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Mark Bruce has been at 1 events

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NASA2,410,367The 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 02:00:002196  

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Most comments: 47

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2015-05-25 12:04:54 (47 comments, 1 reshares, 54 +1s)Open 

Saw this movie yesterday.
Good. Hard. Sci-Fi. Loved it. Surprised me.
Did not end how I expected and another factor I was sure would be revealed, wasn't. 
Preface any spoiler comments with a warning!

Most reshares: 51

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2015-06-28 08:37:34 (12 comments, 51 reshares, 94 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 26/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/06/functional-artificial-neuron-free-air.html 

Square bacterial division, Nanoscale geometric grids, Functional artificial neuron, Free-air holograms, Digital microfluidics, Memory in synapses, Heart powered pacemakers, Lithium battery fabrication, Nuclear spin computing, Ultra-high-res 3D prints. 

1. Squaring Bacteria: Mechanisms of Division
New techniques allow bacteria to be confined and grown into unusual shapes that they would never normally assume, including squares, triangles, and perfect circles, and related methods allow or force the bacteria to grow 30 times larger than normal http://www.tudelft.nl/en/current/latest-news/article/detail/vierkant-driehoek-cirkel-ongeacht-hun-vorm-weten-bacterien-waar-ze-moeten-delen-met-een-bee/. Such bacteria canst... more »

Most plusones: 111

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2015-06-14 13:01:42 (20 comments, 45 reshares, 111 +1s)Open 

Superintelligence

I’ve just finished reading Nick Bostrom’s Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies. I have a strong interest in the development of artificially intelligent machines in general and follow the weekly advances and announcements in the field of artificial intelligence as our species inches towards the ability to birth artificial general intelligence. I’ve read quite a bit of the philosophy concerning the arrival of machines smarter than ourselves and am generally familiar with the profound opportunities and risks associated with the arrival of such entities for humanity. But I consider myself loosely informed, not well informed, on this topic and so it was only a matter of time before I sat down with Nick’s book. 

If you’re in a similar position to myself, have an interest in these topics, are curious about the rise of artificial intelligence,possess op... more »

Latest 50 posts

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2015-07-05 12:58:49 (10 comments, 27 reshares, 51 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 27/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/07/femtosecond-photodoping-liquiglide.html 

Femtosecond photodoping, LiquiGlide Coatings, Quantum dot spectrometer, Doubling fiber data, Microfluidics and colloids, Graphene flexoelectrics, Printable conductive inks, Prions and memory, Functional meshes, Antibodies and CFS. 

1. Femtosecond Semiconductor Photo-Doping
Following on the heels of femtosecond lasers being used for in-air holograms last week we have femtosecond lasers being used in ultrafast photo-doping experiments http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2015/making-a-better-semiconductor/. In this case the femtosecond lasers are being used to controllably alter the electronic properties of semiconductors, using brief high-intensity laser light to mimic the chemical doping of bulk semiconductor materials,t... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 27/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/07/femtosecond-photodoping-liquiglide.html 

Femtosecond photodoping, LiquiGlide Coatings, Quantum dot spectrometer, Doubling fiber data, Microfluidics and colloids, Graphene flexoelectrics, Printable conductive inks, Prions and memory, Functional meshes, Antibodies and CFS. 

1. Femtosecond Semiconductor Photo-Doping
Following on the heels of femtosecond lasers being used for in-air holograms last week we have femtosecond lasers being used in ultrafast photo-doping experiments http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2015/making-a-better-semiconductor/. In this case the femtosecond lasers are being used to controllably alter the electronic properties of semiconductors, using brief high-intensity laser light to mimic the chemical doping of bulk semiconductor materials, temporarily - the electrical properties of a chip might be altered on the fly as needed. 

2. Commercial Launch of LiquiGlide Coatings
The commercial roll-out of LiquiGlide coatings is finally picking up, promising to come to a product near you after launching to some fanfare a number of years ago http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/liquiglide-condiments-0630. LiquiGlide typically coats the inner surface of a container for example, and is tailored to allow the contents (such as a viscous sauce) to glide out completely without leaving a residue. The coating is typically tailored to a particular application, which can include foods and condiments, oil and gas pipelines, catheters, de-icing situations, and in the case of foodstuffs is comprised of edible materials. 

3. Quantum Dot Spectrometer
A new spectrometer device is small enough to fit inside a cell phone camera module, and is powered by an array of quantum dots http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/quantum-dot-spectrometer-smartphone-0701. The prototype uses 200 different quantum dots, each tuned to absorb a different wavelength of light spanning a 300nm slice of spectrum, and was made with cost effective solution processing and thin film printing. More dots could be used to cover a wider spectral range, with applications comprising personal medical diagnostics, materials identification, and many others. 

4. Doubling Fiber Optic Data Transmission
Newly developed wideband frequency combs allow an effective doubling of the amount of data that can be carried by a fiber optic cable http://www.jacobsschool.ucsd.edu/news/news_releases/release.sfe?id=1768. The comb allows for signal distortions that inevitably occur when piping large amounts of data to be predictable and reversible, and so enables significantly increased power and longer distances for which optical signals can be sent through optical fibers. 

5. Confined Colloids Improve Lab-on-Chip Design
New models have been developed for better optimising the design of microfluidic chips with miniaturised features that hold fluids under superconfinement - where it is meaningful to discuss the size of fluid channels in reference to the size of the particles in the fluid. These models were generated by studying larger colloidal particles (instead of fluid molecules) in small fluid channels http://theconversation.com/how-oversized-atoms-could-help-shrink-lab-on-a-chip-devices-43791. The study used 200nm colloidal particles and altered the size of channels to determine and subsequently model behaviour. 

6. Graphene Flexoelectric Straintronics
“Straintronics” is a fascinating field that involves controllably stretching, compressing, and bending a material to induce different electrical properties. The latest work in this space involves stretching and bending graphene into new and novel shapes, particularly cones, with different properties and bandgaps, sometimes called the flexoelectric effect http://phys.org/news/2015-06-electrical-properties-carbon-cones.html. And swelling / shrinking graphene sheets can create a range of novel surfaces http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=40607.php. 

7. Advanced Printable Inks
Printable materials innovations continue to be a hot this week. First, the latest developments in printable silver inks continue to show promise for printable electronics http://oregonstate.edu/ua/ncs/archives/2015/jul/new-technology-using-silver-may-hold-key-electronics-advances. Second, new graphene polymer inks are being used to produce 3D prints of strong, flexible, biocompatible, and conductive scaffolds for tissue engineering and medical applications, and with base properties tunable by modifying the proportions of graphene and polymer http://www.mccormick.northwestern.edu/news/articles/2015/05/printing-3D-graphene-structures-for-tissue-engineering.html. Finally, we have a good overview of photopolymer inks and 3D printing advances http://www.technologyreview.com/photoessay/538326/speeding-up-3-d-printing/. 

8. Prions, Proteins, and Long Term Memory
In a series of new studies functional prion proteins have been found to be critical components underlying the mechanism of long term memory formation http://newsroom.cumc.columbia.edu/blog/2015/07/02/long-term-memories-and-prions/. When production of this particular protein was interrupted in mice recently formed long term memories were disrupted and lost. Like disease-causing prions, the memory “prion” proteins are made available as a soluble form in the cell and as new synapses are formed by neurons they are recruited to form aggregates that stabilise the synapses and are responsible for their long-term stability. 

9. Functional Mesh Materials
Silver nanowires have been formed into functional, flexible meshes that can securely encase different body parts and apply uniform heating and protection http://phys.org/news/2015-07-stretchy-mesh-heater-sore-muscles.html. Cheap to manufacture and sandwiched in insulation such meshes or functional textiles might form therapeutic heating bandages or elements in clothes, and applications could expand in future with additional features such as antennas and other electronic interfaces. 

10. Antibodies Linked to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Rituximab, a drug that wipes out most of the body’s B-cells and is used to treat certain blood cancers and arthritis, has been found to be very effective in treating chronic fatigue syndrome for many patients http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22730284.000-antibody-wipeout-relieves-symptoms-of-chronic-fatigue-syndrome.html. This seems to be the second human clinical trial exploring this possibility and others are planned. The implication of the result is that CFS is most likely an autoimmune disorder in many cases, triggered by wayward antibodies, and further studies aimed at identifying the antibodies responsible might enable even better treatment options. 

Archive: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/07/femtosecond-photodoping-liquiglide.html ___

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2015-06-30 12:55:53 (9 comments, 3 reshares, 69 +1s)Open 

In my garden the other day. 

In my garden the other day. ___

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2015-06-28 08:37:34 (12 comments, 51 reshares, 94 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 26/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/06/functional-artificial-neuron-free-air.html 

Square bacterial division, Nanoscale geometric grids, Functional artificial neuron, Free-air holograms, Digital microfluidics, Memory in synapses, Heart powered pacemakers, Lithium battery fabrication, Nuclear spin computing, Ultra-high-res 3D prints. 

1. Squaring Bacteria: Mechanisms of Division
New techniques allow bacteria to be confined and grown into unusual shapes that they would never normally assume, including squares, triangles, and perfect circles, and related methods allow or force the bacteria to grow 30 times larger than normal http://www.tudelft.nl/en/current/latest-news/article/detail/vierkant-driehoek-cirkel-ongeacht-hun-vorm-weten-bacterien-waar-ze-moeten-delen-met-een-bee/. Such bacteria canst... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 26/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/06/functional-artificial-neuron-free-air.html 

Square bacterial division, Nanoscale geometric grids, Functional artificial neuron, Free-air holograms, Digital microfluidics, Memory in synapses, Heart powered pacemakers, Lithium battery fabrication, Nuclear spin computing, Ultra-high-res 3D prints. 

1. Squaring Bacteria: Mechanisms of Division
New techniques allow bacteria to be confined and grown into unusual shapes that they would never normally assume, including squares, triangles, and perfect circles, and related methods allow or force the bacteria to grow 30 times larger than normal http://www.tudelft.nl/en/current/latest-news/article/detail/vierkant-driehoek-cirkel-ongeacht-hun-vorm-weten-bacterien-waar-ze-moeten-delen-met-een-bee/. Such bacteria can still find their midlines for cell division by using proteins that sense cell shape via a mechanism originally proposed by Alan Turing. This is important foundational work for understanding how cells organise their internal architectures. 

2. Multimaterial Nanoscale Geometric Grids
I like this new fabrication method involving sweeping lasers (laser zone annealing) to accelerate the self-assembly of multi-layered multi-material nanoscale geometric grids http://www0.bnl.gov/newsroom/news.php?a=11738. For example the team can form deep lattices comprised of nanowire arrays embedded with different functional properties to create a wide range of different functional materials for many different purposes. Applications include custom coatings, photovoltaics, touch surfaces and many others. 

3. Building a Functional Artificial Neuron
A new organic bioelectronic device made of conductive polymers is able to mimic the key function of natural mammalian neurons http://news.cision.com/karolinska-institutet/r/artifical-neuron-mimicks-function-of-human-cells,c9796303. The device can sense chemical changes from neurons in one area, convert this into an electrical signal that travels to the other end of the device, which then releases neurotransmitters that can stimulate subsequent neurons. Future work hopes to miniaturise and implant the device into animals. 

4. Free-Air Holograms from Femtosecond Lasers
Femtosecond high-intensity lasers can now be used to render in-air volumetric displays and graphics by inducing localised plasma production and the emission of light in arbitrary 3D positions http://digitalnature.slis.tsukuba.ac.jp/2015/06/fairy-lights-in-femtoseconds/. The proof-of-concept produces images within a cubic centimeter volume although there is a clear path to scale-up; the images can currently be rendered at between 4,000 and 200,000 dots per second. Be sure to check out the videos; this is magical technology and not something I ever expected to see. 

5. Powerful Digital Microfluidics
New digital microfluidics devices represent a powerful platform for investigating chemical synthesis and biological processes http://news.engineering.utoronto.ca/eavesdropping-on-the-body-new-device-tracks-chemical-signals-within-cells/. Digital microfluidics involves shuttling tiny droplets of liquid around a surface patterned with a checkerboard of small electrodes that provide the means for induced voltages to move multiple droplets around different intersecting paths - YouTube has lots of interesting videos. The demonstration in this case was to rapidly and sequentially expose cells to different chemicals and test their reactions. A related, powerful microfluidic chip design automates the process of constructing plasmids, transfecting cells, and testing / confirming genetic modifications http://cen.acs.org/articles/93/web/2015/06/Microfluidic-Device-Mixes-Matches-DNA.html. 

6. More Confirmation for the Synaptic Foundation of Memory
New microscopy techniques able to examine the spines and connections formed by deep neurons in the hippocampus of mice have allowed for the first time for confirming that (at least episodic) memory is founded on the synaptic connections between neurons http://news.stanford.edu/pr/2015/pr-memory-monitor-biox-061715.html. Imaging analysis confirmed that synapse-forming neuronal spines were turned over every 30 days or so, which is the same time that episodic memories are stored in the hippocampus of mice - if retained the memories have been moved to the neocortex by this time. 

7. Implanted Pacemakers Powered by the Heart
Two new pacemaker designs offer promise for implanted pacemakers that no longer need batteries and costly replacement surgeries but rather are able to use novel piezoelectric elements to directly harvest energy from the beating of the heart itself http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/biomedical/devices/nextgen-pacemakers-may-be-powered-by-the-beating-of-a-heart. The first concerns a conventional pacemaker that connects to the heart via leads, but the most promising is the newer, tinier, leadless pacemaker that nestles inside the heart itself; proof-of-concept studies confirm that both generate more than enough power to keep the heart properly beating. Human trials will be needed; I’ll be interested to see if other implanted medical devices might also be powered in this way. 

8. Halving the Cost of Lithium Ion Batteries
I rarely include battery technologies but any new manufacturing process promising to slash the cost of lithium ion batteries by half is worthy of note http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/manufacturing-lithium-ion-battery-half-cost-0623. This entailed a redesign of the basic battery to incorporate features of both flow and solid batteries, resulting in a  semisolid colloidal suspension of particles for the electrodes and a battery that uses fewer, thicker electrodes, reduces nonfunctional materials, and is flexible, robust, and cheaper to manufacture. 

9. Computing with Nuclear Spins
A new optical technique allows room temperature control over electron spins in certain crystals of silicon carbide to indirectly control the spins of certain atomic nuclei in silicon carbide, which can then be used to store and process information http://news.uchicago.edu/article/2015/06/24/spintronics-advance-brings-wafer-scale-quantum-devices-closer-reality. In tests 99% of targeted nuclear spins were controlled. Applications include ultra-sensitive magnetic resonance imaging, advanced gyroscopes, quantum computing, maybe even ultra-high density data storage one day. In related spintronics news we have a great overview of the development of magnetoelectric RAM http://spectrum.ieee.org/semiconductors/design/the-computer-chip-that-never-forgets. 

10. 3D Printing: High-Res and Glass Materials
A new 3D printing technique has been developed in the lab that can produce ultra-high-resolution 3D printed patterns with structures measuring one micron in size and forming features smaller than a blood cell http://news.unist.ac.kr/realizing-futuristic-3d-printing-technology/. Meanwhile company Micron3DP has demonstrated a new 3D printing method that can use glass as a feedstock material, melting glass filaments and depositing precise layered patterns http://www.3ders.org/articles/20150622-micron-3dp-announces-breakthrough-in-3d-printing-glass-materials.html. 

Archive: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/06/functional-artificial-neuron-free-air.html ___

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2015-06-25 12:38:12 (15 comments, 27 reshares, 35 +1s)Open 

On Reality and the Truth of Your Conscious Perception Thereof
This talk should be watched with the following passage from Nick Bostrom’s Superintelligence firmly in mind:

Normal human adults have a range of remarkable cognitive talents that are not simply a function of possessing a sufficient amount of general neural processing power or even a sufficient amount of general intelligence: specialized neural circuitry is also needed. This observation suggests the idea of possible but non-realized cognitive talents, talents that no actual human possesses even though other intelligent systems—ones with no more computing power than the human brain—that did have those talents would gain enormously in their ability to accomplish a wide range of strategically relevant tasks. were we to gain some new set of modules giving an advantage comparable to that of being able to form complexlingu... more »

On Reality and the Truth of Your Conscious Perception Thereof
This talk should be watched with the following passage from Nick Bostrom’s Superintelligence firmly in mind:

Normal human adults have a range of remarkable cognitive talents that are not simply a function of possessing a sufficient amount of general neural processing power or even a sufficient amount of general intelligence: specialized neural circuitry is also needed. This observation suggests the idea of possible but non-realized cognitive talents, talents that no actual human possesses even though other intelligent systems—ones with no more computing power than the human brain—that did have those talents would gain enormously in their ability to accomplish a wide range of strategically relevant tasks. were we to gain some new set of modules giving an advantage comparable to that of being able to form complex linguistic representations, we would become superintelligent.

And keep considering this passage when the talk delves into the perception of the beetle and contrasts that to the perception of us humans. 

In many ways this is a subtle talk that tries to delve into subtle but very profound points. Personally I swayed throughout the talk, with him then against him, agreeing then disagreeing. But this is understandable because Donald advocates abandonment of the concrete reality that I believe exists, and instead suggests consciousness as a primary causal entity in a deeper underlying reality; this may make some of you dismiss the talk as unworthy but trust me and give Donald 20 minutes of your time to try and sway you. At the end I’d tentatively stepped up onto the fence with one foot certainly dangling on his side, and mainly by considering the plausibility of the above passage from Superintelligence. 

The potential and importance of our ability to eventually create new cognitive modules (either for ourselves or our machine descendents) that are able to perceive the world in a more realistic way, able to strip away the previous illusory interface we take for granted and so peer deeper and more truly at the underlying reality that we inhabit. At times like this it seems as if our development and growth has only just begun and we have so very much farther to go. 

This metaphor paints superintelligent agents with superperception as comparable to us, as we are comparable to the beetle, and questions how different and how grand reality must appear from such an omnipresent viewpoint. There are also one or two places in the talk that paint the following passage from Superintelligence in an entirely different light:

We could thus imagine, as an extreme case, a technologically highly advanced society, containing many complex structures, some of them far more intricate and intelligent than anything that exists on the planet today—a society which nevertheless lacks any type of being that is conscious or whose welfare has moral significance. In a sense, this would be an uninhabited society. It would be a society of economic miracles and technological awesomeness, with nobody there to benefit. A Disneyland without children. 

I’m referring of course to the experiments on the evolution of fitness, always at the expense of accurate and truthful representations and perceptions of reality, and indeed driving to extinction accurate perceptions of reality. For if we are to a being with superperception as a beetle is to us, then is our cherished reality only a tiny bit better than a Disneyland without children in any case?

Donald Hoffman’s page at the University of California, Irvine http://www.cogsci.uci.edu/~ddhoff/ has a great list of related resources and media to access, from talks to accessible publications like this recent one http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00577/full that delves into more academic detail the topics and themes covered in this talk. 

Key parts of the talk:

➜ Listen very carefully to what is said between 16:00 and 18:00. 

➜ There is something that exists when you don’t look at it, but it is not spacetime and physical objects.

➜ Perception is not about seeing truth, it’s about having kids. 

#consciousness   #reality   #perception  ___

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2015-06-24 12:25:37 (7 comments, 11 reshares, 33 +1s)Open 

George Church: The Powerhouse on the Latest Molecular Biology Technology
One hour talk plus Q&A. Main takeaway points include:

➜ Going from painstakingly aiming for 1x coverage of human genome sequencing to routinely doing 50x coverage of human genome sequencing and 1000x bacterial genome sequencing . . . just for kicks.

➜ Going from painstakingly aiming for 10^-1 to 10^-2 error rates in genome sequencing to routine 10^-9 error rates.

➜ Breaking genome sequencing monopolies with shifts in technology and aiming for MinION nanopore + protein motor sequencing architectures for the next disruption measuring pico-Amperes per base pair. 

➜ Going from 30x coverage of a human genome sequence taking up 9 Terabytes of data, down to 2.5 Megabytes of data per human genome sequence . . . as compared to the human reference genome. That'sright, t... more »

George Church: The Powerhouse on the Latest Molecular Biology Technology
One hour talk plus Q&A. Main takeaway points include:

➜ Going from painstakingly aiming for 1x coverage of human genome sequencing to routinely doing 50x coverage of human genome sequencing and 1000x bacterial genome sequencing . . . just for kicks.

➜ Going from painstakingly aiming for 10^-1 to 10^-2 error rates in genome sequencing to routine 10^-9 error rates.

➜ Breaking genome sequencing monopolies with shifts in technology and aiming for MinION nanopore + protein motor sequencing architectures for the next disruption measuring pico-Amperes per base pair. 

➜ Going from 30x coverage of a human genome sequence taking up 9 Terabytes of data, down to 2.5 Megabytes of data per human genome sequence . . . as compared to the human reference genome. That's right, the relative information content of your genome is 2.5MB. Our whole species population is 2 Petabytes. 

➜ Using CRIPSR in conjunction with human organoids on microfluidic chips and vastly exceeding the sophistication of conventional tissue culture models by including mechanical stressors for example. 

➜ Using CRISPR to quickly identify the single base pairs that are responsible for particular genetic disorders, and restoring the disease phenotype to healthy by adding correctly coded mRNAs.

➜ Sequencing entire genomes to identify off-target modifications caused by unintentional CRISPR edits, and trying to avoid any modification of tumour suppressor genes or activating oncogenes. 

➜ State of the art for CRISPR off-target modification is zero in 3x10^14 base pairs, possibly higher, and this only with off-the-shelf CRISPR: paired nickases etc are better CRISPRs that result in much better specificity, many orders of magnitude more specific. 

➜ Aging as the universal disease. Co-opting common alleles from supercentenarians. Co-opting parabiosis findings such as GDF11 that reverses many age-related problems. Influencing mitochondrial homeostasis with small molecules such as nicotinamide or using CRISPR to induce equivalently useful epigenetic changes. Dialing changes and gene expression up and down to 47 fold greater or less. 

➜ Out-of-date CRISPR technology is anything greater than 3 months old: innovating at a tremendous rate. 

➜ Multiple transcriptional activation domains bound to dead CRISPR (CRISPR that binds DNA but doesn't cleave DNA) can result in 20,000-fold upregulation of gene activity, e.g. for the human titan gene that is 100,000 base pairs long and almost impossible to deliver via gene therapy. 

➜ Examining asymmetric distribution of individual proteins and RNAs via subcellular localisation of these biomolecules using confocal multi-layer imaging and expansion microscopy and getting down to 10nm imaging resolution of 3D cells. 

#crispr   #syntheticbiology   #genomics  ___

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2015-06-21 13:33:34 (21 comments, 0 reshares, 41 +1s)Open 

Just completed all 10 hours of today's Game of Thrones Season 5 marathon. Marks the 5th consecutive year we've watched the whole season in a single day. Also 5th consecutive year we've managed to avoid all online spoilers. Pretty damn indulgent day!

Just completed all 10 hours of today's Game of Thrones Season 5 marathon. Marks the 5th consecutive year we've watched the whole season in a single day. Also 5th consecutive year we've managed to avoid all online spoilers. Pretty damn indulgent day!___

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2015-06-21 13:11:34 (10 comments, 33 reshares, 65 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 25/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/06/cheap-genomic-sequencer-translating.html

Cheap genomic sequencer, Nuclear batteries, Translating brain signals, Machine learning, Powerful software, Genetic aging programs, Graphene collection, Cellulose 3D printing, Locks control GMOs, Robot hands & legs. 

