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Mark Bruce has been at 1 events

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NASA3,047,299The 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 02:00:002177  

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Most comments: 149

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2016-10-24 12:22:23 (149 comments; 24 reshares; 100 +1s; )Open 

There’s No Such Thing As Dark Energy. Probably.

A recent analysis of 740 Type 1a supernovae suggests that it is likely that there is no dark energy and the expansion of the Universe is not accelerating. This new analysis incorporates ten times as many data points and possesses much greater statistical significance than the original data and the original analysis that concluded the expansion of the Universe was accelerating and driven by an unknown force (dark energy) that accounts for the majority of energy/mass in the Universe.

Oxford release: http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/science-blog/universe-expanding-accelerating-rate-%E2%80%93-or-it
Nature paper: http://www.nature.com/articles/srep35596

The researchers say the work demonstrates that this pillar of standard cosmology is shaky and it is quite possible we have been misled and dark energy was proposed as ac... more »

Most reshares: 33

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2016-09-19 14:26:11 (9 comments; 33 reshares; 89 +1s; )Open 

The Neural Network Zoo

This is nice summary article covering the many different neural network architectures that have been developed and deployed in deep learning applications. The taxonomy provides a colour-coded key to make it easy to see how different functions and operations are used in different ways across different network architectures and so showing at a glance how these different networks relate to one another. The article provides a brief description of the function and training of each type for ease of classification and reference.

Article: http://www.asimovinstitute.org/neural-network-zoo/

We can expect this taxonomy of different neural network architectures to grow over time too: as our knowledge of the brain and understanding of its different neural networks continues to become more sophisticated we’ll undoubtedly discover new network architecturesa... more »

Most plusones: 103

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2017-01-29 05:53:21 (7 comments; 15 reshares; 103 +1s; )Open 

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

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

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

Latest 50 posts

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2017-02-19 02:55:02 (5 comments; 8 reshares; 41 +1s; )Open 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2017-02-13 13:00:03 (6 comments; 3 reshares; 62 +1s; )Open 

Departures from Reason: When Ideology Trumps Science

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

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

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

Departures from Reason: When Ideology Trumps Science

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2017-02-12 04:06:10 (9 comments; 23 reshares; 73 +1s; )Open 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SciTech Tip Jar: http://www.scitechdigest.net/p/donate.html
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2017-02-05 07:20:35 (2 comments; 17 reshares; 59 +1s; )Open 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2017-01-29 05:53:21 (7 comments; 15 reshares; 103 +1s; )Open 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2017-01-22 05:39:07 (7 comments; 24 reshares; 76 +1s; )Open 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2017-01-15 05:48:47 (6 comments; 9 reshares; 55 +1s; )Open 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2017-01-09 12:58:25 (20 comments; 3 reshares; 23 +1s; )Open 

New Way To Read

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

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

At the moment I’mhappy... more »

New Way To Read

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

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

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

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

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

Has anyone else tried this? Could you read a book like this?
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2017-01-09 12:35:44 (21 comments; 5 reshares; 48 +1s; )Open 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


SELECTED EXCERPTS:

Comments on the current era.

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

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

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

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


Comments on Em nature.

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

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

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

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


Comments on Em work.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Comments on Em psychology.

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

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

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

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


Comments on Em consequences.

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

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

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


Comments on Us today.

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

When they have lived as neighbors, foragers have often strongly criticized farmer culture, and farmers have often strongly criticized industrial culture. Surely many of these people have been tempted to disown descendants who adopt these despised new ways. In addition, many of your ancestors would be tempted to disown you, if they were told many things about you. While they’d be pleased and impressed by many of your features, other things about you might horrify them.
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2017-01-08 08:02:42 (3 comments; 19 reshares; 64 +1s; )Open 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2017-01-04 13:26:48 (3 comments; 0 reshares; 25 +1s; )Open 

The Atom: The New Economics of Technological Disruption

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

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

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

The Atom: The New Economics of Technological Disruption

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

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

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

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

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

But give the video a watch when you get the chance; the 20 or so minutes of questions at the end made for a good discussion too in my opinion and offer further clarifying points.
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2017-01-01 11:42:39 (12 comments; 5 reshares; 35 +1s; )Open 

2016 Was A Great Year!

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

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

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

2016 Has Been One of TheGreates... more »

2016 Was A Great Year!

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

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

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

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

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

People Are Hopeful, Optimistic, and Excited for 2017
by Carl Benjamin
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C1CQRIPUoAATw4S.jpg, from: https://therationalists.org/2016/12/31/this-year-in-stupid-2016/
A recent YouGov poll showed that the second most popular event in 2016 in Britain was Brexit. And a poll in America said that 72% of Americans feel hopeful about 2017. That’s nearly three-quarters of Americans who are hopeful about next year, with 61% saying they are optimistic about it, and 51% saying they are feeling excited. So when the mainstream media talking heads are doing nothing but telling you that 2016 was the worst year ever and that things couldn’t get any worse - that’s just for them. For most people, things are looking up. People are looking to the future with some positivity, for the first time in years. This is amazing! 2016 was a brilliant year for anyone against the retrograde forces of the regressive left.
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2017-01-01 10:55:54 (5 comments; 23 reshares; 73 +1s; )Open 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Merry Christmas!

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

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

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

Merry Christmas!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2016-12-18 10:07:53 (7 comments; 21 reshares; 65 +1s; )Open 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2016-12-11 06:51:47 (5 comments; 19 reshares; 67 +1s; )Open 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2016-12-06 13:23:05 (5 comments; 7 reshares; 18 +1s; )Open 

The Pipeline of Rejuvenation Therapies

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

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

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

The Pipeline of Rejuvenation Therapies

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

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

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

As these therapies are developed and become more widely known we can expect more mavericks like Liz Parish and Bioviva to emerge and take matters into their own hands, further accelerating the development, dissemination, and availability of these interventions. In fact the latest data from Bioviva’s gene therapy is looking pretty good https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/11/data-on-the-effects-of-follistatin-gene-therapy-from-bioviva/.
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2016-12-05 13:41:25 (17 comments; 7 reshares; 18 +1s; )Open 

Principia Qualia

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

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

Principia Qualia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The cosmological and simulation musings at the end are fun:

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

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

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

The thesis is here:
http://opentheory.net/PrincipiaQualia.pdf
___

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2016-12-04 12:43:18 (9 comments; 6 reshares; 84 +1s; )Open 

The Strengthening Case Against Dark Matter.

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

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

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

The Strengthening Case Against Dark Matter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2016-11-27 06:32:03 (13 comments; 21 reshares; 65 +1s; )Open 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2016-11-20 06:29:09 (5 comments; 21 reshares; 67 +1s; )Open 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2016-11-17 11:28:00 (69 comments; 10 reshares; 35 +1s; )Open 

Stop Crying Wolf.

This is what we’ve come to. This, if nothing else, emphasises one of the major problems facing society today. You Are Still Crying Wolf is Scott Alexander’s latest blog post over at Slate Star Codex. Scott Alexander, easily the most intelligent blogger I follow. Scott Alexander, a practicing clinical psychiatrist. Scott Alexander, one of the most thorough and rigorous bloggers I’ve seen. Scott Alexander, who’s epic blog posts typically get hundreds of comments and intelligent discussion. Scott Alexander, on the political left, was for Clinton, Stein, or Sanders and against Trump …

… and yet had to turn off comments on this post because of a fear of the comment backlash for the crime of intellectually demolishing toxic false narratives.

This is what we’ve come to.

When we can’t honestly discuss important issues,narratives, fac... more »

Stop Crying Wolf.

This is what we’ve come to. This, if nothing else, emphasises one of the major problems facing society today. You Are Still Crying Wolf is Scott Alexander’s latest blog post over at Slate Star Codex. Scott Alexander, easily the most intelligent blogger I follow. Scott Alexander, a practicing clinical psychiatrist. Scott Alexander, one of the most thorough and rigorous bloggers I’ve seen. Scott Alexander, who’s epic blog posts typically get hundreds of comments and intelligent discussion. Scott Alexander, on the political left, was for Clinton, Stein, or Sanders and against Trump …

… and yet had to turn off comments on this post because of a fear of the comment backlash for the crime of intellectually demolishing toxic false narratives.

This is what we’ve come to.

When we can’t honestly discuss important issues, narratives, facts, and falsehoods for fear of being shouted down, verbally abused, and denigrated with all manner of pejoratives then we are struggling with a climate of stifling political correctness. Such an environment drastically inhibits our collective ability to solve big, complex problems by not only preventing the problem from being discussed but often preventing the problem from even being mentioned.

This is one of the major factors, a major cultural factor, influencing politics and cultural evolution throughout the western world today. It gives rise to utter moronic absurdities of huge numbers of people believing that half their fellow citizens are racist, sexist, homophobe bigot idiots. What is most shocking to some is that this toxically divisive rhetoric is not driven by the usual far-right actors one might expect, but by the far-left. And the media is not only complicit but acts as fuel for the fire.

It has to stop. History offers us important lessons for what happens when speech is suppressed, regardless of the mechanism. The longer the suppression, the harsher the backlash.


Relevant quotes:

When does the rhetoric spouted by the media cross the line to the equivalent of shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theater?

Political correctness is enforced not to keep you from saying offensive words. Nobody wants to say offensive words. Political correctness is enforced to keep you from thinking ideas that fall outside the parameters of the dominant orthodoxy.

The alternative to discourse is physical conflict. The purpose of discourse is so that we can let our ideas die instead of us dying.

It’s pathetic. I don’t even add sources for the quotes out of fear that the source might be judged with pre-existing baggage leading to the dismissal of the entire piece.
___

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2016-11-15 11:56:01 (104 comments; 3 reshares; 37 +1s; )Open 

Liberal Critique of Politics & Culture in 2016

This is too good not to share. I first saw it several days ago when it was at 40,000 views but it is well past 2 million now. Tom Walker hits it out of the park on a number of key insights and points, The left is responsible for this result because the left has decided that any other opinion, any other way of looking at the world is unacceptable.

Edited quote I saw this week:
"Update your own mental software. If Trump’s win came as a surprise, your mental model of the world is defective."

Liberal Critique of Politics & Culture in 2016

This is too good not to share. I first saw it several days ago when it was at 40,000 views but it is well past 2 million now. Tom Walker hits it out of the park on a number of key insights and points, The left is responsible for this result because the left has decided that any other opinion, any other way of looking at the world is unacceptable.

Edited quote I saw this week:
"Update your own mental software. If Trump’s win came as a surprise, your mental model of the world is defective."___

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2016-11-13 06:15:42 (8 comments; 22 reshares; 80 +1s; )Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 46/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/11/metamaterial-radar-metamaterial.html

Metamaterial radar, Metamaterial semiconductors, Hybrid anti-lasers, Machine learning advances, Cyclocopter microdrone, Clones age normally, Implants fix paralysis, fMRI lie detector, Zika virus therapies, Carbon nanomaterials pressurised.

1. Metamaterial Radar for Drones
Echodyne has demonstrated a metameterial radar device the size of a phone whose performance is comparable to expensive, bulky military-grade phased-array radars http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/drones/metamaterial-radar-is-exactly-what-delivery-drones-need. Next year the improved device will allow a drone to detect power lines 800m away, small drones 1km away, and small planes 3km away, and all regardless of the weather conditions. Their... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 46/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/11/metamaterial-radar-metamaterial.html

Metamaterial radar, Metamaterial semiconductors, Hybrid anti-lasers, Machine learning advances, Cyclocopter microdrone, Clones age normally, Implants fix paralysis, fMRI lie detector, Zika virus therapies, Carbon nanomaterials pressurised.

1. Metamaterial Radar for Drones
Echodyne has demonstrated a metameterial radar device the size of a phone whose performance is comparable to expensive, bulky military-grade phased-array radars http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/drones/metamaterial-radar-is-exactly-what-delivery-drones-need. Next year the improved device will allow a drone to detect power lines 800m away, small drones 1km away, and small planes 3km away, and all regardless of the weather conditions. Their metamaterial, comprised of layers of patterned copper wiring with radar beam control facilitated by heating different regions, drastically reduces the size, complexity, and cost of effective high resolution radar applications powering sense-and-avoid capabilities for autonomous vehicles and other devices. Meanwhile Osram continues to shrink LIDAR systems http://spectrum.ieee.org/cars-that-think/transportation/sensors/osrams-laser-chip-for-lidar-promises-supershort-pulses-in-a-smaller-package.

2. Metamaterials Power Semiconductor-Free Electronics
In related metamaterial news, a microscale metamaterial device functions as a semiconductor via the application of a low voltage and low power laser, which boosts electrical conductivity by 1,000% http://jacobsschool.ucsd.edu/news/news_releases/release.sfe?id=2060. The metasurface is designed such that the influence of this light and low voltage causes certain spots to generate very high electric fields able to pull electrons from a metal and liberate them. An interesting novelty at this stage it’ll be interesting to see what applications are developed: where do you need semiconducting properties but can’t have semiconducting elements?

3. Hybrid Laser Anti-Lasers
A new device demonstrates both laser and anti-laser capabilities for telecommunications applications, and would enable the development of devices that can flexibly operate as lasers, amplifiers, modulators, absorbers, and detectors http://newscenter.lbl.gov/2016/11/07/lasers-anti-lasers-one-device/. While a laser amplifies a certain frequency of light, an anti-laser completely absorbs a certain frequency of light and can pick up signals among noisy backgrounds. The architecture of the device, a microscale alternating array of two materials, is the first to achieve what is known as “parity-time symmetry” in which an amplifying gain medium can also be a absorbing loss medium.

4. Latest Machine Learning Advances
First, LipNet is a deep learning system that can lipread from video to transcribe sentences with 93.4% accuracy, outperforming experienced human lipreaders http://prostheticknowledge.tumblr.com/post/152735696866/lipnet-deep-learning-research-from-the-university. Second, another system generates and suggests alternative promising drug molecules for investigation https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602756/software-dreams-up-new-molecules-in-quest-for-wonder-drugs/. Third, DeepMind and Blizzard are collaborating to open up and use StarCraft II as a formal AI and machine learning environment https://deepmind.com/blog/deepmind-and-blizzard-release-starcraft-ii-ai-research-environment/. Finally, a new system makes gains in automatic information extraction from text but automatically generating search queries and including new texts in its analysis http://news.mit.edu/2016/artificial-intelligence-system-surfs-web-improve-performance-1110.

5. Cyclocopter Microdrone
A tiny 29 gram cyclocopter drone has been developed that utilises a novel lift and thrust mechanism based on a single cycloidal rotor that can generate instant vector thrust http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/drones/worlds-smallest-cyclocopter-brings-unique-design-to-microdrones. Check out the video, it is pretty cool. The cyclorotor design provides excellent maneuverability and efficiency, as well as more stability, lower noise, and faster than helicopters. We might even see this design adapted to carry humans at some point given the key hurdle of large centrifugal bending loads can be overcome with better composite materials.

6. Cloned Animals Age Normally
Latest research suggests that cloned animals age at the same rate and achieve the same lifespan as normal animals https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/11/do-cloned-animals-age-normally/. There had been concerns over many years as to whether this was the case but it appears that once the cloned animal reaches adulthood most problems that might arise from the somatic cell nuclear transfer and reprogramming procedure are effectively overcome and a normal life outcome should be expected. Addressing the rates of reprogramming errors are of course important and an ongoing research area, but for those animals who reach maturity telomeres and other cellular degradations appear to be restored.

7. Brain & Spine Implants Circumvent Paralysis
Monkeys with partial spinal cord injuries were able to walk again thanks to a new system involving a brain implant and a spinal implant that bridged the injury with wireless data connection http://spectrum.ieee.org/the-human-os/biomedical/bionics/brain-and-spine-implants-let-a-paralyzed-monkey-walk-again. The brain implant records specific activity in the motor cortex that coordinates leg movement, decodes these signals and sends to the spinal implant, which stimulates a specific location in the spinal cord in order to generate appropriate leg movement. Meanwhile NeuroGrid is an electrode grid on plastic wrap that can cover and cling to the brain to perform high-resolution recording and stimulation of neurons http://spectrum.ieee.org/the-human-os/biomedical/devices/new-implant-safely-records-activity-from-individual-neurons.

8. Spotting Lies With fMRI
As expected, functional magnetic resonance imaging has proven to be significantly more effective at spotting lies than typical polygraph tests http://www.uphs.upenn.edu/news/News_Releases/2016/11/langleben/. In the comparison study neuroscientists reviewing fMRI scans were 24% more likely to detect deception than professional polygraph examiners reviewing polygraph recordings. Interestingly, in 17 subjects in which the polygraph and fMRI agreed on the particular lie, they were 100% correct. Still, it is unsure whether fMRI scans will ever be admissible as evidence in court.

