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Mark Bruce has been at 1 events

HostFollowersTitleDateGuestsLinks
NASA1,794,374The 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 02:00:002207 

Mark Bruce has been shared in 193 public circles

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

AuthorFollowersDateUsers in CircleCommentsReshares+1Links
Amaresh Singh11Circle Of the DayTo be considered for this circle, please:1- Share this circle in your stream.2- Ask to be included in the comments section of the original post.3- Make sure you've added our page to your circles.4- You must post your own original work in your stream.2014-11-21 09:58:32238546
Circles Circles Circles45,721SCIENCE CircleDo you want more science in your life? Then, be sure to add these fascinating pages and people who dwell on science daily and are actively engaging.  Enrich your stream.If you are a scientist or someone who primarily posts about science and would like to be included in this circle please make a request in the comments section below.If you have someone or an organization's G+ page to recommend please add their name in the comments section below.Note: To those included in the circle, you were added by the generous recommendation of others  -- their help is deeply appreciated. Your add back and re-share would be also deeply appreciated as it would help spread the word about science.Current Circles   Published Mondays ORIGINAL CONTENT CREATORS: http://goo.gl/pOzhN7Published Wednesdays:BLOGGERS & THEIR BLOGS: http://goo.gl/mlXh9WPublished Thursdays:WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS : http://goo.gl/DgeQIAMEN ARE FROM MARS : http://goo.gl/hhJPlSPublished Fridays:A CIRCLE TO PAY IT FORWARD:  http://goo.gl/Ik2RfOOthers CirclesCREATIVES: http://goo.gl/Ahy2X9SCIENCE: http://goo.gl/pzaC4yTECHNOLOGY: http://goo.gl/a1jWG6G+ Pages: http://goo.gl/9v2o43        #sciencecircle   #circleshare   #sharingcircles  2014-11-19 18:04:35106205
Atanas Georgiev Atanasov1,950SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY + FRIENDS : CIRCLE V.8; maintained by +Atanas Georgiev Atanasov  ; You can learn more about my personal scientific research at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25083916   To be added to the circle, please +1/reshare/comment/add me to your circles. I would be happy to connect on other networks too:http://about.me/Atanas_At   Below I am just pasting some keyords/topics to improve the visibility of the circle and to make it more discoverable: #Science   #Research   #Technology   #NASA    #Space   #Innovation   #Engineering   #NIAC   #nutrition   #Entrepreneur   #Commercial #ScienceSunday   #Sundayscience   #Science   #Research   #Tech #GameTech   #GameTechnology   #Gaming   #VideoGaming   #Microsoft #MicrosoftResearch    #innovation   #Inflammation   #Brain #mindcontrol   #photography   #tech   #socialmedia   #googleplus #naturalproduct   2014-11-17 05:24:223625111
Atanas Georgiev Atanasov1,633SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY + FRIENDS : CIRCLE V.7; maintained by +AtanasGeorgievAtanasov ; You can learn more about my personal scientific research at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25083916   To be added to the circle, please +1/reshare/comment/add me to your circles. I would be happy to connect on other networks too:http://about.me/Atanas_At   Below I am just pasting some keyords/topics to improve the visibility of the circle and to make it more discoverable: #Science   #Research   #Technology   #NASA    #Space   #Innovation   #Engineering   #NIAC   #nutrition   #Entrepreneur   #Commercial #ScienceSunday  #Sundayscience   #Science   #Research   #Tech #GameTech  #GameTechnology   #Gaming   #VideoGaming   #Microsoft #MicrosoftResearch   #innovation   #Inflammation   #Brain #mindcontrol  #photography   #tech   #socialmedia   #googleplus #naturalproduct  #artists   #foodies   #cars2014-11-13 05:47:40346101
Atanas Georgiev Atanasov1,490SCIENCE and TECHNOLOGY + FRIENDS of it : CIRCLE V.6; maintained by +AtanasGeorgievAtanasov ; You can learn more about my personal scientific research here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25083916   To be added to the circle, please +1/reshare/comment/add me to your circles. I would be happy to connect on other networks too:http://about.me/Atanas_At   Below I am just pasting some keyords/topics to improve the visibility of the circle and to make it more discoverable: #Science   #Research   #Technology   #NASA    #Space   #Innovation   #Engineering   #NIAC   #nutrition   #Entrepreneur   #Commercial #ScienceSunday  #Sundayscience   #Science   #Research   #Tech #GameTech  #GameTechnology   #Gaming   #VideoGaming   #Microsoft #MicrosoftResearch   #innovation   #Inflammation   #Brain #mindcontrol  #photography   #tech   #socialmedia   #googleplus #naturalproduct  #artists   #foodies   2014-11-10 06:22:16330011
Atanas Georgiev Atanasov1,228SCIENCE and TECHNOLOGY + FRIENDS of it : CIRCLE V.5; maintained by +AtanasGeorgievAtanasov ; You can learn more about my personal scientific research here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25083916   To be added to the circle, please +1/reshare/comment/add me to your circles. I would be happy to connect on other networks too:http://about.me/Atanas_At   Below I am just pasting some keyords/topics to improve the visibility of the circle and to make it more discoverable: #Science  #Research #Technology #NASA  #Space #Innovation #Engineering #NIAC #nutrition #Entrepreneur #Commercial#ScienceSunday #Sundayscience #Science #Research #Tech#GameTech #GameTechnology #Gaming #VideoGaming +Microsoft#MicrosoftResearch  #innovation #Inflammation #Brain#mindcontrol #photography #tech #socialmedia #googleplus#naturalproduct #artists #foodies #cars #sharingiscaring  #Liver#sharingmeansthankyou #socialmedia  #sports #Smartphones#tablets 2014-11-06 08:10:34369051
Sharon Caroline1,629Hello my friends, good morning/evening for you all!Boost Your visibility On Google+!Shared and be shared. :)Thank you for sharing and promoting this.#circleshare #sharedcircles #sharingcircles #sharedcircleoftheday2014-11-05 08:31:58463000
Atanas Georgiev Atanasov1,228SCIENCE and TECHNOLOGY + FRIENDS of it : Circle V.3, maintained by +AtanasGeorgievAtanasov To be added to the circle, please +1/reshare/comment/add me to your circles. I would be happy to connect on other networks too:http://about.me/Atanas_At   You can learn a bit more about my personal scientific research from these links: https://plus.google.com/115938908270684192009/posts/MGt3zvEtTgq  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25083916   Below I am just pasting some keyords/topics to improve the visibility of the circle and to make it more discoverable: #Science  #Research #Technology #NASA  #Space #Innovation  #Engineering #NIAC #nutrition #Entrepreneur #Commercial #ScienceSunday #Sundayscience #Science #Research #Tech #GameTech #GameTechnology #Gaming #VideoGaming +Microsoft #MicrosoftResearch  #innovation #Inflammation #Brain #mindcontrol #photography #tech #socialmedia #googleplus #naturalproduct #artists #foodies 2014-11-05 07:02:42362101
Atanas Georgiev Atanasov1,127Science and Technology +Friends: Circle 2014 V.2 To be added to the circle, please +1/reshare/comment. I would be happy to connect on other networks too:http://about.me/Atanas_At   You can learn a bit more about my personal scientific research from these links: https://plus.google.com/115938908270684192009/posts/MGt3zvEtTgq  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25083916   Below I am just pasting some keyords/topics to improve the visibility of the circle and to make it more discoverable: #Science  #Research #Technology #NASA  #Space #Innovation  #Engineering #NIAC #nutrition #Entrepreneur #Commercial #ScienceSunday #Sundayscience #Science #Research #Tech #GameTech #GameTechnology #Gaming #VideoGaming +Microsoft #MicrosoftResearch  #innovation #Inflammation #Brain #mindcontrol #photography #tech #socialmedia #googleplus #naturalproduct #artists #foodies #cars 2014-11-04 06:51:44407101
Atanas Georgiev Atanasov982Science and Technology Circle 2014 To be added to the circle, please +1/reshare/comment. I would be happy to connect on other networks too:http://about.me/Atanas_At   You can learn a bit more about my personal scientific research from these links: https://plus.google.com/115938908270684192009/posts/MGt3zvEtTgq  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25083916   Below I am just pasting some keyords/topics to improve the visibility of the circle and to make it more discoverable: #Science  #Research #Technology #NASA   #Space #Innovation   #Engineering #NIAC #nutrition #Entrepreneur #Commercial #ScienceSunday #Sundayscience #Science #Research #Tech #GameTech #GameTechnology #Gaming #VideoGaming #Microsoft #MicrosoftResearch   #innovation #Inflammation #Brain #mindcontrol #photography #tech #socialmedia #googleplus #naturalproduct #artists 2014-11-02 08:37:19453101
Becky Collins17,500Top Active Engager's Circle :Circle of very #social #engagerspeople and companiesTo be included in my shares (#sharedcircle), be so kind to:1 - Do +1 t the post2 - Comment the post and specify your "category" (job or interest) Ex: Fashion, SEO, Companies, Social Media Marketing, Sailing, Photography, Bloggers/Writers, Web graphics and design, Italy, Artists, Sport, Finance/Economy ...3 - include the circle among your circles4 - share the circle (include yourself)Improve your popularity, be social be cool !Keep yourself updated, enjoy the Shared Circles Hellenic Alliance, you can share your shared circles inside the upcoming Community:https://plus.google.com/communities/112552559573595396104  #socialmedia  #media  #circles   #circleshare   #circlesharing  #circlecircle   #beckyscircle   #sharedcircles   #sharedpubliccircles  #sharedcircleoftheday  +Becky Collins ?2014-10-13 05:05:40478002
John Nuntiatio48,007#newcircle   #sharedcircles #circlesharing #circle #bestcircle #news #bestofcircles #bestcircleshare #share #tech #business #sport #small #smallcircle #photography #health2014-10-12 14:20:47149011
RokSimec.com7,554To be added to the Circle you have to do these simple steps:1 - include me in your circles2 - Click add people and create your circle3 - share the circle (include yourself)4 - add +1 to the post*More you share more you get!*#circle                    2014-10-01 11:44:47498000
RokSimec.com7,248 To be added to the Circle you have to do these simple steps:1 - include me in your circles2 - Click add people and create your circle3 - share the circle (include yourself)4 - add +1 to the post*More you share more you get!*#circle                    2014-09-26 10:33:5149813920
Becky Collins16,609Science Circle :Circle of very #social #engagerspeople and companiesTo be included in my shares (#sharedcircle), be so kind to:1 - Do +1 t the post2 - Comment the post and specify your "category" (job or interest) Ex: Fashion, SEO, Companies, Social Media Marketing, Sailing, Photography, Bloggers/Writers, Web graphics and design, Italy, Artists, Sport, Finance/Economy ...3 - include the circle among your circles4 - share the circle (include yourself)Improve your popularity, be social be cool !Keep yourself updated, enjoy the Shared Circles Hellenic Alliance, you can share your shared circles inside the upcoming Community:https://plus.google.com/communities/112552559573595396104  #socialmedia  #media  #circles   #circleshare   #circlesharing  #circlecircle   #beckyscircle   #sharedcircles   #sharedpubliccircles  #sharedcircleoftheday  +Becky Collins ?2014-09-16 05:24:00459102
Amazing Circles790Amazing BigCircle updated. 2014-09-01 19:35:12500123
Carlos Esteban50,970ENGAGERS and other INTERESTING PEOPLE Here you will find a sample of recent and repeat engagers, people that include me in shared circles, and people that publish interesting, useful or amusing posts. Add the circle and check them out. Maybe you like some of them! Feel free to re-share the circle :) Have a great week!2014-08-11 15:57:3149910779158
Circles Circles Circles37,983SCIENCE CircleDo you want more science in your life? Then, be sure to add these fascinating pages and people who dwell on science daily and are actively engaging.  Enrich your stream.If you are a scientist or someone who primarily posts about science and would like to be included in this circle please make a request in the comments section below.If you have someone or an organization's G+ page to recommend please add their name in the comments section below.Note: To those included in the circle, you were added by the generous recommendation of others  -- their help is deeply appreciated. Your add back and re-share would be also deeply appreciated as it would help spread the word about science.Current Circles  Published Mondays ORIGINAL CONTENT CREATORS : http://goo.gl/o82s0mPublished Wednesdays:BLOGGERS & THEIR BLOGS: http://goo.gl/IkCTLPPublished Thursdays:WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS : http://goo.gl/nFCsGwMEN ARE FROM MARS :  http://goo.gl/tID4ZmPublished Fridays:A CIRCLE TO PAY IT FORWARD:  http://goo.gl/E6v81LOthers CirclesSCIENCE: http://goo.gl/xXWLPtTECHNOLOGY: http://goo.gl/z3z8lh#science       #scienceeveryday       #sciencecircle       #circlesharing  2014-07-17 04:08:1710691432
khairul efendi0 Keep this simple!1. ADD the circle2 Share the post3. Plus the post.4. Comment to be added. BAM that is all easy right!? #circleshare  #circlesharing #sharedpubliccircles #snowballcircle #hyberballcircle #publicsharedcircles      #ownsocialmedia   #socialmediamarketing   #circlesharingpages   #sharingcircles   #whatshot   #followers   #googleplustips #CircleSharing #CircleShare #CircleOfTheDay #Circle #SharedCircles #Google #Google+ #GooglePlusTips #AddCircle #ADD #SharedPublicCircles #SharedCircle #Circles #Shared #Friends #Blogging #SharingCircles #CircleofFriends #Blogger #Engagers2014-06-20 07:31:49501215
Circles Circles Circles35,732SCIENCE CircleDo you want more science in your life? Then, be sure to add these fascinating pages and people who dwell on science daily and are actively engaging.  Enrich your stream.If you are a scientist or someone who primarily posts about science and would like to be included in this circle please make a request in the comments section below.If you have someone or an organization's G+ page to recommend please add their name in the comments section below.Note: To those included in the circle, you were added by the generous recommendation of others  -- their help is deeply appreciated. Your add back and re-share would be also deeply appreciated as it would help spread the word about science.Current Circles  Published Mondays ORIGINAL CONTENT CREATORS : http://goo.gl/RPEbdlPublished Wednesdays:BLOGGERS & THEIR BLOGS: http://goo.gl/fmOadpPublished Thursdays:WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS : http://goo.gl/Oyg8RBMEN ARE FROM MARS :  http://goo.gl/9NT51gPublished Fridays:A CIRCLE TO PAY IT FORWARD:  http://goo.gl/5mT3s0Others CirclesSCIENCE: http://goo.gl/AV4WvdTECHNOLOGY: http://goo.gl/YANzuo#science     #scienceeveryday     #sciencecircle     #circlesharing  2014-06-19 02:05:331065924
Maria Morisot32,548Moan Lisa's All Kinds of People Shared Circle15 June, 2014RESHARE if you want to be includedmoanlisa.org2014-06-15 11:11:532988283105
John Nuntiatio38,202#circles #sharedcircles #circlesharing #circle #bestcircle #news #bestofcircles #bestcircleshare #share #tech #business #sport #small #smallcircle #photography #health2014-06-15 06:01:32319368
DEVILZART2,249 This circle will add great, amazing, wonderful, and awesome content to you feed plus your page will receive massive engagement and +1 'sBoost your visibility on Google+ - Share the circle!To be added to the Circle you have to do these simple steps:1 - Include me in your circles2 - Click add people and create your circle3 - share the circle (include yourself)4 - add +1 to the post +DevilzArt More you share more you get!#circle   #circleshare   #circlesharing   #circleshared   #share   #sharedcircles   #sharedcircleoftheday   #engagers   #engagerscircle   #engagerspeople   #engagersshowcasecircle   #publicsharedcircles   #wordpress   #seo   #affiliatemarketing    #googleplus   #googleplusupdate   #blogger   #bloggers   #blogging     #internet   #socialmedia   #socialmediatips   #socialnetworking   #internetmarketing   #seo   #seotips   #bloggingtips   #bloggingforbusiness   #bloggingforbusiness   #bloggingtipsandtricks   #googleplustips   2014-06-15 02:13:005014415
Becky Collins10,439Super Science Circle :Circle of very #social #engagerspeople and companiesTo be included in my shares (#sharedcircle), be so kind to:1 - Do +1 t the post2 - Comment the post and specify your "category" (job or interest) Ex: Fashion, SEO, Companies, Social Media Marketing, Sailing, Photography, Bloggers/Writers, Web graphics and design, Italy, Artists, Sport, Finance/Economy ...3 - include the circle among your circles4 - share the circle (include yourself)Improve your popularity, be social be cool !Keep yourself updated, enjoy the Shared Circles Hellenic Alliance, you can share your shared circles inside the upcoming Community:https://plus.google.com/communities/112552559573595396104  #socialmedia  #media  #circles   #circleshare   #circlesharing  #circlecircle   #beckyscircle   #sharedcircles   #sharedpubliccircles  #sharedcircleoftheday  +Becky Collins ?2014-05-31 05:09:154901211
Circles Circles Circles33,758SCIENCE CircleDo you want more science in your life? Then, be sure to add these fascinating pages and people who dwell on science daily and are actively engaging.  Enrich your stream.If you are a scientist or someone who primarily posts about science and would like to be included in this circle please make a request in the comments section below.If you have someone or an organization's G+ page to recommend please add their name in the comments section below.Note: To those included in the circle, you were added by the generous recommendation of others  -- their help is deeply appreciated. Your add back and re-share would be also deeply appreciated as it would help spread the word about science.Current Circles  Published Mondays ORIGINAL CONTENT CREATORS : http://goo.gl/WbY7NSPublished Wednesdays:BLOGGERS & THEIR BLOGS: http://goo.gl/XPSnHVPublished Thursdays:WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS : http://goo.gl/itFj7ZMEN ARE FROM MARS : http://goo.gl/uBBxgdPublished Fridays:A CIRCLE TO PAY IT FORWARD: http://goo.gl/f1wz2IOthers CirclesSCIENCE: http://goo.gl/MOGsxGTECHNOLOGY: http://goo.gl/bDcYF4#science     #scienceeveryday     #sciencecircle     #circlesharing  2014-05-28 20:17:02102101219
Farid Shaikh171Google Friends! - You're in this   #Circle   -   #Share the circle *'"*:•:••:*:•-:¦:* Share and Be   #Shared   :¦:-•::••-:•:''''*                                              This is a super   #Circle   and in it I put together a group of really interesting and active people on Google Plus to add in your circles.I'm talking about the top   #Google + users that share unique and original contents.#Follow   this advice and grow your G+ community with people that share amazing content that will surprise you:#boost   visibility on Google+ - Share the circle!If you want to be added to the next Circle you have to do these simple steps:1 - Include me in your circles 3 - Share the circle (Publicly) 4 - Add +1 to the post 5 -   #Follow   your dreams and smile to life.More you share More you get! :)Thanks!#circles       #circleshare       #circlesharing       #sharedcircles                 #addcircles     #addpeople       #addcircle     #addfriends      2014-05-18 17:00:275015011
Farid Shaikh171No strings attached circle!If you want to be in the #circle  then let us know if you want to be in the circle! That's it! If you got notified, then you are in this one!2014-05-18 02:16:335017310
Farid Shaikh65Google Friends! - You're in this  #Circle   -  #Share   the circle *'"*:•:•* •-::-•:*:•-:¦: Share and Be  #Shared   :¦:-•:*:•.::• •-:•:''''*                                              115This is a super  #Circle   and in it I put together a group of really interesting and active people on Google Plus to add in your circles.I'm talking about the top   #Google + users that share unique and original contents.#Follow   this advice and grow your G+ community with people that share amazing content that will surprise you:#boost   visibility on Google+ - Share the circle!If you want to be added to the next Circle you have to do these simple steps:1 - Include me in your circles 3 - Share the circle (Publicly) 4 - Add +1 to the post 5 -  #Follow   your dreams and smile to life.More you share more you get! :)Thanks!#circles      #circleshare      #circlesharing      #sharedcircles                #addcircles    #addpeople      #addcircle    #addfriends      2014-05-17 06:20:0550110811
Circles Circles Circles32,435SCIENCE CircleDo you want more science in your life? Then, be sure to add these fascinating pages and people who dwell on science daily and are actively engaging.  Enrich your stream.If you are a scientist or someone who primarily posts about science and would like to be included in this circle please make a request in the comments section below.If you have someone or an organization's G+ page to recommend please add their name in the comments section below.Note: To those included in the circle, you were added by the generous recommendation of others  -- their help is deeply appreciated. Your add back and re-share would be also deeply appreciated as it would help spread the word about science.Current Circles  Published Mondays ORIGINAL CONTENT CREATORS : http://goo.gl/Hev5GIPublished Wednesdays:BLOGGERS: http://goo.gl/Nqll1yPublished Thursdays:WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS : http://goo.gl/olCV0EMEN ARE FROM MARS : http://goo.gl/l58RRiPublished Fridays:A CIRCLE TO PAY IT FORWARD: http://goo.gl/oIXG1ROthers Circles:SCIENCE: http://goo.gl/voKgBxTECHNOLOGY: http://goo.gl/bDcYF4#science   #scienceeveryday   #sciencecircle   #circlesharing  2014-05-16 02:10:07103141426
Carlos Esteban45,152ENGAGERS and other INTERESTING PEOPLE Here you will find a sample of recent and repeat engagers, people that include me in shared circles, and people that publish interesting, useful or amusing posts. Add the circle and check them out. Maybe you like some of them! Feel free to re-share the circle :) Have a great week! #circles #circlethis #circleyoushare #sharedcircles #addcircle #sharedpubliccircles #growfollowers #circleshare #publicsharedcircles #circleoftheweek #circlesharing #publiccircle #findcircles #circlemeup #sharedcircle #circleshare  #thursdaycircle   #thursdaycircleshared   #circlethursday #circle 2014#82014-05-12 13:43:52499150111187
Charles Barouch5,184G|+|ost Town #1 Circle of Awesome!http://www.hdwpbooks.com/books/g+ost-town/2014-05-03 06:56:1143417
Adam Black6,732Transhumans CircleBy popular Demand,  I am sharing some of my Circles. This is +Mark Bruce  Transhumans Circle  Plus Others Ive been adding.If you are tagged,  you are in it.Web Link for Mobile https://plus.google.com/u/0/+AdamBlack/posts/6iQmLpEj1Zm #sharedcircles   #GeekCulture   #ScienceSunday #Transhumans #Transhumanism #HumanPlus  2014-04-13 06:25:0424522733
steph wanamaker101,611#followfriday   #australianpeeps  thanks very much to paul sneddon for sharing his circle with me ! any australians I didn't include let me know!Happy Friday!2014-04-11 20:35:49202407
DEVILZART1,310#sharedcircle #publiccircleshare   #circleshare   #circleoftheday #circleshares   #circlesharing   #circlesshare   #publicsharedcircle #publicsharedcircles   #sharedcircleoftheday #sharedcircleoftheweek #sharedcircles   #sharedpubliccircle #todayspublicsharedcircle #todayssharedcircle   #publiccircle #circle   #circles   #awesome #awesomeness #awesomepeople #shareyourcircle   #bestengagers #followers   #followback #paulaawesomecircle   #awesomecircles #paulateshima #topsharedcircle #topsharedcircle   #myseoissocial #besocial   #socializethesocial   #trust #circles #sharedcircle 2014-04-04 17:15:22500151025
STEM on Google+ Community14,148Here are the "Movers & Shakers" in the STEM Community!February--March, 2014!Here's the latest updated edition of people & pages whose posts and comments appeared in the STEM on Google+ Community.  There are both science content creators and science readers here, and they are all active and interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, and/or Math.  Add this circle to your stream!Click here to enter the community >>https://plus.google.com/b/112166434848553337850/communities/110555615319066448343  Get involved in science discussions in the STEM community and you'll be in the next circle!If you received notification for this post, you are included in the circle!  If you do not wish to be notified, or shared in this (or other) circles, please let me know.~+Malthus John #sciencecircle   #stemcircle   #publicsharedcircles   #scienceeveryday   #sciencessunday   #stem   #gpluscommunities   #science   #technology   #engineering   #mathematics   #engagement  2014-03-24 17:43:08235202565
Matthew J Price8,236It's been some time since I shared my favorite circle: Accelerated Thinkers.  These 91 people are the ones I trust with bringing me the good news every day, and leading the conversation about the future of humanity.  Thank you so much!2014-03-22 04:25:4591103
Enrico Altavilla5,522I'm sharing with you my Science circle. It's focused mainly on physics, astrophysics and math but it also contains subjects (both people and pages) who share news about other scientific fields. Enjoy! 2014-03-21 06:45:031031015
John Nuntiatio30,154#circles #sharedcircles #circlesharing #circle #circleoftheday #bestofcircles #bestcircleshare #share #tech #business #sport2014-03-18 08:53:47471025
John Nuntiatio30,154#circles #sharedcircles #circlesharing #circle #circleoftheday #bestofcircles #bestcircleshare #share #tech #business #sport2014-03-18 08:53:18471001
John Nuntiatio30,154#circles #sharedcircles #circlesharing #circle #circleoftheday #bestofcircles #bestcircleshare #share #tech #business #sport2014-03-18 08:52:50471125
John Nuntiatio30,154#circles #sharedcircles #circlesharing #circle #circleoftheday #bestofcircles #bestcircleshare #share #tech #business #sport2014-03-18 08:52:22471002
John Nuntiatio30,154#circles #sharedcircles #circlesharing #circle #circleoftheday #bestofcircles #bestcircleshare #share #tech #business #sport2014-03-18 08:51:36471313
Carlos Esteban39,158ENGAGERS and other INTERESTING PEOPLE Here you will find a sample of recent and repeat engagers, people that include me in shared circles, and people that publish interesting, useful or amusing posts. Add the circle and check them out. Maybe you like some of them! Feel free to re-share the circle :) Have a great Sunday! #circles #circlethis #circleyoushare #sharedcircles #addcircle #sharedpubliccircles #growfollowers #circleshare #publicsharedcircles #circleoftheweek #circlesharing #publiccircle #findcircles #circlemeup #sharedcircle #circleshare  #thursdaycircle   #thursdaycircleshared   #circlethursday #circle 2014#72014-03-16 14:11:22498604562
John Nuntiatio29,767#circles #sharedcircles #circlesharing #circle #circleoftheday #bestofcircles #bestcircleshare #share #tech #business #sport2014-03-14 06:27:36393014
John Nuntiatio29,767#circles #sharedcircles #circlesharing #circle #circleoftheday #bestofcircles #bestcircleshare #share #tech #business #sport2014-03-14 06:26:50393033
John Nuntiatio29,767#circles #sharedcircles #circlesharing #circle #circleoftheday #bestofcircles #bestcircleshare #share #tech #business #sport2014-03-14 06:26:17393011
John Nuntiatio29,767#circles #sharedcircles #circlesharing #circle #circleoftheday #bestofcircles #bestcircleshare #share #tech #business #sport2014-03-14 06:25:52393011
John Nuntiatio29,767#circles #sharedcircles #circlesharing #circle #circleoftheday #bestofcircles #bestcircleshare #share #tech #business #sport2014-03-14 06:25:16393203
Prime Numbers0Science, Mathemathics, Tchnology, Engeneering CIRCLEThis circle has some really interesting people. It has scientist, engineers, researchers, mathematicians, computer scientists.If you wish to nominate yourself or someone to be included on my next circle, just follow these simple steps:1. Post about science and be active in science communities like STEM on Google+2. Make sure you have already added me into your circles3. Plus, Comment and Reshare this post publicly in your own stream. Please make sure you plus, reshare and comment on the Original Post or else I won't notice it...#Science #sharedcircles #sharedpubliccircles #publiccircles #circlesharing #circle #circleshare #circles #circleoftheday2014-03-12 20:26:291364106
shinigami kurai109This circle will add great, amazing, wonderful, and awesome content to you feed plus your page will receive massive engagement and +1 'sBoost your visibility on Google+ - Share the circle!To be added to the Circle you have to do these simple steps:1 - Include me in your circles2 - Click add people and create your circle3 - share the circle (include yourself)4 - add +1 to the post +shinigami kurai2014-03-09 02:04:4450110313