1. MinION: Quick, Cheap Genome Sequencing
The palm-sized MinION DNA sequencer, which plugs in via USB to a PC and sequences DNA samples using a novel nanopore architecture, continues to make strides with both length and number of sequence reads http://phys.org/news/2015-06-full-genome-technology.html. The device has now passed low-accuracy concerns with better error correction and for the first time can produce complete bacterial genome sequences and should eventually be able to tackle mammaliang... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 25/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/06/cheap-genomic-sequencer-translating.html

Cheap genomic sequencer, Nuclear batteries, Translating brain signals, Machine learning, Powerful software, Genetic aging programs, Graphene collection, Cellulose 3D printing, Locks control GMOs, Robot hands & legs. 

1. MinION: Quick, Cheap Genome Sequencing
The palm-sized MinION DNA sequencer, which plugs in via USB to a PC and sequences DNA samples using a novel nanopore architecture, continues to make strides with both length and number of sequence reads http://phys.org/news/2015-06-full-genome-technology.html. The device has now passed low-accuracy concerns with better error correction and for the first time can produce complete bacterial genome sequences and should eventually be able to tackle mammalian genomes. 

2. Nuclear D Cell Battery
Some groups are trying to develop 5 watt nuclear-powered regular D-sized batteries that derive their energy from the decay of small amounts of radioisotopes contained within a tungsten casing that provides shielding and generates heat http://nextbigfuture.com/2015/06/developing-5-watt-nuclear-d-cell.html. Applications include power sources for mini-satellites and long-lived remote devices. Energy densities are typically 5 - 6 orders of magnitude bigger than for conventional chemical batteries. 

3. Translating Brain Activity to Speech
A new brain-to-text system has been demonstrated that captures the brain signals from an electrocorticography electrode array placed on the surface of the cortex and can decode these signals and reconstruct the basic phonemes, words, and complete sentences to generate corresponding text http://www.kit.edu/kit/english/pi_2015_063_speech-recognition-from-brain-activity.php. Error rates remain high but this is still a good proof-of-principle; the immediate hope is to develop the device as a means of communication for locked-in patients. Future possibilities include advanced brain-computer interfaces for people, parallels to DARPA’s neocortical modem project come to mind, and I also wonder if the reverse mechanism could be used in input speech as well. 

4. Trio of Machine Learning Developments
First, Google’s DeepMind has a deep learning system that learns to read and develop an “understanding” of the grammatical links and causal relationships between entities in the text and so summarise key points that aren’t explicitly stated by the text http://www.technologyreview.com/view/538616/google-deepmind-teaches-artificial-intelligence-machines-to-read/. Second, a deep learning system can now beat humans in the verbal reasoning component of IQ tests http://www.technologyreview.com/view/538431/deep-learning-machine-beats-humans-in-iq-test/. Third, IBM’s machine learning technology is being open sourced as part of its big push for the Spark cluster computing framework http://nextbigfuture.com/2015/06/ibm-calls-apache-spark-most-important.html. 

5. Duo of Powerful Software Tools
Leading on from the machine learning pieces I had to include these additional tools that look very promising. First, the demonstration of a fact-checking algorithm http://news.indiana.edu/releases/iu/2015/06/computational-fact-checker.shtml that was trained on Wikipedia data and automatically generated a knowledge graph complete with truth scores assigned to each factual relationship and was able to consistently match the performance of human fact checkers. Second, a new algorithm provides significant improvements in predicting which mutations in a given genome sequence are likely to have the largest effect on the activity of regulatory elements for genes, providing not just insights for disease but also design possibilities for targeted regulatory control via CRISPR for example http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/vulnerabilities_in_genomes_dimmer_switches_should_shed_light_on_hundreds_of_complex_diseases. 

6. Aging via Genetic Programming
The theory of aging being due to evolutionary selection and associated genetic programming has been getting a bit more coverage lately with a study looking at simple simulated organisms that consistently demonstrated the emergence of a built-in life expectancy that helped preserve species integrity over time under spatial and resource constrained conditions https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2015/06/yet-more-discussion-of-programmed-aging.php. The result is interesting but not definitive and has attracted critiques and rebuttals from other more mainstream groups such as aging as accumulation of damage. 

7. Graphene NEMS, Dots, & Lights
First up this week we have graphene being demonstrated in the thinnest visible on-chip light source ever http://engineering.columbia.edu/worlds-thinnest-light-bulb%E2%80%94graphene-gets-bright. Second, a graphene coating on the copper wires or traces that connect components on computer chips boosts transmission speed in these connectors by 17% now and possibly 30% in future http://phys.org/news/2015-06-simple-clever-boost-chip.html. Third, graphene electrodes provide significant improvements to piezoelectric MEMS and NEMS resonators http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=40427.php. Finally, graphene quantum dots can produce LED-type displays with brightness exceeding that of standard devices http://phys.org/news/2015-06-graphene-quantum-dot.html. 

8. 3D Printing Cellulose
A new technique allows cellulose (very strong polymer of linked glucose units) from wood to be mixed with a hydrogel and used as a 3D printing material for the first time; drying the final print to remove the water and leave behind the strong scaffold of cellulose is a key step http://phys.org/news/2015-06-cellulose-wood-d.html. This is interesting in the sense of not being a plastics / hydrocarbon based printing material, and mixing other components can produce cellulose inks with a range of properties such as electrical conductivity. In related news 3D printing in colour is set to get better http://www.technologyreview.com/view/538676/solving-the-last-great-3-d-printing-challenge-printing-in-color/, and 3D printing inflatable, flexible, stretchable structures is pretty promising https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qmuf_6h7Kl8. 

9. Controlling GMOs with Molecular Locks
 A better lock-and-key mechanism allows for better control of genetically modified organisms http://news.berkeley.edu/2015/06/16/molecular-lock-and-key-control-gmos/. In addition to the genetic modifications of interest one or more of a number of genes that are essential to the survival of cells are also engineered so as to produce proteins whose functional shape is dependent on the presence of a particular non-natural compound; without this compound as an easily available nutrient the cell reverts to its default state: death. This isn’t perfect or foolproof for a number of reasons but does build on similar mechanisms being employed by CRISPR for example to controllably induce the desired genetic activity. 

10. Better Robotic Hands and Legs
The bebionic small prosthetic hand for amputees was announced this week, billed as the “world’s most lifelike hand” and using miniaturised components to mimic the functions of a real hand http://rslsteeper.com/news/first_uk_user_receives_worlds_most_lifelike_bionic_hand. Meanwhile the new Durus robot has demonstrated ultra-efficient walking abilities after a large research project aimed at optimising the efficiency of every possible aspect of robotic walking, and ending up with a far more human-like gait that is 20x more efficient than ATLAS and currently allowing the 80kg robot to walk 10km with just the on-board 2.2 kWh battery http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/humanoids/durus-sri-ultra-efficient-humanoid-robot. 

Archive: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/06/cheap-genomic-sequencer-translating.html ___

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2015-06-19 12:25:32 (42 comments, 2 reshares, 53 +1s)Open 

I really enjoyed this movie . . . 

Very good if not perfect, a little rough around the edges, but still a little gem in my opinion. Could have explored the key issues in a subtler way but still, many an AI/ethical/moral/social/technological issue was explored. Heartbreaking at times; made Elise cry. The consciousness theme was a philosophical stretch but entirely forgivable and still enjoyable. Classic gritty Blomkamp setting, decent supporting characters for the wonderful protagonist, fantastic visuals, and beautifully captured robot movements and mannerisms. Another example of good, hard SciFi. Enjoyed as much as Ex Machina. I'm glad it didn't end how I thought it would end. 

Please preface spoiler comments for those who might not have seen it yet. 

I really enjoyed this movie . . . 

Very good if not perfect, a little rough around the edges, but still a little gem in my opinion. Could have explored the key issues in a subtler way but still, many an AI/ethical/moral/social/technological issue was explored. Heartbreaking at times; made Elise cry. The consciousness theme was a philosophical stretch but entirely forgivable and still enjoyable. Classic gritty Blomkamp setting, decent supporting characters for the wonderful protagonist, fantastic visuals, and beautifully captured robot movements and mannerisms. Another example of good, hard SciFi. Enjoyed as much as Ex Machina. I'm glad it didn't end how I thought it would end. 

Please preface spoiler comments for those who might not have seen it yet. ___

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2015-06-14 13:01:42 (20 comments, 45 reshares, 111 +1s)Open 

Superintelligence

I’ve just finished reading Nick Bostrom’s Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies. I have a strong interest in the development of artificially intelligent machines in general and follow the weekly advances and announcements in the field of artificial intelligence as our species inches towards the ability to birth artificial general intelligence. I’ve read quite a bit of the philosophy concerning the arrival of machines smarter than ourselves and am generally familiar with the profound opportunities and risks associated with the arrival of such entities for humanity. But I consider myself loosely informed, not well informed, on this topic and so it was only a matter of time before I sat down with Nick’s book. 

If you’re in a similar position to myself, have an interest in these topics, are curious about the rise of artificial intelligence,possess op... more »

Superintelligence

I’ve just finished reading Nick Bostrom’s Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies. I have a strong interest in the development of artificially intelligent machines in general and follow the weekly advances and announcements in the field of artificial intelligence as our species inches towards the ability to birth artificial general intelligence. I’ve read quite a bit of the philosophy concerning the arrival of machines smarter than ourselves and am generally familiar with the profound opportunities and risks associated with the arrival of such entities for humanity. But I consider myself loosely informed, not well informed, on this topic and so it was only a matter of time before I sat down with Nick’s book. 

If you’re in a similar position to myself, have an interest in these topics, are curious about the rise of artificial intelligence, possess opinions on the likelihood of such intelligences arising or the chances of existential risks, then Superintelligence should be relevant and of interest to you. If you’re a futurist or a transhumanist then Superintelligence should be required reading. 

Nick’s style of writing is, in a single word, thorough. Nick writes with a level of rigour, clarity, and thoroughness that I have rarely encountered. This can be tedious at times and a bit of a slog but fortunately he punctuates the flow with moments of dry, cutting wit. Nick is verbose and possesses a vocabulary that, I have no doubt, exceeds your own. I don’t care who you are or your level of education you will learn at least a dozen (give or take) new English words that you have never encountered before. I opened / read all of the footnotes because 95% of the time Nick’s footnotes are incredibly informative and worth digging into; you should do the same. Chapters are well organised and the arguments and innumerable examples within are well crafted; just when you think a line of thought and argument sounds familiar and other critical points come to your mind independently from your own readings and you think of something Nick hasn’t thought of, he yet again proves to be one step ahead of you by articulating the argument in more detail than you’d seen before. Then you come across gems like this memorable sentence:

Anthropics, the study of how to make inferences from indexical information in the presence of observation selection effects, is another area where the choice of epistemic axioms could prove pivotal. 

and if you’re like me you refuse to give in. Instead you parse it, chunk it up like you did to simple sentences as a young child learning to read, hit Google and Wikipedia repeatedly, and re-read the thing a half-dozen times before the meaning finally becomes clear. Another thing that is clear throughout is Nick’s strong stance on ethics and morality. 

Nick includes some two dozen notable luminaries in the acknowledgements that he consulted with in preparing this book, including superstars such as Demis Hassabis and Jurgen Schmidhuber to name just two. Also of note is Elon Musk, and I can’t help but wonder - given the timing - if this also influenced Elon’s recent comments on the perils and dangers of superintelligent machines. 

Superintelligence weaves through everything from the history of artificial intelligence research to developing strategic options for moving safely forward. We get exposed to the main paths leading to superintelligence that include classic artificial intelligence, whole brain emulation, biomolecular cognition enhancers, brain-computer-interfaces, and the collective intelligence of human networks and organisations. We learn about the main forms of different superintelligence including speed superintelligence, collective superintelligence, and most importantly quality superintelligence and the key sources of advantage that superintelligences can and will possess. The timing, optimisation, and explosivity - and factors affecting each - of the kinetics of an intelligence explosion are discussed, as well as the nature of paths leading towards a decisive strategic advantage and subsequent omnipotent singleton. We get a crash-course in superintelligent cognitive superpowers, superintelligent will, and the differences between intelligence and motivation. 

Nick devotes a lot of discussion to existential risk, catastrophes, malignant failure modes and key concepts such as perverse instantiation, infrastructure profusion, and mind crime. A key part of the book focuses on the control problem and the main considerations around capability control and motivation selection. We get an overview of the abilities, benefits, and risks of the four different superintelligences comprising oracles, genies, tools, and sovereigns and then delve into the effects on humans and human societies. One of the most important parts of the book concerns the value-loading problem, different methods to pre-load a superintelligence with appropriate human values and the hope for being able to offload this task to the superintelligence itself via indirect normativity and coherent extrapolated volition. 

Obviously I thought this was a very worthwhile book and one that needed to be written. To finish I’ll end with a selection of passages from the text if you needed any further prompting. 

Excerpts

The availability of the brain as template provides strong support for the claim that machine intelligence is ultimately feasible. The further into the future we look, the greater the likelihood that the secrets of the brain’s functionality will have been decoded sufficiently to enable the creation of machine intelligence in this manner.

With gene synthesis we could take the genome of an embryo and construct a version of that genome free from the genetic noise of accumulated mutations. If one wished to speak provocatively, one could say that individuals created from such proofread genomes might be “more human” than anybody currently alive, in that they would be less distorted expressions of human form.

Far from being the smartest possible biological species, we are probably better thought of as the stupidest possible biological species capable of starting a technological civilization—a niche we filled because we got there first, not because we are in any sense optimally adapted to it.

It seems fairly likely, however, that even if progress along the whole brain emulation path is swift, artificial intelligence will nevertheless be first to cross the finishing line: this is because of the possibility of neuromorphic AIs based on partial emulations.

The simplest example of speed superintelligence would be a whole brain emulation running on fast hardware. An emulation operating at a speed of ten thousand times that of a biological brain would be able to read a book in a few seconds and write a PhD thesis in an afternoon. With a speedup factor of a million, an emulation could accomplish an entire millennium of intellectual work in one working day.

Normal human adults have a range of remarkable cognitive talents that are not simply a function of possessing a sufficient amount of general neural processing power or even a sufficient amount of general intelligence: specialized neural circuitry is also needed. This observation suggests the idea of possible but non-realized cognitive talents, talents that no actual human possesses even though other intelligent systems—ones with no more computing power than the human brain—that did have those talents would gain enormously in their ability to accomplish a wide range of strategically relevant tasks. were we to gain some new set of modules giving an advantage comparable to that of being able to form complex linguistic representations, we would become superintelligent.

On this view, our most celebrated philosophers are like dogs walking on their hind legs—just barely attaining the threshold level of performance required for engaging in the activity at all.

The gap between a dumb and a clever person may appear large from an anthropocentric perspective, yet in a less parochial view the two have nearly indistinguishable minds. It will almost certainly prove harder and take longer to build a machine intelligence that has a general level of smartness comparable to that of a village idiot than to improve such a system so that it becomes much smarter than any human.

Superintelligent superpowers: Intelligence amplification, Strategizing, Social manipulation, Hacking, Technology research, Economic productivity. Superpowers are possessed by an agent as superpowers only if the agent’s capabilities in these areas substantially exceed the combined capabilities of the rest of the global civilization.

The AI develops a robust plan for achieving its long-term goals. (In particular, the AI does not adopt a plan so stupid that even we present-day humans can foresee how it would inevitably fail. This criterion rules out many science fiction scenarios that end in human triumph.)

In other words, assuming that the observable universe is void of extraterrestrial civilizations, then what hangs in the balance is at least 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 human lives (though the true number is probably larger). If we represent all the happiness experienced during one entire such life with a single teardrop of joy, then the happiness of these souls could fill and refill the Earth’s oceans every second, and keep doing so for a hundred billion billion millennia. It is really important that we make sure these truly are tears of joy.

The instrumental convergence thesis holds that superintelligent agents having any of a wide range of final goals will nevertheless pursue similar intermediary goals because they have common instrumental reasons to do so.

One feature of a malignant failure is that it eliminates the opportunity to try again. The number of malignant failures that will occur is therefore either zero or one.

Examples of perverse instantiation show that many final goals that might at first glance seem safe and sensible turn out, on closer inspection, to have radically unintended consequences. If a superintelligence with one of these final goals obtains a decisive strategic advantage, it is game over for humanity.

A small error in either the philosophical account or its translation into code could have catastrophic consequences. Consider an AI that has hedonism as its final goal, and which would therefore like to tile the universe with “hedonium” (matter organized in a configuration that is optimal for the generation of pleasurable experience). To this end, the AI might produce computronium (matter organized in a configuration that is optimal for computation) and use it to implement digital minds in states of euphoria.

Indirect normativity is a very important approach to motivation selection. Its promise lies in the fact that it could let us offload to the superintelligence much of the difficult cognitive work required to carry out a direct specification of an appropriate final goal.

It might be hard to ensure that a complex, evolved, kludgy, and poorly understood motivation system, like that of a human being, will not get corrupted when its cognitive engine blasts into the stratosphere.

While one might consider creating a physically confined genie, for instance one that can only construct objects inside a designated volume—a volume that might be sealed off by a hardened wall or a barrier loaded with explosive charges rigged to detonate if the containment is breached—it would be difficult to have much confidence in the security of any such physical containment method against a superintelligence equipped with versatile manipulators and construction materials.

Some emulations may prefer to retain most of their functionality and handle tasks themselves that could be done more efficiently by others. Those emulations would be like hobbyists who enjoy growing their own vegetables or knitting their own cardigans. Such hobbyist emulations would be less efficient; and if there is a net flow of resources from less to more efficient participants of the economy, the hobbyists would eventually lose out. The bouillon cubes of discrete human-like intellects thus melt into an algorithmic soup.

We could thus imagine, as an extreme case, a technologically highly advanced society, containing many complex structures, some of them far more intricate and intelligent than anything that exists on the planet today—a society which nevertheless lacks any type of being that is conscious or whose welfare has moral significance. In a sense, this would be an uninhabited society. It would be a society of economic miracles and technological awesomeness, with nobody there to benefit. A Disneyland without children.

Human nature, after all, is flawed and all too often reveals a proclivity to evil which would be intolerable in any system poised to attain a decisive strategic advantage.

No ethical theory commands majority support among philosophers, so most philosophers must be wrong. It is also reflected in the marked changes that the distribution of moral belief has undergone over time, many of which we like to think of as progress . . . Very likely, we are still laboring under one or more grave moral misconceptions.

Indirect normativity is a way to answer the challenge presented by the fact that we may not know what we truly want, what is in our interest, or what is morally right or ideal. Instead of making a guess based on our own current understanding (which is probably deeply flawed), we would delegate some of the cognitive work required for value selection to the superintelligence.

Our coherent extrapolated volition is our wish if we knew more, thought faster, were more the people we wished we were, had grown up farther together; where the extrapolation converges rather than diverges, where our wishes cohere rather than interfere; extrapolated as we wish that extrapolated, interpreted as we wish that interpreted.

The point of superintelligence is not to pander to human preconceptions but to make mincemeat out of our ignorance and folly.

Before the prospect of an intelligence explosion, we humans are like small children playing with a bomb. Such is the mismatch between the power of our plaything and the immaturity of our conduct.

#superintelligence   #artificialintelligence   #existentialrisk  ___

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2015-06-14 08:37:07 (4 comments, 25 reshares, 49 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 24/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/06/advanced-brain-interfaces-seawater.html

Advanced brain interfaces, Seawater lithium mining, Better streaming gaming, Body on chip, Portable lab tests, Synthetic immune organoids, Quantum random numbers, Faster tissue regeneration, Pushing Moore’s Law, Vagus nerve stimulators.

1. Brain Interface via Injectable Nanoparticles & Meshes
Magnetoelectric nanoparticles can be injected into the brains of mice (each receiving 20 billion nanoparticle in the experiment) and when stimulated by an external magnetic field they induce an electric field that interacts with neuronal networks and the electric field they produce, as confirmed via EEG http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn27676-20-billion-nanoparticles-talk-to-the-brain-using-electricity.html. Veryin... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 24/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/06/advanced-brain-interfaces-seawater.html

Advanced brain interfaces, Seawater lithium mining, Better streaming gaming, Body on chip, Portable lab tests, Synthetic immune organoids, Quantum random numbers, Faster tissue regeneration, Pushing Moore’s Law, Vagus nerve stimulators.

1. Brain Interface via Injectable Nanoparticles & Meshes
Magnetoelectric nanoparticles can be injected into the brains of mice (each receiving 20 billion nanoparticle in the experiment) and when stimulated by an external magnetic field they induce an electric field that interacts with neuronal networks and the electric field they produce, as confirmed via EEG http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn27676-20-billion-nanoparticles-talk-to-the-brain-using-electricity.html. Very interesting platform for interfacing with the brain, especially if it can be shown to work in reverse to pick up discrete brain signals. In related news nanoscale electronic meshes can be injected into the body and brain as intimate sensors and interfaces able to connect to other devices http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2015/06/injectable-electronics-promise-sharper-view-of-brain/. 

2. Mining Lithium from Seawater
A new, early prototype system is able to efficiently extract lithium from seawater using a dialysis-like system with a superconducting membrane that only lets lithium ions pass through http://www.technologyreview.com/news/538036/quest-to-mine-seawater-for-lithium-advances/. If it scales it could be timely given the projected demand for lithium batteries against current reserves. Interesting that this was from Japan, which has previously demonstrated a similar uranium-from-seawater system. 

3. Improving Streaming Gaming Bandwidth
A new collaborative rendering process called Kahawai shares rendering between the server and the user’s device to cut down the required network bandwidth by 83% http://www.techspot.com/news/60792-duke-university-microsoft-researchers-create-tool-reduces-online.html?google_editors_picks=true, and is mainly applicable to interactive game-streaming in which a remote server does most of the number-crunching and sends updated video to the user, which enables very “light” user device hardware but suffers with poor bandwidth. 

4. The Latest Body on a Chip
The latest human-on-a-chip or body-on-a-chip device comprises specific spherical micro-tissues loaded into microfluidic compartments that are connected by tiny tubes, allowing circulation of nutrients, drugs, and importantly drug metabolites throughout the system http://cordis.europa.eu/result/rcn/165278_en.html. It was tested with (i) liver and tumour tissue, (ii) liver, tumour, heart, nervous tissue, and (iii) developed an eight tissue system for future testing; such devices will transform drug development in future. 

5. Portable Handheld Lab Tests
The latest portable handheld laboratory testing device is the Sceptre from a company called Qloudlab, spun out of the EPFL and currently testing the device at a major hospital http://phys.org/news/2015-06-pocket-sized-medical-lab-chuv.html. The device will use interchangeable connectors to take small patient blood, urine, and saliva samples and will be able to run a battery of tests before sending the data to a mobile phone or cloud service; the first test application will be for certain lipids but if successful will expand to others. Once mature we’d all ideally have one of these devices at home. 

6. Synthetic Functional Immune Organs
A synthetic immune system organoid has been produced out of gelatin-based hydrogels reinforced with silica nanoparticles and seeded with immune cells; mimicking the microenvironment of lymphoid tissue the organoid and demonstrated the ability to proliferate and activate B cells and induce the production of antibodies against invaders http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/2015/06/engineers-synthetic-immune-organ-produces-antibodies. Such organoids might be used in future to rescue a patient’s immune system or otherwise employed industrially to optimise production of therapeutic antibodies. 