9. Zika Antibody Therapy
A new antibody has proven effective in tests in mice to protect babies in the womb from the effects of Zika Virus, effectively transferring from the mother’s blood, through the placenta, and into the baby’s brain http://www.bbc.com/news/health-37897617. This is in addition to a promising Zika Virus vaccine being developed to prevent infection in the first place http://www.defense.gov/News/Article/Article/999584/human-trials-begin-for-army-developed-zika-vaccine. While Zika proves catastrophic in babies with rapidly growing brains (by targeting neural stem cells), adults also have neural stem cells needed throughout life, and I suspect Zika may result in long-term neurological conditions so any therapy will be doubly beneficial.

10. Pressurising Carbon Nanomaterials
First, applying high pressure (55 GPa) to multi-walled carbon nanotubes results in the walls of different carbon nanotubes fusing together to create an ultrastrong bulk material and opening the possibility of covalent inter-tube bonding for polymerised carbon nanotubes https://mipt.ru/english/news/pressure_welding_nanotubes_creates_ultrastrong_material. Second, applying a pressure difference across graphene membranes results in the perceived colour of the graphene shifting colour (a type of strain-tronics or strain-optics in this case) and is a phenomena that might be exploited in displays http://phys.org/news/2016-11-graphene-balloons.html.

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2016-11-06 03:38:26 (9 comments; 23 reshares; 82 +1s; )Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 45/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/11/synthetic-biology-devices-biohub-cell.html

Synthetic biology devices, Biohub cell atlas, Neuronal interfaces, Neuronal transplants, DIY senolytics, Precise atom arrays, Solid metallic hydrogen, Regenerating spinal injuries, UV lithography, One shot deep learning.

1. Synthetic Biology Devices
The latest round of the International Genetically Engineered Machine competition has produced a number of synthetic biology devices in the form of genetically modified bacteria, and including a biological heat induced light bulb, a microbial fuel cell with higher electrical output, a biological capacitor, and light-dependent resistors http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2016/10/synthetic-biology-competition-team.html. Good to see DIY BIO with basic microfluidic chips... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 45/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/11/synthetic-biology-devices-biohub-cell.html

Synthetic biology devices, Biohub cell atlas, Neuronal interfaces, Neuronal transplants, DIY senolytics, Precise atom arrays, Solid metallic hydrogen, Regenerating spinal injuries, UV lithography, One shot deep learning.

1. Synthetic Biology Devices
The latest round of the International Genetically Engineered Machine competition has produced a number of synthetic biology devices in the form of genetically modified bacteria, and including a biological heat induced light bulb, a microbial fuel cell with higher electrical output, a biological capacitor, and light-dependent resistors http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2016/10/synthetic-biology-competition-team.html. Good to see DIY BIO with basic microfluidic chips becoming more sophisticated. In related news there are attempts to engineer bacteria to create biocement out of soils in order to form natural foundations for buildings and other structures http://www.ncl.ac.uk/press/news/2016/10/thinkingsoils/.

2. Quake’s BioHub Cell Atlas
I’ve long admired Stephen Quake’s groundbreaking work on microfluidics and it is good to see his latest effort to run BioHub in creating the most comprehensive human cell atlas ever assembled https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602732/mark-zuckerberg-is-funding-a-facebook-for-human-cells/. There are good reasons to suspect that there are thousands of different types of cells with distinct functions that are otherwise difficult to tell apart, and in any case many more than the typical 300 types of cells quoted. BioHub’s human cell atlas project is possible thanks to some of Quake’s microfluidic inventions allowing individual cells to be captured and analysed, and will enable high throughput inspection and mapping of tens of millions of human cells and their distinct molecular signatures.

3. Neuronal Interfaces
A new electrically controlled ion pump is able to deliver neurotransmitter chemicals such as acetylcholine at almost the same rate as live neurons http://spectrum.ieee.org/the-human-os/biomedical/devices/highspeed-electronic-pump-mimics-neural-signaling. The device exploits thin films that are a few hundred nanometers thick, using an induced electrical current to push the neurotransmitters through tiny channels to where they need to go, making the journey in 50ms, and activating subsets of neurons at these locations. Interesting applications in stimulating neurons with neurotransmitters instead of crude electrodes. In related news the smallest ever extracellular needle-electrodes have been developed http://www.medindia.net/news/worlds-smallest-extracellular-needle-electrodes-developed-164729-1.htm.

4. Neuronal Transplants Integrate into Brain Networks
Recent demonstrations in mice have shown that transplanted embryonic neurons integrate into the host brain, replacing damaged neurons and successfully carrying out those functions in existing networks https://www.neuro.mpg.de/3378043/news_publication_10801776. This work demonstrated functional integration into the damaged visual cortex of mice, showed that the neurons survived, differentiated into the correct cell type, formed normal and appropriate synaptic connections, and for all intents and purposes replaced the damaged elements to restore normal signalling activity for the region. Very promising for many diseases and age-related neurodegeneration.

5. DIY Senolytics
One of the seven main causes of age related damage, the accumulation of senescent cells, is attracting serious investment and pharmaceutical efforts to develop senolytic therapies to target and clear these cells in order to restore the body to more youthful levels. However, there are drugs that already exist, such as Navitoclax, typically developed as cancer treatments and shown to selectively kill senescent cells, that people might be able to obtain and to pursue personal senescent cell clearance today https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/10/on-the-topic-of-senescent-cells-should-we-all-be-trying-to-take-navitoclax/. The clinical trial data showing dosing and side effects is available, the raw drug while expensive can be obtained and might be made cheaper, the assays to determine effectiveness are widely available. Something I should really look into.

6. Precise Large Scale Atom Arrays
Optical tweezer technology is becoming more sophisticated with the demonstration of a new system using laser tweezers to pick and hold individual atoms from a cloud, up to 50 atoms at a time, in a precisely ordered array, and to move these atoms around to different positions as needed http://news.mit.edu/2016/scientists-set-traps-atoms-single-particle-precision-1103. This new technique uses neutral atoms (ions are difficult to hold in dense arrays due to repulsion) and might find applications in creating new materials, information storage, processing, and possible quantum computations.

7. Solid Metallic Hydrogen
For the first time solid metallic hydrogen has been created in the laboratory http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2016/11/harvard-researchers-created-solid.html. This was achieved by subjecting a sample of hydrogen to pressures of 495 GPa. The material is believed to be metastable and once the pressure is released it may still exist as solid metallic hydrogen at room temperature; an experiment still to be conducted. If so it could potentially be transformative as solid metallic hydrogen is predicted to be a superconductor, and would also comprise a powerful rocket propellant. In related news superconductivity is being induced in non-superconducting materials http://www.uh.edu/news-events/stories/2016/October/10312016Paul-Chu-New-Discovery-Superconductivity.php.

8. Regenerating Spinal Injuries
A protein called connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) has been identified as crucial to allowing zebra fish to successfully regenerate injured and severed spinal cords https://today.duke.edu/2016/11/scientists-find-key-protein-spinal-cord-repair. The protein is 90% identical in humans and zebra fish, and human CTGF introduced into fish with a non-functional CTGF gene were able to regenerate severed spinal cords. CTGF is secreted by cells and grows across the injured site to form a bridge between the two spinal cord ends, allowing neurons and other support cells to migrate and reform a functional connection. It is hoped that this understanding leads to human therapies in future.

9. Pushing Computing Forward
First, major chip fabs are pushing extreme ultraviolet lithography technology forward for hopeful deployment by 2018 http://spectrum.ieee.org/semiconductors/devices/leading-chipmakers-eye-euv-lithography-to-save-moores-law. Achieving this demands numerous sophisticated challenges are solved just to generate, control, and manage the light, which has a wavelength of 13.5nm compared to the current 193nm in use - which will nonetheless be used to produce 7nm features in 2018 from the current 14nm features in production; but the next generation of 5nm features will require ultraviolet. Second, Optalysys is producing a novel laser optical computing technology to speed up certain types of computations https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602765/computing-with-lasers-could-power-up-genomics-and-ai/.

10. Deep Learning After Seeing Objects Once
Google’s DeepMind group has developed new deep learning technology that is capable of “one-shot” learning, recognising objects from a single example https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602779/machines-can-now-recognize-something-after-seeing-it-once/. This builds on work to add memory components to deep learning systems, and must still be trained up on hundreds of categories of images, but after this training it can recognise new objects from just a single picture. The development and ongoing advances of deep learning technology continues to amaze.

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

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2016-10-30 04:15:01 (5 comments; 28 reshares; 74 +1s; )Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 44/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/10/evolved-metamaterial-lenses-machine.html

Evolved metamaterial lenses, Machine learning encryption explanations, Tank & drone tech, Multiple virus vaccine, Low power transistors, Printed heart on chip, Metallic DNA, Doubly effective immunotherapy, Machine controlled bacteria, 3D printed magnets.

1. Achromatic Lenses from Evolutionary Algorithms
Two-dimensional structured metasurfaces show great promise for high resolution imaging, holography, and other applications but suffer from chromatic aberration in which the focus shifts depending on the wavelength. A new approach encodes the desired optical properties as a fitness function and successfully uses evolutionary algorithms to find the structure with the optimised fitness value... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 44/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/10/evolved-metamaterial-lenses-machine.html

Evolved metamaterial lenses, Machine learning encryption explanations, Tank & drone tech, Multiple virus vaccine, Low power transistors, Printed heart on chip, Metallic DNA, Doubly effective immunotherapy, Machine controlled bacteria, 3D printed magnets.

1. Achromatic Lenses from Evolutionary Algorithms
Two-dimensional structured metasurfaces show great promise for high resolution imaging, holography, and other applications but suffer from chromatic aberration in which the focus shifts depending on the wavelength. A new approach encodes the desired optical properties as a fitness function and successfully uses evolutionary algorithms to find the structure with the optimised fitness value http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=44932.php. This resulted in the creation of achromatic two dimensional lattice lenses able to focus three distinct wavelengths by utilising the plasmonic properties of different sized and shaped gold nanoparticles arranged in a precise pattern. This provides a pathway to broadband achromatic lenses. Meanwhile metamaterials are paving the way to terahertz technologies http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/new-metamaterial-paves-way-for-terahertz-technologies and cool new acoustic holograms http://pratt.duke.edu/about/news/acoustic-hologram.

2. Machine Learning Encryption & Explanation
First, Google’s deep learning systems have invented basic cryptographic algorithms from scratch, able to send and receive encrypted messages https://www.newscientist.com/article/2110522-googles-neural-networks-invent-their-own-encryption/. One wonders how strong machine learning cryptography might get and whether we’ll see this rolled out to broader if it surpasses our current efforts. As usual the group doesn’t know exactly how the encryption method works or how the network achieves the result. In light of this we have related news in which a new training method for deep learning that results not only in the predictions and classifications desired but also the rationale or explanation for how the network achieves this http://news.mit.edu/2016/making-computers-explain-themselves-machine-learning-1028. This will be particularly useful for validation in medical and other fields.

3. Tank, Drone, and Gun Improvements
Some interesting military technological advances this week. First, a new active protection system carried by tanks can intercept depleted uranium armour-piercing shells http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2016/10/russia-claims-active-protection-system.html, which is considered a game-changing development. Second, DARPA and the Pentagon’s autonomous military drone program is progressing with autonomous drones able to distinguish between combatants carrying weapons and unarmed civilians http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/26/us/pentagon-artificial-intelligence-terminator.html?_r=2. Third, a new smart-rifle provides aim-stabilised, target-correction performance to completely remove and compensate for human error http://www.popularmechanics.com/military/weapons/a23505/the-us-army-stabilized-weapons/.

4. Multiple Cold-Virus Vaccine
A new type of vaccine for rhinoviruses, combatting the common cold, has shown promising results in mice and monkey studies http://www.news.emory.edu/stories/2016/09/moore_rhinovirus_vaccine_natcomm/index.html. The sheer diversity of over 100 different rhinoviruses has hindered the development of any effective vaccine, but the new approach combines up to 50 different variants and successfully induced the production of antibodies against all 50 variants in the animals that were challenged. Stage 1 human volunteer studies will be needed next and the group believes that launching an effective all-purpose cold vaccine is now an engineering challenge related to manufacturing.

5. Low Power Transistors and Infinitesimal Computing
There were a couple of interesting fundamental computing advances this week. First, a new type of transistor has been created that can scavenge energy from the environment and harness tiny current leakage to function with ultra-low power for applications in which energy is more important than speed http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/engineers-design-ultralow-power-transistors-that-could-function-for-years-without-a-battery. Second, researchers have designed what they refer to as an “infinitesimal” computing element, involving stacked memristors in a 50nm by 50nm by 50nm volume form a functional 8-bit adder in a nanoscale computing element http://www.news.ucsb.edu/2016/017349/tiny-machine.

6. 3D Printed Heart-On-Chip
The field of human-organs-on-microfluidic chips takes another step with the development of the first completely 3D printed heart on a chip with integrated sensing components https://www.seas.harvard.edu/news/2016/10/3d-printed-heart-on-chip-with-integrated-sensors. The advance utilised 6 new “inks” that integrated soft strain sensors within the structure of the tissue, while the prototype chips include multiple compartments with separate cardiac tissues that were tested via drug-effect studies and contractile stress changes. Such tools will help to shorten drug development, animal, and human trials in future and hopefully allow therapeutics to be made available much quicker.

7. Creating Metallic DNA
A new chemical reaction has been developed that replaces one of the hydrogen bonds between the DNA bases adenine and thymine with a silver atom http://www.nanowerk.com/nanotechnology-news/newsid=44930.php. The structure and properties of the DNA molecule otherwise remain unchanged and still undergo the same dynamics. However, this change greatly improves the stability of the molecule, for example, by significantly boosting the melting point or temperature sensitivity. You could form various DNA origami structures, such as the nanomachines and other blocks that have been demonstrated, then replace these bonds in this way to boost stability, strength, and improve the electrical conduction properties. The group are working on doing the same with the other base-binding of interest between guanine and cytosine to further boost performance.

8. Doubly Effective Immunotherapy
A new therapeutic treatment effectively induces both the innate and adaptive arms of the immune system to combat and destroy cancers and tumours http://news.mit.edu/2016/fighting-cancer-power-immunity-1024. This treatment, effective in mice, used an antibody targeted to the tumour of interest, a vaccine targeted to the tumour of interest, interleukin 2 (IL2), and programmed cell death molecule 1(PD1). The antibody recruits more immune cells, the vaccine stimulates T cell proliferation, the IL2 promotes T cell expansion, and PD1 prolongs T cell activity. In 75% of mice all large tumours were completely eliminated and any new cancer cells reintroduced 6 months later were completely cleared.

9. Machine Controlled Bacteria
A new system precisely controls the growth of genetically engineered bacteria placed within it and can ramp this up or down as required by adjusting the light exposure https://www.ethz.ch/en/news-and-events/eth-news/news/2016/10/cyborg-bacteria.html. The bacteria are engineered to respond to red and green light in different ways and the system measures bacterial cell density to ensure growth and concentration are kept at the desired level indefinitely (assuming nutrients are added) regardless of other environmental influences. This might find application in bioreactors for example, especially if additional levers are present such as differently modified cells or pathways, in order to control the production of more complex molecules.

10. 3D Printed Magnets
New inks comprising magnetic micro granules suspended in polymers have enabled 3D printers to produce custom magnets for the first time http://www.nanowerk.com/news2/gadget/newsid=44907.php. In this case the desired shape is printed, allowed to solidify, and then a powerful external magnet is used to set the orientation and strength of the magnetic field. Prototype magnets 90% magnet material and 10% polymer. I wonder how strong a magnetic force the polymer can withstand before the magnetic field threatens to break the grains apart or flip their rotations. Regardless there are still plenty of applications here from custom shaped magnet architectures that might otherwise not be able to be manufactured, as well as gradient or otherwise patterned magnetic fields from concentration and spacing of the granules.

Bonus: I found this proposed theoretical design for a room temperature superconductor based on units comprising a helium atom encased by a C60 fullerene molecule too interesting not to share http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2016/10/helium-encased-in-carbon-fullerene.html.

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2016-10-24 13:48:45 (2 comments; 16 reshares; 53 +1s; )Open 

Instantaneous Neural Synchrony

This neuroscientific research from 2008 demonstrates, via multielectrode recordings that the brain achieves zero time lag synchronisation between remote cerebral cortical areas despite axonal conduction delays of tens of miliseconds https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2575223/. The group suggests that certain neural network loops appear to be ideal circuits to facilitate circumvention of conduction delays and help the brain achieve synchronous discharge of disparate neural networks.