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Most comments: 298

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2014-11-11 15:34:11 (298 comments, 23 reshares, 409 +1s)Open 

Oh Destiny. I Am Disappoint.
Y U NO ANYGOOD?

As things settled down from craziness this week I finally got to open my neglected copy of Destiny and load it into the Xbox One. I'd been waiting for nearly two years to play this game, anticipating this new FPS release from developer Bungie ever since they first announced it. Because of Halo I've spent more time playing Bungie games than any other developer and was with them through all four games but spent the most time in Halo 3 and Halo Reach. 

Passing the baton to 343 Industries to produce Halo 4 delivered mixed results I felt, and because of this I wanted all the more for Destiny to really push what was possible, be more than Halo 4 could ever be, and deliver an improved Halo mechanic in a new and engaging manner. 

I just can't believe that, despite spending an obscene amount on development, theym... more »

Most reshares: 67

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2014-11-02 12:09:54 (24 comments, 67 reshares, 127 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 44/14.
DNA molecular electronics, neural turing machine, electric fields vs dark matter, terahertz circuits and fibers, uranium extraction, CRISPR genomics, plasmene nanosheets, cancer blood test, isotopic bond changes.

1. Quadruplex DNA For Molecular Electronics.
Specific DNA sequences have now been designed to self-assemble into long quadruplex structures that conduct electricity http://new.huji.ac.il/en/article/23717. For the first time reliable and well-quantified electrical current was induced and controlled through long self-assembled DNA molecules through techniques such as DNA Origami that have long been thought to be an ideal substrate for assembling molecular circuits. This current demonstration paves the way for implementing DNA-based programmable circuits for molecular electronics. The idea of mixing a solution of... more »

Most plusones: 409

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2014-11-11 15:34:11 (298 comments, 23 reshares, 409 +1s)Open 

Oh Destiny. I Am Disappoint.
Y U NO ANYGOOD?

As things settled down from craziness this week I finally got to open my neglected copy of Destiny and load it into the Xbox One. I'd been waiting for nearly two years to play this game, anticipating this new FPS release from developer Bungie ever since they first announced it. Because of Halo I've spent more time playing Bungie games than any other developer and was with them through all four games but spent the most time in Halo 3 and Halo Reach. 

