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Mark Bruce has been at 1 events

HostFollowersTitleDateGuestsLinks
NASA1,528,306The 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 02:00:002212G+

Mark Bruce has been shared in 175 public circles

You can see here the 50 latest shared circles.
If this is your profile, you can check your dashboard to see all shared circles you have been included.

AuthorFollowersDateUsers in CircleCommentsReshares+1Links
Carlos Esteban50,970ENGAGERS and other INTERESTING PEOPLE Here you will find a sample of recent and repeat engagers, people that include me in shared circles, and people that publish interesting, useful or amusing posts. Add the circle and check them out. Maybe you like some of them! Feel free to re-share the circle :) Have a great week!2014-08-11 15:57:3149910681156CC G+
Circles Circles Circles37,983SCIENCE CircleDo you want more science in your life? Then, be sure to add these fascinating pages and people who dwell on science daily and are actively engaging.  Enrich your stream.If you are a scientist or someone who primarily posts about science and would like to be included in this circle please make a request in the comments section below.If you have someone or an organization's G+ page to recommend please add their name in the comments section below.Note: To those included in the circle, you were added by the generous recommendation of others  -- their help is deeply appreciated. Your add back and re-share would be also deeply appreciated as it would help spread the word about science.Current Circles  Published Mondays ORIGINAL CONTENT CREATORS : http://goo.gl/o82s0mPublished Wednesdays:BLOGGERS & THEIR BLOGS: http://goo.gl/IkCTLPPublished Thursdays:WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS : http://goo.gl/nFCsGwMEN ARE FROM MARS :  http://goo.gl/tID4ZmPublished Fridays:A CIRCLE TO PAY IT FORWARD:  http://goo.gl/E6v81LOthers CirclesSCIENCE: http://goo.gl/xXWLPtTECHNOLOGY: http://goo.gl/z3z8lh#science       #scienceeveryday       #sciencecircle       #circlesharing  2014-07-17 04:08:1710671230CC G+
khairul efendi0 Keep this simple!1. ADD the circle2 Share the post3. Plus the post.4. Comment to be added. BAM that is all easy right!? #circleshare  #circlesharing #sharedpubliccircles #snowballcircle #hyberballcircle #publicsharedcircles      #ownsocialmedia   #socialmediamarketing   #circlesharingpages   #sharingcircles   #whatshot   #followers   #googleplustips #CircleSharing #CircleShare #CircleOfTheDay #Circle #SharedCircles #Google #Google+ #GooglePlusTips #AddCircle #ADD #SharedPublicCircles #SharedCircle #Circles #Shared #Friends #Blogging #SharingCircles #CircleofFriends #Blogger #Engagers2014-06-20 07:31:49501215CC G+
Circles Circles Circles35,732SCIENCE CircleDo you want more science in your life? Then, be sure to add these fascinating pages and people who dwell on science daily and are actively engaging.  Enrich your stream.If you are a scientist or someone who primarily posts about science and would like to be included in this circle please make a request in the comments section below.If you have someone or an organization's G+ page to recommend please add their name in the comments section below.Note: To those included in the circle, you were added by the generous recommendation of others  -- their help is deeply appreciated. Your add back and re-share would be also deeply appreciated as it would help spread the word about science.Current Circles  Published Mondays ORIGINAL CONTENT CREATORS : http://goo.gl/RPEbdlPublished Wednesdays:BLOGGERS & THEIR BLOGS: http://goo.gl/fmOadpPublished Thursdays:WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS : http://goo.gl/Oyg8RBMEN ARE FROM MARS :  http://goo.gl/9NT51gPublished Fridays:A CIRCLE TO PAY IT FORWARD:  http://goo.gl/5mT3s0Others CirclesSCIENCE: http://goo.gl/AV4WvdTECHNOLOGY: http://goo.gl/YANzuo#science     #scienceeveryday     #sciencecircle     #circlesharing  2014-06-19 02:05:331065924CC G+
Moan Lisa32,548Moan Lisa's All Kinds of People Shared Circle15 June, 2014RESHARE if you want to be includedmoanlisa.org2014-06-15 11:11:532988384108CC G+
John Nuntiatio38,202#circles #sharedcircles #circlesharing #circle #bestcircle #news #bestofcircles #bestcircleshare #share #tech #business #sport #small #smallcircle #photography #health2014-06-15 06:01:32319369CC G+
DEVILZART2,249 This circle will add great, amazing, wonderful, and awesome content to you feed plus your page will receive massive engagement and +1 'sBoost your visibility on Google+ - Share the circle!To be added to the Circle you have to do these simple steps:1 - Include me in your circles2 - Click add people and create your circle3 - share the circle (include yourself)4 - add +1 to the post +DevilzArt More you share more you get!#circle   #circleshare   #circlesharing   #circleshared   #share   #sharedcircles   #sharedcircleoftheday   #engagers   #engagerscircle   #engagerspeople   #engagersshowcasecircle   #publicsharedcircles   #wordpress   #seo   #affiliatemarketing    #googleplus   #googleplusupdate   #blogger   #bloggers   #blogging     #internet   #socialmedia   #socialmediatips   #socialnetworking   #internetmarketing   #seo   #seotips   #bloggingtips   #bloggingforbusiness   #bloggingforbusiness   #bloggingtipsandtricks   #googleplustips   2014-06-15 02:13:005014415CC G+
Becky Collins10,439Super Science Circle :Circle of very #social #engagerspeople and companiesTo be included in my shares (#sharedcircle), be so kind to:1 - Do +1 t the post2 - Comment the post and specify your "category" (job or interest) Ex: Fashion, SEO, Companies, Social Media Marketing, Sailing, Photography, Bloggers/Writers, Web graphics and design, Italy, Artists, Sport, Finance/Economy ...3 - include the circle among your circles4 - share the circle (include yourself)Improve your popularity, be social be cool !Keep yourself updated, enjoy the Shared Circles Hellenic Alliance, you can share your shared circles inside the upcoming Community:https://plus.google.com/communities/112552559573595396104  #socialmedia  #media  #circles   #circleshare   #circlesharing  #circlecircle   #beckyscircle   #sharedcircles   #sharedpubliccircles  #sharedcircleoftheday  +Becky Collins ?2014-05-31 05:09:154901211CC G+
Circles Circles Circles33,758SCIENCE CircleDo you want more science in your life? Then, be sure to add these fascinating pages and people who dwell on science daily and are actively engaging.  Enrich your stream.If you are a scientist or someone who primarily posts about science and would like to be included in this circle please make a request in the comments section below.If you have someone or an organization's G+ page to recommend please add their name in the comments section below.Note: To those included in the circle, you were added by the generous recommendation of others  -- their help is deeply appreciated. Your add back and re-share would be also deeply appreciated as it would help spread the word about science.Current Circles  Published Mondays ORIGINAL CONTENT CREATORS : http://goo.gl/WbY7NSPublished Wednesdays:BLOGGERS & THEIR BLOGS: http://goo.gl/XPSnHVPublished Thursdays:WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS : http://goo.gl/itFj7ZMEN ARE FROM MARS : http://goo.gl/uBBxgdPublished Fridays:A CIRCLE TO PAY IT FORWARD: http://goo.gl/f1wz2IOthers CirclesSCIENCE: http://goo.gl/MOGsxGTECHNOLOGY: http://goo.gl/bDcYF4#science     #scienceeveryday     #sciencecircle     #circlesharing  2014-05-28 20:17:02102101219CC G+
Farid Shaikh171Google Friends! - You're in this   #Circle   -   #Share the circle *'"*:•:••:*:•-:¦:* Share and Be   #Shared   :¦:-•::••-:•:''''*                                              This is a super   #Circle   and in it I put together a group of really interesting and active people on Google Plus to add in your circles.I'm talking about the top   #Google + users that share unique and original contents.#Follow   this advice and grow your G+ community with people that share amazing content that will surprise you:#boost   visibility on Google+ - Share the circle!If you want to be added to the next Circle you have to do these simple steps:1 - Include me in your circles 3 - Share the circle (Publicly) 4 - Add +1 to the post 5 -   #Follow   your dreams and smile to life.More you share More you get! :)Thanks!#circles       #circleshare       #circlesharing       #sharedcircles                 #addcircles     #addpeople       #addcircle     #addfriends      2014-05-18 17:00:275015011CC G+
Farid Shaikh171No strings attached circle!If you want to be in the #circle  then let us know if you want to be in the circle! That's it! If you got notified, then you are in this one!2014-05-18 02:16:335017310CC G+
Farid Shaikh65Google Friends! - You're in this  #Circle   -  #Share   the circle *'"*:•:•* •-::-•:*:•-:¦: Share and Be  #Shared   :¦:-•:*:•.::• •-:•:''''*                                              115This is a super  #Circle   and in it I put together a group of really interesting and active people on Google Plus to add in your circles.I'm talking about the top   #Google + users that share unique and original contents.#Follow   this advice and grow your G+ community with people that share amazing content that will surprise you:#boost   visibility on Google+ - Share the circle!If you want to be added to the next Circle you have to do these simple steps:1 - Include me in your circles 3 - Share the circle (Publicly) 4 - Add +1 to the post 5 -  #Follow   your dreams and smile to life.More you share more you get! :)Thanks!#circles      #circleshare      #circlesharing      #sharedcircles                #addcircles    #addpeople      #addcircle    #addfriends      2014-05-17 06:20:0550110811CC G+
Circles Circles Circles32,435SCIENCE CircleDo you want more science in your life? Then, be sure to add these fascinating pages and people who dwell on science daily and are actively engaging.  Enrich your stream.If you are a scientist or someone who primarily posts about science and would like to be included in this circle please make a request in the comments section below.If you have someone or an organization's G+ page to recommend please add their name in the comments section below.Note: To those included in the circle, you were added by the generous recommendation of others  -- their help is deeply appreciated. Your add back and re-share would be also deeply appreciated as it would help spread the word about science.Current Circles  Published Mondays ORIGINAL CONTENT CREATORS : http://goo.gl/Hev5GIPublished Wednesdays:BLOGGERS: http://goo.gl/Nqll1yPublished Thursdays:WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS : http://goo.gl/olCV0EMEN ARE FROM MARS : http://goo.gl/l58RRiPublished Fridays:A CIRCLE TO PAY IT FORWARD: http://goo.gl/oIXG1ROthers Circles:SCIENCE: http://goo.gl/voKgBxTECHNOLOGY: http://goo.gl/bDcYF4#science   #scienceeveryday   #sciencecircle   #circlesharing  2014-05-16 02:10:07103141426CC G+
Carlos Esteban45,152ENGAGERS and other INTERESTING PEOPLE Here you will find a sample of recent and repeat engagers, people that include me in shared circles, and people that publish interesting, useful or amusing posts. Add the circle and check them out. Maybe you like some of them! Feel free to re-share the circle :) Have a great week! #circles #circlethis #circleyoushare #sharedcircles #addcircle #sharedpubliccircles #growfollowers #circleshare #publicsharedcircles #circleoftheweek #circlesharing #publiccircle #findcircles #circlemeup #sharedcircle #circleshare  #thursdaycircle   #thursdaycircleshared   #circlethursday #circle 2014#82014-05-12 13:43:52499150113187CC G+
Charles Barouch5,184G|+|ost Town #1 Circle of Awesome!http://www.hdwpbooks.com/books/g+ost-town/2014-05-03 06:56:1143417CC G+
Adam Black6,732Transhumans CircleBy popular Demand,  I am sharing some of my Circles. This is +Mark Bruce  Transhumans Circle  Plus Others Ive been adding.If you are tagged,  you are in it.Web Link for Mobile https://plus.google.com/u/0/+AdamBlack/posts/6iQmLpEj1Zm #sharedcircles   #GeekCulture   #ScienceSunday #Transhumans #Transhumanism #HumanPlus  2014-04-13 06:25:0424522733CC G+
steph wanamaker101,611#followfriday   #australianpeeps  thanks very much to paul sneddon for sharing his circle with me ! any australians I didn't include let me know!Happy Friday!2014-04-11 20:35:49202407CC G+
DEVILZART1,310#sharedcircle #publiccircleshare   #circleshare   #circleoftheday #circleshares   #circlesharing   #circlesshare   #publicsharedcircle #publicsharedcircles   #sharedcircleoftheday #sharedcircleoftheweek #sharedcircles   #sharedpubliccircle #todayspublicsharedcircle #todayssharedcircle   #publiccircle #circle   #circles   #awesome #awesomeness #awesomepeople #shareyourcircle   #bestengagers #followers   #followback #paulaawesomecircle   #awesomecircles #paulateshima #topsharedcircle #topsharedcircle   #myseoissocial #besocial   #socializethesocial   #trust #circles #sharedcircle 2014-04-04 17:15:22500151025CC G+
STEM on Google+ Community14,148Here are the "Movers & Shakers" in the STEM Community!February--March, 2014!Here's the latest updated edition of people & pages whose posts and comments appeared in the STEM on Google+ Community.  There are both science content creators and science readers here, and they are all active and interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, and/or Math.  Add this circle to your stream!Click here to enter the community >>https://plus.google.com/b/112166434848553337850/communities/110555615319066448343  Get involved in science discussions in the STEM community and you'll be in the next circle!If you received notification for this post, you are included in the circle!  If you do not wish to be notified, or shared in this (or other) circles, please let me know.~+Malthus John #sciencecircle   #stemcircle   #publicsharedcircles   #scienceeveryday   #sciencessunday   #stem   #gpluscommunities   #science   #technology   #engineering   #mathematics   #engagement  2014-03-24 17:43:08235202463CC G+
Matthew J Price8,236It's been some time since I shared my favorite circle: Accelerated Thinkers.  These 91 people are the ones I trust with bringing me the good news every day, and leading the conversation about the future of humanity.  Thank you so much!2014-03-22 04:25:4591103CC G+
Enrico Altavilla5,522I'm sharing with you my Science circle. It's focused mainly on physics, astrophysics and math but it also contains subjects (both people and pages) who share news about other scientific fields. Enjoy! 2014-03-21 06:45:031031015CC G+
John Nuntiatio30,154#circles #sharedcircles #circlesharing #circle #circleoftheday #bestofcircles #bestcircleshare #share #tech #business #sport2014-03-18 08:53:47471025CC G+
John Nuntiatio30,154#circles #sharedcircles #circlesharing #circle #circleoftheday #bestofcircles #bestcircleshare #share #tech #business #sport2014-03-18 08:53:18471001CC G+
John Nuntiatio30,154#circles #sharedcircles #circlesharing #circle #circleoftheday #bestofcircles #bestcircleshare #share #tech #business #sport2014-03-18 08:52:50471125CC G+
John Nuntiatio30,154#circles #sharedcircles #circlesharing #circle #circleoftheday #bestofcircles #bestcircleshare #share #tech #business #sport2014-03-18 08:52:22471002CC G+
John Nuntiatio30,154#circles #sharedcircles #circlesharing #circle #circleoftheday #bestofcircles #bestcircleshare #share #tech #business #sport2014-03-18 08:51:36471313CC G+
Carlos Esteban39,158ENGAGERS and other INTERESTING PEOPLE Here you will find a sample of recent and repeat engagers, people that include me in shared circles, and people that publish interesting, useful or amusing posts. Add the circle and check them out. Maybe you like some of them! Feel free to re-share the circle :) Have a great Sunday! #circles #circlethis #circleyoushare #sharedcircles #addcircle #sharedpubliccircles #growfollowers #circleshare #publicsharedcircles #circleoftheweek #circlesharing #publiccircle #findcircles #circlemeup #sharedcircle #circleshare  #thursdaycircle   #thursdaycircleshared   #circlethursday #circle 2014#72014-03-16 14:11:22498604562CC G+
John Nuntiatio29,767#circles #sharedcircles #circlesharing #circle #circleoftheday #bestofcircles #bestcircleshare #share #tech #business #sport2014-03-14 06:27:36393014CC G+
John Nuntiatio29,767#circles #sharedcircles #circlesharing #circle #circleoftheday #bestofcircles #bestcircleshare #share #tech #business #sport2014-03-14 06:26:50393033CC G+
John Nuntiatio29,767#circles #sharedcircles #circlesharing #circle #circleoftheday #bestofcircles #bestcircleshare #share #tech #business #sport2014-03-14 06:26:17393011CC G+
John Nuntiatio29,767#circles #sharedcircles #circlesharing #circle #circleoftheday #bestofcircles #bestcircleshare #share #tech #business #sport2014-03-14 06:25:52393011CC G+
John Nuntiatio29,767#circles #sharedcircles #circlesharing #circle #circleoftheday #bestofcircles #bestcircleshare #share #tech #business #sport2014-03-14 06:25:16393203CC G+
Prime Numbers0Science, Mathemathics, Tchnology, Engeneering CIRCLEThis circle has some really interesting people. It has scientist, engineers, researchers, mathematicians, computer scientists.If you wish to nominate yourself or someone to be included on my next circle, just follow these simple steps:1. Post about science and be active in science communities like STEM on Google+2. Make sure you have already added me into your circles3. Plus, Comment and Reshare this post publicly in your own stream. Please make sure you plus, reshare and comment on the Original Post or else I won't notice it...#Science #sharedcircles #sharedpubliccircles #publiccircles #circlesharing #circle #circleshare #circles #circleoftheday2014-03-12 20:26:291364106CC G+
shinigami kurai109This circle will add great, amazing, wonderful, and awesome content to you feed plus your page will receive massive engagement and +1 'sBoost your visibility on Google+ - Share the circle!To be added to the Circle you have to do these simple steps:1 - Include me in your circles2 - Click add people and create your circle3 - share the circle (include yourself)4 - add +1 to the post +shinigami kurai2014-03-09 02:04:4450110313CC G+
DEVILZART386This circle will add great, amazing, wonderful, and awesome content to you feed plus your page will receive massive engagement and +1 'sBoost your visibility on Google+ - Share the circle!To be added to the Circle you have to do these simple steps:1 - Include me in your circles2 - Click add people and create your circle3 - share the circle (include yourself)4 - add +1 to the post +DevilzArt More you share more you get! #circle   #circleshare   #circlesharing   #circleshared   #share   #sharedcircles   #sharedcircleoftheday   #engagers   #engagerscircle   #engagerspeople   #engagersshowcasecircle   #publicsharedcircles   #wordpress   #seo   #affiliatemarketing    #googleplus   #googleplusupdate   #blogger   #bloggers   #blogging     #internet   #socialmedia   #socialmediatips   #socialnetworking   #internetmarketing   #seo   #seotips   #bloggingtips   #bloggingforbusiness   #bloggingforbusiness   #bloggingtipsandtricks 2014-03-08 15:58:55501191428CC G+
DEVILZART103This circle will add great, amazing, wonderful, and awesome content to you feed plus your page will receive massive engagement and ppplllluuuussss OnEs!!!   Welcome to +circle your circle with circles!!!!!  :DBoost your visibility on Google+ - Share the circle!To be added to the Circle you have to do these simple steps:1 - include me in your circles 2 - Click add people and create your circle3 - share the circle (include yourself) 4 - add +1 to the post#circle   #circleshare   #circlesharing  #circulo   #kreise   #kreis   #круг   #круги   #круглим   #кругляши  #blogger   #blogging   #bloggers#サークル   #界   #cercle   #دائرة   #kring   #kringen   #nederland  +Circles +Circle Circle Circle +Circles by DzjieDzjee +Selected Circles 2014 +Awesome Circles +Socialize circles +Circles & Circles & Circles +Google+ Categorized Circles +Circles Circles Circles +Curating Content on Google+ +Team Circle Share +Shared Circles +Circle Shares Notifications +Urkel's Shared Circles +Shared Circles Magic G+ +Shared Circles on G+ +SharedCircles #googleplus #circle #sahrecircle #circleshare #circlesharing #circleshared #circleoftheday #sharedpubliccircles #sharedcircleoftheday 2014-02-25 06:41:2550014721CC G+
John Nuntiatio28,116circles #sharedcircles #circlesharing #circle #circleoftheday #newcircle #bestofcircles #bestcircleshare #share #tech #business #sport #health   #entertainment   #news  2014-02-23 08:38:002986725CC G+
Carlos Esteban35,966ENGAGERS and other INTERESTING PEOPLE Here you will find: ►A sample of recent and repeat engagers with my posts on #science, #animals and #landscape pictures, #sciencefiction and #humor. ►Some people that include me in the circles that they curate… or that have not included me yet but I would love to be :) ►And some people that publish interesting, useful or amusing posts regardless if they circle me back or not. The categories are not exclusive and many people are in more than one. Add the circle and check them out. Maybe you like some of them! Feel free to re-share the circle if you wish. I will appreciate it. Have a nice Valentine’s day!Carlos #circles #circlethis #circleyoushare #sharedcircles #addcircle #sharedpubliccircles #growfollowers #circleshare #publicsharedcircles #circleoftheweek #circlesharing #publiccircle #findcircles #circlemeup #sharedcircle #circleshare  #thursdaycircle   #thursdaycircleshared   #circlethursday #circle 2014#62014-02-14 19:25:01464614865CC G+
Gideon Rosenblatt38,394The People I Keep a Closest Eye OnThis is a small circle of 50 people and pages that have my closest attention here on Google+. Some are well-known and have many followers, some do not. All are interesting people (or in a few cases pages) and almost all are quite active here. I am not including myself. This is purely to help you find some interesting new people and pages - especially if you're just getting started here and want some interesting stuff in your stream.  #circleshare  2014-02-02 01:06:385019731CC G+
Carlos Esteban33,566ENGAGERS and other INTERESTING PEOPLE Here you will find: -A sample of recent and repeat engagers with my posts on #science , #animals and #landscape pictures, #sciencefiction and #humor . -Some people that include me in the circles that they curate… or that have not included me yet but I would love to be :) -And some people that publish interesting, useful or amusing posts regardless if they circle me back or not. The categories are not exclusive and many people are in more than one. Add the circle and check them out. Maybe you like some of them! Feel free to re-share the circle if you wish. I will appreciate it. Have a nice Sunday!Carlos #circles #circlethis #circleyoushare #sharedcircles #addcircle #sharedpubliccircles #growfollowers #circleshare #publicsharedcircles #circleoftheweek #circlesharing #publiccircle #findcircles #circlemeup #sharedcircle #circleshare   #thursdaycircle    #thursdaycircleshared    #circlethursday #circle  2014#42014-01-26 13:53:24495160145197CC G+
John Nuntiatio25,447#circles #sharedcircles #circlesharing #circle #circleoftheday #bestofcircles #bestcircleshare #share #tech #business #sport2014-01-25 19:41:45255729CC G+
Artur Mashnich45,164Circle of the Most Active Users of Google+A Very Social CircleКруг наиболее активных пользователей Google+Если вы поделились этим кругом вчера, вы находитесь в нем сегодня. Если вы разделяете его с друзьями сегодня, вы будете в нем и завтра.If you shared this circle yesterday, you are in it today. If you share today, you'll be in tomorrow.#Forfriends  2014-01-20 23:53:54402511771CC G+
Christy Sandhoff27,208This is a very nice circle Carlos.  Thanks for posting it. ==========================================Carlos Esteban - Google+ - ENGAGERS and other INTERESTING PEOPLE Here you will find...ENGAGERS and other INTERESTING PEOPLE Here you will find recent and repeat engagers, people that include me in shared circles, and people that publish interesting, useful or amusing posts. Add the circle and check them out. Maybe you like some of them! Feel free to re-share the circle if you wish :) Have a great weekend!2014-01-17 22:22:5740171114CC G+
Carlos Esteban32,281ENGAGERS and other INTERESTING PEOPLE Here you will find recent and repeat engagers, people that include me in shared circles, and people that publish interesting, useful or amusing posts. Add the circle and check them out. Maybe you like some of them! Feel free to re-share the circle if you wish. I will appreciate it. Have a nice day!Carlos 2014#3#circles #circlethis #circleyoushare #sharedcircles #addcircle #sharedpubliccircles #growfollowers #circleshare #publicsharedcircles #circleoftheweek #circlesharing #publiccircle #findcircles #circlemeup #sharedcircle #circleshare  #thursdaycircle   #thursdaycircleshared   #circlethursday #circle2014-01-16 13:53:50491129124180CC G+
John Nuntiatio24,408#circles #sharedcircles #circlesharing #circle #circleoftheday #bestofcircles #bestcircleshare #share #tech #business #sport 2014-01-15 19:27:1034612316CC G+
Hung cuavan607Get in More CirclesWhen You reshare with a circle, you should also explain the benefits of participating in shared circles. Explain the BenefitsExplain that when they add the circle many people in the circle will add them back. Also,Explain that if they re-share your post that the circle creator may add them to their future shared circles. If you do these two simple things you will increase your re-share rate. You’ll get in more circles and you’ll improve your own statistics.2014-01-15 09:38:5450020837CC G+
Mikhail Petrovsky62,004Good morning / evening to all. You'll love this circle. Photographers, artists and other interesting people!Вам понравится этот круг, добавьте его себе. Фотографы, художники и другие интересные люди!Это социальный круг / This social circle #EarthMyMother #ForFriends #photo2014-01-15 08:27:365006234110CC G+
James Harper726+Carlos Esteban originally shared: ENGAGERS and other INTERESTING PEOPLE Here you will find recent and repeat engagers, people that include me in shared circles, and people that publish interesting, useful or amusing posts. Add the circle and check them out. Maybe you like some of them! Feel free to re-share the circle if you wish :) Have a great weekend! #circles #circlethis #circleyoushare #sharedcircles #addcircle #sharedpubliccircles #growfollowers #circleshare #publicsharedcircles #circleoftheweek #circlesharing #publiccircle #findcircles #circlemeup #sharedcircle #circleshare   #thursdaycircle   #thursdaycircleshared   #circlethursday #circle 2014-01-11 00:11:5845612426CC G+
Christy Sandhoff26,446Shared by Carlos Esteban..... ENGAGERS and other INTERESTING PEOPLE Here you will find recent and repeat engagers, people that include me in shared circles, and people that publish interesting, useful or amusing posts. Add the circle and check them out. Maybe you like some of them! Feel free to re-share the circle if you wish :) Have a great weekend!2014-01-10 17:39:29451161029CC G+
Carlos Esteban31,485ENGAGERS and other INTERESTING PEOPLE Here you will find recent and repeat engagers, people that include me in shared circles, and people that publish interesting, useful or amusing posts. Add the circle and check them out. Maybe you like some of them! Feel free to re-share the circle if you wish :) Have a great weekend! #circles #circlethis #circleyoushare #sharedcircles #addcircle #sharedpubliccircles #growfollowers #circleshare #publicsharedcircles #circleoftheweek #circlesharing #publiccircle #findcircles #circlemeup #sharedcircle #circleshare  #thursdaycircle   #thursdaycircleshared   #circlethursday #circle2014-01-10 17:31:474549462142CC G+

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Most comments: 54

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2014-05-29 03:04:43 (54 comments, 72 reshares, 233 +1s)

If you have a Chromecast, do yourself a favour and try Videostream.

I've been using and enjoying my Chromecast ever since they were first released. But with the release of Videostream the humble little Chromecast just became a whole lot more useful. For those who don't know, a Chromecast is simply a little HDMI dongle that connects to your wireless network and which you plug into your TV; once set up you can send or "cast" YouTube videos, Google Music, etc to your TV. You can grab a Chromecast from the Play Store https://play.google.com/store/devices/details?id=chromecast&hl=en. 

Videostream is a Web App that you can add to Chrome browser here https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/videostream-for-google-ch/cnciopoikihiagdjbjpnocolokfelagl. Once running in your browser Videostream connects to your Chromecast (so long as you're running on the sameWi... more »

Most reshares: 187

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2014-05-15 03:27:26 (36 comments, 187 reshares, 128 +1s)

Thinking, Fast and Slow. By Daniel Kahneman.
This post is long, but the curated book notes are worth a read, promise!

I recently finished the critically acclaimed book Thinking, Fast and Slow by Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman. For me it was a long, slow read, drawn out over many months, and one that has left a lasting impression on my thoughts and outlook. 

The book, in general is incredibly well-written with some of the word-smithing in parts comprising the best I have ever been privileged to read. In these common sections there are no wasted words or sentences; every word, every sentence is carefully crafted and conveys accessible meaning. I cannot recall ever reading anything in which word after word, sentence after sentence, for paragraphs or pages on end flowed with such economy and powerful meaning. Such sections are a pleasure to read and of course force me to... more »

Most plusones: 233

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2014-05-29 03:04:43 (54 comments, 72 reshares, 233 +1s)

If you have a Chromecast, do yourself a favour and try Videostream.

I've been using and enjoying my Chromecast ever since they were first released. But with the release of Videostream the humble little Chromecast just became a whole lot more useful. For those who don't know, a Chromecast is simply a little HDMI dongle that connects to your wireless network and which you plug into your TV; once set up you can send or "cast" YouTube videos, Google Music, etc to your TV. You can grab a Chromecast from the Play Store https://play.google.com/store/devices/details?id=chromecast&hl=en. 

Videostream is a Web App that you can add to Chrome browser here https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/videostream-for-google-ch/cnciopoikihiagdjbjpnocolokfelagl. Once running in your browser Videostream connects to your Chromecast (so long as you're running on the sameWi... more »

Latest 50 posts

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2014-08-31 11:10:46 (19 comments, 48 reshares, 84 +1s)

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 35/14.
Hypothesis generation by Watson, Knowledge Vault, nanoscale assembly line, nanoparticle gene regulators, yeasts produce opioids, optogenetics reverses memories, seamless material interfaces, tissue engineering, handheld DNA analysis, biomimic photodetector. 

1. Automatic Literature Mining for Novel Hypothesis Generation.
A research group in partnership with IBM’s Watson team developed a Knowledge Integration Toolkit that automatically mines all public medical literature (vastly more than a human could ever read) to generate predictions and novel hypotheses for the best direction to explore in a particular area https://www.bcm.edu/news/research/automated-reasoning-hypothesis-generation. As a proof-of-concept the tool successfully predicted new relationships and interactions for the well-known p53 protein, which weresu... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 35/14.
Hypothesis generation by Watson, Knowledge Vault, nanoscale assembly line, nanoparticle gene regulators, yeasts produce opioids, optogenetics reverses memories, seamless material interfaces, tissue engineering, handheld DNA analysis, biomimic photodetector. 

1. Automatic Literature Mining for Novel Hypothesis Generation.
A research group in partnership with IBM’s Watson team developed a Knowledge Integration Toolkit that automatically mines all public medical literature (vastly more than a human could ever read) to generate predictions and novel hypotheses for the best direction to explore in a particular area https://www.bcm.edu/news/research/automated-reasoning-hypothesis-generation. As a proof-of-concept the tool successfully predicted new relationships and interactions for the well-known p53 protein, which were subsequently confirmed with laboratory experiments. Once mature and rolled-out it is hoped that this tool will greatly assist in accelerating new knowledge discovery. This would also be incredibly useful to the Chemputer example from last week, and pretty much every other field of course. Indeed, this was just one of a number of advances announced for Watson http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/44697.wss. 

2. The Knowledge Vault, by Google.
Google announced Knowledge Vault, a system that autonomously gathers and merges information from the web to generate a database of facts and associated confidence weightings http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22329832.700-googles-factchecking-bots-build-vast-knowledge-bank.html. This is an evolution of the company’s Knowledge Graph, representing yet another machine learning development, and is readable by both machines and humans. The system currently contains 1.6 billion facts, 271 million of which have a 90% confidence weighting and the growth of the system is automatic and on-going. Google isn’t alone in building such powerful knowledge resources of course, and the promise is for machines and virtual assistants to be better able to integrate with humans, improve our lives, and more easily know what we mean. In related news the Robo Brain system, a repository of knowledge designed to help robots better interact with humans and the real world, is now being accelerated and boosted via crowdsourcing and automatic learning http://news.cornell.edu/stories/2014/08/robo-brain-mines-internet-teach-robots. 

3. Nanoscale Assembly Line Steps Towards Atomically Precise Manufacturing.
A nanoscale molecular production line has been demonstrated in a microfludic chip system with channels “carpeted” in kinesin motor proteins https://www.ethz.ch/en/news-and-events/eth-news/news/2014/08/Nanoscale-assembly-line.html. First, a solution containing protein microtubules is fed into the chip along with ATP molecules; the kinesins binds the microtubules and use ATP to move them along the channel, while excess microtubule solution flows out of another tube as a second solution is introduced. The second solution introduces another molecule that selectively binds to the microtubes (a green molecular tag in this case), the kinesin carry the microtubules forwards, excess solution flows out as a third solution flows in with a molecule that selectively binds to the second and the kinesin conveyor belt carries the microtubule assembly onwards. This is a fascinating molecular assembly platform screaming out for further development; an arbitrary number of assembly stations can be included and a conveyor belt of switchable molecules under electronic control instead of ATP would also be good to see in future. 