7. Quantum Random Number Generator
The fastest quantum random number generator has been unveiled, able to generate 68 billion random numbers per second (compared to only 1 million per second with current systems) by creating a highly sensitive interferometer that that converts fluctuations in the phase of emitted photons into intensity changes and so allowing conventional faster photodetectors to be used http://www.technologyreview.com/view/538406/worlds-fastest-quantum-random-number-generator-unveiled-in-china/. Immediate applications include quantum cryptography. 

8. Triggering Faster Tissue Regeneration
A new drug shows promise in inducing latent tissue stem cells to repair damaged tissues more quickly and across many different tissues at once and hopes to soon enter human trials https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2015/06/a-drug-candidate-to-trigger-faster-regeneration.php. Animal models showed massively damaged livers healing twice as fast as normal, while a model of chronic ulcers was healed and further ulcerative symptoms prevented. We could all do with this at various points in our lives, even if just to heal scrapes and strains. 

9. Pushing Moore’s Law with Better Semiconductors
New work from IBM has successfully fabricated single crystal nanostructures and 3D stacked nanowires with III-V materials (indium, gallium, & arsenide alloys) and for the first time integrated these with silicon in an economically viable process compatible with standard chip fabrication technology http://www.aip.org/publishing/journal-highlights/futuristic-components-silicon-chips-fabricated-successfully. Such materials are considered important for enabling further Moore’s Law style performance gains from conventional silicon chips. 

10. Vagus Nerve Stimulator for Brain Health
A company called Microtransponder has developed an implanted vagus-nerve stimulator to induce targeted relearning in the brain, for example, to treat tinnitus and stroke by retraining the brain to route around damage that causes these diseases http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/biomedical/devices/implant-fights-stroke-tinnitus-by-retraining-the-brain. Future targets will include post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder, while others are pursuing epilepsy and migraine. 

Archive: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/06/advanced-brain-interfaces-seawater.html___

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2015-06-13 06:26:45 (27 comments, 10 reshares, 100 +1s)Open 

Exercising Willpower: Going Hungry for Two Months
The strongest, fittest, healthiest I’ve been in my life. 

Today I completed the full 8 week Insanity Max 30 interval training and diet program for the first time. I’d consistently done the earlier Insanity interval training for a bit over 18 months prior to starting this new program, and while I always maintain a healthy diet I do have a sweet tooth that I love to satisfy with chocolate and other treats. This time it was different. While I didn’t need to lose weight, I wanted to, just to slim down a little and firm up in areas. And while I considered myself pretty fit from the old Insanity I wondered whether this new program would be able to further improve the fitness I had achieved and maintained. I wanted to write up and share my experience and the effect it had, especially on my mind. 

Insanity Max 30 IntervalTrainin... more »

Exercising Willpower: Going Hungry for Two Months
The strongest, fittest, healthiest I’ve been in my life. 

Today I completed the full 8 week Insanity Max 30 interval training and diet program for the first time. I’d consistently done the earlier Insanity interval training for a bit over 18 months prior to starting this new program, and while I always maintain a healthy diet I do have a sweet tooth that I love to satisfy with chocolate and other treats. This time it was different. While I didn’t need to lose weight, I wanted to, just to slim down a little and firm up in areas. And while I considered myself pretty fit from the old Insanity I wondered whether this new program would be able to further improve the fitness I had achieved and maintained. I wanted to write up and share my experience and the effect it had, especially on my mind. 

Insanity Max 30 Interval Training
As the name implies the exercise regime over this 8 week period consisted of intense interval training sessions lasting 30 minutes at least 5 nights per week. Interval training is where you jump around a lot, do lots of core and plank work, building up your heart rate before being given a short rest (~30 seconds) and repeating again with different exercises. The Max 30 sessions are much more intense than the old sessions I was doing: you move a lot quicker, get much fewer rests, and sweat more (if that was possible). On top of this the sessions in month 2 are significantly harder than month 1. My overall fitness has noticeably improved as a result. In addition, on two nights per week I added one of the included 10 minute abdominal workouts, and on another three nights per week I did additional upper-body weights.

Diet Plan
While reducing caloric intake was a key part of the diet plan, this was mainly accomplished via strict portion control. Depending on your weight or target weight you get allotted portion sizes and amounts of protein, carbohydrates, fats, fruit, and vegetables with 5 meals spread throughout the day: breakfast, mid-morning, lunch, late-afternoon, and dinner. Snacks included a handful of seeds or nuts. I consumed vegetable-based protein powder regularly for the first time and probably ate more eggs in the past two months than I did in the prior 18. The exercise was hard but the diet plan was harder because it left me hungry, despite always having plenty of energy to complete the workouts to their fullest. 

Going Hungry
For most of the past two months I have been ever-so-slightly hungry, and more frequently as time went on. This has been the most difficult thing. I have never gone hungry to such an extent before and it is something that I - like most - avoid at all cost. I was less strict early on regarding portion control and food intake and so was less hungry. But for most of the last two months very slight hunger has been a regular if not-quite-constant companion and this has had an interesting effect on my psychology. 

Building Discipline and Willpower
I have a huge sweet tooth and love of chocolate and in these two months I learned to say no. Saying no to chocolate, even when offered freely. Saying no to sugar in my coffee. Saying no to other treats on hand at the office or home. Saying no to entrees when eating out. Saying no to dessert. Saying no to larger portion sizes. Saying no to coke, and wine, and other beverages. Saying no to extra sauces and toppings. Resisting resisting resisting temptation. Failing at first but progressively exerting ever greater control over such base urges. Becoming more and more disciplined, more stronger willed, more able to delay gratification until ever-later future dates. My good habits of before have morphed into better habits today. 

Such a very difficult thing to do in today’s world with an abundance of cheap delicious treats available everywhere, able to satisfy hunger and cravings instantly, if temporarily. I was surprised when I started to welcome that slight but unpleasant feeling of hunger, another test of willpower, another step closer to a final goal. Even going to bed with that slight and sometimes strong feeling of hunger became tolerable and of little consequence. Caloric restriction has numerous health benefits and a day or three without food should be of little consequence to a body adapted and evolved to such conditions - let alone the 12 hours between dinner and breakfast. I will admit on the very worst days, with my energy levels affected, I became a little moody / snappy / emotional however. 

Meal portion sizes in the developed world are on average much bigger than they need to be; just because the food is cheap and plentiful doesn’t mean you have to slap a mountain of it on a plate, nor does it mean you have to finish everything that is on there either. 

Results
Overall I am much fitter, stronger, and healthier than before I started. I last much longer before I need a rest, I’m more flexible, I can lift more weight and do more reps before muscle fatigue sets in.

Weight: 74kg
The last time I weighed myself was probably 18+ months ago and I remember that reading was 84kg or so, higher than I thought reasonable given my 180cm height. Final weigh-in after these two months was 74kg (163 lbs), and that after building noticeable muscle. Body looks very different - Elise seems happy ;) I haven’t weighed 74kg in over 15 years since I was 20 years old or less. None of my pants fit properly now - they’re all a little loose. 

Resting Heart Rate: 47 - 53 bpm.
My heart rate monitor isn’t the most accurate or consistent but taking a bunch of averages suggests a reliable ballpark final resting heart rate of 47 - 53 bpm. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heart_rate#Resting_heart_rate. Made me call to mind the “heartbeat hypothesis.” 

Reward and Recovery
I just got back from the shops with 1/4 kg of my favourite chocolates, some wine, a bottle of whiskey and some coke. It is time to rest and indulge and enjoy my favourite comfort foods and become reacquainted with my Xbox. I’m sitting on my ass and taking a week off - absolutely no exercise for at least a week to allow full recovery of my body from any kinks and strains and also to build up reserves again. Healthy diet will be maintained but portion control will be flexible and hunger will be avoided. Later the following week I’ll decide what sort of regular exercise I want to start up again. I’m very glad I undertook this Insanity Max 30 challenge and lost the small amount of weight I wanted to lose. The physical results and effects on my body are great and the process taught me a lot and exposed me to aspects about myself in other ways that I never would have expected nor appreciated. It’s also good to prove to oneself what one is capable of: if I ever need to modify weight and fitness again in future I know I can do it. 

#insanitymax30   #discipline   #willpower  ___

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2015-06-07 08:04:46 (2 comments, 42 reshares, 59 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 23/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/06/immune-system-discoveries-dna-click.html 

Immune system discoveries, DNA click-chemistry, Human reference genome, Metal plating prints, CRISPR vs viruses, Bioengineered limbs, Carbon nanotube RAM, WiFi powers sensors, Amazing robots, Crunching regulatory networks. 

1. Immune System Discoveries & Innovations
Decades of anatomy have been overturned with the discovery that the brain has subtle but direct lymphatic connections to the immune system, throwing up new questions and opportunities for the role this plays in diseases of the brain and therapies that might be developed http://news.virginia.edu/content/researchers-find-textbook-altering-link-between-brain-immune-system. Meanwhile a new blood test costing $25 called VirScan can determine everysi... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 23/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/06/immune-system-discoveries-dna-click.html 

Immune system discoveries, DNA click-chemistry, Human reference genome, Metal plating prints, CRISPR vs viruses, Bioengineered limbs, Carbon nanotube RAM, WiFi powers sensors, Amazing robots, Crunching regulatory networks. 

1. Immune System Discoveries & Innovations
Decades of anatomy have been overturned with the discovery that the brain has subtle but direct lymphatic connections to the immune system, throwing up new questions and opportunities for the role this plays in diseases of the brain and therapies that might be developed http://news.virginia.edu/content/researchers-find-textbook-altering-link-between-brain-immune-system. Meanwhile a new blood test costing $25 called VirScan can determine every single virus the person has ever been exposed to http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn27659-cheap-blood-test-reveals-every-virus-youve-ever-been-exposed-to.html. Finally, a new immunotherapy retrains the immune system to not attack specific proteins in the body that lead to rheumatoid arthritis and shows promise as a platform for treatment against autoimmune diseases http://www.gizmag.com/early-clinical-trial-success-rheumatoid-arthritis-treatment/37865/. 

2. Nanostructures from DNA Click-Chemistry
Continuing the strong DNA origami theme in recent weeks we have a modification of DNA building blocks that (i) form interlinked catenane chainmail ring structures and (ii) exploit functionalised oligonucleotides that undergo click-chemistry reactions to lock and stabilise the structure against high temperatures and further chemical / enzymatic modification; this comprises a structural platform for nanostructures with the possibility for non-enzymatic gene synthesis http://phys.org/news/2015-06-dna-bundles-stable-chain-armor-like-nanostructures.html. 

3. A More Sophisticated Human Reference Genome
The human reference genome is getting a significant and overdue boost with the help of graph theory that will combine many thousands of human genomes into a single, annotated reference source able to draw far more accurate and meaningful comparisons to the differences that individual genomes possess http://www.technologyreview.com/news/537916/rebooting-the-human-genome/. 

4. Metal Plating for 3D Prints
The Orbit1 is a tabletop electroplating device for 3D printed objects in which (i) the object is spray-coated with conductive paint, (ii) placed on a rack in the Orbit1, (iii) the device electroplates the object and applies a metallic (copper, nickel, palladium, or gold) coating 0.1mm - 0.2mm thick http://www.springwise.com/personal-electroplater-turns-3d-printed-objects-gold/. Make your own utensils, circuit boards, glasses frames, etc. 

5. CRISPR Suppresses Hepatitis B Virus
A construct comprising a number of distinct CRISPR gene therapy vectors against conserved regions across HepB viral genotypes has proven effective in enabling robust suppression of viral expression and replication in mice http://www.nature.com/srep/2015/150602/srep10833/full/srep10833.html. CRISPR is ideal for this purpose and I’ve been waiting to hear someone do this - I also expect this method to deliver effective cures for not only Hepatitis but HSV, HPV, and other genome-integrating viruses. 

6. Transplantable Bioengineered Limbs
The first transplanted bioartificial replacement limb has been demonstrated in a process that took a limb from a rat, decellularised it, incubated the matrix in a bioreactor, added vasculature & muscle progenitor cells, electrically stimulated muscle development, confirmed the development of limb vasculature and muscles, added a skin graft, and then transplanted the limb onto another rat in which blood flow was restored http://www.massgeneral.org/about/pressrelease.aspx?id=1815. Next step is to include bone and nerves. 3D printed hydrogel structures are also getting better and more sophisticated for tissue engineering applications http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/3-d-printing-tough-biogel-0601. 

7. Nantero’s Carbon Nanotube RAM Chips
Nantero claims to have installed its carbon nanotube memory NRAM process in multiple production fabs and promises to be 100s of times faster than NAND, very low power, low cost, scalable down below 5nm and hinting at a range of future device possibilities http://nantero.com/nantero-closes-30m-series-e-round-its-next-generation-memory-nram-now-installed-in-multiple-production-fabs-around-the-world/. Although apparently there are already microSD cards with 512GB of storage http://www.cnet.com/au/news/microdia-will-sell-a-1000-ish-512gb-microsd-come-july/. 

8. Camera Powered by Ambient WiFi
New chip design, signal-processing software, and updates to existing routers result in a system in which low-power sensors and devices can be powered remotely via WiFi http://www.technologyreview.com/view/538031/first-demonstration-of-a-surveillance-camera-powered-by-ordinary-wi-fi-broadcasts/. To prove the concept they wirelessly powered a small surveillance camera that captured images, and also wirelessly recharged a fitness tracker, however all devices currently have to be less than seven or so meters away from the router. 

9. The World’s Best Robots
As you all should know and should already be following, the DARPA Robotics Challenge is on this weekend where we get to see the most advanced robots in the world make their way through a tough obstacle and task course; CMU’s CHIMP robot performed well early on http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/humanoids/drc-finals-cmu-chimp-gets-up-after-fall-shows-how-awesome-robots-can-be but the final winner and best performer overall was the Korean Hubo team http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/07/science/korean-robot-makers-walk-off-with-2-million-prize.html?_r=0. Also this week, robots are learning to push and pull heavy objects with their bodies http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/humanoids/robots-learn-to-push-heavy-objects-with-their-bodies-just-like-you, and Amazon has just run its Warehouse Challenge competition for robots http://www.theverge.com/2015/6/1/8698607/amazon-robot-picking-challenge-results. 

10. Regeneration Model Discovered by Smart Software
The regeneration mechanism of a type of small worm has been reverse engineered by a software system based on evolutionary algorithms http://now.tufts.edu/news-releases/planarian-regeneration-model-discovered-artificial-intelligence. Fed a dataset of 16 key regeneration experiments the algorithm discovered and returned the regulatory network that correctly predicted all 16 experiments and is the most comprehensive model of regeneration in this worm to date. I’m thinking systems like these could be a boon to unravelling the complex regulatory networks at play in many human diseases and phenotypes. 

Bonus
I couldn’t pass this one up: Bolt Threads emerges from stealth with a lot of cash to scale production of bacterial synthesised spider silk threads for a range of purposes http://techcrunch.com/2015/06/04/spiderpants/#.rbqzel:4pl6. 

Archive: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/06/immune-system-discoveries-dna-click.html ___

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2015-06-07 06:30:01 (10 comments, 3 reshares, 29 +1s)Open 

To Fellow Australian Transhumanists

The +Transhumanist Party Australia (TPAU) has recently launched as an Australian political organisation dedicated to putting science, health, and technology at the forefront of the Australian political agenda, and promoting values that all transhumanists will be familiar with. Partner organisations include The Future Party and the Life Extension, Science and Technology Party. Co-founders include Peter Xing and Tristan Mitchell. 

As a start-up political party the TPAU needs to reach 500 confirmed members before the Australian Electoral Commission will officially register the party. If you're an Australian transhumanist please consider helping out by (i) signing up with a vote pledge to help the party reach this initial milestone, (ii) tagging in the comments or sharing this information with any other Australian transhumanists you know ort... more »

To Fellow Australian Transhumanists

The +Transhumanist Party Australia (TPAU) has recently launched as an Australian political organisation dedicated to putting science, health, and technology at the forefront of the Australian political agenda, and promoting values that all transhumanists will be familiar with. Partner organisations include The Future Party and the Life Extension, Science and Technology Party. Co-founders include Peter Xing and Tristan Mitchell. 

As a start-up political party the TPAU needs to reach 500 confirmed members before the Australian Electoral Commission will officially register the party. If you're an Australian transhumanist please consider helping out by (i) signing up with a vote pledge to help the party reach this initial milestone, (ii) tagging in the comments or sharing this information with any other Australian transhumanists you know or think would be interested or able to assist. See the following links for additional detail:

Transhumanist Party Australia main site
http://www.transhumanism.com.au/

TPAU pledge your vote!
http://www.transhumanism.com.au/vote_pledge

loomio discussion boards have recently opened
https://www.loomio.org/g/k84CZawU/transhumanist-party-australia

Trello discussion boards have recently opened
https://trello.com/b/cskdrFGi/transhumanist-party-australia

You might also consider consenting to be listed as a contact for the party to answer questions from interested people, provide guidance, organise meetups, forward inquiries onto +Peter Xing and others, volunteer depending on your capacity, etc; really whatever you want or have time to do. As you can see http://www.transhumanism.com.au/contact_us I am listed as a contact for Adelaide, South Australia.

Hope you can help!

#australia   #politics   #transhumanism  ___

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2015-06-05 11:35:57 (24 comments, 4 reshares, 49 +1s)Open 

Just Two Complaints

I love +Google Photos. It's was an amazing application, tool, and web service that helped delight and make my life that little bit better. The recent update only saw it become even more amazing as you've all no doubt discovered. 

But I have just two little gripes. Well, really only one gripe, and one little request. 

1. Auto-Backup Destroys Home Internet Bandwidth.
Auto-backup is an invaluable tool that I've been using with Google Photos ever since it launched; get back home from an outing, phone connects to WiFi, photos start uploading and backing up. But whenever this happens it utterly and completely destroys my home Internet bandwidth - loading a simple basic webpage on my PC takes ages, scrolling media-dense pages like Google+ stream take forever to load, streaming video becomes impossible. Lots of people experiencet... more »

Just Two Complaints

I love +Google Photos. It's was an amazing application, tool, and web service that helped delight and make my life that little bit better. The recent update only saw it become even more amazing as you've all no doubt discovered. 

But I have just two little gripes. Well, really only one gripe, and one little request. 

1. Auto-Backup Destroys Home Internet Bandwidth.
Auto-backup is an invaluable tool that I've been using with Google Photos ever since it launched; get back home from an outing, phone connects to WiFi, photos start uploading and backing up. But whenever this happens it utterly and completely destroys my home Internet bandwidth - loading a simple basic webpage on my PC takes ages, scrolling media-dense pages like Google+ stream take forever to load, streaming video becomes impossible. Lots of people experience this apparently - you can find technical reasons on forums with a quick search. 

This took a while to isolate and even involved angry calls to the ISP. But it is consistent across both mine and Elise' devices and if we've taken a lot of photos / videos then Auto-Backup has to be disabled until we go to bed. This is just annoying now because it is manageable - but it was rage-inducing at times before I figured out what was causing the problems. It'd be really really great if this could be sorted out in a future update. 

2. Better Google Drive Filtering.
The Google Photos integration into Google Drive is nice, convenient, and well done. But the reverse, Google Drive integration into Google Photos, has quite a bit of room for improvement.

First, I've found that flicking the switch to integrate photos from Google Drive into Google Photos results in a small bunch of videos somehow being time-stamped as taken in the year 2040. I've gone back to the originals, I've gone back to the uploaded copies in Google Drive, and there are no identifiable date errors on those files, they are indeed all from 2012, 2013, or 2014. Given the initial Google Photos view is chronological this means that these erroneously-dated files will always be at the top of my initial feed, or at least until 2041. This is annoying and would be nice to fix. 

Second, and most importantly, Google Drive seems like a far more private and personal file locker, whereas Google Photos is more interpersonal, shareable, and even though private-by-default the media can be public-by-accident for example when you open Google Photos on your phone to show someone a particular image and they might glimpse others you'd rather they hadn't. THIS IS TRUTH http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-jmlGVc_T1Ok/UsZ3_dwC7EI/AAAAAAAAWy0/vq_8mLAMxjs/s1600/look.jpg. Instead of integrting ALL THE PHOTOS from Google Drive, it'd be great to be able to specify which folders to incorporate. 

Anyway, just a few minor things, still easily the best personal photos tools and infrastructure available.

#googlephotos   #googledrive   #featurerequest  ___

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2015-05-31 13:45:21 (29 comments, 1 reshares, 33 +1s)Open 

An utter pain in the . . . 
My Gear Live is useless as far as I can tell.
UPDATE June 11: Turns out it was not a watch issue, rather, it was an application or settings issue on my Nexus 6.

My Gear Live became almost useless least night, continuously flashing up error messages like those on the left - gapps stopped working, Google Play Services stopped working, etc. Within seconds of tapping "OK" to dismiss another would appear, continually, repeatedly. Eventually managed to perform a Factory Reset and, instead, the "smart"watch refused to pair with my phone via Android Wear: every time the connection was attempted the PIN would flash for the briefest of instants on the watch, and the PIN would be identified by the phone along with an error message of not being able to pair.

Knowing that Android Wear 5.1.1 had recently been released I thought this... more »

An utter pain in the . . . 
My Gear Live is useless as far as I can tell.
UPDATE June 11: Turns out it was not a watch issue, rather, it was an application or settings issue on my Nexus 6.

My Gear Live became almost useless least night, continuously flashing up error messages like those on the left - gapps stopped working, Google Play Services stopped working, etc. Within seconds of tapping "OK" to dismiss another would appear, continually, repeatedly. Eventually managed to perform a Factory Reset and, instead, the "smart"watch refused to pair with my phone via Android Wear: every time the connection was attempted the PIN would flash for the briefest of instants on the watch, and the PIN would be identified by the phone along with an error message of not being able to pair.

Knowing that Android Wear 5.1.1 had recently been released I thought this might be fixed if I updated the OS. So I unlock developer options on the watch for the first time and learned for the first time how to flash the updated 5.1.1 OS to a smartwatch via manual ADB commands - this took much much longer than originally expected but was ultimately successful.

Reboot the watch and . . . exactly the same issue occurred. During the initial setup and Android Wear pairing procedure with the phone the watch would flash for the briefest instant a pairing code while staying on the same initial setup screen and the phone would recognise that pairing code but return the error message after the attempt that it could not pair with the Gear Live. 

With mild desperation I wondered if updating my Nexus 6 to the latest 5.1.1 version of Android (recently released with OTA slowly rolling out) would help. So I manually unrooted, flashed the stock 5.1 build, sideloaded the 5.1.1 update, and rerooted. Nope, same issue as before. 

I've trawled many forums and xda threads and other sites and can't find what the issue might be - for now the Gear Live will be collecting dust. Does anyone have any ideas? This wasted hours of my weekend :(

PS - the rubber band on the right is what I have to use to hold the charging cradle to the watch after the poorly-designed connector clips broke off. 

#gearlive   #androidwear   #fail  ___

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2015-05-31 10:33:17 (9 comments, 31 reshares, 69 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 22/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/05/single-molecule-electronics-engineering.html

Single molecule electronics, Engineering DNA origami, Origami robots, Better robot interactions, Implantable active sensors, Base-6 DNA code, Probiotic cancer diagnosis, Automotive deep learning, Mitochondrial aging damage, Greaseless bearings. 

1. Single Molecule Components for Molecular Electronics
New techniques allow the creation of single molecule diodes that perform 50 times better than all other previous designs, with a high rectification >250 and a high “on” current of 100 nAmps http://engineering.columbia.edu/one-step-closer-single-molecule-device-1. The key innovation was to design asymmetric properties around not just the molecule itself but also the immediate electrical environment. Inrelat... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 22/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/05/single-molecule-electronics-engineering.html

Single molecule electronics, Engineering DNA origami, Origami robots, Better robot interactions, Implantable active sensors, Base-6 DNA code, Probiotic cancer diagnosis, Automotive deep learning, Mitochondrial aging damage, Greaseless bearings. 