This precisely coordinated spike timing across different areas of the brain has been demonstrated to be correlated with perception and behavioural performance. The work shows that generating local rhythms and oscillations in a brain structure is a distinct and different phenomenon to the mechanism at hand that is responsible for their synchrony. The synchrony... more »

Instantaneous Neural Synchrony

This neuroscientific research from 2008 demonstrates, via multielectrode recordings that the brain achieves zero time lag synchronisation between remote cerebral cortical areas despite axonal conduction delays of tens of miliseconds https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2575223/. The group suggests that certain neural network loops appear to be ideal circuits to facilitate circumvention of conduction delays and help the brain achieve synchronous discharge of disparate neural networks.

This precisely coordinated spike timing across different areas of the brain has been demonstrated to be correlated with perception and behavioural performance. The work shows that generating local rhythms and oscillations in a brain structure is a distinct and different phenomenon to the mechanism at hand that is responsible for their synchrony. The synchrony itself appears to depend on intermediary neuronal regions to coordinate precise and simultaneous timing of the activity of separate regions; but so long as the regions are temporally equidistant to this intermediate relay region.

This is fascinating in and of itself, but given it has been 8 years I should follow up some of the more recent publications that cite the paper to see if things have changed or been validated.

One of the reasons I find this particularly interesting is how this synchrony might be important for consciousness in the sense of raw conscious sensation and experience. I suspect it is but would like to see the results of any experiments that have interrupted this synchrony in some way and measured whether or not consciousness was affected. I’m biased of course because this feeds into and appears to support my own ideas about consciousness that I’ve explored over the last several years.

Update:
These pieces are relevant http://bigthink.com/ideafeed/brain-scientists-discover-an-ignition-switch-for-consciousness and https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22329762-700-consciousness-on-off-switch-discovered-deep-in-brain/?full=true#.U7bZAY1dWwH, discussing the role of that claustrum plays in coordinating activity between different brain regions.
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2016-10-24 12:22:23 (149 comments; 24 reshares; 100 +1s; )Open 

There’s No Such Thing As Dark Energy. Probably.

A recent analysis of 740 Type 1a supernovae suggests that it is likely that there is no dark energy and the expansion of the Universe is not accelerating. This new analysis incorporates ten times as many data points and possesses much greater statistical significance than the original data and the original analysis that concluded the expansion of the Universe was accelerating and driven by an unknown force (dark energy) that accounts for the majority of energy/mass in the Universe.

Oxford release: http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/science-blog/universe-expanding-accelerating-rate-%E2%80%93-or-it
Nature paper: http://www.nature.com/articles/srep35596

The researchers say the work demonstrates that this pillar of standard cosmology is shaky and it is quite possible we have been misled and dark energy was proposed as ac... more »

There’s No Such Thing As Dark Energy. Probably.

A recent analysis of 740 Type 1a supernovae suggests that it is likely that there is no dark energy and the expansion of the Universe is not accelerating. This new analysis incorporates ten times as many data points and possesses much greater statistical significance than the original data and the original analysis that concluded the expansion of the Universe was accelerating and driven by an unknown force (dark energy) that accounts for the majority of energy/mass in the Universe.

Oxford release: http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/science-blog/universe-expanding-accelerating-rate-%E2%80%93-or-it
Nature paper: http://www.nature.com/articles/srep35596

The researchers say the work demonstrates that this pillar of standard cosmology is shaky and it is quite possible we have been misled and dark energy was proposed as a consequence of analysing the data with a simplistic theoretical model. The available data, in fact, is quite consistent with a constant rate of expansion.

Core dogma in theoretical physics and cosmology is not overturned overnight. Additional data and analysis will be demanded and the European Extremely Large Telescope should shed more light on the matter over time.

However, assuming this is true, the consequences are:
- There is no dark energy
- The expansion of the Universe is not accelerating
- Big rip models are ruled out for the future of the Universe
- The total estimate of the mass-energy in the Universe is reduced by ~68%
- Cosmological constant might be zero after all
- Resolves the 120 orders of magnitude discrepancy in theoretical and observed energy density of the vacuum

So it would appear to simplify and clear up a number of important things and would certainly satisfy Ocam’s razor. But we’ll have to wait for a new consensus to be sure about updating our models.

Expansion of space: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metric_expansion_of_space
Dark energy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_energy
Cosmological constant: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmological_constant
Big rip: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Rip
___

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2016-10-23 03:21:26 (6 comments; 22 reshares; 81 +1s; )Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 43/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/10/reservoir-computing-analogue.html

Reservoir computing, Analogue neuromorphic chips, Network neuroscience, Eggs from skin cells, Conversational speech recognition, Fast FPGA chips, Diamond anvils, Smart 3D printers, Big data automation, Full colour epaper.

1. Reservoir Computing
Reservoir computing aims to perform useful computations on different bulk materials by exploiting the basic properties of physical systems; the basic idea is to input or stimulate the material and measure the output or change in state, which counts as a calculation - string these together and you can perform computations. A recent reservoir computer was built out of a bucket or water, while observations suggest the brain functions like a reservoir computer... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 43/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/10/reservoir-computing-analogue.html

Reservoir computing, Analogue neuromorphic chips, Network neuroscience, Eggs from skin cells, Conversational speech recognition, Fast FPGA chips, Diamond anvils, Smart 3D printers, Big data automation, Full colour epaper.

1. Reservoir Computing
Reservoir computing aims to perform useful computations on different bulk materials by exploiting the basic properties of physical systems; the basic idea is to input or stimulate the material and measure the output or change in state, which counts as a calculation - string these together and you can perform computations. A recent reservoir computer was built out of a bucket or water, while observations suggest the brain functions like a reservoir computer https://theconversation.com/theres-a-way-to-turn-almost-any-object-into-a-computer-and-it-could-cause-shockwaves-in-ai-62235. In related news artificial reservoir computing algorithms combined with backpropagation algorithms results in an analogue computer with some superior learning algorithms.

2. Analogue & Neuromorphic Chips
Analogue computing is picking up steam as it promises to provide a significant range of benefits to neuromorphic computing architectures http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/artificial-intelligence/analog-and-neuromorphic-chips-will-rule-robotic-age. Recent examples include analogue circuits that better see and hear while consuming a fraction of the power, computing systems that are much more resistant to noise, and deep neural networks using analogue approaches that use 100 times less energy to run. Watch this space; we haven’t seen anything yet.

3. Network Neuroscience & Control
Network control theory is seeking to go beyond communications, gene regulatory networks, and other systems to being applied to control the brain via network neuroscience https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602695/how-network-neuroscience-is-creating-a-new-era-of-mind-control/. This starts with simple manipulations that inject energy into one part of the network to alter activity in another part, for example the deep brain stimulation techniques employed with Parkinson’s disease patients. Combined with connectome data it is becoming apparent that the brain employs a range of different control strategies, each of which is a target for directed control to, for example, shift the brain into desirable patterns of activity.

4. Converting Skin Cells into Eggs into Adult Animals
For the first time skin cells from mice have been reprogrammed in a petri dish to form viable egg cells that have then been fertilised to produce healthy animals that proceeded to successfully birth a second generation of mice http://www.nature.com/news/mouse-eggs-made-from-skin-cells-in-a-dish-1.20817. One limitation is the need for an ovary-like support of cells isolated from ovaries to be present with the cells being transformed; the group are hoping to identify and create artificial reagents that would finally obviate the need for this. Combined with earlier techniques for producing sperm cells from skin cells the complete reproductive technology stack is coming together to allow a wide range of flexible reproductive (and industrial) strategies to be employed.

5. Human Level Conversational Speech Recognition
Microsoft demonstrated neural network speech recognition software that can transcribe conversational speech at human levels of proficiency and performance http://blogs.microsoft.com/next/2016/10/18/historic-achievement-microsoft-researchers-reach-human-parity-conversational-speech-recognition/#sm.0015hf9cv11bqfiqqwu1iixt8xitf. The system produces an error rate of 5.9% that is the same or less than professionals who transcribe conversational speech. This is expected to feed directly into Cortana and other software products. This advance was announced as another Microsoft Research group won first prize in an image segmentation competition for delineating specific objects in images.

6. Fast FPGA Optimisation Chips
Fujitsu demonstrated a new FPGA flexible circuit architecture for solving combinatorial optimisation problems that can perform these computations 10,000 times faster than a conventional computer http://www.fujitsu.com/global/about/resources/news/press-releases/2016/1020-02.html. The chips are made with conventional semiconductors, include features that allow the optimisation computations to escape local minimums, and running software processes called simulated annealing. The parallelisation incorporated into the design allows a pathway from the demonstration problems with 1,024 bits to 100,000 or more bits by 2018 that will start to allow practical implementation.

7. Latest Diamond Anvils
New microanvils made of diamond and adorned with a nanocrystalline diamond pillar measuring 30 micrometers wide and 15 micrometers tall has achieved some of the highest experimental pressures ever http://www.uab.edu/news/innovation/item/7702-working-under-pressure-diamond-micro-anvils-made-by-uab-will-produce-immense-pressures-to-make-new-materials. The anvils reached 264 gigapascals, about 75% of the pressure found at the centre of the Earth, and the ultimate goal of the group is to improve the anvils to reach 1 terapascal of pressure, or 147 million pounds per square inch - the pressure at the centre of Saturn. The nanocrystalline diamond anvils showed no sign of deformation and survived the immense pressures; applications include new materials analysis and development.

8. Intelligent 3D Printers
Ai Build is retrofitting robotic arms with 3D printers and AI algorithms to create machines that can see, create, and learn from mistakes http://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/ai-build-wants-to-change-the-way-we-build-the-future/. The key innovation was attaching cameras to the arms with machine vision algorithms to analyse structures as they were being printed, establishing a feedback loop between the physical and virtual environments. The arm detected defects and compensated for them in later layers, and was able to print much larger complex structures about twice as quickly as a result. Partnerships with NVIDIA and robot manufacturer KUKA helped the startup make progress in this area.

9. Further Automating Big Data Analysis
A powerful automated big data analysis system has progressed since last year, moving beyond mere automated feature set selection to include automatic data presentation and specification of problems, and to perform in days what normally took months http://news.mit.edu/2016/automating-big-data-analysis-1021. The approach employs a new software language called Trane, works well with time series data, and significantly speeds up the process of finding what questions and problems are worth asking of the data. In tests on previous time-consuming work performed by humans the system reproduced every question that the researchers had asked of particular data sets and proposed hundreds of others that had not been considered.

10. Full Colour Flexible Electronic Paper
A new micrometer thin polymer material provides the basis for full colour flexible electronic paper capable of providing the full range of colours that a conventional LED display is capable of while needing significantly less energy than a Kindle tablet http://www.chalmers.se/en/departments/chem/news/Pages/Bendable-electronic-paper-shows-full-colour-scale-.aspx. This is a proof of concept with core pixels having been built, but a final product will require significant scale-up to large high pixel density screens and also drastically reduce the amount of gold used in manufacturing the films.

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

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2016-10-18 13:18:05 (140 comments; 14 reshares; 49 +1s; )Open 

Regressive Madness

I swear, in 2016 the world appears to have gone mad. For the past several months I’ve collected those articles, those links, that have caused me to lean back from the screen and shake my head in utter disbelief and bemusement at the actions committed by or beliefs espoused by people. The point of course isn’t the shock at any specific individual instance, but rather the despair at seeing such things crop up with increasing frequency and indicating a broader and deeper regressive cultural malaise linking them all together. There is something perversely wrong with our culture that stories like these are becoming the norm rather than the exception.

Regressive cultural norms, like regressive politics, fundamentally stem from dogmatic and cult-like ideologies; the best deconstruction of which I’ve seen is here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htqOIjzi-jE. Sowides... more »

Regressive Madness

I swear, in 2016 the world appears to have gone mad. For the past several months I’ve collected those articles, those links, that have caused me to lean back from the screen and shake my head in utter disbelief and bemusement at the actions committed by or beliefs espoused by people. The point of course isn’t the shock at any specific individual instance, but rather the despair at seeing such things crop up with increasing frequency and indicating a broader and deeper regressive cultural malaise linking them all together. There is something perversely wrong with our culture that stories like these are becoming the norm rather than the exception.

Regressive cultural norms, like regressive politics, fundamentally stem from dogmatic and cult-like ideologies; the best deconstruction of which I’ve seen is here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htqOIjzi-jE. So widespread is the phenomenon and its hallmark insistence of beliefs and feelings always trumping facts and logic that such ideologies can probably be thought of as religions of the 21st century. And here I’d naively thought we’d outgrown religion and its inquisitions, original sin, sanctimonious righteousness, and authoritarian proscriptions on thought and speech. The latter is particularly concerning as parallels to 1984 are depressingly common.

I’m optimistic though. I think we’ll muddle our way through and one way or another, sooner or later, we’ll manage to culturally reassert core enlightenment values and classical liberal principles better able to boost human prosperity and reduce human suffering.


Facepalmfest

At the bequest of Turkey, Germany prosecutes and seeks to silence a German comedian and social commentator for making fun of and satirising Turkish leader Erdogan http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-16/angela-merkel-criticised-for-allowing-prosecution-of-comedian/7331848, of course prompting an Offend Erdogan Competition in response http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2016/04/introducing-the-president-erdogan-offensive-poetry-competition/. [Update: German courts thankfully overturned this.]

National Geographic Magazine turns into moral authoritarianism, inspired by Buzzfeed https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2016/04/23/national-geographic-publishes-article-on-atheism-and-secularism-but-descends-into-authoritarian-leftism-and-slanders-against-harris-and-dawkins/

Social justice McCarthyism always gets a free pass http://observer.com/2015/06/the-pecking-disorder-social-justice-warriors-gone-wild/

Universities standing up for principles, common sense, and core enlightenment values are now the exception http://www.newcriterion.com/articles.cfm/Safe-from--safe-spaces--8411

Groundbreaking research shows that pilates is racist http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=9352846&fileId=S014976771400028X

Universities are attacking political slogans written in chalk by investigating and punishing students expressing the wrong political views http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/03/a-letter-to-emory-please-stop-fueling-trumpism/475356/

Universities now have Bias Response Thought Police Teams for investigating any student for thought and speech crime https://reason.com/blog/2016/05/10/the-university-of-oregons-thought-police

Harvard bans members of any single-gender club or group from being eligible for either leading bigger University groups or for receiving scholarships http://bigstory.ap.org/article/4de7bbc24aa940b1ae8e60f2d912f90a/harvard-bar-members-all-male-clubs-certain-roles

In the religion of identity politics privilege equals original sin https://www.allthink.com/1284035

College kids pledge money to help Hamas bomb Israeli schools and cafes http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/435734/ami-horowitz-fox-news-satirist-college-support-hamas

Universities tolerate deplatforming and suppression of free speech and expression http://www.breitbart.com/tech/2016/05/24/depaul-college-republicans-release-statement-milo-disruption/

University fires academic for saying aloud the title of a classic piece of literature http://www.weeklystandard.com/college-dean-ousted-for-saying-title-of-book/article/2002689

Comic book movie posters are sexist, discriminatory, and offensive http://www.theverge.com/2016/6/3/11855618/x-men-apocalypse-mystique-strangle-poster-fox-apology

Speech policeman and Australian of the year wants to ban people saying “guys” because it is sexist http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-06-01/david-morrison-wants-australians-to-stop-saying-'guys'/7465824

Some colleges want to get rid of grades and tests, implement segregation, and abolish classical literature by white men http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/06/07/the-craziest-demands-of-college-kids-in-2016.html

Universities are enforcing thought and language control http://heatst.com/culture-wars/university-of-northern-colorado-hung-680-posters-warning-against-offensive-speech/

Not raping women is racist and discriminatory https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKbQlsWn4bI

Those who lie about their income or wealth when seducing someone are guilty of rape by fraud https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVbufTEiwFM

US Marines are removing the suffix “man” from their job titles because it is sexist http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/29/us-marines-denounce-crazy-political-correctness-after-order-to-r2/

White children are being taught in New York schools that they are born racist http://nypost.com/2016/07/01/elite-k-8-school-teaches-white-students-theyre-born-racist/

YouTube is increasingly censoring all religious criticism http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2016/07/06/youtube-bans-video-critical-of-muslim-brotherhood/, and all criticism or offensive speech at all http://www.breitbart.com/tech/2016/06/30/free-speech-crackdown-youtubers-concerned-sites-new-harassment-policy/

German politician gets raped by migrants and lies to police to protect migrants from racism http://www.breitbart.com/london/2016/07/06/raped-german-politician-lied-attackers-nationality-stop-racism/ and three German girls get sexually assaulted by refugees and cover it up because it would be politically incorrect to report it and charge the perpetrators http://www.breitbart.com/london/2016/06/11/schoolgirls-cover-migrant-sex-assaults-political-correctness/ indeed the situation in Germany is generally out of control http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-08-09/germanys-migrant-rape-crisis-spirals-out-control