Passing the baton to 343 Industries to produce Halo 4 delivered mixed results I felt, and because of this I wanted all the more for Destiny to really push what was possible, be more than Halo 4 could ever be, and deliver an improved Halo mechanic in a new and engaging manner. 

I just can't believe that, despite spending an obscene amount on development, theym... more »

Latest 50 posts

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2014-11-21 02:03:14 (13 comments, 20 reshares, 31 +1s)Open 

An Accessible Introduction to the Integrated Information Theory of Consciousness.

This talk is, I think, a good and accessible introduction to the Integrated Information Theory of consciousness. The middle is presented by Giulio Tononi where he very briefly outlines some of the mathematical formalism of IIT and discusses some predictions and tests. It is book-ended by the wonderfully-articulate Christof Koch who starts with a very interesting introduction for a lay audience and ends with some thoughtful insights including the consequence of digital computers not being able to host the rich consciousness that we're all intimately familiar with. Worth a watch in my opinion. 

This leads on from my recent post on consciousness (https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/3FA1C5xWg1B) in which I explored computational and physical equivalence and through additional research... more »

An Accessible Introduction to the Integrated Information Theory of Consciousness.

This talk is, I think, a good and accessible introduction to the Integrated Information Theory of consciousness. The middle is presented by Giulio Tononi where he very briefly outlines some of the mathematical formalism of IIT and discusses some predictions and tests. It is book-ended by the wonderfully-articulate Christof Koch who starts with a very interesting introduction for a lay audience and ends with some thoughtful insights including the consequence of digital computers not being able to host the rich consciousness that we're all intimately familiar with. Worth a watch in my opinion. 

This leads on from my recent post on consciousness (https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/3FA1C5xWg1B) in which I explored computational and physical equivalence and through additional research quickly discovered Tononi, Koch, and the Integrated Information Theory. Digging into IIT I realised that my mind had been changed and I was now firmly in their camp when it comes to consciousness. This talk should better explain at least partially what I was on about. 

I also found sections (particularly the middle and end) of the post-talk panel discussion worthwhile and interesting and this can be found here: Panel on Consciousness at the FQXi conference 2014 in Vieques. Finally, if you're of an academic bent and wish to dig into the formalism of IIT more thoroughly the most updated model of IIT can be found in this paper, published this year: From the Phenomenology to the Mechanisms of Consciousness: Integrated Information Theory 3.0 http://www.ploscompbiol.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003588 

#consciousness   #integratedinformationtheory   #computation  ___

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2014-11-19 14:41:35 (55 comments, 36 reshares, 74 +1s)Open 

Consciousness: Digging into Computational Equivalence and Physical Equivalence.

TL;DR
* The underlying physical properties of a computational system matter. 
* Computational equivalence is not enough to host consciousness.
* Real integration in time and space is key. 
* This matters and needs to be testable. 

I enjoyed an interesting thread last week in which I attempted to discuss computational versus physical equivalence as it pertains to the hard problem of consciousness, and which was initiated by a post (https://plus.google.com/u/0/110186693922408613972/posts/X2kuVjNsRN7) where +Nate Gaylinn pondered recent developments in deep learning and whether brain-like algorithms could ever be conscious. It was also the first time in a discussion I’d been strongly told I was fundamentally wrong in the same breath as being told I had spoken truthfully. It isa top... more »

Consciousness: Digging into Computational Equivalence and Physical Equivalence.

TL;DR
* The underlying physical properties of a computational system matter. 
* Computational equivalence is not enough to host consciousness.
* Real integration in time and space is key. 
* This matters and needs to be testable. 

I enjoyed an interesting thread last week in which I attempted to discuss computational versus physical equivalence as it pertains to the hard problem of consciousness, and which was initiated by a post (https://plus.google.com/u/0/110186693922408613972/posts/X2kuVjNsRN7) where +Nate Gaylinn pondered recent developments in deep learning and whether brain-like algorithms could ever be conscious. It was also the first time in a discussion I’d been strongly told I was fundamentally wrong in the same breath as being told I had spoken truthfully. It is a topic that interests me and I thought I’d expand upon it here for some wider consumption and criticism. 

Semantics

Consciousness

To be fair I think when Nate referred to consciousness he meant consciousness in the sense of self-consciousness, as in self-aware or aware of oneself as an individual entity. The term consciousness more properly refers to deep and fundamental states of awareness or perception, the qualia of conscious experience, or the raw conscious experience of the redness of the colour red to give a classic example. Self-consciousness is important of course but it sits at a higher level than raw conscious sensations by demanding - almost by definition - the smooth integration of a myriad of different conscious sensations at once. At the same time I think it is less of a jump to propose an algorithm running on a computer being aware of itself as an independent entity, than it is to propose an algorithm running on a computer experiencing a raw conscious sensation such as the colour red. 

Technology

We’ll be discussing hypotheticals below so project any technology out to some arbitrary point in the future when the capabilities would exist. Assume we have computers fast enough to run algorithms simulating the functioning of a human brain in real time, whether that is cellular, molecular, or a deeper model being computed. Assume we have neuromorphic hardware that broadly approximates the architecture of the human brain, with artificial neurons packed as densely as a brain, in similar or more layers as a brain, and with adaptive synapses that form, strengthen, and break connections as needed. Don’t get bogged down criticising the limitations or appearance of current technology. 

Concepts

Neural correlates of consciousness and specifically the conscious sensation of colour; certain regions of the visual cortex have been found to be critical in processing visual stimuli and are critical for the conscious perception of colour. This study Categorical clustering of the neural representation of colour is an example of work in this space http://www.jneurosci.org/content/33/39/15454.full. Damage or remove these regions and you will not experience colour; depending on the extent of the damage you may or may not experience the full breadth of remaining visual experience such as motion, shape, structure, depth, pattern, etc. More background here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neural_correlates_of_consciousness. 

The Philosophical Zombie - a human indistinguishable from a normal human in every way except that it lacks any conscious sensation. It processes sensory information and responds exactly as a normal human would; asked to describe an apple they both say red but only the normal human enjoys the rich conscious sensation of the redness of the apple, the zombie does not http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophical_zombie. 

The Chinese Room - a thought experiment proposed to refute the possibility that a digital computer could ever experience consciousness, itself spawning many refutations and criticisms http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_room. 

Proposition

Lets suppose we build a brain on advanced neuromorphic hardware whose fundamental architecture copies the human brain with a suitable dense array of artificial neurons in similar numbers of layers and connected by a dynamic network of synaptic connections. I think it is straightforward to assume that if you feed visual sensory data into this artificial brain in a similar way as you would a normal brain, then we’d expect the artificial brain to experience deep conscious sensations such as the redness of red as perceived from an apple for example. Unless of course you’re in the camp that argues that only biological substrates can produce conscious sensations; this is something that I don’t find reasonable and won’t be dealing with here because it is only tangentially related. 

In a way the neuronal connections and their strengths can be thought of as software, with the neurons themselves behaving in a certain dynamic way. Whether we consider this neuromorphic hardware or a real organic brain for that matter, this behavior can be abstracted, modelled, and reduced to suitable algorithms. These algorithms and the models they represent can be run on a conventional computer in order to simulate or emulate the brain in question and working to process the same sensory information in the same way and so produce the same outputs in behaviour and experience (Henry Markram’s Blue Brain Project is an (incomplete) example of this latter brain simulation, as is the current Human Brain Project). 

The Difference

Except the conventional computer isn’t processing the information in exactly the same way. In the case of neuromorphic or normal brain hardware there are massively parallel neural networks carrying a dense cascade of signals running through the substrate. In the case of the conventional turing-complete computer there is a sequential, step by logical step, processing of the information, in and out of memory and so on. Even if one can easily postulate computation so fast that the sequential processing of the computer is as fast as (or even a million times faster than) brain-like hardware in processing the same inputs to produce the same outputs, updating the old state to the new state to some arbitrary accuracy and tiny time interval, it is still a sequential step-by-step processor and different in kind to the massively parallel cascade of information occurring through the neuromorphic substrate. 

It may be computing the information in the same way but it is processing it in a different way. Both systems may be computationally equivalent but I think they are obviously not physically equivalent and I think this difference matters. 

To understand where I think this difference lies I believe it is important to dig down to a deep fundamental level and consider what is physically going on at the level of charge carriers moving dynamically on the substrate and in the case of electrical signals asking what is the difference in the behaviour of the electrons and holes in both systems. 

In the neuromorphic, brain-like hardware we have a simultaneous cascade of charge carriers moving along parallel interconnected arrays of neurons (whether artificial or organic) and conveying a signal, a distinct pattern of electrical activity, through the substrate bulk, often in waves. In the serial-processing-chips of the conventional computer the physical, atomic behaviour of charge carriers moving around and changing voltage states in transistors and memory elements is very different and lacks any resemblance to the pattern seen in neuromorphic hardware. No matter how fast that computer may be it is still operating to change the states of transistors and memory elements in a sequential manner, step-by-step inducing charge carriers and currents to travel along the chip to make voltage changes to discrete transistors and other components. 

Even if the cascade of charge carriers is found to cause, via diffuse electric fields etc, changes in other parts of the system or discrete components of the neuromorphic network, and this phenomenon and effect is included in the algorithmic models to account for them, the result will be the same: more accurate computational equivalence perhaps, but still fundamentally physically different in the nature of the information processing. This is true even though, as Nate pointed out, the neuromorphic system is essentially a hardware optimisation for some aspect of the algorithms running on a conventional computer. 

In whatever form it takes, consciousness and raw conscious sensation and experience, as the only thing you can ever be sure of, must be a fundamental property of the physical nature of the Universe. This can be interpreted as a form of panpsychism. As such I believe that arguments based purely on computational equivalency, for example, “both systems compute the information in the same way and therefore will exhibit consciousness in the same way” entail a leap of blind faith that ignores the subtle physical differences. 

A Thought Experiment to Test It

A thought experiment that I came up with a while ago is as follows:

1. Imagine an advanced brain computer interface with nodes that can interface directly with potentially every individual neuron, whether in a neuromorphic substrate or more relevantly in a real brain.

2. Each node can wirelessly communicate to the other nodes as needed and also to external computational devices with arbitrarily negligible latency. 

3. Identify every input neuron and output neuron for (example) those regions of the visual cortex that are known to be responsible for enabling the conscious sensation or colour.

4. Run an accurate algorithmic model and simulation of those same regions on an external, conventional computational substrate.

5. Activate the BCI to block the activity of those identified regions of the visual cortex. 

6. The BCI records input signals to those regions and instead sends them to the inputs of the external simulation. 

7. The external simulation sends output signals to the relevant outputs overseen by the BCI in the visual cortex. 

8. Run a suitable battery of colour tests and observe and record subjective experience. Do you perceive colour when processing is handed off to the external substrate? What do you perceive of a multi-coloured scene when just the “red” processing is handed off externally? What if processing is handed off for only the left or the right eye and cover one then the other when observing a colourful scene? 

9. Reset to normal or switch off BCI and again record subjective experience, particularly memory of the event, and memory of colours experienced in the tests. Do you remember colours you didn’t experience or vice versa?  

10. Repeat the experiment with a neuromorphic brain-like substrate performing the external processing instead of the conventional computer. 

This example obviously demands advanced technology that we are not yet near to developing. But I do wonder if simpler, cruder tests with current or near-term technology might shed light on and answers to this question. 

My Ideas Here are Not Original Of Course 

The idea for this post originally was to re-share some of my comments from Nate’s interesting post and edit them into a more coherent form. I suspect my initial comments and thinking was influenced by Max Tegmark and a recent video / post on consciousness that I’d intended to get back to but lost time. In the process of writing this I embarked on more, and more detailed, research; reading articles and watching videos related to these topics. In the process I discovered (or rediscovered in a lot more detail after remembering I’d briefly come across it some time ago) the Integrated Information Theory of Consciousness (basics: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integrated_information_theory) as espoused by Guilio Tononi and, for example http://www.wired.com/2013/11/christof-koch-panpsychism-consciousness/all/ Christof Koch whose work and talks I’ve always enjoyed. 

After looking into the Integrated Information Theory (IIT) of Consciousness it seems I’d definitely found myself in the company of Tegmark and in the camp of Tononi and Koch - far more intelligent and accomplished thinkers in this space who had wrapped a formalism around these concepts and described them far more articulately than I ever could and much earlier than I had ever imagined. IIT has quite a bit to say about computational and physical equivalence. While I am still ascending its learning curve I do understand that it implies that conventional computers processing brain-like algorithms as we have described can never be conscious in the sense we have been discussing. They might be self-conscious in the broadest sense, and they might compute sensory inputs in the same way, and respond in the same manner, but they won’t host a rich subjective conscious experience. 

This also implies a form of panpsychism although I suspect that it is at this stage more of a placeholder label until such time as future empirical tests better narrow down and describe the phenomenon. 

Why This Matters

As we continue along a technological trajectory that holds ubiquitous dominant machine intelligence in its future, machine intelligences that comprise both engineered AIs and uploaded humans of various forms, it is important that we get this right. It will not be biological humans that travel and expand through the Galaxy; it will be intelligent machines and substrate-independent minds. If conventional computer architectures remain dominant and are incapable of giving rise to consciousness, one of our defining traits, not only would uploads be pointless but we risk saturating the Universe with intelligence at the expense of any conscious experience to accompany it. This would be the definition of travesty. A Universe without conscious experience would not be a Universe worth existing; intelligence needs to saturate the Universe with consciousness, not instead of it. 

This is why we need to be sure of the physical basis of consciousness, and why we need to find ways to test it, predict it, control it, build it, and engineer it. It may be that my thoughts are ignorant and misguided and the IIT is wrong and conventional computer architectures can indeed host rich conscious experiences - great! But we need to be sure. If however the thoughts are accurate and the theory turns out to be right then two things are apparent: (i) by all means we will engineer intelligences on conventional computer architectures to create a myriad of useful tools, (ii) but we will also need to engineer robust neuromorphic architectures of sufficient detail to host rich conscious experiences in order to repair brains, host uploads, and make the whole (post)human endeavour worthwhile. 

Having My Mind Changed

Before this week I carried a cognitive legacy on these matters influenced by Daniel Dennett and was reasonably firm in my opinion that philosophical zombies could not exist and that the Chinese Room would indeed be conscious. Basically that in the former a system that behaved exactly the same would by default have to embody all the same properties including consciousness and in the latter, using similar reasoning, and considering the system as a whole you would have to grant it consciousness. 

As I dug into these matters when preparing this post I found myself climbing the fence away from this firm belief and surveyed both sides anew. And as I considered new concepts, ideas, memes, and models to do with raw physical phenomena and the Integrated Information Theory of consciousness I found myself climbing back down the other side - much to my surprise. I found Tonini and Koch to be far more compelling, considered, and elegant and they changed my mind. 

I now believe that in very specific circumstances the philosopher’s zombie can exist (and that we will probably create their equivalents at some point) and that the Chinese Room does not and cannot exhibit consciousness (and neither can conventional computers no matter how accurate the brain-like algorithms they run). 