4. Engineered Nanoparticles for Transcriptional Regulation of Gene Expression.
Gold nanoparticles have been engineered to function as artificial transcription factors able to regulate the expression of any gene of interest http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=37124.php. The platform, called NanoScript, works by attaching three different molecules to the gold nanoparticles via special linker molecules, (i) a nuclear localisation tag (peptide) that ensures the complex is taken inside the nucleus once it gets inside the cell, (ii) a polyamide molecule that functions as a DNA-binding domain and can be engineered each time to target a different sequence, and (iii) a synthetic peptide able to bind or block standard transcriptional machinery in the nucleus to inhibit or enhance gene expression. Although offering almost limitless cell regulation applications, the group wish to explore stem cell reprogramming, which is commonly performed with natural transcription factors that are vulnerable to cellular breakdown processes and suffer from low delivery efficiency - problems this technology is expected to overcome. In related news nanoparticles are becoming increasingly sophisticated http://phys.org/news/2014-08-multi-tasking-nanoparticle.html. 

5. Yeast Genetically Engineered to Produce Opioid Drugs.
Yeast has been genetically engineered with complex gene networks from both the opium poppy plant and a species of bacteria to enable the yeast to produce a range of different opioid drug molecules (replacing both biological and industrial processes); or it soon will be as just one final genetic engineering step remains to be hacked http://news.stanford.edu/news/2014/august/bio-poppies-painkillers-082414.html. This raises the promise of producing these important opioid drugs in large vats of broth fed only with sugar and no longer needing vast opium poppy plantations around the world - avoiding the risks of similar plantations being used for illegal heroin production. This also demonstrates the promise of GMO organisms in vastly simplifying supply chains and ease of production. Of course . . . should a single yeast cell be smuggled out alive from such a facility then anyone would be able to brew up these molecular products in their kitchen. In related news genetic engineering with CRISPR was successful in muscular dystrophy in mice http://www.utsouthwestern.edu/newsroom/news-releases/year-2014/august/correcting-muscular-dystrophy.html. 

6. Using Lasers and Optogenetics to Make Bad Memories Good and Vice Versa.
Optogenetics has been used to engineer mice whose memory neurons were sensitive to light, and laser light was subsequently used to switch and change memory associations so that bad experiences were remembered as good and good as bad http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/biomedical/devices/lasers-switch-memories-from-bad-to-good. This study showed how optogenetics can be used to target the brain’s plasticity and to rewire memory circuits in the brain. The work basically involved (i) subjecting mice to situations involving fear (small shocks) and pleasure (female mouse), (ii) labelling the memory neurons that were activated with the experience, (iii) entering mice into separate testing areas and activating those memories with laser pulses, (iv) entering mice into the same situations but activating the opposite memory (fear memory during pleasure situation and vice versa), (v) demonstrating that the mice exhibited altered memory of those situations; pleasure at the shocks, fear of the female. Pretty powerful stuff. 

7. Fabricating Atomically Seamless Two Dimensional Heterojunctions.
Atomically-thin semiconductor materials such as molybdenum diselenide and tungsten diselenide have been fabricated as discrete domains within single crystals with defect-free edge-to-edge crystalline perfection http://www.washington.edu/news/2014/08/26/scientists-craft-atomically-seamless-thinnest-possible-semiconductor-junctions/. The process starts with a vapour deposition technique that first creates triangles on a surface composed of one of the materials, and later introduces the second material that grows out from the edge of the triangles to form a continuous crystalline surface. Such surfaces with perfect atomically-thin domains that smoothly transition from one material to another, from one property to another, should have useful optoelectronic applications although these are yet to be demonstrated. 

8. Engineering and Regenerating Tissues.
First, fibroblast cells taken from an animal were reprogrammed into specialised thymus cells, then mixed with other thymus cell types, and transplanted back into the animal where the cells created a replacement organ that had the same structure, complexity, and function as a healthy adult thymus http://www.crm.ed.ac.uk/news/press/fully-functional-immune-organ-grown-mice-lab-created-cells. This included a renewed ability to produce T-cells, which are crucial for a healthy immune system. Second, new types of peptide-based anti-inflammatory nanoparticles embedded onto bioscaffolds were demonstrated to prevent inflammation at the site of injury and aided organ (bladder) repair and regeneration https://www.luriechildrens.org/en-us/news-events/Pages/tissue_regeneration_using_anti-inflammatory_nanomolecules_147.aspx. 

9. Engineering a Biomimetic Photodetector.
Drawing on lessons learned about how cephalopods detect light and modify skin colour, a basic metamaterial has been fabricated with standard CMOS techniques that comprises an aluminium grating that enables integrated on-chip light colour detection without costly additional dyes and colour filters http://news.rice.edu/2014/08/25/biomimetic-photodetector-sees-in-color/. The aluminium grating generates plasmonic interference that allows certain wavelengths of light through through while reflecting other wavelengths; tuning the structure and spacing of the grating allows different colours to be sent through and detected. Such technology should both simplify (cheaper) the fabrication of image sensors (and photovoltaics?) and boost the performance. 

10. Handheld, Battery-Powered, DNA Detection Device.
A handheld, battery-powered, real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) device has been developed and commercially launched http://www.otago.ac.nz/news/news/otago077848.html. With the device a user can load samples and, within the hour, diagnose with high accuracy the presence of specific DNA sequences. For example, in a remote location a user could determine whether a sick person had a particular virus or bacterial disease; knowing this within the hour provides information much quicker than usually possible and allows appropriate strategies and interventions to be enacted much quicker. Other applications are diverse and numerous and range from veterinary uses to personal genomics testing.

An archive of the SciTech Digests can also be found here: http://www.scitechdigest.net 

+ScienceSunday, with your hosts +Buddhini Samarasinghe, +Rajini Rao, +Chad Haney, +Robby Bowles, +Allison Sekuler, +Carissa Braun, and +Aubrey Francisco!___

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2014-08-31 08:13:24 (10 comments, 0 reshares, 46 +1s)

Cheese & Wine Tasting at the Start of Spring.

If there is one thing Adelaide is known for it is world class wines from the surrounding wine-making country. Yesterday we spent a few hours travelling along a cheese and wine trail, having picked up a hamper full of crackers, poached pears, almonds, olives and different local cheeses matched to different wines at three different wineries throughout the Adelaide hills region. 

It was an utterly gorgeous spring day with many new and beautiful locations that I'd never seen before. Also, and most importantly, delicious wines and cheeses to consume - we'll certainly come back to do this again with friends and family :)

#adelaide   #cheese   #wine  

Cheese & Wine Tasting at the Start of Spring.

If there is one thing Adelaide is known for it is world class wines from the surrounding wine-making country. Yesterday we spent a few hours travelling along a cheese and wine trail, having picked up a hamper full of crackers, poached pears, almonds, olives and different local cheeses matched to different wines at three different wineries throughout the Adelaide hills region. 

It was an utterly gorgeous spring day with many new and beautiful locations that I'd never seen before. Also, and most importantly, delicious wines and cheeses to consume - we'll certainly come back to do this again with friends and family :)

#adelaide   #cheese   #wine  ___

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2014-08-31 02:08:39 (22 comments, 2 reshares, 40 +1s)

Criticism of Last Week's SciTech Digest.

This week I received some criticism from a reader concerning the third story referred to in Item 9 from last week http://www.scitechdigest.net/2014/08/scitech-digest-3414.html. It is actually an interesting topic with some subtle points and I thought I'd include an extract of the conversation here to (i) clear up this point for anyone else who may have made the same observation and yet had neglected to tell me, (ii) outline just how much additional detail sits behind some of these advances that I cover and in this case was forced to compress into just a single sentence last week, and (iii) encourage others to submit constructive criticism for any of the items they believe I have gotten wrong.

Criticism Summary:

All identifying information and exact text removed for the reader: they stated that I chose the wrong... more »

Criticism of Last Week's SciTech Digest.

This week I received some criticism from a reader concerning the third story referred to in Item 9 from last week http://www.scitechdigest.net/2014/08/scitech-digest-3414.html. It is actually an interesting topic with some subtle points and I thought I'd include an extract of the conversation here to (i) clear up this point for anyone else who may have made the same observation and yet had neglected to tell me, (ii) outline just how much additional detail sits behind some of these advances that I cover and in this case was forced to compress into just a single sentence last week, and (iii) encourage others to submit constructive criticism for any of the items they believe I have gotten wrong.

Criticism Summary:

All identifying information and exact text removed for the reader: they stated that I chose the wrong verb in the sentence "a virus that was evolved to target cancer cells" and thought that "engineered" was a better term because saying something was "evolved" by an agent is always wrong; they were very disappointed and hoped that the quality of the digest was not starting to slide. 

My First Response:

Thanks so much for taking the time to message me and bring this to my attention. I really appreciate learning about errors or mistakes I've made (it's the only way we get better), but I also think this offers a great chance to delve into a fascinating topic in a little more depth. 

My use of the term "evolved" was deliberate and I'd like to explain why.

First, the popular science link / press release here https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2014/08/an-example-of-a-targeted-viral-cancer-therapy.php has the phrase "taught it to grow on human cancer cells ... that's how it became specific for cancer." 

Second, the main publication link here http://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(14)00332-2/fulltext has the following excerpt "vaccine strain ... that was adapted to grow on human cancer ... cells." 

The terms taught and adapted are key here. You can't teach a virus anything of course. But what these terms mean is that a system of directed evolution was put in place, artificially establishing the necessary selective pressures to force the virus to evolve specificity for those cancer cells. I don't think engineered or trained is appropriately descriptive in this case. The researchers engineered a system that allowed them to deliberately force the virus to evolve along a particular trajectory; this was not left to chance. 

I'm sympathetic to but don't completely agree with your claim that "Evolution by definition is always an accident" in the sense that different possible evolutionary trajectories almost never have the same chance or odds of occurring; a myriad of environmental selection pressures tilt the odds in one direction or another with some outcomes being far more likely than others. Of course there is never an agent directly involved, but whether selection pressures arise naturally in the environment or an actual agent artificially engineers selection pressures in a closed environment, any replicators will undergo evolution and evolve. 

The researchers themselves used the word adapted and I think the word evolved is similarly appropriate in this case for the reasons I've outlined above. Even though it was indirect, in this case an agent evolved a virus along an evolutionary path of their choosing. 

To additionally complicate matters, from the second link we have "then engineered to express the human thyroidal sodium iodide symporter so that its in vivo spread can be noninvasively monitored." So after they had the virus they wanted they then additionally engineered it directly, in order to measure and image its presence in the body. But this was only done afterwards and as an imaging tool - the virus itself would still have been as effective and done the same work against cancer cells independently of this additional bit of tinkering. 

Anyway, I appreciate the constructive criticism, and I'd love to hear any further input from you regarding my thoughts here and whether you still believe my use of the term evolved to be incorrect.

Second Summary Criticism from Person:

Evolutionary theory is an explanation for the natural world that does not require the presence of an intelligent agent; by including an intelligent agent, the whole argument against God existing collapses. When humans are the cause of changes they are "playing God", not directing evolution. Calling it directed evolution is an oxymoron.

My Final Rejoinder:

Thanks for providing a little more context behind your objection and helping me understand your point of view. 

While I respect your opinion from a "purists" point of view, I disagree with your last statement regarding directed evolution being an oxymoron. 

Directed evolution is a very common and broadly used research tool and a few examples are:
* Basic overview here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Directed_evolution
* Example of commercial technology here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FIND_Technology
* Second example of commercial technology by major company here http://www.lifetechnologies.com/au/en/home/life-science/cloning/gene-synthesis/directed-evolution.html
* A search on Google Scholar turns up 2.4 million results in the academic research literature for "directed evolution" http://scholar.google.com.au/scholar?hl=en&q=directed+evolution&btnG=&as_sdt=1%2C5&as_sdtp=

If the term is acceptable to a large proportion (most?) research scientists operating in the space, and if it is acceptable to major high-tech companies offering products and services in the space, then I'm afraid it is acceptable for me too. 

We are not explaining the natural world here, but rather a valid scientific tool. Reading your comments more closely and in context with the wide and common usage and practice of the term it seems that your objection stems from an ideological basis and not a scientific basis. The evidence and overwhelming scientific consensus supports my use of the word here as correct - and I'd certainly like to thank you for inspiring me to look into this fascinating area in more detail and uncovering the facts of this usage.

The person accepted my position and admitted to being unaware of the technical usage of the term. They were intimately familiar with evolutionary theory and had appeared to have argued extensively with creationists and other religious ideologies that denied evolution, but had not come across evolution as a powerful scientific tool.___

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2014-08-28 11:49:06 (5 comments, 17 reshares, 49 +1s)

PhotoSphere Tutorial: Capturing, Editing, Fixing, and Uploading.

It is long overdue, and a number of people have asked for me to do a tutorial in the past (such as +Cyrus Khan & +Fadhli Yunus), but I finally made a complete PhotoSphere tutorial to explain and demonstrate a number of different aspects of the PhotoSphere process as follows:

1. Basic form and posture that works for me; foot planted on a spot on the ground, phone held in portrait mode (to avoid black holes at top and bottom) at comfortable spot above foot, rotating about spot on ground and minimising spatial movement of the phone’s camera while rotating. 

2. Uploading to +Google Maps via the Gallery App’s Google Maps share option and confirming the desire to publicly publish. 

3. Logging into Google Maps Views to check on the PhotoSphere just published aswell a... more »

PhotoSphere Tutorial: Capturing, Editing, Fixing, and Uploading.

It is long overdue, and a number of people have asked for me to do a tutorial in the past (such as +Cyrus Khan & +Fadhli Yunus), but I finally made a complete PhotoSphere tutorial to explain and demonstrate a number of different aspects of the PhotoSphere process as follows:

1. Basic form and posture that works for me; foot planted on a spot on the ground, phone held in portrait mode (to avoid black holes at top and bottom) at comfortable spot above foot, rotating about spot on ground and minimising spatial movement of the phone’s camera while rotating. 

2. Uploading to +Google Maps via the Gallery App’s Google Maps share option and confirming the desire to publicly publish. 

3. Logging into Google Maps Views to check on the PhotoSphere just published as well as all other PhotoSphere’s that have been captured so far. Using the Google Maps Views edit option to adjust the GPS location of the image to the correct spot. Launching the PhotoSphere into public Google Maps; the image and interface that most people will see.

4. Fixing PhotoSpheres containing stitching errors with a standard graphics editing program in order to perform basic image editing to correct the defective stitching, such as occurs with broken distant horizons. 

5. Uploading the edited PhotoSphere / panorama file to a Web utility provided by Google in order to perform other minor corrections if desired and mainly to add back the metadata that was lost by the graphics editing program - metadata required by PhotoSphere viewers to produce the full 360 panorama effect. Re-uploading and publishing this image once ready. 

6. Brief examples of edited and fixed PhotoSpheres containing varying stitching errors. 

For those who love building their PhotoSphere collections, those only newly discovering the PhotoSphere format, and those yet to give it a try - I hope you found this tutorial useful and helpful. If you have any other questions, comments, or suggestions please let me know. 

Links to resources demonstrated in the video:

* The PhotoSphere captured at the start of the video, with my wife visible holding the video camera, can be found here: https://www.google.com/maps/@-34.900084,138.615555,3a,75y,88h,90t/data=!3m5!1e1!3m3!1scjXfvGahRWUAAAQfCV0eoQ!2e0!3e11

* My Google Maps Views account, with my entire collection of PhotoSpheres across eight (soon to be ten) different countries and with a total of nearly 1.5 million views, can be found here: https://www.google.com/maps/views/profile/115624860057949518963?gl=au 

* The web utility provided by Google to add back metadata, etc to panoramas and PhotoSpheres in order to make edited PhotoSpheres viewable again, can be found here: http://photo-sphere.appspot.com/ 

* I also create Tiny Planet images of all of my PhotoSpheres and the whole collection can be found here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/115624860057949518963/albums/5833644721656381185 

* The Application used to capture PhotoSpheres with the phone is the default Google Camera set to PhotoSphere mode https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.GoogleCamera&hl=en 

#photosphere   #googlemaps   #googlemapsviews  ___

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2014-08-27 11:41:45 (38 comments, 38 reshares, 109 +1s)

Cheap, Basic Hardware. Cheap, Basic Apps.
 
Still the most compelling new media experience I've ever been exposed to.
 
I played a crappy game with crappy graphics and crappy environment on this thing. It still managed to induce in me the most powerful and intense fear response that any video game has ever induced in me; no other game has gotten close. I literally experienced the hair on the back of my neck standing on end, shivers running down my spine, and a big adrenaline spike.
 
I was skeptical about claims that these devices would replace most use-cases for big televisions down the track. I watched YouTube videos and my own personally-captured videos on this crappy hardware and am no longer a skeptic. “In your face” means something different now. When our devices capture stereoscopic 3D as standard there will be no going back.
 
I flewthrough... more »

Cheap, Basic Hardware. Cheap, Basic Apps.
 
Still the most compelling new media experience I've ever been exposed to.
 
I played a crappy game with crappy graphics and crappy environment on this thing. It still managed to induce in me the most powerful and intense fear response that any video game has ever induced in me; no other game has gotten close. I literally experienced the hair on the back of my neck standing on end, shivers running down my spine, and a big adrenaline spike.
 
I was skeptical about claims that these devices would replace most use-cases for big televisions down the track. I watched YouTube videos and my own personally-captured videos on this crappy hardware and am no longer a skeptic. “In your face” means something different now. When our devices capture stereoscopic 3D as standard there will be no going back.
 
I flew through 3D Google Earth, along valleys and in between the spires of a church on a hill somewhere, shot up into space and plunged back down to Earth elsewhere. It was fun as hell. But looked crap; limited by resolution and bandwidth. Limits that we will soon crush.
 
I rode shotgun on a rally car racing at full speed and looked over to the car racing alongside trying to overtake, then glanced behind me at the other cars chasing us, having just jumped over the mound that we crested moments earlier.
 
I glided around the gardens of a villa, went inside, climbed the stairs and looked out over the gardens and distant horizon from a balcony. All it lacked was resolution and a better UI for navigation; first-person games will be amazing in this thing. People will lose themselves in these worlds. We think people spend too much time playing in virtual game worlds now; we ain't seen nothing yet.
 
I booted up my recent PhotoSpheres and . . . just wow. This is how PhotoSpheres are meant to be viewed; immersively. I need to shoot them in higher resolution . . . and in stereoscopic 3D. Like with the video: in your face means something different now.
 
I did all of this in half an hour to try everything out quickly and get a feel for it. I finished with a sore nose where the cardboard had dug in and left a depression in the skin that took 5 minutes to go away, and sore head where the USB cable I had used to wrap and tie the thing to my face had left other depressions. Everything suffered from cheap hardware and issues with resolution and bandwidth. Also lacking were important subtleties with optics, tracking, and presence. But this is as bad as this technology is ever going to get; good dedicated consumer hardware launches next year. I’m forking out another $100 to get a better, more comfortable version for my phone and for the short-term at least, could care less about the resolution and bandwidth limitations. 
 
Think strapping a display to your face is stupid? Give it a try. This thing was $20 and gives a good basic glimpse into the future of entertainment media that not only awaits us but is coming at us like a freight train. 

http://www.dodocase.com/products/google-cardboard-vr-goggle-toolkit 

#googlecardboard   #virtualreality   #omfg  ___

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2014-08-25 10:52:38 (4 comments, 2 reshares, 18 +1s)

Controlling AR Drone Quadcopter (or any Android game) with Playstation 3 Controller. 

While I used to enjoy just playing around with the AR Drone quadcopter by using the standard smartphone control application where tilting your device helped to move the drone around, I always wanted to experience finer-grained and more intuitive control via a proper control-pad with analogue sticks. 

In this video I use the Sixaxis Controller application (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.dancingpixelstudios.sixaxiscontroller&hl=en) on Android, for which you need root access; setting up profiles and mapping the buttons from a Playstation 3 controller to emulate touches on-screen while the AR Drone control application (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.parrot.freeflight&hl=en) is running is pretty straight-forward. Turns out the PS3 controller can beu... more »

Controlling AR Drone Quadcopter (or any Android game) with Playstation 3 Controller. 

While I used to enjoy just playing around with the AR Drone quadcopter by using the standard smartphone control application where tilting your device helped to move the drone around, I always wanted to experience finer-grained and more intuitive control via a proper control-pad with analogue sticks. 

In this video I use the Sixaxis Controller application (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.dancingpixelstudios.sixaxiscontroller&hl=en) on Android, for which you need root access; setting up profiles and mapping the buttons from a Playstation 3 controller to emulate touches on-screen while the AR Drone control application (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.parrot.freeflight&hl=en) is running is pretty straight-forward. Turns out the PS3 controller can be used as a general control interface for Android and can control any game or other application as needed. 

After setting up I went to the park to have a fly and do a longer flight test but unfortunately this is the last time I ever fly this drone. After five or so minutes I lost control, which was more to do with the WiFi connection or drone battery I suspect than due to the bluetooth PS3 controller. The drone uncontrollably gained altitude and was taken by the wind, never to be seen again - you can see the final shot as it disappears from view at the end of the video. 

#ardrone   #quadcopter   #ps3  ___

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2014-08-24 11:55:46 (16 comments, 31 reshares, 68 +1s)

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 34/14.
Re-routing past spinal damage, optical brain maps, neuromorphic atom switches, chemical printers, metamaterial superconductors, nanoporous fluid pumps, artificial cell & gene networks, 3D printing and cancer advances. 

1. Re-routing Motor Signals Around Spinal Damage.
In a fascinating proof-of-concept demonstration a “neural bridge” has been used in which the activity of one group of neurons is able to trigger the activity of neural networks in the central pattern generator regions of the locomotion centre in the lower spine http://www.kurzweilai.net/scientists-bypass-spinal-column-non-invasively-to-trigger-walking. The result of this was that a test subject hooked up to the device could raise their arm, generating signals to trigger a computer-controlled device that (i) magnetically (non-invasively) stimulatedneur... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 34/14.
Re-routing past spinal damage, optical brain maps, neuromorphic atom switches, chemical printers, metamaterial superconductors, nanoporous fluid pumps, artificial cell & gene networks, 3D printing and cancer advances. 

1. Re-routing Motor Signals Around Spinal Damage.
In a fascinating proof-of-concept demonstration a “neural bridge” has been used in which the activity of one group of neurons is able to trigger the activity of neural networks in the central pattern generator regions of the locomotion centre in the lower spine http://www.kurzweilai.net/scientists-bypass-spinal-column-non-invasively-to-trigger-walking. The result of this was that a test subject hooked up to the device could raise their arm, generating signals to trigger a computer-controlled device that (i) magnetically (non-invasively) stimulated neurons in this locomotion centre and (ii) stimulated peripheral neurons in the foot, and so generate normal voluntary walking movements. Clinical studies are being planned and more convenient interfaces for people with spinal damage. In related news implanted mesh electrodes may power future advanced brain computer interfaces that empower this and a range of other applications http://spectrum.ieee.org/biomedical/bionics/how-to-catch-brain-waves-in-a-net. 

2. Optically Mapping the Structure and Activity of Brain Regions in Real Time.
A new technique combining optogenetics and two-photon microscopy allows brain regions to be mapped, and their activity recorded, in real time http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/new_mapping_approach_lets_scientists_zoom_in_and_out_as_the_brain_processes_sound. In the demonstration genetically engineered mice produced a neural protein that emitted light when calcium was present; calcium concentrations increase in neurons when they fire. A two-photon microscope could then observe the brains of live mice as they listened to sounds, seeing which neurons activated when and generating a map of the living auditory cortex. The work resolves new features of the auditory cortex, establishes spectral organisation, should assist with developing advanced cochlear implants, and establishes a tool for better mapping other brain circuits and activity. 

3. Self-Assembled Neuromorphic Chips with Atomic Switches.
A network of silver nanowires form a billion junctions per square centimeter that function as inorganic “atomic switch” synapses that generate memristor-like neuromorphic behaviours http://www.kurzweilai.net/neuromorphic-atomic-switch-networks-function-like-synapses-in-the-brain. This is another neuromorphic architecture entering and competing in the brain-like computing space in which the collective interactions between the inorganic synapses results in emergent properties. I hope the self-assembly fabrication process helps the group scale to much larger assemblies of artificial neurons and synapses. 

4. ChemPuters, ChemPrinters, and Chematica.
Nature had a good feature article (h/t +Koen De Paus) on the progress and development of machines able to take basic feedstocks and automatically synthesise any chemical on demand http://www.nature.com/news/organic-synthesis-the-robo-chemist-1.15661. I first covered the concept of a “chemputer” with this announcement http://www.theguardian.com/science/2012/jul/21/chemputer-that-prints-out-drugs out of the Lee Cronin lab over two years ago. Such machines would (i) access databases detailing how molecules can be built, (ii) feed this into an algorithm that can map out synthetic steps, and (iii) automatically carry out the steps with appropriate reagents. Progress is being made on each of these key areas, driving towards a vision that enables continuous flow, automated production, reduction of costs, increased efficiency, and orders of magnitude more chemical species to be researched. I can’t help but wonder if IBM might turn Watson to this field given the overlap with many similar big-data problems. 

5. Engineering Metamaterial Superconductors.
A relatively new approach in theoretical physics treats high-temperature superconductors as a type of metamaterial, the properties of which might be tweaked and engineered to produce variants that superconduct at higher temperatures https://medium.com/the-physics-arxiv-blog/metamaterial-superconductor-raises-critical-temperature-of-zero-resistance-3da6c4657baa. Importantly the theory has been experimentally verified to some extent by using theoretical predictions to create a tin-based metamaterial that has a higher transition temperature than bulk elemental tin. This temperature increase was an admittedly tiny 4%; lets hope this new understanding leads to some significant breakthroughs and room temperature capabilities in future. 

6. Electrically Controlled Nanoporous Nanopump.
This nanopump work is quite elegant. Applying an electric potential to nanoporous gold induces an electrowetting phenomenon whereby the surface tension can be accurately controlled; the capillary forces experienced by water in contact with the nanoporous material reaches several hundred bar http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=37008.php. Rapidly switching the voltage can result in the nanoporous material acting like a pump with no moving parts, pushing and pulling on water as desired in amounts ranging from femto- to microliters and being ideal for microfluidic chip applications depending on the architecture and modules of material used. Other applications include oil and water separation and electrical flow valves that both direct and sense the flow of fluids. 

7. Artificial Cell Networks Mimic Protein Synthesis.
Etch multiple compartments into a microfluidic chip linked by capillary channels, into which are placed a collection of genes of interest, and through which flows cell extracts (everything except DNA), and you get a network of artificial “cells” and the establishment of DNA-protein regulatory networks without live cells http://wis-wander.weizmann.ac.il/artificial-cells-act-like-the-real-thing#.U_gcbPm1a7g. Certain genes can establish periodic cycling behaviour, and protein gradients are observed to arise across the network and have variable regulatory effects on the “genomes” of the artificial “cells” in a similar manner to real life. This is a subtle but powerful little tool that promises far more complex devices in future that might enable fast and flexible genomic programming and the production of arbitrary proteins and other molecules of interest; customisable and self-contained systems for advanced synthetic biology applications. 

8. 3D Printing Jet Turbine Blades.
GE’s additive manufacturing and 3D printing capabilities have taken a big step forward with the use of electron-beam guns that are 10 times more powerful than the typical lasers used for 3D printing via powder sintering http://3dprint.com/12262/ge-ebm-3d-printing/. The new approach allows for (i) much faster fabrication of parts, and (ii) parts that are up to four times thicker; it is competitive with standard casting techniques and can work with typically difficult materials such as titanium aluminide that has a lot of benefits. GE will be using the technology for the commercial production of jet engine turbine blades. And going off on a different tangent in the 3D printing space we have the application of 3D printing technology to agriculture for the automated production of poly-crops, which also has the potential to be revolutionary http://3dprint.com/12325/farmbot-3d-farming-printer/. 

9. Cancer: Metastatic Invasion, Immune Boost, and Human Virotherapy.
A trio of interesting cancer news this week. First, a micro-patterned surface produces a chip that has helped to elucidate how cancer cells transform and break off from a tumour of origin and subsequently invasively penetrate the surrounding tissue https://news.brown.edu/articles/2014/08/metastasis. Second, another approach on amplifying immune cells outside the body before reintroduction to the patient to fight cancer, but in this case the media material amplifies by 200-fold and also primes the cells against specific cancer antigens of interest http://phys.org/news/2014-08-immune-cells-cancer-fighting-boost-nanomaterials.html. Third, successful cancer viropathy treatment of a human patient in which a virus that was evolved to target cancer cells instead of healthy cells resulted in complete remission https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2014/08/an-example-of-a-targeted-viral-cancer-therapy.php but work to be done to expand the toolkit in order to evade other patient’s immune systems. 

10. Cheap, Flexible Body Sensors Made of Rubber & Graphene.
Rubber bands treated with graphene retain their pliable mechanical nature yet can function as sensitive sensors in which stretching and flexing results in measurable changes in the conductivity of the material https://www.surrey.ac.uk/features/could-elastic-bands-monitor-patients%E2%80%99-breathing. Applications would involve little rubber strips placed on, or in, a patient in order to accurately measure breathing, heart rate, and movement irregularities for example, and a mesh of bands on flexible surfaces such as beds and seats might lend themselves to additional applications.

If you'd like notifications of these weekly Digests then just throw the SciTech Digest page into a notification circle: https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/105994073381308284341/+ScitechdigestNet/posts

+ScienceSunday, with your hosts +Buddhini Samarasinghe, +Rajini Rao, +Chad Haney, +Allison Sekuler, +Robby Bowles, +Carissa Braun, and +Aubrey Francisco! ___

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2014-08-22 02:50:26 (18 comments, 9 reshares, 50 +1s)

Indirect Optical Mapping of Brain Circuits.

I have a big list of things I want to post about “when I get time” – I’ll often come up with ideas for posts and throw them into a task / post list in Google Keep. One item I've had sitting in the list for about six months now concerned idle speculations on whether it would be possible to use optical imaging to produce indirect connectome maps of brains or brain regions. 

The scenario I had in mind would entail the following:

1. Infect every neuron with an optogenetic viral vector in order to insert code for a protein that emits light when the neuron activates. 

2. Image the whole brain or brain region of interest, in real-time, while the animal is awake and active and responding to a variety of stimuli, to record the flashes of light emitted (due to the optogenetic protein) when neuronsactivate.... more »

Indirect Optical Mapping of Brain Circuits.

I have a big list of things I want to post about “when I get time” – I’ll often come up with ideas for posts and throw them into a task / post list in Google Keep. One item I've had sitting in the list for about six months now concerned idle speculations on whether it would be possible to use optical imaging to produce indirect connectome maps of brains or brain regions. 

The scenario I had in mind would entail the following:

1. Infect every neuron with an optogenetic viral vector in order to insert code for a protein that emits light when the neuron activates. 

2. Image the whole brain or brain region of interest, in real-time, while the animal is awake and active and responding to a variety of stimuli, to record the flashes of light emitted (due to the optogenetic protein) when neurons activate. 

3. Build up a (arbitrarily) large dataset of this activity for further analysis. 

My musings were simply along the line of whether, (i) given this dataset of brain activity with a resolution down to individual neurons, (ii) in which a machine would be able to see spatial and temporal connection patterns in which the firing of one cell was followed by the firing of another cell, (iii) would you be able to infer or indirectly measure the most probable connections and network between the cells, (iv) i.e. would you be able to reconstruct the underlying connectome to a good approximation, capturing all of the synaptic connections and their strengths? 

Individual neural signals. Very large temporal dataset. Variety of sensory stimuli. 

The answer isn't immediately obvious to me with a high degree of confidence and I thought that the experienced programmers here or any neuroscientists might better be able to consider it. 

I’m long past the stage of ever considering any of my (or anyone's) ideas to be particularly unique or special and so it was with little surprise that I read this week about awesome research out of the prestigious Johns Hopkins that appeared to touch on this very area. This work involved (i) mice engineered to produce a protein in neurons that emits light when the neuron activates, (ii) a new two-photon microscopy technique that imaged the auditory cortex in real time, for extended periods, measuring the firing pattern across the auditory cortex as the mouse listened to different sounds, and (iii) subsequently piecing together a global map of the mouse’s auditory cortex. 

The GIF for this post shows data from the study in which individual neurons can be seen activating. 

For more details see http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/new_mapping_approach_lets_scientists_zoom_in_and_out_as_the_brain_processes_sound 

So it seems they have reduced to practice my idle musings; meaning they obviously came up with this idea a year or two ago or even more. The work is still early, and it isn't obvious that they can extract fine grained connectomes with the synaptic detail that I think we’ll need, but it is nonetheless an amazing proof-of-concept that has already yielded insights that they believe will result in better cochlear implants for example. 

Two YouTube Videos posted by the group are also worth watching:
1. Neurons firing in the auditory cortex of the brain
2. Mapping the auditory cortex in a mouse 

The GIF for this post was extracted from one of the YouTube videos via www.gifyoutube.com in about 20 seconds flat . . . an amazing little web-tool that you might want to check out. 

Moral of the story: Get your ideas out there sooner; someone is probably already working on them!

#brain   #mapping   #ideas  ___

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2014-08-16 13:50:56 (17 comments, 1 reshares, 36 +1s)

Random Update.

It's been a funny sort of week that has chewed spare time and kept me away from here unfortunately. 

* Lots of projects at work, a myriad of stakeholders, pending increase in responsibilities, and innumerable loose ends to keep track of and tie up. 

* Final preparations for another trip in a couple of weeks. 