Politicians in Sweden declare rape isn’t as bad when a migrant does it http://www.breitbart.com/london/2016/07/05/feminist-swedish-politicians-defends-migrant-rapists-worse-western-men-culture/ and also declare that women are reponsible for being raped because of how they dress http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/673799/Sweden-sex-attacks-migrant-rise-police-report

Department of Justice actively censors that which cannot be said http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-06-19/doj-will-censor-all-references-islamic-terrorism-orlando-911-call-transcripts

The height of irony: “anti-fascists” demand fascist controls on free speech http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/12931#.V7HbjJh96Ul

University fascists want to suppress free speech http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/260878/campus-fascists-and-suppression-academic-free-richard-l-cravatts

Creating and enforcing hate speech laws to suppress free speech is a good form of fascism http://thoughtcatalog.com/joshua-goldberg/2014/08/why-hate-speech-laws-have-more-in-common-with-fascism-than-democracy/

Serving sushi at campus cafeterias is cultural appropriation and should be condemned http://www.dazeddigital.com/artsandculture/article/32038/1/lena-dunham-supports-that-sushi-is-cultural-appropriation

Norwegian women are responsible for being raped because of the way they dress https://www.reddit.com/r/worldpolitics/comments/2mk08q/norwegian_professor_norwegian_women_must_take/?st=iqogkt0t&sh=e8a197ed, in fact in many places in Europe women are being blamed for being raped and told to behave or dress differently https://pjmedia.com/blog/pc-europe-now-blaming-women-for-provoking-muslim-rapists/?singlepage=true

Convicted migrant rapists aren’t deported from Britain because they don’t know that rape and violently assaulting women is wrong http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3672387/Convicted-Somalian-rapist-overturned-deportation-order-raped-two-vulnerable-women.html

French PM declares we should all give up and just live with and tolerate terrorism https://www.rt.com/news/351228-valls-nice-statement-social-media/

Universities are now embracing racial segregation http://www.thecollegefix.com/post/28168/

Believing there are only two genders is gross oppressive genderism http://dailycaller.com/2016/07/15/connecticut-state-government-believing-there-are-only-two-genders-is-genderism/

Terrorist attacks are apparently caused by climate change according to Bill Nye http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/dec/2/bill-nye-the-science-guy-paris-terrorist-attacks-a/

The Australian capital now has religious vilification, a.k.a. thought crime, a.k.a. anti-free speech laws http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/act-parliament-passes-religious-vilification-laws-20160804-gqlagu.html

The man who yelled abuse at the Munich mass shooter is now being prosecuted by the state for libel against the mass murderer http://www.breitbart.com/london/2016/08/05/balcony-man-stood-munich-shooter-face-prosecution-insulting-dead/

Twitter now actively censors verified journalists in Turkey after coup http://www.dailydot.com/layer8/twitter-censorship-journalists-turkey-coup/

Election fraud is permissible in British Muslim communities because it would be politically incorrect to go after them for this crime http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/08/11/election-fraud-allowed-to-take-place-in-muslim-communities-becau/

Rape trials should not have juries but specially vetted judges https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/aug/12/juries-no-place-rape-trials-victims-deserve-unprejudiced-justice-judge

Free speech and expression is being attacked globally http://www.economist.com/news/international/21699906-freedom-speech-retreat-muzzle-grows-tighter?fsrc=scn%2Ftw_ec%2Fthe_muzzle_grows_tighter

Germany is supporting child brides and the marrying of underage girls to much older men http://www.breitbart.com/london/2016/08/14/report-1000-child-marriages-germany/ while clerics are trying to get Denmark to allow the same https://www.rt.com/news/332282-child-brides-denmark-refugees/

Western academics and news outlets are trying to normalise and excuse pedophiles http://www.christianpost.com/news/pedophilia-next-sin-normalized-professor-questions-adult-child-sex-immoral-stephen-kershnar-167730/

Schools are banning teachers from calling children boys or girls and instead encouraging gender fluidity http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2016/08/16/nc-school-to-teachers-dont-call-students-boys-and-girls.html

Princeton University speech police ban staff from using the word “man” http://dailycaller.com/2016/08/18/princeton-university-tells-staff-to-avoid-the-word-man-at-all-costs/

The UK is funding Stasi-like departments in the police force to go after and intimidate people guilty of wrongthink online https://storify.com/pperrin/the-haters-call-themselves-the-anti-haters

Male-only barber shops have been reported to the human rights commission for sexual discrimination http://www.news.com.au/finance/small-business/close-shave-with-human-rights-commission-for-menonly-barber-store/news-story/96b3dfab677fee8c5c4a3bbca4eebabb

Refugees are taking holidays at taxpayer expense to the countries they fled http://www.breitbart.com/london/2016/09/12/refugees-holiday-countries-fled/

Apparently Muslims are the only true feminists https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2016/07/01/the-huffpos-ultimate-doublespeak-muslim-women-are-the-true-feminists/

The BBC is now hiring and firing people based on race and sex http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3817609/BBC-sacked-white-man-Radio-4-comic-told-need-women-minorities.html

Students in certain Australian schools will soon be taught that all men are bad and all women are victims http://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-37640353

Science is racist and should be abolished http://reason.com/blog/2016/10/14/watch-leftist-students-say-science-is-ra

Some high school teachers teach students that to be white is to be racist http://eagnews.org/high-schooler-records-teachers-racism-lecture-to-be-white-is-to-be-racist-period/


A Glimmer of Hope

If all of the above isn’t enough to make you lose the will to live and abandon all hope in society it is good to know that people are starting to wake up to this insanity and are starting to speak up. Here is a brief selection of logical, rational criticism against such movements and events.

Powerfully argued criticism of political correctness in poisoning national discourse http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/the-church-of-political-correctness-controls-national-discourse/news-story/9c062ce5539f38ec1e500fb0918fb348

Sacrifice merit and casually deploy rhetorical superweapons at your peril https://status451.com/2016/06/10/you-come-at-the-king-youd-best-not-miss/

Apologetics and politically correct denialism is toxic and dangerous http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/06/14/admit-it-these-terrorists-are-muslims.html and how ideology poisons dialogue https://therationalists.org/2016/06/13/regressive-apologetics/

Defending rational criticism from defamation, smearing, and misrepresentation http://quillette.com/2016/04/21/free-speech-and-islam-in-defense-of-sam-harris/#menuopen

Rationally discussing equality and differences https://medium.com/@NikitaCcoulombe/do-women-really-want-equality-4374910f2236#.dvmpgnevr

Outrage culture and political correctness is destroying our ability to reasonably disagree https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/apr/26/conservatives-love-to-hate-political-correctness-but-the-left-should-rail-against-it-too

A liberal’s guide to how progressivism ruined liberalism http://claremontindependent.com/irrationality-mob-mentality-and-the-campus-left/


Moar Insanity!

If you’re masochistic and want to keep up to date with more regressive examples you can subscribe to Dave Cullen’s +Computing Forever YouTube channel and check out the playlist for his weekly Regressive News segments: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLSn-HxGQqpcZiQek_z6aBB36xhVeUqdCA ___

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2016-10-16 05:56:12 (4 comments; 21 reshares; 65 +1s; )Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 42/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/10/posttranslational-mutagenesis-bio.html

Posttranslational mutagenesis, Bio-nanopore DNA sequencing, Nanoscale pumps, CRISPR sickle cell, DeepMind deep memory, Omnidirectional stereo video, Nanoscale memory switches, Nanoscale Lego Assembly, Full colour holograms, DNA single electrons.

1. Posttranslational Mutagenesis
The structural and functional capabilities of proteins can be significantly expanded by site-directed mutagenesis (chemical changes) of proteins after expression in the cell and without edits to the genome http://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2016/09/22/science.aag1465. This work is so recent I don’t think there is a more accessible summary yet apart from this original science article. This represents a new and robust chemicals... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 42/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/10/posttranslational-mutagenesis-bio.html

Posttranslational mutagenesis, Bio-nanopore DNA sequencing, Nanoscale pumps, CRISPR sickle cell, DeepMind deep memory, Omnidirectional stereo video, Nanoscale memory switches, Nanoscale Lego Assembly, Full colour holograms, DNA single electrons.

1. Posttranslational Mutagenesis
The structural and functional capabilities of proteins can be significantly expanded by site-directed mutagenesis (chemical changes) of proteins after expression in the cell and without edits to the genome http://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2016/09/22/science.aag1465. This work is so recent I don’t think there is a more accessible summary yet apart from this original science article. This represents a new and robust chemical synthesis platform with novel chemistry for controlled modification of protein or amino acid side chains with a genuinely vast range of different chemicals, thus enabling the creation of proteins and enzymes with new and useful properties and functions.

2. Biological Nanopore DNA Sequencing
The latest advancement in DNA sequencing via protein/enzymatic nanopores involves the use of newly engineered proteins, called a sequencing engine, that combine seven protein subunits to create the pore and tether a DNA polymerase enzyme precisely at the opening http://wyss.harvard.edu/viewpressrelease/279. In this sequencing-by-synthesis approach, (i) the DNA polymerase copies the DNA strand of interest by (ii) incorporating nucleotides into the complementary strand that are each tagged with easily distinguishable (electrically) tag molecules and (iii) passing this synthetic complementary strand through the protein pore in a membrane with a voltage across it. The system now identifies the correct nucleotide 79% - 99% of the time. The group hope to improve accuracy and create multiplexed chips with hundreds of electrically-addressable nanopores for high throughput sequencing.

3. Nanoscale Pumps and Muscles
First, single carbon nanotubes can now be harnessed as an electrostatically driven nanopump, with alternating voltages squeezing and restoring the nanotube http://www.teknat.umu.se/english/about-the-faculty/news/newsdetailpage/static-electricity-can-control-nanoballoon.cid274687; this might be attached to molecular rods and cogs to drive various nanomachine mechanisms. Second, novel interlocked molecular structures quickly switch, expanding and contracting with the addition of zinc, to mimic artificial nanoscale muscles http://phys.org/news/2016-10-daisy-chain-like-molecular-mimic-artificial-muscles.html.

4. CRISPR Treats Sickle Cell Disease
CRISPR-based gene editing of the mutations responsible for sickle cell disease shows promise in mice http://stm.sciencemag.org/content/8/360/360ra134. In this work hematapoietic stem/progenitor cells with the mutation were isolated and treated with a CRISPR-Cas9 system to efficiently replace the mutation with the correct genetic sequence. When differentiated into erythroblasts the cells increased the production of normal hemoglobin, and when transplanted into mice the cells maintained normal hemoglobin production at levels likely to have clinical benefit. With further refinements such cures should be applicable to a wide range of similar diseases.

5. DeepMind’s Deep Learning Memory Boost
DeepMind has developed a differentiable neural computer that gives the neural networks that power deep learning an external memory for storing information for later use http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/computing/software/googles-deep-mind-boosts-memory-to-navigate-london-underground. The new system outperforms earlier approaches in path mapping and route-finding; in tests the earlier approaches achieved an average accuracy of 37% compared to 98.8% for the new approach. The architecture of the new deep learning approach is an example of convergent evolution as it resembles how the hippocampus of the brain works. This is believed to be just one of many novel neural learning architectures that are being explored.

6. Omnidirectional Stereo VR Video
Google’s Jump video platform has evolved to produce omnidirectional stereo video for VR video applications https://blog.google/products/google-vr/jump-using-omnidirectional-stereo-vr-video/. This new advance includes sophisticated auto-stitching algorithms to provide seamless video projection that is both panoramic (360) and stereoscopic (3D), so to allow the viewer to not only look in any direction but to see depth and distance cues naturally. This is a very difficult problem to solve and doing so will boost the sense of immersion for those viewing content made with this system; just in time too it seems as VR video consumption looks set to grow exponentially.

7. Nanoscale Memory Switches
First, by firing an electron beam at 50nm wide gold-silver hollow nanorods, silver can be moved around inside the rods to form different structures, which changes how the rods interact with light, which changes the plasmonic properties of the rods http://news.rice.edu/2016/10/10/core-technology-springs-from-nanoscale-rods-2/. Such technology might comprise reconfigurable memory units in future. Second, low energy electric fields can be used switch tiny magnets at picosecond speeds http://www.ru.nl/english/news-agenda/news/vm/imm/solid-state-physics/2016/electric-field-magnetic/. Again, such technology might be used in next generation memory.

8. New Nanoscale Lego Assembly
A novel Lego-like self assembly technique can join together a wide range of different nanomaterials including polymeric particles, metal nanoparticles, metal and polymer nanowires, nanosheets, nanocubes, and biological particles http://themelbourneengineer.eng.unimelb.edu.au/2016/10/nanoscale-engineering-transforms-particles-lego-like-building-blocks/. This works by coating the particles in a template of adhesive polyphenol molecules, which then allows the different particles to be assembled into a range of complex 3D structures that can include hybrid materials, hollow microstructures, hierarchically organised particles, and others.

9. Full Colour Holograms with Nanomaterials
Nanometer scale aluminum thin films treated with ion beam milling to create an array of precisely oriented rectangular holes produce a full colour holographic metasurface http://news.mst.edu/2016/10/researchers-create-3-d-full-color-holographic-images-with-nanomaterials/. The surface includes both phase and amplitude modulation that allows the full colour, high resolution, low noise holograms to be produced in almost any design or image desired. Applications include floating 3D displays, imaging, and security surface codes.

10. DNA Single Electron Device
The self assembly properties of DNA can be used to assemble metallic nanoparticles into precise chains that comprise single-electron conduction devices http://www.aka.fi/en/about-us/media/press-releases/2016/researchers-develop-dna-based-single-electron-electronic-devices/. The DNA itself is not conducting electrons in these devices but simply forms the desired scaffold that guides the assembly of the nanoparticles, chains of which were confirmed to conduct electrons one at a time at room temperature, whereas previous approaches had required cryogenic temperatures to work.

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2016-10-12 13:23:54 (8 comments; 2 reshares; 33 +1s; )Open 

Resident magpie comes for an occasional feed. 

Resident magpie comes for an occasional feed. ___

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2016-10-11 13:53:15 (2 comments; 0 reshares; 17 +1s; )Open 

The Euler-Mascheroni Constant: 0.577

Number theory is always fascinating and the YouTube channel Numberphile always has brilliant videos on fascinating numbers, formulas, and structures. This particular video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4k1jegU4Wb4 explores a couple of divergent and convergent series along with simple logarithmic transformations and some counter-intuitive examples to arrive at the Euler-Mascheroni Constant of approximately 0.577.

For such a seemingly innocuous little number very little is known about its absolute value and properties, yet it appears everywhere in physics and cosmology and is related to the set of prime numbers, among others. Why? Why does this particular number have a relation to physics? A coincidence given profundity by over-active idiosyncratic human pattern-recognition? Or something deeper?

Given this video touches on the... more »

The Euler-Mascheroni Constant: 0.577

Number theory is always fascinating and the YouTube channel Numberphile always has brilliant videos on fascinating numbers, formulas, and structures. This particular video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4k1jegU4Wb4 explores a couple of divergent and convergent series along with simple logarithmic transformations and some counter-intuitive examples to arrive at the Euler-Mascheroni Constant of approximately 0.577.

For such a seemingly innocuous little number very little is known about its absolute value and properties, yet it appears everywhere in physics and cosmology and is related to the set of prime numbers, among others. Why? Why does this particular number have a relation to physics? A coincidence given profundity by over-active idiosyncratic human pattern-recognition? Or something deeper?

Given this video touches on the sum of all integers and primes the Riemann Hypothesis is also a very interesting video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6c6uIyieoo and the first video on the sum of all integers (1 + 2 + 3 + …) equalling not infinity but -1/12 is one that makes sense but doesn’t https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-I6XTVZXww.

The Numberphile channel is here https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoxcjq-8xIDTYp3uz647V5A. I’m shocked that only 3 people I have circled are subscribed to this channel!


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2016-10-11 13:17:35 (8 comments; 0 reshares; 25 +1s; )Open 

Breaking big blocks of concrete into small blocks.
Not fun. Only the final portion of work too. 

Breaking big blocks of concrete into small blocks.
Not fun. Only the final portion of work too. ___

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2016-10-09 06:59:18 (97 comments; 20 reshares; 27 +1s; )Open 

Moral Machines

The Moral Machine game http://moralmachine.mit.edu/ developed at and hosted by MIT presents a series of philosophical trolley problems https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trolley_problem for people to determine what behaviour an autonomous vehicle should take in the case of its brakes failing and some combination of passengers and pedestrians being at risk. This follows recent coverage this year over whether autonomous cars might have to make decisions that affect innocent people’s lives. You’ll get 13 scenarios and can take the test multiple times before any chance of seeing the same scenario again.