But I changed my mind once and maybe a particularly insightful and erudite commenter can convince me to change it again? Until we have more advanced technology better able to test and produce evidence one way or another we are left to debate and theorise. 

Interesting Side Considerations

* When discussing accurate simulations running on computers this classic xkcd comic comes to mind: http://xkcd.com/505/ 

* In the original thread +Shrewd Simian mentioned a study involving evolved circuits that I remembered in which the chips had evolved seemingly useless features that turned out to be useful - unconnected logic gates that nonetheless exerted important influences on the other, connected logic gates. This was interesting to think about once again when considering consciousness, computational substrates, and the physical behaviour of charge carriers. An example explanation can be found here: http://www.damninteresting.com/on-the-origin-of-circuits/. 

* How the hell did you manage to read all of that in such an attention-deficit age!? Bravo if you made it to the end ;)

#consciousness   #computation   #integratedinformationtheory  ___

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2014-11-16 12:53:37 (13 comments, 54 reshares, 110 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 46/14.
Optical spinal control, personal tricorder, connectome drives robot, human intelligence tweaks, interesting batteries, artificial retina, printable electronics, full duplex communications, inducing phantoms, cyborg rescue roaches.

1. Optical Control of Motor Functions.
A new optogenetics probe comprises a polymer fiber as thin as a human hair that is able to both optically stimulate optogenetically active neurons and record the electrical activity of those neurons http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2014/striking-cord-optical-control-motor-functions-chi-lu-1107. Interestingly the demonstration involved use of the device in the tiny (1mm) spines of mice, with light pulses stimulating spinal neurons and the device recording the neuronal activity; one experiment demonstrated muscle twitches in limbs as a result of stimulation while... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 46/14.
Optical spinal control, personal tricorder, connectome drives robot, human intelligence tweaks, interesting batteries, artificial retina, printable electronics, full duplex communications, inducing phantoms, cyborg rescue roaches.

1. Optical Control of Motor Functions.
A new optogenetics probe comprises a polymer fiber as thin as a human hair that is able to both optically stimulate optogenetically active neurons and record the electrical activity of those neurons http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2014/striking-cord-optical-control-motor-functions-chi-lu-1107. Interestingly the demonstration involved use of the device in the tiny (1mm) spines of mice, with light pulses stimulating spinal neurons and the device recording the neuronal activity; one experiment demonstrated muscle twitches in limbs as a result of stimulation while another recorded neuronal activity arising from simple toe pinches. The fiber comprises a polycarbonate core, parallel polyethylene electrodes, and a co-polymer for electrical insulation and optical cladding; this design functions under extreme bending and flexing. I’m looking forward to the day this technology enables natural control of limbs and sensory acquisition. 

2. Personal Diagnostics & the Realisation of Tricorders.
Company DMI won the Sensing XChallenge and are a good chance to take out the Tricorder XPrize with their rHealth X1 personal medical diagnostic device that can take a single drop of blood and run a battery of 22 diagnostic laboratory tests http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/biomedical/diagnostics/winning-xprize-medical-gadget-could-run-hundreds-of-lab-tests-on-a-single-drop-of-blood. The device makes use of tiny stips loaded with proteins specific to the marker of interest such as Vitamin D, calcium, white blood cells, etc that are read by the devices laser to extract a quantitative reading. It will also ship with a patch to measure heart rate, respiration, and other vitals and transmits data to the users smartphone for storage and management. At-home and remote diagnostics will be transformative. 

3. Worm Connectome Controls Lego Robot.
In this story from the very start of the week we had the demonstration of a model of the complete C. elegans nematode neural connectome controlling the movement and behaviour of a simple Lego robot http://radar.oreilly.com/2014/11/the-robotic-worm.html. The robot’s sensors provided similar inputs to the simulated sensory neurons just like a real worm would experience, for example, an ultrasound proximity sensor on the robot stood in for the biological worm’s touch sensor and electric motors and wheels stood in for biological muscles. With this simple robot running the worm connectome it successfully demonstrated worm-like behaviors based purely on environmental stimuli. An example can be seen in this video: CElegans Neurorobotics. Fascinating stuff - at some point we’ll see this replicated with higher animals and more complex robots. 

4. Human Intelligence and Memory: Upsetting a Delicate Balance.
A couple of studies this week gives us a fascinating yet disturbing insight into the nature of human intelligence and memory. First, we had the demonstration of a drug targeting a neural protein involved in helping neurons form stable connections, disrupt this function and induce a more youthful state of neural plasticity with regards to new skill acquisition, although the effects this had on youthful memories, identity, and other skills will be important to know http://www.neomatica.com/2014/11/04/drug-unlocks-malleable-fast-learning-child-like-state-adult-brain/; and might this protein subsequently enhance memory https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2014/11/selective-removal-of-fxr1p-enhances-memory.php? Second, the identity of an algal virus that infects humans (up to 43% in the study although repeated studies with greater statistical significance will be required) and causes cognitive impairment resulting in slower processing, poorer memory, and lower attention spans http://io9.com/a-virus-that-makes-us-less-intelligent-has-been-discove-1656793377; might a measurable boost to average IQs result from a vaccine or treatment for this virus?

5. Interesting Battery Architectures.
For a number of reasons I typically set a very high bar for including battery stories. But this week we had an interesting new battery architecture built up of a billion modular batteries based on nanopores http://www.umdrightnow.umd.edu/news/billion-holes-can-make-battery. Each nanopore holds electrolyte between electrodes at either end and the bulk battery has already demonstrated rapid recharge times and thousands of charge-discharge cycles. To build a larger-capacity battery just add more nanopores. The group are working on scale-up and innovations to further boost energy density. Oxis is also building some impressive lithium-sulfur batteries that now outperform lithium-ion batteries and are expected to reach double the energy density of lithium-ion by 2016 http://www.oxisenergy.com/blog/oxis-energy-is-leading-the-world-with-its-latest-cell-energy-density-and-ca/. 

6. Building a Better Artificial Retina.
Using a plasma polymerised acrylic layer as a base, researchers engineered a novel artificial retina system that was demonstrated to absorb light and electrically stimulate neuronal activity in the retinas of chicks http://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/pressroom/presspacs/2014/acs-presspac-november-12-2014/artificial-retina-could-someday-help-restore-vision.html. The artificial retina works by combining light absorbing semiconductor nanorods with carbon nanotubes that stimulate the neurons of the retina on the flexible base material; it is a wireless and passively powered system and believed to be more durable, flexible, efficient, and a better neuronal stimulator compared to other candidate artificial retina systems. 

7. Printable Electronics Really Moving Along Now.
A trio of printable electronics stories this week reveals how quickly the field is moving now. First, there are now more inkjet-printable inks for printing a range of electronic devices including flexible digital X-ray sensors for example http://www.kurzweilai.net/inkjet-printing-electronics-pushing-the-envelope. Second, new materials and inks now allow for the printing of memristor and memcapacitor switches that exhibit synaptic plasticity http://nextbigfuture.com/2014/11/memristors-and-memcapacitors-for.html. Third, another system for roll-to-roll printing of flexible polymer solar cells with nearly 11% efficiency http://news.ncsu.edu/2014/11/efficient-solar-cell/. Printable electronics means quicker development times, cheaper devices, robust performance, and application niches not previously possible. 

8. Enabling Full Duplex Communications.
A significantly smaller and more efficient radio wave circulator has been created that could enable full-duplex communications and effectively double the bandwidth available to smartphones, or else make more efficient use of available spectrum for example http://www.utexas.edu/news/2014/11/10/radio-wave-device-alu/. Full-duplex capabilities refer to the ability to both transmit and receive signals on the same frequency band at the same time, and the key innovation in this case is the creation of a radio wave circulator that doesn’t need large magnets - something that has previously hindered the adoption and utility of such circulators in the past. The current prototype is 2cm in size although the team are confident in achieving micron-scale devices. 

9. Hacking The Self: Inducing A Phantom Presence.
In this fascinating experiment that distorts normal feedback loops in sensory experience - much like the speech jammer that plays back words with a delay (a disruption that makes it impossible to speak fluently) - researchers were able to induce in subjects the feeling of one or more beings or presences in the room http://www.gizmag.com/artificial-ghost-apparitions-epfl/34643/. The setup was simple: the subject moved a small robotic arm that was linked to a second arm positioned behind them that replicated their movements (touching the their back) with a slight delay. The explanation was that the delay disrupted normal sensory feedback between senses of body position and touch and created a distortion and subsequent impression that one or more people had materialised near them. There is an interesting discussion on body representations and the unified self. 

10. Cockroaches Guided By Sound-Processing Computer Backpacks.
In the latest development of cyborg cockroach applications, a micro-computer with microphones analyses sound waves, determines the direction of the sound, and signals the host cockroach via implanted electrodes to move in the direction of the sound http://news.ncsu.edu/2014/11/bozkurt-roach-biobot-2014/. Ostensibly developed as a search-and-rescue aid to find people in collapsed buildings after an earthquake, further signal processing on-chip could allow differentiation between important and irrelevant sounds as well as wireless communications to other people and devices. I wonder if/when they’ll put these things on not just crawling but flying insects? What other sensors might be useful in this case to map out and find a particular source? 

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

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2014-11-11 15:34:11 (298 comments, 23 reshares, 409 +1s)Open 

Oh Destiny. I Am Disappoint.
Y U NO ANYGOOD?

As things settled down from craziness this week I finally got to open my neglected copy of Destiny and load it into the Xbox One. I'd been waiting for nearly two years to play this game, anticipating this new FPS release from developer Bungie ever since they first announced it. Because of Halo I've spent more time playing Bungie games than any other developer and was with them through all four games but spent the most time in Halo 3 and Halo Reach. 

Passing the baton to 343 Industries to produce Halo 4 delivered mixed results I felt, and because of this I wanted all the more for Destiny to really push what was possible, be more than Halo 4 could ever be, and deliver an improved Halo mechanic in a new and engaging manner. 

I just can't believe that, despite spending an obscene amount on development, theym... more »

Oh Destiny. I Am Disappoint.
Y U NO ANYGOOD?

As things settled down from craziness this week I finally got to open my neglected copy of Destiny and load it into the Xbox One. I'd been waiting for nearly two years to play this game, anticipating this new FPS release from developer Bungie ever since they first announced it. Because of Halo I've spent more time playing Bungie games than any other developer and was with them through all four games but spent the most time in Halo 3 and Halo Reach. 

Passing the baton to 343 Industries to produce Halo 4 delivered mixed results I felt, and because of this I wanted all the more for Destiny to really push what was possible, be more than Halo 4 could ever be, and deliver an improved Halo mechanic in a new and engaging manner. 

I just can't believe that, despite spending an obscene amount on development, they managed to fail so badly. A few things of note (or ire):

* The campaign is just lifeless. The story, myopic. The protagonist you play seems irrelevant and lost; in fact I struggled to form any real connection to the character I played. The levels feel like they were pulled from 2007's Halo 3 with predictable, dreary, grunt work: walk along route, kill group of aliens, walk along route, kill next group of aliens, repeat. I just couldn't really bring myself to care about either the character, the setting, or the missions I was supposed to be on. 

* Cut-scenes: gotta love when a character is talking to you and their lips aren't moving. It's small things like this that break the suspenion of disbelief for a game. 

* The AI is . . . actually the code for the AI seems like copy-pasta from, again, 2007's Halo 3. For 2014 the AI controlling the aliens is stupid, predictable, and just boring. 

* The graphics and textures seem drab and dull. I'm reminded of older games on the Xbox 360. They don't belong on the Xbox One. 

* Even the intermission screen, where you launch off to different missions or locations, annoys me. There you are in your spaceship, in orbit around a gorgeously drawn planet (a rare example of good textures), and yet you have your engines firing continuously and are buffeting around as if knocked by air currents . . . all while in orbit.

* The "tower" where you go for training and items is supposed to be a social hub for players and is anything but. It just wastes time and as one reviewer described it, it is basically a lengthy 3D menu for in-game, between-mission actions. 

* The whole item-acquisition thing is completely uninteresting and irrelevant. 

* Multiplayer is unbalanced. As least it was for me just starting out and where everyone else was maxed out with better weapons. Issues with the core game mechanic become apparent in multiplayer too; for me it just doesn't feel smooth, it doesn't flow like an engaging FPS game should. I can't articulate it properly but it just felt like there was needless friction in getting around and engaging other players in combat. 

But the main, over-riding thing for me is this: Destiny just does not compare well to other games that are available now. For me it is simply nowhere near as fun as other games that are out there. I tried. I made it to Level 9. I wondered whether it was my new TV and possible input-lag for some things. Or if I was just rusty with FPS. So I put Titanfall on and it ran beautifully. Despite a 4+ month hiatus, on my second Titanfall game I pulled off one of the best sniper head-shots I've done in that game and by the third I was starting to dominate matches again with ridiculous k/d ratios. This reassured me that the new TV was just fine and more importantly the FPS-specific neural networks hard-wired into my brain are chugging along just fine with no sign of degradation despite the hiatus. 

No, it was just Destiny. I had to finally admit that it suffers from overall poor gameplay in my opinion. I refuse to succumb to the sunk cost fallacy and waste any more of my precious time on it by finishing the campaign or maxing out in multiplayer - if I'm going to relax by playing a FPS game it may as well be one that grants me a maximal amount of fun, engagement, and #omfgthatwasawesome  per unit time. For me that isn't Destiny. 

I'll be taking the game back to the store to trade it in for something else. Maybe CoD:AW. Maybe Assassins Creed: Unity. Maybe The Halo Collection. Maybe Farcry 4. Definitely GTA5. 

Sorry +Ethan Smith! ___

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2014-11-10 01:06:06 (29 comments, 0 reshares, 58 +1s)Open 

Found this little guy in my pool filter over the weekend. 

Found this little guy in my pool filter over the weekend. ___

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2014-11-09 08:00:13 (22 comments, 45 reshares, 101 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 45/14.
Isotopic metamaterials, advanced cheap drones, 3D printed LEDs, inter-galactic stars, CAD evolution, sirtuin antiaging evidence, bio-synthetic drug production, trapping rainbows, SCNT better than IPS. 

1. Large Isotropic Metamaterials.
A new generation of split-ring resonator type metamaterials that are largely directionally isotropic can be fabricated to usefully large scales http://www.riken.jp/en/pr/press/2014/20141024_1/. The group managed to fabricate the metamaterial with standard lithographic techniques and materials engineered to fold into the correct shape, and was able to produce functional surfaces with an area measuring 4mm x 4mm - a useful scale that could be used in conjunction with a camera lens for example. While this demonstration metamaterial functions in the infrared range of the spectrum, it is... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 45/14.
Isotopic metamaterials, advanced cheap drones, 3D printed LEDs, inter-galactic stars, CAD evolution, sirtuin antiaging evidence, bio-synthetic drug production, trapping rainbows, SCNT better than IPS. 