* Self-admission of too much accumulated sleep debt and determination to rectify this key area of health via altering of some habits that I love. Quite a few concerning passages in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep_debt. Hope to treat this like any other project and track performance. 

* Preparation for two minor side-projects, (i) phone / quadcopter interface hack and (ii) PhotoSphere tutorial.

* Ascension of steep autodidactic learning curve involving cryptocurrencies and my usual learning by doing.Thin... more »

Random Update.

It's been a funny sort of week that has chewed spare time and kept me away from here unfortunately. 

* Lots of projects at work, a myriad of stakeholders, pending increase in responsibilities, and innumerable loose ends to keep track of and tie up. 

* Final preparations for another trip in a couple of weeks. 

* Self-admission of too much accumulated sleep debt and determination to rectify this key area of health via altering of some habits that I love. Quite a few concerning passages in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep_debt. Hope to treat this like any other project and track performance. 

* Preparation for two minor side-projects, (i) phone / quadcopter interface hack and (ii) PhotoSphere tutorial.

* Ascension of steep autodidactic learning curve involving cryptocurrencies and my usual learning by doing. Things like bitcoin, litecoin, ripple, stellar, BTC, LTC, XRP, STR, gateways, exchanges, IOUs, mobile wallets, web wallets, day use vs savings, security, local clients, paper wallets, DACs, bitshares, apps, trust, protocols, verified accounts, getting currency, bridges, currency conversions, and more. Will summarise via formal post soon. Has taken longer and proven far more complex than I expected. 

* As usual, another interesting week in science!

Will catch up with you all in earnest tomorrow :)

Image from: http://overmath.tumblr.com/ 
Three dimensional isotropic random walk.___

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2014-08-13 12:22:50 (7 comments, 3 reshares, 33 +1s)

These Two Technologies Need to Mate!

In the realm of technological evolution this is a memetic recombination just waiting to happen - and it no doubt will, if only to bring a little extra magic into the world. 

New computational videography techniques for smooth hyperlapse footage from shaky cameras
First-person Hyperlapse Videos

Needs to recombine with:

Sports balls and other chaotic projectile objects with embedded cameras
Such as brazuca Around The World: Trailer -- adidas Football
OR
Throwable Camera Takes Instant Panoramas

That would yield some pretty unique footage. Basically the embedded accelerometers could dictate in which direction you wished to capture smooth hyperlapse video from; forward, ,backward, sideways, whatever. 

This is a product / service waiting to happen. Can't wait to watch thefo... more »

These Two Technologies Need to Mate!

In the realm of technological evolution this is a memetic recombination just waiting to happen - and it no doubt will, if only to bring a little extra magic into the world. 

New computational videography techniques for smooth hyperlapse footage from shaky cameras
First-person Hyperlapse Videos

Needs to recombine with:

Sports balls and other chaotic projectile objects with embedded cameras
Such as brazuca Around The World: Trailer -- adidas Football
OR
Throwable Camera Takes Instant Panoramas

That would yield some pretty unique footage. Basically the embedded accelerometers could dictate in which direction you wished to capture smooth hyperlapse video from; forward, ,backward, sideways, whatever. 

This is a product / service waiting to happen. Can't wait to watch the footage from whoever does it first. Might even get me to watch sports again, maybe :P A technical challenge: smooth video from mini-cameras embedded in a ping-pong / table tennis ball. No doubt the Microsoft Research guys have already thought of these applications. 

#hyperlapse   #sports   #video  ___

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2014-08-10 08:01:52 (15 comments, 55 reshares, 95 +1s)

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 32/14.
Brain imaging & augmentation, IBM brain chips, sound from surface vibration, batteryless WiFi communications, magnetic microfluidics, perovskite LEDs, treating neurodegeneration, printable chiplets, miniature NMR.

1. New Brain Imaging and Augmentation Studies.
Many thanks to +Mani Saint-Victor for directing me to this article discussing the repair and augmentation of inter-laminar microcircuits across the neocortex, and specifically the use of technologies for the recording and microstimulation of cortical microcircuits to build neuroprostheses for such repair or augmentation of cognitive function http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3832795/. Of course, such general approaches may benefit significantly from improved brain imaging techniques, such as this new non-invasive method involving IR lasers shone... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 32/14.
Brain imaging & augmentation, IBM brain chips, sound from surface vibration, batteryless WiFi communications, magnetic microfluidics, perovskite LEDs, treating neurodegeneration, printable chiplets, miniature NMR.

1. New Brain Imaging and Augmentation Studies.
Many thanks to +Mani Saint-Victor for directing me to this article discussing the repair and augmentation of inter-laminar microcircuits across the neocortex, and specifically the use of technologies for the recording and microstimulation of cortical microcircuits to build neuroprostheses for such repair or augmentation of cognitive function http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3832795/. Of course, such general approaches may benefit significantly from improved brain imaging techniques, such as this new non-invasive method involving IR lasers shone into the brain from outside the skull to stimulate modified carbon nanotubes injected into the animal’s blood in order to gain an unprecedented look at blood flow in the brain http://news.stanford.edu/news/2014/august/skull-blood-flow-080614.html. And such a specific approach may benefit significantly from the new ability to synthesise uniform and structurally pure carbon nanotubes using defined molecular seeds for example http://www.empa.ch/plugin/template/empa/3/149811/---/l=2. 

2. IBM’s Neurosynaptic Brain Chips take Next Step.
IBM announced the latest incarnation and demonstration of its neurosynaptic SyNapse chip with nearly five billion transistors powering one million “neurons” and 256 million synapses http://www.technologyreview.com/news/529691/ibm-chip-processes-data-similar-to-the-way-your-brain-does/. As an example demonstration a chip was tasked with recognising cars, people, and bicycles in video of an intersection; it did so 100 times faster and consumed 100,000 times less power than a laptop computer programed to do the same. The architecture is inspired by the structure of mammalian brains and artificial neurons communicate via “spikes” in a similar fashion. The chips themselves are scalable and the team wishes to connect thousands together into a novel supercomputer, although programming the chips remains a problem that they continue to work on. In related news IBM is trying to gear up its Watson supercomputer to assist with business meetings and executive decision making http://www.technologyreview.com/news/529606/a-room-where-executives-go-to-get-help-from-ibms-watson/.

3. Video Image Processing of Surfaces Can Extract Ambient Sounds.
In one of the more unexpected announcements for the week a new algorithm was demonstrated that is able to reconstruct an audio signal by analysing minute vibrations on the surfaces of objects captured in video footage http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2014/algorithm-recovers-speech-from-vibrations-0804. Captured sounds included intelligible speech from a distance of 15 feet through soundproof glass. Video framerate is key however, and needs to be higher than the frequency of the audio signal; many tests used a high-speed camera (2k - 6k fps) but other tests succeeded with a standard 60 fps digital camera due to how image data is captured by these sensors. The work builds on techniques for measuring a person’s heart rate via video feed for example.

4. Batteryless Sensors Communicate Via WiFi Backscatter.
Building on earlier work in which batteryless devices communicated with each other by harvesting ambient radio, TV, and wireless comms, the same group has now demonstrated a method of very-low-power WiFi-backscatter communications for such devices - powered just by ambient radio, TV, and WiFi - to connect to the Internet via WiFi http://www.washington.edu/news/2014/08/04/no-power-wi-fi-connectivity-could-fuel-internet-of-things-reality/. The ambient backscatter method works by the devices simply reflecting or not reflecting WiFi signals from a WiFi access point, which is detected by a reader device (e.g. phone) as discrete changes in signal strength. While proof-of-concept data rates were only 1 kilobit per second this could be a key enabling technology for aspects of the Internet of Things. WiFi is also being used to see through walls again http://www.theverge.com/2014/8/7/5979723/x-ray-vision-using-wi-fi-on-robots. 

5. Active Magnetic Microfluidic Chips.
A surface patterned with micro-scale ridges and impregnated with a ferrofluid (oil loaded with nanometer-scale magnetic particles) spontaneously forms a ferrofluid cloak around droplets of water or other particles added to the surface. Once formed such droplets can be precisely controlled and manipulated by an external magnetic field http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2014/surfaces-can-control-how-fluids-particles-move-0801. A nice piece of fluid dynamics but applications might include for example microfluidic chips that lack defined channels, but rather droplets can be moved around “virtual channels” at will and reacted together in whatever combination is needed.

6. Perovskite Now for Light Emission as well as Absorption.
Perovskite is becoming a hot item in materials research focused on developing better solar cells. It turns out that the same properties that lend perovskites their excellent light absorption properties can also be exploited for excellent light emission applications, as recently demonstrated in perovskite LEDs http://phys.org/news/2014-08-material-perovskite.html. Added benefits include cheap, simple, and scalable manufacture, and straight-forward tuning to emit light in a wide range of colours. Related news in solar cell applications include flexible perovskite (textile) fibers able to harvest light http://phys.org/news/2014-08-inexpensive-flexible-fiber-perovskite-solar.html, and a new solar cell stacking technique aiming to create cells with 50% energy efficiency http://www.technologyreview.com/news/529651/stacking-cells-could-make-solar-as-cheap-as-natural-gas/. 

7. Combating Neurodegeneration.
We had quite a few advances against neurodegeneration this week. First, neurons created from reprogrammed skin cells demonstrated complete and functional integration with mice brains http://www.alphagalileo.org/ViewItem.aspx?ItemId=144227&CultureCode=en. Second, a new test for neurodegeneration based on visual processing abilities http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-08/cp-dii073014.php. Third, investigations into how disruptions of the flow of cerebrospinal fluid through the brain can contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s and how we should try to restore this flow https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2014/08/considering-cerebrospinal-fluid-flow-disruption-as-a-contributing-cause-of-alzheimers-disease.php. Fourth, a newly designed peptide blocks the formation of, and helps to clear, misfolded proteins that contribute to amyloid buildup in Alzheimer’s and other diseases http://www.washington.edu/news/2014/07/28/new-protein-structure-could-help-treat-alzheimers-related-diseases/. Fifth, the successful demonstration of a new drug in reversing the effects of Alzheimer’s in mice http://news.yale.edu/2014/08/06/search-alzheimer-s-drug-major-step-forward. 

8. Printable Chiplets Still Being Developed.
A PARC group chops silicon wafers into 200 x 300 micrometer chiplets and mixes these into an ink, within which individual chiplets can be electrostatically guided to precise spots and subsequently picked and printed and connected with printed electronic inks http://www.technologyreview.com/photoessay/529761/micro-chiplets/. This builds on initial work the group announced last year, extending the vision to enable the fabrication of new computing devices made up of arrays of chiplets that individually might comprise processing, memory, LED, MEMS, and other functions - all printed as needed to create custom devices. After demonstrating the placement and wiring of four chiplets, and ultimately wanting to do the same with billions at a time, the group still has a way to go. 

9. NMR Chip Measuring Just 2mm.
A new nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy chip has been fabricated to a size measuring 2mm by 2mm, and is the smallest NMR system ever built http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/biomedical/devices/an-nmr-device-the-size-of-a-seed. NMR applications are extensive (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_magnetic_resonance#Applications) but having such a cheap and miniaturised chip could open the door to a range of mobile and consumer applications such as diagnostic testing and environmental monitoring to name just two. While the prototype still needs a fist-sized permanent magnet to take readings, the miniaturisation advance was made possible with computational compensation of temperature fluctuations that can alter the fields of small magnets. 

10. Bendable Acoustics and Sound Traps.
New acoustic engineering methods allow soundwaves to bend around objects and interfere to form acoustic bottles and traps in air http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/computing/hardware/bendable-sound-waves-can-skirt-objects-trap-particles. The method involves precisely adjusting the phase and amplitude of dozens of closely-spaced speakers; a linear array of 40 speakers allows shaping of sound in two dimensions, while a two-dimensional array of 100 speakers allows shaping of sound in three dimensions. As part of the demonstration a 3D acoustic bottle or trap was able to grab and move a hard plastic ball. Other applications could include improvements to ultrasound imaging by being able to bend around bones to view soft tissues, and smaller acoustic tweezers to manipulate cells and other small objects.

An archive of the SciTech Digests can also be found here: http://www.scitechdigest.net 

+ScienceSunday, with your hosts +Buddhini Samarasinghe, +Rajini Rao, +Chad Haney, +Robby Bowles, +Allison Sekuler, +Carissa Braun, and +Aubrey Francisco!___

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2014-08-08 08:56:48 (21 comments, 13 reshares, 70 +1s)

NFC Ring: Unlock Via Xposed & Other Stuff.

After backing the NFC Ring kickstarter a long long time ago it seems, the device finally arrived last week and I now wear a ring embedded with two NFC (near field communication) chips. All modern Android phones have NFC chip readers as standard that can be used to (i) bump two phones to initiate a file transfer or other behaviours, or (ii) scan an NFC chip in the environment in order to trigger certain actions such as reading the information stored or launching a URL or a whole bunch of other things. 

I’m using the NFC chip on the underside of my ring as a security access chip to unlock and get into my phone, which was one of the main reasons I purchased the device. The use-case I wanted was a an otherwise complex access code on my phone lockscreen that I could bypass by tapping the ring on the rear of the phone. While thede... more »

NFC Ring: Unlock Via Xposed & Other Stuff.

After backing the NFC Ring kickstarter a long long time ago it seems, the device finally arrived last week and I now wear a ring embedded with two NFC (near field communication) chips. All modern Android phones have NFC chip readers as standard that can be used to (i) bump two phones to initiate a file transfer or other behaviours, or (ii) scan an NFC chip in the environment in order to trigger certain actions such as reading the information stored or launching a URL or a whole bunch of other things. 

I’m using the NFC chip on the underside of my ring as a security access chip to unlock and get into my phone, which was one of the main reasons I purchased the device. The use-case I wanted was a an otherwise complex access code on my phone lockscreen that I could bypass by tapping the ring on the rear of the phone. While the dedicated apps developed by the NFC Ring team provide an approximation of the functionality I was after, and are good apps in general, I don’t believe them to be as elegant as they could be; the lockscreen security can be a little convoluted and I discovered a conflict / bug (related to my Google 2-Factor Authentication) when playing with the apps that nearly locked me out of my phone. 

Phones only “poll” or send out a signal for NFC when unlocked and the screen is on; to tell your phone to poll for NFC when locked and screen on - the behavior I was after - you need Root access to your device. The easiest way I found to do this was to install the Xposed Framework and download and activate the NFC LockScreenOFF Enabler module, which injects code to a deeper level of the OS, activating NFC polling when the lockscreen is displayed, and allowing you to grant security access to specific NFC tags or rings. The module has other options worth exploring and this was also an excellent excuse for me to use and learn about the Xposed Framework which, if you like tinkering with your phone, you should definitely check out. 

There are also custom door locks and systems that enable wireless NFC access to your home or car that you could use with the NFC Ring. And I’ve previously hacked a basic little system out of Lego NXT and rooted smartphones that you can see here: Using Tasker, NFC Tags, and Lego NXT for Keyless Home Entry 

Finally, the NFC tag on the top of the ring can be used for a range of things. In the video I show it triggering text data, a URL link to my Google+ profile, and activating a custom Tasker task that activated a drawing program, drew a picture, saved the image, and posted it to Google+ with text (this post is here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/7FG8vWg9QLa). I’d originally thought that you could use the top NFC chip as a pseudo-business card with people at meetings and conferences; simply tap your phone to the ring and hey-presto, contact details transferred. But given the different location of NFC antennas (and hot spots) in different phones and the high degree of accuracy needed to actually get the phone to register the NFC Ring this use-case may be somewhat limited. 

Apps and Resources used in this Video / Project:

Xposed Framework - powerful tool enabling phone customisation tweaks. 
http://forum.xda-developers.com/xposed/xposed-installer-versions-changelog-t2714053 

Xposed Module: NFC LockScreenOFF Enabler - poll NFC while phone locked, etc.
http://forum.xda-developers.com/xposed/modules/mod-nfc-unlocking-based-t2478163 

NFC Ring Control - default control and editing app for NFC Ring.
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=co.mclear.nfcringpro&hl=en 

NFC Ring Unlock - default unlock app for NFC Ring.
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=co.mclear.nfcringunlockpro 

Tagstand Writer - NFC editing.
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tagstand.writer&hl=en 

Trigger - NFC reading, editing, and triggering.
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.jwsoft.nfcactionlauncher&hl=en 

Tasker - powerful phone automation and activation of tasks. 
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.dinglisch.android.taskerm&hl=en 

RepetiTouchPRO - record and playback series of screen touches. 
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.cygery.repetitouch.pro&hl=en 

#nfcring   #xposed   #nexus5  ___

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2014-08-07 15:09:12 (23 comments, 0 reshares, 13 +1s)

Phew That Was a Close One!

Reached the end of my monthly billing cycle yesterday with less than 1% of my mobile data allowance remaining. The last few weeks of relatively tightly controlled mobile data use was driven by the large spike at the end of the first week, which chewed up 25% of the month in a single day when I had to tether my Chromebook to get online while in Melbourne so I could do my ScienceSunday post - I can only surmise that the Chromebook decided to download a few massive updates in the background while I was at it.

I've now started a new billing cycle and a new plan and that 2GB monthly mobile data limit, as of today, is now 5GB . . . for $5 per month less :)

Phew That Was a Close One!

Reached the end of my monthly billing cycle yesterday with less than 1% of my mobile data allowance remaining. The last few weeks of relatively tightly controlled mobile data use was driven by the large spike at the end of the first week, which chewed up 25% of the month in a single day when I had to tether my Chromebook to get online while in Melbourne so I could do my ScienceSunday post - I can only surmise that the Chromebook decided to download a few massive updates in the background while I was at it.

I've now started a new billing cycle and a new plan and that 2GB monthly mobile data limit, as of today, is now 5GB . . . for $5 per month less :)___

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2014-08-06 14:55:40 (17 comments, 0 reshares, 18 +1s)

My nexus phone created and posted this image with a single tap. See video son.

My nexus phone created and posted this image with a single tap. See video son.___

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2014-08-06 03:50:27 (5 comments, 2 reshares, 7 +1s)

Minor Learning Curve last Night.

Working backwards from needing to hack my phone to enable certain non-stock behaviours:

* Install BusyBox as resource for other tools.
* Install TWRP App to finally (belatedly) add a custom recovery and create a decent backup for my phone.
* Install Xposed Framework.
* Install Xposed modules; 1 for required non-stock behaviour, the others for fun tweaks and learning phone hacks.

Anybody else using Xposed? What modules do you use?

Minor Learning Curve last Night.

Working backwards from needing to hack my phone to enable certain non-stock behaviours:

* Install BusyBox as resource for other tools.
* Install TWRP App to finally (belatedly) add a custom recovery and create a decent backup for my phone.
* Install Xposed Framework.
* Install Xposed modules; 1 for required non-stock behaviour, the others for fun tweaks and learning phone hacks.

Anybody else using Xposed? What modules do you use?___

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2014-08-03 14:40:46 (18 comments, 36 reshares, 90 +1s)

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 31/14.
Automating Connectome Maps, Converting CO2 to Feedstocks, Nvidia Boosts VR, Spray-On Perovskite, Universal Cancer Test, More Self-Assembly, Better Superconductor Theory, Commercial Organs on Chips, Printing Variable Alloys, Remote Cryopreservation.

1. Generating Brain Connectomes Takes a Big Step Forward.
Connectomics, the generation of complete neuronal circuit diagrams, took a big step forward with the demonstration of an automated algorithmic technique that analyses electron microscope images of brain slices and not only generates the 3D neuronal maps and connection diagram, but also identifies the individual types of cells that form the circuit and the function of these neural systems... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 31/14.
Automating Connectome Maps, Converting CO2 to Feedstocks, Nvidia Boosts VR, Spray-On Perovskite, Universal Cancer Test, More Self-Assembly, Better Superconductor Theory, Commercial Organs on Chips, Printing Variable Alloys, Remote Cryopreservation.

1. Generating Brain Connectomes Takes a Big Step Forward.
Connectomics, the generation of complete neuronal circuit diagrams, took a big step forward with the demonstration of an automated algorithmic technique that analyses electron microscope images of brain slices and not only generates the 3D neuronal maps and connection diagram, but also identifies the individual types of cells that form the circuit and the function of these neural systems https://medium.com/the-physics-arxiv-blog/connectomics-how-the-emerging-revolution-in-neural-wiring-diagrams-is-about-to-change-biology-2a267b576e99. Such work often involves a huge amount of human labour and such effective automation should result in significantly faster progress in this field. The system was successfully tested against existing connectomes including that of C. elegans and the mouse retina, and consistently produces classifications that match those produced by human anatomists. In future additional data should help with identifying additional cell types, figuring out how to scale to human connectomes, and in general sparking a revolution in the study of brain circuits both within and between brains. Thankfully there is recent work on computational techniques to handle the deluge of neuroscience data http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/biomedical/imaging/can-computing-keep-up-with-the-neuroscience-data-deluge. 

2. Capturing Carbon Dioxide and Converting it into Useful Feedstocks.
We had not one but three of these this week. First, organometallic uranium molecules were demonstrated as being able to catalyse the conversion of gaseous carbon dioxide into the organic molecule oxalate http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/depleted-uranium-could-turn-carbon-dioxide-into-valuable-chemicals/. Second, another process that used molybdenum disulfide and an ionic liquid is able to reduce carbon dioxide to syngas http://phys.org/news/2014-07-catalyst-carbon-dioxide-fuel.html. Third, nanoparticles comprised of copper and cerium oxide were demonstrated to work as a catalyst in converting carbon dioxide to methanol http://phys.org/news/2014-07-nanostructured-metal-oxide-catalyst-efficiently-co2.html. Three tiny steps towards a future of harvesting atmospheric carbon dioxide as a building material and reducing levels to pre-industrial times. 

3. Nvidia Boosts the Capabilities and Realism of VR Displays.
A new prototype virtual reality headset built by Nvidia involves stacking two LCD panels on top of each other as part of a cascaded display, and offset by a tiny amount to produce a display that quadruples the resolution http://www.technologyreview.com/news/529201/lcd-hacking-trick-could-make-virtual-reality-more-real/. The technology also provides up to double the framerate that each individual panel is capable of. Overall the technology would provide a significant boost to the immersive qualities of VR displays such as the Oculus Rift, with marked improvements to resolution, framerates, and field of view made possible. 

4. Perovskite gets the Spray-On Solar Cell Treatment.
Perovskite is one of the most promising materials to emerge in the development of solar cells in the last year or two, and the latest research indicates that it can now be applied to surfaces using a spray-painting process http://phys.org/news/2014-08-scientists-spray-on-solar-cells.html. Perovskite already offers benefits including low cost, high efficiency, and now an even cheaper manufacturing process that lends itself to significant scale-up and high-volumes. The prototypes achieve energy efficiencies of 11%, whereas bulk perovskite achieves 19%, and commercial silicon panels 25%; further work would aim to close and surpass this gap while still maintaining low costs. Adaptive solar optics are also looking to cut costs and boost efficiencies http://www.technologyreview.com/news/529476/adaptive-material-could-cut-the-cost-of-solar-in-half/. 

5. Novel Universal Blood Test for Cancer.
DNA in white blood cells exhibits varying damage when subjected to varying levels of UV light. There is also a lot of evidence that cancer stresses the immune system. Recent work shows that in patients with cancer, white blood cells are more easily damaged by UV light, and by measuring the amount of DNA damage in such cells it is possible to diagnose and quantify whether the person is healthy, pre-cancerous, or has cancer http://singularityhub.com/2014/08/01/promising-early-results-on-universal-blood-test-for-cancer/. A study demonstrated the accuracy of the test in patients suspected of having melanoma, colon, and lung cancer. Such results are very promising but are still early; the study included only 200 or so patients for example and additional trials and much larger patient samples (and cancer types) will be required to validate such a “universal” cancer test. 

6. More Examples of Novel Self Assembly.
We had a few novel examples of self assembly advances this week. First, the demonstration of bead-spring polymers facilitated by DNA origami and magnetic beads in which the defined DNA sequence can control the flexibility of the material http://phys.org/news/2014-07-bead-lieving-scientists-bead-spring-chains-tunable.html. Second, flexible linkers added to proteins allows the proteins to self-assemble together via click-chemistry with atomic precision; the POC used green fluorescent protein and turned it into a fibrous structural material http://phys.org/news/2014-07-chemists-nanofibers-unprecedented-method.html. Third, we had the use of cyanostars to create self-assembled crystals on surfaces http://phys.org/news/2014-07-chemists-bricks-and-mortar-molecular.html. 

7. New Superconductors: In Theory and Practice.
A convenient feedback loop between theory and experiment has allowed a team to develop a new and deeper understanding of certain types of unconventional superconductors, and revealing that magnetism and its directional dependence in the material is the key property http://news.uic.edu/physicists-unlock-nature-of-high-temperature-superconductivity. For the first time it is now possible to quantitatively predict the superconducting properties of these types of superconductors and this will hopefully allow the development of materials with ever-higher transition temperatures. In related news new yttrium-based high-temperature superconducting tapes have been created that can carry currents of 100,000 Amps, the highest in the world http://www.pddnet.com/news/2014/07/magnets-fusion-energy-revolutionary-new-manufacturing-method. 

8. Organs on Chips Go Commercial.
Last year I covered sophisticated organs-on-chip technology, in which engineered microfluidic chips are functionalised with channels lined with living cells and tissues that mimic the biochemistry and physiology of human organs. This week the technology was spun-out into a new company to accelerate commercial development and market penetration http://wyss.harvard.edu/viewpressrelease/161/. The technology has been further developed and now chips more accurately mimic organs, multiple chips linked together with a fluid that simulates blood now better replicate “human-body-on-a-chip” systems, and automated tools for controlling the chips allow better ease of use. This will help accelerate drug development and testing and would ideally be recognised by regulatory agencies and replace animal (and human) testing at some point. 

9. 3D Printing Variable Metals and Alloys.
A newly developed 3D printing process allows the printing of structures that transition from one metal or alloy to another http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2014-247. This is a laser sintering process that can essentially change the metal powder being used on the fly in order to create variable gradient alloys. Applications include objects for example that need to possess different properties in different sections or ends, such as different melting temperatures, densities, stiffness, thermal expansion, and magnetic capabilities. A good example of yet another step in the increasing sophistication of 3D printing technology. 

10. Remote Cryopreservation Services.
For the first time Alcor has tested and deployed field cryoprotection services outside the United States http://www.alcor.org/blog/alcor-deploys-field-cryoprotection-fcp-technology-overseas-cases/. While further optimisation is required this new technology and service offering allows patients in remote locations (basically the rest of the world) to now able to access cryopreservation given sufficient notice and vastly improve their chances of a successful - and timely procedure without having first to travel to Alcor or the US directly.

If you'd like notifications of these weekly Digests then just throw the SciTech Digest page into a notification circle: https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/105994073381308284341/+ScitechdigestNet/posts

+ScienceSunday, with your hosts +Buddhini Samarasinghe, +Rajini Rao, +Chad Haney, +Allison Sekuler, +Robby Bowles, +Carissa Braun, and +Aubrey Francisco!___

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2014-08-02 14:04:33 (51 comments, 58 reshares, 220 +1s)

Fun with Chromecast Screen Mirroring!

So few people I know actually have a Chromecast or know the full range of things you can do with one. Now that you can very easily cast your phone screen and mirror or replicate it onto your TV, a bunch of new features are available for individual and group interaction around the big screen.

I just thought I'd make this quick video to give a range of different examples and ideas for people. Video starts with a quick overview of four or so things you've always been able to do before running through a range of games and other useful big-screen app examples. Standard stuff for those who've used a Chromecast from day one, but possibly a little bit of magic for those who haven't. 

#chromecast   #screen   #mirroring  

Fun with Chromecast Screen Mirroring!

So few people I know actually have a Chromecast or know the full range of things you can do with one. Now that you can very easily cast your phone screen and mirror or replicate it onto your TV, a bunch of new features are available for individual and group interaction around the big screen.

I just thought I'd make this quick video to give a range of different examples and ideas for people. Video starts with a quick overview of four or so things you've always been able to do before running through a range of games and other useful big-screen app examples. Standard stuff for those who've used a Chromecast from day one, but possibly a little bit of magic for those who haven't. 

#chromecast   #screen   #mirroring  ___

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2014-07-31 15:25:11 (18 comments, 5 reshares, 30 +1s)

New Concept for the Week: The Uncanniest Valley.
Interesting synthesis and extrapolation by SingularityHub.
 
The Uncanny Valley, as opposed to the Uncanniest Valley, concerns the phenomenon of how humans relate to robots better and better as the robots get more and more human-like in look and behaviour . . . up until the point when the robots look and act almost, but not quite, like a real human, which invariably results in the triggering of a deep sense of disgust and revulsion in the humans it interacts with. The article has an interesting excursion into the evolutionary psychology of disgust, and what exactly is causing the emotion to be triggered with regard to almost-human robots, and then delves into the philosophy of cognitive awareness and how one can never really understand “what it is like” to be another species due to hyper-optimised perceptual and cognitive architecturesthat... more »

___New Concept for the Week: The Uncanniest Valley.
Interesting synthesis and extrapolation by SingularityHub.
 
The Uncanny Valley, as opposed to the Uncanniest Valley, concerns the phenomenon of how humans relate to robots better and better as the robots get more and more human-like in look and behaviour . . . up until the point when the robots look and act almost, but not quite, like a real human, which invariably results in the triggering of a deep sense of disgust and revulsion in the humans it interacts with. The article has an interesting excursion into the evolutionary psychology of disgust, and what exactly is causing the emotion to be triggered with regard to almost-human robots, and then delves into the philosophy of cognitive awareness and how one can never really understand “what it is like” to be another species due to hyper-optimised perceptual and cognitive architectures that are so different to our own.
 
Then we start getting into the meat of the matter of how we might be confronted by the new phenomenon of the Uncanniest Valley, kicking off with an overview of the recent work with the robotic psychologist Ellie and her success in getting humans to be more honest with her than they would be with other humans. We have mildly-interesting concerns with how future versions of Ellie might put social workers and psychologists out of work in coming decades, but the really interesting thing is the projection of a future distributed yet interconnected Ellie-system that possesses such a collective and massive dataset and understanding about humans that it crosses a threshold that – for all intents and purposes – it is an AI that understands us, each of us, better than we understand ourselves.
 
We as a species will no longer understand our selves and our species best. We will interact with, confront, and have to deal with an entity that deeply understands us better than we do. Think about that for a second. Imagine it. Might it not trigger a deep fear, a “brand new kind of mortal terror”? This is The Uncanniest Valley. And it is the most interesting new piece of philosophy that I’ve encountered in a while.
 
Plus we get a synthesis of robotics, artificial intelligence, emotive intelligence, technological unemployment, psychology, evolutionary psychology, philosophy and a general all-around mind-gasm. Check out the article; it’ll flesh the concept out in more detail.

#uncannyvalley   #psychology   #robotics  

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2014-07-27 09:06:01 (14 comments, 40 reshares, 92 +1s)

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 30/14.
Affecting cognitive decline, negative mass, printing complete boards, atmospheric waveguides, spinning nanorods, restoring insulin sensitivity, wave tractor beams, biomimicry for audio chips, solar passive cooling.

1. A (Reversible?) Mechanism for Age-Related Cognitive Decline.
Recent studies show that extracellular matrix proteins in the hippocampus of animals undergo robust and progressive upregulation over time, increasing with age and believed to directly contribute to cognitive decline by inhibiting synaptic plasticity and cell mobility https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2014/07/involvement-of-the-extracellular-matrix-in-age-related-memory-loss-in-mice.php. The studies were conducted in mice and so confirming the effect in human brains will be important. Given that only one group of four proteins of the... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 30/14.
Affecting cognitive decline, negative mass, printing complete boards, atmospheric waveguides, spinning nanorods, restoring insulin sensitivity, wave tractor beams, biomimicry for audio chips, solar passive cooling.

1. A (Reversible?) Mechanism for Age-Related Cognitive Decline.
Recent studies show that extracellular matrix proteins in the hippocampus of animals undergo robust and progressive upregulation over time, increasing with age and believed to directly contribute to cognitive decline by inhibiting synaptic plasticity and cell mobility https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2014/07/involvement-of-the-extracellular-matrix-in-age-related-memory-loss-in-mice.php. The studies were conducted in mice and so confirming the effect in human brains will be important. Given that only one group of four proteins of the extracellular matrix increased strongly, this may present a convenient target to down-regulate protein expression and restore cognitive function. Speaking of cognitive decline a non-invasive retinal imaging technique claims to detect changes indicating Alzheimer’s 15 to 20 years before clinical diagnosis http://www.cedars-sinai.edu/About-Us/News/News-Releases-2014/Study-of-Noninvasive-Retinal-Imaging-Device-Presented-at-Alzheimers-Conference.aspx. 

2. Proving Negative Mass can Exist in the Universe.
The consensus in cosmology has been that negative mass cannot exist in the Universe due to theoretical conflict with things like General Relativity. However, recent analysis and new solutions to General Relativity imply that negative mass could indeed exist in our Universe without conflicting existing theories https://medium.com/the-physics-arxiv-blog/cosmologists-prove-negative-mass-can-exist-in-our-universe-250a980320a7. Turns out that if negative mass exists it would create a plasma in space that would absorb gravity waves, and so providing a plausible answer for why gravity waves have never been detected despite increasingly sensitive instruments. Whether there is a threshold frequency above which gravity waves might propagate through such a plasma is an interesting avenue of inquiry that might provide an interesting means to test the theory. A minority of cosmologists postulate that antimatter has negative mass but there has not yet been an empirical test one way or the other http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravitational_interaction_of_antimatter. 