1. Single Molecule Components for Molecular Electronics
New techniques allow the creation of single molecule diodes that perform 50 times better than all other previous designs, with a high rectification >250 and a high “on” current of 100 nAmps http://engineering.columbia.edu/one-step-closer-single-molecule-device-1. The key innovation was to design asymmetric properties around not just the molecule itself but also the immediate electrical environment. In related news single molecule rotaxane architectures (molecular ring around a molecular axle) are being scaled up to be incorporated into metal-organic-frameworks with a demonstrated ability to controllably switch the rotaxane from one state to another http://phys.org/news/2015-05-sold-state-molecular-circuitry-shuttle-metal-organic.html, although nothing on addressability yet. 

2. Dynamic Engineering of DNA Origami Structures
Self-assembled DNA origami technology continues to progress with the development of better DNA origami techniques able to assemble arrays of nanoparticles into controlled geometric configurations http://www.bnl.gov/newsroom/news.php?a=11728. In the proof of concept octahedral DNA cages bound to nanoparticles further assembled together to produce chains or uniform sheets as needed. In a further extension of DNA origami techniques, ordered arrays of nanoparticles produced by DNA origami assembly can be subsequently reprogrammed, altering the attraction and repulsion between particles and causing a phase change in the lattice structure of the material http://www.bnl.gov/newsroom/news.php?a=11729, allowing programmable switchable materials that alter their properties depending on the environment. New solvents are also improving DNA origami http://phys.org/news/2015-05-non-aqueous-solvent-dna-nanotechnology.html, and DNA origami rings have been made that self-replicate http://phys.org/news/2015-05-self-replicating-nanostructures-dna.html. 

3.  Self-Folding Origami Robot
On the topic of origami a miniature self-folding origami robot has been demonstrated that walks, swims, carries loads, and dissolves in a solvent http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/origami-robot-folds-itself-up-does-cool-stuff-dissolves-into-nothing. Placed on a heating element the device folds up around a magnet in about a minute and then can be moved around at 4 cm/s under the direction of four electromagnetic coils. The good little demonstration video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0CluQiwLRg shows off a range of tasks and abilities. The end goal of course seems to be creating even smaller devices that might perform useful work inside the body. 

4. Robots Interacting Better with their Surroundings
In additional robotics news we had a couple of interesting announcements this week. First, a new algorithm significantly reduces the planning time incurred by groups of robots working together to optimally perform some task http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/assembly-algorithm-for-autonomous-robots-0527. The proof-of-concept was demonstrated by a team of three robots working together to assemble a chair, and is ultimately hoped to further increase and improve automation in complex manufacturing environments. Second, more advanced robotic manipulators are enabling robots to automate and enter areas of food production that were previously too complex and required humans http://www.technologyreview.com/news/537646/robots-start-to-grasp-food-processing/. 

5. Implantable Sensors and Active Devices
A newly developed biosensor chip measuring one square centimeter is designed to be implanted under the skin where it can be wirelessly charged, wirelessly communicate to your phone, and measure a range of different properties including pH, temperature, metabolic chemicals like glucose, lactate, and cholesterol and even drugs http://actu.epfl.ch/news/a-chip-placed-under-the-skin-for-more-precise-medi/; I’d be keen to know how long this can function before failing but a platform like this that could be modified to measure almost any molecule of interest would be fantastic. In related news artificial pancreas devices are becoming increasingly sophisticated http://spectrum.ieee.org/biomedical/bionics/diabetes-has-a-new-enemy-robopancreas. 

6. From Base-4 to Base-6 DNA Codes
In an interesting synthetic biology advance two new nucleotide base-pairs have been successfully introduced into DNA strands, so in addition to the usual sequences of As, Ts, Gs, and Cs, this new DNA has what they term Zs and Ps http://phys.org/news/2015-05-code-life-letters.html. Critically the new DNA retained the standard double helix of DNA, as well as other physical properties, and was apparently able to evolve new sequences. At this stage such a material might have immediate utility in DNA origami applications as mentioned above, by allowing more diverse and more specific binding structures. To be useful in a living biological cell the group would need to alter all of the proteins that interact with DNA and reengineer the genetic code itself to take account of 216 codons instead of the usual 64.

7. Probiotic Bacteria for Diagnosing Cancer
I admit to being surprised to learn that some types of harmless E. coli bacteria can and do at times colonise the liver without any deleterious effects to the animal. In recent work this property was exploited to develop a cancer diagnostic for tumours growing in the liver http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/diagnosing-cancer-with-bacteria-0527. Instead of being injected genetically engineered bacteria were delivered orally via a probiotic formulation, they found their way to the liver, colonised it, penetrated any tumours due to attractive microenvironments, and expressed an enzyme to metabolise a compound produced by tumour cells, one of the by-products of which was secreted and detected in urine to a sensitivity sufficient for tumours one cubic millimeter or more in size. 

8. Deep Learning, Automotive Apps, and Better GPUs
Google revealed details about its new pedestrian detection technology based on analysis of real time video footage by a new deep learning system that is currently designed to complement the other pedestrian-detecting sensors in its autonomous cars http://spectrum.ieee.org/cars-that-think/transportation/self-driving/new-pedestrian-detector-from-google-could-make-selfdriving-cars-cheaper. The system runs significantly faster than previous deep learning techniques and can accurately identify pedestrians in 0.25 seconds, however this is still slower than the 0.07 seconds required for real time use. So it is interesting to see Nvidia’s recent announcement of its Pascal range of GPU coming out next year that it claims will provide a 10x performance boost to deep learning applications and a big part of their push will be towards the automotive market http://nextbigfuture.com/2015/05/nvidias-pascal-is-ten-times-faster-than.html. 

9. Reversing Mitochondrial Damage in Aging
An intriguing result in cell lines suggests that age-associated mitochondrial respiration defects might not be due to somatic mutations in mitochondrial DNA at all, but rather dependent on nuclear mutations and epigenetic changes https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2015/05/another-example-of-induced-pluripotency-reversing-mitochondrial-damage-in-aging.php. Taking elderly cell lines, reprogramming them into induced pluripotent stem cells, and then differentiating them back into the cell type they used to be (fibroblasts) resulted in the restoration and rejuvenation of mitochondrial respiration defects; respiration defects were also absent in the presence of mitoDNA mutations or excessive reactive oxygen. Further study suggested that a key factor was reduced glycine production in mitochondria (regulated by nuclear genes), and glycine treatment was also effective in restoring and rejuvenating aged respiration defects. More work and animal studies are needed, probably too early to start supplementing megadoses of glycine, but still tantalising. 

10. Improved Bearing Design
Sometimes the best things are the simplest. Bearing designs and function haven’t been substantially improved for a very long time despite their ubiquity and importance in industrial society. A new bearing design working on quite simple principles is able to spin with 10x less friction compared to conventional designs while at the same time not requiring grease http://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/greaseless-bearing-coo-space/. Such a simple thing might lead to substantial benefits for things like robotics, not to mention standard industrial equipment and machines in future. 

Archive: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/05/single-molecule-electronics-engineering.html___

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2015-05-30 13:30:48 (22 comments, 26 reshares, 48 +1s)Open 

Ethereum's Alternative Blockchain

This is a good, accessible, and informative blog post about the latest developments with Ethereum, its alternative blockchain protocol, and focus on smart contracts and decentralised applications, and of course its relation to Bitcoin. 

The Business Imperative Behind the Ethereum Vision: https://blog.ethereum.org/2015/05/24/the-business-imperative-behind-the-ethereum-vision/ 

The genius behind Ethereum is this magical network of computers that enables a new type of software applications: the truly decentralized ones, based on embedding the logic of trust inside small programs and distributing them to run on its blockchain. It is based on a 3-tier architecture, comprising an advanced browser as the client, the blockchain ledger as a shared resource, and a virtual network of computers that run smart business logic programs in adec... more »

Ethereum's Alternative Blockchain

This is a good, accessible, and informative blog post about the latest developments with Ethereum, its alternative blockchain protocol, and focus on smart contracts and decentralised applications, and of course its relation to Bitcoin. 

The Business Imperative Behind the Ethereum Vision: https://blog.ethereum.org/2015/05/24/the-business-imperative-behind-the-ethereum-vision/ 

The genius behind Ethereum is this magical network of computers that enables a new type of software applications: the truly decentralized ones, based on embedding the logic of trust inside small programs and distributing them to run on its blockchain. It is based on a 3-tier architecture, comprising an advanced browser as the client, the blockchain ledger as a shared resource, and a virtual network of computers that run smart business logic programs in a decentralized way.

The Ethereum transaction ledger can be used to securely execute a wide variety of services including: voting systems, domain name registries, financial exchanges, crowdfunding platforms, company governance, self-enforcing contracts and agreements, intellectual property, smart property, and distributed autonomous organisations.

The piece is passionate and outlines an expansive vision for Ethereum's promise and blockchain technology in general. Worth a read to keep up to date with the space and (re)consider future possibilities out of idle interest or direct engagement. The main blog itself has a number of good and useful entries. 

#ethereum   #blockchain   #bitcoin  ___

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2015-05-27 14:37:42 (28 comments, 9 reshares, 34 +1s)Open 

Updating Electromagnetic Theories of Consciousness.

John McFadden's update to CEMI Theory (Conscious ElectroMagetic Information) rests on the original basis that the electrochemical firing of neurons alters the surrounding electromagnetic field, but now includes a defense of the CEMI mechanisms as supported by recent experiments from Christof Koch's lab. 

Paper: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/763034/1/mcfadden_JCS_2013%28a%29.pdf 

CEMI further stipulates that the changing electromagnetic fields caused by the brain's many firing neurons combine, interact, and interfere, and the brain's whole electric field becomes more prominent when neurons fire in synchrony. CEMI posits that neurons fire and alter the electromagnetic field and the electromagnetic field in turn acts on and modulates the firing of neurons. The claim is that this dynamic electromagneticfi... more »

Updating Electromagnetic Theories of Consciousness.

John McFadden's update to CEMI Theory (Conscious ElectroMagetic Information) rests on the original basis that the electrochemical firing of neurons alters the surrounding electromagnetic field, but now includes a defense of the CEMI mechanisms as supported by recent experiments from Christof Koch's lab. 

Paper: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/763034/1/mcfadden_JCS_2013%28a%29.pdf 

CEMI further stipulates that the changing electromagnetic fields caused by the brain's many firing neurons combine, interact, and interfere, and the brain's whole electric field becomes more prominent when neurons fire in synchrony. CEMI posits that neurons fire and alter the electromagnetic field and the electromagnetic field in turn acts on and modulates the firing of neurons. The claim is that this dynamic electromagnetic field, embodying integrated neuronal information, and supported by and influencing neuronal firing is the thing that is consciousness and conscious sensation. 

In this way CEMI provides both a mechanism for consciousness to have a physical effect and also a way to solve the binding problem of consciousness by integrating parts into a unified whole. It also naturally integrates with Tononi's Integrated Information Theory of Consciousness. I must admit I'm partial to both theories and together they provide insight into the properties artificial substrates must have in order to host consciousness should they wind up being true. 

It is important to note that this hasn't solved the Hard Problem of consciousness; there is still no explanation or reason as to why some particular electromagnetic field pattern is the conscious sensation of the colour blue instead of the sound of C for example. And it is more important to note that there has been a long history of intense philosophical and academic criticism of the theory and its short-comings; jumping off points to these references and related material can be found in the Wikipedia link below. 

I stumbled upon McFadden's updated paper via this popular article http://www.learning-mind.com/quantum-theory-explains-what-consciousness-is/ that was shared on Google+ but can't remember by who - thank you, whoever it was!

Wiki: Electromagnetic Theories of Consciousness
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetic_theories_of_consciousness 

#consciousness   #cemi   #integratedinformationtheory  ___

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2015-05-26 13:44:17 (6 comments, 2 reshares, 26 +1s)Open 

Just Finished the Nexus Trilogy

Apex is the first book I've read in a while and one I read through very quickly, eager to reach the conclusion of the Nexus trilogy that included the books Nexus and Crux. My synopsis would be:

The ultimate nanotechnological brain-computer-interface cooked up by nanobiotechnology developers (protagonists) allows people to seamlessly enjoy mind-to-mind communication and experience sharing while running a full computer and mobile communications inside their head. This results in conflict with state authorities who treat it as a drug, abuses of power, global geopolitical tensions, arms-races, espionage, power-grabs, and the rise of powerful cognitive software and related abilities. Throw in clones, engineered and enhanced humans, superintelligent AIs, and secret quantum computing facilities and you have some compelling fiction that any... more »

Just Finished the Nexus Trilogy

Apex is the first book I've read in a while and one I read through very quickly, eager to reach the conclusion of the Nexus trilogy that included the books Nexus and Crux. My synopsis would be:

The ultimate nanotechnological brain-computer-interface cooked up by nanobiotechnology developers (protagonists) allows people to seamlessly enjoy mind-to-mind communication and experience sharing while running a full computer and mobile communications inside their head. This results in conflict with state authorities who treat it as a drug, abuses of power, global geopolitical tensions, arms-races, espionage, power-grabs, and the rise of powerful cognitive software and related abilities. Throw in clones, engineered and enhanced humans, superintelligent AIs, and secret quantum computing facilities and you have some compelling fiction that any transhumanist or sci-fi connoisseur would enjoy losing themselves in.

This was also the first book I've read on my phone; Goolge Play Books on Nexus 6 works a treat. ___

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2015-05-26 13:10:39 (0 comments, 1 reshares, 29 +1s)Open 

Ex Machina Image Processing

Continuing on from the Ex Machina post and with thanks to +Jen Spacey for linking to https://ava-sessions.com/ I uploaded my profile pic to Ava for processing and this was the result. Done in the "style" of the Ex Machina credit sequences it looks good as a static image but looks even better on the Ava site itself with dynamic, almost living network nodes subtly moving about constantly. 

Ex Machina Image Processing

Continuing on from the Ex Machina post and with thanks to +Jen Spacey for linking to https://ava-sessions.com/ I uploaded my profile pic to Ava for processing and this was the result. Done in the "style" of the Ex Machina credit sequences it looks good as a static image but looks even better on the Ava site itself with dynamic, almost living network nodes subtly moving about constantly. ___

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2015-05-25 12:04:54 (47 comments, 1 reshares, 54 +1s)Open 

Saw this movie yesterday.
Good. Hard. Sci-Fi. Loved it. Surprised me.
Did not end how I expected and another factor I was sure would be revealed, wasn't. 
Preface any spoiler comments with a warning!

Saw this movie yesterday.
Good. Hard. Sci-Fi. Loved it. Surprised me.
Did not end how I expected and another factor I was sure would be revealed, wasn't. 
Preface any spoiler comments with a warning!___

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2015-05-24 07:54:30 (14 comments, 46 reshares, 78 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 21/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/05/yeast-opiate-production-crispr-gmo.html

Yeast opiate production, CRISPR GMO killswitch, Optical computation, Continuous roll graphene, Cell periodic table, Immune evading implants, Wearable muscle sensor, Molecular pumps, Learning robots, Laser scanner. 

1. Engineered Yeast for Opiate Production
After a number of years of effort by multiple groups the final enzymatic synthetic step in the pathway for opiate production (morphine, etc) has been completed and it is now possible to create strains of yeast that produce opiate drugs as part of normal metabolism http://www.nature.com/news/drugs-regulate-home-brew-opiates-1.17563. With such a strain and basic fermentation skills morphine-producing yeast could be grown in a home-brew beer kit, but the originald... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 21/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/05/yeast-opiate-production-crispr-gmo.html

Yeast opiate production, CRISPR GMO killswitch, Optical computation, Continuous roll graphene, Cell periodic table, Immune evading implants, Wearable muscle sensor, Molecular pumps, Learning robots, Laser scanner. 

1. Engineered Yeast for Opiate Production
After a number of years of effort by multiple groups the final enzymatic synthetic step in the pathway for opiate production (morphine, etc) has been completed and it is now possible to create strains of yeast that produce opiate drugs as part of normal metabolism http://www.nature.com/news/drugs-regulate-home-brew-opiates-1.17563. With such a strain and basic fermentation skills morphine-producing yeast could be grown in a home-brew beer kit, but the original development was intended for cheaper, simpler, production of opiates. I disagree strongly with the alarmist commentary and propaganda around this, including this quote from the linked article “All told, decentralized and localized production would almost certainly reduce the cost and increase the availability of illegal opiates — substantially worsening a worldwide problem.” which I consider myopic; I believe this would substantially improve a worldwide problem. 

2. CRISPR-Based GMO Kill-Switch
CRISPR has now been employed in a novel way to trigger the removal and destruction of modified genes from genetically modified organisms and leaving the original genes intact http://www.theverge.com/2015/5/19/8625623/gmo-crispr-kill-switch-self-destructing-dna. It seems the system can kill the cells directly, inactivate or delete just the modified or introduced genes, or do both. Triggers for activating the system could include light levels, the presence or absence of a particular molecule - useful for controlling crops for example - and others. This seems to be similar in application to Terminator gene technology that was developed to limit the spread of GMO crops by preventing the growth of new seed, but in this case you would still get seed that could only be grow in desired areas. 

3. Optical Computing Developments
We had a trio of advances in optical computing this week. First, the smallest-ever silicon photonic beam-splitter has been demonstrated, designed by novel algorithms, measuring just 2.4 microns on a side, and promising faster on-chip communication and processing http://unews.utah.edu/news_releases/silicon-photonics/. IBM announces new CMOS integrated silicon nanophotonics technology and new chips designed to work alongside electrical chips while transferring data at 100 Gbps (full HD movie in 2 seconds), first application in high end servers and data centers http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/46839.wss. Layers of 2D graphene and boron nitride allow controlled propagation of confined light pulses (within the layered sheets) when a voltage is applied to the graphene http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/tuning-light-waves-with-2-d-materials-0520. 

4. Continuous Roll Production of Graphene
A new continuous roll-to-roll production method for manufacturing large sheets of graphene and possibly other 2D materials https://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/manufacture-continuous-rolls-graphene-0521. At a rate of 2.5cm per minute the sheets are uniform and high-quality single-layer graphene; faster rates, up to 20x, still produce coated sheets but these are lower-quality with defects. While the process doesn’t yet produce sheets equal to the best batch-processing methods, different applications will have different quality requirements. Further improvements should result in improved quality and production speed. In related news a new 60% - 70% graphene ink formulation allows 3D printing of robust structures that retain many of graphene’s useful properties and used these as custom tissue scaffolds seeded with stem cells http://www.mccormick.northwestern.edu/news/articles/2015/05/printing-3D-graphene-structures-for-tissue-engineering.html. 

5. Towards a Periodic Table of Cells
New microfluidics technology can efficiently isolate single cells from a sample for analysis and when combined with new technology for single cell genomic analysis via cataloguing the mRNA expression profile of single cells is leading to an explosion in data and new knowledeg about different cell types in different tissues http://www.technologyreview.com/news/537416/single-cells-analyzed-at-unprecedented-scale/. This has resulted in identifying cells never seen before and recent studies such as a survey of 466 individual brain cells as a step towards a full cellular brain atlas, and mapping thousands of cells from a mouse brain to identify 47 different types. This is inching towards a periodic table of cells and a complete cellular map for the human body and their functions. In related news microfluidic techniques can now squeeze (immune) cells and force the introduction of desired antigens into them in order to create better and more effective vaccines out of the patient’s own cells http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/cell-squeezing-device-vaccines-0522. 

6. Better Implants that Evade the Immune System
New studies indicate that the geometry of implanted devices significantly affects how the body and immune system will tolerate their presence http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/designing-better-medical-implants-0518. While the material is important their results suggest that larger, spherical devices are better able to maintain their function and avoid the buildup of scar tissue. 0.5mm spheres loaded with pancreatic islet cells to treat diabetic mice failed within a month, whereas 1.5mm spheres continued to function past six months. Similar performance improvement were observed in many materials and also in primates. This is a very interesting platform for introducing novel living biosensors and living drug factories into people. 

7. Wearable Muscle Sensors with MyoWare
A new muscle sensor designed to be temporarily stuck on to your skin above the muscle group that you want to use can be used to trigger commands in various electronic devices and is currently available via kickstarter http://www.coolwearable.com/myoware-muscle/. This is related to the Myo gesture control armband that I’ve been keen to try out and I’d be tempted to back the kickstarter myself if the device came with bluetooth and could interface with my phone. I’m looking forward to further miniaturisation that allows these sensors and their wireless transmitters to be implanted and to take higher resolution readings. 

8. Designing a New Molecular Pump
The first entirely artificial molecular pump has been designed in which molecules pump other molecules http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2015/05/nature-inspires-first-artificial-molecular-pump-.html. The pump works via simple chemical reactions, driving molecules step by step up higher energy states and away from a natural equilibrium. The basic architecture involves a ring-shaped molecule that moves along a molecular thread or chain, storing energy as it does so by moving multiple rings towards one end. An interesting research novelty for now the ultimate goal is to have these little molecular machines power nanoscale devices, muscles, and perhaps perform computational operations. 

9. Learning Robots & Machines with Complex Goals
New deep learning algorithms enable some robots to learn new tasks via trial and error without pre-programmed details about the environment http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2015/05/21/deep-learning-robot-masters-skills-via-trial-and-error/. A variety of tasks were successfully tested including putting a hanger on a rack, assembling a toy, screwing a cap on a bottle, and others, with learning times averaging 10 minutes to 3 hours depending on the level of complexity. In related news a reinforcement learning approach has demonstrated game-playing software that is capable of creating a hierarchy of goals while working towards a delayed reward http://nextbigfuture.com/2015/05/keen-software-house-makes-ai-that-can.html. 

10. Non-Mechanical Laser Scanner
DARPA has demonstrated its SWEEPER technology for enabling drastically improved LIDAR applications http://www.darpa.mil/NewsEvents/Releases/2015/05/21.aspx. Unlike conventional LIDAR devices SWEEPER does not require mechanical components and instead exploits silicon-based on-chip optical phased array technology that can sweep a laser beam back and forth 100,000 times per second. This is expected to enable LIDAR systems that are drastically miniaturised and extremely low-cost. Given LIDAR systems in autonomous vehicles are one of the most expensive components in an autonomous vehicle the benefits for a diverse array of applications are immense. A future version of Project Tango could even have one of these devices. 

Archive: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/05/yeast-opiate-production-crispr-gmo.html ___

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2015-05-22 12:01:31 (6 comments, 6 reshares, 36 +1s)Open 

Towards the Automated Production of Everything

This is one of those little news stories that pass through our feed every day and which we go hmm that's pretty cool. But I think this one represents a very powerful, if embryonic, early demonstration of what will be completely automated and reconfigurable production facilities capable of taking a bunch of raw material inputs and transforming them to manufacture . . . anything and everything. 

I've been thinking about such facilities for a few years now and I refer to them in my idle ponderings as Everything Machines. This story looks like the experimental top-down creation of an early, limited machine of this nature. Whereas my thoughts often consider building one from a bottom-up beginning. 

A mature technology like this, in future, looks like an immense multi-level warehouse. Inside a multitude ofs... more »

___Towards the Automated Production of Everything

This is one of those little news stories that pass through our feed every day and which we go hmm that's pretty cool. But I think this one represents a very powerful, if embryonic, early demonstration of what will be completely automated and reconfigurable production facilities capable of taking a bunch of raw material inputs and transforming them to manufacture . . . anything and everything. 