Factors that influence your moral choices in the presented trolley problems include the number of people and their age, fitness, sex, pregnancy, criminality, social value, the presence of animals, and whether the pedestrians are breaking the law or not. Once doneyou... more »

Moral Machines

The Moral Machine game http://moralmachine.mit.edu/ developed at and hosted by MIT presents a series of philosophical trolley problems https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trolley_problem for people to determine what behaviour an autonomous vehicle should take in the case of its brakes failing and some combination of passengers and pedestrians being at risk. This follows recent coverage this year over whether autonomous cars might have to make decisions that affect innocent people’s lives. You’ll get 13 scenarios and can take the test multiple times before any chance of seeing the same scenario again.

Factors that influence your moral choices in the presented trolley problems include the number of people and their age, fitness, sex, pregnancy, criminality, social value, the presence of animals, and whether the pedestrians are breaking the law or not. Once done you’ll get a results page that compares your overall answers to the average of others who have played the game. This can sometimes vary however (low statistical sampling with only 13 scenarios at a time) as I found it sometimes said I had a bias to save women, whereas I felt I was gender-neutral on the whole and didn’t often consider sex as a factor.

Anyway, have a play and please share your results via a link in the comments if you can.

Some of my test results:
http://moralmachine.mit.edu/results/-264501416
http://moralmachine.mit.edu/results/-95631885

For the image for this post I chose one of the scenarios that I was presented that I found morally ambiguous or morally controversial because it might make for a good discussion. In this scenario I chose to stay straight and not swerve, potentially killing or harming a child and three adults including a pregnant woman. Oh, and a dog. And sparing the one man.

My rationale is that the innocence of that one man is more important. He is crossing the road legally and, if anything, would be looking out for traffic coming from the other direction and so less likely to see the autonomous car swerve to hit him and so more likely to be killed completely innocently. The others have all made the decision to break the law and cross the road illegally; in so doing they are probably more likely to be aware of traffic coming from that direction and more likely to have a chance to move out of the way of the car. They should be held personally responsible for their decision to cross when they shouldn’t and their collective negligent or criminal decision to cross should not cost the innocent man his life; if it does so then they might all be charged with manslaughter or at least as an accomplice to such. The dog is irrelevant.
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2016-10-09 04:23:14 (12 comments; 19 reshares; 83 +1s; )Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 41/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/10/time-crystals-robot-skill-acquisition.html

Time crystals, Robot skill acquisition, Heat shock proteins, Nanometer transistor, Advanced cell modelling, Quantum programming game, Bacteria influence brain, Cow-human hybrid vaccines, Graphene electrons refract, Diamond nanothread polymers.

1. Creating Time Crystals
A theoretical prediction from 2012 has been reduced to practise with the creation of the first time crystals from a chain of ytterbium atoms https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602541/physicists-create-worlds-first-time-crystal/. To think about time crystals, consider normal crystals as lowest energy state materials whose structure oscillates periodically in space. Likewise time crystals are lowest energy state materials whose structure oscillates... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 41/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/10/time-crystals-robot-skill-acquisition.html

Time crystals, Robot skill acquisition, Heat shock proteins, Nanometer transistor, Advanced cell modelling, Quantum programming game, Bacteria influence brain, Cow-human hybrid vaccines, Graphene electrons refract, Diamond nanothread polymers.

1. Creating Time Crystals
A theoretical prediction from 2012 has been reduced to practise with the creation of the first time crystals from a chain of ytterbium atoms https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602541/physicists-create-worlds-first-time-crystal/. To think about time crystals, consider normal crystals as lowest energy state materials whose structure oscillates periodically in space. Likewise time crystals are lowest energy state materials whose structure oscillates periodically in time. The phenomenon exploits Anderson Localisation (worth reading up on), whose self-interference causes the atoms to appear localised in a single location. Finally, flipping the spins of the atoms established a periodic oscillation of spins along the chain, the period of which was double that of the original driving force, the only explanation of which was broken time symmetry caused by a time crystal.

2. Faster Robot Skill Acquisition
Google has a system that combines cloud robotics and deep learning platforms to facilitate general purpose skill learning across multiple robots http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/artificial-intelligence/google-wants-robots-to-acquire-new-skills-by-learning-from-each-other. In tests the ability to communicate and exchange experiences allowed the robots to learn more quickly and effectively. One of the additional strengths of this system is that the learning process benefits from a greater diversity of experiences as a result of different robots performing tasks in slightly different environments.

3. Benefits of Exogenous Heat Shock Protein
Heat shock proteins help to ensure correct protein function in the cell but typically decline with age and in neurons reduced activity can contribute to neurodegenerative disorders. Recent work in mice demonstrated intranasal delivery of heat shock protein enhanced mean and maximum lifespan, improved learning and memory, and facilitated improvements to locomotion and curiosity https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/10/heat-shock-protein-delivered-as-a-therapy-slows-aging-in-mice/. When delivered from middle-age maximum lifespan improved by 17%. This could be a fairly low-hanging piece of fruit therapeutically or enhancement-wise. Same with getting a hold of myostatin antibodies to boost your muscle mass by 20% https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/10/how-to-go-about-using-myostatin-antibodies-to-grow-muscle-today/.

4. Nanometer Transistor
Researchers have gone beyond the 5nm threshold for silicon transistors to create a functional 1nm transistor out of a carbon nanotube and molybdenum disulfide http://newscenter.lbl.gov/2016/10/06/smallest-transistor-1-nm-gate/. The structure utilises a single carbon nanotube as the gate, while a single sheet of molybdenum disulfide is the semiconductor, whose properties compared to silicon of lower dielectric constant and heavier effective electron mass facilitate scaling beyond what silicon is capable of. The latest gallium nitride technologies are also helping to take electronics far beyond what silicon is capable of http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2016/10/gallium-nitride-devices-can-reduce.html.

5. Advanced Cell Modelling
Biomolecular modelling and computational structural biology are approaching the level at which groups are starting to plan and create full realistic simulations of entire cells including all molecular structures and interactions http://www.nanowerk.com/news2/biotech/newsid=44719.php. Not only does such an effort help improve and shed light on a better fundamental understanding of the cell, but it will also improve the design and development of drugs and other therapeutic interventions. Due to the enormous complexity of such simulations the groups pursuing this are starting with the simplest possible prokaryotic cells.

6. Quantum Programming with Puzzles
MeQuanics is an online computer game that you can play to help, in a small way, to program future quantum computers https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602590/how-quantum-programing-turned-into-a-3-d-puzzle-game/. You do this by determining optimised qubit topologies that will form part of a large data set of optimised examples that comprise the very first training set for developing machine learning algorithms able to outperform humans in programming quantum computers. The basis is that a quantum program is basically a pattern of qubits in a lattice, and patterns that are topologically identical constitute the same quantum program, by optimising large qubit patterns to smaller but topologically identical patterns, smaller and thus more readily available quantum computers can be used to run that program.

7. Gut Bacteria Link to the Brain
This recent study tentatively links certain types of gut bacteria to neurodegeneration in the brain and proposes a theory for hos this might take place https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/10/theorizing-on-the-contribution-of-gut-bacteria-to-neurodegeneration/. Some bacteria produce a type of amyloid protein that is structurally similar to the amyloid protein found in human brains suffering Alzheimer’s disease, and there is a theory that these bacterial proteins can cause brain proteins to misfold via a process of cross-seeding. In studies on rats, those given gut bacteria that produce these proteins showed increased levels of amyloid-like protein in the intestine and brain, increased amyloid protein aggregates in the brain, and enhanced brain inflammation. It’d be good to find a naturally occurring model and intervene in the gut to stop or reverse the effect.

8. Vaccines from Cow-Human Hybrids
Cows genetically engineered to replace all of the genes that code for immune system antibody production with their human counterparts can quickly produce large amounts of human antibodies towards infectious disease pathogens https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602530/cows-engineered-with-human-genes-could-stop-our-next-disease-outbreak/. These human encoded antibodies can then be harvested from the animals by obtaining blood plasma and isolating the antibodies to produce a therapeutic drug for humans with the whole process taking two and a half months. I wonder if these process can produce the myostatin antibodies mentioned in #3 above? Each cow can produce up to 1,000 human doses of antibodies per month.

9. Optical Refraction of Graphene Electrons
Theoretical predications from 2007 have been experimentally verified by showing electrons travelling in graphene behave like light and can be made to exhibit negative refraction at conductor interfaces http://engineering.columbia.edu/news/james-hone-electrons-graphene. The electron density of a material plays a similar role to an optical index of refraction, and in this experiment as electrons passed a p-n semiconductor junction in graphene, an interface of high & low electron density, they exhibited negative refraction. Interesting applications like Veselago lenses might be possible with this. In related news, partnering graphene with boron nitride should produce a terahertz oscillator http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/semiconductors/materials/longtheorized-material-closes-the-terahertz-gap.

10. Diamond Nanothread Polymers
One dimensional diamond nanothreads were invented last year; long, one dimensional carbon molecules with diamond bond structures that are incredibly strong yet very brittle. New research introduces deliberate defects into these diamond nanothreads with hydrogen atoms that results in kinks in the chain forming at those positions and the threads becoming more flexible as a result https://www.qut.edu.au/science-engineering/about/news/news?news-id=110322. Changing the spacing of the defects allows the group to tune the flexibility as well as the thermal conductivity, binding sites for polymers, and other tensile properties. Scale up is an obvious issue but potential applications include incredibly strong composites and polymers and even a better candidate material for a space elevator.

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2016-10-05 10:17:14 (25 comments; 9 reshares; 72 +1s; )Open 

Euclidea: Best Mobile Game in a While

Euclidea is a pretty cool game based on pure geometry: what precise shapes and angles can you make with a ruler and compass? https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.hil_hk.euclidea&hl=en. I always enjoyed geometry in maths class at school and this is the first game that I can remember that has given me that pleasurable little flash of insight when successfully seeing the solution to a problem. 

Euclidea: Best Mobile Game in a While

Euclidea is a pretty cool game based on pure geometry: what precise shapes and angles can you make with a ruler and compass? https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.hil_hk.euclidea&hl=en. I always enjoyed geometry in maths class at school and this is the first game that I can remember that has given me that pleasurable little flash of insight when successfully seeing the solution to a problem. ___

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2016-10-04 12:05:01 (34 comments; 10 reshares; 60 +1s; )Open 

A Taxonomy and Metaphysics of Mind Uploading

I’ve just finished reading Keith Wiley’s A Taxonomy and Metaphysics of Uploading, which is concerned with the core question of mind uploading, namely under what circumstances, if any, and according to what interpretations, if any, might be judge a mind-uploading scenario to have successfully transferred a mind from one brain to another.

Ultimately the book makes an argument for every mind uploading procedure resulting in a split of that mind, and that each thread that then traverses its future light cone from that instant, is to be afforded identical rights and “primacy” of individual identity. Keith goes to lengths to avoid the use of words like copy, duplicate, original because such language naturally denigrates individual minds; such language can trigger biases, empower prejudices, and result in discrimination and is theonly wa... more »

A Taxonomy and Metaphysics of Mind Uploading

I’ve just finished reading Keith Wiley’s A Taxonomy and Metaphysics of Uploading, which is concerned with the core question of mind uploading, namely under what circumstances, if any, and according to what interpretations, if any, might be judge a mind-uploading scenario to have successfully transferred a mind from one brain to another.

Ultimately the book makes an argument for every mind uploading procedure resulting in a split of that mind, and that each thread that then traverses its future light cone from that instant, is to be afforded identical rights and “primacy” of individual identity. Keith goes to lengths to avoid the use of words like copy, duplicate, original because such language naturally denigrates individual minds; such language can trigger biases, empower prejudices, and result in discrimination and is the only way to elevate the perspective of an upload over its original or vice versa.

The Taxonomy of Mind Uploading Scenarios Includes:

Gradual replacement processes in which each neuron or group of neurons is replaced one-by-one by a computerised alternative. This broad category is broken down into a number of different threads such as (i) whether the person is conscious or unconscious during the procedure, (ii) whether the neurons are destroyed and replaced by nanobot copies or copied into a synthetic brain and remain unharmed, (iii) whether the replacement rate of neurons occurs at a slow 10,000 neurons per second (100 days to upload or some other rate, (iv) whether spatial or temporal discontinuities between neuron replacement matters, (v) whether the neurons are copied by a network of nanobots sitting alongside them in the same brain, and (vi) others.

Scan and duplicate processes in which the neuronal structures are scanned and replicated on some other substrate. This broad category is broken down into a number of different threads such as (i) whether the second substrate is a biological brain (clone), physical (neuromorphic) computerised brain, or virtual brain emulation on a computer, (ii) whether the brain is frozen or not and destroyed or not, (iii) whether a virtualised emulation dispenses with lower-level structures or not, (iv) whether copied brains are awakened in identical or variable environments, (v) whether the brain is conscious or unconscious, and (vi) various percentage brain division scenarios.

Other Comments

While generally accessible I did find chunks of the text to be tedious. A glossary is presented in Chapter 2; this is a slog at times and was done to define terms to be used in the text in order to avoid confusion, but I believe this exercise was largely unnecessary as many terms didn’t need to be defined at the outset and those that did would have been better defined when needed.

I found the whole philosophical discussion on tokens, types, and occurrences to be needlessly abstract, confusing, and detracting from core arguments. The book took me a long time to complete and sometimes weeks would pass before I came back to it, which resulted in a patchy read and this review that is much shorter and less detailed than normal.

Keith also discusses consciousness, free-will, zombies, and related philosophical concepts and I found my positions on these topics different to, or in disagreement with, his views here. The presentation was useful nonetheless as finer distinctions were presented than I’d seen previously and a more nuanced understanding of the reasons for these differences between different people was hinted at.

Overall, in general, I can't fault the conclusion presented of equality of primacy of all minds. I've always had a preference for the gradual replacement uploading procedure while fully conscious but this is driven by a default, emotional mode of thinking; when thinking about it deeply I can't escape the logic that there really appears no difference regardless of procedure (a long post in and of itself). The only caveat I bring to my agreement here concerns the aspects above, particularly consciousness, and the possibility of computerised p-zombies that lack consciousness due to insufficiency of the substrate; I acknowledge this is an unpopular opinion in this space but take comfort from some eminent company.

Given the topic it is suitable that I move onto Robin Hanson’s The Age of Em, which I’ve just started reading.
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2016-10-02 13:50:22 (17 comments; 24 reshares; 87 +1s; )Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 40/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/10/machine-learning-fps-bot-antimatter.html

Machine learning FPS bot, Antimatter from lasers, Google language translation, Embryo and baby modification, Neuromorphic deep learning, Nanopore DNA sequencing, Hand exoskeleton, Autonomous gap navigation, Multiferroic materials, Imaging scattered light.

1. Machine Learning Agent Plays Doom Video Game
A new AI agent or bot built by machine learning algorithms to learn, play, and master the 3D first-person-shooter video game Doom is an expected, albeit confronting demonstration https://techcrunch.com/2016/09/21/scientists-teach-machines-to-hunt-and-kill-humans-in-doom-deathmatch-mode/. Be sure to check out the video of the bot in action; I wonder how long until real-world robots are loaded up with improved... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 40/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/10/machine-learning-fps-bot-antimatter.html

Machine learning FPS bot, Antimatter from lasers, Google language translation, Embryo and baby modification, Neuromorphic deep learning, Nanopore DNA sequencing, Hand exoskeleton, Autonomous gap navigation, Multiferroic materials, Imaging scattered light.

1. Machine Learning Agent Plays Doom Video Game
A new AI agent or bot built by machine learning algorithms to learn, play, and master the 3D first-person-shooter video game Doom is an expected, albeit confronting demonstration https://techcrunch.com/2016/09/21/scientists-teach-machines-to-hunt-and-kill-humans-in-doom-deathmatch-mode/. Be sure to check out the video of the bot in action; I wonder how long until real-world robots are loaded up with improved software? This seems to build on DeepMind’s approach, with a bot that interacts with the game based on what is on-screen: navigating the environment, identifying objects, and “interacting” with those objects with little to no pre-programming. The system beat both conventional in-game bots and human players.

2. Generating Antimatter from Lasers
Advances in ultrahigh intensity laser technology should soon enable the creation of electric fields so intense that matter and antimatter are generated https://publishing.aip.org/publishing/journal-highlights/creating-antimatter-lasers. Recent calculations show how to use these technologies to create electrons and positrons, in which the physicists claim to “boil the vacuum” and convert virtual electron-positron pairs into real, observable particles. Under certain conditions the light-matter interaction produces a skewed cascade that results in a large excess of positrons over electrons. A controllable, efficient source of on-demand antimatter would have a huge range of applications.