3. All-In-One Printer for Functional Circuit Boards.
Representing another little evolution in the technology for printable electronics, the Squink printer takes your designs for a circuit board, prints traces with conductive ink, prints conductive glue where the components will attach, and then finally engages a pick-n-place robotic tool to place the components - such as resistors, diodes, ICs, etc - where they are supposed to go http://gizmodo.com/this-all-in-one-printer-churns-out-completely-functiona-1608373786. Once the wet-phase material has cured and dried the printed board can be fired up and used; great little advance for hobby and prototyping applications with commensurate cost and time savings. Should get more sophisticated over time too.

4. Punching Laser Waveguides in Air.
Short, powerful laser pulses can now be used to create the equivalent of optical waveguides in air, the core of which has a higher refractive index than the outside, and so allowing concentrated focusing of subsequent laser light - avoiding the typical spreading and loss of intensity with distance that light in air experiences http://cmns.umd.edu/news-events/features/2356. The laser pulses last only a trillionth of a second, but the “fibers” or waveguides formed last for milliseconds; a very long time in comparison and longer than needed to take advantage of by firing more powerful beams down the guide with little or minimal loss of energy. While longer distances still need to be tested but there are very promising applications in high-bandwidth air-based communications, long-range chemical analysis, over-air power transmission, and laser weapons to name a few. 

5. Rapidly Spinning Nanorods for Chemistry and Medicine.
Nanorods injected into the bloodstream of mice and rapidly spun up by magnets have been shown to double the effectiveness of blood-clot busting drugs that help with stroke; the rods act like a mixing tool, shaking the clots and helping the drug be more effective and ideally allowing a much lower dose (and lower side effects) to achieve the same therapeutic result http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/biomedical/devices/nanoparticles-improve-stroke-treatment/. Further, nanorods measuring 300nm by 2000nm, placed in solution will rotate at 150,000 rpm when stimulated by 3MHz ultrasound, and act as a very effective and dispersed mixing mechanism with possible applications in speeding up chemical reactions http://phys.org/news/2014-07-ultrasonically-propelled-nanorods-dizzyingly-fast.html. 

6. Injecting a Single Protein Restores Insulin Sensitivity and Normal Glucose Metabolism.
Injecting the protein FGF1 (fibroblast growth factor) into mice with type 2 diabetes results in the restoration of normal insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism for up to two days; sustained treatment could possibly cure type 2 diabetes in humans http://www.salk.edu/news/pressrelease_details.php?press_id=2037. The molecule does all of this without causing the normal side effects and other risks associated with most other diabetes drugs. While promising this is still early stage; to progress to humans the group wants to discover the biochemical pathway that causes the effect, and will also need to create modified proteins that stimulate insulin sensitivity without stimulating cell growth (which this one does).

7. Creating Tractor Beams with Waves.
It has previously been demonstrated that laser light can exert both a pushing and a pulling force on objects. Interestingly, these concepts have now been scaled up and applied to conventional water waves, in which the propagation and timing of water waves can either push or pull floating objects https://medium.com/the-physics-arxiv-blog/tractor-beam-created-using-water-waves-8d9271134c50. That’s a backward pulling force from forward propagating waves, and a pretty interesting fluid dynamics result. Applications could include feeding the knowledge back into the laser work for better optical tractors, better tracking of ocean-borne ships, rubbish, and debris, more efficient cleanup of oil spills, and fun applications with wave pools. 

8. Biomimicry Inspires Super Acoustic Chips.
Drawing on inspiration of a certain fly’s auditory apparatus - which it uses to precisely target crickets on which to birth its larvae - a chip-based replica has been engineered that uses a similarly-structured 3mm square mechanical beam on silicon with a piezoelectric coating that is able to very accurately sense displacement modes corresponding to sound direction and distance http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/at-work/test-and-measurement/mimicking-the-super-hearing-of-a-crickethunting-fly. Such a miniaturised chip-based acoustic sensor has military applications in sensing the direction and distance of sound sources, but it might also help improve this indoor positioning system based on echolocation http://www.technologyreview.com/view/529176/an-indoor-positioning-system-based-on-echolocation/, or even allow simple devices such as mesh networked sensors to cheaply and easily determine the direction and distance to other devices. 

9. Engineering Passive Cooling into Solar Cells.
As good as current solar panels have become they suffer significant losses in energy conversion efficiency when they become too hot and proposals to install active cooling systems almost defeat the point due to the energy required by the pumps. A new passive cooling system involves applying a thin layer with a pattern of micropyramids onto the panels that are optimised to draw away heat and shed it into the atmosphere as infrared radiation http://www.gizmag.com/self-cooling-solar-cells/33061/. The coating lets visible light in and and infrared light out, and should lower operational temperatures, increase efficiency, and lengthen operational lifetimes. 

10. Project Loon Matures After One Year.
Twelve months after first being announced Google’s Project Loon has started to mature, achieving new and significant milestones with its high-altitude balloons designed to provide wireless, ground-level Internet access http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2014-06/17/google-loon-one-year-on. Now considered to be more likely than not to be a viable commercial operation in future, the balloons are providing up to ten times the bandwidth, navigational abilities, and flight times compared to one year ago. A year ago the balloons remained aloft for a few days; now an average of 75 days is common and many pass 100 days with some circling the globe three times. LTE communications have been added and download speeds reach up to 22 MB/s compared to 2 MB/s. One step closer to seamless global wireless Internet access. 

The weekly SciTech Digests are also available as a Google Newsstand Magazine Edition here: 
https://www.google.com/producer/editions/CAow4-hB/scitech_digest 

+ScienceSunday, with your hosts +Buddhini Samarasinghe, +Rajini Rao, +Chad Haney, +Allison Sekuler, +Robby Bowles, +Carissa Braun, and +Aubrey Francisco!___

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2014-07-27 01:43:42 (20 comments, 4 reshares, 41 +1s)

My Overview & Demonstration of Android Wear on the Gear Live.

I decided to take the plunge and order a Gear Live Android Wear smartwatch as soon as it was available, and I've now been wearing the device for nearly two weeks. I wanted to share my experiences and overall impression of the platform; if you've been sitting on the fence regarding these devices this might sway you one way or the other. 

The video is longer than I would like but I really wanted to cover most of the main user interface elements and key device features, benefits, and software tools / apps. The video covers a few basic areas:
* Basic UI & hardware
* Native apps that control certain apps running on your phone
* Custom apps that you install to do extra things
* Notifications and voice messaging (see SMS with my wife for a laugh)
* Overall feelings

The... more »

My Overview & Demonstration of Android Wear on the Gear Live.

I decided to take the plunge and order a Gear Live Android Wear smartwatch as soon as it was available, and I've now been wearing the device for nearly two weeks. I wanted to share my experiences and overall impression of the platform; if you've been sitting on the fence regarding these devices this might sway you one way or the other. 

The video is longer than I would like but I really wanted to cover most of the main user interface elements and key device features, benefits, and software tools / apps. The video covers a few basic areas:
* Basic UI & hardware
* Native apps that control certain apps running on your phone
* Custom apps that you install to do extra things
* Notifications and voice messaging (see SMS with my wife for a laugh)
* Overall feelings

The Bad
For me the heart rate monitor was a selling point because I wanted to conveniently start tracking this data. Unfortunately it is completely useless; working only when at rest, basically, and not working at all when exercising or exerting oneself and sweating. I performed comparison tests with a proper chest-mounted heart rate monitor to confirm this, but the Gear Live would only even return a (very wrong and very delayed) reading when exercising about 1 time in 5 when asked. I felt this was misleading advertising from Samsung and was quite disappointed. Fitness aspects of the device also suffer from the lack of Google's Fit platform being launched; hopefully this will be rectified over the next couple of months - I'd really like to do sleep tracking too. 

The Good
After not wearing anything on my wrist for over five years I'm presently surprised how comfortable the device is. Love the Google Now integration, notifications, and voice interaction; in under two weeks these features have changed the way I interact with my Nexus 5 smartphone - almost curing me of the twitching, addict-like frequent checking of the phone for time and notifications. Sometimes, in a noisy environment I would miss a message or phone call and this is now a thing of the past given the device on my wrist. Utilisation of Google Now is now far more frequent. 

The watch and my bluetooth headset now cover up to 95% of my daily communications needs and subtle buzzing notifications on my wrist obviate the need for ringtones or sound notifications from my phone. This device attached to my body 24/7 now provides a better way to interact with my phone and with device-borne information in general. I'm looking forward to seeing the platform evolve and deriving the benefits there-of, and I'm keen to explore integrating different Tasker Tasks to trigger complex behaviours with a touch. 

#androidwear   #gearlive   #smartwatch  ___

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2014-07-20 12:08:03 (8 comments, 23 reshares, 78 +1s)

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 29/14.
Boron chemistries, plasmonic colour printing, tunable nanoantennas, clearing lipofuscin, nano-pixel displays, reprogramming pace-maker cells, deep learning advances, photonic router, gene drive tech, cloud labs, synbio cheese.

1. Boron Buckyball (Borospherene) Created.
Recent studies of boron chemistry have succeeded in experimentally creating and verifying theoretically predicted boron structures comprising 40 atoms https://news.brown.edu/articles/2014/07/buckyball. 40 boron atoms produce two different but stable molecular structures, one of which includes a hollow molecular cage similar to a carbon buckyball; the other is a semi-flat disc or sheet. The boron cages themselves aren’t as perfect as their carbon counterparts, and comprise 48 triangles, four 7-sided rings, and two 6-sided rings. No applications yet, justi... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 29/14.
Boron chemistries, plasmonic colour printing, tunable nanoantennas, clearing lipofuscin, nano-pixel displays, reprogramming pace-maker cells, deep learning advances, photonic router, gene drive tech, cloud labs, synbio cheese.

1. Boron Buckyball (Borospherene) Created.
Recent studies of boron chemistry have succeeded in experimentally creating and verifying theoretically predicted boron structures comprising 40 atoms https://news.brown.edu/articles/2014/07/buckyball. 40 boron atoms produce two different but stable molecular structures, one of which includes a hollow molecular cage similar to a carbon buckyball; the other is a semi-flat disc or sheet. The boron cages themselves aren’t as perfect as their carbon counterparts, and comprise 48 triangles, four 7-sided rings, and two 6-sided rings. No applications yet, just interesting creation of new molecular structures. In related boron chemistries boron nitride nanotubes and sheets were combined into a 3D structure with interesting properties http://news.rice.edu/2014/07/15/3-d-nanostructure-could-benefit-nanoelectronics-gas-storage/ 

2. Aluminium Nanostructures for Photorealistic Plasmonic Printing.
For the first time fabricating aluminium nanostructures has allowed ultrahigh definition plasmonic colour printing, which requires no pigment but rather produces reflected coloured light based on plasmonic resonances induced by regular surface features http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=36535.php. The surfaces were prepared via electron-beam lithography on silicon substrates, which was then coated with a 20nm layer of aluminium to create the plasmonic surface. Each pixel of the image measured 800nm across, and comprised four aluminium nanopillars 95nm high; variations in the size, separation, and position control the colours that are produced. Early techniques were limited to producing 15 colours; this new method allows over 300 colours to be produced and further development should extend this significantly and open up applications in holography, counterfeiting, security, and others. Aluminium is cheap and the oxide layer that forms naturally protects the surface, which in the demonstration was a reproduction of a Monet painting. In related news nanoantennas can now be altered and tuned on the fly to realise different properties http://phys.org/news/2014-07-tunable-nanoantennas.html. 

3. Cyclodextrins Show Efficacy Against Some Lipofuscin Cellular Wastes.
Lipofuscin is a class of protein and other metabolic waste that typically builds up in the lysosome of long-lived cells due to their inability to break down this type of molecular waste; over time this becomes an important contributor to age-related pathologies. In recent work beta-cyclodextrin molecules were demonstrated as effective in rendering a portion of these accumulated waste products inert https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2014/07/beta-cyclodextrins-as-a-possible-treatment-for-the-build-up-of-lipofuscin.php. This is interesting, albeit early work aimed at addressing this cause of aging and certain other diseases and provides a range of avenues for better targeting and treating these accumulated wastes in future. 

4. Nano-Pixel, High-Resolution Displays.
Advances with new semiconductor materials have enabled the creation of new display pixels measuring just 300nm on a side and able to create black, white, and coloured images http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2014-07-10-nano-pixels-promise-thin-flexible-high-res-displays. The prototype displays are thin-film solid-state devices and can be fabricated onto both solid and flexible substrates; each pixel is addressable and only those pixels that change need to be refreshed, leading to both “colour e-reader” and “backlit video” applications on the same display. While super-high-resolution displays of conventional sizes may have questionable applicability, such resolution may be useful in applications for small screen sizes such as glasses and contact lenses for example. 

5. Gene Therapy Creates Cellular Pacemaker Cells for Hearts.
A modified, replication-deficient virus was delivered to the right ventricle of pig hearts, where it delivery the gene Tbx18 to a small number of heart muscle cells, subsequently reprogramming the cells to those that emit the electrical impulses that drive the beating of the heart http://www.theverge.com/2014/7/16/5906563/biological-pacemakers-gene-therapy-heart-muscle-cells. The work showed that the reprogramming significantly reduced the reliance on the hearts for implanted pacemakers and offered the possibility of similar treatments and benefits for humans, especially considering the success was achieved in large animals. Although the benefits lasted only two weeks, the group believe that further work will allow longer and perhaps permanent effects to be realised. 

6. Deep Learning Capabilities Gathering Speed.
Following on from related advances last week we have another couple of prominent deep learning announcements. First, Microsoft Research demonstrated Project Adam, a deep learning object recognition system comprised of a neural network with two billion connections that uses 30x fewer machines and is 2x as accurate as other systems that it plans to integrate with its Cortana AI assistant, with the ultimate aim being to recognise anything from an image http://blogs.microsoft.com/next/2014/07/14/microsoft-research-shows-advances-artificial-intelligence-project-adam/. Second, we had Clarifai, a start-up company also utilising advanced deep learning algorithms for object recognition and visual search in a range of applications http://www.wired.com/2014/07/clarifai. We even had coverage of Google’s deep learning capabilities with Google Brain http://www.wired.com/2014/07/google_brain/. 

7. Photonic Router Built for First Time.
The first photonic router was demonstrated this week, a device that utilises a single atom to route single photons http://wis-wander.weizmann.ac.il/the-world%E2%80%99s-first-photonic-router. The atom held at the core of the device can be switched between two different states depending on whether the incoming photon approaches from two different directions, after which it will reflect or transmit the next photon accordingly. The group liken the device to the equivalent of a photonic transistor, and hope that further development and scale will enable the creation of photonic computer chips and quantum computing applications. 

8. The Promise and Peril of Gene Drive Technology.
Recent experiments with gene drive technology show it to be a viable and deployable technology and this has raised a number of concerns. Gene drive technology is the genetic engineering of organisms designed to be released into the wild in order to stimulate the biased inheritance of particular genes to alter entire populations of organisms http://news.sciencemag.org/biology/2014/07/u-s-researchers-call-greater-oversight-powerful-genetic-technology. Case in point being the ability to produce male mosquitos that, when they mate, produce only male offspring; this would lead to a reasonably quick drop in mosquito populations and, because males don’t bite, a reasonably rapid drop in malaria transmission. The rise and utility of CRISPR technology means that gene drive techniques can be quickly applied to other species; and indeed there are experiments underway to test the inter-species transmissability of gene drive elements for potential unwanted and unforeseen consequences. Like all technologies this can be used for both good and bad purposes; mass ecosystem tinkering would seem to come with a few risks.  

9. Adopting the Cloud-Computing Model to Conventional Laboratories.
I love reporting on ideas that have been implemented by others that I have been thinking about and toying with for well over a year. In cloud-computing companies and users rent or use the servers and server-based services provided by large companies with data centers such as Google and Amazon instead of buying and maintaining their own. Emerald Therapeutics has digitised laboratory experimentation and offers virtual scientific research services via the web http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-07-03/emerald-therapeutics-biotech-lab-for-hire. Emerald’s control software and high-end scientific hardware allows users to run a range of scientific experiments, obviating the need for the user to purchase and maintain expensive equipment, and allowing Emerald to maximise use and pay-back on its own expensive equipment. I think Emerald’s system, grown to something like Google-scale, would be truly transformative and allow greatly accelerated scientific research and discovery. 

10. Engineering Yeast to Produce Cheese.
Biohackers are on the verge of creating cheese produced not from cows milk but from genetically modified strains of yeast http://www.fastcoexist.com/3033154/fund-this/biohackers-are-growing-real-cheese-in-a-lab-no-cow-needed. A number of animal genomes were reviewed for genes producing different milk proteins, which were then inserted into yeast to produce those milk proteins; once purified the protein is added to a milk-fat replacement, sugar, and water to create completely vegan non-animal milk and from this milk conventional cheese-making can commence. Scale-up might present some problems but the team are keen to create novelty cheeses such as Narwhal cheese. Perhaps the genes for metabolising electricity possessed by some bacteria http://gizmodo.com/electricity-eating-bacteria-are-real-and-more-common-th-1606910533 could be used to allow the yeast to tap a convenient energy source.

An archive of the SciTech Digests can also be found here: http://www.scitechdigest.net 

+ScienceSunday, with your hosts +Buddhini Samarasinghe, +Rajini Rao, +Chad Haney, +Robby Bowles , +Allison Sekuler, +Carissa Braun, and +Aubrey Francisco!

+STEM on Google+ Community ___

2014-07-19 08:05:09 (13 comments, 4 reshares, 32 +1s)

Being Technoliterate.

Great list by Kevin Kelly. The only point I disagree with to some degree is Acquire at the last possible moment. Technologies improve so fast you should postpone getting anything until 5 minutes before you need it.

I'm not sure there is such a thing as "last possible moment" or anything like a line in the sand "after which" one should acquire. Just a continual evolution of tools getting ever better and taking on new forms, features, and functions. Wait too long (which is not very long at all) and one starts incurring the opportunity cost of not acquiring sooner and not learning about or developing capabilities with the technology earlier, thus falling behind the curve. 

Also, the need for a new technological tool and the changes it brings to one's life is often not apparent until one uses that tool directly. Take smartwatches for... more »

Technoliteracy
I wrote up some essential skills for tomorrow. What am I missing?

• Anything you buy, you must maintain. A purchase is just the beginning.  You can expect to devote as much money/time in maintaining a technology as you did in acquiring and installing it.
• Acquire at the last possible moment. Technologies improve so fast you should postpone getting anything until 5 minutes before you need it. Then accept the fact that anything you buy is already obsolete.
• You will be newbie forever. Get good at the beginner mode: learning new programs, asking dumb questions, making stupid mistakes, soliciting help. 
• Often learning a new tool requires unlearning old ones. The habits of using a land line phone don't work in email or cell phone. The habits of email don't work in twitter. The habits of twitter won't work in what is next. Try to leave the old habits behind when venturing to new forms.
• Take sabbaticals. Once a week let go of your tools. Once a year take a break from the whole system gracefully. Once in your life step back completely and turn everything off until your soul says to turn it back on. You'll return with renewed enthusiasm and perspective.
• Keep it easy to switch. You will leave the tool you are using today at some time in the near future. How easy will it be to leave? If leaving forces you to leave all your data behind, or to learn a new way of typing, or to surrender four other technologies you were still using, then maybe this is not the best one to start.

• Quality is not always related to price. Sometimes expensive gear is better, sometimes the least expensive is best for you. Most folks don’t ever use the premium features they paid for. And 95% of most tools are abandonded before they wear out. Quality is related to your personal use.
• For every expert opinion that you find online, seek out an equal but opposite expert opinion somewhere else. Don’t rely on  raves only.  If you have not heard any negatives, you have not yet found all the opinions.
• You don’t need to understand the mechanics of a new technology before you start using it.  The best way to understand it is to use it.
• Tools are metaphors that shape how you think. What embedded assumptions does the new tool make? Does it assume right-handedness, or literacy, or a password, or a place to throw it away? Where the defaults are set can reflect a tool's bias. You should ask yourself what does this technology assume?
• What other thing do you give up? This one has taken me a long time to learn. The only way to take up a new technology is to reduce an old one in my life already. Social media, for instance, must come at the expense of something else I was doing -- even if it just daydreaming.
• Every new technology will bite back. The more powerful its gifts, the more powerfully it can be abused. Look for its costs.
• Risks are relative. The risks of a new technology can’t be evaluation alone; they must be compared to the risks of the older technology, or no technology. For instance the risks of a new dental MRI must be compared to the risks of an old x-ray, or to the risks of no x-ray and getting cavities. The costs of the new must be compared to costs of the old. 
• Be suspicious of any technology that requires walls to prevent access. If you can’t fix it, modify it or hack it yourself, that is a  sign.
* Teaching others what you learn (like posting solutions to things you figured out) is the best way to keep learning about a technology yourself.
• The proper response to a stupid technology is not to outlaw it but to make a better one yourself, just as the proper response to a stupid idea is not to outlaw it but to replace it with a better idea.
• Nobody has any idea of what a new invention will really be good for, including its inventors. You can’t evaluate new things by merely thinking about them. To evaluate, try it, then think.
• The second order effects of technology usually only arrive when everyone has one, or it is present everywhere. Drones are cool, but what if everyone has one hovering over their shoulder?
• The older the technology, the more likely it will continue to be useful. It may need to find a more limited new job, but don’t dismiss it. Some of the best new things are old things re-imagined.
• Find the minimum amount of technology that will maximize your options.___Being Technoliterate.

Great list by Kevin Kelly. The only point I disagree with to some degree is Acquire at the last possible moment. Technologies improve so fast you should postpone getting anything until 5 minutes before you need it.

I'm not sure there is such a thing as "last possible moment" or anything like a line in the sand "after which" one should acquire. Just a continual evolution of tools getting ever better and taking on new forms, features, and functions. Wait too long (which is not very long at all) and one starts incurring the opportunity cost of not acquiring sooner and not learning about or developing capabilities with the technology earlier, thus falling behind the curve. 

Also, the need for a new technological tool and the changes it brings to one's life is often not apparent until one uses that tool directly. Take smartwatches for example; I wasn't sure if I needed one but I went and acquired one anyway, mainly for the purpose of learning about this form factor and having a smart device strapped to me 24/7 and developing new habits and capabilities for interacting with the technology on and around me. I knew it would be a bit of an experiment, I knew that these early generation devices are limited and don't do everything I want them to do, but I also know that they will get better and better and better, and I strongly suspected that my needs for such a thing will develop and grow over time. And I think I will benefit from having developed intimate familiarity with the technology from an early stage. 

I'm more in line with commenter Brent Newhall's sentiment RE jumping in early, adopting, and using. 

#technology   #technoliteracy   #technium  

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2014-07-18 03:34:53 (10 comments, 0 reshares, 15 +1s)

Halo 4 Montage, with Beats!

My final Halo 4 highlights clip; a diverse collection of snipes and no-scopes squeezed into a montage with a cool music track. Many thanks to my cousin James aka DJ Jimmy H for permission to use his song "KA POW!" - if you like the song please go check out DJ Jimmy H's stream on SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/james-hanna-4

Best viewed in larger size on YouTube in 720p.

I've had these highlights sitting around on my hard drive for many months now and finally got around to stitching them altogether. The total highlights video comes to 48 minutes, but this video below is a 5 minute subset of the very best moments. I haven't even played Halo 4 in several months, ever since Titanfall came out, and I'm not sure if I'll get to play it again as I once did. Still, some good memories here.

#halo4 ... more »

Halo 4 Montage, with Beats!

My final Halo 4 highlights clip; a diverse collection of snipes and no-scopes squeezed into a montage with a cool music track. Many thanks to my cousin James aka DJ Jimmy H for permission to use his song "KA POW!" - if you like the song please go check out DJ Jimmy H's stream on SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/james-hanna-4

Best viewed in larger size on YouTube in 720p.

I've had these highlights sitting around on my hard drive for many months now and finally got around to stitching them altogether. The total highlights video comes to 48 minutes, but this video below is a 5 minute subset of the very best moments. I haven't even played Halo 4 in several months, ever since Titanfall came out, and I'm not sure if I'll get to play it again as I once did. Still, some good memories here.

#halo4 #montage #highlights  ___

2014-07-16 11:55:09 (8 comments, 0 reshares, 36 +1s)

Weekend In Melbourne.

After getting home to a decent WiFi connection on Monday night my Melbourne photos backed up to Google+ and some clever little algorithms put this "Story" together of selected photos, PhotoSpheres, and Tiny Planet images that I made. Quite a neat little feature and quite impressive IMO. Just thought I'd throw it out there for anyone to take a peak. For best results try clicking "full-screen". 

The PhotoSpheres are up too; got a few good ones of Melbourne although many were washed out: https://www.google.com/maps/views/profile/115624860057949518963?gl=us 

Weekend In Melbourne.

After getting home to a decent WiFi connection on Monday night my Melbourne photos backed up to Google+ and some clever little algorithms put this "Story" together of selected photos, PhotoSpheres, and Tiny Planet images that I made. Quite a neat little feature and quite impressive IMO. Just thought I'd throw it out there for anyone to take a peak. For best results try clicking "full-screen". 

The PhotoSpheres are up too; got a few good ones of Melbourne although many were washed out: https://www.google.com/maps/views/profile/115624860057949518963?gl=us ___

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2014-07-13 12:13:27 (18 comments, 29 reshares, 72 +1s)

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 28/14.
Non-invasive optogenetics, DNA origami antibiotics, smaller human genome, giant Lego blocks, self-assembly machines, implantable drug reservoirs, deep learning improvements, Clarity brain imaging.

1. Optogenetics Goes Non-Invasive With Red Light.
In a significant advance for optogenetics new opsin proteins have been engineered that are sensitive to red light, allowing a red light source external to the skull to trigger neurons and neural circuits that have been modified to express the new protein http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2014/noninvasive-brain-control-0629. In optogenetics studies of the brain a light source usually has to be inserted or implanted under the skull so that light can reach the modified neurons. Now with external light sources able to switch neurons on and off, applications in humans become much more... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 28/14.
Non-invasive optogenetics, DNA origami antibiotics, smaller human genome, giant Lego blocks, self-assembly machines, implantable drug reservoirs, deep learning improvements, Clarity brain imaging.

1. Optogenetics Goes Non-Invasive With Red Light.
In a significant advance for optogenetics new opsin proteins have been engineered that are sensitive to red light, allowing a red light source external to the skull to trigger neurons and neural circuits that have been modified to express the new protein http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2014/noninvasive-brain-control-0629. In optogenetics studies of the brain a light source usually has to be inserted or implanted under the skull so that light can reach the modified neurons. Now with external light sources able to switch neurons on and off, applications in humans become much more feasible. The work also demonstrated partial vision restoration in mice by targeting diseased retinal cells. 

2. DNA Origami Delivers Better Antibiotics.
Tiny pyramid structures formed by self-assembling DNA origami strands have proven to be effective drug delivery vehicles against bacteria http://phys.org/news/2014-07-tiny-dna-pyramids-bacteria-easilyand.html. Gold nanoclusters attached to the corners of the pyramids allowed positional imaging to confirm cellular location, while the drug actinomycin was loaded onto the pyramid struts. The structures proved to be a more effective vehicle for delivering the drug into the bacterial cells, killing significantly more cells than the drug alone in proof-of-concept demonstrations. 

3. Human Genome Update to 19,000 Genes.
A recent study and analysis of the human genome as part of the ENCODE project presents an updated annotation comprising 19,000 protein-coding genes http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1113185088/human-genome-reduced-to-19000-genes-070414/. Not only does this number seem to keep falling, but it seems that almost all of these genes have ancestors prior to the appearance of primates. A full 1,700 genes were cut from prior estimates due to the lack of counterparts in proteomic analysis. The number of new genes separating humans from mice is minimal and the differences between primates are overwhelmingly likely to be due to differences in gene regulation rather than differences in basic protein function.

4. Giant Lego Blocks for Home, Industrial, and Infrastructure Builds.
A company called Kite Bricks has launched the concept and prototypes for “Smart Bricks” made out of high strength concrete in a range of standard shapes that can be used to construct buildings rapidly and cheaply http://arstechnica.com/business/2014/07/these-bricks-are-like-lego-for-full-sized-buildings/. They possess a Lego-like nature that allows them to be easily connected and stacked together via slots, knobs, and voids on certain surfaces; a layer of double-sided adhesive is added where surfaces join. The design includes facilitation for structural steel components, insulation, and building infrastructure, and is expected to provide 30% energy savings and 50% lower construction costs. 

5. Prototype Self-Assembly Machines.
The first example of a self-assembly machine has been realised with a device capable of reel-to-reel, continuous-process fluidic self-assembly for fabrication of semiconductor chips (LEDs) over large areas for solid-state lighting applications and with yields greater than 99%, better than robotic pick-n-place operations http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=36474.php. This is an automated surface-tension directed process, with a 2.5cm wide ribbon able to assemble 15,000 chips per hour with multiple avenues available to explore full scale-up. The self-assembled LED panels were demonstrated as functional; I’d like to scale these up and wallpaper my house with them. Future work and improvements will allow self-assembly of more complex structures using different materials and shapes, but I’d really like to see DNA Origami and block copolymers added into the mix. I think this platform, or at least its evolutionary off-shots, will be transformative. More self-assembly advances this week, http://phys.org/news/2014-07-precision-functions-molecular-self-assembly.html. 

6. Implanted Remote Controlled Drug Reservoirs.
A company called MicroCHIPS has developed a 20 x 20 x 7mm implantable, wirelessly controlled chip + drug reservoir device whose delivery of a daily dose of drug can be switched on and off via smartphone for example http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/biomedical/devices/contraceptive-implant-hands-women-remote-control. Originally demonstrated with an osteoporosis drug in human clinical trials, the new development involves a contraceptive drug with enough daily 30 microgram doses to last 16 years (175mg total drug stored). A woman could implant the device and easily control her birth control regime over many years. What other drugs might this be used for? When might these devices use materials from the body to synthesise drugs in situ?

7. Machine Image Processing Now Matches Monkey Abilities.
New deep learning algorithms, under development for years, now match the image recognition abilities of monkeys http://www.wired.com/2014/07/cadieu. The experiments were conducted by measuring the signals from wires implanted into relevant regions of the monkey’s brains while they viewed a long series of test images; machines running the new algorithms had to identify the same series of images, and proved that they could match the performance of the monkeys. These algorithms have been advancing steadily and significantly lately and are on a trajectory to human-level abilities. In related news Numenta has launched algorithms that process information in a similar manner to the human brain (or Numenta’s model of it) for a number of different pattern recognition applications http://venturebeat.com/2014/07/09/numentas-brain-research-has-taken-a-long-nine-years-but-it-starting-to-pay-off-interview/. 

8. Clarity Brain Imaging Improvements. 
The CLARITY brain imaging technique, first announced last year, has been significantly improved http://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2014/07/seeing-the-inner-workings-of-the-brain-made-easier.html. Latest advances have successfully solved two early problems that plagued the technique, (i) removing fat from the brain without damaging the brain’s wiring, and (ii) allowing imaging of the whole transparent brain with common microscopy methods and without bleaching or otherwise damaging brain tissue with the technique. These advances promise to not only make the Clarity brain imaging technique much more widely accessible to people, but also allow much better studies to be conducted, and knowledge to be derived, from structural wiring features of the brain. 

9. Flexible Electronics and Soft Machines.
New nanoparticle inks allow simple and effective printing of electronics on flexible substrates http://phys.org/news/2014-07-cool-approach-flexible-electronics.html. The inks are intended to enable low-cost, simple fabrication methods to produce structures that perform better than conventional semiconductor materials. I wonder if such electronic inks might be used in implanted and tattooed electronic devices? Speaking of electronic inks and flexible substrates we also had new methods for fabricating soft machines and sensitive robotic skins http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2014/Q2/new-manufacturing-methods-needed-for-soft-machines,-robots.html. 

10. Developing and Operating Artificial Cilia.
Cilia are typically cell-surface structures that bacteria switch back and forth to help them move around the environment; related structures help us move mucus and other particles along our throat. New surfaces have been created via self-assembly processes that are covered in artificial cilia molecules that switch in a similar manner when stimulated by light, thus allowing light-driven, light-controlled, directional movement of molecular-cilia surfaces http://phys.org/news/2014-07-artificial-cilia-scientists-nano-structured.html. This is another prototype approach to molecular fabrication plants with the cilia surfaces acting like conveyor belts able to move and position specific molecules at specific times and places. 

If you'd like notifications of these weekly Digests then just throw the SciTech Digest page into a notification circle: https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/105994073381308284341/+ScitechdigestNet/posts

+ScienceSunday, with your hosts +Buddhini Samarasinghe, +Rajini Rao, +Chad Haney, +Allison Sekuler, +Robby Bowles, +Carissa Braun, and +Aubrey Francisco!___

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2014-07-12 13:32:15 (9 comments, 1 reshares, 25 +1s)

Day 5 of #fivedayquest = Visiting a Ninja in Melbourne.