I've been thinking about such facilities for a few years now and I refer to them in my idle ponderings as Everything Machines. This story looks like the experimental top-down creation of an early, limited machine of this nature. Whereas my thoughts often consider building one from a bottom-up beginning. 

A mature technology like this, in future, looks like an immense multi-level warehouse. Inside a multitude of specialised, modular, mobile production and technology units are coordinated and reconfigured by a central computer to come together as needed, each fulfilling a step in the production process of some desired object or test before passing it to the next unit in line to do its piece. 

This Everything Machine takes instructions from external and internal users, producing virtually any product, producing virtually any material, performing virtually any scientific experiment, performing its own maintenance, maintaining old and producing new modules for its own internal operational requirements.

Nearly all manufacturing outside of these machines ceases to exist. Nearly all scientific laboratories outside of these machines cease to exist. Customers and researchers submit orders for goods and experiments online. At least until the machine ships personal atomically-precise fabrication devices, because the machine is the robotically-automated equivalent of a personal fabricator that fails the user due to distance and centralisation and which represents a significant peak on the evolutionary fitness landscape that our Technium is rapidly climbing. 

#technium   #automated   #factory  

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2015-05-21 11:53:00 (4 comments, 14 reshares, 68 +1s)Open 

This is brilliant - a swarm of precise little nanomachines replicating as they attack a target and disassemble it so its molecules can be utilised elsewhere in the organism as needed. 
[Yes I know white blood cells are 10s of microns in size but they are powered by nanomechanical components]

Via +Addison Rennick 

Immune system Attack: white blood cells knockout strong worm.
#biology   #scienceeveryday  

Captured by Steven Rosen and his colleagues at UC San Francisco over a period of 80 minutes. It shows white blood cells from a mouse attacking a parasite known as Caenorhabditis elegans.

Their study aimed to determine whether a specific type of white blood cell, known as eosinophil granulocytes, would attack parasitic worms including the Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans).

The findings are published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine:

http://jem.rupress.org/content/211/7/1281.full___This is brilliant - a swarm of precise little nanomachines replicating as they attack a target and disassemble it so its molecules can be utilised elsewhere in the organism as needed. 
[Yes I know white blood cells are 10s of microns in size but they are powered by nanomechanical components]

Via +Addison Rennick 

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2015-05-20 12:12:53 (21 comments, 0 reshares, 44 +1s)Open 

Amateur Tile-Pointing. Very Amateur.

There I was on the weekend, up on my roof for 2.5 hours, doing some needed maintenance to the mortar / tile pointing around some ridge tiles. Me, a tech guy, little trowl in hand, bucket of pointing mortar nearby, getting rid of old cracked mortar in places and trowling and shaping fresh pointing mortar into the gaps and cracks. After watching a few YouTube videos of course. It's rough and amateur as hell but will keep the rain out and extend the time before I have to get it properly done by someone. 

Amateur Tile-Pointing. Very Amateur.

There I was on the weekend, up on my roof for 2.5 hours, doing some needed maintenance to the mortar / tile pointing around some ridge tiles. Me, a tech guy, little trowl in hand, bucket of pointing mortar nearby, getting rid of old cracked mortar in places and trowling and shaping fresh pointing mortar into the gaps and cracks. After watching a few YouTube videos of course. It's rough and amateur as hell but will keep the rain out and extend the time before I have to get it properly done by someone. ___

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2015-05-19 15:10:47 (3 comments, 0 reshares, 29 +1s)Open 

Every Capital City in Australia

I was somewhat absent from G+ last week due to busy travelling for work. This business trip took me to Darwin in Australia's Northern Territory - my first visit and the last Australian capital city that I had yet to see. While I only had a few hours to spare and take some photos like the one below of the newly redeveloped harbour / waterfront, I definitely want to head back at some stage to do more touristy stuff. 

Work-wise it went well; my presentation and discussion on Australian Venture Capital and other funding options for promising University research and spin-out companies seemed to be well-received. 

Every Capital City in Australia

I was somewhat absent from G+ last week due to busy travelling for work. This business trip took me to Darwin in Australia's Northern Territory - my first visit and the last Australian capital city that I had yet to see. While I only had a few hours to spare and take some photos like the one below of the newly redeveloped harbour / waterfront, I definitely want to head back at some stage to do more touristy stuff. 

Work-wise it went well; my presentation and discussion on Australian Venture Capital and other funding options for promising University research and spin-out companies seemed to be well-received. ___

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2015-05-19 01:05:44 (31 comments, 6 reshares, 39 +1s)Open 

Nickelback Concert Last Night

Nickelback put on a pretty damn good show last night with a good mix of old and new / soft and hard stuff. It’s been a while since I went to a concert – stage production seemed top-notch with great visuals and lighting to match the music, not to mention the confident presence of the band themselves. Band-audience engagement was really good. Great to see, even from the nose-bleed seats Elise chose for us :P

Bonus points for a good introduction by support band Monster Truck. 

Nickelback Concert Last Night

Nickelback put on a pretty damn good show last night with a good mix of old and new / soft and hard stuff. It’s been a while since I went to a concert – stage production seemed top-notch with great visuals and lighting to match the music, not to mention the confident presence of the band themselves. Band-audience engagement was really good. Great to see, even from the nose-bleed seats Elise chose for us :P

Bonus points for a good introduction by support band Monster Truck. ___

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2015-05-17 08:21:16 (5 comments, 32 reshares, 64 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 20/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/05/crispr-cancer-targets-sensory-cortex.html

CRISPR cancer targets, Sensory cortex organisation, Implantable drug factories, Prosthetics with sensation, Atomic switch networks, Antiaging cellular interventions, Making graphene composites, 3D printed engine, Regeneration and senescent cells, Structural colour. 

1. Identifying Anticancer Drug Targets with CRISPR
A new technique uses CRISPR technology to quickly and comprehensively identify specific vulnerabilities in cancer cells, across cell types http://www.cshl.edu/news-and-features/using-crispr-biologists-find-a-way-to-comprehensively-identify-anti-cancer-drug-targets.html. The proof-of-concept surveyed 200 possible possible targets in leukemia, successfully identified the 6 previously-known targets and... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 20/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/05/crispr-cancer-targets-sensory-cortex.html

CRISPR cancer targets, Sensory cortex organisation, Implantable drug factories, Prosthetics with sensation, Atomic switch networks, Antiaging cellular interventions, Making graphene composites, 3D printed engine, Regeneration and senescent cells, Structural colour. 

1. Identifying Anticancer Drug Targets with CRISPR
A new technique uses CRISPR technology to quickly and comprehensively identify specific vulnerabilities in cancer cells, across cell types http://www.cshl.edu/news-and-features/using-crispr-biologists-find-a-way-to-comprehensively-identify-anti-cancer-drug-targets.html. The proof-of-concept surveyed 200 possible possible targets in leukemia, successfully identified the 6 previously-known targets and verified an additional 19 new targets. This works by specifically mutating key regions of genes, nucleotide by nucleotide, that are involved in encoding functional binding pockets in proteins; if modification of a particular pocket causes the cancer cell to die then it becomes a candidate site to design a new drug against. This should lead to many more viable drug targets the development of therapeutics that were never considered; but I’d also like to see the tool used to identify other targets for other cellular modifications, e.g. cell senescence, stem cell proliferation and differentiation etc. 

2. New Organisational Principles of the Sensory Cortex
Custom-designed high-resolution 3D reconstruction and modelling techniques have provided incredible new insights into the interconnectedness of neurons within and across the fundamental processing units called neocortical columns http://www.maxplanckflorida.org/news-and-media/news/3d-reconstruction-of-neuronal-networks-provides-unprecedented-insight-into-organizational-principles-of-sensory-cortex/. Previously, the neuronal networks within cortical columns were thought to be the most important structural feature. This work shows that, instead, the majority of neuronal circuitry actually interconnects neurons across multiple cortical columns by following very specific principles. The group extend the concept of cortical columns to intracortical units, and proposes that these higher-order units integrate information across multiple stimuli to anticipate future, related, stimuli. 

3. Implantable Cellular Drug Factories
Bacteria genetically modified to (i) produce and secrete an enzyme that converts a harmless prodrug into a cytotoxic chemotherapy drug and (ii) control this production subject to temperature-dependent regulatory control, have been encapsulated in magnetic nanoporous capsules that prevent the cells from coming into contact with the immune system while still allowing the passage proteins and nutrients, and which are then implanted into animal tumours where the application of an alternating magnetic field causes the capsules to heat up and for the bacteria to then induce the localised production of cancer-killing therapeutic drugs http://cancer.dartmouth.edu/about_us/newsdetail/73456/. I wonder what we might do with systems like this that allow the localised or systemic controlled production of any protein or biomolecule of choice?

4. Prosthetic Limbs with a Sense of Touch
A new circular electrode designed to encase and stimulate nerves in the upper arm is being tested in non-human primates to determine what touch sensations can be induced and “felt” on the primate’s hand, how best to induce these sensations, how many sensors can be packed onto a prosthetic hand to provide as much sensation as possible, and how much bandwidth the brain is capable of taking in from the electrode array http://news.wustl.edu/news/Pages/device-may-allow-sensation-in-prosthetics.aspx. The mechanical sophistication and thought-control via brain-computer interfaces of prosthetic limbs have come a long way; the key missing component of sensory feedback has remained elusive however. 

5. Self-Organised Atomic Switch Networks
A new type of chip called an atomic switch network is fabricated by growing silver nanowires atop a patterned seed network of copper posts; the chaotic pattern of silver nanowires connect points where the nanowires touch and form memristor connections http://phys.org/news/2015-05-scientists-atomic-scale-hardware-natural.html. The research team believes the device demonstrates emergent behaviour and patterns of electrical activity that can only be attributable to the network as a whole, with the memristive connections and switches constantly reconfiguring and adapting to inputs. Whether such an architecture might ever perform useful computations is yet to be seen, although I’d love to see them scale the chip further and add extra layers of interconnections, moving from 2 to 3 dimensions and so becoming more brain-like. 

6. Sophisticated Cellular Interventions for Anti-Aging
A few studies this week showed how old cells might be taught young tricks again. First, leading on from parabiosis studies we have targeted knock-down of Transforming Growth Factor Beta successfully renewing stem cell function in both brain and muscle tissue of old mice and also, specifically showed that hippocampal stem cells became more youthful http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2015/05/13/drug-perks-up-old-muscles-and-aging-brains/. Second, specific proteins isolated from stem cells were shown, when introduced to mice, to be sufficient for stimulating the growth of new bone http://gladstoneinstitutes.org/pressrelease/2015-05-11/scientists-regenerate-bone-tissue-using-only-proteins-secreted-by-stem-cells. Four, targeted disablement of telomeres in cancer cells http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-05/cndi-csa051115.php. Finally, we had a good review article on new ways to specifically stimulate the rejuvenation of muscle stem cells in older animals https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2015/05/considering-the-rejuvenation-of-muscle-satellite-cells.php. 

7. Large-Scale Fabrication of Graphene Composites
A new chemical vapor deposition technique allows the fabrication of multi-layered polymer graphene composite materials that, in the proof of concept, contains 2 inch square sheets of graphene http://www.ornl.gov/ornl/news/news-releases/2015/ornl-demonstrates-first-large-scale-graphene-fabrication?. This is apparently the first time graphene composites have been manufactured at this scale and enabling graphene’s amazing mechanical and electrical properties to be evidenced at the macroscale. In related news 3D printed graphene aerogels have interesting properties and applications https://www.llnl.gov/news/3d-printed-aerogels-improve-energy-storage. 

8. The Latest 3D Printed Jet Engine
GE demonstrated its completely 3D printed mini jet engine this week http://www.gereports.com/post/118394013625/these-engineers-3d-printed-a-mini-jet-engine-then. Their promotional video is worth a watch if you haven’t seen it already https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6A4-AKICQU. This functional little engine was successfully tested at 33,000 rpm after being printed via laser in a Direct Metal Laser Melting process built up from powdered metal and metal alloys. It’d be nice to see them test it in flight on a hobby aircraft, but there are no plans yet for a fully 3D printed commercial jet engine. 

9. Salamanders, Regeneration, and Senescent Cells
An interesting study exploring salamander limb regeneration reveals that this process involves a significant induction of cellular senescence followed by rapid and effective (immune) mechanisms for senescent cell clearance in both normal and regenerating tissues https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2015/05/an-intriguing-finding-on-senescent-cells-in-salamanders.php. Interfering with the immune system during regeneration results in defects in the process. The promise here is that further studies might reveal how the salamander immune system consistently targets and clears senescent cells and this mechanism might be replicated in humans as an anti-aging therapy to clear damaging senescent cells. 

10. Structural Nanomaterials for Structural Light
A new structural colour technology platform has been developed that involves the use of nanoparticles of polydopamine packed into solid layers on a thin film http://phys.org/news/2015-05-nanomaterials-bird-feathers.html. Inspired by the use of nanoparticles of melanin by some birds to produce colour, the thin films reflect pure colours of (so far) red, orange, yellow, and green light that are determined by the thickness and density of the film. Unlike colours or dyes based on pigments, materials exhibiting structural colour are not expected to fade with time. 

Archive: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/05/crispr-cancer-targets-sensory-cortex.html___

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2015-05-10 15:05:01 (11 comments, 23 reshares, 54 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 19/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/05/custom-dna-scaffolds-eukaryotes-join.html

Custom DNA scaffolds, Eukaryotes join archaea, Autonomous trucks approved, Reading monkey minds, Chimeric virus therapies, Neuro-memristor chip, Centimeter-accurate GPS, Mitochondrial geometry features, Better IVF eggs, Blood drawing device. 

1. Building Customised DNA Scaffolds and Sensors
We kick off the week with a trio of recent examples of the increasing sophistication of structural DNA “origami” technology. First, a new technique to controllably produce custom supramolecular DNA strands and DNA nanotubes in larger volumes and at predetermined lengths and with enzymes used to add covalent bonds for greater stability https://www.mcgill.ca/newsroom/node/22523. Second, a stable DNA shell to protect anddeli... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 19/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/05/custom-dna-scaffolds-eukaryotes-join.html

Custom DNA scaffolds, Eukaryotes join archaea, Autonomous trucks approved, Reading monkey minds, Chimeric virus therapies, Neuro-memristor chip, Centimeter-accurate GPS, Mitochondrial geometry features, Better IVF eggs, Blood drawing device. 

1. Building Customised DNA Scaffolds and Sensors
We kick off the week with a trio of recent examples of the increasing sophistication of structural DNA “origami” technology. First, a new technique to controllably produce custom supramolecular DNA strands and DNA nanotubes in larger volumes and at predetermined lengths and with enzymes used to add covalent bonds for greater stability https://www.mcgill.ca/newsroom/node/22523. Second, a stable DNA shell to protect and deliver sequence-specific mRNA sensors to living cells http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=39981.php. Third, modifying DNA aptamers with a sugar molecule that is foreign to humans, to create alphamers that bind specific pathogentic bacteria and tag them for immune distruction http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/pressrelease/molecular_homing_beacon_redirects_human_antibodies_to_fight_pathogenic_bact. 

2. Rewriting The Ancient Evolutionary Tree of Life on Earth
A recent discovery seems to offer a fascinating modification to the ancient evolutionary tree of life on Earth http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2015/05/06/newly-discovered-missing-link-called-loki-ties-us-to-our-single-celled-ancestors/. A new archaea named Lokiarchaeota was discovered in Atlantic Ocean marine sediments; its DNA sequence revealed genes that were very similar to eukaryotic genes and suggested this organism had the potential to evolve into a more complex cell. The very base of the tree of life has for a long time had three main branches; prokaryotes, archaea, and eukaryotes. But Loki’s discovery provides evidence that the real divide is between prokaryotes and archaea, with complex eukaryotic cells and organisms descended from archaea after one lineage engulfed or assimilated bacterial prokaryote. 

3. Autonomous Trucks Get Their First Approval
An inevitable development that seems to have happened sooner rather than later: autonomous trucks built by Daimler have received regulatory approval in Nevada http://singularityhub.com/2015/05/07/daimlers-driverless-18-wheelers-approved-to-cruise-nevadas-highways/. While the trucks aren’t quite 100% autonomous with regulatory approval demanding a human driver in attendance and technical capabilities requiring human control in urban areas, they can and will perform 100% autonomous driving on highways and deliver a range of interim benefits. But these regulatory and technical limitations are only temporary; major disruption of our transportation industries is on the way. 

4. Reading a Monkey’s Mind and Decisions
Sophisticate new experiments on monkeys catch a glimpse of the brain in the process of making and changing decisions and record the moment-by-moment changes in brain activity associated with this behaviour http://engineering.stanford.edu/news/stanford-researchers-observe-moment-when-mind-changed. The setup involved monkeys with 192 electrodes implanted in the motor and premotor cortex that monitored brain activity as the monkey performed a decision-making task that they had previously been taught to do. A new algorithm developed to analyse these patterns of brain signals enabled the group to precisely track single decisions and essentially read the monkey’s mind during free choices; brain activity for free choices looked indistinguishable to that for forced choices although some free choice trials revealed indecisiveness. Possible applications include prosthetic devices that better interface with the brain.

5. Hybrid Virus versus Brain Tumours
A hybrid virus engineered by combining genes from both Lassa virus and VSV has shown promising results in completely destroying cancer cells in mice http://www.fromquarkstoquasars.com/scientists-discover-ebola-like-virus-safely-destroys-brain-tumors/. VSV is typically able to bypass the blood-brain-barrier and kill cancer cells, but also attacks healthy cells and causes serious neurological damage. Turning VSV into a chimeric virus by swapping out some genes and replacing with those from Lassa Virus resulted in a brain cancer cell killer that bypassed the blood-brain-barrier yet was safe for healthy cells.

6. Functional Brain-Like Memristor Chip
A simple 12x12 array of crossbar memristors makes up a prototype chip able to recognise simple black and white patterns http://www.technologyreview.com/news/537211/a-better-way-to-build-brain-inspired-chips/. As inherently analogue memory devices memristors share many parallels with neuronal synapses. While simulated neural networks have made huge gains for various areas of computing, reducing these neural networks to hardware is expected to result in significant performance gains for these applications. This is apparently the first time a hardware neural network chip has been created just with memristors, despite many other neuromorphic computing architectures already existing such as those from IBM but which are based on digital transistors. Now all they need to do is scale the chip.

7. Algorithms for Centimeter-Accurate GPS
A new centimeter-accurate GPS positioning system is set to give mobile and other devices significantly higher spatial positioning resolution http://news.utexas.edu/2015/05/05/texas-engineers-develop-centimeter-accurate-gps-system. While centimeter-accurate systems currently exist they possess larger, bulkier equipment and antennas. The key advance here is the development of a powerful and sensitive software-defined GPS receiver that can extract much greater accuracy from the small, cheap antennas in current mobile devices. A company called Radiosense was launched to commercialise the technology, while a partnership with Samsung should see basic devices made available soon. 

8. Proteins and Mitochondrial Structure
New insights into the properties of mitochondria reveal that a mitochondria’s respiratory proteins help create the complex inner membrane geometry that mitochondria are known for and, in turn, this geometry itself turns out to be crucial for the respiratory proteins to perform their key functions in the first place http://phys.org/news/2015-05-internal-mitochondria.html. I like this discovery because it is a reminder of the critical role that geometry plays in so many biological and technological processes, and might also serve as additional inspiration for the design and function of optimal nanomolecular machine processes in future, exploiting tricks that nature’s nanomachines discovered in the past.

9. Better IVF with Egg Stem Cells
Babies are now being born via a new and much improved IVF technique in which a type of egg-precursor stem cells (cells with stem cell properties only able to turn into eggs) are isolated from a woman, purified, and have their mitochondria extracted, which are then added to the woman’s existing adult egg cells http://time.com/3849127/baby-stem-cells-augment-ivf/. This makes the older eggs act young once again and results in dramatically improved IVF outcomes; perhaps genetically optimal or engineered mitochondrial might be used in future. 

10. Device for Easily Drawing Blood
The HemoLink is a seemingly trivial and simple device but I like the concept and support what the team are trying to do with it http://gizmodo.com/this-vampire-like-suction-device-lets-patients-draw-blo-1702269260. The device is pressed against a person’s arm where attaches, pricks the skin, and induces a slight negative pressure to draw a small sample of blood that is collected in a standard tube for testing. Cheap and accessible it doesn’t require conventional needles and it doesn’t require expert training to safely pierce veins in particular places - another good step towards affordable at-home and remote blood testing. 

Archive: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/05/custom-dna-scaffolds-eukaryotes-join.html___

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2015-05-10 01:24:08 (10 comments, 2 reshares, 35 +1s)Open 

Playing with Seene.

Seems I'm not the only one who's been playing with the new Seene app. Interesting capabilities in (pseudo?) 3D image capture but I'm still yet to capture a seene without at least a little distortion along one edge of a subject - visible in the GIF of my 3D printed bust that I made. 

The updates coming from Seene do look pretty impressive http://seene.co/labs/ and playing around with the app https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.obviousengine.seene.android.core&hl=en is worth a go if you're curious and want to make your own or view others' - the in-app viewing experience is much better than this GIF implies, with movement responding instantly to your subtle tilts and movement of your device. 

The promotional video for coming capabilities is worth a look: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLMOpt5invA 

Playing with Seene.

Seems I'm not the only one who's been playing with the new Seene app. Interesting capabilities in (pseudo?) 3D image capture but I'm still yet to capture a seene without at least a little distortion along one edge of a subject - visible in the GIF of my 3D printed bust that I made. 

The updates coming from Seene do look pretty impressive http://seene.co/labs/ and playing around with the app https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.obviousengine.seene.android.core&hl=en is worth a go if you're curious and want to make your own or view others' - the in-app viewing experience is much better than this GIF implies, with movement responding instantly to your subtle tilts and movement of your device. 

The promotional video for coming capabilities is worth a look: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLMOpt5invA ___

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2015-05-08 15:56:39 (18 comments, 2 reshares, 43 +1s)Open 

New Collections

Here's my first attempt at putting together individual collections:
https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/collections 

I've gone back through every single public post that I've ever made on Google+ and assigned them all to a relevant collection. Yep, all the way back to August 2011. 

This was an interesting exercise to say the least, for several reasons:

- Going back over the last 3 - 6 months initially helped me settle on this current set of collections. But the further back in time I went I'd find more posts that didn't quite fit these moulds; these were squeezed in as best I could, no point in having a collection with only one or two posts in it.

- Glimpsing old comments, remembered posts, old people I used to interact with regularly but who are no longer active here, different posting styles, andp... more »

New Collections

Here's my first attempt at putting together individual collections:
https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/collections 

I've gone back through every single public post that I've ever made on Google+ and assigned them all to a relevant collection. Yep, all the way back to August 2011. 

This was an interesting exercise to say the least, for several reasons:

- Going back over the last 3 - 6 months initially helped me settle on this current set of collections. But the further back in time I went I'd find more posts that didn't quite fit these moulds; these were squeezed in as best I could, no point in having a collection with only one or two posts in it.

- Glimpsing old comments, remembered posts, old people I used to interact with regularly but who are no longer active here, different posting styles, and posting methods was a fascinating experience that left me a little nostalgic.

- The humble unpopular beginnings of SciTech Digest and realising - with a shock - that outside of these dense science-packed posts I don't actually post that often (or as often as I thought I did) about science. I recall that being part of the reason for starting these posts, concerned I'd spam everyone's feed with lots and lots of science posts throughout the week and thinking a weekly summary might be more palatable.

