonds use Nickel-63 as the radioactive source, but the next version should use Carbon-14 from radioactive graphite nuclear waste as the source incorporated into the synthetic diamonds. One gram of Carbon-14 in a battery would generate 15 Joules of energy per day, and would take over 5,000 years to reach half power. I wonder if future variations might increase the energy output for proportionally lower lifetimes. In other news work continues to develop diamonds as the ultimate semiconductors http://www.titech.ac.jp/english/research/stories/faces21_hatano.html.

4. High Temperature Ice in Nanotubes
When inside carbon nanotubes water remains “frozen” solid even at temperatures above the boiling point of water http://news.mit.edu/2016/carbon-nanotubes-water-solid-boiling-1128. The behaviour of the water at these temperatures is dependent on the diameter of the carbon nanotube, such that 1.05nm tubes vs 1.06nm tubes resulted in a tens-of-degrees temperature difference in the apparent freezing point - the team claim an ice-like phase for the solid water but need additional experiments to confirm it is ice. A couple of thoughts: first, the pressure exerted by the nanotubes must be significant, second, I wonder if there are superconducting applications here for example, confining materials to a superconducting phase that otherwise would not be possible at high temperatures.

5. Programmably Disordered DNA Origami
For the first time DNA origami building blocks or tiles have been engineered to self-assemble in both deterministic and random ways in order to generate large-scale emergent features with tunable statistical properties - what is known as programmable disorder http://www.caltech.edu/news/programmable-disorder-53104. An example of these designs include Truchet tiles, which fit together deterministically, but in one of two different random ways, in order to generate complex patterns. The structures formed are more organic, like trees or dendrites. In related programmable materials news shape-memory polymers are enabling new applications http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2016/Q4/programmable-materiels-showing-future-potential-for-industry.html.

6. Endohedral Fullerenes as Atomic Clocks
Endohedral fullerenes, which are buckyball cages encasing a particular atom or ion, are being produced industrially for a range of miniature devices and applications http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2016/11/millimeter-accurate-gps-in-smartphones.html. Endohedral fullerenes encapsulating nitrogen atoms might be used to produce tiny low-power on-chip atomic clocks that might provide cars and phones with GPS accuracy to 1mm, which would be a game changer. I’ve also wondered for about 15 years how arrays of suitable endohedral fullerenes might be used as high density digital memory devices. Other applications include energy harvesting and sensing.

7. Atom Mimicry with Dendrimers
Dendrimers, large molecules with precise branches extending from a central core, can now not only be engineered to mimic the electron valency of atoms but also linked into dendrimer arrays that mimic the covalent electron pair bonding between atoms in a molecule http://phys.org/news/2016-12-aspect-atom-mimicry-nanotechnology-applications.html. The group produced large 2D arrays of these “molecules” whose geometry and pitch can be controlled by the design of the dendrimer and linker molecules. This is a fascinating new atom-mimicry tool, similar to certain types of quantum dots, with applications no one has yet thought of.

8. Daisy-Chained Sperm Enzymes for Molecular Synthesis
A precise ten-step biological synthesis pathway for converting glucose into lactate has been demonstrated with a system that mimics the way enzymes in sperm tails rapidly ferry molecules and metabolites along the length of the tail http://news.cornell.edu/stories/2016/12/fast-efficient-sperm-tails-inspire-nanobiotechnology. Instead of enzymes vibrating in solution and randomly encountering their particular molecule, the group tethered all of the necessary enzymes to nanoparticles, which resulted in much lower concentrations of intermediate molecular products in solution. This is another step on the path towards atomically precise manufacturing. Add the particular enzymes for your synthetic pathway of interest to nanoparticles (perhaps further advances will lock in precise positions to ensure molecule-by-molecule handoff and transfer with no wastage) and drop into a solution or environment of choice, or inject into blood in order to perform the needed reaction as therapy, sensor, stimulant, industrial production or clean up agent.