On my fifth day I'm in Melbourne after two hours sleep the night before, and offer this glimpse from a bar with band playing on Melbourne's South Bank, looking out over the city and the Yarra River while I catch up and meet face-to-face for the first time with +Ninja On Rye for a few drinks :)

Thanks to +Mark Rösel for inviting me to partake in the fivedayquest series!

These are the rules for the game:
1) Post 5 shots on 5 days that have something to do with your life
2) Use the hashtag #fivedayquest  on every post
3) Mention the person who invited you on every post
4) Tag a new person to join the challenge each day - no pressure, it's just for fun!

I'm extending an invite to +Matthew J Price, fellow transhumanist, optimist, futurist, and all arounden... more »

Day 5 of #fivedayquest = Visiting a Ninja in Melbourne.

On my fifth day I'm in Melbourne after two hours sleep the night before, and offer this glimpse from a bar with band playing on Melbourne's South Bank, looking out over the city and the Yarra River while I catch up and meet face-to-face for the first time with +Ninja On Rye for a few drinks :)

Thanks to +Mark Rösel for inviting me to partake in the fivedayquest series!

These are the rules for the game:
1) Post 5 shots on 5 days that have something to do with your life
2) Use the hashtag #fivedayquest  on every post
3) Mention the person who invited you on every post
4) Tag a new person to join the challenge each day - no pressure, it's just for fun!

I'm extending an invite to +Matthew J Price, fellow transhumanist, optimist, futurist, and all around engaging fellow :) As usual, no problem at all if you decline! ___

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2014-07-09 14:22:05 (23 comments, 6 reshares, 26 +1s)

So I Found This Invites Thing Today.

I was randomly exploring settings and found this "Invites" or "Invitations" thing on Hangouts today. Opening the Hangouts application on your phone simply click the little three square dots menu button at upper right and you'll see "Invites", or as per the image below you can access it through the web interface via Google+ by clicking the Hangouts button, then the drop-down arrow / menu to get the settings shown and access "Invitations" - same thing. 

I discovered that, depending on your Hangouts settings, this is where you find all of the Hangouts messages people have sent you who aren't in circles you've designated as having rights to send you messages. 

I found a list of messages; about half were random junk and video Hangouts invites. But the other half comprised genuinem... more »

So I Found This Invites Thing Today.

I was randomly exploring settings and found this "Invites" or "Invitations" thing on Hangouts today. Opening the Hangouts application on your phone simply click the little three square dots menu button at upper right and you'll see "Invites", or as per the image below you can access it through the web interface via Google+ by clicking the Hangouts button, then the drop-down arrow / menu to get the settings shown and access "Invitations" - same thing. 

I discovered that, depending on your Hangouts settings, this is where you find all of the Hangouts messages people have sent you who aren't in circles you've designated as having rights to send you messages. 

I found a list of messages; about half were random junk and video Hangouts invites. But the other half comprised genuine messages from people I didn't know well and yet were worth my time and attention - requests for help, opportunity proposals, etc. I plan on responding to all of these, about 10 in total. 

The thing is, I use Hangouts every day as my default SMS / Messaging app and this is the first time I've ever found this setting / archive of messages. Some of the messages are a year old and so I'm wondering if these people think I'm rude for not responding? 

If you didn't know about this, you might want to check for yourself - you don't know what you'll find. Let me know in the comments if you found a whole bunch of messages you didn't know about. 

#hangouts   #invites   #settings  ___

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2014-07-07 11:16:43 (10 comments, 3 reshares, 32 +1s)

Day 4 of #fivedayquest = Eye Test.

On my fourth day I offer this close-up image, taken earlier today, of the retina of my right eye. You can clearly see the fovea with the highest concentration of photoreceptors enabling my visual acuity, and also the optic nerve (blind spot) with network of emerging blood vessels. My optic nerve happens to have a small cup structure in the middle, which can be a risk factor for glaucoma, especially if there is high eye-pressure; fortunately my eye-pressure is quite low. 

It has been a couple of years or more since my last proper eye test and I’m due for new lenses and frames and a restocking of contact lenses. Both eyes were tested of course and it turns out that my vision is stable; my prescription has not changed since I was last tested and there has been no degradation. The stigmatism is still present, but unchanged; thecu... more »

Day 4 of #fivedayquest = Eye Test.

On my fourth day I offer this close-up image, taken earlier today, of the retina of my right eye. You can clearly see the fovea with the highest concentration of photoreceptors enabling my visual acuity, and also the optic nerve (blind spot) with network of emerging blood vessels. My optic nerve happens to have a small cup structure in the middle, which can be a risk factor for glaucoma, especially if there is high eye-pressure; fortunately my eye-pressure is quite low. 

It has been a couple of years or more since my last proper eye test and I’m due for new lenses and frames and a restocking of contact lenses. Both eyes were tested of course and it turns out that my vision is stable; my prescription has not changed since I was last tested and there has been no degradation. The stigmatism is still present, but unchanged; the curve of one cornea is slightly different to the other. 

Thanks to +Mark Rösel for inviting me to partake in the fivedayquest series :)

These are the rules for the game:
1) Post 5 shots on 5 days that have something to do with your life
2) Use the hashtag #fivedayquest  on every post
3) Mention the person who invited you on every post
4) Tag a new person to join the challenge each day - no pressure, it's just for fun!

I'm going to extend an invite to +Chris McClelland, a modern electronics and programming magician who never fails to impress me with his exploits. Chris has been quiet lately, probably busy programming imaging satellites and designing space-worthy PCBs in between hacking FPGAs for custom game console applications. No problem if you can't squeeze this in Chris!___

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2014-07-06 07:01:05 (12 comments, 41 reshares, 96 +1s)

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 27/14.
Carbon nanotube applications, precise quantum dots, crossbar memory, 3D printed epoxies, GM probiotics vs obesity, cyborg robots, cell therapies, consciousness off switch.

1. Much Ado About Carbon Nanotubes.
A big week for carbon nanotubes, led by IBM’s announcement that commercial nanotube transistors are on the way with chips expected by 2020 http://www.technologyreview.com/news/528601/ibm-commercial-nanotube-transistors-are-coming-soon/. The company’s latest prototype chips pack 10,000 transistors made of carbon nanotubes and in 2020 should offer a five-fold improvement in performance compared to existing chips at the same power; mass-fabrication should entail only small changes to existing fab processes. Our control over nanotubes is becoming increasingly sophisticated, with it being possible to now induceacc... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 27/14.
Carbon nanotube applications, precise quantum dots, crossbar memory, 3D printed epoxies, GM probiotics vs obesity, cyborg robots, cell therapies, consciousness off switch.

1. Much Ado About Carbon Nanotubes.
A big week for carbon nanotubes, led by IBM’s announcement that commercial nanotube transistors are on the way with chips expected by 2020 http://www.technologyreview.com/news/528601/ibm-commercial-nanotube-transistors-are-coming-soon/. The company’s latest prototype chips pack 10,000 transistors made of carbon nanotubes and in 2020 should offer a five-fold improvement in performance compared to existing chips at the same power; mass-fabrication should entail only small changes to existing fab processes. Our control over nanotubes is becoming increasingly sophisticated, with it being possible to now induce accurate chirality-controlled growth of carbon nanotubes http://phys.org/news/2014-06-chirality-controlled-growth-single-walled-carbon-nanotubes.html, accurately control the 3D orientation of fabricated nanotubes http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=36288.php, and even assembling nanotubes into sensitve nanoscale force sensors http://phys.org/news/2014-06-scientists-sensor-carbon-nanotubes.html. 

2. Engineering Atomically Precise Quantum Dots.
Quantum dots can now be fabricated in certain circumstances with atomic precision http://phys.org/news/2014-06-quantum-dots-single-atom-precision.html. The quantum dots were fabricated with a scanning tunnelling microscope and are completely free of uncontrolled variations; by being identical their capacity to function as artificial atoms and display uniform characteristics is a breakthrough. But outside the realm of perhaps quantum computing real-world applications will require innovations in scale-up; possibly with STM chip arrays, possibly something else entirely. 

3. Commercial Fabrication of 3D Crossbar RRAM Memory.
Start-up company Crossbar has unveiled its first pre-production prototype crossbar resistive RAM memory arrays http://nextbigfuture.com/2014/07/crossbar-on-way-to-delivery-terabyte-on.html. Although the prototypes are only a 1MB demonstration but the potential is the replacement of the currently dominant NAND memory. Crossbar RRAM offers the possibility of terabyte data storage on a chip (postage stamp), 3D stacking, 20 times faster access speed, CMOS compatibility, and 10 times better lifetime / endurance of other memories. I remember when squeezing a gigabyte on a chip seemed amazing; seems doing the same with a terabyte isn’t that far away. 

4. 3D Printing Light, Strong Epoxy Cellular Composites.
Epoxy resins loaded with nanoclay platelets and either silicon carbide or carbon fibers have been used in 3D printing applications for the first time, depositing cellular composite materials that are incredibly light yet as stiff as wood or even concrete, and 20 times stiffer than current 3D printed polymers http://www.gizmag.com/3d-printed-strong-composite/32738/. The exact stiffness can be modified by simply changing the orientation of the fibers. The big attraction here is that it allows 3D printing for genuine structural applications - something not inherent in current 3D printed thermoplastics. 

5. Genetically Engineered Probiotics Versus Obesity.
It was only a matter of time. Genetically modified bacteria fed to mice prevent the animals from gaining as much weight as control mice http://www.popsci.com.au/gadgets/fitness/genetically-altered-bacteria-prevent-mice-from-getting-fat,388900. The modified bacteria produce a substance that is converted by the body into N-acylphosphatidylethanolamine, a hormone that travels to the brain and reduces appetite - the animals voluntarily ate less, gained less weight, and had lower insulin resistance. The bacteria survived in the gut for up to four weeks. Next step is to test in humans and so encourage a range of genetically engineered probiotics to be developed for human health. There is also evidence of microbes contributing to Alzheimer’s https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2014/07/microbial-contributions-to-alzheimers-disease.php and speciation http://www.simonsfoundation.org/quanta/20140604-evolving-with-a-little-help-from-our-friends/. 

6. Solar-Powered Conversion of Carbon Dioxide to Formic Acid.
An electrochemical cell, powered by a solar panel, was demonstrated to react carbon dioxide with water to produce formic acid http://phys.org/news/2014-07-solar-panels-carbon-dioxide-fuel.html. While the proof-of-concept achieved an efficiency of only 2%, the study showed that a simple system was able to take abundant water and carbon dioxide and use solar power to produce a more complex molecule useful in applications itself and also as a feedstock for producing more complex organic molecules. Not just carbon capture but distributed production of molecular feedstocks. 

7. Consciousness Off Switch.
A patient’s consciousness has been controllably switched off and on by electrically stimulating the claustrum region / structure in the brain http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22329762.700-consciousness-onoff-switch-discovered-deep-in-brain.html. See more information on this region here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claustrum. The work seems to bear out theories claiming that the structure is required for rapid integration of information across different brain regions and binding information arriving at different times - which is believed to be necessary for consciousness. When consciousness was switched on again there was no memory of the event. Obviously, while intriguing and suggestive this needs to be replicated before being taken seriously. Less invasive means of targeting this region might also make for better and safer anaesthetic interventions. 

8. Another Option, Another Step for 3D Printed Transplantable Tissues.
An alternative technique for 3D printing artificial vascular networks for bioprinted organs has been developed http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140630103136.htm. The method involves 3D printing interconnected fibers to serve as molds for artificial blood vessels, covering the fibers with a protein-rich gel loaded with cells that is solidified by applying light, and removing the fibers to leave behind the network of channels that are now coated in endothelial cells, which organise to form stable blood capillaries. Suitable, scalable vasculature is still one of the main factors holding back bioprinted organs. The promise of bioprinting and 3D printing in general becomes even more apparent when it seems that 3D printing might well be on a Moore’s Law-style 24-month doubling in performance, speed, and cost reduction http://3dprint.com/7543/3d-printing-moores-law/. 

9. Cell Therapies Becoming More Sophisticated.
We had a number of interesting cell therapy developments recently announced https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2014/07/a-selection-of-recent-progress-in-cell-biotechnology.php. These included (i) targeted isolation of corneal stem cells and subsequent exploitation to regrow anatomically-correct fully-functional human corneas in mice, (ii) the best demonstration yet for nuclear-transfer (to egg) stem cells being far superior to induced pluripotent stem cells for therapeutic applications; they are more completely reprogrammed and have gene expression and methylation profiles that more closely match embryonic stem cells, and (iii) engineering of red blood cells as potent drug delivery vehicles, toxin neutralisers, and sponges for particular molecules. 

10. Little Cyborg Robots.
Researchers have created simple, small “bio-bots” by fusing 3D printed hydrogel structures with strips of skeletal muscle cells, the activation of which can be controlled via electric pulses http://news.illinois.edu/news/14/0630biobots2_RashidBashir.html. The work builds on earlier studies that used heart muscle cells that pulsed continuously with little means to control the cyborg robot. The current design allows much better control for stopping, starting, and speed of movement in general. The group will next explore enhancements including (i) more complex structural designs to allow steering and additional means of control and (ii) incorporating neurons to see if movement and control can be influenced by light or chemical signals and possibly to react autonomously to sensed chemical cues.

The weekly SciTech Digests are also available as a Google Newsstand Magazine Edition here: 
https://www.google.com/producer/editions/CAow4-hB/scitech_digest 

+ScienceSunday, with your hosts +Buddhini Samarasinghe, +Rajini Rao, +Chad Haney, +Allison Sekuler, +Robby Bowles, +Carissa Braun, and +Aubrey Francisco!

+STEM on Google+ Community ___

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2014-07-02 14:39:55 (36 comments, 42 reshares, 100 +1s)

Latest Hints of Determinism Beneath Quantum Reality.
I'v been struggling to find time to write about this since I first read about it last week.

Bouncing oil drop experiments, which as the name implies involves an oil drop bouncing over the surface of a liquid, are used as a physical analogy for the behaviour of quantum particles interacting in quantum systems as described by pilot wave theory - a version of Bohmian Mechanics or hidden variables interpretations. 

This recent Quanta article - http://www.simonsfoundation.org/quanta/20140624-fluid-tests-hint-at-concrete-quantum-reality/ - discusses the history and peculiarities of pilot wave theory and Bohmian mechanics, as well as recent bouncing oil drop experiments that reproduce quantum phenomena. In bouncing oil drop experiments the droplet interacts with its own ripples, forming pilot waves that cause the droplet to... more »

Latest Hints of Determinism Beneath Quantum Reality.
I'v been struggling to find time to write about this since I first read about it last week.

Bouncing oil drop experiments, which as the name implies involves an oil drop bouncing over the surface of a liquid, are used as a physical analogy for the behaviour of quantum particles interacting in quantum systems as described by pilot wave theory - a version of Bohmian Mechanics or hidden variables interpretations. 

This recent Quanta article - http://www.simonsfoundation.org/quanta/20140624-fluid-tests-hint-at-concrete-quantum-reality/ - discusses the history and peculiarities of pilot wave theory and Bohmian mechanics, as well as recent bouncing oil drop experiments that reproduce quantum phenomena. In bouncing oil drop experiments the droplet interacts with its own ripples, forming pilot waves that cause the droplet to replicate a range of quantum phenomena including tunneling through barriers, orbiting each other in bound states, exhibiting quantum spin and electromagnetic attraction, and annihilating with their opposites (subsurface bubbles). Some other takeaways follow. 

The latest experiment successfully reproduced the classic double-slit experiment with bouncing oil drops, demonstrating both single- and double-slit interference. The droplets pass through only one gap in the barrier, but the ripples or pilot wave passes through both, producing an interference pattern that influences the trajectory of the droplet - an interference pattern that is destroyed if a detector for the droplet disturbs the wave. In both cases the trajectories of droplets replicate the distributions observed in related quantum systems. Further, incorporating a magnetic force results in a bouncing droplet adopting specific orbits around the magnet, with set energy and angular momentum - such quantisation is often quoted as a defining feature of quantum reality. 

Indeed, Richard Feynman said it was impossible to explain the double slit experiment in any classical way. And yet here we have direct experimental evidence of a deterministic classical system exhibiting the same phenomena. 

The properties of the fluid determine what is possible in bouncing droplet experiments of course. Intriguingly, theoretical calculations concerning the path memory exhibited by a fluid indicate that a superfluid ought to display perfect path memory and no dissipation at all; this would allow reproduction of entanglement for two “bouncing” droplet. Experimental inquiry of this type, with helium for example, seems to be not technically possible for the foreseeable future however. 

To the haters out there: modern Bohmian Mechanics and pilot-wave theory is nonlocal. The comments for the article are worth reading and Bell’s Inequality is poorly understood, even by experts in theoretical physics. One example journal article on theoretical physics that seeks to delve into and explain a lot of the misunderstanding surrounding Bell’s Theorem and Bohm’s Theory is What is the meaning of the wave function?http://www.bslps.be/meaningWF.pdf (see especially sections 3 and 4). 

Indeed, as outlined in the Quanta article, Bell actually supported pilot wave theory and said it “seems to me so natural and simple, to resolve the wave-particle dilemma in such a clear and ordinary way, that it is a great mystery to me that it was so generally ignored.”

The reason I find such results - both experimental and theoretical - so enamouring is because (i) I've toyed with conceptualising quantum mechanics in this manner for quite a while now, even before discovering who Bohm was or what a pilot wave is, and (ii) modern physics has large holes that to me indicate progress along a cul de sac, and minority viewpoints like this may well be needed to make real progress on plugging those gaps. 

#pilotwave   #bohmianmechanics   #classicalquanta  ___

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2014-07-02 04:54:30 (8 comments, 0 reshares, 33 +1s)

Day 3 of #fivedayquest  = Weekend Family Getaway to Carrickalinga.

On my third day I offer a little Auto-Awesome clip of my recent weekend getaway with my wife and immediate in-laws. Carrickalinga is about a 1 hour drive south from Adelaide and nestled against the coast among rolling green hills, beaches, and ocean cliffs. It really is a beautiful part of the state.

We're about a third of the way through winter however and it is cold by South Australian standards. Good thing I've always been a winter person and love the rainy windy conditions, and being in South Australia the sun still managed to make an appearance and light things up too.

Highlights include
- a walk along a wind-swept foaming beach,
- misjudging the tide and having to wade bare-foot (pants hiked up and shoes in hand) through knee-deep freezing ocean entering a... more »

Day 3 of #fivedayquest  = Weekend Family Getaway to Carrickalinga.

On my third day I offer a little Auto-Awesome clip of my recent weekend getaway with my wife and immediate in-laws. Carrickalinga is about a 1 hour drive south from Adelaide and nestled against the coast among rolling green hills, beaches, and ocean cliffs. It really is a beautiful part of the state.

We're about a third of the way through winter however and it is cold by South Australian standards. Good thing I've always been a winter person and love the rainy windy conditions, and being in South Australia the sun still managed to make an appearance and light things up too.

Highlights include
- a walk along a wind-swept foaming beach,
- misjudging the tide and having to wade bare-foot (pants hiked up and shoes in hand) through knee-deep freezing ocean entering a usually-dry creek outlet,
- leaving the group waiting warm in cars while I ran up a large hill to get close to wind turbines and grab view of the ocean as the sun was nearly setting and getting utterly frozen from the wind on the bare unprotected top of the hill (but loving it),
- hiking around bluffs and dunes near the "millionaires" stretch for the view of beach, hills, and ocean cliffs, and of course,
- snuggling indoors with good food and drink and a wood heater filling the place with warmth.
- utterly dominating Pictionary with my wife was also fun :)

Obligatory PhotoSphere of a nice spot can also be found here:
https://www.google.com/maps/views/view/115624860057949518963/gphoto/6030218056913933698?gl=us&heading=152&pitch=91&fovy=75

Thanks to +Mark Rösel for inviting me to partake in the fivedayquest series :)

These are the rules for the game:
1) Post 5 shots on 5 days that have something to do with your life
2) Use the hashtag #fivedayquest  on every post
3) Mention the person who invited you on every post
4) Tag a new person to join the challenge each day - no pressure, it's just for fun!

Thinking of the cold weather made me think of the wonderful +Samuel Holmes, and the fact he would probably be content in t-shirt and shorts in weather I consider "cold"! Samuel I'd like to invite you to the fivedayquest, but of course understand if you decide to opt out :) ___

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2014-06-29 15:37:01 (18 comments, 47 reshares, 97 +1s)

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 26/14.
Brain motor interfaces, verbally instructing robots, robotic hands, graphene fibers, untethered microgrippers, vacuum tube transistors, better nanopore sequencing, and others.

1. Brain Interfaces for Natural and Robotic Motor Control.
There were two promising advances this week in the area of brain interfaces allowing paralysed people to regain some motor control. First, after practising for a long time on a simulator that measured brain activity from an implanted brain chip a young paralysed man was able to naturally move his hand again for the first time in years http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/science-fiction-come-true-moving-a-paralyzed-hand-with-the-power-of-thought/2014/06/23/13c9ac88-f8a1-11e3-a606-946fd632f9f1_story.html. Second, an in-depth look at the BrainGate program allowing paralysed people to... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 26/14.
Brain motor interfaces, verbally instructing robots, robotic hands, graphene fibers, untethered microgrippers, vacuum tube transistors, better nanopore sequencing, and others.

1. Brain Interfaces for Natural and Robotic Motor Control.
There were two promising advances this week in the area of brain interfaces allowing paralysed people to regain some motor control. First, after practising for a long time on a simulator that measured brain activity from an implanted brain chip a young paralysed man was able to naturally move his hand again for the first time in years http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/science-fiction-come-true-moving-a-paralyzed-hand-with-the-power-of-thought/2014/06/23/13c9ac88-f8a1-11e3-a606-946fd632f9f1_story.html. Second, an in-depth look at the BrainGate program allowing paralysed people to control robotic arms - and perform quite complex tasks - just by thinking http://www.technologyreview.com/featuredstory/528141/the-thought-experiment/. The issues concerning (i) implants that become less sensitive with time, (ii) implants that risk infections, and (iii) systems that don’t provide sensory feedback all still need to be worked on. Other work also gleaned additional insights into how neuronal motor processing is accomplished http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/modelling-how-neurons-work-together. 

2. Robots Responding to Spoken Instructions.
New software and machine learning techniques allow a robot, in this case a PR2, to accept and act on spoken natural language instructions issued by a human http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/artificial-intelligence/robots-respond-to-natural-language-instructions. The proof-of-concept simply involves requests for different ice cream orders for which the robot diligently attempts to carry out successfully, most (64%) of the time. This is partly achieved by providing the robot with a grammatical or syntactical structure about its environment and objects in it, e.g. a pan is an object that can poured from or poured into and whose contents can be mixed or heated, etc. Simulation and crowd-sourced efforts are hoped to raise the success rate considerably. 

3. Stretchable Graphene Fibers and Yarns.
A simple and scalable fabrication method allows graphene oxide strips to be produced that can be wound together into a fiber that can be knotted and stretched without fracturing http://news.psu.edu/story/318882/2014/06/20/research/super-stretchable-yarn-made-graphene. The fibers and yarns are stronger than other carbon fibers, are impregnated with air pockets to prevent brittleness, and functionalised with other molecules to alter electrical conductivity. Made from graphite the material is quite economical too. In related news fabrication hurdles in producing extremely high-strength carbon nanotube fibers and yarns are being overcome http://nextbigfuture.com/2014/06/carbon-nanotube-fiber-ribbon-with-high.html. 

4. Untethered Single Cell Microgrippers.
I’ve previously covered arrays of single-cell microgrippers on a surface that can capture cells from solution. In this latest work the microgrippers are now untethered from a surface and can still capture and contain single cells http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=36211.php. Fabricated via photolithographic methods, up to 100 million grippers can be yielded from a single 12-inch wafer, with grippers fabricated with a range of sizes from 10 micrometers to 70 micrometers (when open). Future versions are expected to incorporate electrical and optical sensors to allow analysis of captured cells in vivo, and possibly be made from bioresorbable materials to allow dissolution clearance from the body. Lots of problems to solve such as sensor integration, yields, in vivo introduction and safety, and targeting, before these microbots evolve into fantastical nanobots. 

5. Resurrecting Vacuum Tube Transistors.
Described as a marriage between traditional vacuum tube technology and modern semiconductor fabrication techniques, prototype vacuum-channel transistors have been created that operate at 460 GHz and THz switching speeds are believed to be possible http://spectrum.ieee.org/semiconductors/devices/introducing-the-vacuum-transistor-a-device-made-of-nothing. The novel design at once seems to solve all of the problems that plagued old vacuum tube electronics while promising Moore’s Law-style miniaturisation, faster clock cycles, and greatly improved tolerance to both heat and external radiation. At the scale these transistors are made, even in an air or helium atmosphere, there is only ever a small chance that an electron will collide with a gas atom as it travels between source and drain; the transistors exploit a functional vacuum, if not an actual vacuum. 

6. New Type of DNA Nanopore Sequencing.
Using a genetically modified bacterial nanopore inserted into a membrane separating two salt solutions, a voltage can be applied across the membrane to make the salt ions in solution flow across the nanopore and create a measurable current. It turns out that when a strand of DNA is added to the solution and enters the pore, it impedes the current by an amount that depends on which nucleotide is inside the pore at that time http://phys.org/news/2014-06-nanopore-technique-rapidly-decodes-dna.html. The identity of nucleotides can be inferred by means of accurately measuring changes in current flow. Using a bacteriophage genome as a known DNA sequence the group has tested the system, confirming that it could reliably read all 4,500 base pairs of the sequence. Further research is needed to reliably sequence novel or unknown DNA sequences and the group has freely shared the knowledge in order to get more people involved. 

7. A Self-Powered Pacemaker.
A self-powered pacemaker has been developed out of a flexible piezoelectric generator http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140623120316.htm. Simply bending and twisting the small flexible sheet was enough to generate sufficient voltage and current to stimulate a rats heart and should be enough to power a pacemaker without batteries, which have to be replaced every seven years in any case. Of course, such a device could also be used to power a wide range of other implantable medical devices, for example, BrainGate chips and related deep brain stimulation devices. 

8. More Links Between Fasting and Health.
There have been quite a few studies over the last year or two demonstrating the benefits of fasting for animals and people across a range of health areas. For both mice and humans in a Phase 1 clinical trial undergoing chemotherapy, those who fasted for between two to four days recovered quicker and suffered less collateral damage https://news.usc.edu/63669/fasting-triggers-stem-cell-regeneration-of-damaged-old-immune-system/; the fasting was actually found to clear the immune system of old damaged cells and stimulate stem cell regeneration of the immune system after the fasting ended. In another example, three days of fasting was shown to significantly improve survival of animals after kidney transplantation and renal injury https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2014/06/fasting-may-be-a-useful-addition-to-many-medical-procedures.php. 

9. Wolfram Programming Cloud Launched.
Stephen Wolfram has finally launched his Wolfram Programming Cloud, his latest and biggest attempt yet to redefine the process of programming and built on top of the Wolfram Programming Language http://blog.wolframalpha.com/2014/06/23/wolfram-programming-cloud-is-live/, much like Wolfram Alpha. Programs written in Wolfram can be given a web API in a very straightforward fashion and be deployed to the Cloud just as easily, making the program accessible anywhere. Arbitrary templates are available and APIs can be called from any standard language. Wolfram has billed this as enabling entirely new classes of software applications and for dramatically simplifying and automating many kinds of existing programming. 

10. Robot Hand Learns Grip for Any Object.
Shadow is a company that has developed a robotic hand that uses a Kinect depth sensor to assist in evaluating objects to be handled http://singularityhub.com/2014/06/25/robotic-hand-uses-ai-to-specialize-its-grip-for-any-object/. If the object has been seen before the system calls up instructions (memories?) for the best grip shape to use. If it is a new object it runs algorithms to guess the best grip to use and a failure results in this information being fed back into the process again. Integrated force sensors and tactile fingertips prevent the robotic hand from gripping a fragile object too strongly. The hand is designed to be modular and can be used on almost any robotics platform; many robotics companies have attached the hand to their robotics systems. Here’s an example video: Shadow Hand manipulates pen 

An archive of the SciTech Digests can also be found here: http://www.scitechdigest.net 

+ScienceSunday, with your hosts, +Buddhini Samarasinghe, +Rajini Rao, +Chad Haney, +Robby Bowles, +Allison Sekuler, +Carissa Braun, and +Aubrey Francisco!

+STEM on Google+ Community ___

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2014-06-26 11:42:48 (8 comments, 0 reshares, 28 +1s)

Day 2 of #fivedayquest  = End of a Productive Week.

On my second day I offer the thing I have been slaved to for a week. I've banged out about 17,500 words over the past seven days. The bulk of this, about 90%, is for a single document - the final report for my latest consultancy job. If I kept this up I'd be able to bang out 9 or more novels per year. But I can't, my brain is fried and needs to rest!

Thanks to +Mark Rösel for inviting me to partake in the fivedayquest series :)

These are the rules for the game:
1) Post 5 shots on 5 days that have something to do with your life
2) Use the hashtag #fivedayquest  on every post
3) Mention the person who invited you on every post
4) Tag a new person to join the challenge each day - no pressure, it's just for fun! 

I'm wondering if +Denise Case, anotherpassi... more »

Day 2 of #fivedayquest  = End of a Productive Week.

On my second day I offer the thing I have been slaved to for a week. I've banged out about 17,500 words over the past seven days. The bulk of this, about 90%, is for a single document - the final report for my latest consultancy job. If I kept this up I'd be able to bang out 9 or more novels per year. But I can't, my brain is fried and needs to rest!

Thanks to +Mark Rösel for inviting me to partake in the fivedayquest series :)

These are the rules for the game:
1) Post 5 shots on 5 days that have something to do with your life
2) Use the hashtag #fivedayquest  on every post
3) Mention the person who invited you on every post
4) Tag a new person to join the challenge each day - no pressure, it's just for fun! 

I'm wondering if +Denise Case, another passionate science communicator, might like to join in? You seem very private Denise and so it is perfectly understandable if you decide to opt out :) ___

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2014-06-23 14:48:35 (19 comments, 12 reshares, 48 +1s)

What Future Evolutionary Selective Pressures Might We Ascend?

Idle thoughts and musings often lead to unusual ponderings, especially when one is battling a mild influenza-induced fever. In this case I thought I'd throw these ideas / memes out there to encounter their own selective pressures. 

The technological ecosystem that humanity has wrought for its support interferes greatly with our species evolution via natural selection; enabling for example, for couples to have children, for genetic replicators to replicate, when they would otherwise not have been able to do so or would have died in the attempt. 

Indeed, some say that human evolution via natural selection has stopped entirely. I'm not sure if I'd go that far; selection of human genes have certainly been impacted, but the selection of those other replicators - the ideas and memes that make up ourm... more »

What Future Evolutionary Selective Pressures Might We Ascend?

Idle thoughts and musings often lead to unusual ponderings, especially when one is battling a mild influenza-induced fever. In this case I thought I'd throw these ideas / memes out there to encounter their own selective pressures. 

The technological ecosystem that humanity has wrought for its support interferes greatly with our species evolution via natural selection; enabling for example, for couples to have children, for genetic replicators to replicate, when they would otherwise not have been able to do so or would have died in the attempt. 

Indeed, some say that human evolution via natural selection has stopped entirely. I'm not sure if I'd go that far; selection of human genes have certainly been impacted, but the selection of those other replicators - the ideas and memes that make up our minds - has never been swifter. 

Evolution of replicators via natural selection acts on a few key properties of a replicator:
1. Fidelity, or producing copies as accurate as possible.
2. Fecundity, or producing as many copies as possible.
3. Longevity, or producing copies as long as possible.  

There can exist environmental nuances in which the strategy will be different, but in general those replicators that produce copies with high fidelity, fecundity, and longevity will out-compete and be selected for over over those replicators that do not. 

A trivially basic example: an altered gene that strengthens the beak of a bird, enabling it to so break and feed on tougher seeds and nuts will make available more environmental resources for the bird, making it more likely to survive and mate, and making the combination of genetic replicators that have constructed the bird to replicate them, far more likely to do so. 

Those that are selected for are deemed fitter for their environment, and will climb evolutionary maxima on a fittness landscape, an example of which is in the image below. Those that are not selected for are often selected against and go extinct. Changes in the environment can change the nature, form, and composition of the fittness landscape that replicators are forced to traverse, and woe betide the combination of replicators that reaches a local maxima and is unable to ever make the evolutionary journey to a bigger, global maxima. 

So I was thinking what evolutionary selective pressures we might face, both now and in the future, and which might act on either / or / both genes and ideas / memes. Which combinations will exist in future and which will not? For a bit of fun I thought I'd throw out a few ideas, feel free to critique, disagree, or add others :)

Things that might be selected for:

* Those who pursue cryonic preservation when faced with near-term death. 

* Those who happily edit the genomes of their children at conception, fixing mutations

* Those who happily edit the genomes of their children at conception, making enhancements 

* Those who pursue measures for health and life extension as they become available

* Those who pursue measures of technologically enhancing their bodies as they become available

* Those who aren't put off by the prospect of a destructive upload process

* Those uploads who make copies of themselves that are linked in multiple streams of consciousness

* Those uploads who make copies of themselves that are free to grow and change independently 

* . . . ?