- Rediscovering that I predominantly posted privately when I first started on Google+, which I had completely forgotten about. Also that I used to regularly reshare to a private "Bookmarks" circle for later viewing - something that I almost never do now. 

- Discovering some of the quirks of the new Collections feature: 

(i) Some old photos that had comments appeared in my feed as I scrolled towards then end so I assigned them to "Personal" and realised that I probably didn't need to do that; however when going to these newly-assigned photos / posts they did not have the option to un-assign them / remove from the Collection, unlike normal posts.

(ii) Finding four posts that for some weird reason were treated differently by Google+ compared to all the other posts; these refused to be moved into Collections like every other post I assigned and instead would behave by moving into the Collection via re-sharing and re-posting the post anew but minus my original commentary - their one common feature was that they were all reshares but other reshares were not treated this way. So I reposted these to complete the Collections: (1) https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/8QiAYX7oTp2, (2) https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/9VTzK8bUDP7, (3) https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/aFTXkrujraS, (4) https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/YmfWN3MAc5u

(iii) Private posts can't be assigned to public collections, which is a little annoying; these posts are still going to be hard to find in future if needed. Also worries that I wasn't seeing all of my posts (I've had this before with Google+ dropping the occasional post from the stream when scrolling through my recent history of posts) and so missed the chance to assign those I couldn't see; however a quick look through 18 months of the SciTech Digest Collection shows I didn't miss any. 

Overall seems like a good tool and a nice addition to the platform but I think I'll wait for a few months to pass final judgement after seeing how (if?) myself and others use it for a while and how it affects commenting and other factors. 

#googleplus   #collections   #posts  ___

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2015-05-08 15:34:12 (3 comments, 3 reshares, 10 +1s)Open 

4/4 Reposted to reassign to Collection. Original post here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/YmfWN3MAc5u November 2014

Imagining a Visually Augmented Future.
Contribute any comments to the original thread started by +Samuel Holmes with the following thoughts:

Original thread here:
https://plus.google.com/u/0/+SamuelHolmes/posts/eohPA7tfd77  

I imagine the world of the not-too-distant future to allow this kind of personalization to one's appearance.

But perhaps it won't be solved by how to actually accomplish this effect in a real sense.

Instead, I imagine a degree of augmented reality, the end-goal of which will be quite seamless.

There will be people who have no visual assist/augmentation at all, and those people will continue to see the world and people as it is now.

But the world tot... more »

___4/4 Reposted to reassign to Collection. Original post here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/YmfWN3MAc5u November 2014

Imagining a Visually Augmented Future.
Contribute any comments to the original thread started by +Samuel Holmes with the following thoughts:

Original thread here:
https://plus.google.com/u/0/+SamuelHolmes/posts/eohPA7tfd77  

I imagine the world of the not-too-distant future to allow this kind of personalization to one's appearance.

But perhaps it won't be solved by how to actually accomplish this effect in a real sense.

Instead, I imagine a degree of augmented reality, the end-goal of which will be quite seamless.

There will be people who have no visual assist/augmentation at all, and those people will continue to see the world and people as it is now.

But the world to those who embrace a visual (and aural) augmentation, will be able to embrace myriad layers in "reality" the same way we do now online. 

Consider Magic Leap, FaceRig, and a slew of projects that range from capturing 3d spatial data like Kinect and Tango to those that extrapolate more complete 3d spatial data from 2d or hybrid data...

You could walk down the street (or a concert, club, bar, market) and see everyone just how they wanted you to see them.

I could appear quite "normal" to those without any augmentation, but to G+ users (perhaps by circle) I could have a floating avatar image over my shoulder. Or my latest status update. Or some cool dynamics like seen in this gif. Which could be totally different to the image I choose to go out to my family circle, for instance.

I could appear as the Joseph Ducreux meme image to some, or surrounded by a band visualization to reveal what I'm listening to to others with a shared social music app.

And likewise, I could determine what I saw when I looked at both those that had these options, and those that didn't. 

A few sensors to detect their heart rate and pressure and more could exaggerate my chosen feature to indicate a likelihood of someone lying. 

A third person without such augmentation (or even with it, but without the approval of others) could see nothing special about two people standing facing each other, even as they have a sort of visual conversation just between themselves. 

It'd be nice to see various layers of communication emerge that could augment what we've been limited to up until now. Why be limited to current facial/body language cues when we can do so much more to remove ambiguity. Or increase it.

These layers of customizable interaction seem inevitable to me, it's just a question of when. 15 years, or 75.

Original thread here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+SamuelHolmes/posts/eohPA7tfd77 

#visual   #augmentedreality   #future  

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2015-05-08 15:31:53 (0 comments, 3 reshares, 10 +1s)Open 

3/4 Reposted to reassign to Collection. Original post here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/aFTXkrujraS 

Re-posting a Comment.

Hi +Evan Rapoport, here's a break-down of feedback for the new features so far. Having just returned from travels to Singapore and Hong Kong this morning I had a bunch of new PhotoSpheres to post and so had to jump right into the new interface. 

One
Congrats on continued development for the Google Maps Views platform and trying to introduce new features and capabilities! Really, I and many others find this to be such an amazing and valuable resource - I'm truly grateful and am thankful that this tool exists :)

Two
The new filtering / sorting menu options are quite useful e.g. public on Google maps / public with location info and most viewed / most recent. 

ThreeR... more »

Views Launch Announcement
By publishing your photos on Views (g.co/views), you can help people explore the world, whether they’re planning their next vacation, scouting out their next hiking trail, or just looking for a great neighborhood park.

Starting today, photos with locations that have been shared publicly from your Google+ account will appear in Views (g.co/views) in addition to your photo spheres. Some photos may also appear on +Google Maps, making the map more useful and comprehensive for everyone. You can also go to Views and directly upload or import new photos to expand your collection.

If you’re a photographer with a nice portfolio, Views and Maps give your photos new life because they’ll be seen by anyone interested in the places your photographed, such as travelers or residents. One of my favorite professional photographers is +Colby Brown who explores the world and leads photography expeditions. His Views profile (http://goo.gl/3ZtDV6) shows all his favorite spots based on the photos he’s shared in his Google+ posts. This really makes me want to plan a trip to Iceland!

If you’re an environmental or cultural non-profit, a travel destination, or anyone whose mission is to protect or celebrate a place, Views helps you bring your location to life for Google Maps users. For example, since I used to live in Hawaii, I’m closely following the Polynesian Voyaging Society as they sail around the world using traditional voyaging canoes and navigating without any modern equipment. Their +Hōkūleʻa Worldwide Voyage has been sharing photos and photo spheres from sea and from the remote Pacific islands they visit. You can follow their multi-year expedition on their Views profile (http://goo.gl/gDPUqH).

Finally, if you’re like me, then the photos you want to share are a mix of both travels and of subjects you find interesting in your everyday life, from the old tree in your neighborhood park to the cafe down the street. You can see my Views profile here: http://goo.gl/061Ui2

We hope you enjoy publishing your photos and exploring Views! g.co/views

#views   #photography   #androidphotography   #landscapephotography   #photosphere   #aloha  ___3/4 Reposted to reassign to Collection. Original post here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/aFTXkrujraS 

Re-posting a Comment.

Hi +Evan Rapoport, here's a break-down of feedback for the new features so far. Having just returned from travels to Singapore and Hong Kong this morning I had a bunch of new PhotoSpheres to post and so had to jump right into the new interface. 

One
Congrats on continued development for the Google Maps Views platform and trying to introduce new features and capabilities! Really, I and many others find this to be such an amazing and valuable resource - I'm truly grateful and am thankful that this tool exists :)

Two
The new filtering / sorting menu options are quite useful e.g. public on Google maps / public with location info and most viewed / most recent. 

Three
Removing the default cycling preview pane from upper-left is something I'm ambivalent about; it was engaging for new users as interactive splash media content, but the expanded (expandable) map pane on the left has greater utility and exploration / engagement capacity overall I believe. 

Four
Total view count was always a welcome addition to the main information pane but I'd like to see a split between "PhotoSphere Views" and "Photos Views" - they are very different and distinct media and creators put different consideration, planning, and effort into each. I was happily surprised to see my total views jump significantly today but then realised it was not truly representative because it now included additional views from the photos option. 

Five
The preview map pane, for me, now shows red dots on (i) Adelaide surrounds, (ii) Melbourne, (iii) Singapore, and (iv) Hong Kong. When expanded the map also shows (v) Dubai, and (vi) Salzburg. Zooming in brings / shows more red dots of course (seems to take longer to load / display). 

The maps used to show these and every other distinct spot including Kuala Lumpur, Borneo, Switzerland, Prague, Germany, Vienna, Venice, Brisbane, and more of South Australia - i.e. it used to show distinct red dots where all of my photospheres had been taken. And zooming in used to expand and show more of these red dots. But it doesn't anymore unless you know they are there and zoom in to those locations. 

This used to be awesome Evan and used to just work - being able to see a world-wide overview of spots you'd captured PhotoSpheres where you could choose to zoom in to select a specific one for that area was a killer feature. Please look into this and see if you can rectify this behaviour. 

Six
The new photos tab does seem to have pulled in an awful lot of random photos including ones that I knew the location was tagged and others, part of Google+ posts, that I was so so sure I had removed the maps / location data e.g. for those images taken from inside my home and with maps data showing where I live - I thought I was very careful to remove this and not disclose this publicly but there are now multiple photos showing my home address. Possibly my error, possibly not; not cool either way. UPDATE: these images of concern appear to be of the type "public with location info" and not "public on google maps"

- I will leave these as is for the next 24 hours before editing to remove this public data. 

Seven
I create a Tiny Planet image for each PhotoSphere I take and upload these to a public Tiny Planet album (here: https://plus.google.com/photos/115624860057949518963/albums/5833644721656381185) and these now seem to be part of the Photos section of Google Maps views with GPS tags included. I love Tiny Planets and so don't mind at all. But, being an abstraction by definition of the scenery at that location some may believe such images to be "litter" and not relevant for access via Google Maps / Google Maps Views. 

Eight
Many of the images for my Google+ posts are pulled from the web and if they happen to have GPS tags (I don't bother checking) then they are now in the Photos section of Google Maps Views. Some examples include:

- I did a post about the Chittagong ship-breaking yards a year or two ago and post an album full of relevant imagery I found online. These images now appear attributable to me and tagged to the rough - although not exact - areas around Chittagong and other ship-breaking yards.

- I do a lot of science posts and include experimental / technical images and a couple (e.g. https://www.google.com/maps/views/view/115624860057949518963/gphoto/5822495013306150690?gl=au) seem to include GPS data that now shows up on Google Maps Views - not the sort of image that should be on Maps I'm thinking. 

- Then there is this image (https://www.google.com/maps/views/view/115624860057949518963/gphoto/5984640248754009410?gl=au) that I created from scratch, it being my own creation, and yet for some unknown / bizarre reason it seems to be tagged to company in Sacramento, and not something you'd want on Maps.  

- An image of a jigsaw puzzle that my wife and I did (https://www.google.com/maps/views/view/115624860057949518963/gphoto/6011636805150384642?gl=au) seems to be tagged to the maps location where the image for the jigsaw itself was taken - probably not the sort of thing you'd want on Maps. 

These are all of the type "Public on Google Maps."

In total I appear to have 973 photos auto-tagged / added to Maps Views and will need to go through all of them to manually remove the geotag from those that are not relevant (i.e. those above in Six and Eight). 

In closing
I support the auto-addition of photos to Google Maps / Google Maps Views in general as a good thing despite a few early issues as discussed. Good to have that data and meta-data out there to better enable smarter machine recognition and smarter machine services for users. 

My Google Maps Views Profile for anyone interested:
https://www.google.com/maps/views/profile/115624860057949518963?gl=au&pv=2&tab=1 

My PhotoSphere tutorial for anyone interested:
PhotoSphere Tutorial: Capture, Edit, Fix, & Upload 

#photosphere   #googlemaps   #googlemapsviews  

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2015-05-08 15:27:35 (6 comments, 1 reshares, 12 +1s)Open 

2/4 Reposted to reassign to Collection. Original post here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/9VTzK8bUDP7 November 2013

When we weave poetry with technology as easily as we do with language.

I love the quote by +Kevin Kelly.

I've often thought of technology as an extension of our minds. Both are interwoven, and the memetic code from one mind can give rise to a technological creation that another mind can study and produce a copy of the same memetic code in itself. This process is currently slow but it will not always be so. I can see atomically precise manufacturing eventually creating technologies and objects whose constituent components embody their own code (like biological systems) a code that will jump from technological object to enhanced human mind and on again with the same fluidity as we currently process language. Our genomes birth us with... more »

"Clothes are people's extended skin, wheels extended feet, camera and telescope extended eyes. Out technological creations are extrapolations of the bodies that our genes build. In this way, we can think of technology as our extended body. If technology is an extension of humans, it is not an extension of our genes but our minds.
Technology is the exoskeleton of ideas."
- Kevin Kelly___2/4 Reposted to reassign to Collection. Original post here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/9VTzK8bUDP7 November 2013

When we weave poetry with technology as easily as we do with language.

I love the quote by +Kevin Kelly.

I've often thought of technology as an extension of our minds. Both are interwoven, and the memetic code from one mind can give rise to a technological creation that another mind can study and produce a copy of the same memetic code in itself. This process is currently slow but it will not always be so. I can see atomically precise manufacturing eventually creating technologies and objects whose constituent components embody their own code (like biological systems) a code that will jump from technological object to enhanced human mind and on again with the same fluidity as we currently process language. Our genomes birth us with the ability, as a conduit or substrate, through which the evolution of a new replicator can take place. This substrate is an interwoven landscape of minds, memes, and technologies; competition is fierce, selection is swift, and the evolution of this technium is increasingly rapid. 

[Please excuse this lightly edited repost of a stream of consciousness comment.]

h/t and thanks +Matt Uebel 

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2015-05-08 15:24:02 (0 comments, 3 reshares, 6 +1s)Open 

1/4 Reposted to reassign to Collection. Original post here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/8QiAYX7oTp2 August 2013

The Latest Musings from +Extropia DaSilva: Doing What She Does Best.

It is surely one of life's little pleasures, curling up on a cozy Saturday night with one of Extropia's characteristic essays at the convergence of advanced technology, computation, evolution, mind, matter, and society. This time with a welcome look into the Fermi Paradox. The breadth of scope and grand vision did not disappoint. 

If you enjoy such musings then do check out the archives; they're full of wonderful material around similar themes. 

(Just one thing, Extropia, if you read this, some paragraph spacings for readability and updating some of the examples / references - e.g. Markram example mentions "2010" - would be nice :) )

Anybody looking for a really long essay on the fermi paradox, robots and matrix universes need look no further than the essay just posted on me blog:) http://extropiadasilva.wordpress.com/2013/08/22/rise-of-the-robots-and-the-jessie-sim-universe/___1/4 Reposted to reassign to Collection. Original post here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/8QiAYX7oTp2 August 2013

The Latest Musings from +Extropia DaSilva: Doing What She Does Best.

It is surely one of life's little pleasures, curling up on a cozy Saturday night with one of Extropia's characteristic essays at the convergence of advanced technology, computation, evolution, mind, matter, and society. This time with a welcome look into the Fermi Paradox. The breadth of scope and grand vision did not disappoint. 

If you enjoy such musings then do check out the archives; they're full of wonderful material around similar themes. 

(Just one thing, Extropia, if you read this, some paragraph spacings for readability and updating some of the examples / references - e.g. Markram example mentions "2010" - would be nice :) )

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2015-05-05 11:32:19 (2 comments, 0 reshares, 17 +1s)Open 

Uploading: Gradual Replacement VS Scan-and-Copy

For as long as I can remember I've always had a preference for the gradual mind-uploading scenario: replacing each individual neuron and its connections with an improved synthetic equivalent, neuron-by-neuron, region-by-region, while the brain continues to process information normally without missing a beat and so preserving continuity. 

At the same time I've always known, deep down, intellectually, logically, that there is no meaningful difference to the scan-and-copy mind uploading scenario: solidify the brain to preserve all relevant information, slice, scan, slice, repeat, stitch and replicate the information on a suitable substrate. And despite my emotional knee-jerk aversion to the scenario I think if it came to the crunch I could rationally convince myself to undertake it. Fear of loss of continuity here is little... more »

Here's a slightly shorter, less reference heavy, op-ed version of our recent mind uploading paper (currently under journal review), published by IEET. Both versions are coauthored by myself and Randal Koene.

http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/wiley20150502___Uploading: Gradual Replacement VS Scan-and-Copy

For as long as I can remember I've always had a preference for the gradual mind-uploading scenario: replacing each individual neuron and its connections with an improved synthetic equivalent, neuron-by-neuron, region-by-region, while the brain continues to process information normally without missing a beat and so preserving continuity. 

At the same time I've always known, deep down, intellectually, logically, that there is no meaningful difference to the scan-and-copy mind uploading scenario: solidify the brain to preserve all relevant information, slice, scan, slice, repeat, stitch and replicate the information on a suitable substrate. And despite my emotional knee-jerk aversion to the scenario I think if it came to the crunch I could rationally convince myself to undertake it. Fear of loss of continuity here is little different to fearing your loss of continuity when you fall asleep and lose consciousness at night; except that in the latter you wake up with a slightly different connectome than what you fell asleep with. And if you believe in or advocate cryogenic preservation then any and all hypothetical differences evaporate. 

This is a good piece by +Keith Wiley and +Randal Koene that seeks to add a little more rigor to the equivalence of the gradual replacement VS scan-and-copy mind uploading scenarios and well worth anyone's time who is interested in these topics. 

#transhumanism   #mind   #uploading  

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2015-05-04 15:26:28 (17 comments, 9 reshares, 34 +1s)Open 

Trying to Ensure Benevolent Machine Superintelligence.
Would an evolutionary solution help?

I finally watched this recent TED talk by Nick Bostrom tonight and it's a good one, What happens when our computers get smarter than we are? Nick squeezes a lot into his 18 minutes and a number of parts include possibly the clearest exposition of the complex issues inherent in this topic. Issues like machine intelligence scales the the trivial IQ gap between the stupidest and smartest humans, intelligence as an optimisation process, the unboxable nature of superintelligence, and appropriate value-loading of seed superintelligences. 

The thing that stayed with me after the talk, the thing that I pondered the most, was the question of, basically, whether value-loading a superintelligence is the same as boxing a superintelligence? Nice in principle but impossible in practice? There... more »

A new TED talk by Nick Bostrom! "The potential for superintelligence kind of lies dormant in matter, much like the power of the atom lay dormant throughout human history — patiently waiting there until 1945."___Trying to Ensure Benevolent Machine Superintelligence.
Would an evolutionary solution help?

I finally watched this recent TED talk by Nick Bostrom tonight and it's a good one, What happens when our computers get smarter than we are? Nick squeezes a lot into his 18 minutes and a number of parts include possibly the clearest exposition of the complex issues inherent in this topic. Issues like machine intelligence scales the the trivial IQ gap between the stupidest and smartest humans, intelligence as an optimisation process, the unboxable nature of superintelligence, and appropriate value-loading of seed superintelligences. 

The thing that stayed with me after the talk, the thing that I pondered the most, was the question of, basically, whether value-loading a superintelligence is the same as boxing a superintelligence? Nice in principle but impossible in practice? There is quite a large body of work on value-loading seed AIs and superintelligences that I won't go into. 

If this is true - and I have no idea if it is or not and people smarter than me like Nick think it is not - but if it is then what alternatives are there? What other means to ensure a positive outcome for our species in future, both individually and collectively?

As is often the case in these situations my mind turns to evolution, a mindless process that nevertheless appears to produce superintelligent solutions to problems. If we can't box it indefinitely, and if we can't indefinitely imbue values that are always valid, then why not give our superintelligent heirs the best values we can manage and possibly house them in the best box we can manage, and knowing both efforts are bound to be inadequate . . . 

. . . also enforce a hard rule such that any expanding superintelligence emerging from these seeds will split in half - replicating - after a certain growth phase and with the copy being birthed with a set of altered parameters for how that superintelligence works, perhaps even different parameters for boxing and value-loading and a range of other measures. In this way there might quickly exist an ecosystem of evolving superintelligences, some cooperating, some competing, and differentiating to exploit different niches. Any one entity that emerged with values that were detrimental to humans, e.g. repurpose the Earth and destroy everything our species individually and collectively values, then this would also be detrimental to the ecosystem of AIs that would respond to restrict, blunt, and contain the offender. 

Like the evolution of life such a system wouldn't be perfect. There would still be disasters and suffering in places. But the ecosystem would survive and flourish. With niches in which we humans might even do the same, as symbionts or parasites on those larger hosts who were "willing."

The point is: might an enforced evolutionary process produce a superintelligent solution to the problem of superintelligence that we humans would, by definition, never be able to come up with? 

Possibly a stupid idea but worth throwing out there anyway. 

Via +Gideon Rosenblatt 

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2015-05-03 08:53:07 (17 comments, 35 reshares, 67 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 18/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/05/whole-brain-staining-chemogenic-neural.html 

Whole brain staining, Chemogenic neural switching, Neuronal secrets, Single electron radio, Remote immersive telepresence, Aural parsing machines, Novel materials scaleup, Self-guided bullets, Logistical automation robots, New visual prosthesis. 

1. Whole-Brain Staining for Whole-Brain Mapping
A complex new brain-staining method called BROPA is the first of its kind able to stain an entire brain including all neurons and synaptic connections http://www.mpg.de/9161585/connectome-diagram-brain. This now raises the distinct possibility of using the now-standard block-face scanning electron microscope technique to image an entire brain, slice by slice, and stitch these images together into a complete brainco... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 18/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/05/whole-brain-staining-chemogenic-neural.html 

Whole brain staining, Chemogenic neural switching, Neuronal secrets, Single electron radio, Remote immersive telepresence, Aural parsing machines, Novel materials scaleup, Self-guided bullets, Logistical automation robots, New visual prosthesis. 

1. Whole-Brain Staining for Whole-Brain Mapping
A complex new brain-staining method called BROPA is the first of its kind able to stain an entire brain including all neurons and synaptic connections http://www.mpg.de/9161585/connectome-diagram-brain. This now raises the distinct possibility of using the now-standard block-face scanning electron microscope technique to image an entire brain, slice by slice, and stitch these images together into a complete brain connectome map. Until now brain-staining techniques have only been useful for small sections of brain tissue, which could be scanned to produce connectomes but piecing these together into whole-brain maps was infeasible. So far the technique has only been demonstrated for mouse brains and the group plan to produce a complete mouse connectome comprising 40 petabytes, but it is yet to be seen if the technique can scale to human level.

2. Chemogenic Switching of Neurons
A newly developed chemogenic technique allows neurons to be controllably switched on and off http://news.unchealthcare.org/news/2015/april/new-brain-initiative-technology-can-switch-behavior-2018on2019-and-2018off2019. The chemogenic technique essentially represents an improved DREADD technology (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Receptor_activated_solely_by_a_synthetic_ligand) in which neural cell-wall receptors were modified and engineered to be sensitive to specific synthetic molecules or drugs. Subsequently, these receptors - and the firing of the neurons they adorn - could be activated or deactivated by adding or removing the synthetic molecule from the animal’s system, and in this case two different receptors were introduced to mature mice via viral-administered gene therapies. In different tests both voracious feeding and drug addiction behaviour could be switched on and off at will.