1. Large Isotropic Metamaterials.
A new generation of split-ring resonator type metamaterials that are largely directionally isotropic can be fabricated to usefully large scales http://www.riken.jp/en/pr/press/2014/20141024_1/. The group managed to fabricate the metamaterial with standard lithographic techniques and materials engineered to fold into the correct shape, and was able to produce functional surfaces with an area measuring 4mm x 4mm - a useful scale that could be used in conjunction with a camera lens for example. While this demonstration metamaterial functions in the infrared range of the spectrum, it is essentially isotropic and worked regardless of the direction from which it was viewed (up to an angle of 40 degrees). The group will explore stacking of layers to engineer other properties and ideally extend the technique into shorter wavelengths. 

2. Affordable Drones Becoming More Advanced.
A basic neuromorphic chip containing 576 neurons has been tested successfully to read sensory data from a tiny sub-100 gram quadrotor drone http://www.technologyreview.com/news/532176/a-brain-inspired-chip-takes-to-the-sky/. The chip processes data from optical, ultrasound, and infrared sensors as it flies between rooms, forming and reforming on-chip neuronal connections in real time and being able to tell if it is in a new room or one it had been in before, all while drawing less than 50 milliwatts of power. Built as part of a DARPA challenge it’ll be a while before capabilities like this find their way into consumer drones. But consumer-level drones are becoming pretty advanced in any case with the new eXom drone http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/aerial-robots/sensefly-exom-drone-vision-and-ultrasonic-sensors that includes 5 vision and 5 ultrasound sensors for 360 degree awareness and uses this with new algorithms to set new standards in positional stability and autonomous control.

3. 3D Printed Quantum Dot LEDs.
3D printing can now produce interwoven structures of quantum dots, polymers, and metal nanoparticles to create the first fully 3D printed LEDs http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=37985.php. As a proof-of-concept the team created 2x2x2 arrays of LEDs that included both horizontal and vertical electrical wiring, and also the ability to 3D scan a curved surface (such as a contact lens) and to conformally print the LEDs on non-flat topologies. The approach involves first identifying the right materials with the required characteristics, dissolving the different materials in different orthogonal solvents, and printing from a suitable CAD design. The team next hope to increase resolution and improve performance and aim to print other active devices such as MEMS, transistors, solar cells, and photodiodes. These new conductive polymers http://phys.org/news/2014-11-path-electrons-polymers-limits.html may also prove useful in these applications. 

4. Half of Stars Found Outside of Galaxies.
Recent, and quite provocative, studies on astronomical observations strongly suggest that half of all stars in the Universe float outside conventional galactic boundaries http://www.nature.com/news/half-of-stars-lurk-outside-galaxies-1.16288. The best explanation seems to be that the stars wound up in intergalactic space as the result of galactic collisions and mergers. The observations were made with the Cosmic Infrared Background Experiment that unexpectedly showed a huge surplus of light coming from between galaxies; as much light as galaxies themselves produce. A second version of the experiment is planned and will look for signatures in visible instead of infrared light, which would help to support the conclusion that half of stars occupy intergalactic space. If the models hold up, then I wonder what impact this will have on other models describing the evolution of the Universe, its energy budget, and especially dark matter given the implication that half of a given galaxy’s stars (mass) may have been ejected and the implications this has for the conservation of galactic angular momentum. 

5. Autodesk CAD Software now Evolves 3D Designs.
I’ve always been a big fan of software using evolutionary principles to design real and virtual objects and materials. Autodesk’s new Dreamcatcher CAD software represents the latest development in the space http://www.technologyreview.com/news/532126/software-designs-products-by-simulating-evolution/. A user or designer first adds basic design goals into Dreamcatcher such as a starting model, materials, performance criteria, and cost constraints. The software then mutates and breeds many generations of solutions based on this information, often producing innovative and creative designs that a human would never have thought of. As a basic demonstration Dreamcatcher designed a rear-suspension component for a motorcycle that is currently undergoing road testing. I really think the applications for such evolved generative designs are limitless; we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface. 

6. Sirtuin Anti-Aging Drugs Showing (More Credible) Promise.
Prominent researcher David Sinclair and his group continue to generate data and evidence for the promise of sirtuin drugs and pathways in combating aging and age-related illnesses, press release here: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-04/scientists-reverse-ageing-process-in-mice/5865714, publication here: http://www.cell.com/cell-reports/abstract/S2211-1247%2814%2900065-5. The latest results demonstrated that a particular sirtuin 1 activator resulted in (i) extension of mean lifespan of mice fed a standard diet, (ii) improved healthspan of mice fed a standard diet, (iii) reduction in age-associated risk factors for metabolic disease, and (iv) anti-inflammatory properties in target tissues. Human clinical trials have so far demonstrated the molecules are safe for use in humans. Quote: We've discovered genes that control how the body fights against ageing and these genes, if you turn them on just the right way, they can have very powerful effects, even reversing ageing. 

7. Highjacking Existing Gene Networks to Mass Produce Drugs.
Producing large amounts of complex bio-synthesised compounds can be difficult and one way to do this is to identify and hack an existing organism that already produces large amounts of a complex compound. Researchers have discovered a particular fungus that happens to produce large amounts of the compound equisetin in particular environments (and food sources); by swapping two genes out of the equisetin-production pathway for genes from another organism involved in synthesis of their drug candidate of interest (an anti-TB molecule) they produced an engineered fungus that synthesises large, useful amounts of drug when grown in a conveniently controllable environment http://phys.org/news/2014-11-rewriting-natural-drug-compounds.html. Splicing synthetic gene pathways into an organism like this typically only produces small amounts of your molecule of interest; it is surprising that not more work has been done to build up a library of organisms and pathways that can be conveniently hacked in this manner to produce large amounts. 

8. Producing Nanodiamond Films with Pulsed Lasers.
A new technique called confined pulse laser deposition uses, as the name implies, laser pulses to convert regions of confined graphite (layered graphene) into a graphitic plasma that quickly solidifies into a nanodiamond diamond film http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2014/Q4/direct-writing-of-diamond-patterns-from-graphite-a-potential-technological-leap.html. This allows for arbitrary nanodiamond patterns to be directly written onto surfaces and all without the need for high temperatures and high pressures that normal synthetic diamond production usually entails. In related news this week graphene was (i) successfully used to create a new p-n junction architecture http://phys.org/news/2014-11-single-sheet-graphene-p-n-junction-gates.html, and (ii) combined with nanopores and optical antennas to enable better DNA nanopore sequencing http://phys.org/news/2014-11-unique-graphene-nanopores-optical-antennas.html. 

9. Trapping A Rainbow on Silicon.
Until this week it was only possible to completely trap light in a Bose-Einstein condensate at ultra-low temperatures. Now, by building on optical theories a group of researchers has managed to directly engineer a Goos-Hӓnchen effect (where the point of reflection of a light beam shifts due to interfering with itself) with a negative value large enough to stop and trap a beam of light https://medium.com/the-physics-arxiv-blog/first-experimental-demonstration-of-a-trapped-rainbow-using-silicon-795ff204385e. This was accomplished with a silicon interference grating placed on silica in which changes in grating spacing allows trapping of light of different wavelengths, and in this way allows a gradient of different spacings to tease and trap a rainbow of light. Control of such a phenomena should allow optical buffers, optical signal processing, and optical computers. 

10. SCNT vs IPS Stem Cells.
A recent study suggests that the method of somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) produces better stem cells than the method of induced (reprogrammed) pluripotency (IPS) https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2014/11/suggesting-that-scnt-is-better-than-induced-pluripotency-for-producing-cells-for-therapy.php. SCNT is difficult and used nowhere near as often as the very popular and more recently developed IPS technique. While copy-number variations were similar to both, whereas the DNA methylation profiles of IPS cells differed substantially from embryonic stem cells and SCNT stem cells, and more closely resembled the DNA methylation patterns of their parent somatic cells. While IPS cells are still expected to have great utility in coming years, SCNT cells are the ideal option if possible for cell therapies due to their being faithfully reprogrammed. This result might also encourage the development of better IPS reprogramming techniques to more faithfully produce better stem cells. 

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

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2014-11-07 12:48:57 (30 comments, 20 reshares, 86 +1s)Open 

The Development of My Intellect Began with This Book.

It has been 14 years since I read this book. It was the year 2000 and I was in the third, and final, undergraduate year of my Bachelor of Science Degree, majoring in genetics and biochemistry at the University of Adelaide. I’d always been a voracious reader and had developed a strong love of the SciFi (fantasy) genre, being shaped over the years by Fiest, Eddings, Gemmel, Hobb, and of course my favourite Martin. In the first six months of my final year I devoured 33 novels in this genre despite the steep study load. For me there was little else worth reading. 

Then, by chance I came across this book http://www.amazon.com/The-Portable-Henry-Rollins/dp/0375750002 by Henry Rollins, of Rollins Band fame and for which I’d been a fan for some time. Side note: I’ve seen Henry’s spoken word shows every. single. time. he’svisited Ad... more »

The Development of My Intellect Began with This Book.

It has been 14 years since I read this book. It was the year 2000 and I was in the third, and final, undergraduate year of my Bachelor of Science Degree, majoring in genetics and biochemistry at the University of Adelaide. I’d always been a voracious reader and had developed a strong love of the SciFi (fantasy) genre, being shaped over the years by Fiest, Eddings, Gemmel, Hobb, and of course my favourite Martin. In the first six months of my final year I devoured 33 novels in this genre despite the steep study load. For me there was little else worth reading. 

Then, by chance I came across this book http://www.amazon.com/The-Portable-Henry-Rollins/dp/0375750002 by Henry Rollins, of Rollins Band fame and for which I’d been a fan for some time. Side note: I’ve seen Henry’s spoken word shows every. single. time. he’s visited Adelaide. I enjoyed it and for the first time I realised that I might actually enjoy other non-fiction genres. I then happened to come into possession of Hyperspace by Michio Kaku.

Never before had my young mind been ignited so thoroughly and so delightfully by a book. I had enjoyed flashes of deep insight before, when complex concepts concerning physical phenomena just clicked but never to the extent and frequency as I experienced with this book. I’d excelled academically in high school, graduating dux of the town despite a heavy load of physics, chemistry, and double mathematics and also girlfriends, sports, and a social life. But looking back I think I can rightfully call this a mindless sort of intelligence and insight. This book was the first of very many mindful insights and the associated intelligent connections between disparate ideas and concepts, the expansion of the possible, the grounding of my tiny irrelevant place in the Universe, and the first true spark to ignite the development of my mind and the insatiable curiosity that has led to my current state. 

I read remarkably few SciFi books in the following years and instead dove headfirst into a torrent of non-fiction - both popular science and academic texts - focused on physics, cosmology, evolution, mathematics, biology, psychology, philosophy, mind, neuroscience, consciousness, technology, futurism, chaos, emergence, rationality, economics, and human nature. I was interested in everything. In a way this was a continual seeking of my next fix, the surge of pleasure I enjoyed every time I learned something new and profound and the flashes of insight and creativity that delightfully connected a myriad of concepts, frameworks, and models. 

This book was my spark. A spark that led me down a different life path focused on innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology. A path that led me to transhumanism. A path that led to a deeper understanding and far grander goals than I could ever have previously imagined. 

What was your spark? 

#hyperspace   #lifejourney   #fortheloveofscience  ___

2014-11-07 11:28:29 (27 comments, 0 reshares, 31 +1s)Open 

Thank you "Backspace" button for destroying the almost complete post I'd been working on by instead activating the "Back" browser function. 

Thank you "Backspace" button for destroying the almost complete post I'd been working on by instead activating the "Back" browser function. ___

2014-11-06 00:36:11 (16 comments, 0 reshares, 13 +1s)Open 

My email address classified as spam?

This is a little disconcerting. A few weeks ago when I received my own SciTech Digest email (an automatic mail-out service provided by Feedburner) while checking email in the Gmail web interface I noticed a “warning” tagged to the email that it might be spam because others had flagged emails like that as spam in the past. And a couple of weeks ago I received a notice from our conveyancer (for the house purchase) that she had found one of my (rather important) emails in her workplace junk / spam folder. 

The SciTech Digest has an email delivery option for anyone interested in receiving the posts via email; this and the main RSS feed is powered by Feedburner. It is opt-in: you have to click the email option, click the Feedburner site, enter your email, and click confirm. When an email arrives there is a simple one-click unsubscribe optionto o... more »

My email address classified as spam?

This is a little disconcerting. A few weeks ago when I received my own SciTech Digest email (an automatic mail-out service provided by Feedburner) while checking email in the Gmail web interface I noticed a “warning” tagged to the email that it might be spam because others had flagged emails like that as spam in the past. And a couple of weeks ago I received a notice from our conveyancer (for the house purchase) that she had found one of my (rather important) emails in her workplace junk / spam folder. 

The SciTech Digest has an email delivery option for anyone interested in receiving the posts via email; this and the main RSS feed is powered by Feedburner. It is opt-in: you have to click the email option, click the Feedburner site, enter your email, and click confirm. When an email arrives there is a simple one-click unsubscribe option to opt-out. Because the blog / archive is linked to my personal email it appears to come from me and is associated with my personal email. 

I’m wondering if someone or somefew have, instead of clicking unsubscribe have instead flagged the emails as spam to get rid of them? Either ignorantly or maliciously? 

But there are less than two dozen people who have signed up to receive the Digest in this manner in any case. 

I’m worried that emails from my personal email may be tarnished in this manner and fail to get through to some people and this could be for quite important matters at times. A quick test emailing my work address and other addresses seems to be okay. But still, in the back of my mind I wonder if I have exposed myself to a risk of damaging the reliability of my personal email. 

Does anyone have any comments or ideas as to what is happening or what I might consider doing? Remove the Digest email subscription option altogether? Change the subscription option to a different email address if possible? ___

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2014-11-04 12:32:15 (0 comments, 4 reshares, 45 +1s)Open 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consider MagicLe... more »

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#visual   #augmentedreality   #future  

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2014-11-02 12:09:54 (24 comments, 67 reshares, 127 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 44/14.
DNA molecular electronics, neural turing machine, electric fields vs dark matter, terahertz circuits and fibers, uranium extraction, CRISPR genomics, plasmene nanosheets, cancer blood test, isotopic bond changes.

1. Quadruplex DNA For Molecular Electronics.
Specific DNA sequences have now been designed to self-assemble into long quadruplex structures that conduct electricity http://new.huji.ac.il/en/article/23717. For the first time reliable and well-quantified electrical current was induced and controlled through long self-assembled DNA molecules through techniques such as DNA Origami that have long been thought to be an ideal substrate for assembling molecular circuits. This current demonstration paves the way for implementing DNA-based programmable circuits for molecular electronics. The idea of mixing a solution of... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 44/14.
DNA molecular electronics, neural turing machine, electric fields vs dark matter, terahertz circuits and fibers, uranium extraction, CRISPR genomics, plasmene nanosheets, cancer blood test, isotopic bond changes.

1. Quadruplex DNA For Molecular Electronics.
Specific DNA sequences have now been designed to self-assemble into long quadruplex structures that conduct electricity http://new.huji.ac.il/en/article/23717. For the first time reliable and well-quantified electrical current was induced and controlled through long self-assembled DNA molecules through techniques such as DNA Origami that have long been thought to be an ideal substrate for assembling molecular circuits. This current demonstration paves the way for implementing DNA-based programmable circuits for molecular electronics. The idea of mixing a solution of chemicals in a test tube to produce a computer is no longer as crazy as it sounds. 