#replicators   #future   #humanselection  ___

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2014-06-22 06:46:05 (19 comments, 40 reshares, 100 +1s)

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 25/14.
Brain activity, robot house printers, remineralising teeth, on-chip spectrometers, inkjet solar cells, insect eyes & drones, wireless pancreas, automated patch-clamping, superlattices. 

1. The Finer Points of Noise and Synchrony in the Brain.
A couple of interesting findings this week regarding brain waves and activity. First, a repeat of the classic Libet experiments with modern technology to measure brain activity demonstrated that the pattern of brain activity a second before a stimulus allowed for accurate prediction of which simple decisions a person would make in response to that stimulus http://news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=10953. This work showed that a lot of noise in brain signals can introduce random fluctuations into decisionmaking, but I think the researcher’s statement that thisra... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 25/14.
Brain activity, robot house printers, remineralising teeth, on-chip spectrometers, inkjet solar cells, insect eyes & drones, wireless pancreas, automated patch-clamping, superlattices. 

1. The Finer Points of Noise and Synchrony in the Brain.
A couple of interesting findings this week regarding brain waves and activity. First, a repeat of the classic Libet experiments with modern technology to measure brain activity demonstrated that the pattern of brain activity a second before a stimulus allowed for accurate prediction of which simple decisions a person would make in response to that stimulus http://news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=10953. This work showed that a lot of noise in brain signals can introduce random fluctuations into decisionmaking, but I think the researcher’s statement that this randomness provides an opening for the existence of “free will” is disingenuous at best. Second, new work shows that the learning of categories and abstract concepts involves the establishment of synchronous firing of two major but separate brain regions http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2014/synchronized-brain-waves-enable-rapid-learning-0612. 

2. 3D Printing Houses with Robot Teams.
One of the constraints that 3D printers typically have is that their build volumes, the size of the object they can print, are typically limited by the size of the actual printer itself. Even prototypes able to print entire houses are suspended on crane platforms able to traverse a volume greater than the building being printed. To begin addressing this problem a collection of three different robotic minibuilders have been developed, each with specialised capabilities, which together are able to additively manufacture structures of arbitrary size much larger than themselves http://3dprint.com/6340/minibuilders-3d-print-robots/. 

3. Accelerated Remineralisation of Dental Enamel.
Optimally the mineralisation of a tooth is kept in equilibrium with minerals both leaving and entering; when this equilibrium shifts and too much mineral is lost the enamel is undermined, often leading to cavities. Now a new process is able to significantly flip this lost equilibrium, allowing dentists to use a device that utilises a small electric current to rapidly force minerals (calcium and phosphate) into teeth in order to repair any damage or defects that may exist http://www.kcl.ac.uk/newsevents/news/newsrecords/2014/June/Kings-spin-out-will-put-tooth-decay-in-a-time-warp.aspx. I’d really like to see a consumer, at-home version developed that anyone could use on a regular basis to give their teeth a boost as needed. 

4. Measuring a Person’s Heart Rate Through Walls.
Building on work and techniques that were first announced last year to track movement through walls, the same team have now reached the point where it is possible to measure a person’s breathing and heart rate with 99% accuracy, through walls http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2014/could-wireless-replace-wearables. By using low-cost accessible technology to trasmit low-power wireless signals and measure the reflections the team can detect motions as small as millimeters per second and currently up to four separate individuals at a time. Future work will see the group tackle capabilities such as measuring body silhouettes, gestures, and emotions. Embedding such mature capabilities across our environments via the Internet of Things might make for some fantastic health monitoring and surveillance possibilities. 

5. Better On-Chip Spectrometers.
There seems to have been a lot of work and announcements over the past year or so concerning efforts to improve and shrink spectrometers. This latest development involved the fabrication of a lab-on-a-chip that includes a quantum cascade laser that also functions as a detector, and also a photonic waveguide that concentrates the laser and boosts the signal that can be extracted from a sample http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/at-work/test-and-measurement/plasmon-waveguide-at-the-heart-of-spectrometer-on-a-chip. Spectrometers like this are made to measure and detect the composition of various gases and liquids; in this case tests showed that the chip could detect the level of ethanol present in water to an accuracy of 0.06%. With inherently inexpensive fabrication this chip has a good chance of finding its way out into mobile and sensor platforms in future. 

6. Ink Jet Printed Solar Cells.
Researchers have succeeded in fabricating, for the first time, all-inkjet-printed, all-air-processed organic solar cells http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=36042.php. OLEDs, basic electroincs, and photodetectors have already been inkjet printed. These inklet printed solar cells were shown to possess similar nanoscale structures and electronic properties to conventional spin-coated counterparts. While the printed prototypes only managed to achieve a power conversion efficiency of 2%, this was only a first proof-of-concept and the team believe they can significantly boost this by developin both the printing process and the materials (inks) themselves. The main benefits of course are the inherent flexibility of printed solar cells and also how incredibly cheap they could be. 

7. Insect-Mimicking Eyes for Insect-Mimicking Drones.
Insect-sized and insect-mimicking flying drones or robots have been under development for a number of years now and recent advances involved incorporating tiny light sensors that mimick the simple eyes (ocelli) of many insects http://phys.org/news/2014-06-mimic-insect-ocelli-sensor-fly-sized.html. This improvement primarily allows the tiny drones to independently stabilise themselves in flight without the use of external cameras to monitor the drone’s position and orientation in space. The prototypes are basic; merely several phototransistors on a board folded into a tiny pyramid shape. But they work, and help bring to reality the vision of swarms of tiny flying robotic drones for a range of purposes. 

8. Wireless Glucose Monitoring.
A wireless pancreas system has been successful in its latest real-world clinical study in humans. The system comprises (i) a glucose monitor implanted under the skin that sends glucose levels wirelessly to the users smartphone, (ii) an app on the smartphone gathers glucose level data and calculates the level of insulin or glucagon needed to respond to that level of glucose, and sends a signal to (iii) pumps that are worn by the user and connected to them via catheter, which deliver precise levels of drug as dictated http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn25732-bionic-pancreas-frees-people-from-shackles-of-diabetes.html. Even this early device had a large impact on not only the physical health, but also importantly the mental health of study participants living wtih diabetes who were reluctant to give the devices back. Now all we need is to develop an implantable system capable of producing insulin and glucagon from the body’s blood supply as needed. 

9. Automated Neuronal Patch Clamping.
Patch-clamping is a process by which tiny multi-functional probes are introduced into brains and brain tissue and, with the aid of a microscope, positioned to interface with just a single neuron. Once in place the probe can directly measure neuronal spiking activity, take tiny biopsies of the cell for measurement, or introduce other molecules and drugs as desired. It is tedious and difficult work. The technique has now been largely automated, which will not only allow a massive speed increase in such procedures and save a lot of time for neuroscientists, but also (as demonstrated by the prototype) allow multiple neurons to be targeted simultaneously for far more detailed multi-neuronal circuit analysis that wouldn’t otherwise be possible http://www.technologyreview.com/video/528441/eavesdropping-on-neurons/. 

10. Developing Superlattices.
The rational design and fabrication of hollow multi-material superlattices continues to gather pace. A 3D printing techniqued called projection microstereolithography has now been used to fabricate complex microlattices from polymers, metals, and ceramics, which were designed so that individual struts would not bend and resulting in incredibly stiff, strong, and lightweight materials http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2014/new-ultrastiff-ultralight-material-developed-0619. With the same weight and density of aerogel these new materials are 10,000 times stiffer and can support 160,000 times their own weight. Such maaterial properties lend themselves to a wide range of futuristic applications such as solar sails, airships, etc. 

If you'd like notifications of these weekly Digests then just throw the SciTech Digest page into a notification circle: https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/105994073381308284341/+ScitechdigestNet/posts

+ScienceSunday, with your hosts +Buddhini Samarasinghe, +Rajini Rao, +Chad Haney, +Allison Sekuler, +Robby Bowles, +Carissa Braun, and +Aubrey Francisco!

+STEM on Google+ Community ___

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2014-06-16 05:31:14 (14 comments, 1 reshares, 40 +1s)

Day 1 of #fivedayquest  = Cold Winter & Drenched in Sweat.

I was invited to partake of this series, offering little personal insights into my life, by the wonderful +Mark Rösel :)

On my first, Day 1 offering you get a non-flattering selfie of me, drenched in sweat and breathing heavily with mouth open, T-shirt wet in many more places than it is dry, hair messed with exertion, face beaded and even a rivulet of sweat visible running down my cheek. In the background of course is the cause of my self-induced pain: Shaun T's intense Insanity interval training workouts that tax your cardio and strength fitness. 

At this point I'm about 80% through the longest workout in the series, which lasts for a total of 60 minutes. At this point I am equal parts surprised and relieved, as I am every time at this point, that I am actually going to beable... more »

Day 1 of #fivedayquest  = Cold Winter & Drenched in Sweat.

I was invited to partake of this series, offering little personal insights into my life, by the wonderful +Mark Rösel :)

On my first, Day 1 offering you get a non-flattering selfie of me, drenched in sweat and breathing heavily with mouth open, T-shirt wet in many more places than it is dry, hair messed with exertion, face beaded and even a rivulet of sweat visible running down my cheek. In the background of course is the cause of my self-induced pain: Shaun T's intense Insanity interval training workouts that tax your cardio and strength fitness. 

At this point I'm about 80% through the longest workout in the series, which lasts for a total of 60 minutes. At this point I am equal parts surprised and relieved, as I am every time at this point, that I am actually going to be able to finish the grueling thing; every single time I start I get to about 20% through and think how am I going to do this? or I'm not going to be able to finish and yet, I do. 

An hour or there abouts of intense physical effort, five or six times per week, this is what I look like. I first posted about my exercise in January (https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/TYBoK8JkYhG) and have increased the length and intensity since then. I'm now stronger, fitter, and healthier than I've ever been. My belt buckle has gone down a notch and at 35 years old is now the same as I had through my early 20s. I even have abs starting to show now - who'd have ever thought!? There are other reasons I forced myself to develop and maintain an exercise routine / habit, but I'll leave that for another, dedicated post. 

These are the rules for the game:
1) Post 5 shots on 5 days that have something to do with your life
2) Use the hashtag #fivedayquest  on every post
3) Mention the person who invited you on every post
4) Tag a new person to join the challenge each day - no pressure, it's just for fun! :)

I'm going to offer an invite to +Deen Abiola, who most will know as one of the more thorough and rigorous of our community's critical thinkers. Deen, you seem like a very private person and may hold such trivialities as a distraction, so of course I respect and understand should you decline the invite ;)___

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2014-06-15 06:02:08 (17 comments, 46 reshares, 96 +1s)

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 24/14.
Water harvesting, sophisticated wearables, polariton lasers, wafer-scale self-assembly, medical hardware, terahertz sensors, curved CMOS, switchable films.

1. Harvesting Water Directly from Arid Air.
Taking inspiration from the nanostructures on desert dwelling beetle wings used to capture water, new synthetic materials comprising forests of carbon nanotubes able to perform the same trick - absorbing water molecules directly from even arid air - have been developed http://phys.org/news/2014-06-nanotube-forests-arid-air.html. These hygroscopic scaffolds are made possible by chemically altering the base of the forests to be hydrophobic and the tops to by hydrophilic, which attracts water molecules and keeps them there - this turns out to be a passive feature (requires no energy) and simply squeezing the material can... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 24/14.
Water harvesting, sophisticated wearables, polariton lasers, wafer-scale self-assembly, medical hardware, terahertz sensors, curved CMOS, switchable films.

1. Harvesting Water Directly from Arid Air.
Taking inspiration from the nanostructures on desert dwelling beetle wings used to capture water, new synthetic materials comprising forests of carbon nanotubes able to perform the same trick - absorbing water molecules directly from even arid air - have been developed http://phys.org/news/2014-06-nanotube-forests-arid-air.html. These hygroscopic scaffolds are made possible by chemically altering the base of the forests to be hydrophobic and the tops to by hydrophilic, which attracts water molecules and keeps them there - this turns out to be a passive feature (requires no energy) and simply squeezing the material can release the water for it to be used again. 25% of the material’s mass in water can be absorbed in arid air, growing to 80% in humid air. Scaling-up to useful volumes is a problem that needs addressing however. How about covering your house in the material to achieve water independence? What about altering the chemistry so that carbon dioxide or other gases are absorbed to be used as productive building blocks? 

2. Wearable Electronics Becoming More Sophisticated.
A couple of interesting wearable electronics developments this week. First, a standard sewing machine was used to create a conductive wire zig-zag pattern embedded into a flexible polymer; the wire and polymer can deform and stretch repeatedly around novel shapes http://singularityhub.com/2014/06/10/simple-sewing-machine-has-high-tech-role-in-future-soft-machines/. Sensors were embedded into the wire, allowing flexible sensor networks or meshes to be wrapped around organs for example, with the proof-of-concept used to wrap a urinary catheter balloon - such flexible designs will be important for interfacing with the human body. Second, better devices for emitting and detecting scattered light from tissues have been developed that allow better sensing and measurement of glucose, dehydration, and pulse levels; all features that are starting to make their way into wearable devices http://phys.org/news/2014-06-biometric-non-invasively-glucose-dehydration-pulse.html. 

3. Better Polariton Lasers.
A new polariton (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polariton) laser has been created that works at room temperature and is fueled by electricity rather than light; both significant semiconductor advances that bring polariton lasers closer to real-world applications than they ever have previously http://phys.org/news/2014-06-laser-like-1000x-power.html. Polariton lasers achieve ultra-low thresholds for lasing of light, capable of producing fainter lasers that require 250 times less electricity to operate and which could power on-chip laser connections to replace wires for smaller, faster, and more energy efficient electronics. 

4. Rapid Self Assembly of Wafer-Scale Nanoparticle Films.
A new technique allows nanoparticle arrays to rapidly self-assemble over large macroscopic distances in less than a minute http://newscenter.lbl.gov/2014/06/09/nanoparticle-thin-films-that-self-assemble-in-one-minute/. The materials involved include gold nanoparticles, block copolymers, and certain solvents and result in the formation of ordered hierarchically-structured thin films composed of nanocomposites. Such films have the potential to be used to create optical coatings for a range of applications and even metamaterial coatings for more exotic and useful applications. Think on that: precise nanostructures assembled over comparatively huge macroscopic distances. The group plan to create a library of different materials with different properties based on manipulating the solvent, nanoparticle, and block monomer composition to allow a diverse range of applications to be explored. 

5. Cheaper Medical Hardware.
A couple of advances in reducing the costs of medical hardware this week. First, neuroscientists release designs for open source neural recording hardware called Open Ephys in order to bring the cost of equipment down from $60k to $3k and helping to drive further innovation http://spectrum.ieee.org/biomedical/devices/neuroscientists-join-the-opensource-hardware-movement. And in IVF news a complete IVF lab has been shrunk down to fit inside a shoebox (I wonder how long until it fits on a chip?), and cheaply creates the same necessary conditions as you’d get in a multi-million dollar lab http://www.theverge.com/2014/6/10/5793872/a-low-tech-breakthrough-could-put-in-vitro-fertilization-in-reach-for with the proof-of-concept of course being the existance of 16 babies successfully born with the aid of the device. 

6. Carbon Nanotube Fuel Cells and Terahertz Sensors.
A new chemical vapour deposition method allows for the fabrication of nitrogen-doped carbon nanotube - graphene hybrid materials that exhibit superior catalytic capacity for the function of regenerative fuel cells and rechargeable metal-air batteries http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=35950.php. Meanwhile, thin films of metallic and semiconducting carbon nanotubes have been demonstrated as exceptional photodetectors for light in terahertz wavelengths, offering a promising new avenue to develop scanners for security, food spoilage, and a range of biomedical applications http://phys.org/news/2014-06-terahertz-detectors-carbon-nanotubes-mris.html. 

7. DIY DNA Sequencing of a Fetus Before Birth.
For the first time an unborn fetus has had its whole genome sequenced in the third trimester, well before its subsequent healthy birth http://www.technologyreview.com/news/527936/for-one-baby-life-begins-with-genome-revealed/. Further, this was done in a DIY fashion by the father - who admittedly has a strong genetics research background - after a conventional CVS test obtained a small sample of the placenta, and the unused / untested portion of which was placed into a spare slot in a high speed DNA sequencing machine. While this is at the high end of DIY Bio, this capability will continue to grow more broadly available - having your unborn fetus sequenced within the first trimester will be common and routine in future. 

8. Mimicking The Retina with Curved CMOS Image Sensors.
A new process enables the mass-fabrication of curved CMOS image sensors for use in cameras http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/semiconductors/devices/sony-creates-curved-cmos-sensors-that-mimic-the-eye. The curved sensors achieve the same curvature as the human eye, have been made in DSLR and mobile phone sensor sizes, allows simpler optics and lenses to be used as well as larger apertures to let in more light. The structure happens to reduce signal noise and improve sensitivity to light. Advances in flexible electronics should make such improved sensors even cheaper and more robust. In related retinal news miniature human retinas sensitive to light have been grown in a dish - another advance in tissue engineering http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-06/jhm-ruh060914.php. 

9. New Generation of Switchable Thin Films.
New thin films that comprise a layer of lipid and a layer of nanoparticles attached to DNA molecules of defined sequences undergoes a phase transition, being switched between one state and another, with the addition of salt http://phys.org/news/2014-06-dna-linked-nanoparticles-switchable-thin-liquid.html. The addition of salt causes the DNA molecules of neighbouring nanoparticles to link up and form a network mesh, quickly and drastically altering the mechanical properties of the film. Such a film might allow for switchable membranes or in a microfluidic example could allow for selective and controllable filters for different molecules. Changing the chemistry of the nanoparticles and DNA might also allow stimuli other than salt to induce the same change. 

10. HP Bets the Company on Transformative Computing Architecture. 
This week HP unveiled a new processing architecture called The Machine that consolidates the company’s many years of research and development on special-purpose cores, photonics interconnect links, and memristor unified memory http://www.engadget.com/2014/06/11/hp-the-machine/. Embodied in server hardware the architecture would be 6 times more powerful and use 80 times less energy, and there are also designs to achieve similar capabilities for laptops and smart phones. While samples won’t be ready until 2015, and devices not shipping until 2018, this still represents a big move by HP and it is good - after watching years of decline - to see the company making such a big bet on something powerfully new and better and potentially transformative, rather than the usual innovation by iteration that many companies often embody.

The weekly SciTech Digests are also available as a Google Newsstand Magazine Edition here: 
https://www.google.com/producer/editions/CAow4-hB/scitech_digest 

+ScienceSunday, with your hosts +Buddhini Samarasinghe, +Rajini Rao, +Chad Haney, +Allison Sekuler, +Robby Bowles, +Carissa Braun, and +Aubrey Francisco!

+STEM on Google+ Community ___

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2014-06-14 06:37:07 (26 comments, 13 reshares, 46 +1s)

Distributed Computing & Cryptocurrency Exchanges = Not Yet Distributed Enough.
Bitcoin, decentralised exchanges, distributed cryptocurrencies, decentralised autonomous corporations, banking, user interface friction, technological and social phenomena interfaces.

This is perhaps a little overdue because I've had these thoughts bouncing around since Mt Gox went bust earlier this year [1]. In the system as it was, and as it currently is, a decentralised cryptocurrency like bitcoin [2] must still come through one of a number of centralised exchanges in order to facilitate the trade of a unit of cryptocurrency for a unit of fiat currency that we all know and use. Mt Gox, being the largest exchange and funnel for this activity for quite some time was a natural target for one or another exploits. 

A month or two later I was again reading about the inherently rigged nature... more »

Distributed Computing & Cryptocurrency Exchanges = Not Yet Distributed Enough.
Bitcoin, decentralised exchanges, distributed cryptocurrencies, decentralised autonomous corporations, banking, user interface friction, technological and social phenomena interfaces.

This is perhaps a little overdue because I've had these thoughts bouncing around since Mt Gox went bust earlier this year [1]. In the system as it was, and as it currently is, a decentralised cryptocurrency like bitcoin [2] must still come through one of a number of centralised exchanges in order to facilitate the trade of a unit of cryptocurrency for a unit of fiat currency that we all know and use. Mt Gox, being the largest exchange and funnel for this activity for quite some time was a natural target for one or another exploits. 

A month or two later I was again reading about the inherently rigged nature of stock market trading engineered by machine intelligence in the form of automated high frequency traders, as revealed by Michael Lewis [3] and Brad Katsuyama [4]. Both of whom  appear in this interview The Great HFT Debate With Michael Lewis On CNBC. In these cases Michael explains how timing advantages of even fractions of a second can allow high frequency traders to “run ahead” of legitimate trade orders and raise prices by a small amount in order to realise very large profits. Brad details his building of a new exchange on which trades can take place and through which delays are deliberately introduced to high frequency traders in order to nullify their advantage and so level the playing field for people. This seemed to be another case of large centralised exchanges being natural targets for exploits of one kind or another. 

The Bitcoin protocol is itself maintained and verified through the distributed network comprising its users and, most importantly, its miners. The reliability and veracity of transactions is assured across this distributed network, so long as no one account or user ever controls more than 50% of the computational capacity of the network - which would be an interesting but different sort of failure mode. Centralised exchanges of course aren't run this way and, by design, do not possess the same level of transparency that distributed protocols possess. They are single points for various groups to target and can be run in a secretive manner by their owners / controllers. 

Reading about efforts by The Pirate Bay and other groups trying to deal with similar problems of course suggests similar solutions. For example, The Pirate Bay is trying to create better P2P Internet tools and launched The Pirate Browser, an alternative DNS browser that allows users to circumvent ISP blocks and other forms of censorship. But the end goal for the group is to leverage these new tools to allow hosting of the entire site in a distributed P2P fashion - to do away entirely with the need for a centralised server-hosted website [5]. So the next logical step is to convert cryptocurrency exchanges into distributed entities. 

And this, of course, is not a new idea [6]. There is already serious work underway to do just that; one good example is Coinffeine, which is being developed as a distributed Bitcoin exchange that is built on Bitcoin-style protocols [7]. Another promising example is BitHalo, whose slogan is “No more middle men.” [8]. As promising as these initiatives are, they still possess interfaces with the “old world” that are necessarily messy. 

All technological interfaces between different natural phenomena and different modes of technology begin as very messy, inelegant, and “hacky” things that are slowly refined over time. Just look at the simple example of the phenomena of combustible hydrocarbon fuels and the phenomena of wheel-supported box-like vehicles imbued with sufficient momentum to transport us. We've tamed these phenomena, we've mastered these technologies; they have been refined over time and they work very very well. But even ignoring the massively complex supply and distribution channels the inner technological workings of a single vehicle interfacing one phenomena to another is still remarkably messy and complex. Think fuel storage, pumps, lubricants, batteries, spark-plugs, compression chambers, manifolds, gearboxes, user-interface and control elements, brake pads, etc. 

All societal institutions, laws, and social structures are also forms of technology when you get right down to it, even if we tend not to typically think of them in those terms. Cryptocurrencies and now distributed cryptocurrency exchanges are trying to bridge and connect old interfaces and social phenomena in new ways. Such efforts are complex and necessarily messy. Even improving the cryptocurrency ecosystem by evolving centralised exchanges into decentralised exchanges there still exists - and indeed if you dig into the examples above you can see - the inherent inelegance of the interface between the new technology and the old way of doing things. This typically concerns the conversion of your conventional fiat currency into your cryptocurrency of choice. 

Investigating distributed cryptocurrencies and distributed exchanges usually leads one to discussions and theory on decentralised autonomous corporations, of which Bitcoin is but an early embryonic example - good overview discussions here [9] and here [10] and a reference here [11]. Then we have ethereum [12], a group who are building a dedicated platform and programming language as a tool that will more easily allow anyone to build and launch distributed applications and decentralised autonomous corporations that can coordinate and administer just about anything - from voting and financial transactions to legal agreements and intellectual property. 

The whole point of this post is to say that I don’t believe distributed exchanges like Coinffeine go far enough due to problems with the inherent need to interface with the old technology. The messiness creates friction for the user. I think it needs to be taken further by incorporating or creating a distributed bank, a bank as a decentralised autonomous corporation, owned and controlled by no one, dependent on its users for computational resources. Such a bank would be registered with international banking regulators, be assigned its own SWIFT code(s) to facilitate seamless transfers of fiat currency between the accounts of its users and other banks; in this way it would have one foot firmly planted in the old world, the old system and way of doing things. Such a distributed bank would also allow seamless transfers between its users, conversion and exchange between fiat and cryptocurrencies; in so doing it would have another foot firmly planted in the new world, the new system and way of doing things. 

Over time the old system may become obsolete and the distributed bank could dispense with it entirely. But in the meantime I think such a system is necessary to reduce friction for users, improve uptake and mindshare, and implement a far more elegant interface between old and new technology and social phenomena. And this seems to be an idea whose time has come; a few searches reveals several forums and other articles by others who discuss in detail the concept of a decentralised autonomous bank. One thing we can be fairly sure of is that current systems of centralised control and power will not take kindly to the emergence of such an entity, which will be viewed as a competitive threat after they pass through the usual phases of dismissiveness and denial that characterise the position of established players against all new technologies. 

Also note how many people are currently employed by the banking and finance sector, and how many of those might be replaced were decentralised autonomous banks to gain control of (or even a portion of) global economic activity. 

#bitcoin   #decentralisedautonomouscorporation   #distributedbanking  

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mt._Gox#Bankruptcy_and_shutdown. 
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitcoin 
[3] http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304432604579473281278352644 
[4] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/analysis-and-features/brad-katsuyama-i-believe-that-the-markets-are-rigged-9276386.html 
[5] http://blog.p2pfoundation.net/37593/2014/03/16 
[6] http://www.coindesk.com/coinffeine-centralized-exchanges-distributed-alternative/
[7] http://www.coinffeine.com/ 
[8] http://bithalo.org/ 
[9] http://invictus-innovations.com/i-dac/ 
[10] http://bitcoinmagazine.com/7050/bootstrapping-a-decentralized-autonomous-corporation-part-i/ 
[11] http://coinwiki.info/en/Decentralized_autonomous_corporation 
[12] https://www.ethereum.org/ 

EDIT: Thanks to +John Kellden for the following related article that is well worth a read http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/10881213/The-coming-digital-anarchy.html___

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2014-06-08 11:22:12 (14 comments, 46 reshares, 86 +1s)

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 23/14.
Neurogenesis, manipulating memory and choice, mitochondrial removal, DNA origami, optics MEMS, spray-on light, self-assembly, optical thermometer, medical robots.

1. New Evidence of Neurogenesis and Brain Repair.
A new population of neurons have been discovered in the subventricular zone niche, next to the striatum, that produce choline acetyltransferase and appear to be necessary and sufficient for inducing the formation of new neurons in that region http://today.duke.edu/2014/06/kuoneurogen. Optogenetics tools allowed the group to use light to turn the firing rate of these neurons up and down and then to observe the subsequent changes in neural stem cell proliferation. The complete neural circuit for which these cells form part has not yet been elucidated, but nevertheless it appears that interventions targeting these... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 23/14.
Neurogenesis, manipulating memory and choice, mitochondrial removal, DNA origami, optics MEMS, spray-on light, self-assembly, optical thermometer, medical robots.

1. New Evidence of Neurogenesis and Brain Repair.
A new population of neurons have been discovered in the subventricular zone niche, next to the striatum, that produce choline acetyltransferase and appear to be necessary and sufficient for inducing the formation of new neurons in that region http://today.duke.edu/2014/06/kuoneurogen. Optogenetics tools allowed the group to use light to turn the firing rate of these neurons up and down and then to observe the subsequent changes in neural stem cell proliferation. The complete neural circuit for which these cells form part has not yet been elucidated, but nevertheless it appears that interventions targeting these cells could be used to boost neural stem cell production in aged and damaged brain, or even to help maintain youthful activity levels indefinitely. 

2. Erasing Memories and Engineering “Free” Choices.
A couple of big items in neuroscience this week. First, researchers demonstrate the ability in rats to selectively remove a memory and predictably reactivate it by stimulating nerves in the brain by applying a stimulus that selectively strengthens or weakens synaptic connections http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/pressrelease/how_to_erase_a_memory_and_restore_it. This work was once again enabled by optogenetics and the memory concerned a mild pain response; discovering one frequency to remove the memory and another to restore it is a pretty big step. Second, work originally carried out in rats has now been replicated in primates, demonstrating the ability to use electrical stimulation of particular brain areas to controllably alter the animals’ preferences and choices for certain things http://www.kuleuven.be/english/news/free-choice-in-primates-altered-through-brain-stimulation.  

3. Directed Removal of Damaged Mitochondrial DNA.
A new technique for removing damaged mitochondria from cells works by introducing mitochondrially-targeted specifically engineered zinc-finger-nucleases that facilitate site-specific elimination of damaged mitochondrial DNA and defective mitochondria https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2014/06/a-method-of-destroying-only-damaged-mitochondrial-dna.php. This results in reduction or removal of defective mitochondria, and the subsequent repopulation (from remaining healthy mitochondria) of the cell by healthy copies of mitochondria, although the mechanism of how the cell maintains mitochondrial copy-numbers is yet to be determined. If ZFNs work then similarly-targeted CRISPRs might also have a role to play. The work was done to address mitochondrial diseases, but given the importance of mitochondrial pathologies in aging (one of the 7 main factors) this raises another possible intervention for treating aging - the difficulty would be testing for and treating the many different mutations. 

4. DNA Origami for Larger Multi-Material Structures.
New DNA Origami designs self-assemble to form 20nm diameter nanotubes around controlled points of aggregate protein fibers as strong as spider silk, and then subsequently organise and combine different DNA-protein-fiber subuntis into larger 2D structures as specified by the DNA Origami code http://phys.org/news/2014-06-scientists-dna-origami-2d.html. This is a great example of using self-assembling DNA Origami to position and combine other materials (protein in this case) with atomic precision, and opens up the possibility of assembling many other types of materials in similar, controlled, precise fashion. Unfortunately the press release, with vague references to optics and electronics applications, is poor science reporting. 

5. Advanced MEMS Powering Optics Applications.
It seems wonders never cease with ever shrinking Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems. This week we had a company called Ostendo launching a new MEMS powered projection chip intended for installation into mobile devices that is capable of projecting moving holographic 3D images and videos http://www.engadget.com/2014/06/03/smartphone-3d-holograms-2015/. Another MEMS chip for modulating light has been developed to drastically reduce the size, complexity, and cost of LIDAR modules for depth-finding applications in things like autonomous vehicles http://spectrum.ieee.org/cars-that-think/transportation/advanced-cars/will-commercial-cars-find-their-way-with-laserpowered-eyes - and with the whole module being a solid-state chip device other applications for smartphones and games controllers might also be realised. 

6. Spray-on Light Emitting Surfaces.
New spray-on chemical deposition techniques allow for the creation of Light-emitted Electrochemical Cells (LECs) with inert and air-stable materials over large surface areas http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=35828.php. While these LECs can be used to form thin films on flat surfaces they can be fabricated onto almost any shaped surface; one of the proof-of-concepts included a steel fork whose curved, serrated surface lights up when a 3V battery is attached. The group will tackle larger surfaces and a larger selection of colours in future, but the promise is to be able to turn just about any surface into a light-emitting surface, e.g. every ceiling and wall in your house - although video capabilities may be another thing entirely.

7. More Sophisticated Design and Control of Molecular Self-Assembly Processes.
In addition to the DNA Origami this week we had another couple of powerful advances in self-assembly. First, the design and demonstration of certain polymers and fluorinated molecules able to self assemble into ordered structures from nanometer scale all the way up to millimeter scale, which is fundamentally impressive http://phys.org/news/2014-06-molecular-self-assembly-scales-nanometers-millimeters.html. Second, new additions and improvements to the Rosetta macromolecular software modelling package now allow for the design of novel protein nanomaterials comprising multiple copies of protein subunits that self-assemble into larger, more complex structures http://phys.org/news/2014-06-self-assembling-protein-nanomachines-click.html; the designs were experimentally verified by actually synthsising the proteins and observing the designed 24-subunit protein nanocages that resulted, a great proof-of-concept. Both advances comprise promising tools and platforms for building ever-more-complex atomically-precise structures and materials. 

8. Cheaper, Quicker, Easier Flow-Through Synthesis.
Artificial synthesis of proteins, peptides, and other complex organic molecules can be a complex undertaking. Improvements to a technique known as parallel solid-phase synthesis involves placing a sequence of droplets onto a special paper membrane surface and promises to make this synthesis much easier http://phys.org/news/2014-06-flow-through-peptide-synthesis-cell-based-assays.html. Circular teflon barriers assist in forming reaction wells on the paper that allow complex chemistries to take place, including the building up of protein sequences, simply by allowing the gravity-fed droplets to pass through the paper in sequence. The researcher used this to identify peptides that supported cell adhesion, growth, or differentiation, but such cheap reaction-ware is potentially transformative, e.g. allowing the creation of feedstocks for #7 above, etc. 