9. Latest Wireless Optogenetic Animal Control
This week saw a nice update and review of wireless optogenetic animal control tools that we’ve covered previously over the years http://spectrum.ieee.org/biomedical/devices/neuroscientists-wirelessly-control-the-brain-of-a-scampering-lab-mouse. The key development has been tiny LEDs that can be implanted and wirelessly powered and controlled, requiring the mice or rats to be observed in cages equipped with radio frequency generators that can both power and send control signals to the tiny implanted chips connected to the LEDs. Instead of needing large receiving antennas new devices are able to track and use the body of the animal itself for resonant coupling.

10. Towards Exascale Computing with Nvidia
Nvidia has introduced Xavier, its most ambitious single-chip computer, which has 7 billion transistors and computes at 20 trillion operations per second (OPS) for just 20 watts of power. 50 of these chips would provide a petaOPS of processing for 1 kilowatt of power, while in 2018 50,000 units would reach exaOPS for 1 megawatt of power. Coverage at NBF here http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2016/11/nvidia-xavier-chip-20-trillion.html and here http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2016/11/50000-nvidia-xavier-chips-would-deliver.html. Commercial drivers include ramping up AI, deep learning, and autonomous vehicle data processing applications.

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2016-11-27 06:32:03 (13 comments; 21 reshares; 68 +1s; )Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 48/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/11/deep-learning-criminal-recognition.html

Deep learning criminal recognition, Mapping the epigenome, Friction on graphene, Single atom memory, Parabiosis twist, Thermoelectric paint, MEMS ultrasound interfaces, Reducing water from air, Nanochannel genome mapping, Inducing mitophagy.

1. Criminal Face Recognition by Deep Learning
A deep learning system, after being suitably trained on 1,500 images of faces, half of which were criminals, half of which were not, can predict which subsequent faces are criminals with 90% accuracy https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602955/neural-network-learns-to-identify-criminals-by-their-faces/. This follows work in 2011 that showed that humans are also adept at picking criminals from a random collection of faces. I’lle... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 48/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/11/deep-learning-criminal-recognition.html

Deep learning criminal recognition, Mapping the epigenome, Friction on graphene, Single atom memory, Parabiosis twist, Thermoelectric paint, MEMS ultrasound interfaces, Reducing water from air, Nanochannel genome mapping, Inducing mitophagy.

1. Criminal Face Recognition by Deep Learning
A deep learning system, after being suitably trained on 1,500 images of faces, half of which were criminals, half of which were not, can predict which subsequent faces are criminals with 90% accuracy https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602955/neural-network-learns-to-identify-criminals-by-their-faces/. This follows work in 2011 that showed that humans are also adept at picking criminals from a random collection of faces. I’ll emphasise the fact that there are no guarantees in biology, just predispositions and likelihoods, and that a lot more work is needed, but this opens up some pretty interesting (potentially worrying) possibilities in future with regards to automatic screening for measures of criminality, trustworthiness, and other factors, either by individuals or by states. Imagine a Facebook plug-in that tagged everyone based on these assessments, or surveillance systems that directed personnel attention to specific individuals.

2. Mapping the Human Epigenome
The human epigenome, that pattern of methylation tags on DNA that help regulate gene expression, has been mapped to extraordinary detail in BLUEPRINT studies on how hematopoietic stem cells differentiate and produce the various types of blood cells https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-11/crcf-btd111716.php. Different epigenomic maps help dictate the particular gene expression blueprint that is to be followed to produce cells of a particular type, while disruption or changes to epigenetic markers can often result in disease states. Apart from raw knowledge, applications include cancer diagnostics, personalised medicine, and improved cellular reprogramming.