2. DeepMind’s Neural Turing Machine.
The Google-acquired company DeepMind has built a new computer system dubbed a neural turing machine that can be thought of as providing a neural network with an external memory or of creating a computer with a short-term memory like the human brain http://www.technologyreview.com/view/532156/googles-secretive-deepmind-startup-unveils-a-neural-turing-machine/. This prototype system learns as it stores memories - which it is able to later access to perform tasks beyond those it had been trained to do. The system can “chunk” information in a broadly similar way to what human brains do, and draw connections between the different chunks, which it also stores in memory and can draw on to help solve more complex pattern recognition tasks. Adding a human-like hierarchy to this memory processing will be an important route of future investigation but in the interim it will be interesting to see what applications emerge from the current system. 

3. Dark Matter as Galactic-Scale Electric Fields.
A new result in theoretical physics suggests that the anomalous gravitational observations that birthed dark matter theories can be explained instead by galactic-scale electric fields https://medium.com/the-physics-arxiv-blog/galactic-scale-electric-fields-could-solve-the-dark-matter-mystery-says-physicist-117a6488ba0e. The conceptual underpinning is simple: cosmically powerful activity in the centre of galaxies propels electrons from the center to the outer regions, giving the core a net positive, and the periphery a net negative charge, and setting up an electrostatic force sufficient to hold rapidly rotating galaxies together. While the amount of charge needed to provide this force is quite large at about 10^31 Coulombs, it corresponds only to 1 proton every 10^11 cubic meters, or a field strength of 1 volt per meter at the Sun’s location. Experiments and testable hypotheses will be needed, as well as solar charging mechanisms, in order to give this theory some additional weight. 

4. DARPA’s Terahertz Integrated Circuits.
DARPA’s Terahertz Electronics program has succeeded in creating and demonstrating a terahertz integrated circuit functioning as the fastest solid-state amplifier ever measured http://www.darpa.mil/NewsEvents/Releases/2014/10/28.aspx. At one trillion cycles per second the circuit managed to generate an amplifier gain of 9 - 10 decibels; gains of at least 6 decibels were calculated as the amount required to build practical applications for a terahertz chip. The demonstration opens up a pathway to building practical terahertz radio radio circuits and other applications including imaging, radar, communications, and more sensitive spectrometers to name just a few. 

5. 255 Terabits Over Multicore Optical Fiber.
On the topic of fast terahertz wireless speeds we have a new multicore optical fiber able to provide wired data transfer speeds of 255 terabits per second https://www.tue.nl/en/university/news-and-press/news/27-10-2014-tue-researchers-demonstrate-record-data-transmission-over-a-specially-fabricated-fibre/. The new optical fiber achieves this incredible speed that can provide 21 times more bandwidth than current networks with a new architecture involving seven independent cores through which light can travel as well as two additional wavelength division multiplexing techniques. This is only a factor of four away from petabit transmission rates. 

6. New Approach to Extracting Uranium from Seawater.
There have been a number of different technologies developed to extract uranium (and other valuable metals) from seawater in recent years and this latest effort involves the rational design of active sites in metal-organic framework (MOF) materials http://news.uchicago.edu/article/2014/10/30/uranium-extracting-technology-seawater-earns-student-fuel-cycle-research-award. These MOFs took inspiration from enzymes and other proteins that possess high affinity for uranium and other metals, were engineered with similar binding sites, and yet produce materials that are many times lighter than proteins. Proteins typically absorb only one thousandth of their mass when capturing a uranium atom; these MOFs can absorb 20% of their mass in uranium. 

7. Complex Genomic Knowledge Made Possible with CRISPR.
A recent CRISPR study builds on and further extends the platform to enable the genome-wide mapping of complex genetic pathways and gene networks, and determining the genome-wide funcion of transcripts http://www.cell.com/cell/abstract/S0092-8674(14)01178-7 (paywall). The work involved generating transcriptional repressors with CRISPRi (interfering) and transcriptional activators with CRISPRa, all with minimal off-target effects and enabling the fine modulation of gene expression over a 1,000-fold range. This is a powerful, fundamental tool for generating huge amounts of information and functional knowledge about our genome and is expected to lead to insights for intervening in many if not most human diseases. 

8. Fabricating Giant Plasmene Nanosheets.
One particle thick, superlattice sheets of nanoparticles (dubbed plasmene due to their plasmonic properties and in reference to graphene) have been created with a new technique allowing fabrication of sheets with nanoscale thickness and lateral dimensions measuring up to three millimeters or 75,000 times long as they are thick http://nextbigfuture.com/2014/10/giant-plasmene-nanosheets-nanoribbons.html. Once bottom-up self-assembly is complete the sheets can be patterned with conventional lithography to create nanoribbons, folded 3D plasmene origami, and other structures. Given the plasmonic light manipulation of such materials there are possible applications in light capture (solar cells, imaging), emission (lasers, displays, etc), and transmission (communications).

9. A New Type of Cancer Blood Test.
A new, convenient, blood-test for cancer is being developed that is based on a technology developed for testing a baby’s DNA before birth via a blood test on the mother http://www.technologyreview.com/news/532101/scientists-pursue-novel-blood-tests-for-cancer/. With the pre-natal screening the technique allows the trace amounts of the baby’s DNA circulating in the mother’s blood to be analysed and reveal complications such as Down Syndrome. Now the team has demonstrated that essentially the same technique can be used to identify genetic damage that is indicative of early-stage cancer. There are still trials and work to do to quantify its effectiveness in this application and determine the incidence of false positives / negatives but such a simple early-stage diagnostic tool would be transformative. 

10. Isotopic Influences on Chemical Bonds.
Recent work suggests that in certain cases the substitution of an atomic isotope complete changes the type of chemical bond that element forms http://phys.org/news/2014-10-fundamental-nature-chemical-bonding-isotopic.html. Such effects are most pronounced with light atoms such as hydrogen and its isotopic derivatives deuterium, tritium, and also exotic entities such as muonium - an electron orbiting an anti-muon that behaves like a hydrogen isotope but much lighter. The research suggests that, when studying bromine at least, the conventional hydrogen isotopes from typical linear or bent bonds, whereas the muonium would form a completely and fundamentally different type of bond known as a vibrational bond. Interesting investigations into fairly fundamental states of matter. 

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

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2014-10-26 13:08:14 (13 comments, 44 reshares, 79 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 43/14.
Micron-scale self assembly, graphene brain electrodes, smart sweat sensors, repairing spines, protein engineering tools, ultrasound-powered implants, dry paper SynBio, microfluidic diagnostics, imaging inside cells, China GMO.

1. Atomically Precise Self Assembly to Micron Scales.
In a significant advance for DNA Origami technology the DNA-brick self-assembly method developed by Wyss scientists in 2012 has been significantly improved http://wyss.harvard.edu/viewpressrelease/173/. In recent demonstrations this technology can now produce self-assembled DNA crystals up to a micrometer in size laterally and up to 80nm in depth with fine control over the dimensions of the final crystal, the orientation of DNA subunits, and the presence of user-designed complex 3D nanoscale features and voids. A further demonstration revealed... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 43/14.
Micron-scale self assembly, graphene brain electrodes, smart sweat sensors, repairing spines, protein engineering tools, ultrasound-powered implants, dry paper SynBio, microfluidic diagnostics, imaging inside cells, China GMO.

1. Atomically Precise Self Assembly to Micron Scales.
In a significant advance for DNA Origami technology the DNA-brick self-assembly method developed by Wyss scientists in 2012 has been significantly improved http://wyss.harvard.edu/viewpressrelease/173/. In recent demonstrations this technology can now produce self-assembled DNA crystals up to a micrometer in size laterally and up to 80nm in depth with fine control over the dimensions of the final crystal, the orientation of DNA subunits, and the presence of user-designed complex 3D nanoscale features and voids. A further demonstration revealed the ability to precisely position gold nanoparticles in user-designed 2D patterns each individually less than 2nm apart from each other. As this technology continues to mature its many applications will be profound. Quote: DNA nanotechnology now makes it possible for us to assemble, in a programmable way, prescribed structures rivaling the complexity of many molecular machines we see in Nature.

2. Graphene Electrodes for Transparent Brain-Computer Interfaces.
A DARPA-funded project has successfully demonstrated the fabrication and application of an implanted brain computer interface chip that uses transparent graphene electrodes to record activity from the brain http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2014/141020/ncomms6258/full/ncomms6258.html. The flexible prototype devices were implanted onto the surface of rat brains and successfully recorded neurophysiological signals while the researchers simultaneously (i) modulated areas of the cortex directly beneath the electrodes with light and optogentically engineered rats, or (ii) imaged the cortical vasculature directly beneath the electrodes with a range of imaging techniques. This looks to be a powerful tool for research in this area and I’m interested to see whether transparent light-emitting diodes might be incorporated in future. 

3. Smart Diagnostic Sweat Sensors.
This week there was a nice in-depth review article discussing the development and utility of smart diagnostic sweat sensors http://spectrum.ieee.org/biomedical/diagnostics/sweat-sensors-will-change-how-wearables-track-your-health. Current sensors look like a bandaid with layers comprising (i) a sticky sweat-permeable adhesive, (ii) processing and communications chips built into a large flexible antenna, (iii) a suitable paper microfluidic chip, and (iv) a top facing protective layer. Such devices are designed to be worn, absorb sweat, analyse sweat for appropriate metabolites, record sensing events to the embedded electronics and communicate this via short-range bluetooth to a nearby smartphone. Such devices in future will offer real-time monitoring of a persons metabolites and biomarkers. 

4. Repairing Spines to allow Paraplegics to Walk Again.
The results of an experimental study were announced this week in which olfactory ensheathing cells were taken from a paralysed man’s olfactory bulb, grown in the lab, and re-inserted into the site of the man’s spinal injury, and ultimately resulting in him now being able to walk again with the aid of a frame https://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/news-articles/1014/211014-UCL-research-helps-paralysed-man-recover-function. The professor who led the work first demonstrated treatment of spinal injuries in rats with these cells in 1997 so this work was a long time coming. It is hoped that this success serves as a turning point in bringing the treatment to the very many other people in desperate need of it. Mass-market application of cell therapies in this manner will have additional flow-on benefits to the myriad other cell therapies under development. 

5. An Expanded Protein Engineering Toolset.
Recent work demonstrating an expanded protein engineering toolset that includes computational modelling and peptide biochemistry, biophysics, and crystallography resulted in the rational design and development of new protein channel structures http://www.bris.ac.uk/news/2014/october/barrel-proteins.html. The proof-of-concept structures involved the assembly of different alpha-helix proteins in groups of five, six, and seven units to form long barrels or channel proteins with well-defined pore diameters. The tool should help in designing new proteins that can be added to cells to function as enzyme catalysts or selective gates for molecules for example. 

6. Powering Miniature Implanted Chips with Ultrasound.
Tiny chips with piezoelectric sensors or generators designed to be implanted into the body have been developed that can be powered by external sources of ultrasound http://news.stanford.edu/news/2014/october/sound-powered-chip-10-15-14.html. The current prototypes convert ultrasound to electricity, execute limited medial commands, send data wirelessly to an external receiver, and are the size of the tip of a ballpoint pen. The group plans to boost capabilities while further shrinking the device to 10% of its current size and aim to enable future applications in which a large network of implanted devices could sense and stimulate a mammalian brain for example. 

7. Synthetic Biology on Dry Paper and Toehold Switches.
At this point I’m convinced that the Wyss Institute is one of the most innovative ground-breaking scientific powerhouses on the planet. In addition to #1 we had another two major developments in synthetic biology from Wyss this week http://www.nanowerk.com/news2/biotech/newsid=37849.php. First, a versatile range of paper-based diagnostics and biosensors were built using a technique to combine cell-free proteins and polynucleotides onto printed spots on paper that was then freeze dried and able to be stored for up to a year. Simply adding the solution to be analysed - lab experiment, patent blood or saliva, etc - to the paper activates the biomolecules embedded in the paper fibers. These included fluorescent proteins and colour-changing proteins, small molecule and RNA activation of genetic switches, complex gene circuits, and programmable diagnostics to detect ebola for example. All on a postage-stamp-sized piece of paper. Second, the development of synthetic toehold switches; specifically-designed gene regulatory elements whose structure stops designated gene expression, but which changes in the presence of a specific RNA sequence to allow and promote the designated gene expression. 

8. Entopsis Nutec Microfluidic Diagnostics.
In related news the young company Entopsis has commercialised its Nutec microfluidics diagnostic platform as a research tool but seeks to simplify the device and put it in the hands of a wider consumer market http://wlrn.org/post/miami-scientists-are-building-smartphones-can-diagnose-cancer. Nutec chips have an array of 50 - 500 tiny wells packed with numerous combinations of biosensors; when a patient sample is added - blood, saliva, etc - it produces a distinctive pattern of colours that can be analysed to confirm a test or diagnosis. I think an interesting strategy for such a company to pursue would be to redesign the Nutec chip as a Project Ara module http://www.projectara.com/. 

9. Dynamic Images of Molecules Moving Inside Living Cells.
A new imaging platform called lattice sheet microscopy has been developed that allows 3D images of intracellular molecular activity to be captured in real time http://www.hhmi.org/news/new-microscope-collects-dynamic-images-molecules-animate-life. The new microscope can image internal activity of cells and embryos without inducing light damage and over far longer periods than was previously possible. The resolution of the microscope is such that it can track the movements of individual proteins in three dimensions, track the growth and dynamics of the cytoskeleton in dividing cells, and monitor the fine changes that occur over hours during key developmental stages. The videos prepared by the team really do have to be seen. 

10. China: A GMO Powerhouse.
Capping off the week we had a good review article from Technology Review covering the impressive scale and scope of Chinese GMO research and development programs http://www.technologyreview.com/featuredstory/531721/chinas-gmo-stockpile/. Even though China faces popular opposition to GMO crops in a similar way to that faced by western governments and the authorities have not approved a new GMO crop in five years, the country is still the world’s top public spender on the genetic modification of crops. Many believe China is deploying these resources to build up a store of engineered crops and agricultural technologies that can be quickly deployed when changing environmental and demographic factors demand it. This is possibly an example of the precautionary principle practiced in a risk-averse country invariably leading to a proactionary country gaining a technological advantage. 

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

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2014-10-25 23:41:42 (2 comments, 12 reshares, 30 +1s)Open 

The Wyss Institute: A Scientific & Technological Powerhouse.

I was reading about yet another powerful scientific advance driven by scientists from the Wyss Institute yesterday and thought I should go and grab this wonderful video I saw a couple of months ago. The Wyss advance will be in my weekly digest this week; work produced by Wyss probably manages to get into my digests every 2 - 4 weeks, which is pretty amazing I think. 

Donald gives an overview of the Wyss Institute itself - its foundation, funding, values, and mission - before digging in to a bunch of their more interesting projects and the development of new fundamental scientific advances and groundbreaking technologies that are changing, or will change, the world. 

These technologies include pseudo-tricorders, tissues and organs on chips, programmable nanomaterials, injectable medical devices, DNAO... more »

The Wyss Institute: A Scientific & Technological Powerhouse.