3. A Duo of Fundamental Neuron Function Discoveries
The first of these sheds new light on exactly how neurons form connections and memories at the molecular and cellular level http://news.vanderbilt.edu/2015/04/new-insight-into-how-brain-makes-memories/; a specific signalling protein called Asef2 that actively promotes synapse formation by promoting outgrowths of actin from the neual cytoskeleton - its lack can lead to a range of disorders. The second shows that neurons make methylation alterations to their DNA on a regular and on-going basis http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/neurons_constantly_rewrite_their_dna; this is believed to be important for maintaining consistent synaptic signalling activity by modulating the activity of key signalling proteins. 

4. Detecting Radio Waves from a Single Electron
For the first time radio waves have been detected from a single spinning electron http://news.sciencemag.org/physics/2015/04/physicists-detect-radio-waves-single-electron via new ultra-sensitive experimental techniques that involve trapping single electrons ejected by radioactive samples in cusomised wave-guides. As cool as this is the group ultimately hope to use the technique to perform the most accurate measurements to date for determining the mass of a neutrino. I wonder about the reverse: using a similar setup to influence and control a single electron . . . or a neutrino. 

5. Towards True Immersive Telepresence
An Oculus-linked robotic system is edging towards the first true immersive remote telepresence system in which a user can wear a VR headset and receive binocular video input from a distant, remote robotic system that mimics the movement of the users body and head http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/upenn-dora-platform. The key to maintaining the feeling of immersion and presence in the remote location is minimal and unnoticeable lag between you moving your head, the robot moving its “head” in exactly the same way, and an updated video feed from the cameras arriving on the headset. 20ms lag is not perceptible and 60ms is considered an upper limit; the group currently have 70ms but hopes to drop this in the near future. 

6. Deep Learning and Aural Parsing
Software arising from deep neural networks has now been demonstrated able to separate human voices from background noise in a wide range of songs (often referred to as the cocktail party problem after the ease with which humans can do the same) http://www.technologyreview.com/view/537101/deep-learning-machine-solves-the-cocktail-party-problem/. The promise here isn’t just a next-gen karaoke machine able to remove the vocals from any and all songs of choice. This should also help make better hearing aids, bluetooth headsets, video transcripts, and other applications we haven’t thought of yet. 

7. Scaling-Up Novel Materials: Semiconductors & Metallic Glass
A couple of interesting scale-up advances this week. First, a new fabrication technique called metal organic chemical vapour deposition can successfully produce wafer-scale atomically-thin (3 atoms) films of molybdenum disulfide or tungsten diselenide for high-performance semiconductor applications http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/semiconductors/materials/novel-process-promises-atomically-thin-semiconductors-for-electronics. Second, a new manufacturing process allows spinel (magnesium aluminate) to be produced in sheets up to 30 inches wide http://www.nrl.navy.mil/media/news-releases/2015/transparent-armor-from-nrl-spinel-could-also-ruggedize-your-smart-phone; spinel is a transparent mineral that is much tougher, stronger, and harder than glass - think display screens, camera lenses, building and car windows, etc. 

8. The Latest Self-Guided Bullets from DARPA
DARPA’s new EXACTO bullet is a self-guided 0.50 caliber round that can adjust its trajectory mid-flight http://gizmodo.com/watch-darpas-scary-self-guided-bullets-swerve-to-hit-mo-1700601163. In the demonstration video you can see the bullet not only move to allow a trained sniper to hit a moving target, and not only move to allow a novice shooter to hit a moving target but, indeed to move and swerve mid flight to hit a target that starts moving after the bullet has been fired. I’m just imagining swarms of military drones that shoot and never miss. 

9. Another Industrial Automation Entrant
This week Fetch Robotics announced a duo of new robots called Fetch and Freight to tackle the logistics market http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/industrial-robots/fetch-robotics-introduces-fetch-and-freight-your-warehouse-is-now-automated. The duo are intended to form a team in a warehouse, with the slower Fetch and its mobile manipulator shelf-picking arm confined to zones, and Freight a faster smaller unit zipping around between Fetches and a loading point. It’s good to see competition heating up in this space with the likes of Kiva and to a lesser extent ReThink for example. I also can’t resist a call-out to Stanford’s microtug robots able to 2,000 times their weight via novel controllable adhesive technology http://nextbigfuture.com/2015/04/tiny-bots-can-drag-2000-times-their.html. 

10. A Vision Implant Powered by Light
A company called Pixium Vision is launching a new visual prosthetic that is powered by light and enables the blind to see http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/biomedical/bionics/blind-patients-will-soon-try-a-new-bionic-eye. The core of the system is based on a small chip that is implanted behind the retina and which includes pixels that have both a photodiode and retina-stimulating electrode; the person wears video glasses that capture the view in front of them and convert this into an infrared version that is beamed into the persons eyes which serves to both provide power and stimulate the retina. Tests in rats confirm restoration of 20/250 vision and they hope to soon achieve 10/120, below the limit of legal blindness. 

Archive: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/05/whole-brain-staining-chemogenic-neural.html___

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2015-05-01 12:31:29 (12 comments, 18 reshares, 67 +1s)Open 

WTF, Evolution?!

I recently stumbled across what has become my favourite tumblr blog - WTF, Evolution?! http://wtfevolution.tumblr.com/ 

I like it because:

1. I get to be amazed by an extraordinarily diverse and baffling array of different creatures that I never knew could exist, let alone existed. 

2. The conversational commentary between the blogger and the "entity" that is evolution is pretty humorous at times :) E.g. criticising evolution for seemingly stupid design choices. 

* The latest entry on the comb duck reminds me of the bizarre head ornaments sported by the duck-billed dinosaurs. 

* An example of entries includes trap-door ants, penis-fencing flatworms, anus-dwelling pearlfish, sea-spiders with digestive organs in their legs. 

BUT IF YOU ONLY DO ONE THING TODAY: Watch the giant red leechhavin... more »

WTF, Evolution?!

I recently stumbled across what has become my favourite tumblr blog - WTF, Evolution?! http://wtfevolution.tumblr.com/ 

I like it because:

1. I get to be amazed by an extraordinarily diverse and baffling array of different creatures that I never knew could exist, let alone existed. 

2. The conversational commentary between the blogger and the "entity" that is evolution is pretty humorous at times :) E.g. criticising evolution for seemingly stupid design choices. 

* The latest entry on the comb duck reminds me of the bizarre head ornaments sported by the duck-billed dinosaurs. 

* An example of entries includes trap-door ants, penis-fencing flatworms, anus-dwelling pearlfish, sea-spiders with digestive organs in their legs. 

BUT IF YOU ONLY DO ONE THING TODAY: Watch the giant red leech having a meal: http://wtfevolution.tumblr.com/post/98726965887/wait-what-is-that-giant-red-leech-doing-is-it

#evolution   #wtf   #wondrous  ___

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2015-04-30 13:52:25 (5 comments, 8 reshares, 63 +1s)Open 

Best Microscope Videos of the Year.

Nikon's Small World in Motion competition never fails to fill me with amazement and delight at the microscopic phenomena that some people manage to capture. This year we had:

1st Place: Cellular Development of Zebrafish Lateral Sense Organ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pP9mRMKjXK0

2nd Place: Crystallisation of Caffeine
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJ6u3qYsRNY 
The GIF for this post. 

3rd Place: Oil Film on Water
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sf657r3BgPU

Via http://gizmodo.com/these-are-the-best-microscopic-videos-of-the-year-1700614278

The most recent 2014 photomicrography gallery is also worth a look - lots of really fascinating structures: http://www.nikonsmallworld.com/galleries/photo/2014-photomicrography-competition

#microscopy   ... more »

Best Microscope Videos of the Year.

Nikon's Small World in Motion competition never fails to fill me with amazement and delight at the microscopic phenomena that some people manage to capture. This year we had:

1st Place: Cellular Development of Zebrafish Lateral Sense Organ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pP9mRMKjXK0

2nd Place: Crystallisation of Caffeine
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJ6u3qYsRNY 
The GIF for this post. 

3rd Place: Oil Film on Water
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sf657r3BgPU

Via http://gizmodo.com/these-are-the-best-microscopic-videos-of-the-year-1700614278

The most recent 2014 photomicrography gallery is also worth a look - lots of really fascinating structures: http://www.nikonsmallworld.com/galleries/photo/2014-photomicrography-competition

#microscopy   #video   #photography  ___

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2015-04-28 13:32:40 (8 comments, 4 reshares, 55 +1s)Open 

Live Video of Earth from the International Space Station.

I spent more time than I expected just watching this streaming live video feed of our planet rolling slowly under the ISS while experiencing a funny mix of emotions. The project and live feed can be found here http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/917.html and I'd recommend you do as I did: expand to full-screen and grab the highest resolution your connection will allow. 

This video feed will soon be upgraded to 4K video at 30fps, see http://gizmodo.com/youll-be-able-to-watch-hi-def-24-7-feeds-from-the-iss-1699981439. 

Thanks to +Matthew J Price for pointing this out and I do like the idea of using this as a display live wallpaper / background. 

Live Video of Earth from the International Space Station.

I spent more time than I expected just watching this streaming live video feed of our planet rolling slowly under the ISS while experiencing a funny mix of emotions. The project and live feed can be found here http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/917.html and I'd recommend you do as I did: expand to full-screen and grab the highest resolution your connection will allow. 

This video feed will soon be upgraded to 4K video at 30fps, see http://gizmodo.com/youll-be-able-to-watch-hi-def-24-7-feeds-from-the-iss-1699981439. 

Thanks to +Matthew J Price for pointing this out and I do like the idea of using this as a display live wallpaper / background. ___

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2015-04-26 07:14:34 (7 comments, 34 reshares, 64 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 17/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/04/human-embryo-crispr-more-accurate.html

Human embryo CRISPR, More accurate CRISPR, Programmable DNA photonics, DNA logic gates, Multifunctional neural probes, MRI Temporal boost, Protein structure algorithms, Emotionally aware machines, Invisible perceptual illusions, Single molecule switches. 

1. CRISPR to Modify Human Embryos
Biggest news of the week goes to the Chinese team who used CRISPR methods to produce genetically modified human embryos http://www.nature.com/news/chinese-scientists-genetically-modify-human-embryos-1.17378. The group used non-viable (extra chromosomes), pre-implantation embryos from local fertility clinics and used CRISPR-Cas9 to edit and replace a defective ß-thalassemia gene that typically causes a blood disorder. The groupac... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 17/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/04/human-embryo-crispr-more-accurate.html

Human embryo CRISPR, More accurate CRISPR, Programmable DNA photonics, DNA logic gates, Multifunctional neural probes, MRI Temporal boost, Protein structure algorithms, Emotionally aware machines, Invisible perceptual illusions, Single molecule switches. 

1. CRISPR to Modify Human Embryos
Biggest news of the week goes to the Chinese team who used CRISPR methods to produce genetically modified human embryos http://www.nature.com/news/chinese-scientists-genetically-modify-human-embryos-1.17378. The group used non-viable (extra chromosomes), pre-implantation embryos from local fertility clinics and used CRISPR-Cas9 to edit and replace a defective ß-thalassemia gene that typically causes a blood disorder. The group achieve low conversion rates and noted a large number of off-target mutations that resulted. However, several commentators noted that the group used an older version of CRISPR (newer versions are far more accurate) and these non-viable cells are probably not an optimal model. 

2. Engineering Even Greater Accuracy into CRISPR
In closely related news newer, accurate versions of CRISPR have been made 25-times even more accurate http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-04/hu-iai042315.php. The new CRISPR is depended on a specific molecule to be active, which is provided to the cells of interest for a relatively short period of time, and so ensures that the CRISPR system is only active for a short period of time. This severely limits the chances of off-target modifications. This work builds on prior studies to create CRISPR systems that require longer (and hence more specific) genetic sequences to recognise and seeks to more subtly alter the cellular equilibrium dynamics of CRISPR-Cas9 enzymes. The team predict that further improvements will lead to CRISPR systems that induce chance mutations at a rate below the level of natural chance mutations that the cell produces on a daily basis anyway. 

3. Programmable Matter with DNA Origami
A new modification to self-assembled DNA origami technology delivers the ability to create programmable, tunable fluorescent arrays http://phys.org/news/2015-04-cradle-silver-nanoclusters-synthetic-dna.html. This is achieved via two parts, (i) generating DNA nanotubes with defined positioning sites; in this case with spacings of 7nm, and (ii) generating silver nanoclusters bound to complementary DNA strands that bind the nanoclusters to the nanotube. The nanoclusters all have the same number of atoms and depending on the preparation and binding of DNA the number of atoms can be controlled to produce clusters tuned to fluoresce at different wavelengths of light, from green-blue to infrared.

4. Fuzzy & Boolean Logic Gates Made of DNA
In related news self-assembled DNA origami structures have been demonstrated that can sense two environmental signals (different oligonucleotides and miRNAs) and produce fluorescent outputs corresponding to Boolean logic gates AND, NAND, OR, NOR, XOR, NXOR http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=39795.php. There are a few different labs pursuing DNA computation in this way and good to see competition heating up. Possible applications for this particular embodiment include programmed biosensors that enter cells and only deliver a lethal drug payload if they successfully detect one or more cancer biomarkers for example. 

5. Multifunctional Neural Probes for Interfacing the Brain
Neural probes are becoming increasingly sophisticated as evidenced by these fibers and probes that are able to carry light, sense-collect-and-transmit electricity, and also deliver drugs http://www.technologyreview.com/photoessay/536806/a-swiss-army-knife-for-neuroscience/. Such fibers can both stimulate the brain in various ways and also record the resulting activity and allows researchers to controllably alter activity in different ways to see what the effect is. The fabrication process for the probes is quite innovative and involves forming different polymers in the desired pattern and then extruding and shrinking these into tiny fibers. 

6. Boosting Temporal Resolution for MRI
Recent advances in MRI technology provide a boost in temporal resolution that allows image capture at 100 frames per second - this can facilitate for example the detailed capture of the complex anatomical coordination that is necessary for a person to sing http://beckman.illinois.edu/news/2015/04/new-super-fast-mri-technique. Such dynamic real-time recordings offering both high spatial and temporal resolution hasn’t been possible until now, and in this application offers new insights into the complex dynamics of the neuromuscular system and larynx in order to better understand changes that occur due to various influences such as aging and disease. 

7. Improved Algorithms for Generating 3D Structures from 2D Images
A new image-processing algorithm results in a 100,000-fold speedup in determining 3D structures for proteins from sets of 2D images http://www.technologyreview.com/view/536976/an-algorithm-set-to-revolutionize-3-d-protein-structure-discovery/. The technique utilises (i) electron cryomicroscopy in which a purified protein solution is is frozen into a thin-film one molecule thick, and (ii) transmission electron microscopy in which the film is bombarded with electrons and those that pass through generate images or “shadowgrams” of the molecules in the film. The molecule structure is unknown and orientation is random. Generating the 3D structure from up to 200,000 images used to take two weeks on 300 cores, but now can be done in under 24 hours on a single workstation. 

8. Adapting to Machines that Know How You Feel
Wired had a good piece this week covering Affectiva and the coming ubiquity of computers that know and can respond to your emotional state http://www.wired.com/2015/04/computers-can-now-tell-feel-face/. Affectiva is offering its system to developers to help create a broad range of applications predominantly (for now) based on determining fine emotional nuances on faces. The promise here includes dynamic entertainment that responds to your emotions to give you a different experience to someone with different emotions, assisting those with emotion-identification handicaps to better understand people, automatically determine the emotional content of video, assist wearers of HUDs to determine a person’s emotion they may be trying to hide, targeting advertising to people based on their emotional state, and many many others.

9. The Perceptual Illusion of an Invisible Body
An interesting new psychological experiment explores the perceptual illusion on participants of having an invisible body http://ki.se/en/news/scientists-create-the-sensation-of-invisibility. Participants were instructed to look downwards as they wore a stereoscopic head mounted display, which received video input from a pair of binocular cameras that were pointed downwards towards the floor. A researcher then simultaneously touched the person’s body with a brush while touching the corresponding areas in empty space under the cameras with another brush. In less than a minute most people had altered body-maps and perceived the brush-touching-empty-air as actually touching themselves, and this was confirmed via measured stress response when a surprise knife was thrust into the same spot of empty space. I’m always fascinated by how easily malleable our sense of embodiment is. 

10. Towards Single Molecule Switches
A new candidate molecule approximately 3nm in size has been demonstrated to function as a single-molecule electronic switch http://www.hzdr.de/db/Cms?pOid=44032&pNid=0. The molecule possesses two stable states, one of which is an insulator and the other a conductor. The group was able to successfully switch the molecule into the “on” conductive state via light, which allowed current to flow between the two nanowire electrodes it was connected to. They can’t yet switch the molecule back to the “off” insulating state but are confident of achieving this in future.

Archive: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/04/human-embryo-crispr-more-accurate.html ___

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2015-04-22 13:57:52 (5 comments, 2 reshares, 11 +1s)Open 

Three Days into Insanity Max:30.

I've been doing the original Insanity interval training comprising cardio and resistance workouts for about two years now, with a couple of one - two month breaks caused by big holidays. These workouts typically comprise sessions 40 - 60 minutes long that include 2 - 3 circuits of 4 different exercises done over 2 - 3 minutes and repeated 3 times per circuit with a 30 second break in between. I've been doing these about 5 times per week for longer than I can remember. 

I am honestly in the best shape of my life and certainly the fittest I've ever been. But I do tend to indulge in nice food, drinks, and chocolate that I mostly burn off and there is always room for improvement. 

Shaun T's latest workout package Insanity Max:30 recently came out and we quickly snapped it up and started the program on Monday. Thesew... more »

Three Days into Insanity Max:30.

I've been doing the original Insanity interval training comprising cardio and resistance workouts for about two years now, with a couple of one - two month breaks caused by big holidays. These workouts typically comprise sessions 40 - 60 minutes long that include 2 - 3 circuits of 4 different exercises done over 2 - 3 minutes and repeated 3 times per circuit with a 30 second break in between. I've been doing these about 5 times per week for longer than I can remember. 

I am honestly in the best shape of my life and certainly the fittest I've ever been. But I do tend to indulge in nice food, drinks, and chocolate that I mostly burn off and there is always room for improvement. 

Shaun T's latest workout package Insanity Max:30 recently came out and we quickly snapped it up and started the program on Monday. These workouts are different, done 5 - 6 times per week, and comprise intense 30 minute sessions of a myriad of different exercises with 30 second breaks every 5 minutes or so. And these are intense: you move much quicker than the other Insanity program and the idea is you keep going at high intensity until you physically can't any more and need to take a short break to get your breath back - referred to as your "Max Out" point. 

On Monday I maxed-out at 8:30 but tonight made it through to 12:30. 5 mins in you start to sweat, 15 mins in you are drenched in sweat, 20 mins in you are wanting it to end, watching the clock, pushing pushing pushing yourself to higher levels of exertion and not wanting to give up. 

The new program also comes with a new diet and nutrition plan. We tried the original diet plan last year for a couple of months and it worked really well; to my surprise my abs really started to appear. This time we've started the new plan, which is based on portion control over protein, carbohydrates, fats, fruit, and vegetables each day and correlated to your weight. Only 3 days in I'd say it has been more than manageable but I think I've been ever-so-slightly hungry for quite a bit of those 3 days. Energy levels and alertness are good but discipline is required. I don't want to go overboard and only want to drop maybe 2, at most 3 kilograms and get more definition again. 

Then indulge in chocolate, cheese, and wine as a reward :-P

This thing isn't for everyone. But if you're like me and can't be bothered going to a gym, would prefer not to run every day or two, but still want to maintain a decent level of fitness, you might well want to give it a shot. If you do then remember one thing for me: these programs are intense and potentially dangerous depending on your level of fitness and status of injuries. If you start from a low fitness base then go slow, and slowly work your way up. Always follow correct form; as soon as your body starts doing exercises with poor form it is time to take a break and recover - otherwise you risk injury.

Remember: Form over speed. Dig deeper. Breathe. 

Those who do vigorous exercise on a regular basis tend to live longer, healthier lives. See:
* https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2015/04/vigorous-activity-correlates-with-lower-mortality-rate.php and
* https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2015/04/efforts-to-quantify-the-benefits-of-different-levels-of-exercise.php 

#insanity   #exercise   #aging  ___

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2015-04-21 15:20:21 (7 comments, 7 reshares, 32 +1s)Open 

I Just Discovered the Amazing Light Flow App.
My phone's vibration and Android silent mode have sucked for a while now.

One of my biggest gripes and I believe one of the stupidest design decisions with Android Lollipop is the simple lack of a basic "silent mode." This was a "feature" present in previous versions of Android and simply pressing the volume down button from silent stopped all sounds and vibrations that may have arose from all notifications and calls. Simple and useful in lots of different situations. 

Ever since having an Android Wear smart watch strapped to my wrist I haven't really bothered with a phone ringtone at all and just preferred the wrist-based notifications. But with no silent mode my Nexus 6 would just vibrate all the time anyway; it's a powerful little vibrator and actually quite loud, which kinda... more »

I Just Discovered the Amazing Light Flow App.
My phone's vibration and Android silent mode have sucked for a while now.

One of my biggest gripes and I believe one of the stupidest design decisions with Android Lollipop is the simple lack of a basic "silent mode." This was a "feature" present in previous versions of Android and simply pressing the volume down button from silent stopped all sounds and vibrations that may have arose from all notifications and calls. Simple and useful in lots of different situations. 

Ever since having an Android Wear smart watch strapped to my wrist I haven't really bothered with a phone ringtone at all and just preferred the wrist-based notifications. But with no silent mode my Nexus 6 would just vibrate all the time anyway; it's a powerful little vibrator and actually quite loud, which kinda defeats the purpose. 

I think being in this state for a decent while has worn out the internal vibration unit. The vibrations don't seem as crisp and clean as they used to, and it has honestly become incredibly frustrating at times  - just shut up already! - and even tapping away on the keyboard with vibration enabled was becoming unpleasant an annoying. 

They tried to "fix" this with the 5.1 update but the settings are still unintuitive and confusing when they used to be so simple. This is probably one of the worst cases of UI design in Lollipop that comes to mind and at times beggars belief. 

Today I finally dug into the issue deeper, figured out that vibration needs to be disabled in each individual app separately (which I think is stupid), and almost have a very quiet, vibration-free phone again. I also discovered Light Flow, which is a wonderful little App https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rageconsulting.android.lightflow&hl=en for providing finer notification controls, and particularly linking notifications to the coloured LED on your device. On the Nexus 6 you need Root to do this. 

I now have subtle, quiet, unobtrusive notifications that are individually colour-coded to different apps, and that emit light through the tiny LED behind the Nexus 6 speaker grill. Green is for Hangouts, Blue for SMS, Purple for Email, and Red for missed call - but there are many other options and possibilities too. I've only really scratched the surface with Light Flow and it has sound and vibration controls for apps that I haven't properly explored yet.  

Very happy that the phone feels like a newer, snappier, more intimate device again. ___

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2015-04-19 10:49:28 (5 comments, 34 reshares, 59 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 16/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/04/bigger-immune-responses-probabilistic.html 

Bigger immune responses, Probabilistic computer vision, Self-powered camera, Quantum bits in silicon, CRISPR controls epigenetics, Laser perovskites, Multi-cameras, Metamaterial energy harvesting, Lots of robots, Accessible cell therapies. 