3. Understanding Graphene Friction
The possible applications for using graphene and graphite as lubricants takes a step forward with a far more sophisticated understanding of how friction operates on graphene surfaces http://news.mit.edu/2016/sliding-flexible-graphene-surfaces-1123. It turns out that in addition to quantity of contact (how much area between the two surfaces actually touch) the group discovered that quality of contact (how well individual carbon atoms make contact with other atoms in the material) plays a large role and causing the counter-intuitive spike in friction as movement begins before levelling off. The new understanding opens up possibilities in tuning graphene interfaces to provide a desired level of friction. In other 2D materials news, indium selenide appears to offer some interesting “goldilocks” properties http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/semiconductors/materials/indium-selenide-takes-on-the-mantle-of-the-new-wonder-material.

4. Single Atom Magnet Superlattice
Building on single-atom work announced earlier this year a group has now produced monomer layer superlattices of single (dysprosium) atom magnets on graphene-iridium sheets with a theoretical information density of 115 terabits per square inch http://phys.org/news/2016-11-superlattice-single-atom-magnets-aims-ultimate.html. The surfaces are prepared at 40K, allowing the atoms to find the lowest energy states in the lattice with an atomic spacing of 2.5nm, although stable magnet performance is only possible below 10K. This very low temperature prototype isn’t going to be useful anytime soon, which will require massive improvements in temperature stability.

5. Another Parabiosis Twist
Following on from the interesting parabiosis work last week showing rejuvenation effects of young blood on old mice, this latest parabiosis work with a counter-narrative deserves a strong mention. This latest study on mice, conducted with a different blood transfer procedure, suggests that young blood does not by itself help rejuvenate older animals and that older blood in young mice causes declines in the functioning of most organs and tissues http://news.berkeley.edu/2016/11/22/young-blood-does-not-reverse-aging-in-old-mice-uc-berkeley-study-finds/. This suggests that blood transfusions using blood from older individuals may carry a number of risks. Also, it appears that better ways to filter blood or otherwise remove accumulating factors in older blood will lead to rejuvenation benefits for older individuals.

6. Thermoelectric Paint
Thermoelectric paints (that convert heat into electricity) that can be quickly applied to any surface have been developed for the first time, in order to generate electricity from large temperature differences http://news.unist.ac.kr/unist-engineers-thermoelectric-material-in-paintable-liquid-form/. Like paint-on photovoltaics and LEDs this is a good initial demonstration that provides a platform for development: better efficiencies, lower operating temperatures, etc. Applications include any machine subject to high temperatures including cars, satellites, computer chips, and many others.

7. MEMS Ultrasound Interfaces
Recent advances and improvements in MEMS technology and devices will soon result in consumer level MEMS chips that function as ultrasonic gesture interfaces http://spectrum.ieee.org/semiconductors/devices/beyond-touch-tomorrows-devices-will-use-mems-ultrasound-to-hear-your-gestures. This is like Google’s Soli technology (radar) or infrared LEDs, but makes use of ultrasound to do the same and much more at much lower power and avoiding a range of potential interference sources from the environment. Earlier MEMS-based ultrasound devices include digital pens and styluses, but the new devices coming incorporate embedded piezoelectrics and promise a whole new way to interact with our digital devices and sensors.

8. Easy Access to Water from Air
A great little student project developed a simple device, predominantly 3D printed, that is able to produce just under two litres of water per hour from humid air (lower volumes from drier air) http://newworldwow.com/index.php/2016/11/17/student-creates-3d-printed-gadget-turns-air-1-8-liters-drinkable-water-just-one-hour/. The electric fans incorporated into the device circulate air and cool it below its dew point, producing water vapour that is subsequently collected, and all while powered by a 12 volt energy source. As far as compact atmospheric water generators go this is pretty neat. Perhaps Tesla should make a similar device to be sold alongside its Power Wall energy storage batteries, a Water Wall for on-site water production from excess energy.

9. Genome Mapping with Nanochannels
While nanopores are showing great promise as a long-read DNA sequencing technology, a new device and approach using nanochannels is showing great promise for high-resolution genome mapping as a useful complementary technology http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=45129.php. In this approach photostable fluorophores are combined with blinking dyes to mitigate the effects of thermal fluctuations of DNA to facilitate a 15-fold improvement in mapping resolution. The benefits of rapid genome mapping include determining gene location and distance, genetic rearrangements, better accuracy for discriminating repeat numbers of long strings of identical bases that sequencing struggles to resolve.