3. Human Performance for Language Translation
Google’s latest language translation tools utilise more advanced deep learning algorithms to get very close to human levels of performance https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602480/googles-new-service-translates-languages-almost-as-well-as-humans-can/. All language pairs performed 60% - 87% better than previous approaches, and in some cases getting to within just 2% of human level performance; these new tools should be rolling out to Google’s translation products soon. The software works out its own way to break up text and perform the translation and does so in ways that often don’t make sense and are not understood by the system’s creators.

4. Altering Embryo and Baby Genetics
The first baby to have DNA from three different parents has been born https://www.newscientist.com/article/2107219-exclusive-worlds-first-baby-born-with-new-3-parent-technique/. In this case the reason was to treat congenital mutations in mitochondria, and involved (i) taking the nucleus from the mother’s egg, (ii) inserting it into a donor egg whose nucleus was removed (providing healthy mitochondria), and (iii) fertilising this hybrid egg with the father’s sperm. We also had work in which (days old) healthy human embryo’s had their genes edited in order to tweak and regulate developmental processes http://www.livescience.com/56243-human-embryo-editing.html - these embryos were never intended to be allowed to develop beyond a couple of weeks.

5. IBM’s Neuromorphic Chips get Deep Learning
IBM has further developed its TrueNorth neuromorphic computing architecture to the point that it can now run deep learning algorithms http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/computing/hardware/ibms-braininspired-chip-tested-on-deep-learning. TrueNorth’s spiking neural networks are typically incompatible with deep learning algorithms but this has now been overcome with a new way of implementing the algorithms on this hardware allowing TrueNorth to match or surpass state-of-the-art accuracy on a number of tests. In related news new memristors use silver-in-oxide dynamics to mimic calcium dynamics of synapses and result in synaptic emulators for neuromorphic computing http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2016/09/memristors-as-synaptic-emulators-for.html.

6. MoS2 Nanopore DNA Sequencing
A nanopore DNA sequencer has been designed using molybdenum disulfide for the first time https://www.nist.gov/news-events/news/2016/09/nist-team-suggests-nanoscale-electronic-motion-sensor-dna-sequencer. In this design DNA nucleotide bases are connected to the inside of the nanopore, with the pore itself being a hole through a ribbon of molybdenum disulfide suspended between electrodes: as DNA is passed through the pore, complementary bases in the sequence bind and release partner bases connected to the hole, causing the ribbon to flex, the motion of which is dependent on the base binding and generates a detectable electrical signal. Estimates suggest a 79% - 85% sequence accuracy, at single pass of 70 million bases per second.

7. Muscle Sensing Hand Exoskeleton
An articulated 3D printed hand exoskeleton is worn on the back of the hand and includes electromyography sensors on the back of the forearm http://www.relab.ethz.ch/research/current-research-projects/robotic-hand-orthosis-for-therapy-and-assistance-in-activities-of-daily-living.html. The sensors detect signals in the muscles then activate motors to provide additional grasping and grip strength to mimic the intended motion of the hand. 3D printing allows customisation to different sized patients while the group intends to develop and test alternative sensors such as near-infrared spectroscopy and electroencephalography (ECG) to allow cortical or thought-controlled exoskeleton hand motion.

8. Autonomous Gap Navigation by Drones
Quadrotor drones have recently achieved completely autonomous on-board gap navigation and traversal http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/drones/aggressive-quadrotors-conquer-gaps-with-ultimate-autonomy. The drone uses nothing more complicated than the equivalent of a smartphone on board, and is able to locate the gap, compute an optimal trajectory, and execute the flight path to get through to the other side with currently an 80% success rate. The group hope to boost this success rate further as well as navigate any arbitrary number of consecutive gaps in a row. Ultimately this is getting closer to the goal of autonomous navigation through any arbitrarily haphazard environment of interest.

9. Multiferroic and Cold-Sintered Materials
First, layer by layer assembly of nanosheet building blocks as produced multiferroic materials that function at room temperature for the first time and which exhibit both ferroelectricity and ferromagnetism http://www.nims.go.jp/eng/news/press/2016/09/201609230.html. I haven’t come across multiferroics before and wonder what applications this phenomena enables. Second, a newly developed cold-sintering-process can densify and create an entirely new range of hybrid ceramic-like materials at relatively low temperatures that can combine materials that can’t normally be combined such as ceramic-polymers and ceramic-metals, in addition to ceramic-nanoparticles and ceramic-ceramics http://news.psu.edu/story/428704/2016/09/28/research/lowering-heat-makes-new-materials-possible-while-saving-energy.

10. Better Imaging Through Optical Obstructions
New image processing algorithms can accurately produce images of objects even after the light bouncing off of or emitted by those objects has been chaotically scattered by semi-opaque materials such as human tissue or fog before reaching the camera http://news.mit.edu/2016/all-photons-imaging-algorithm-0929. The system fires a pulsed laser at the object to be imaged, then measures the timing of different photons arriving from each pulse; those photons passing straight through reach the sensor first, while those that are scattered ever-more take ever-longer to reach the sensor and deviate from the location of the arrival of the first photons by a larger amount. Applications include medical imaging through human tissues and better navigation by autonomous vehicles through fog and rain.

SciTech Tip Jar: http://www.scitechdigest.net/p/donate.html
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2016-09-28 13:58:45 (6 comments; 0 reshares; 39 +1s; )Open 

Major Storm Smashed Adelaide This Evening

My home city of Adelaide and much of the state of South Australia generally was smashed this evening by what some call the worst storm in almost 50 years. Here you can see the main rain front moving across the region: I'm to the north west of Clarendon in the bottom right quadrant.

The storm damaged major power infrastructure to an extent that it plunged the entire state into a blackout. I got soaked running from the office to the car after work and then the drive home was intermittently chaotic and glacial given every single traffic light was out. We made a very basic dinner by candlelight, grateful for the gas stove, then snuggled to keep warm. We were lucky the power for our area was one of the first switched back on, allowing me to enjoy normal creature comforts while most others in the state are still without, with complete... more »

Major Storm Smashed Adelaide This Evening

My home city of Adelaide and much of the state of South Australia generally was smashed this evening by what some call the worst storm in almost 50 years. Here you can see the main rain front moving across the region: I'm to the north west of Clarendon in the bottom right quadrant.

The storm damaged major power infrastructure to an extent that it plunged the entire state into a blackout. I got soaked running from the office to the car after work and then the drive home was intermittently chaotic and glacial given every single traffic light was out. We made a very basic dinner by candlelight, grateful for the gas stove, then snuggled to keep warm. We were lucky the power for our area was one of the first switched back on, allowing me to enjoy normal creature comforts while most others in the state are still without, with complete restoration not likely until tomorrow.

Thanks to +Emlyn O'Regan for the rain/weather GIF from bom.gov.au ___

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2016-09-27 13:46:12 (3 comments; 17 reshares; 50 +1s; )Open 

The Machine Learning Master Algorithm

This is a great, accessible talk on machine learning, the five major learning paradigms, and efforts to combine them all into one Master Algorithm that uses the strengths of all five approaches to create the best, most flexible, and most effective learning machines.

The five approaches are:
- Identify and Fill Knowledge Gaps
- Neural Network Learning
- Evolutionary Learning
- Bayesian Learning
- Learning by Analogy

There are good examples of where each is used, what their strengths are, and discussion of how the core practitioners or tribes of each tend to think that their way is best. Thanks to whoever first shared this one here, I've had this in Watch Later for a while and can't remember who it was.


The Machine Learning Master Algorithm

This is a great, accessible talk on machine learning, the five major learning paradigms, and efforts to combine them all into one Master Algorithm that uses the strengths of all five approaches to create the best, most flexible, and most effective learning machines.

The five approaches are:
- Identify and Fill Knowledge Gaps
- Neural Network Learning
- Evolutionary Learning
- Bayesian Learning
- Learning by Analogy

There are good examples of where each is used, what their strengths are, and discussion of how the core practitioners or tribes of each tend to think that their way is best. Thanks to whoever first shared this one here, I've had this in Watch Later for a while and can't remember who it was.
___

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2016-09-25 04:09:37 (12 comments; 21 reshares; 89 +1s; )Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 39/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/09/fixing-dna-damage-modular-synbio.html

Fixing DNA damage, Modular synbio pellets, Towards head transplant, Custom acoustic holograms, Advanced drone systems, Wireless emotion detection, Atomically precise molecular syntheses, Metastasis gene therapy, Wireless MEMS, Sewing robot.

1. Compensating for DNA Damage
New work by the SENS Research Foundation has successfully achieved stable allotropic expression (in the nucleus), import (into mitochondria), and assembly into functional protein complexes able to rescue the cell and metabolism from mutations in the mitochondrial copies of these genes http://nar.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2016/09/04/nar.gkw756.full. With some additional work and tricks the group hope the demonstration will allow all 13... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 39/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/09/fixing-dna-damage-modular-synbio.html

Fixing DNA damage, Modular synbio pellets, Towards head transplant, Custom acoustic holograms, Advanced drone systems, Wireless emotion detection, Atomically precise molecular syntheses, Metastasis gene therapy, Wireless MEMS, Sewing robot.

1. Compensating for DNA Damage
New work by the SENS Research Foundation has successfully achieved stable allotropic expression (in the nucleus), import (into mitochondria), and assembly into functional protein complexes able to rescue the cell and metabolism from mutations in the mitochondrial copies of these genes http://nar.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2016/09/04/nar.gkw756.full. With some additional work and tricks the group hope the demonstration will allow all 13 mitochondrial genes to be moved to the nucleus and so solve one of the seven causes of aging damage, which will be important for things like sarcopenia https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/09/mitochondria-in-muscle-aging-and-sarcopenia/. In related work human cells engineered to contain a copy of the Dsup gene from tardigrades suffered 50% fewer DNA mutations as a result of prolonged exposure to X-rays http://www.u-tokyo.ac.jp/en/utokyo-research/research-news/demystifying-the-resilience-of-water-bears.html; the group hope to discover related protective genes that grant tardigrades their resilience and the possibility is open to gene therapies to reduce DNA mutation rates in humans.

2. Modular DNA Expression Pellets
You can now produce bulk freeze-dried pellets containing the key cellular components needed for translating DNA to proteins - all of the enzymes, ribosomes, tRNA, etc that you need to do this basic protein production process http://news.mit.edu/2016/to-produce-biopharmaceuticals-on-demand-just-add-water-0922. The idea is that you’d have a supply of these pellets (room temp shelf-life > 1 year) and when you needed to conduct a test or produce a protein you’d synthesise your gene or DNA of interest and add it to a pellet in some water. Such cell-free synthesis is an exciting technology, another tiny step towards atomically-precise synthesis, and something that would be immediately useful for remote or at-home applications above and beyond those demonstrated: protein vaccines, antimicrobial peptides, multi-enzyme production for metabolic pathway to create a complex organic drug molecule, antibodies for diagnostics, etc.

3. Towards Human Head Transplant
Recent previous work in mice and recent work in dogs a modified solution of polyethylene glycol has been used to at least partially restore the neural connections in animals whose spines have been almost completely severed https://www.newscientist.com/article/2106382-head-transplant-teams-new-animal-tests-fail-to-convince-critics/. In the recent dog experiment the dog apparently regained the ability to walk after about three weeks. Surgeon Sergio Canavero plans to use these result to press forward with the first ever human head transplant next year, using the technique to help reconnect the severed spine of the patient’s head with the donor body. Others demand that at the lack of detailed histology data of the supposedly repaired spinal interface damages the case for proceeding in humans.

4. Custom Acoustic Holograms
Three dimensional acoustic holograms take a big step forward with a new system that uses a single powerful ultrasound transducer onto which is placed a 3D printed block that has been precisely patterned to form an acoustic hologram; ultrasound passing through the block is forced into the desired custom waveform, to levitate objects for example http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/computing/hardware/3d-printed-plastic-blocks-generate-complex-acoustic-holograms. Such a device produces an acoustic hologram with a resolution 100 times greater than previously possible with separate transducer systems. While working in air or water it can’t produce a dynamically changing waveform to move objects, although movement along fixed paths is possible. One possible way around this is to encode multiple sound fields at different frequencies to add some dynamic options.

5. Delivery, Security, Navy, Surveillance Drones
First, a cool new long range delivery drone combines a biplane design with VTOL and fixed-wing capabilities to get the best of both worlds http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/drones/tu-delft-tailsitter. Second, Aptonomy is launching a large security drone to monitor protected areas and intercept tresspassers https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602412/drone-security-guard-scolds-intruders-from-the-sky/. Third, the Navy’s Blackwing drone platform is designed to be launched by submarine to provide wide-area surveillance and control of other drone and communications assets https://www.avinc.com/resources/view/press-releases/united-states-navy-demonstrates-cross-domain-communications-command-and-con. Finally, DARPA’s Aerial Dragnet system is being designed to provide persistent wide-area surveillance of areas such as cities via networked drone swarms http://www.kurzweilai.net/darpas-plan-for-total-surveillance-of-low-flying-drones-over-cities.

6. Detecting Emotions with Wireless Signals
EQ-Radio is a system that uses wireless signals and reflections to measure subtle changes in a person’s breathing and heart rhythms in order to determine their emotional state http://news.mit.edu/2016/detecting-emotions-with-wireless-signals-0920. In recent tests the system was able to correctly predict whether the person was excited, happy, angry, or sad 87% of the time. Capturing human emotional states in such a way, particularly when not visibly obvious, would have uses in a wide range of different areas including security monitoring crowded events, entertainment, health care, consumer preferences, etc. The system measures heartbeats as accurately as an ECG monitor with an error margin of 0.3%.

7. Atomically Precise Molecular Chains
The size of alternative atomically precise materials that can be synthesised keeps getting larger with this recent creation of atomically precise gold nanoparticles enshrouded with a functional molecular shell and linked via a precise molecular bridge https://www.jyu.fi/en/news/archive/2016/09/tiedote-2016-09-22-15-15-43-527149. Progressively building up such units would allow the creation of ever-larger precise crystalline materials with novel electrochemical properties given that the electron clouds of the metal cores become coupled. There are also efforts to build more sophisticated catalysts by precisely combining palladium with ruthenium in different mixed or shelled structures http://phys.org/news/2016-09-combining-elements-palladium-ruthenium-industry.html.

8. Gene Therapy Stops Cancer Metastasis
A gene therapy technique involving the delivery of microRNAs of a specific sequence into cancer cells is successful in preventing those cancer cells from undergoing metastatic spread through the body http://news.mit.edu/2016/gene-therapy-technique-prevent-cancer-metastasis-0919. These microRNAs specifically regulate and block the expression of the Palladin protein that helps drive metastasis, and was delivered in this case from microRNAs embedded in nanoparticles that were loaded into a hydrogel scaffold that was subsequently implanted into the mice. Such a tool is a viable approach to cancer treatment in combination with other cancer-killing approaches. In related gene editing news, Synthego launches a CRISPR kit for labs and DIYers to make CRISPR editing easier http://synbiobeta.com/news/synthego-announces-first-kind-crispr-kit/.

9. Wireless MEMS
A microelectromechanical device has been built that can be turned on and off with a nanowatt of power from three feet away, with the concept being to use the nanoresonator itself as the antenna for the device http://www.bu.edu/research/articles/wireless-microelectromechanical-systems/. The device achieved an efficiency of 15% and the group believes it might find application in optogenetics to provide a route for wireless power and communications to devices implanted in and interfaced to the brain. But such wireless MEMS could be used everywhere: for example a modified router might monitor wireless MEMS sensors placed on movable objects all over the house.

10. A Sewing Robot
Sewbo has launched a robot to automate garment sewing, such as the sewing that typically takes place en masse in sweatshops https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602423/a-robot-that-sews-could-take-the-sweat-out-of-sweatshops/. It doesn’t have the versatile flexibility of human sewing of course, and the key innovation is a method to temporarily hold the garment fabric in solid sheet form (it uses off-the-shelf sewing machines and robotic arms) that can be more easily picked up and guided by automated systems, but which when plunged into warm water removes the polymer to return it back to the soft flexible garment for sale and use. This gets us towards fully automated garment production.

SciTech Tip Jar: http://www.scitechdigest.net/p/donate.html
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2016-09-19 15:09:54 (7 comments; 3 reshares; 19 +1s; )Open 

Godzilla’s Presuasion

In this little video famed psychologist Robert Cialdini presents the basics of presuasion, a bunch of methods used to prime people to receive your message more favourably and so increase your probability to successfully persuade them towards some desirable outcome. I’ve been waiting for Cialdini’s Pre-Suasion book to launch for a while now and it “happens” to have coincided with the release of this video by BigThink; I’ve just gone and grabbed the ebook version.