I was reading about yet another powerful scientific advance driven by scientists from the Wyss Institute yesterday and thought I should go and grab this wonderful video I saw a couple of months ago. The Wyss advance will be in my weekly digest this week; work produced by Wyss probably manages to get into my digests every 2 - 4 weeks, which is pretty amazing I think. 

Donald gives an overview of the Wyss Institute itself - its foundation, funding, values, and mission - before digging in to a bunch of their more interesting projects and the development of new fundamental scientific advances and groundbreaking technologies that are changing, or will change, the world. 

These technologies include pseudo-tricorders, tissues and organs on chips, programmable nanomaterials, injectable medical devices, DNA Origami, tensegrity cellular and nanostructures, bio-robotics, self assembled materials, directed evolution and evolved materials, and probably a lot more that they're yet to publish. 

20 minutes and worth a watch at some point when you get the chance. 

#wyss   #sciencesunday   #glorioustechnology  ___

2014-10-25 14:41:53 (11 comments, 1 reshares, 40 +1s)Open 

I wasted far too much time researching and trying to fix this tonight.

Hangouts is mostly good except for two poor design choices. As a heavily-integrated Google user Hangouts remains my default messaging application, despite two terrible UI "features".

First, although group "Hangouts" works like a dream, the "group SMS" function has been broken from prior versions and you can no longer send out group SMS; despite research the issue on forums I am unable to send out group MMS either. Second, the search function for adding contacts (i.e. tapping the first three letters of their name) to a message is a horrible horrible UX, pulling up Google+ contacts by default (obscure ones that I may never message) rather than the contact I may message all the time by SMS, even when they have the same name as the Google+ contacts. Not only do these issues make... more »

I wasted far too much time researching and trying to fix this tonight.

Hangouts is mostly good except for two poor design choices. As a heavily-integrated Google user Hangouts remains my default messaging application, despite two terrible UI "features".

First, although group "Hangouts" works like a dream, the "group SMS" function has been broken from prior versions and you can no longer send out group SMS; despite research the issue on forums I am unable to send out group MMS either. Second, the search function for adding contacts (i.e. tapping the first three letters of their name) to a message is a horrible horrible UX, pulling up Google+ contacts by default (obscure ones that I may never message) rather than the contact I may message all the time by SMS, even when they have the same name as the Google+ contacts. Not only do these issues make using the app harder than it should be, it also introduces needless friction and barriers to new user adoption.

If all of my real-life contacts used Google+ and Hangouts then it would be fine and wonderful and fantastic. Alas that is not going to happen, especially with the current UX, and especially when most of them are happy getting this functionality via other apps. 

#hangouts   #messaging   #badUX  ___

2014-10-24 10:12:36 (12 comments, 0 reshares, 18 +1s)Open 

Update: Works Perfectly Now.

Okay it seems my issue arose because I happened to have accidentally signed in with Backdrop on another account (Google Apps account) and then forgot about that instance and proceeded to configure Backdrop with my normal account on that specific Chromecast. So the Chromecast was basically taking instructions from both "user" settings - pulling in my album of choice and also the default random images from the other account. A factory rest and reconfiguration with only my default account and all is good - it loops only a single album or category as desired. Five stars. 

__________________________________________________________________

Chromecast Backdrop: Almost Perfect but Flawed.

I love the Chromecast and the Chromecast app and welcome the addition of Backdrop as a wonderful new feature but it does not worka... more »

Update: Works Perfectly Now.

Okay it seems my issue arose because I happened to have accidentally signed in with Backdrop on another account (Google Apps account) and then forgot about that instance and proceeded to configure Backdrop with my normal account on that specific Chromecast. So the Chromecast was basically taking instructions from both "user" settings - pulling in my album of choice and also the default random images from the other account. A factory rest and reconfiguration with only my default account and all is good - it loops only a single album or category as desired. Five stars. 

__________________________________________________________________

Chromecast Backdrop: Almost Perfect but Flawed.

I love the Chromecast and the Chromecast app and welcome the addition of Backdrop as a wonderful new feature but it does not work as advertised. When I select one of my albums (and no other photo options) it plays photos as expected but then reverts to random standard photos from all the other categories, which I have left off, rather than looping the album I've selected. I can't believe album looping by default isn't enabled or at least offered as an option and this severely limits the utility of Backdrop. Will change rating to 5 stars when this basic feature is added. 

#chromecast   #backdrop   #loopalbumdammit  ___

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2014-10-23 14:28:44 (1 comments, 3 reshares, 25 +1s)Open 

SENS Fundraiser 2014: Helping Fight the Disease of Aging.

I just renewed my donation to SENS Research Foundation http://sens.org/, marking it the 3rd consecutive year during which I've contributed at least $1 per day (indexed for inflation). This year I was able to be part of the FightAging! matching fundraiser to ensure that my donation was essentially tripled, which is wonderful. 

Please check out the details over at FightAging! for the current fundraiser https://www.fightaging.org/fund-research/ that runs from October 1st until December 31st and has just passed $12,000. The aim is to raise at least $50,000 and the matching funds will push this to $150,000. While SENS has secured funding from a number of high-net-worth individuals every little bit counts and is an important contribution towards funding ground-breaking research in extending not only human lifespans but... more »

SENS Fundraiser 2014: Helping Fight the Disease of Aging.

I just renewed my donation to SENS Research Foundation http://sens.org/, marking it the 3rd consecutive year during which I've contributed at least $1 per day (indexed for inflation). This year I was able to be part of the FightAging! matching fundraiser to ensure that my donation was essentially tripled, which is wonderful. 

Please check out the details over at FightAging! for the current fundraiser https://www.fightaging.org/fund-research/ that runs from October 1st until December 31st and has just passed $12,000. The aim is to raise at least $50,000 and the matching funds will push this to $150,000. While SENS has secured funding from a number of high-net-worth individuals every little bit counts and is an important contribution towards funding ground-breaking research in extending not only human lifespans but healthspans. 

SENS Research Foundation has the most rational approach to curing human diseases and extending healthy lifespans that I have ever examined, and focuses on repairing accumulated metabolic damage and rejuvenating aged biology to a youthful state http://sens.org/research/introduction-to-sens-research. The success of SENS represents, to my mind, the best chance we have of reaching longevity escape velocity http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longevity_escape_velocity and enjoying healthy, youthful indefinite lifespans. 

I contributed what I could afford; after recently purchasing a house this was less than I would have liked. If you can afford to donate to SENS and help improve the odds that we are not the last mortal generation then I and the wonderful team at SENS would be grateful. 

#sens   #fightaging   #supportresearch  ___

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2014-10-20 14:12:54 (10 comments, 7 reshares, 40 +1s)Open 

Chrome Extension: Earth View from Google Maps.

I've been using this new Chrome extension for a few days now and it quickly became apparent that I like it enough that I need to share it. Simply install it from the Chrome web store and it runs invisibly in the background. Whenever you open a new tab the extension activates and pulls in a random high-resolution satellite image of some amazing location on Earth that you've never seen before, and loads this as the background wallpaper on the new tab you just opened. 

This is such a simple thing; adding interesting, new information to a piece of very common digital real estate that we normally take for granted in its utility and function - the new tab page of a browser. Often I'll only glimpse the image for barely a second as I quickly type in the search or URL that I'm after. Other times I'll just have to pause... more »

Chrome Extension: Earth View from Google Maps.

I've been using this new Chrome extension for a few days now and it quickly became apparent that I like it enough that I need to share it. Simply install it from the Chrome web store and it runs invisibly in the background. Whenever you open a new tab the extension activates and pulls in a random high-resolution satellite image of some amazing location on Earth that you've never seen before, and loads this as the background wallpaper on the new tab you just opened. 

This is such a simple thing; adding interesting, new information to a piece of very common digital real estate that we normally take for granted in its utility and function - the new tab page of a browser. Often I'll only glimpse the image for barely a second as I quickly type in the search or URL that I'm after. Other times I'll just have to pause for several seconds just to look at the beautiful and striking image that has appeared. On a couple of occasions I've even forgotten what I was searching for altogether or else gotten distracted searching for that location on Google Maps and Wikipedia; digging in like this is very easily facilitated by clicking on the mini-globe icon at lower-right that conveniently provides an approximate location and name. 

Sometimes I'll even open up a dozen tabs in a row just to keep seeing new and different satellite images. Although I do occasionally come across the same image twice. If I want my usual apps or other shortcuts these can still be accessed by clicking on an Apps link at upper-left. 

In summary I've really appreciated how this little tool has provided so many interesting and random insights throughout my day in a new and engaging way. I've been at times surprised, astounded, and amazed at some of the images and locales. Feel free to give it a trial to see if you like as much as me; while I don't know how long I'll end up using it I don't plan on stopping anytime soon. 

I think I first found this via Google+ but I forget who to attribute - thanks to whoever it was!

#chrome   #extension   #satelliteimages  ___

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2014-10-19 14:46:32 (9 comments, 39 reshares, 99 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 42/14.
Modular RNA & DNA particles, big data automation, creating spacetimes, simulating black holes, synthesising ionic chains, printing crystal textures & solid forming, deep learning, drone traffic control.

1. Modular Multifunctional RNA Nanoparticles.
A new modular RNA nanoparticle technology starts with the computational design and subsequent self-assembly of hexagonal RNA rings onto which a range of different molecular functional groups can self-attach http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=37709.php. This approach is similar to DNA origami technology and functional groups that can be attached to these rings include siRNAs, aptamers, proteins, dyes, and RNA-DNA hybrids, which allows for a very diverse range of biosensing and therapeutic applications. Proof-of-concept involved (i) creating RNA rings with six... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 42/14.
Modular RNA & DNA particles, big data automation, creating spacetimes, simulating black holes, synthesising ionic chains, printing crystal textures & solid forming, deep learning, drone traffic control.

1. Modular Multifunctional RNA Nanoparticles.
A new modular RNA nanoparticle technology starts with the computational design and subsequent self-assembly of hexagonal RNA rings onto which a range of different molecular functional groups can self-attach http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=37709.php. This approach is similar to DNA origami technology and functional groups that can be attached to these rings include siRNAs, aptamers, proteins, dyes, and RNA-DNA hybrids, which allows for a very diverse range of biosensing and therapeutic applications. Proof-of-concept involved (i) creating RNA rings with six aptamers that selectively bind a green dye and significantly increased light emission, and (ii) testing different RNA rings with multiple functional groups against HIV infected cells - targeting multiple parts of HIV at once is important given how rapidly HIV evolves. This is a really nice platform technology and the group plans to significantly expand the library of parts that can be used with the technology. 

2. Multifunctional DNA Nanoparticles.
Closely related to the above we also saw DNA origami technology again being used in another approach to self-assemble multifunctional DNA cages 150nm wide that are coated with folic acid binding-molecules and contain an anticancer drug and a polymer-coated DNA-chewing enzyme http://news.ncsu.edu/2014/10/gu-cocoon-2014/. Cancer cells over-express folic acid on their surfaces and so the DNA cages are preferentially taken up by cancer cells, the internal environment of which causes the polymer to dissolve, releasing the enzyme to chew up the DNA cage, and releasing the anticancer drug to kill that cancer cell. The group hope to continue with preclinical testing. Quite aside from this promising application being developed it is great to see functional self-assembled DNA technology being used and investigated on such a regular and wide-spread basis. 

3. Further Big Data Automation with Data-Smashing Technique.
A new algorithmic data analysis technique called “Data-Smashing” should enable further automation of data analysis and accelerated knowledge discovery http://mediarelations.cornell.edu/2014/10/09/data-smashing-could-unshackle-automated-discovery/. Typically the machine-based analysis of huge data sets requires a human expert to point the algorithm towards relevant features for comparison. This new method dispenses with such human guidance and automatically estimates similarities and differences in huge data sets to assist with subsequent human use, and might also allow for deriving knowledge and relationships that human experts might not know to look for. Successful proof-of-concepts involved (i) electroencephalograph pattern data, (ii) anomalous cardiac activity readings, and (iii) astronomical object classification. 

4. Creating Curved Spacetimes.
Optical lattices, or traps, form from carefully controlled interference between two laser beams, and can comprise ordered arrays of minima or “pockets” that hold onto individual atoms of interest in ultra-cold, quantum-mechanical conditions. Recent studies in theoretical physics suggest that atoms embedded in such a lattice are mathematically equivalent to a quantum field in curved spacetime, which can be measured and observed directly - something previously difficult or impossible https://medium.com/the-physics-arxiv-blog/how-to-create-curved-spacetime-in-the-lab-c03107623468. Keeping the lattice regular is equivalent to a flat spacetime; changing the lattice to vary in space in different ways is equivalent to curved spacetimes. This suggests convenient means to simulate the expansion / contraction of spacetime to test various models and including relativistic effects and gravity waves. Fascinating stuff and I wonder what other applications optical lattices may give rise to?

5. New Materials to Simulate Black Holes.
On the topic of simulating curved spacetimes we also had an interesting result with the experimental reduction to practice of a prior theoretical model indicating that quantum fluids - in this case an optically confined and accelerated Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) moving faster than the speed of sound - produce Hawking radiation from event horizons in the form of phonons and their negative-energy partners http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn26366-desktop-sonic-black-hole-emits-hawking-radiation.html. An interesting result and potentially useful for direct and indirect probes of black holes as well as other gravity and spacetime experiments. 

6. First Synthesis of Two-Element Atomic Chains.
An ionic crystalline chain of repeating cesium and iodine ions has been synthesised for the first time within the confined one-dimensional space inside a carbon nanotube http://phys.org/news/2014-10-two-element-atomic-chain-microscopic-space.html. This is fairly fundamental research into new types of one-dimensional materials and will entail much more research into physical characterisation and developing additional applications for both the materials and also the ability to confine matter within these structures. 

7. 3D Printing Controlled Crystallographic Textures.
A new 3D printing technology using electron beam melting of metal powders allows bulk metallic parts to be fabricated with controlled microstructures and crystallographic textures throughout the entire volume http://www.ornl.gov/ornl/news/news-releases/2014/ornl-research-reveals-unique-capabilities-of-3-d-printing-. Such technology allows material and parts designers to specify location-specific crystal-structure-orientations in a part. This provides far greater control over part properties including strength, weight, function, conductivity, flexibility, etc. 

8. 3D Printing via Laser Solid Forming.
On the topic of 3D printing a new 3D printing technology called laser solid forming (LSF) has demonstrated the ability to print parts with properties that reach those of wrought or conventionally manufactured parts http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/3dp.2014.0016. LSF works by using focused laser pulses and synchronously-fed metal powders to map out, deposit, and melt precise amounts of metal powders to form arbitrary 3D structures. While best results are currently achieved with titanium and titanium alloys, other metals and materials also produce excellent results, even if not quite the same as conventional bulk parts. This represents a fairly significant milestone for 3D printing technologies - rapidly creating parts with the same strength, brittleness, etc of conventional parts. 