9. A Thermometer Made of Light.
A new thermometer works by injecting two different wavelengths of light into a highly-polished crystal where they circulate in opposite directions; heating the crystal causes the longer wavelength light to slow down by a tiny amount http://phys.org/news/2014-06-world-thermometer.html. This allows the temperature to be measured to an accuracy of 30 billionths of a degree. Further, they believe that modifications to the crystal could allow similarly accurate measurements for pressure, humidity, force, or presence of a particular molecule. The temperature measurements constantly fluctuate, indicating the constant underlying noise or vibration of the atoms in the material, especially at room temperature. 

10. Medical Robots Helping to Accelerate Progress.
A couple of interesting new medical robots this week. First, a newly developed robotic needle is able to remove blood clots from inoperable brain areas, helping to avoid collateral damage and hemorrhaging and could possibly be used for more precise delivery of implants and drug interventions http://www.industrytap.com/robotic-needle-can-remove-blood-clots-from-inoperable-brain-areas/11837. Second, a new robot is helping to mass-produce a new and very promising malaria vaccine that currently requires individual mosquitoes to be harvested and handled by hand, an incredibly labour-intensive process http://singularityhub.com/2014/06/01/promising-malaria-vaccine-looks-to-hire-robot-to-mass-produce-its-product/. This unusual vaccine (weakened parasites harvested from individual insects) has been incredibly effective in trials and a method of mass-production will accelerate its introduction and the saving of 600,000 lives per year.

An archive of the SciTech Digests can also be found here: http://www.scitechdigest.net 

+ScienceSunday, with your hosts, +Buddhini Samarasinghe, +Rajini Rao, +Chad Haney, +Robby Bowles, +Allison Sekuler, +Carissa Braun, and +Aubrey Francisco!

+STEM on Google+ Community ___

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2014-06-04 15:42:16 (8 comments, 2 reshares, 59 +1s)

Such a Simple Thing.

I've heard many people mock digital photo-frames but Elise and I have found ours to be such a simple and useful thing to have in the living room. This one is simply an old, re-purposed original Galaxy Tab 10.1 running a Tasker profile that (i) turns WiFi on for half an hour from 4am to download any updates, and (ii) runs a slideshow, each image on for 20 seconds, of a specified photo album during the hours we are most likely to be home and awake. 

For a while it ran our wedding photos and currently it is still running our European honeymoon photos (650 images); visible here is Rialto Bridge over Venice's Grand Canal. Photos that would typically be tucked away on several redundant hard drives somewhere and, like everyone else, rarely accessed or looked at. 

And that is the simple reason why this little device is so powerful anda... more »

Such a Simple Thing.

I've heard many people mock digital photo-frames but Elise and I have found ours to be such a simple and useful thing to have in the living room. This one is simply an old, re-purposed original Galaxy Tab 10.1 running a Tasker profile that (i) turns WiFi on for half an hour from 4am to download any updates, and (ii) runs a slideshow, each image on for 20 seconds, of a specified photo album during the hours we are most likely to be home and awake. 

For a while it ran our wedding photos and currently it is still running our European honeymoon photos (650 images); visible here is Rialto Bridge over Venice's Grand Canal. Photos that would typically be tucked away on several redundant hard drives somewhere and, like everyone else, rarely accessed or looked at. 

And that is the simple reason why this little device is so powerful and appreciated by us: it splashes our photos, our memories out into our immediate physical environment every day, always there, waiting to be looked at. A simple glance over to look at the time, or around the room where it catches the eye, or over one's shoulder when sitting on the couch . . . and whatever image is on display triggers the memory of that moment, helping us to relive little moments and memories multiple times per day. 

It is the things not shown that are perhaps most delightful. With this image Venice's distinctive smell comes back to me, the warmth of the sun that day, and standing on the stable but rickety little wooden jetty sticking out into the canal to capture the shot, the feel of the wooden posts of the jetty against my hand, mind still heady from the glass of wine I had with lunch, the lap and splash of the water against the wood and boats and stonework, the din of a thousand people within a short walk and the accompanying hustle and bustle, the smells from nearby restaurants, the different coloured buildings behind me and to the sides of the shot, rich in history, the recollection of the narrow winding paths to reach that spot, and of course my wife, not venturing onto the jetty, instead (impatiently haha) waiting for me to take yet another shot and another PhotoSphere, which you can view here: https://www.google.com/maps/@45.437773,12.335928,3a,75y,39.88h,84.38t/data=!3m5!1e1!3m3!1sfv9Aw30A2CEAAAQIt3YQoQ!2e0!3e11 (some unfortunate hacky edits).

All of which would probably fade and be lost over time, as such things usually are, and sometimes to the point where even the image itself looks like the unfamiliar event and memory of a stranger who looks like you used to. While I might throw the Borneo or New Zealand or Vanuatu photos on there next, it might also be interesting to try some more ordinary and less exotic photos taken with friends and family.

There is a lot to be said for having your immediate environment display and broadcast random memories at you; it is something I'd recommend and something that Elise and I continue to enjoy and be thankful for. When we get a new TV I will be sorely tempted to mount the old one on a wall with a decent frame and so turn it into an even bigger and more imposing digital photo frame. 

Note: the actual image in the frame looks much brighter and clearer in real life - in compensating for the light of the room the camera took this photo seems to have washed the image out in blue for some reason. ___

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2014-06-01 06:49:38 (28 comments, 47 reshares, 100 +1s)

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 22/14.
Origami mediated chemistry, optical neuroimaging, wearable muscle memory, quantum dot photovoltaics, graphene fabrication, machine learning, neuromorphic robotics, better AFMs.

1. Steps to Atomically Precise Molecular Fabrication.
DNA Origami has been used to create multi-armed molecular scaffolds that rapidly catalyse chemical reactions http://phys.org/news/2014-05-dna-nanotechnology-enzyme-catalysis-arm.html. The linear scaffolds include three DNA arms; two different enzymes (proteins) attach to the outer two arms, while a linker molecule attaches to the freely-swinging middle arm. In the prototype system the first enzyme catalyses a reaction from a feedstock in solution to attach a molecule onto the linker molecule on the swinging arm, which then swings (passively / thermally to my knowledge) to the second enzyme that... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 22/14.
Origami mediated chemistry, optical neuroimaging, wearable muscle memory, quantum dot photovoltaics, graphene fabrication, machine learning, neuromorphic robotics, better AFMs.

1. Steps to Atomically Precise Molecular Fabrication.
DNA Origami has been used to create multi-armed molecular scaffolds that rapidly catalyse chemical reactions http://phys.org/news/2014-05-dna-nanotechnology-enzyme-catalysis-arm.html. The linear scaffolds include three DNA arms; two different enzymes (proteins) attach to the outer two arms, while a linker molecule attaches to the freely-swinging middle arm. In the prototype system the first enzyme catalyses a reaction from a feedstock in solution to attach a molecule onto the linker molecule on the swinging arm, which then swings (passively / thermally to my knowledge) to the second enzyme that catalyses the second reaction with another feedstock in solution to which it adds the molecule that was synthesised by the first. Proximity and distance were key parameters and these were optimised by the team, as well as the number of arms - the first enzyme could handle four swinging arms at once, the second only two. So we have spatially-confined, controlled atomically precise molecular synthesis. One can imagine much larger and more complex arrays of enzymes that replicate complete biosynthetic pathways and enzyme cascades; at maturity perhaps even a chip that utilises any pathway on demand to produce any desired chemical feedstock. 

2. LEDs Used for Neuroimaging.
Diffuse Optical Tomography technology has now matured to the point where two-thirds of the head can be monitored at once http://www.gizmag.com/diffuse-optical-tomography/32250/. While fMRI or PET scans are typically used to monitor brain activity, DOT scans involve covering the subjects head with LEDs and light detectors; light is shone through the skull and into the brain (penetrating about 1cm in depth), and by measuring absorption, scattering, and reflection it is possible to determine where and when highly oxygenated blood flows, indicating neural activity. The new system performs almost as well as fMRI on the same areas but without the extreme magnetic fields, and also without the ability to cover the whole brain; it is also far more portable and safe. Some reasons I thought this should be included, (i) the potential to be combined with non-invasive optogenetics applications, (ii) inherent semiconductor technology lends itself to Moore’s Law-like improvements in size and power, (iii) potential to have consumer-level device in home much more powerful than current EEG headsets. 

3. Wearable Computers Speed-up Muscle Memory and Skill Acquisition.
A glove adorned with an array of vibration motors and programmable circuits is able to enhance and speed-up a wearers muscle memory and complex skill acquisition http://spectrum.ieee.org/consumer-electronics/portable-devices/learn-new-skills-with-superhuman-speed. For example, the glove can be programmed to fire the motors in the same sequence that a pianist’s fingers would make striking keys on a piano for any particular tune; after wearing the device for an hour or two (while doing other things) the wearer is able to sit down at a piano and - to their surprise - play the tune perfectly despite never having played the piano before. This is a subconscious motor memory process. The group are still exploring the limits, for example, how long a song can be programmed, how many songs, what different instruments will work, but also beyond music to other skills with wearable devices at other locations, e.g. learning to dance, etc. 

4. Quantum Dot Photovoltaics Getting Better.
Development of quantum dot photovoltaics continues to progress rapidly with the latest quantum dot materials designs achieving an efficiency of 9% http://phys.org/news/2014-05-solar-cells-quantum-dot-photovoltaics-efficiency.html. The new process solves other problems: growing active layers does not require inert atmospheres or high temperatures and has demonstrated zero degradation after five months in air. Aside from the electrodes these quantum dot solar cell thin films can be deposited at room temperature, in air, out of solution and represent another step on the path towards the ultimate goal of spray-on solar power photovoltaic surfaces. Future work will continue to push efficiencies upwards. 

5. Better Graphene Fabrication Methods.
Two new fabrication methods for graphene that significantly push the envelope were announced this week. First, large area graphene sheets can now be grown via chemical vapour deposition on insulating materials such as glass http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2014/new-way-make-sheets-graphene-0523. Size is only limited by the size of the deposition chamber and the process grows two sheets of graphene on either side of a film that can be peeled off; the work was done in conjunction with an industrial glass manufacturer. Second, a simple inexpensive spray-on method is capable of depositing a graphene layer on a range of substrates http://phys.org/news/2014-05-supersonic-high-quality-graphene-layer.html. The method deposits graphene flakes at supersonic accelerations and by chance happened to significantly reduce the incidence of defects and aggregates in graphene films; I wonder whether future versions might supply the spray-on electrodes for #4 above?

6. The Learn EVerything about ANything Algorithm.
Learn EVerything about ANything, or LEVAN, is an algorithm developed by the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence that is capable of teaching itself different facets of broad concepts by analysing web search results with natural language processing and computer vision http://gigaom.com/2014/05/23/meet-the-algorithm-that-can-learn-everything-about-anything/. By combining image and text references the algorithm can determine when different words or phrases mean the same thing. LEVAN runs on the Amazon Web Services cloud and its capabilities are still growing from a current base of 50,000 subconcepts within 150 broad concepts and 10 million annotated images. You can play with LEVAN here http://levan.cs.washington.edu/; the entry for horse includes some . . . interesting concept associations. 

7. Project Tango Applications Expand.
Project Tango is Google’s range of prototype smartphones with additional sensors able to capture the environment in 3D, and developers have been hard at work creating a range of novel applications http://www.technologyreview.com/news/527481/googles-experimental-smartphone-captures-a-future-mapped-in-3-d/. One example involves strapping a Tango device onto an autonomous quadcopter with the device providing 3D mapping and drone control capabilities, with the future vision being a swarm of such systems able to collectively 3D map locations. Another involves using a Tango to map a room that can then be used in a first-person video game, while another uses a Tango device to perform 3D body scans of people to assist fashion, design, and clothes purchases. I think this is all just the tip of the iceberg. 

8. Better AFMs and Nanostructure Fabrication.
New atomic force microscope tips have been adorned with a precisely positioned, near-perfect, gallium-nitride nanowire that conveys much better performance and lasting 10 times longer than standard silicon or platinum tips http://phys.org/news/2014-05-atomic-microscope-nanowires.html. The nanowires are broken off from a forest of wires and mechanically inserted into an ion-drilled hole at the end of the tip. In addition the new tips can simultaneously scan surfaces with optical radiation to determine additional information such as defect locations. In related nanofabrication news a simple three-step process can build fractal nanostructures http://phys.org/news/2014-05-three-step-fractal-nanostructures.html. 

9. More Accurate, Faster-Thinking, Machines.
A new approach to improve the visual navigation performance of robots and autonomous vehicles involves supplementing cameras with event-based neuromorphic sensors able to take measurements a million times per second http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2014/think-fast-robot-0530. Robots running such systems can update their location every millisecond; unlike conventional camera sensors, their event-based sensors utilise every single pixel as a sensor to determine when something changes. Such systems should enable robots and drones to be much more nimble and accurate without relying on external control systems; developing suitable internal control systems is the next step. Regarding neuromorphic hardware, especially that involved with vision, a new and intriguing flaw has been discovered in how such systems operate that should allow the development of better systems in future http://www.i-programmer.info/news/105-artificial-intelligence/7352-the-flaw-lurking-in-every-deep-neural-net.html. 

10.Experimental Confirmation of Second-Order Physical Efimov Trimers.
In fundamental particle physics the manipulations of quantum mechanics equations birthed a theory that proposed, under the right conditions, any trio of fundamental particles could form stable trimers http://www.simonsfoundation.org/quanta/20140527-physicists-prove-surprising-rule-of-threes/. This exotic state of matter is similar in structure to interlinked Borromean Rings and was confirmed experimentally in ultra-cold optical traps with trios of cesium atoms in 2006; but these were only first-order trimers. Now second-order trimers have been recently confirmed experimentally, in which, as per predictions of theory, the nested trimers form 22.7 times further away from the last and measure a full micrometer across. An intriguing new natural phenomena comprising stable non-intuitive nested geometrical arrangements of fundamental particles.

If you'd like notifications of these weekly Digests then just throw the SciTech Digest page into a notification circle: https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/105994073381308284341/+ScitechdigestNet/posts

+ScienceSunday, with your hosts +Buddhini Samarasinghe, +Rajini Rao, +Chad Haney, +Allison Sekuler, +Robby Bowles, +Carissa Braun, and +Aubrey Francisco!

+STEM on Google+ Community ___

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2014-05-29 03:04:43 (54 comments, 72 reshares, 233 +1s)

If you have a Chromecast, do yourself a favour and try Videostream.

I've been using and enjoying my Chromecast ever since they were first released. But with the release of Videostream the humble little Chromecast just became a whole lot more useful. For those who don't know, a Chromecast is simply a little HDMI dongle that connects to your wireless network and which you plug into your TV; once set up you can send or "cast" YouTube videos, Google Music, etc to your TV. You can grab a Chromecast from the Play Store https://play.google.com/store/devices/details?id=chromecast&hl=en. 

Videostream is a Web App that you can add to Chrome browser here https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/videostream-for-google-ch/cnciopoikihiagdjbjpnocolokfelagl. Once running in your browser Videostream connects to your Chromecast (so long as you're running on the sameWi... more »

If you have a Chromecast, do yourself a favour and try Videostream.

I've been using and enjoying my Chromecast ever since they were first released. But with the release of Videostream the humble little Chromecast just became a whole lot more useful. For those who don't know, a Chromecast is simply a little HDMI dongle that connects to your wireless network and which you plug into your TV; once set up you can send or "cast" YouTube videos, Google Music, etc to your TV. You can grab a Chromecast from the Play Store https://play.google.com/store/devices/details?id=chromecast&hl=en. 

Videostream is a Web App that you can add to Chrome browser here https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/videostream-for-google-ch/cnciopoikihiagdjbjpnocolokfelagl. Once running in your browser Videostream connects to your Chromecast (so long as you're running on the same WiFi network) and allows you to select videos and movies stored on your computer (or a connected external HDD) and cast them straight to your TV. It buffers for a couple of seconds but then, in my experience, runs and plays perfectly with no noticeable degradation in image quality as far as I can tell. 

Even better, when you install Videostream the Android App https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.videostream.Mobile&hl=en you have a simple and convenient remote control for movie playback on your phone. 

The whole system is simple, easy to set up and, for me at least, really reduced the friction I encounter in this form of media consumption. 

#chromecast   #videostream   #media  ___

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2014-05-27 06:44:25 (5 comments, 3 reshares, 25 +1s)

Enhancing Responsibility VS Responsible Enhancement.
The philosophy of responsibility. Reposting a comment.

Many thanks to +Ninja On Rye for sharing this interview and posting an intellectually stimulating post! It turns out responsibility is a fascinating philosophical subject and is set to become ever more relevant as technology advances and our ability and proclivity to enhance ourselves increases. This is one of the most novel psychological / philosophical questions that I've come across in a while. 

Ninja asks whether it would it be negligent not to enhance yourself?
At this stage I would be inclined to say no, but rather it is perhaps negligent to not inform people of that fact or of your status of enhancing yourself or not. People then have the information they need and can decide. Same for regulating certain people and professions - enforcing informationdi... more »

The new normal : Is it irresponsible to not enhance yourself?

Popping pills or giving yourself some transcranial direct current stimulation.  The pervading thoughts regarding those tend to be fairly negative, possibly influenced by the view of enhancements (such as steroids) in sport.  

Consider students, studying for an exam.  If a student was later discovered to be taking adhd drugs to improve focus or recall, is the student likely to be praised?  Or are they more likely to be punished?  

Consider a surgeon, who faces long days with life and death cases.  If he could pop pills that enhanced focus, provided clarity, enhanced recall, should he do so?  More to the point, would it be negligent to not do so?  If I was undergoing an operation at the end of a long day, would I not want the best chance for success?  If doctors everywhere were taking medication to enhance their focus, given no serious side effects, would I be enthused about getting a doctor that decided he would prefer not to take pills?  That it was a lifestyle choice of his?  That he morally objected to such enhancements, despite the fact that it would increase the chances of a successful operation for me, his patient?

If there are safe and effective ways of enabling people to perform better, shouldn't these be widely available, distributed and regulated?  But what then for those who want to make the choice to say no?  In some cases you simply become noncompetitive.  Imagine the runner who chose to say no when everyone else openly and heavily uses steroids.  Or the classroom of children popping pills morning and afternoon, scoring higher on tests, and learning more advanced subjects at an earlier age, with you struggling every day just to keep up.  Or the case of surgeons and similar who have a more direct effect on the lives of others, and increase the risk of harm to people by abstaining from enhancement.  

Do you end up regulating that certain people and professions must take enhancements that are shown to be suitably safe?


Link is to a 20 minute audio interview with Nicole Vincent on enhanced abilities leading to enhanced responsibilities.___Enhancing Responsibility VS Responsible Enhancement.
The philosophy of responsibility. Reposting a comment.

Many thanks to +Ninja On Rye for sharing this interview and posting an intellectually stimulating post! It turns out responsibility is a fascinating philosophical subject and is set to become ever more relevant as technology advances and our ability and proclivity to enhance ourselves increases. This is one of the most novel psychological / philosophical questions that I've come across in a while. 

Ninja asks whether it would it be negligent not to enhance yourself?
At this stage I would be inclined to say no, but rather it is perhaps negligent to not inform people of that fact or of your status of enhancing yourself or not. People then have the information they need and can decide. Same for regulating certain people and professions - enforcing information disclosure I think is the first step . . . state intervention and force of the individual to take these drugs still seems wrong at this stage. However, I support state intervention and force to vaccinate the population, which seems to be mutually contradictory. I feel a little torn now, and definitely need to think more on this.  

Great point by Ninja: they simply become noncompetitive.
Compared to the available resources they have chosen to embrace a reduced performance capacity. 

Her discussion around responsibility is fascinating.
For example, reduced mental capacity translates to reduced expectation of responsibilities, and interventions (e.g. drugs) that repair mental capacity once again raises the expected responsibility. If you were to raise mental capacity further (human enhancement) it seems to make perfect sense that this should entail even greater responsibilities. There is also a related discussion around death-row and mental disorders, and whether it is ethical to treat someone's mental disorder, raising their mental capacity and responsibility, and so being able to punish them, etc.

#responsibility   #psychology   #philosophy   

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2014-05-25 14:07:57 (18 comments, 47 reshares, 106 +1s)

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 21/14.
3D brain videos, nanomotors, wireless power, glasses-free 3D, nanobioreactor, ultrasound on brain, parsing video, better liposomes, light into matter.

1. High Speed 3D Movies of Living Brains at Neuronal Resolution.
Optogenetics savant Ed Boyden has again pushed the field forward with a powerhouse demonstration of a new optogenetics imaging system able to generate 3D movies of entire brains, at millisecond timescale and neuronal resolution http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2014/illuminating-neuron-activity-3-d-0518. The video is also worth a watch: Neuron Activity in 3-D. The technique works by (i) engineering novel proteins that fluoresce when they bind calcium, which enters neurons whenever a neuron fires, and (ii) clever new light field imaging tools and methods able to detect and measure the fluorescent light signals from... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 21/14.
3D brain videos, nanomotors, wireless power, glasses-free 3D, nanobioreactor, ultrasound on brain, parsing video, better liposomes, light into matter.

1. High Speed 3D Movies of Living Brains at Neuronal Resolution.
Optogenetics savant Ed Boyden has again pushed the field forward with a powerhouse demonstration of a new optogenetics imaging system able to generate 3D movies of entire brains, at millisecond timescale and neuronal resolution http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2014/illuminating-neuron-activity-3-d-0518. The video is also worth a watch: Neuron Activity in 3-D. The technique works by (i) engineering novel proteins that fluoresce when they bind calcium, which enters neurons whenever a neuron fires, and (ii) clever new light field imaging tools and methods able to detect and measure the fluorescent light signals from many different neurons at once in 3D, and computational methods to compile these measurements into navigable 3D videos. The proof-of-concept was performed with standard C. elegans nematode worms, for which the complete 302 neuron brain wiring diagram is known, and the group were able to measure and watch every neuron firing as the worm responded to various stimuli. Future work will improve image processing to speed up video rendering, further improve the microscopy to see parts of neurons rather than whole cells, and combine with optogenetics methods to determine the performance and function of individual neurons in the network. This is huge: combined information input and output for individual neurons. 

2. Fabricating Tiny, Fast Nanomotors.
A nanomotor whose largest dimension measures less than one micrometer has been fabricated that can be electrically controlled and quickly assembled http://phys.org/news/2014-05-world-smallest-fastest-nanomotor.html. The three-part motor can mix and pump fluids and biochemicals at up to 18,000 rpm and has so far been tested to run for up to 15 hours. While initial tests of the device have been simple, such as releasing biomolecules at a rate depending on rotation speed and causing an array of the motors to function in synchrony, future NEMS motors like this should provide powerful capabilities for microfluidics, sensors, and more complex MEMS devices. 

3. Wirelessly Powering Implanted Medical Devices.
A wireless power receiver the size of a grain of rice has been built that is optimised for mid-field wireless power transfer through organic matter, opening up the possibility of efficient and safe wireless power transfer to devices implanted deep inside the body http://news.stanford.edu/news/2014/may/electronic-wireless-transfer-051914.html. Such a device allows deeply-implanted medical devices to be externally powered or recharged for further use; measured energy exposure is below recommended levels and prototypes have been shown to work inside pigs and recharge pacemakers in rabbits. An inherently modular platform like this could induce an explosion of innovation in implanted devices such as microfluidic drug delivery devices, sensors, and neural circuit stimulators. In related news another wireless power company has launched with technology for charging consumer devices from across a room http://www.technologyreview.com/news/527456/wireless-power-from-across-the-room/. 

4. New Glasses-Free 3D Projector Design.
A new projection system enables multi-perspective 3D video without glasses and approaches the qualities of holographic 3D video http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2014/glasses-free-3-d-projector-0516. The device relies on a pair of liquid crystal modulators in which a light source is turned into two patterns of light and dark - and slightly angled - pixels, which ensures viewers will see different images from different angles. Another screen in front of the projector combines two lenticular lenses that serve to widen the viewing angle for people. The system is computationally intensive: producing eight different viewing angles from six different patterns on each modulator for each frame of video, and using clever algorithms to determine how much information can be preserved between viewing angles. Other benefits include being able to produce true black with LCDs and combining two 1080p modulators to produce a 4k image. 

5. Nano-BioReactor Arrays on Atomically Precise Surfaces.
A nano-bioreactor platform has been developed that uses the two-dimensional material tungsten disulfide as a base, patterned gold nanoparticles, to which your enzyme of interest is conjugated http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=35671.php. The first demonstration involved a surface covered in the enzyme that converts hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen; adding different enzymes would result in a surface that catalysed different biological reactions. For example, you might conceivably have an array of these surfaces within the chamber of a microfluidic chip, through which you flow different fluids to perform different reactions as desired. Some chip designs might even allow modifying the chamber by cleaving the enzyme, washing it away and then replacing with another . . . that could have been assembled in another part of the chip containing ribosomes fed suitable mRNA code. Use of different nanoparticles and molecules may allow such devices to run photosynthetic reactions http://phys.org/news/2014-05-bionic-particles-self-assemble-capture.html. 

6. Circumventing the Blood Brain Barrier with Ultrasound Blasts.
A 256-channel ultrasound phased array can deliver two frequencies at once that, as the phase is altered, can target and steer a millimeters-wide spot of ultrasound energy to any point in the brain http://spectrum.ieee.org/biomedical/devices/blasts-of-ultrasound-could-get-needed-drugs-into-the-brain. The ultrasound energy at that point causes endothelial cells that line the brain’s blood vessels to deform, opening gaps into the brain that naturally close within one or two hours. During this time drugs that are typically blocked by the blood-brain-barrier (95% of drugs) can get through and have a therapeutic effect on the brain and its cells, which could be a big improvement over other more invasive techniques for delivering drugs to the brain. 

7. Parsing Video into Natural Language.
A new activity recognition algorithm is able to quickly search video clips for key terms and tell at what point in the video, if at all, a particular activity or action takes place http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2014/techniques-from-natural-language-processing-enable-computers-to-search-video-0514. We’ve long taken for granted the ability to Google search images of particular objects and types of things but doing so for video, efficiently, is a little more complicated. The new algorithm includes advances such as video of any length, guessing partially-completed actions, and execution time that scales linearly (rather than exponentially) with file size. Enabled by techniques in natural language processing, machine learning, and computer vision, the algorithm builds a sort of “grammar of action” to recognise actions and sub-actions. I’m thinking such algorithms might be particularly empowering for robotics. 

8. Better Fabrication of Liposomes.
Liposomes, phospholipid bilayer fluid-filled spheres, which are conventionally used in drug delivery applications, can now be made far more efficiently and with far greater control http://phys.org/news/2014-05-capillary-device-significantly-quality-liposomes.html. The fabrication method is powered by a lab-on-chip microfluidic device with bundled capillary tubes, costing less than $1, controllably combines flows of lipids and water-based fluids to consistently yield large quantities of uniform and robust liposome vesicles. Further the liposomes can emerge pre-loaded with a defined amount of drug each and further modifications should also be possible. In addition to drug delivery such vesicles are also used for creating artificial cells, organelles, and discrete mini chemical factories, all of which I have covered previously. 

9. Rapid Charging Batteries.
A new dual-carbon battery that charges 20 times faster than a conventional lithium-ion battery is cheap to manufacture, safe, and environmentally friendly http://www.gizmag.com/dual-carbon-fast-charging-battery/32121/. The new battery has been developed by the company Power Japan and could charge a Nissan Leaf car battery in 12 minutes instead of 4 hours as is currently the case. Energy density and lifetime are also comparable to or better than lithium-ion and the battery doesn’t heat up or require additional cooling. Power Japan is planning to start production of the batteries and hope to find application in electric vehicles and consumer devices. On the topic of energy storage graphene and nanotubes were in the press again http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/semiconductors/materials/carbon-nanomaterials-create-hybrid-energy-storage-device. 

10. Turning Light into Matter.
A new design for a “photon-photon collider” requires only technology available today and seeks to experimentally verify a theory from 1934 explaining how matter can be created from smashing light or photons of sufficiently high energy together http://www.alphagalileo.org/ViewItem.aspx?ItemId=141876&CultureCode=en. Much as electrons and positrons come together and annihilate, converting to very energetic gamma ray photons, two sufficiently energetic gamma ray photons coming together are thought will produce an electron and a positron - which can be captured in a detector. Other time-reversed particle interactions like this have been successfully demonstrated and I’m pretty sure this will also be successful although we’ll have to wait to see for sure. I admit to being left wondering whether such capabilities might have interesting practical applications in future.

The weekly SciTech Digests are also available as a Google Newsstand Magazine Edition here: 
https://www.google.com/producer/editions/CAow4-hB/scitech_digest 

+ScienceSunday, with your hosts +Buddhini Samarasinghe, +Rajini Rao, +Chad Haney, +Allison Sekuler, +Robby Bowles, +Carissa Braun, and +Aubrey Francisco!

+STEM on Google+ Community ___

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2014-05-22 14:17:03 (3 comments, 1 reshares, 29 +1s)

Auto-Awesome: Recent Day-Trip.

One of my friends is an avid fisherman and finally convinced me and another friend to come out for a half-day on the boat - an early start but a great, fun day and got see a part of the local environment (mangrove estuaries) that I would never otherwise get to see. In addition to the fish - all of which were released and set free - we also saw lots of water birds, sting rays, and two frolicking dolphins. 

Auto-Awesome: Recent Day-Trip.

One of my friends is an avid fisherman and finally convinced me and another friend to come out for a half-day on the boat - an early start but a great, fun day and got see a part of the local environment (mangrove estuaries) that I would never otherwise get to see. In addition to the fish - all of which were released and set free - we also saw lots of water birds, sting rays, and two frolicking dolphins. ___

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2014-05-18 12:17:27 (9 comments, 39 reshares, 98 +1s)

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 20/14.
Cellular nanoinjector, 2D transistors, digital cell processing, graphene pump, thermal imaging, analogue computing, translating speech to code, hyperbolic metamaterials.

1. A Cellular MEMS Nanoinjector.
A newly fabricated microelectromechanical system (MEMS) is able to grab individual cells, such as human egg cells, and precisely pierce them with a nanoinjector pre-coated in DNA of interest http://phys.org/news/2014-05-mems-nanoinjector-genetic-modification-cells.html. DNA is attached to the nanoinjector via an induced electrical charge and, once the cell is pierced, a reversal of the charge polarity releases the DNA inside the cell. The cells undergo much less stress than with other methods and the method avoids a lot of the cell death that usually occurs. The group will next develop large arrays of the MEMS systems... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 20/14.
Cellular nanoinjector, 2D transistors, digital cell processing, graphene pump, thermal imaging, analogue computing, translating speech to code, hyperbolic metamaterials.

1. A Cellular MEMS Nanoinjector.
A newly fabricated microelectromechanical system (MEMS) is able to grab individual cells, such as human egg cells, and precisely pierce them with a nanoinjector pre-coated in DNA of interest http://phys.org/news/2014-05-mems-nanoinjector-genetic-modification-cells.html. DNA is attached to the nanoinjector via an induced electrical charge and, once the cell is pierced, a reversal of the charge polarity releases the DNA inside the cell. The cells undergo much less stress than with other methods and the method avoids a lot of the cell death that usually occurs. The group will next develop large arrays of the MEMS systems capable of injecting up to hundreds of thousands of cells at once and possibly providing a powerful platform for rapidly and easily genetically transforming a patient’s cells before reintroduction. 

2. Transistors Built from Different Two Dimensional Materials.
Some of the first functional transistors built entirely of two-dimensional materials have been demonstrated in which molybdenum disulfide makes up the channel, boron nitride the gate dielectric, and graphene the source/drain gate electrodes http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=35544.php. The prototypes were manufactured with fairly basic scotch-tape exfoliation methods and could benefit greatly with suitable automatic fabrication techniques. That being said the transistors still exhibited remarkable performance that would translate into faster and more power-efficient devices. Individual material thicknesses could also be precisely controlled but the group needs to work on engineering better metal contacts for their devices. 

3. True Digitisation of Cellular Analysis.
By printing thin electromagnetic components onto a slide researchers built tracks, switches, diodes, capacitors, and transistors that deal not with electrons, but with cells http://www.pratt.duke.edu/news/microchip-technology-allows-single-cell-analysis. Such a biological microchip allows for rapid, efficient, digitally-controlled sorting, storage, and analysis of different cells and makes it much easier to conduct single-cell analysis based on particular parameters. Different cells and cell-like particles can be separated and combined as needed. The prototype can currently sort, store, and analyse a 3x3 grid of cells, but they have plans to scale to 16x16 in the short term, with future versions offering the potential of being able to manage hundreds of thousands of cells at a time. This system might even be combined with the nanoinjector from #1 above to enable some really powerful capabilities. 

4. Laser-Powered Atomic Monolayer Two-Stroke Pump.
Turns out that combining some chlorine fluoride with sheets of monolayer graphene allows a burst of incident laser light to cause the graphene to form a rapidly-rising dome-like blister the monolayer sheet; rapidly turning the laser on and off causes the blister to rapidly rise up and down again like a little pump http://phys.org/news/2014-05-one-nm-thick-graphene-mimics-two-stroke.html. Blister size is dependent on the power of the laser (0.32mW laser = 550nm blister), which beyond a certain power causes the material to burst - but below this limit the material seems to act like a robust and reliable pump. The group next wants to explore and further prove the concept by hooking up MEMS and NEMS devices that are structured in such a way that they can be powered by the pump. 