1. Engineering a Broader Immune Response Against Cancer.
A new discovery allows a much broader immune response to be generated against different types of cancer than was previously possible http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/using-entire-immune-system-halts-tumor-growth-0414. This works by activating both the adaptive and the innate immune systems at the same time by conjugating interleukin 2 molecules to antibodies that target specific cancer cells. In tests tumoursdi... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 16/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/04/bigger-immune-responses-probabilistic.html 

Bigger immune responses, Probabilistic computer vision, Self-powered camera, Quantum bits in silicon, CRISPR controls epigenetics, Laser perovskites, Multi-cameras, Metamaterial energy harvesting, Lots of robots, Accessible cell therapies. 

1. Engineering a Broader Immune Response Against Cancer.
A new discovery allows a much broader immune response to be generated against different types of cancer than was previously possible http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/using-entire-immune-system-halts-tumor-growth-0414. This works by activating both the adaptive and the innate immune systems at the same time by conjugating interleukin 2 molecules to antibodies that target specific cancer cells. In tests tumours disappeared completely in up to 90% of mice and when tumour cells were reintroduced they were quickly destroyed by the immune system. 

2. Computer Vision with Probabilistic Programming.
New probabilistic programming techniques can in many cases produce effective code that accomplishes in 50 lines of code what normally takes many thousands of lines of code http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/better-probabilistic-programming-0413. This is a result of making machine learning applications easier to build - probabilistic programming was developed to quickly utilise machine learning techniques that have worked elsewhere. Example applications include taking 2D pictures of faces and accurately reproducing 3D models of those faces. 

3. A Self-Powered Camera.
A self-powered camera has been developed that, as the name implies, doesn’t require any power to function via a photodiode image sensor that also harvests light energy http://www.cs.columbia.edu/CAVE/projects/self_powered_camera/. This is essentially combining the functions of a solar panel and image sensor into one device that switches operation - capturing energy at one point in time in order to power the device to capture image information the next. Check out the videos - this camera can currently record an image per second. Imagine passive cameras saturating the environment that record events and never need to be recharged or connected to power. 

4. Electrical Control of Quantum Information in Silicon. 
Quantum information has been encoded in silicon using electrical pulses for the first time https://newsroom.unsw.edu.au/news/science-tech/breakthrough-opens-door-affordable-quantum-computers. This group has been working in the space for a while now and has steadily improved the technology; from the first single atom qubits in silicon to improved control to long qubit lifetimes and now to control via electric fields. Using existing silicon-based chip fabrication methods might just enable manufacturing quantum computers in future. 

5. Using CRISPR to Control Epigenetics.
CRISPR can now be used to directly target and modify epigenetic changes in the genome http://pratt.duke.edu/news/pulling-strings-our-genomic-puppetmasters. To accomplish this the Cas9 enzyme was modified to remove the DNA-cutting region, which was replaced with another enzyme for transferring acetyl groups to DNA. This allows precise targeting and control of specific gene promoters and enhancers to control gene activity; remember each cell contains the same genome, it’s just a matter of which genes are switched on or off that give rise to differences. For the first time promoters and enhancers can be probed and characterised in such an effective way. 

6. Perovskites Now Made into Lasers.
Perovskite compounds are one of the most exciting materials in solar photovoltaics at the moment, and the same properties that make them effective in this application apparently also make them promising for lasers http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/semiconductors/devices/perovskite-leads-to-100percent-efficient-nanowire-lasers. A simple method can make perovskite crystals that function as high-efficiency, ultra-small nanowire lasers. Under testing these lasers demonstrate some of the best performance criteria of any lasing material, including near 100% efficiency in which every photon that the material absorbs is used to produce a photon of laser light. 

7. NextGen Photography with Multi-Camera Modules.
A company called Light is launching new camera modules comprised of multiple lenses and image sensors that all fire simultaneously to produce images that are combined into a higher-resolution, higher-quality final image with adjustable focus http://www.technologyreview.com/news/536816/a-way-to-get-much-higher-resolution-selfies/. The first Light cameras are expected in smartphones by 2016, boasting a resolution of 52-megapixels, and along with other improvements hopefully squeeze the quality of an expensive DSLR camera into smaller, cheaper devices. This is like advanced space telescopes that combine images from multiple devices to produce much clearer images; I think it is a great idea. 

8. Metamaterial Energy Harvesting from Light.
New metamaterial designs have resulted in surfaces that are able to absorb 93% of incident electromagnetic waves they have been tuned to, which is significantly higher than classical antennas http://www.aip.org/publishing/journal-highlights/harvesting-energy-electromagnetic-waves & http://scitation.aip.org/content/aip/journal/apl/106/15/10.1063/1.4916232. In this case the light was from the 3 GHz spectrum, but the group hope to extend these capabilities with related designs into the infrared and ultimately visible spectrum. Applications for the current capability includes efficient wireless power transfer for devices and chips. 

9. Lots of Cool New Robots.
We had a whole bunch of new robots this week. First, an innovative robotic kitchen and cooking robot from Moley https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NnUDhjG95jI. Second, in line with Baxter and others yet another collaborative dual-armed manufacturing robot called YuMi https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=115&v=2KfXY2SvlmQ - lots of competition in this space. Third, a nurse robot able to accurately insert needles into arm veins to inject drugs or take blood https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IpdTeGPruFA. Four, a taste of things to come for the DARPA robotics trial https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=43&v=L4B5BhDoS9o. Five, solar-powered flying bird-robot https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vo9lIkY74n0. 

10. Accessible Cell Therapies.
RepliCel Life Sciences bill themselves as a regenerative medicine company and are developing - and plan to sell - a couple of cell therapies including treatments for (i) chronic tendinosis to improve healing of tendons, and (ii) baldness to encourage and improve hair growth https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2015/04/the-low-hanging-fruit-of-cell-therapy-development.php. These areas are considered “low-hanging-fruit” and aim to provide / introduce cells into areas of the body that have become deficient in certain cell types, for example, isolating hair follicles as a cell source, massively amplifying these cells to large numbers, and reintroducing them to the patient via injection to the appropriate areas. In animals the approach caused hair to grow in places it normally doesn’t, or made hair thicker in places it does. 

Archive: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/04/bigger-immune-responses-probabilistic.html ___

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2015-04-18 09:37:10 (7 comments, 1 reshares, 29 +1s)Open 

- Underside of middle knuckle resting atop a white LED torch light. 
- Two veins clearly visible on the upper side of knuckles for both middle and ring finger. 

- Underside of middle knuckle resting atop a white LED torch light. 
- Two veins clearly visible on the upper side of knuckles for both middle and ring finger. ___

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2015-04-17 11:52:38 (24 comments, 12 reshares, 53 +1s)Open 

Today is the Best Time in History to Start that Thing. You're Not Late.

I missed this insightful and uplifting post from +Kevin Kelly last year, You Are Not Late. In hindsight from 2015 the opportunities that lay in wait in 1985, ready to be turned into world-changing realities, were immense. If only we had known then what we know now. And yet, in 2045 we will look back on 2015 in exactly the same way. Transformative, world-changing opportunities exist, just waiting for you to grab them and turn them into reality. There has never been a better time to do this than today. You are never too late to begin. 

http://kk.org/thetechnium/2014/08/you-are-not-late/

#technium   #opportunity   #begin  

Today is the Best Time in History to Start that Thing. You're Not Late.

I missed this insightful and uplifting post from +Kevin Kelly last year, You Are Not Late. In hindsight from 2015 the opportunities that lay in wait in 1985, ready to be turned into world-changing realities, were immense. If only we had known then what we know now. And yet, in 2045 we will look back on 2015 in exactly the same way. Transformative, world-changing opportunities exist, just waiting for you to grab them and turn them into reality. There has never been a better time to do this than today. You are never too late to begin. 

http://kk.org/thetechnium/2014/08/you-are-not-late/

#technium   #opportunity   #begin  ___

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2015-04-12 15:20:19 (5 comments, 28 reshares, 63 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 15/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/04/artificial-kidney-membrane-nanoscale-3d.html

Artificial kidney membrane, tissue engineered gonads, nanotube computing, 3D imaging chip, Nanoscale 3D imaging, Simpler CRISPR, Maintaining youthful stem cells, Tactile manipulators, Acoustic cell isolation, Acoustic metamaterials. 

1. Living Artificial Kidney Membrane.
In a similar vein to recent efforts in microfluidics to develop “organs on a chip” artificial membranes can now be produced that are coated by a living monolayer of kidney cells http://phys.org/news/2015-04-kidney-membrane.html. The primary application the group is pursuing relates to kidney transplants and dialysis treatments by ultimately scaling the device up to achieve clinical relevance. One can imaging rolling layers of membraneswith ... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 15/2015.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/04/artificial-kidney-membrane-nanoscale-3d.html

Artificial kidney membrane, tissue engineered gonads, nanotube computing, 3D imaging chip, Nanoscale 3D imaging, Simpler CRISPR, Maintaining youthful stem cells, Tactile manipulators, Acoustic cell isolation, Acoustic metamaterials. 

1. Living Artificial Kidney Membrane.
In a similar vein to recent efforts in microfluidics to develop “organs on a chip” artificial membranes can now be produced that are coated by a living monolayer of kidney cells http://phys.org/news/2015-04-kidney-membrane.html. The primary application the group is pursuing relates to kidney transplants and dialysis treatments by ultimately scaling the device up to achieve clinical relevance. One can imaging rolling layers of membranes with relevant cells into tubes to form an artificial kidney or other organ system - artificial organs and tissue engineering needn’t be limited to conventional biological architectures. I also like the idea of controlled cell membranes in general; they might be programmed to mass produce any biological product of interest. 

2. Tissue Engineering: Artificial Testicles.
In related tissue engineering news we had an interesting article this week about the ongoing development of artificial testicles capable of producing functional sperm http://www.vice.com/read/the-science-of-artificial-testicles. The current (complex) device is designed to mimic the complex inner structure of testicles and the primary applications in mind are for aiding men struggling with infertility for a range of reasons to have children via IVF. The key here is engineering the right environment to naturally stimulate stem cells - convincing them that they are part of a testicle - to divide and differentiate into sperm cells, to take tissue engineering to the point of creating a sperm-making machine. 

3. Carbon Nanotube Computing.
Circuits made of carbon nanotubes take another step closer to fruition with a simple, scalable method to remove metallic carbon nanotubes from arrays and leaving the desired semiconducting nanotubes behind to do work http://phys.org/news/2015-04-purify-arrays-single-walled-carbon-nanotubes.html. Making defined arrays of nanotubes into circuits can already be done but until now making these circuits functional by removing metallic carbon nanotubes has not been possible. In related news carbon nanotube and polymer composites, inherently disordered bulk materials, can nevertheless be trained to produce a desired electronic output (mimicking a particular electronic circuit) as part of a process of materials evolution http://phys.org/news/2015-04-single-walled-carbon-nanotube-composites-great.html; understanding how these structures form might be very useful http://munews.missouri.edu/news-releases/2015/0409-engineers-now-understand-how-complex-carbon-nanostructures-form/.   

4. Chip-Based 3D Imaging for Devices.
A new millimeter-scale silicon chip incorporates a nanophotonic coherent imager - in which each pixel is an independent interferometer able to measure both intensity and distance information - that works as part of a LIDAR system to generate 3D images of objects in realtime http://www.caltech.edu/news/new-camera-chip-provides-superfine-3-d-resolution-46425. These are just begging to be incorporated into smartphones, Kinect / Leap Motion devices, and autonomous vehicles to name a few; remember one of the major expenses on an autonomous vehicle is the LIDAR system - chips like this will slash these costs. I wonder if the chip might be used in a different set-up to emit rather than capture 3D images? 

5. Nanoscale Optical 3D Imaging.
In related 3D imaging news, but this time at the nanoscale, a new imaging technology combining cathodoluminescence and tomography allows the use of visible light to generate nanometer resolution three-dimensional images of nanoscale objects http://news.stanford.edu/news/2015/april/nano-3d-imaging-040715.html. The technique takes many 2D images at many angles and uses algorithms to stitch these together to generate and identify the 3D structure of the object. There is a nice embedded video overview of the process. This is a nice new imaging platform that I’d expect to see used in many fundamental research investigations over time; the team quote applications in producing optimised and more efficient LEDs and photovoltaic materials. 

6. Simpler Mini CRISPR.
As if CRISPR couldn’t get any easier. The CRISPR gene editing toolkit has been expanded with a new Cas9 enzyme that is encoded by a gene that is only 75% of the size of the conventional Cas9 gene http://www.nature.com/news/mini-enzyme-moves-gene-editing-closer-to-the-clinic-1.17234. This makes the overall genetic package require to be inserted into cells that much smaller and that much easier / more effective to insert. This is particularly important for gene therapy approaches in which you typically need to package genes into a small virus particle. In proof-of-concept experiments the team used the new technique to successfully transfect the livers of mice and get a test gene into 40% of liver cells in one go - a pretty good result for somatic cell genetic modification. 

7. Maintaining Youthful Stem Cell Activity with Age.
New experiments in mice show that removing just two factors known as TIMP1 and TIMP3 (Tissue Inhibitors of MetalloProteinases) was enough to maintain tissue (breast tissue in this demonstration) in a youthful state in aged mice https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2015/04/loss-of-timp1-and-timp3-maintains-youthful-stem-cell-activity-in-aging-mice.php. With age tissue loses its ability to develop and repair due to a decline in the stem cell population. Removal of TIMP1 & 3 led to an expansion in the pool of stem cells, the maintenance of consistently high levels, and their remaining functional throughout the life of the mice, and all without an increased predisposition to cancer (which was originally predicted). I wonder when we might see the results of, e.g., RNAi knock-down of TIMP1 & 3 in humans?

8. Sensitive Robot Manipulators.
A couple of interesting advances in robotic hands enabling more sensitive manipulations this week. First, engineering new robotic hands that are much more touch sensitive by using touch sensors interacting with myriad different materials to build a “language” of touch that both a computer and human can understand and interpret http://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/science_nation/robotictouch.jsp?WT.mc_id=USNSF_51, with the hope this results in prosthetics that provide a genuine human touch experience to amputees. Second, the use of shape-memory alloys (wires) as muscle fibers in lightweight robotic and prosthetic hands and limbs http://www.kurzweilai.net/an-artificial-hand-that-can-respond-sensitively-thanks-to-muscles-made-of-shape-memory-wires and leveraging useful properties such as the highest energy density of all known drive mechanisms. 

9. Isolating Circulating Tumour Cells with Sound.
Building on work first demonstrated last year a group has developed an even better (20 times faster) microfluidic cell sorting chip powered by two acoustic transducers that produce a standing wave along the microchannel http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/sound-waves-detect-rare-cancer-cells-0406. It turns out that cancer cells and normal cells respond differently to the sound gradient due differences in compressibility and other factors. In tests 83% of cancer cells were isolated samples with as few as 1 cancer cell per 100,000 and blood samples from real cancer patients were successfully analysed. The order-of-magnitude improvement from last year makes the device clinically relevant. 

10. Acoustic Metamaterials.
On the topic of acoustic technology there were two interesting acoustic metamaterial advances this week http://nextbigfuture.com/2015/04/new-industrial-bubble-wrap-material-and.html. First, a bubble metascreen comprised of a 4mm thick rubber film with embedded bubbles can dampen sound and especially reflected sonar signals by 10,000 times - 100 times better than thought possible. Second, another acoustic metamaterial dubbed a phononic crystal can, when coated onto an object, cause sound waves hitting that object to flow around its surface without being reflected. 

Archive:_ http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/04/artificial-kidney-membrane-nanoscale-3d.html___

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2015-04-10 15:52:30 (22 comments, 40 reshares, 60 +1s)Open 

The Dehumanising Insanity of Prohibition

This is one of the best pieces I've read, certainly in recent times, about the war on drugs, drug decriminalisation, drug legalisation, drug addiction, prohibition, and psychology. It's a longish piece at about 10k words based on an interview with famed (infamed?) journalist Johann Hari regarding his recent book Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs. but well worth anyone's time. 

http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/a-war-well-lost 

Key quotes:

Power concedes nothing without a struggle.

It’s not your morality and it’s not your brain. To a much larger degree than we’ve ever before appreciated, it’s your cage. Addiction is an adaption to your environment.

Anywhere in the developed world, people near you are being giving loads of heroin in hospitals[right] n... more »

The Dehumanising Insanity of Prohibition

This is one of the best pieces I've read, certainly in recent times, about the war on drugs, drug decriminalisation, drug legalisation, drug addiction, prohibition, and psychology. It's a longish piece at about 10k words based on an interview with famed (infamed?) journalist Johann Hari regarding his recent book Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs. but well worth anyone's time. 

http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/a-war-well-lost 

Key quotes:

Power concedes nothing without a struggle.

It’s not your morality and it’s not your brain. To a much larger degree than we’ve ever before appreciated, it’s your cage. Addiction is an adaption to your environment.

Anywhere in the developed world, people near you are being giving loads of heroin in hospitals [right] now.

In the culture of terror created by prohibition, if you are prepared to push the moral limit a little bit further than the other guys, you gain a brief market advantage, because people will back off when they’re scared.

But ever since Prohibition we’ve known that the cure is worse than the disease. When you ban substances that people enjoy using so much that they’ll break the law to do it, you create a black market with huge profits. And since purveyors of illicit drugs have no legal way to secure their investment, the trade will be run by increasingly violent criminals. In a single stroke, therefore, prohibition creates organized crime and all the social ills attributable to the skyrocketing cost of drugs—addicts are forced to become thieves and prostitutes in order to afford their next fix.

What we do at the moment is take people who are addicted because they are isolated, distressed, and in pain, and inflict more isolation, distress, and pain on them in the hopes that it will make them stop.

You and I have probably got enough money in the bank that we could spend the next year drinking vodka and never stop. We could just be drunk all the time. But we don’t. And the reason we don’t is not because someone’s stopping us but because we want to be present in our lives. We’ve got relationships. We’ve got friends. We’ve got people we love. We’ve got books we want to read. We’ve got books we want to write. We’ve got things we want to do. Most of addiction is about not wanting to be present in your life.

We can understand why the Portuguese system works so well, because it’s all about reconnecting people with the collective, with the group, with the society, giving them a purpose.

#drugs   #addiction   #society  ___

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2015-04-08 14:52:48 (1 comments, 0 reshares, 33 +1s)Open 

Hiking St Mary Peak in the Flinders Ranges.

We made the 5 hour drive north to Wilpena Pound on Friday and spent a couple of nights with extended family staying in cabins in the Rawnsley Station Caravan Park just to the south. Wilpena Pound (https://www.google.com.au/maps/@-31.5573084,138.56399,22647m/data=!3m1!1e3?hl=en-GB) is probably the key feature in South Australia's Flinders Ranges and while it looks like an impact crater it has terrestrial origins. 

A small hike on Friday afternoon took us to Arkaroo Rock to see some old indigenous rock / cave paintings but the main feature was the hike on Saturday up to the tallest peak in the area, St Mary. I did the hike alone after an uncle and my brother-in-law pulled out, departing the visitor at about 9:40am and reaching the summit at about 12:15pm; after a 45 minute rest and enjoying the views I made it back by 3:20pm or... more »

Hiking St Mary Peak in the Flinders Ranges.

We made the 5 hour drive north to Wilpena Pound on Friday and spent a couple of nights with extended family staying in cabins in the Rawnsley Station Caravan Park just to the south. Wilpena Pound (https://www.google.com.au/maps/@-31.5573084,138.56399,22647m/data=!3m1!1e3?hl=en-GB) is probably the key feature in South Australia's Flinders Ranges and while it looks like an impact crater it has terrestrial origins. 

A small hike on Friday afternoon took us to Arkaroo Rock to see some old indigenous rock / cave paintings but the main feature was the hike on Saturday up to the tallest peak in the area, St Mary. I did the hike alone after an uncle and my brother-in-law pulled out, departing the visitor at about 9:40am and reaching the summit at about 12:15pm; after a 45 minute rest and enjoying the views I made it back by 3:20pm or so. 

The peak itself is only 1,170m, and the total distance was a little under 15km, which I covered in a little over 24,000 steps. Highest temperature was 27 - 28 degrees C. Consumed about 3.5 liters of water. 

I took the outer trail there and back to save time (will definitely do the inner trail next time) but the trail gets very steep after about two thirds of the way and at some points it becomes vertical and you really need to use your hands to clamber up. The steepness makes it quite tough going - much tougher than I had anticipated - and while I overtook many people going both ways I was utterly exhausted by the end of the day, to the extent of almost talking to, or cursing, myself towards the end. 

A few things of note:

* Cresting the saddle ridge and completing most of the initial vertical climb I was greeted by this view (main PhotoSphere for this post) and it was one of the highlights of the day. The PhotoSphere doesn't do it justice of course but the sight was truly breathtaking; it was stunning looking down into the crater of the pound and it was the first time ever that I've gazed out over a landscape and struggled to believe what my eyes were telling me. The far ridge on the other side just did not look real; so far away it looked fantastical. It looked awesome in the literal sense of the word. 

* Five minutes in one of my three water bottles had sprung a leak, soaking the bottom of my backpack and shorts. Fortunately the leak was pressure dependent and by carrying the thing the whole way I was able to benefit from the vast majority of the remaining water. 

* Taking the odd, rare break from hiking and just sitting and being still in the moment was a simple pleasure. No longer heaving and concentrating I was able to truly appreciate the the wild surroundings, the many different birds that appeared and chirped at each other that I hadn't heard before, the lizards that crawled from beneath rocks, the breeze, the variety of bushes and trees. 

* Hiking down the steep trail in the afternoon, exhausted, it was tempting to just plod along at a swift pace. I had to deliberately and consciously keep reminding myself to concentrate on exactly where I was placing my feet; the last thing I needed at that point was mindless carelessness resulting in a twisted or sprained ankle or worse. 

* I barely had a chance to enjoy the views upon reaching the summit, and instead grabbed my jacket from my backpack and used that as a pillow to lay down and rest on the rocks, content to enjoy the views later. Of course, it was sunny climbing up, and sunny climbing down, but when I was actually at the peak it became cloudy! Despite the clouds the views were spectacular and well worth the effort of hiking up there to begin with. You can literally see for hundreds of kilometers in every direction and again, while it doesn't do it justice I did grab a PhotoSphere up there https://www.google.com/maps/@-31.503654,138.552124,3a,75y,27h,90t/data=!3m5!1e1!3m3!1sbVK_q7nsADUAAAQfDPyR0w!2e0!3e11. The French tourists you can see giving me a funny look in that PhotoSphere seemed to be discussing in hushed French tones about what an idiot I looked like taking the image but I showed them the result and they thought it was pretty cool. Lunch was a hard boiled egg, fruit & nut trail mix, banana, apple, muesli bars, and a Ryvita crispbread peanut butter sandwich. 

* I hadn't been to Wilpena Pound in nearly 20 years and my memory had not served me well. I had expected it to be far more arid and barren than what it is. I was amazed at how green and heavily covered in trees and woods the area was, and discovered a new-found appreciation and at times awe for the natural beauty present here in my home state. 

Mark Bruce HikeView

For the first time I've taken all the PhotoSpheres I took along the hike and strung them together a la Google Streetview into a collection referred to as a "constellation", which can be accessed here: https://www.google.com/maps/views/collection/115624860057949518963/88c83c520b536922?gl=au. You get a preview pane above a map on the left, but to begin you need to click the upper left image of the collection to the right. This launches the first PhotoSphere and then you can scroll around until your cursor becomes an arrow, and click, you can zoom off to the next one and follow my trail along the path I took, looking around and checking out the scenery as you go. There are a total of 10 PhotoSpheres in this collection. 

#flindersranges   #wilpenapound   #photosphere  ___

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