Cialdini’s Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion is probably one of the best human psychology books that I’ve ever read and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t heard of it or read it before. It seems that Pre-Suasion will be a good follow-up or companion book with useful tips and lessons for many if not all areas of life.

Remember: these types ofpsychological metho... more »

Godzilla’s Presuasion

In this little video famed psychologist Robert Cialdini presents the basics of presuasion, a bunch of methods used to prime people to receive your message more favourably and so increase your probability to successfully persuade them towards some desirable outcome. I’ve been waiting for Cialdini’s Pre-Suasion book to launch for a while now and it “happens” to have coincided with the release of this video by BigThink; I’ve just gone and grabbed the ebook version.

Cialdini’s Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion is probably one of the best human psychology books that I’ve ever read and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t heard of it or read it before. It seems that Pre-Suasion will be a good follow-up or companion book with useful tips and lessons for many if not all areas of life.

Remember: these types of psychological methods are not aimed solely at helping you influence others, but just as important to help you be aware of and recognise when these methods are being used on you.

Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) refers to Cialdini as Godzilla, as in “the Godzilla of manipulation, influence, and persuasion” and suspected secret strategist to Clinton. Apparently Cialdini was an advisor and strategist for the Sanders campaign and shortly after Bernie pulled out of the race Clinton’s campaign started using very similar tactics, somewhat different to what they had deployed previously.

BigThink is a pretty cool YouTube channel with quite a bit of regular content and interesting interviews with different people. Worth checking out if you haven’t already. ___

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2016-09-19 14:48:39 (12 comments; 12 reshares; 46 +1s; )Open 

Ethereum's Swarm Starts to Mature
Towards Web 3.0?

Ethereum’s blockchain contender for the distributed web, called Swarm, is starting to mature and its transformative capacity is becoming clearer - as covered by this recent Coindesk piece http://www.coindesk.com/ethereums-holy-trinity-takes-shape-swarm-testnet-arrives/

I first covered Swarm in May this year https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/aJJ9QzRuuLV, outlining the benefits of using the Etherum blockchain for domain name resolution and coordinating the other necessary storage and communications infrastructure needed for running a distributed web.

The Swarm testnet is now live and if successful will provide a platform for decentralised uncensorable hosting of photo albums, file managers, web sites, blogs, social media networks, and just about anything for which you rely on the web’s currentcen... more »

Ethereum's Swarm Starts to Mature
Towards Web 3.0?

Ethereum’s blockchain contender for the distributed web, called Swarm, is starting to mature and its transformative capacity is becoming clearer - as covered by this recent Coindesk piece http://www.coindesk.com/ethereums-holy-trinity-takes-shape-swarm-testnet-arrives/

I first covered Swarm in May this year https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/aJJ9QzRuuLV, outlining the benefits of using the Etherum blockchain for domain name resolution and coordinating the other necessary storage and communications infrastructure needed for running a distributed web.

The Swarm testnet is now live and if successful will provide a platform for decentralised uncensorable hosting of photo albums, file managers, web sites, blogs, social media networks, and just about anything for which you rely on the web’s current centralised server model. This is one of the reasons I continue to think Ethereum remains an interesting investment to consider.

Ethereum and ETH provide the computational tools, Swarm and the Whisper protocol provide basic web infrastructure, while new tools Swear and Swindle are smart contracts that aim to ensure stored data remains available to users. In this arrangement you don’t store data on the blockchain - instead Swarm embeds references to that data on the blockchain as a storage layer or pointer to where that data resides.
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2016-09-19 14:26:11 (9 comments; 33 reshares; 89 +1s; )Open 

The Neural Network Zoo

This is nice summary article covering the many different neural network architectures that have been developed and deployed in deep learning applications. The taxonomy provides a colour-coded key to make it easy to see how different functions and operations are used in different ways across different network architectures and so showing at a glance how these different networks relate to one another. The article provides a brief description of the function and training of each type for ease of classification and reference.

Article: http://www.asimovinstitute.org/neural-network-zoo/

We can expect this taxonomy of different neural network architectures to grow over time too: as our knowledge of the brain and understanding of its different neural networks continues to become more sophisticated we’ll undoubtedly discover new network architecturesa... more »

The Neural Network Zoo

This is nice summary article covering the many different neural network architectures that have been developed and deployed in deep learning applications. The taxonomy provides a colour-coded key to make it easy to see how different functions and operations are used in different ways across different network architectures and so showing at a glance how these different networks relate to one another. The article provides a brief description of the function and training of each type for ease of classification and reference.

Article: http://www.asimovinstitute.org/neural-network-zoo/

We can expect this taxonomy of different neural network architectures to grow over time too: as our knowledge of the brain and understanding of its different neural networks continues to become more sophisticated we’ll undoubtedly discover new network architectures as well as refinements that will be useful to replicate in artificial neural networks and deep learning applications.

Via +Cristian Lorenzutti___

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2016-09-18 10:29:50 (11 comments; 20 reshares; 77 +1s; )Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 38/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/09/beating-neurological-damage-3d.html

Beating neurological damage, Delivering bacteria, 3D electodeposition, Multicore computing accelerations, Fruit fly connectome, Characterising cell senescence, Novel semiconductor nanostructures, Nanoscale motion amplification, Machine learning tricks, Bonding etched metals.

1. Compensating for Neurological Damage
A new brain computer interface allows patients to control the movement of a cursor over a keyboard with just their thoughts, and by so doing type 12 words per minute http://news.stanford.edu/2016/09/12/typing-brain-sensing-technology/. The tests were carried out in monkeys but should translate well to people, and achieved a significant improvement in the rate of word transcription over previous systems to be... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 38/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/09/beating-neurological-damage-3d.html

Beating neurological damage, Delivering bacteria, 3D electodeposition, Multicore computing accelerations, Fruit fly connectome, Characterising cell senescence, Novel semiconductor nanostructures, Nanoscale motion amplification, Machine learning tricks, Bonding etched metals.

1. Compensating for Neurological Damage
A new brain computer interface allows patients to control the movement of a cursor over a keyboard with just their thoughts, and by so doing type 12 words per minute http://news.stanford.edu/2016/09/12/typing-brain-sensing-technology/. The tests were carried out in monkeys but should translate well to people, and achieved a significant improvement in the rate of word transcription over previous systems to be conversationally useful. In other news recent quadriplegics might have significant limb movement restored by having 10 million (particular type of) stem cells injected into the site of spinal injury https://news.usc.edu/107047/experimental-stem-cell-therapy-helps-paralyzed-man-regains-use-of-arms-and-hands/, to the extent that three months later patients can feed themselves and operate their phone.

2. Controlled Bacterial Delivery to Intestines
A delivery method comprising alternately coating bacteria in layers of long chain polysaccharides chitosan and alginate, ensures their protection against stomach acids and into the intestine where these mucoadhesive sugars help adhere to the intestinal lining http://news.mit.edu/2016/delivering-beneficial-bacteria-stomach-gi-tract-0914. Coated bacteria had a survival rate six times higher than uncoated bacteria. Such improved oral probiotic delivery to the intestines could be widely beneficial considering the number diseases and treatments probiotic and even therapeutic bacteria are being proposed for.

3. Electrodeposition vs 3D Printing
The custom mass-produced devices create by Microfabrica’s electrodeposition technique are very impressive http://michaelbelfiore.com/2016/09/14/microfabricas-tiny-revolution/. Microfabrica’s process represents a synthesis of 3D printing capabilities with semiconductor electrodeposition fabrication techniques, and this enables a much greater level of device and scale precision - check out the comparison images with conventional metal sintering for example. The company is already commercially operational and sells devices for $1 - $100 depending on size and complexity.

4. Language & Hardware for Accelerated Computing
Milk is the name of a newly developed programming language that manages memory much more efficiently in programs that deal with scattered data across large data sets, so much so that it enables a four-fold speed-up in big data applications http://news.mit.edu/2016/faster-parallel-computing-big-data-0913. The Queue Management Device designed by Intel reduces certain optimisation software to a chip-based hardware design that at minimum results in core-to-core communication speed multi-core chips to be doubled http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/semiconductors/processors/new-circuits-break-bottleneck-in-microprocessors.

5. Fruit Fly Connectome
The first complete 3D map of a fruit fly brain connectome has been assembled https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602398/first-3-d-map-of-a-fruit-flys-brain-network/. This approach used x-ray tomography and worked by soaking the brain in a silver dye, then bombarding it with x-rays, measuring the x-ray scattering, and running the data through a computational model to generate a 3D map of neurons and their connections. This model has a resolution of 600nm and shows 100,000 neurons and is the first ever reproduction of a fly brain hemisphere mapped with 3D coordinates. It took 1,700 man hours to assemble so will need further automation if the technique is to tackle larger brains.

6. Characterising Genetic Causes of Cell Senescence
Recent work looked at dosing varying levels of a certain anti-cancer drug against cancer cells in order to induce varying cellular responses from senescence to apoptosis; in doing so identified 25 specific genes responsible for the senescent cell response as opposed to apoptosis or other responses https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/09/working-to-characterize-the-epigenetics-of-cellular-senescence/. Identifying these 25 genes provides 25 possible targets that can be investigated for targeting specific senescent cell clearance therapies - which some companies are already working on - in order to help rejuvenate aging tissues and reduce the age-related load of senescent cells.

7. Novel Semiconductor Nanostructures
An inorganic semiconducting material with a double helix nanostructure has been discovered http://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/short/article/33350/, comprising non-toxic tin, iodine, and phosphorus, has been formed into centimerter-long fibers and possess exceptional flexibility while remaining stable at up to 500C. In related news quantum dot silicon nanoparticles can replace alternative semiconductor materials in a range of useful applications in displays and optoelectronics http://phys.org/news/2016-09-silicon-nanoparticles-expensive-semiconductors.html.

8. Nanoscale Motion Amplified to Microscale
A microelectromechanical system developed by NIST is able to measure the transfer of motion at nanometer scales https://www.nist.gov/video/measuring-nanoscale-motion-transfer-through-microscale-machine. As long as the electrical input driving the system was free of noise then the device performed reliably and repeatedly, and offer a platform that the team hopes to extend to far more complex systems with many moving parts. Advances like this have application in fabricating and operating various micro- and nanoelectromechanical systems used in sensors, switches, and automatic robotic systems.

9. Latest Machine Learning Tricks
Machine learning algorithms for driving autonomous vehicles are being accelerated and rapidly tested in consumer video games such as Grand Theft Auto, taking advantage of realistic environments, and enabled by a new way for extracting useful training data from the game environment for automatic object classification https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602317/self-driving-cars-can-learn-a-lot-by-playing-grand-theft-auto/. Machine learning algorithms are now generating short videos from static photos, aiming to predict what happens next in the scene captured in the image http://www.theverge.com/2016/9/12/12886698/machine-learning-video-image-prediction-mit, take a look for some “interesting” results.

10. Bonding Metals with Any Other Surface
A new electrochemical etching process produces metal surfaces with roughened micrometer scale features that allow metals to be joined with nearly all other materials, become water repellent, and exhibit improved biocompatibility http://www.uni-kiel.de/pressemeldungen/index.php?pmid=2016-285-nanosculpturing&lang=en. The etching process affects only the top 10 - 20 micrometers of the surface, removing those metal grains that are less chemically stable, creating a complex three dimensional surface that can be strongly bonded with polymer adhesives to connect other similarly-etched metal surfaces; in tests the metal or polymer would break before the interface. In thinking about the laminated wood being considered to build wooden skyscrapers because of its strength http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-05-16/the-race-for-the-wood-skyscraper-starts-here, I’m wondering about laminated interleaved metals and what you might build with them?

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

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2016-09-11 04:43:00 (19 comments; 22 reshares; 79 +1s; )Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 37/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/09/optical-soliton-waves-microbiome-tissue.html

Sand into soil, Optical soliton waves, Microbiome tissue repair, Stem cell gun, RNA genome regulators, Prion structures, Deep learning speech, Thermal solid superatoms, Sophisticated drones, Synthetic wine.

1. Turning Sand into Soil
A formulation of plant cellulose added to sand helps the mixture retain water, nutrients, and air, with sandy hectares of land in Mongolia treated with the mixture proving successful in trials by growing rice, corn, tomatos, watermelon, and sunflowers http://english.cas.cn/newsroom/china_research/201609/t20160905_167428.shtml. This would be interesting not just for turning deserts into productive agricultural land, but also facilitating the recovery of native vegetation and forests... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 37/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/09/optical-soliton-waves-microbiome-tissue.html

Sand into soil, Optical soliton waves, Microbiome tissue repair, Stem cell gun, RNA genome regulators, Prion structures, Deep learning speech, Thermal solid superatoms, Sophisticated drones, Synthetic wine.

1. Turning Sand into Soil
A formulation of plant cellulose added to sand helps the mixture retain water, nutrients, and air, with sandy hectares of land in Mongolia treated with the mixture proving successful in trials by growing rice, corn, tomatos, watermelon, and sunflowers http://english.cas.cn/newsroom/china_research/201609/t20160905_167428.shtml. This would be interesting not just for turning deserts into productive agricultural land, but also facilitating the recovery of native vegetation and forests onto desertified land, rejuvenating tired soils and even, at a futuristic stretch, helping to terraform the surfaces of other planets.

2. Optical Soliton Waves
A new optical phenomenon has been observed for the first time in the form of a new type of soliton wave https://www.caltech.edu/news/new-breed-optical-soliton-wave-discovered-52001. I’ve always found solitons fascinating; localised waves that act as particles, holding their shape as they travel instead of dispersing like standard waves. This new phenomena involves soliton waves riding the wake and path of another soliton wave, and the group can design microcavities to guarantee the properties of the solitons that will be produced; applications include optical clocks, navigation and radar systems, magnets, neurobiology, and fiber optic signalling generally.

3. Microbiome Impacts Tissue Repair and Regeneration
Recent work on very simple animal model organisms suggests a link between an organism’s microbiome and its immune system and ability to repair and regenerate its tissues http://www.stowers.org/media/news/aug-29-2016. Different microbial populations in the organism can significantly inhibit or enhance the processes of tissue repair and regeneration, and the immune system plays a key role in this, for example sometimes blocking regeneration if an infection is present. While yet to find similar definitive links in humans potential applications include: new drug candidates for boosting repair and regeneration and avenues to explore the creation of healthier and more beneficial microbiome populations.

4. Gun that Shoots Stem Cells
A SkinGun device developed by RenovaCare uses the company’s CellMist system to spray a patient’s own stem cells onto skin wounds in order to rapidly speed up repair and regeneration of skin in days instead of weeks http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2016/09/stem-cells-delivered-via-skin-gun-can.html. While it won’t work for third-degree burns and very deep wounds, it is effective against second-degree burns and other infected wounds. I also wonder if such an approach might facilitate a type of skin rejuvenation treatment in future, as well as modified versions able to repair the surfaces of internal structures such as lungs, stomach, intestine, etc.

5. New Genome Regulation from “Junk DNA”
A new type of RNA called long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) that is transcribed from what was thought to be “junk” DNA and which does not produce proteins, has been found to play crucial roles in cellular processes and genomic regulation and gene expression http://news.mit.edu/2016/linking-rna-structure-and-function-cell-fate-0908. In this work the structure of just one type of lncRNA was deciphered, which showed how this RNA structure is crucial to interacting with a specific protein to control the development of heart muscle cells. The work was done in mice, and while human and mouse proteins are usually similar lncRNA sequences are not conserved and the human counterpart in this case has not yet been found. The group hope to build a library of lncRNA structural motifs to push the field forward and help identify targets for disease.

6. Deciphering Prion Structure and Replication
In related structural biology work we have recent advances in understanding prion structure, formation, and replication, and how this new evidence refutes conventional theories of this process http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-09/p-nds090116.php. In the case of normal protein PrPC that can turn into misfolded infectious prion PrPSc and recruit normal versions to replicate itself, it was shown how these molecules self assemble two intertwined protofilaments that create the fibrils that are typically observed. At a basic level these misfolded proteins comprise repetitive elements of beta-sheet structures - four-rung beta-solenoids - that act as templates for new, unfolded proteins build on. It is hoped this understanding will help quickly understand other prion diseases and the development of therapeutics.

7. Deep Learning for Speech Production
Google’s DeepMind has demonstrated WaveNet, a deep learning system for generating speech that mimics any human voice while sounding more natural than any current speech-to-text system and reducing the gap between human performance by over 50% https://deepmind.com/blog/wavenet-generative-model-raw-audio/. The system can also synthesise music and automatically generate sample piano pieces. All of the examples are well worth a listen, including when the system makes up words and changes the identity for the same text. In related news physicists are exploring why deep neural networks are so effective at solving complex problems and how this is linked to fundamental physics https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602344/the-extraordinary-link-between-deep-neural-networks-and-the-nature-of-the-universe/.