5. Cheap, High-Resolution Thermal Imaging Chips.
Raytheon has dramatically reduced the cost of fabricating thermal imaging chips while achieving a 5- to 6-fold reduction in weight and power requirements for the devices over a 10-year development period http://www.raytheon.com/newsroom/feature/rtn14_thermal.html. The chips see heat and infrared light directly, and work without the need for infrared illumination or amplification of trace amounts of visible light. By getting prices below a certain point we might start to see these thermal imaging chips and sensors migrate out of military and industrial uses and into commercial and consumer applications such as automotive, home sensing, and smartphones, etc. This is the sort of seemingly simple advance capable of giving birth to applications that we can’t yet imagine. 

6. A New Computational Analogue Building Block.
Vanadium dioxide, a material that switches from metal to semiconductor with the addition of heat or current, has been used to create new oscillator circuit elements that naturally oscillate together, an array of which could store and compute relevant patterns and data http://news.psu.edu/story/316026/2014/05/14/research/strongly-interacting-electrons-wacky-oxide-synchronize-work-brain. The group is exploring this as a building block for a non-Boolean, neuromorphic (brain-mimicking) chip architecture that they hope to scale up an array of 100 million oscillators to realise a powerful, low-energy computing system. 

7. Auto-Translation of English into Code.
A programming tool called Betty has been developed that translates plain English into Unix commands http://www.wired.com/2014/05/betty/. The developer created the tool to interpret plain text entry and help remember certain commands and avoid the need to look up cheat sheets. While not yet voice controlled (could be one day) and still requiring text entry, the project is open-source and so anyone can jump in and help expand Betty’s capabilities in terms of both languages and known programming commands. This also represents the seed for an open-source alternative of Siri and Google Now. 

8. IBM’s Exceptional New Polymers.
IBM has discovered a new class of polymer materials that demonstrate a range of properties including resistance to cracking, solvent resistance, strength higher than bone, self-healing and rejoining, and recyclability back to original starting material http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/43932.wss. The polymer chemistries were discovered and their development accelerated with the aid of computational chemistry modelling systems whose potential we really seem to have only just scratched the surface. The addition of fillers such as carbon nanotubes would also further improve strength. The inherent recyclability is a huge deal, with the other materials properties lending themselves to applications everywhere polymers are currently found - and they also possess the potential to replace some metal components applications. 

9. Tissue Engineering With Acoustic Tweezers.
An acoustic tweezer device has been used to move and manipulate cells into complex two-dimensional assemblies, forming interlocking patterns of different cell types http://phys.org/news/2014-05-sonic-screwdriver-cells-tartan.html. The group hope to further develop the technique to allow three-dimensional assembly of complex tissues and are aiming to create proto-tissues that can assist neuron development and the repair of damaged nerves. Between this, 3D bioprinting, organ decellularisation, and xenotransplantation techniques we seem to be developing quite robust tissue engineering capabilities. 

10. Engineering Hyperbolic Metamaterials.
For the first time ultra-thin crystalline films that are compatible with conventional CMOS processes have been engineered into hyperbolic metamaterials http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2014/Q2/advance-brings-hyperbolic-metamaterials-closer-to-reality.html. These new metamaterials are grown by adding new layers to form superlattice crystals of controllable thicknesses that can manipulate a broad spectrum of light from infrared to visible; applications include much better communications, sensors, microscopes, and light sources. The key here is the co-opting of powerful CMOS tools into metamaterial development, something that hasn’t been possible before and which lead to rapid development and scaling of metamaterials applications.

An archive of the SciTech Digests can also be found here: http://www.scitechdigest.net 

+ScienceSunday, with your hosts +Buddhini Samarasinghe, +Rajini Rao, +Chad Haney, +Robby Bowles, +Allison Sekuler, +Carissa Braun, and +Aubrey Francisco!

+STEM on Google+ Community___

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2014-05-17 15:51:05 (52 comments, 14 reshares, 32 +1s)

Do You Have Any Fiction / SciFi Recommendations?

I read many fewer books than I used to and after taking so many months to repeatedly revisit and finally finish dense, in-depth, and cognitively challenging books (my preferred fare) like Thinking, Fast and Slow, at times taking a long time to finish a particular chapter . . . I sometimes worry whether my reading ability has declined with age, simply due to the time it takes me. 

Fortunately such fears are rendered baseless when I subsequently read a great piece of fiction like Blindsight, which I completed over the last two days. Blindsight's hard science fiction was an absolute joy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blindsight_(Watts_novel)) and I was just wondering if anyone could recommend any other good reads in the same class? 

Do You Have Any Fiction / SciFi Recommendations?

I read many fewer books than I used to and after taking so many months to repeatedly revisit and finally finish dense, in-depth, and cognitively challenging books (my preferred fare) like Thinking, Fast and Slow, at times taking a long time to finish a particular chapter . . . I sometimes worry whether my reading ability has declined with age, simply due to the time it takes me. 

Fortunately such fears are rendered baseless when I subsequently read a great piece of fiction like Blindsight, which I completed over the last two days. Blindsight's hard science fiction was an absolute joy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blindsight_(Watts_novel)) and I was just wondering if anyone could recommend any other good reads in the same class? ___

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2014-05-15 03:27:26 (36 comments, 187 reshares, 128 +1s)

Thinking, Fast and Slow. By Daniel Kahneman.
This post is long, but the curated book notes are worth a read, promise!

I recently finished the critically acclaimed book Thinking, Fast and Slow by Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman. For me it was a long, slow read, drawn out over many months, and one that has left a lasting impression on my thoughts and outlook. 

The book, in general is incredibly well-written with some of the word-smithing in parts comprising the best I have ever been privileged to read. In these common sections there are no wasted words or sentences; every word, every sentence is carefully crafted and conveys accessible meaning. I cannot recall ever reading anything in which word after word, sentence after sentence, for paragraphs or pages on end flowed with such economy and powerful meaning. Such sections are a pleasure to read and of course force me to... more »

Thinking, Fast and Slow. By Daniel Kahneman.
This post is long, but the curated book notes are worth a read, promise!

I recently finished the critically acclaimed book Thinking, Fast and Slow by Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman. For me it was a long, slow read, drawn out over many months, and one that has left a lasting impression on my thoughts and outlook. 

The book, in general is incredibly well-written with some of the word-smithing in parts comprising the best I have ever been privileged to read. In these common sections there are no wasted words or sentences; every word, every sentence is carefully crafted and conveys accessible meaning. I cannot recall ever reading anything in which word after word, sentence after sentence, for paragraphs or pages on end flowed with such economy and powerful meaning. Such sections are a pleasure to read and of course force me to re-read immediately before moving on, the better to savor and take it in. I found some parts of the book however to be a hard slog, accessible but dense in economic and psychological detail. I suspect these combined reasons are why it took me so long, repeatedly breaking from and coming back to the book.

One of the things I love about well-researched books and articles about human psychology, neuroscience, and minds is that they tend to destroy any respect or belief I had in human rationality, agency, identity, freewill, etc, and to paint beliefs in any supernatural phenomenon in an even more absurd light. Thinking, Fast and Slow accomplished this on multiple levels, challenging me anew once again, teaching me about new human fallacies and cognitive limitations, and providing me innumerable, delightful, little insights into my own psychology and that of others. 

Some of the key lessons I took away are:

* What You See Is All There Is (WYSIATI) and the obvious but neglected fact that the human mind is terrible when it comes to accounting for nonevents and unknowns. 
* The pervasive presence of randomness and luck in our lives, both individually and collectively, and the near-complete ignorance of this; the belief in explanatory stories that explain nothing, and in expertise that is not what it seems.
* Renewed appreciation for the phenomenon of ego depletion in relation to self-control.
* Renewed appreciation for framing and anchoring effects. 
* An much improved appreciation for the dynamics of negotiation. 

To finish I wanted to provide a collection of notes from the book that struck me as particularly insightful and worthy of consideration. My first collection of notes (via Kindle) came to about 26,000 words long and would probably break "fair-use" were I to share it. I culled this down to 6,000 words, still too long. I finally settled on the following 2,500 words as worthwhile excerpts and notes from the book that I didn't want to cut down any further. Think of this as a condensed book of sorts, or a:

Curated Selection of Key Points and Notes:

The situation has provided a cue; this cue has given the expert access to information stored in memory, and the information provides the answer. Intuition is nothing more and nothing less than recognition.

Self-control and deliberate thought apparently draw on the same limited budget of effort. An effort of will or self-control is tiring; if you have had to force yourself to do something, you are less willing or less able to exert self-control when the next challenge comes around. The phenomenon has been named ego depletion . . . ego depletion is at least in part a loss of motivation . . . the effects of ego depletion can be undone by ingesting glucose, and Baumeister and his colleagues have confirmed this hypothesis in several experiments . . . tired and hungry judges tend to fall back on the easier default position of denying requests for parole. 

This experiment has discouraging implications for reasoning in everyday life. It suggests that when people believe a conclusion is true, they are also very likely to believe arguments that appear to support it, even when these arguments are unsound. If System 1 is involved, the conclusion comes first and the arguments follow. 

Studies of priming effects have yielded discoveries that threaten our self-image as conscious and autonomous authors of our judgments and our choices . . .Those who nodded (a yes gesture) tended to accept the message they heard, but those who shook their head tended to reject it . . . If you have recently seen or heard the word EAT, you are temporarily more likely to complete the word fragment SO_P as SOUP than as SOAP . . . Money-primed people become more independent than they would be without the associative trigger. They persevered almost twice as long in trying to solve a very difficult problem before they asked the experimenter for help, a crisp demonstration of increased self-reliance. Money-primed people are also more selfish: they were much less willing to spend time helping another student who pretended to be confused about an experimental task. When an experimenter clumsily dropped a bunch of pencils on the floor, the participants with money (unconsciously) on their mind picked up fewer pencils . . . Her experiments are profound—her findings suggest that living in a culture that surrounds us with reminders of money may shape our behavior and our attitudes in ways that we do not know about and of which we may not be proud.

His idea was as simple as it was powerful: creativity is associative memory that works exceptionally well.
 
The operations of associative memory contribute to a general confirmation bias. When asked, “Is Sam friendly?” different instances of Sam’s behavior will come to mind than would if you had been asked “Is Sam unfriendly?” . . . Contrary to the rules of philosophers of science, who advise testing hypotheses by trying to refute them, people (and scientists, quite often) seek data that are likely to be compatible with the beliefs they currently hold.
 
Overconfidence: As the WYSIATI rule implies, neither the quantity nor the quality of the evidence counts for much in subjective confidence. The confidence that individuals have in their beliefs depends mostly on the quality of the story they can tell about what they see, even if they see little. We often fail to allow for the possibility that evidence that should be critical to our judgment is missing—what we see is all there is. Furthermore, our associative system tends to settle on a coherent pattern of activation and suppresses doubt and ambiguity.
 
A remarkable aspect of your mental life is that you are rarely stumped . . . The normal state of your mind is that you have intuitive feelings and opinions about almost everything that comes your way . . . if a satisfactory answer to a hard question is not found quickly, System 1 will find a related question that is easier and will answer it . . . a judgment that is based on substitution will inevitably be biased in predictable ways. In this case, it happens so deep in the perceptual system that you simply cannot help it.
 
“To the untrained eye,” Feller remarks, “randomness appears as regularity or tendency to cluster.” We are far too willing to reject the belief that much of what we see in life is random.

System 1 understands sentences by trying to make them true, and the selective activation of compatible thoughts produces a family of systematic errors that make us gullible and prone to believe too strongly whatever we believe.

Any number that you are asked to consider as a possible solution to an estimation problem will induce an anchoring effect. When no anchor was mentioned, the visitors at the Exploratorium—generally an environmentally sensitive crowd—said they were willing to pay $64, on average. When the anchoring amount was only $5, contributions averaged $20. When the anchor was a rather extravagant $400, the willingness to pay rose to an average of $143 . . . On average, those who had rolled a 9 said they would sentence her to 8 months; those who rolled a 3 said they would sentence her to 5 months; the anchoring effect was 50%.

Many others find the results upsetting, because they threaten the subjective sense of agency and autonomy. If the content of a screen saver on an irrelevant computer can affect your willingness to help strangers without your being aware of it, how free are you?

The availability heuristic, like other heuristics of judgment, substitutes one question for another: you wish to estimate the size of a category or the frequency of an event, but you report an impression of the ease with which instances come to mind.

An availability cascade is a self-sustaining chain of events, which may start from media reports of a relatively minor event and lead up to public panic and large-scale government action . . . Other risks, and other ways that resources could be applied for the public good, all have faded into the background.
 
What he had observed is known as regression to the mean, which in that case was due to random fluctuations in the quality of performance. Naturally, he praised only a cadet whose performance was far better than average. But the cadet was probably just lucky on that particular attempt and therefore likely to deteriorate regardless of whether or not he was praised. Similarly, the instructor would shout into a cadet’s earphones only when the cadet’s performance was unusually bad and therefore likely to improve regardless of what the instructor did . . . This is why the pattern is called regression to the mean. The more extreme the original score, the more regression we expect, because an extremely good score suggests a very lucky day.
 
If we think a baseball pitcher is handsome and athletic, for example, we are likely to rate him better at throwing the ball, too. Halos can also be negative: if we think a player is ugly, we will probably underrate his athletic ability. The halo effect helps keep explanatory narratives simple and coherent by exaggerating the consistency of evaluations: good people do only good things and bad people are all bad.

The human mind does not deal well with nonevents.
 
At work here is that powerful WYSIATI rule. You cannot help dealing with the limited information you have as if it were all there is to know. You build the best possible story from the information available to you, and if it is a good story, you believe it. Paradoxically, it is easier to construct a coherent story when you know little, when there are fewer pieces to fit into the puzzle. Our comforting conviction that the world makes sense rests on a secure foundation: our almost unlimited ability to ignore our ignorance.
 
The tendency to revise the history of one’s beliefs in light of what actually happened produces a robust cognitive illusion . . . Hindsight bias has pernicious effects on the evaluations of decision makers. It leads observers to assess the quality of a decision not by whether the process was sound but by whether its outcome was good or bad . . . The worse the consequence, the greater the hindsight bias . . . Because adherence to standard operating procedures is difficult to second-guess, decision makers who expect to have their decisions scrutinized with hindsight are driven to bureaucratic solutions—and to an extreme reluctance to take risks.
 
The comparison of firms that have been more or less successful is to a significant extent a comparison between firms that have been more or less lucky.
 
Subjective confidence in a judgment is not a reasoned evaluation of the probability that this judgment is correct. Confidence is a feeling, which reflects the coherence of the information and the cognitive ease of processing it. It is wise to take admissions of uncertainty seriously, but declarations of high confidence mainly tell you that an individual has constructed a coherent story in his mind, not necessarily that the story is true.
 
Professional investors, including fund managers, fail a basic test of skill: persistent achievement. The diagnostic for the existence of any skill is the consistency of individual differences in achievement . . . Nevertheless, the evidence from more than fifty years of research is conclusive: for a large majority of fund managers, the selection of stocks is more like rolling dice than like playing poker . . . The subjective experience of traders is that they are making sensible educated guesses in a situation of great uncertainty. In highly efficient markets, however, educated guesses are no more accurate than blind guesses . . . The most potent psychological cause of the illusion is certainly that the people who pick stocks are exercising high-level skills . . . Finally, the illusions of validity and skill are supported by a powerful professional culture. We know that people can maintain an unshakable faith in any proposition, however absurd, when they are sustained by a community of like-minded believers. Given the professional culture of the financial community, it is not surprising that large numbers of individuals in that world believe themselves to be among the chosen few who can do what they believe others cannot.
 
[We measure history] by focusing on either large social movements and cultural and technological developments or the intentions and abilities of a few great men. The idea that large historical events are determined by luck is profoundly shocking, although it is demonstrably true.
 
The range of predicted outcomes has expanded to cover medical variables such as the longevity of cancer patients, the length of hospital stays, the diagnosis of cardiac disease, and the susceptibility of babies to sudden infant death syndrome; economic measures such as the prospects of success for new businesses, the evaluation of credit risks by banks, and the future career satisfaction of workers; questions of interest to government agencies, including assessments of the suitability of foster parents, the odds of recidivism among juvenile offenders, and the likelihood of other forms of violent behavior; and miscellaneous outcomes such as the evaluation of scientific presentations, the winners of football games, and the future prices of Bordeaux wine. Each of these domains entails a significant degree of uncertainty and unpredictability. We describe them as “low-validity environments.” In every case, the accuracy of experts was matched or exceeded by a simple algorithm . . . The research suggests a surprising conclusion: to maximize predictive accuracy, final decisions should be left to formulas, especially in low-validity environments . . . More recent research went further: formulas that assign equal weights to all the predictors are often superior, because they are not affected by accidents of sampling.
 
The surprising success of equal-weighting schemes has an important practical implication: it is possible to develop useful algorithms without any prior statistical research. Simple equally weighted formulas based on existing statistics or on common sense are often very good predictors of significant outcomes. In a memorable example, Dawes showed that marital stability is well predicted by a formula: frequency of lovemaking minus frequency of quarrels You don’t want your result to be a negative number. The important conclusion from this research is that an algorithm that is constructed on the back of an envelope is often good enough to compete with an optimally weighted formula, and certainly good enough to outdo expert judgment.
 
In terms of its consequences for decisions, the optimistic bias may well be the most significant of the cognitive biases. Because optimistic bias can be both a blessing and a risk, you should be both happy and wary if you are temperamentally optimistic . . . When action is needed, optimism, even of the mildly delusional variety, may be a good thing . . . The main benefit of optimism is resilience in the face of setbacks.

Here again, expert overconfidence is encouraged by their clients: “Generally, it is considered a weakness and a sign of vulnerability for clinicians to appear unsure. Confidence is valued over uncertainty and there is a prevailing censure against disclosing uncertainty to patients.” Experts who acknowledge the full extent of their ignorance may expect to be replaced by more confident competitors, who are better able to gain the trust of clients. An unbiased appreciation of uncertainty is a cornerstone of rationality—but it is not what people and organizations want. Extreme uncertainty is paralyzing under dangerous circumstances, and the admission that one is merely guessing is especially unacceptable when the stakes are high. Acting on pretended knowledge is often the preferred solution.

The existing terms define reference points, and a proposed change in any aspect of the agreement is inevitably viewed as a concession that one side makes to the other. Loss aversion creates an asymmetry that makes agreements difficult to reach. The concessions you make to me are my gains, but they are your losses; they cause you much more pain than they give me pleasure.

The escalation of commitment to failing endeavors (sunk costs) is a mistake from the perspective of the firm but not necessarily from the perspective of the executive who “owns” a floundering project. Canceling the project will leave a permanent stain on the executive’s record, and his personal interests are perhaps best served by gambling further with the organization’s resources in the hope of recouping the original investment—or at least in an attempt to postpone the day of reckoning. In the presence of sunk costs, the manager’s incentives are misaligned with the objectives of the firm and its shareholders, a familiar type of what is known as the agency problem . . . The sunk-cost fallacy keeps people for too long in poor jobs, unhappy marriages, and unpromising research projects.
 
Memories are all we get to keep from our experience of living, and the only perspective that we can adopt as we think about our lives is therefore that of the remembering self . . . Confusing experience with the memory of it is a compelling cognitive illusion—and it is the substitution that makes us believe a past experience can be ruined. The experiencing self does not have a voice. The remembering self is sometimes wrong, but it is the one that keeps score and governs what we learn from living, and it is the one that makes decisions. What we learn from the past is to maximize the qualities of our future memories, not necessarily of our future experience. This is the tyranny of the remembering self.

Nothing in life is as important as you think it is when you are thinking about it.

Edit: Alternating italic paragraphs for ease of reading. 

#thinkingfastandslow   #psychology   #alltoohuman  ___

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2014-05-13 13:48:38 (21 comments, 5 reshares, 29 +1s)

Itching for Something Wearable.

I've been following the wearables space for a few years now and have had a growing desire for effortless technological wearable functionality and basic biometric monitoring. But so far I have held off on buying a device due to somewhat immature technology and capabilities. 2014 will be the year though; before, I didn't have a device intimately connected to my person, after, I will have a device intimately connected (most of the time) to my person.

What I'd really like is a smartwatch with a great UI, useful features, and biometric monitoring capabilities. But if I had to choose I'd go biometric monitoring over a conventional smartwatch; I haven't yet seen a smartwatch UI that even remotely made me want to reverse this weighting. 

Competition has been heating up and there has been a lot of entrants, with Google... more »

Itching for Something Wearable.

I've been following the wearables space for a few years now and have had a growing desire for effortless technological wearable functionality and basic biometric monitoring. But so far I have held off on buying a device due to somewhat immature technology and capabilities. 2014 will be the year though; before, I didn't have a device intimately connected to my person, after, I will have a device intimately connected (most of the time) to my person.

What I'd really like is a smartwatch with a great UI, useful features, and biometric monitoring capabilities. But if I had to choose I'd go biometric monitoring over a conventional smartwatch; I haven't yet seen a smartwatch UI that even remotely made me want to reverse this weighting. 

Competition has been heating up and there has been a lot of entrants, with Google purchasing Smartwatch maker WIMM Labs back in 2012, the same year as Pebble's successful Kickstarter, which shipped in 2013.

Some of the other, lesser-known, crowd-funding wearable devices include:

* A 2012 pitch for OxiTone, a wearable for monitoring blood oxygen, heart rate, respiration rate, and sleep activity http://goo.gl/QNWxSU.

* A successful pitch for the Misfit Shine wearable activity tracker for things like walking, running, swimming, cycling http://goo.gl/pKIBMQ.

* A winning pitch for the Amiigo fitness bracelet for measuring a range of different activities as well as heart rate, blood oxygen, skin temperature, and calories burned http://goo.gl/CEFs8g.

* Successful pitch for the Angel, "open-by-design", wrist band sensor for monitoring pulse, temperature, activity, and blood oxygen http://goo.gl/EGHFw3.

* The successful recent pitch for the (somewhat controversial) Healbe GoBe wrist-worn device for measuring calorie intake, calorie burn, metabolic rate, activity type, hydration, sleep stress, heart rate, blood pressure http://goo.gl/ym8JIa. 

* UPDATE Mybasis also has a great looking device with a wide range of features http://www.mybasis.com/basis-healthy-habits-technology/ thanks to +Tyrian Dunaédine for pointing this one out. 

There seems to be a definite trend of increasing sophistication for miniature sensors in the wearable space, particularly with spectroscopic methods that utilise tiny LEDs to shine light onto wrist tissue and measure the reflected signals. A good, recent example, is the very successful Kickstarter campaign by SCiO (still running), a spectrometer device that accurately measures the molecular composition of different materials http://goo.gl/LGL40I. 

The Contenders (for me).

Then there is the Withings Pulse O2 device that I recently came across http://vitrine.withings.com/us/withings-pulse.html a powerful little device, pictured below, from a mature company with a portfolio of impressive products and software. The Pulse O2 measures sleep cycles, different activities, heart rate, blood oxygen, and calories burned. You can see the image on the right showing the LEDs on the back of the device that are used for biometric measurements. It is also somewhat open, being able to work with a range of different apps and software from competing companies, which is great to see. 

Finally, we have the up-and-coming Google and Android Smartwatches that will be tied together with Android Wear http://www.android.com/wear/. Some features and functions we can be relatively sure of given the recent forays by Samsung's Galaxy Gear Smartwatch devices but others remain speculative and unknown; ripping off Pebble's eInk display, perhaps in a colour format, would be great for battery life for example. But beyond the normal smartwatch considerations I want to know about biometrics and whether this first generation of devices will be supporting them at all.

This week we also saw a teaser trailer from LG, for their soon-to-be launched Android Wear powered G Watch, which at the 26 second mark shows the back of the device http://youtu.be/ObhAvvJEi0k?t=26s sporting pogo-style charging pins and another little pin above. Could that extra pin be a biometric optical sensor? Possibly, but doubtful in my opinion. 

So, where does that leave me? 

It leaves me waiting to see the first batch of Android Wear powered smartwatch devices. If they don't have optical biometrics then I'll probably get the Pulse O2 by Withings . . . although the GoBe sounds wonderful I need to research it more. If the new smartwatches have some amazing new UI with awesome features I'd not considered / imagined then I may well get one too. 

I'd even like some of my biometrics to be broadcast online, viewable by anyone and any machine on the Web. The idea of having a little widget pulsing next to my Google+ profile picture in real-time synchrony to my heart beat would be pretty cool. 

#smartwatch   #androidwear   #biometrics  ___

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2014-05-11 06:48:22 (26 comments, 53 reshares, 105 +1s)

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 19/14.
Rejuventing aged tissues, retinal motion wiring, 6-base DNA, neuroprosthetics, smarter nanoparticles, human glycome, evolved metamaterials, humanised pig organs.

1. Rejuvenating Aged Brains and Muscles.
Big news this week was the rejuvenation of brains and muscles in aged mice by use of blood factors from young mice http://hsci.harvard.edu/news/functioning-aged-brains-and-muscles-mice-made-younger. These appear to be follow-up experiments to what I’ve reported on a year or two ago, but in this case were repeated in duplicate via (i) parabiotic surgery joining the circulatory systems of an old and a young animal, and (ii) straight injections of the protein GDF11, thought to be the main factor active in the parabiotic results, straight into older mice. Both approaches resulted in the rejuvenation of older mice; theirh... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 19/14.
Rejuventing aged tissues, retinal motion wiring, 6-base DNA, neuroprosthetics, smarter nanoparticles, human glycome, evolved metamaterials, humanised pig organs.

1. Rejuvenating Aged Brains and Muscles.
Big news this week was the rejuvenation of brains and muscles in aged mice by use of blood factors from young mice http://hsci.harvard.edu/news/functioning-aged-brains-and-muscles-mice-made-younger. These appear to be follow-up experiments to what I’ve reported on a year or two ago, but in this case were repeated in duplicate via (i) parabiotic surgery joining the circulatory systems of an old and a young animal, and (ii) straight injections of the protein GDF11, thought to be the main factor active in the parabiotic results, straight into older mice. Both approaches resulted in the rejuvenation of older mice; their hearts appear younger and stronger, circulation and blood flow improves, exercise capability improves, cognitive decline is reversed, and aged olfaction reverts to similar capabilities to that of young mice. Pretty exciting stuff but still needs to be replicated in humans. Subsequent scenarios might include transfusions from young to old, protein injections, drugs to boost aged production, gene therapy interventions, and synthetic biology applications. Turns out that another factor, klotho, was also found to protect against cognitive decline with aging by forming stronger synapses https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2014/05/klotho-influences-cognition-as-well-as-aging.php. 

2. Sensing Motion via Retinal Wiring.
Brain mapping efforts in conjunction with citizen-science game EyeWire applied to high-resolution scans of slices of mouses retina have resulted in maps of retinal neurons and their wiring that provide insight into how motion is detected so quickly http://www.nature.com/news/wiring-of-retina-reveals-how-eyes-sense-motion-1.15147. Because individual photoreceptors are indifferent to the movement of an object, it turns out that bipolar cells play a key role, with some links to the next layer of cells able to signal immediately while others signal with a slight delay, with the exact wiring and signal timing able to communicate when one photoreceptor cell fires shortly after another, i.e. when an object causes movement of light across the retina. Expect these insights to be co-opted in the near term by designers of neuromorphic imaging chips to produce better machine vision systems. 

3. Genetic Codes with Six Instead of Four Base Pairs.
The engineering possibilities with genetic codes have been significantly expanded with the demonstration of an additional pair of bases that integrate well with DNA, taking the number of bases from four to six http://www.wired.com/2014/05/synthetic-dna-cells/. The new base-pairs, dubbed X and Y for now, were incorporated into plasmid vectors and it was shown that bacterial cells could replicate the new additions to DNA, provided the X and Y molecules were added to the nutrient media for the cells to absorb. The group is trying to engineer the cell to be able to synthesise its own X and Y molecules without the need for their presence in the environment, and future work will demonstrate transcription into RNA and subsequent translation into protein. Using standard three-base codons means that the new system could encode 6*6*6 = 216 different amino acids, massively expanding the design space for both synthetic biology and DNA Origami applications. 

4. Extended Capabilities Come to 3D Printing.
A couple of interesting new capabilities for 3D printers this week. First, a new 3D printing head and materials allow a 3D printer to simultaneously print both structural plastics and metallic conductors in the same print job http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9247934/This_3D_printer_technology_can_print_a_game_controller_electronics_and_all. The group demonstrated the new capability by printing a games controller with embedded conductive wires and simply connected an arduino board to the exposed ends of the conductors to encode button presses and control a computer game; be sure to watch the video - the more materials the more of that board could be printed. Second, plans for a new 3D printer that produces custom tinted / pigmented makeup (powders, pastes, creams) was launched and opens up a range of interesting possibilities https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/i3mvQaG6VJ7. 

5. The Latest on Neuroprosthetics.
The on-going development of implantable neuroprosthetic chips that repair or enhance brain function and neural communications continues apace. Some chips have reached a level of sophistication that they are now being surgically implanted into human brains to restore function in those paralysed http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/ohio-surgeons-hope-chip-in-mans-brain-lets-him-control-paralyzed-hand-with-thoughts/2014/04/29/c45515e2-ccaf-11e3-a75e-463587891b57_story.html, measuring the correct brain signals and sending these to the correct muscles. Other chips under development seek to interface with the hippocampus, restoring or improving the ability to form new and recall old memories or repairing other cognitive functions and are currently being pushed by DARPA http://nextbigfuture.com/2014/05/darpa-researchinr-brain-implants-to.html, building on work like this http://iopscience.iop.org/1741-2552/10/6/066013/ that demonstrated memory encoding via a similar device and hippocampus in primates. 

6. Increasing Sophistication of Nanoparticles VS Cancer.
An engineered adeno-associated virus has two custom molecular locks that are only opened by two specific proteases that are present in high levels near cancer cells, which subsequently allows the virus to enter and deliver its payload to the cell of interest http://phys.org/news/2014-05-two-lock-cancer-therapy.html; the idea is that (i) adding two, three, or more “locks” increases specificity and minimises off-target side effects, and (ii) the “locks” can be engineered as needed to target different cells. Another nanoparticle platform combines two drugs and a targeting molecule to reach cancer cells and deliver the different drugs hours apart from each other with particularly potent results http://phys.org/news/2014-05-nanoparticles-stagger-delivery-drugs-aggressive.html. Both could be useful for facilitating therapies for stopping the growth of pancreatic cancers https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2014/05/halting-pancreatic-cancer-development.php. 

7. Changing Graphene’s Crystal Structure, Heat Conduction, and Photonics Properties.
This week’s advancements with the wonder material brought us news of (i) how an electric field can be used to accurately control the crystal structure of trilayer graphene to induce formation of metallic and semiconducting regions and allow construction of transistors http://uanews.org/story/playing-pool-with-carbon-atoms, (ii) experimental confirmation of computer simulations demonstrating that graphene has more powerful heat conduction properties than previously thought http://www.mpip-mainz.mpg.de/news/thermal_conductivity, and (iii) the creation of high-quality patterned graphene thin films for ultrafast optical communications http://www.swinburne.edu.au/media-centre/news/2014/05/graphene-photonics-breakthrough-promises-fast-speed-low-cost-communications.html. 

8. Progress on The Human Glycome.
The human glycome is the set of all the different types of sugar molecules that our body uses and produces, currently estimated at around 7,000 different sugars. Recent work suggests that the membranes of different cells are adorned with different sugars and this reflects a distinct and informative “sugar code” http://phys.org/news/2014-05-team-uncovered-sugar-ability-state.html. The pattern and type of sugars adorning a cell wall appear to indicate tissue-type, phenotype or status, mobility, health, injury, and other markers - cancer cells have different sugars to normal cells for example. The work generated a glycome-microRNA map and future work should expand the sensing arrays to selectivity against more sugars to generate better sugar signatures and profiles of cell types - potentially improving our ability to quickly identify and target different cells. 

9. Evolving Broadband Metamaterials.
Genetic algorithms are increasingly being used to evolve and design better metamaterial structures, with the latest work producing a metamaterial able to absorb infrared light over a wide range of wavelengths http://news.psu.edu/story/314511/2014/05/05/research/genetic-approach-helps-design-broadband-metamaterial. Made of patterned layers of polymer and metal on a silicon base the material absorbs about 90% of infrared light and might find uses in shielding / obscuring infrared heat signatures or improving the efficiency of thermophotovoltaics to extract additional energy from sunlight. Better fabrication methods are needed for such materials to be adopted commercially however. 

10. Scaling Up Production of Humanised Pig Organs.
Synthetic Genomics and United Therapeutics are teaming up to better develop humanised pig lungs and potentially supply the 400,000 human lungs that may be needed each year http://www.syntheticgenomics.com/media/press/050614.html. The focus appears to be large-scale genomic engineering to produce pig cells capable of developing into embryos with humanised lungs that can later, when mature, be harvested and transplanted into patients that need them. Of course, the same techniques could be applied to other organs too. Earlier this year I covered other methods to grow human organs in pigs http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-25550419, and cloning factories that could mass-produce them http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-25576718.

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