10. Clearing Defective Mitochondria
Increasing numbers of defective mitochondria in our cells are one of the major causes of aging-related damage; while work continues to try migrate mitochondrial genes to the nucleus to mitigate this, interim measures are also being developed including co-opting mitophagy, the cells natural quality control mechanism, to induce cells to remove defective mitochondria https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/11/manipulating-existing-methods-of-cellular-quality-control-to-clear-mutant-mitochondria/. Recent work demonstrates several different interventions that might be developed into human therapies in future in order to accelerate and boost this quality control mechanism.

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2016-11-20 06:29:09 (5 comments; 21 reshares; 69 +1s; )Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 47/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/11/compartmentalised-gene-circuits-crispr.html

Compartmentalised gene circuits, CRISPR human trial, Google’s machine learning, Parabiosis twist, Carbon nanotube terahertz scanner, Automated drug discovery, DNA origami muscles, Magnetic hand tracking, Photonic neuromorphic computing, Nanoantenna optical switches.

1. Compartmentalised Synthetic Gene Circuits
The utility and power of synthetic biology has been boosted with new modular tools that involve placing different genetic circuits into separate liposomes within the modified cells http://news.mit.edu/2016/synthetic-cells-isolate-genetic-circuits-1114. This solves the potential problem of too many genetic circuits interfering with each other, while allowing the same circuit to be used in a different waya... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 47/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/11/compartmentalised-gene-circuits-crispr.html

Compartmentalised gene circuits, CRISPR human trial, Google’s machine learning, Parabiosis twist, Carbon nanotube terahertz scanner, Automated drug discovery, DNA origami muscles, Magnetic hand tracking, Photonic neuromorphic computing, Nanoantenna optical switches.

1. Compartmentalised Synthetic Gene Circuits
The utility and power of synthetic biology has been boosted with new modular tools that involve placing different genetic circuits into separate liposomes within the modified cells http://news.mit.edu/2016/synthetic-cells-isolate-genetic-circuits-1114. This solves the potential problem of too many genetic circuits interfering with each other, while allowing the same circuit to be used in a different way at the same time. As a demonstration a circuit in one liposome reacted to a drug by releasing another molecule from its liposome, which entered a second liposome and genetic circuit that responded by producing a light-emitting protein. Other triggers include forcing the liposomes to merge and combine contents. I think of this system as producing basic little custom-engineered and custom-programmed nanofactories in cells. Such modularity makes this a very powerful platform for pushing synthetic biology applications forward.

2. CRISPR Therapy in First Human Trial
A Chinese group has introduced a CRISPR-based therapy into humans as part of a human trial for the first time http://www.nature.com/news/crispr-gene-editing-tested-in-a-person-for-the-first-time-1.20988. In this case the CRISPR modification took place in immune cells extracted from the patient, disabling the PD-1 gene that inhibits cellular immune response, and then these cells were reintroduced back into patients with lung cancer in the hope that the unhindered immune cells would defeat it. 2017 will see an number of other CRISPR human trials begin, most of which will be targeting various cancers. As CRISPR tools get better I’m expecting this space to explode.

3. Google Machine Learning Advances
First, Google demonstrates RAISR, a machine learning based tool that upscales low resolution images to high resolution copies, which might improve the viewability of low resolution images or otherwise preserve bandwidth http://www.androidpolice.com/2016/11/14/google-announces-raisr-method-upscaling-images-machine-learning/. Second, better machine learning is powering the latest iteration of Google Translate, which can now translate whole sentences at a time rather than piece by piece, and resulting in much smoother grammatically correct translations https://blog.google/products/translate/found-translation-more-accurate-fluent-sentences-google-translate/.