8. Superatoms: Thermal Solids & Precise Clusters
Crystals comprised of superatoms of buckyballs and similar-sized inorganic molecular clusters exhibit variable, controllable thermal conductivity depending on whether the buckyballs are fixed and ordered (high conductivity) or rotationally disordered (low conductivity) http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-09/coec-rds090616.php. Adding magnetic properties to the superatoms might allow thermally switchable materials for example, and a range of complex yet tunable atomically precise structures. In related atomically precise materials news, the largest ever atomically precise silver nanoclusters have been synthesised and characterised, containing precisely 374 atoms in a 3nm core surrounded by a layer of silver atoms bound to thiol molecules http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-09/aof-rsa090916.php.

9. Interesting Drone Capabilities
First, effective designs for low-power autonomous robotic sailboats are now scouring the oceans collecting data and accessible remotely http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/05/technology/no-sailors-needed-robot-sailboats-scour-the-oceans-for-data.html?_r=0. Second, software is getting far more sophisticated at allowing swarms of robotic drones to coordinate and adaptively avoid collisions http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-software/swarms-of-robots-manage-to-not-run-into-each-other. Third, tree-planting drones are being used to speed up reforestation efforts http://newatlas.com/tree-planting-drones-droneseed/45259/. Finally, drones are being fitted with anti-laser lasers to avoid being shot down https://www.newscientist.com/article/2105362-drones-get-first-anti-laser-lasers-to-stop-being-shot-down/.

10. Synthesising Artificial Wine
Ava Winery is a company that appears to be getting very close to creating convincing synthetic artificial wine that can fool any human taster http://www.businessinsider.co.id/ava-winery-says-its-nearly-perfected-wine-in-a-lab-2016-9/. Wine is about 85% water and 13% alcohol plus a range of hundreds of other molecules that provide flavour, aroma, colour and other properties. Earlier this year 80% of people could differentiate between a control glass of wine and a glass of the artificial wine; as of today only 10% of people can and this is set to get smaller. There are many benefits here, aside from using 50x - 100x less water to produce the wine, the possibility of powdered wine mixed with water/ethanol solution, and generally disrupting the wine industry and others.

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2016-09-04 07:44:43 (8 comments; 30 reshares; 76 +1s; )Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 36/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/09/nanowires-in-mouse-brain-neuronal-pixel.html

Nanowires in mouse brain, Neuronal pixel interface, Custom molecular cages, Giant macrodimer molecules, Boosting neurogenesis, Antibody clears amyloid, Carbon nanotube transistors, Universal cancer investigation, Atomic deposition techniques, Centimeter accurate GPS.

1. Mouse Brains Monitored with Injectable Nanowires
Very thin flexible silicon wires coated in polymer form a mesh of simple field effect transistors that can curl up, drawn into a syringe, and injected into mouse brains where they can record electrical activity from individual neurons http://spectrum.ieee.org/the-human-os/biomedical/devices/injectable-nanowires-monitor-mouse-brains-for-months. The mesh functioned well throughout the entire 8... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 36/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/09/nanowires-in-mouse-brain-neuronal-pixel.html

Nanowires in mouse brain, Neuronal pixel interface, Custom molecular cages, Giant macrodimer molecules, Boosting neurogenesis, Antibody clears amyloid, Carbon nanotube transistors, Universal cancer investigation, Atomic deposition techniques, Centimeter accurate GPS.

1. Mouse Brains Monitored with Injectable Nanowires
Very thin flexible silicon wires coated in polymer form a mesh of simple field effect transistors that can curl up, drawn into a syringe, and injected into mouse brains where they can record electrical activity from individual neurons http://spectrum.ieee.org/the-human-os/biomedical/devices/injectable-nanowires-monitor-mouse-brains-for-months. The mesh functioned well throughout the entire 8 months of the experiment by avoiding the immune response and scar tissue formation that plague other systems. They were able to record and measure changes in the mouse brain and even tracked individual neurons for long periods of time. Some of the electrodes could provide stimulation to neurons and this opens up avenues for very interesting digital interfaces.

2. Neural Pixel Interacts with Tiny Brain Regions
A tiny 20x20 micrometer device called a neural pixel consists of a sensor that detects neuronal signals and an ion pump that doses a tiny amount of the neurotransmitter GABA http://liu.se/forskning/forskningsnyheter/1.691931?l=en. In this case the device detects neural cascades associated with epilepsy and doses GABA to inhibit and stop that activity from spreading - admittedly only in slices of brain at the moment. The possibility of including other drugs and neurotransmitters and placement in different brain regions makes this a genuinely interesting platform. It’d be interesting to combine this with #1 above. It’d be even more interesting to integrate a third, regenerative device that takes in nutrients from the surrounding tissue to produce GABA (in this case) to replenish the tiny reservoirs so it can operate indefinitely.

3. Custom Molecular Cages
First, custom proteins are being developed that function as microcompartments for custom catalytic applications, and in this case internally incorporated catalytic iridium and palladium complexes that catalysed hydrogenation and cross-linking reactions http://www.titech.ac.jp/english/news/2016/035895.html. Second, a method has been developed for synthesising (via self assembly) custom covalent organic nanotubes out of simple organic monomers that are stabilised by light-induced cross-linking http://www.itbm.nagoya-u.ac.jp/en/research/2016/08/Itami-Ito-ONT.php. Both interesting platforms with a wide range of potential applications depending on the needs and materials used.

4. Giant Macrodimer Molecules
Diatomic molecules, or two-atom dimers, have been created from cesium atoms that are space one micrometer apart from one another http://physics.aps.org/articles/v9/99. This comprises experimental confirmation of a decade-old theoretical prediction, although the dimers only exist for tens of microseconds. Depending on the state of the atoms and the distance between them the force they experience can be attractive or repulsive. This was all done by firing lasers at an ultracold gas of the atoms, with the lasers putting the atoms into the correct state, and so forcing the dimers to form to reduce their total energy.

5. Boosting Neurogenesis in Old Brains
A couple of new molecular techniques have been discovered for temporarily and intermittently boosting neurogenesis (creating new neurons) in older brains https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/09/a-method-of-intermittently-increasing-neurogenesis-in-the-aging-mouse-brain-is-shown-to-improve-memory-function/. In this work the expression of certain proteins important to dendritic spine maintenance were altered, removing a portion of spines of old neurons, and resulting in neural stem cells being activated and doubling the number of new neurons that integrated into the region, and when turned off the old spines grew back. Mice in these experiments exhibited improved memory function.

6. Antibody Clears Amyloid from Human Brains
The results of a human clinical trial involving 165 people have demonstrated that an antibody effectively binds to amyloid plaques in human brains, mobilises microglial immune cells to remove and destroy the plaques, and almost completely clears the brain of plaques within a year https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/08/an-immunotherapy-clears-amyloid-from-the-brains-of-alzheimers-patients/. The cognitive decline suffered by the Alzheimer’s patients slowed significantly. More patients and continuing, longer trials should soon answer the question of the cause-or-symptom nature of amyloid in Alzheimer’s disease, although this work is promising. Similar techniques may quickly be adopted from this promising approach to create treatments for clearing tau protein and other protein clumps that contribute to disease and decline.

7. Carbon Nanotube Transistors Surpass Silicon
New carbon nanotube transistors can carry nearly double the current of silicon transistors http://news.wisc.edu/for-first-time-carbon-nanotube-transistors-outperform-silicon/. This work involved depositing aligned arrays of carbon nanotubes on a 1-inch square wafer in order to form transistors coating the entire surface in less than five minutes. One of the key advances was new abilities to remove the vast majority of carbon nanotubes in order to achieve 99.99% semiconducting carbon nanotubes. There are more and more advances like this and it seems as though carbon nanotube transistors are starting to mature. Meanwhile Fujitsu looks set to launch carbon nanotube RAM chips by the end of 2018 http://nantero.com/fujitsu-semiconductor-and-mie-fujitsu-semiconductor-license-nanteros-nram-and-have-begun-developing-breakthrough-memory-products-for-multiple-markets/.

8. Telomerase and ALT Universal Cancer Investigation
Recent work is helping to determine how cancer cells switch from an activated telomerase mechanism of increasing or maintaining telomeres to the Alternative Lengthening of Telomeres (ALT) mechanism that 10% - 15% of cancers are driven by https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/09/an-investigation-of-how-telomerase-cancers-can-switch-to-become-alt-cancers/. Successfully targeting and treating both telomerase and ALT -based mechanisms provides the promise of being universally applicable to treating any and all cancers due to this fundamental mechanism being crucial to cancers growing beyond a small mass of cells and metastasising. Unlike telomerase in stem cells, ALT is not used by any normal adult cell and so can be deactivated systemically with little effect.

9. Room Temperature Atomic Deposition
DARPA has developed the electron-enhanced atomic layer deposition technique that enables the room-temperature synthesis of ultra-thin-film microelectronics materials http://www.darpa.mil/news-events/2016-08-31. Previous techniques have demanded temperatures over 800 degrees celsius to produce these types of films, but superior capabilities at room temperature now allow previously infeasible device and material compositions to be designed and created, and the ability to selectively etch different materials in composites provides an alternative to typical masking techniques.

10. GPS Accurate to the Centimeter
A new software-based system running on a Raspberry Pi and totalling $35 worth of hardware provides cars with centimeter GPS accuracy http://spectrum.ieee.org/cars-that-think/transportation/sensors/centimeterlevel-gps-positioning-for-cars. The system does demand a network of ground-based network stations positioned no more than 20km apart (closer for built up areas) to help improve the accuracy and timing of GPS, but the utility of such accuracy to autonomous cars, trucks, drones, and other devices is obvious. The system has been successfully tested on smartphones but is unlikely to be rolled out to new smartphone devices in the foreseeable future due to added extra costs of antennas and power.

Also: SciTech Digest was mentioned in a new Podcast last week by Spark Vizla https://twitter.com/SparkVizla/status/770349284650733569

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2016-08-28 05:15:08 (7 comments; 21 reshares; 99 +1s; )Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 35/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/08/dopamine-gene-therapy-remyelination.html

Dopamine gene therapy, Remyelination cell therapy, Algebraic brain topology, Ginko custom microbes, Ultrasound protein imaging, MegaMIMO bandwidth boost, Thought activated DNA-bots, Light controlled CRISPR, Whole transparent organisms, Massively multicore chips.

1. Gene Therapy for Dopamine Production
A new treatment for Parkinson’s Disease is currently entering human clinical trials that involves genetically engineering the neurons of patients by administering large amounts of viruses that carry genes to better enable the brain to produce and manage dopamine https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602193/manufacturing-dopamine-in-the-brain-with-gene-therapy/. Early results with initial patients show promise, noto... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 35/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/08/dopamine-gene-therapy-remyelination.html

Dopamine gene therapy, Remyelination cell therapy, Algebraic brain topology, Ginko custom microbes, Ultrasound protein imaging, MegaMIMO bandwidth boost, Thought activated DNA-bots, Light controlled CRISPR, Whole transparent organisms, Massively multicore chips.

1. Gene Therapy for Dopamine Production
A new treatment for Parkinson’s Disease is currently entering human clinical trials that involves genetically engineering the neurons of patients by administering large amounts of viruses that carry genes to better enable the brain to produce and manage dopamine https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602193/manufacturing-dopamine-in-the-brain-with-gene-therapy/. Early results with initial patients show promise, not only for restoring cognitive function, but also for circumventing the main drawback to conventional L-Dopa and dopamine treatments which is the development of resistance and the need for ever greater amounts of drug that has less effect. There are currently 48 human clinical trials underway for brain and CNS gene therapies and cell treatments.

2. Cell Therapy Boosts Remyelination in Brain
A cell therapy product incorporating macrophages and microglia is showing promise in animal studies for remyelinating neurons in the brain and actively reversing the demyelination associated with many diseases including Multiple Sclerosis https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/08/development-of-a-cell-therapy-to-increase-remyelination-in-the-brain/. Such a treatment might not only be used in treating various neurological diseases but administered on a routine basis to restore myelin levels to youthful states as desired.

3. Understanding the Brain with Algebraic Topology
Mathematical tools from the field of algebraic topology are being used to better characterise and understand the structure and function of the brain and its connectome https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602234/how-the-mathematics-of-algebraic-topology-is-revolutionizing-brain-science/. These new tools provide a different way of classifying nodes and loops, and for identifying these features at small and large scales. It should only be a matter of time before these additional tools and insights are incorporated into artificial machine learning systems.

4. Ginkgo Bioworks’ Custom Engineered Microbes
Synthetic biology company Ginkgo Bioworks continues to grow and develop custom genetically engineered yeasts that metabolise standard feedstocks under standard fermentation conditions to produce a range of different fragrances, flavours, cosmetics, and pesticides http://news.mit.edu/2016/startup-ginkgo-bioworks-engineered-yeast-0825. The company has scaled up, building a large automated foundry dedicated to rapid prototyping and rapidly generating custom yeasts to design specifications. These industrial synthetic biology facilities are starting to proliferate and at some point we can expect their capabilities to distributed to end users.

5. Engineered Proteins for Ultrasound Imaging
Newly engineered protein-shelled nanostructures known as gas vesicles, which reflect sound waves, can now give off far more distinct signals, target specific types of cells, and be used to generate “colour” ultrasound images https://www.caltech.edu/news/designing-ultrasound-tools-lego-proteins-51834. Swapping and modifying different proteins on the surface of the vesicles alters cell targeting, molecule targeting, and sensitivity to different ultrasound frequencies. Such devices can be injected wholesale into an animal for medical imaging purposes, or a gene therapy could deliver the code to cells needed to produce the vesicles from scratch. Applications include e.g. using ultrasound to produce overlapping images showing tumour cells, the immune cells attacking them, and the vascular cells supplying nutrients. I also wonder if these vesicles might be co-opted to facilitate respirocytes.

6. MegaMIMO Boosts Network Bandwidth
The MegaMIMO wireless data system has recently demonstrated three times faster bandwidth and twice the wireless range of conventional Multiple-Input Multiple-Output systems http://news.mit.edu/2016/solving-network-congestion-megamimo-0823. The system manages to synchronise transmitter phases to coordinate multiple access points at the same time on the same frequency without creating interference and in order to maximise the efficient utilisation of the available spectrum. Such a system should provide needed boosts to both cellular and WiFi communications.

7. DNA Robots Activated by Thoughts
This is an interesting if somewhat convoluted proof of concept for triggering the activation of DNA nanobots in a living animal just by thinking http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2016/08/thought-controlled-nanoscale-dna-robots.html. In this system (i) an EEG headset records and recognises particular mind states, (ii) particular mind states influence the strength of an electromagnetic field, (iii) the strength of the electromagnetic field heats up metal nanoparticles injected into an animal (the subject themselves or another), and (iv) past a certain threshold the heated metal nanoparticles cause programmed DNA origami structures on their surface to reversibly activate. In this case they proved that the DNA nanobots were able to induce a cellular effect.

8. Modified CRISPR Controlled by Light
On the topic of controllable nanobots, the CRISPR system is being further engineered and modified to produce versions that can be controllably switched on and off in different ways http://news.mit.edu/2016/using-light-control-genome-editing-0825. Some approaches modify the Cas9 enzyme itself to achieve this, but the present work builds on earlier approaches that engineered light-activated RNA interference in order to produce modified RNA guide strands that are only activated in the presence of certain wavelengths of light. This allows precision experiments for controlling the precise timing of gene editing and other cellular signalling events. Next steps are exploring therapeutic applications and improving the design with a more universal system.

9. Making Whole Organisms Transparent for Imaging
Continual improvements and refinements in imaging and chemical techniques for making organs transparent have resulted in methods that can now make entire organisms transparent while labelling almost any desired internal structure for imaging and analysis http://www.en.uni-muenchen.de/news/press-services/press-releases/2016/ertuerk_imaging.html. In this work with the new uDISCO technique whole rats were rendered transparent and their nervous systems labelled with fluorescent tags in order to produce high resolution images and maps of entire neuronal networks with subcellular detail while still embedded in their original tissues.

10. Massively Multicore Chips
The KiloCore chip contains 1,000 independently programmable processors was fabricated by IBM https://www.ucdavis.edu/news/worlds-first-1000-processor-chip/. The chip can process 115 billion instructions per second while dissipating just 0.7 Watts and has a number of novel features for applications including encoding/decoding, video processing, encryption. In related news a 25 core chip called Piton that is designed to more efficiently power massive cloud computing architectures https://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S47/19/67G69. Piton is designed to be scalable and so chips with thousands of cores and data centres with half a billion cores are envisaged.

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