4. Surprising Twist with Parabiosis
Parabiosis is the term for connecting the circulatory systems of two animals together, and when done with an old and young mouse the older mouse shows signs of regeneration to a more youthful state. In an interesting twist, the blood plasma from young (18 year old) humans was taken and injected into old mice (1 year old, ~50 year human equivalent) and this also rejuvenated the old mice to a more youthful state as measured by movement, memory function, and increased neurogenesis https://www.newscientist.com/article/2112829-blood-from-human-teens-rejuvenates-body-and-brains-of-old-mice/. Interesting both for the fact that an 18 year old human’s blood rejuvenated a one year old mouse, and also for the promise this general procedure and the isolation of specific factors has for human health applications.

5. Portable Carbon Nanotube Terahertz Scanner
A portable, flexible, wearable, terahertz scanner has been created from thin films of carbon nanotubes http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/semiconductors/nanotechnology/flexible-portable-terahertz-scanner-made-from-carbon-nanotubes2. This effectively amounts to a flexible terahertz camera that in tests was able to detect and image a wide band of terahertz rays. Given terahertz light passes through many materials the promise has always been to use such devices for security as part of high-resolution non-invasive imaging to detect hidden objects.

6. Automated Drug Discovery
First, iPANDA is a machine learning system for discovering new drugs from gene expression data and which outputs the pharmacological properties of new potential drugs and biomarkers for further development https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-11/imi-ian111616.php. Second, another machine learning system was being used to study antimicrobial compounds and helped discover general peptides and protein features that can cross cell membranes, thus not only enabling the design of different and better antimicrobial peptides but also peptides that can ferry drugs and other molecules into cells http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/computers-learn-to-recognize-molecules-that-can-enter-cells.

7. DNA Origami Muscles
Nanoscale muscles have been built from gold nanoparticles linked in sheets by different single strand DNA sequences and with these sheets stacked in many layers https://news.upenn.edu/news/penn-engineers-make-nanoscale-muscles-powered-dna. By introducing different complementary strands induces the formation of double-stranded DNA bridges in precise locations, which are different lengths to single strands, and this causes the stacked sheets to twist and flex and roll up in controllable shapes. This controllable flexing behaviour could be used in nanoscale diagnostics, for example, recognising a certain type of RNA in the cell by changing the spacing between layers in the sheet and so interacting with light differently to provide a signal of the event.

8. VR Magnetic Hand Tracking
Ommo is developing a system to provide millimeter resolution gesture tracking in virtual reality environments magnetic fields and sensors http://spectrum.ieee.org/view-from-the-valley/at-work/start-ups/for-precise-hand-tracking-in-virtual-reality-start-with-a-magnetic-field. This includes a small magnetic field generator that is worn in the pocket and sensors on key points of a glove worn on the hands. Developer prototypes are expected next year. I’ve been playing with Daydream View lately and it would be pretty amazing to have this type of control and gesture interface in these environments.

9. Photonic Neuromorphic Computing
Neuromorphic computer hardware has taken a big step with the development of the first photonic neuromorphic chip for processing neural networks and deep learning algorithms at ultrafast speeds https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602938/worlds-first-photonic-neural-network-unveiled/. For certain types of information processing, types of recurrent neural networks for example, the photonic circuits have been demonstrated to be 2,000 times faster than conventional processing. The photonic circuits are comprised of nodes that respond in a similar manner to a neuron and consist of circular waveguides that trap light, which when released modulates the output of an associated laser.

10. Nanoantenna Switches for Optical Computing
On the topic of photonic chips, new nanoantennas made from silicon nanoparticles efficiently switch the direction of incoming light depending on the intensity of that light http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/semiconductors/nanotechnology/nanoantenna-changes-direction-of-light-and-the-prospects-of-optical-computing. Low intensity light is unaffected, while high intensity light generates a type of electron plasma around the silicon nanoparticles, resulting in a significant change to the refractive index of the nanoantennas, and so bending the light in a measurable and different way. These nanoantennas can support data rates up to 250 gigabits per second and offer a great platform for developing optical computing applications and chips in future.

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