9. Deep Learning Machines Continue to Make Strides.
Earlier this year DeepMind, an artificial intelligence company bought by Google and focused on developing deep learning algorithms, demonstrated that its systems were able to learn to beat humans at basic computer games like Pong but not at slightly-more-complex games like Space Invaders. Now DeepMind’s systems are further developed and have learned to master Space Invaders and games of similar complexity http://singularityhub.com/2014/10/16/watch-deep-learning-ai-get-superhuman-at-space-invaders-after-all-night-gaming-session/. This approach to building AI systems focuses on developing the general ability to learn in real-time, from experience, and better adapt to environmental situations; it promises sophisticated web services, search, and robotics capabilities. 

10. Air-Traffic Control for Drones.
A project involving NASA and company Airware is building an air traffic control system to manage the projected increase in commercial drones filling our airspace in the coming years including 7,500 drones operating commercially by 2018 http://www.technologyreview.com/news/531811/air-traffic-control-for-drones/. Many of these commercial operations will be driven by industrial needs such as mining and especially agriculture like this one http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/aerial-robots/yamaha-demos-agricultural-robocopter. We seem to be at a fairly pivotal point for deciding where regulatory oversight of drones will go, and centralised systems like this one naturally give rise to proponents advocating for alternative distributed solutions. 

The weekly SciTech Digests are also available as a Google Newsstand Magazine Edition here: 
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2014-10-12 12:47:23 (17 comments, 45 reshares, 88 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 41/14.
OS for IoT, dynamic robot vision, particle detector app, printing displays, DNA nano-foundries, Watson APIs, fluid robot actuators, diabetes stem cells, engineering penises, automated drug screening.

1. New Operating Systems and Standards for The Internet of Things.
ARM announced the launch of a newly-developed Operating System, mbed, specifically designed for small, low-power devices and sensors that will constitute the Internet of Things http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/computing/embedded-systems/the-internet-of-things-gets-a-new-os. In part this is an effort to help establish standards for IoT architectures and protocols so that all of these devices can better communicate to one another and get around fragmentation issues. Mbed is just 256KB, mostly open-source, and is hoped to enable devices with years of... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 41/14.
OS for IoT, dynamic robot vision, particle detector app, printing displays, DNA nano-foundries, Watson APIs, fluid robot actuators, diabetes stem cells, engineering penises, automated drug screening.

1. New Operating Systems and Standards for The Internet of Things.
ARM announced the launch of a newly-developed Operating System, mbed, specifically designed for small, low-power devices and sensors that will constitute the Internet of Things http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/computing/embedded-systems/the-internet-of-things-gets-a-new-os. In part this is an effort to help establish standards for IoT architectures and protocols so that all of these devices can better communicate to one another and get around fragmentation issues. Mbed is just 256KB, mostly open-source, and is hoped to enable devices with years of battery-life. Widely-distributed OS’s and suitable standards will also help accelerate and simplify IoT product development; it’s good to see a number of competitive pushes in this space. 

2. Independent Robotic Agility with Dynamic Vision.
New dynamic vision camera sensors promise to provide flying drones and other robots with low-power, on-board enhanced maneuverability capabilities that can usually only be executed in controlled rooms covered in cameras and sensors with video data processed by large external computers http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/dynamic-vision-sensors-enable-high-speed-maneuvers-with-robots. Such a chip should allow drones to break free of these controlled environments and still execute precise aerial acrobatics for example. These Dynamic Vision System chips have low spatial resolution (prototype just 128x128 pixels) but incredibly high temporal resolution (low microseconds) to very rapidly track relative movements pixel by pixel. 

3. Distributed Cosmic Ray Particle Detection: There’s An App for That!
A new app makes it possible to detect cosmic rays with your smartphone’s camera http://www.gizmag.com/physicist-smartphones-pocket-cosmic-ray-detectors/34121/. The app uses the camera’s CMOS sensor as a muon detector, an elementary particle that can emerge from the particle debris produced when a cosmic ray particle smashes into the upper atmosphere, by measuring the voltage spikes produced when a muon strikes the imaging sensor. The app takes images every couple of seconds and analyses the data to determine genuine detection events and exclude background noise. Developed primarily as an educational tool it is still pretty cool - I never would have thought I’d be carrying around a device that could detect cosmic rays. 

4. Printing Thin-Film Flexible Touchscreen Displays on Almost Any Surface.
New printing techniques and inks allow for the rapid design and printing of cheap, simple, flexible, touchscreen displays with conventional printers onto many different types of surface http://gizmodo.com/how-to-print-a-super-thin-touchscreen-display-on-just-a-1643565689. The different inks are applied in different layers to sandwich the required dielectrics and phosphors between opaque and transparent conductors and you should check out this video for some application demonstrations PrintScreen: Fabricating Highly Customizable Thin-film Touch-Displays. This seems to be a great, versatile platform just waiting for an explosion of applications to develop and piggy-backing on further technical innovations in printing, inks (quantum dots?), power, control, and circuit design. 

5. Metal Nanoparticles from DNA Origami Nanofoundries.
DNA origami techniques now allow the production of custom-designed 3D nanoscale molds that can be used to fabricate precisely shaped and sized metal nanoparticles http://wyss.harvard.edu/viewpressrelease/170/dna-nanofoundries-cast-customshaped-metal-nanoparticles. Molds are first designed on computer and then software calculates the optimal DNA sequence predicted to rapidly self-assemble into the 3D structure; a gold nanoparticle placed into the mold acts as a seed that grows from a surrounding chemical solution to fill the void with gold. The DNA mold can be left in place or removed and the nanoparticles demonstrated as part of the study were 25nm across. I’d like to see molds for nanoparticle Lego blocks with a range of different properties that can be programmably assembled. 

6. IBM Launches Watson APIs.
IBM’s Watson machine intelligence service is now available to independent developers and third-party applications to call on via the newly released APIs http://www.infoworld.com/article/2822814/machine-learning/ibm-debuts-first-watson-machine-learning-apis.html. The services currently available include (i) language identification, (ii) machine translation, (iii) concept expansion, (iv) message resonance, (v) question and answer, (vi) relationship extraction, (vii) user modelling, and (viii) visualisation rendering. Lets hope these services start to translate into wider and publicly-accessible offerings of useful tools for people. 

7. Fluid Actuators and Better Robot Arms.
Disney Research has developed a range of robot arms that are low mass but high speed and with a smooth range of motion, all powered by a novel fluid transmission system using air or water http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/beautiful-fluid-actuators-make-soft-safe-robot-arms. The group built the new system with the aim of overcoming or solving some of the problems and limitations that come with conventional pneumatics, hydraulics, and cable systems and operating with an accessible 100 to 160 psi. One of the key components is a rolling diaphragm cylinder used throughout the assembly and helping to provide a torque density equal or better than a geared servo motor. 

8. Engineering Stem Cells to Cure Diabetes.
The series of steps needed to turn stem cells into the critical sugar-sensing, insulin-secreting beta cells of the pancreas that are needed but missing in type-1 diabetes has been discovered http://harvardmagazine.com/2014/10/melton-creates-beta-cells. The discovery of this six-step procedure was the result of a huge amount of study of when different beta cell genes were switched on and off in mice, frogs, and humans and then figuring out how to induce the correct sequence of changes in stem cells. The group can mass-produce hundreds of millions of patient-specific beta cells and plans to package these in an encapsulated device (to protect against immune attack) about the size of a credit card that could be implanted to cure a patient of their diabetes. 

9. Tissue Engineering of Penises.
Prominent tissue engineering researcher Anthony Atala’s latest tissue engineering project involves the engineering of human penises http://www.wakehealth.edu/Research/Urology/Regenerative-Medicine/Engineered-Penile-Erectile-Tissue.htm. Carrying on from earlier studies in animals the group chemically strips donor penises of cells before seeding with an animal’s own cells into the collagen penis scaffold. Functional testing of implanted penis tissue revealed that erectile tissue maintained smooth blood flow, normal pressure, normal response to nitric oxide relaxation, normal vein drainage, and normal sexual function capable of producing offspring. While arguably not the most critical organ to engineer it is the first functional engineered solid organ demonstrated, will undoubtedly improve the lives of some men when it passes clinical trials and, given the blockbuster sales of viagra and other drugs, might well spur additional investment and development of general purpose tissue engineering capabilities. 

10. High-Speed Screening of Biological Drugs.
Building on earlier technology developed for automated rapid capture, orientation, and imaging of zebrafish embryos, this new system is also able to inject each individual embryo with a different biological drug or drug delivery vehicle in order to assess and evaluate the performance of different drugs or technologies http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2014/high-speed-drug-screens-rna-delivery-0930. Such drug screens could involve different variations of RNA sequence, DNA sequence, protein structure, antibody structure, drug delivery effectiveness, etc. The proof-of-concept involved the screening of nanoparticle lipidoids (RNA delivery vehicles) and successfully demonstrated that some lipidoids that had performed badly in petri dishes managed to perform very well in the full animal and would otherwise been missed; other experiments confirmed a 97% performance correlation between zebrafish and rats and so validating the model’s usefulness. 

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

Almost missed this week; the most time-poor I've been all year aside from the trip to Singapore and Hong Kong. ___

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2014-10-05 07:12:38 (19 comments, 53 reshares, 112 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 40/14.
Neuromorphic brain computing, ideal solar surfaces, oxygen absorption material, mini-me robots, engineered yogurt bacteria, fermi paradox & GRBs, CNT yarns, molecular vibration sensor, RNA Cas9, graphene.

1. Neuromorphic & Brain-Like Computing Projects.
The European Human Brain Project reported on its first year of operations and progress towards its 2023 goal of simulating the entire human brain, with an overview of key areas including mouse and human brain data, cognitive architectures, theoretical neuroscience, platforms for brain simulation and high performance computing, neuromorphic computing and robotics; the report is here https://www.humanbrainproject.eu/documents/10180/538356/A5-achievements_AC_PRINT.pdf. IEEE Spectrum also had a nice review article covering IBM’s recent TrueNorth neuromorphic chipa... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 40/14.
Neuromorphic brain computing, ideal solar surfaces, oxygen absorption material, mini-me robots, engineered yogurt bacteria, fermi paradox & GRBs, CNT yarns, molecular vibration sensor, RNA Cas9, graphene.

1. Neuromorphic & Brain-Like Computing Projects.
The European Human Brain Project reported on its first year of operations and progress towards its 2023 goal of simulating the entire human brain, with an overview of key areas including mouse and human brain data, cognitive architectures, theoretical neuroscience, platforms for brain simulation and high performance computing, neuromorphic computing and robotics; the report is here https://www.humanbrainproject.eu/documents/10180/538356/A5-achievements_AC_PRINT.pdf. IEEE Spectrum also had a nice review article covering IBM’s recent TrueNorth neuromorphic chip advances and providing a nice comparison between the five main brain-like chip platforms http://spectrum.ieee.org/computing/hardware/how-ibm-got-brainlike-efficiency-from-the-truenorth-chip. 

2. Towards an Ideal Solar-Absorption Surface.
A material comprising a “two-dimensional metallic dielectric photonic crystal”, basically a two-dimensional surface array of nanocavities, has been engineered towards theoretically ideal performance with regard to absorbing all available solar radiation at wide absoption angles and without wasteful re-radiation or emission http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2014/perfect-solar-cell-0929. The surface, which is compatible with standard silicon mass-fabrication techniques, is designed to work with a solar-thermophotovoltaics device and making use of the absorbed light and heat that is generated. The nanocavities can be tuned or sized to capture other wavelengths if desired and almost any metal that can survive high temperatures can be used to make the device. New anisotropic nanopillars are also boosting photovoltaic conversion efficiencies http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/green-tech/solar/nanograss-is-greener-on-the-photovoltaic-side. 

3. Powerful Oxygen Absorption Material.
A new crystalline material comprising molecular cobalt complexes acts a powerful artificial hemoglobin, able to absorb and store oxygen in high concentrations http://www.sdu.dk/en/Om_SDU/Fakulteterne/Naturvidenskab/Nyheder/2014_09_30_iltsluger. The material acts as a both a sensor and a container for oxygen, and oxygen absorption and desorption cycling was demonstrated without material degradation; desorption can be triggered with low pressures and heat so far. 10 litres of this “oxygen sponge” can absorb all of the oxygen in a room and when saturated can hold three times as much oxygen as a standard oxygen tank under pressure. The molecular structure can be tuned to alter the absorption / desorption rates. Applications include rebreathers to absorb oxygen from water and related diving applications, space travel, gas filtration, food spoilage, etc although I wonder about other avenues involving weapons and even respirocytes. 

4. Better Robot UI with ROBOpuppet.
A vastly simplified robotic user-interface has been developed with ROBOpuppet, which basically involves 3D printing a smaller scaled-down version of the robot you wish to control, adding the electronics and communications to the full-scale robot, and then simply moving and modelling the ROBOpuppet to automatically tele-operate the larger robot http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/diy/tiny-3d-printed-model-robots. The proof-of-concept involved a robotic arm, but more complex robots such as Baxter and many others would also be possible. ROBOpuppet is cheap, easy, and comes with a calibration tool to ensure accurate and scaled mapping of movements to the larger robot. Such a device allows easier and more complex movements to be executed fluidly; it is extensible and I expect will evolve rapidly - the suggestion to introduce sensory feedback from the main robot to ROBOpuppet would make the platform even more useful.

5. Engineered Yogurt Bacteria Detect Colorectal Cancer.
The bacteria that make yogurt have been engineered to produce synthetic molecules that are broken down into specific compounds by enzymes overexpressed in certain bowel cancers, and this has been joined with a simple, cheap paper-based urine test that quickly detects these compounds to diagnose the presence of cancer http://www.technologyreview.com/news/531241/cancer-detecting-yogurt-could-replace-colonoscopies/. Conceivably this is a system you could make at home. This is just one example of how yogurt bacteria could be engineered in this way to detect disease - different modifications may enable the detection of a wide range of other diseases as well as being cheap and accessible in remote regions of the world. 

6. Recent Tweak to the Fermi Paradox and Drake Equation.
Recent studies on nearby galactic Gamma-Ray Bursts examined (i) the probability of GRBs occurring close to Earth and causing mass-extinction events during evolutionary history, and (ii) the much higher likelihood of GRBs in the inner Milky Way http://nextbigfuture.com/2014/09/partial-fermi-paradox-solution-gamma.html. The results suggest that the inner region of galaxies is inhospitable to life - or at least complex life - and the safest environments for life are the lowest density regions on the outskirts of galaxies; indeed perhaps only 10% of galaxies would be capable of supporting life for the extended periods necessary for the evolution of complex organisms. Such work implies that even with the huge number of inhabitable planets orbiting stars throughout the galaxy there is a much lower chance for intelligent life to evolve. 

7. Replacing Copper with Carbon Nanotube Yarns.
The technology for spinning carbon nanotubes into robust, flexible, conductive yarns and wires has continued to develop and in recent demonstrations these carbon nanotube yarns have replaced the copper windings in electric motors to achieve much greater efficiencies http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/semiconductors/nanotechnology/carbon-nanotube-yarns-set-to-replace-copper-windings-in-electric-motors. By replacing the copper with the carbon nanotube yarns the energy losses that such motors experience were halved and if scaled-up this could translate into improved efficiencies for the ubiquitous motors we take for granted including for energy generation and transport. In related nanotube news a new nanotube cathode can produce an intense electron beam without a large powerful laser http://phys.org/news/2014-09-nanotube-cathode-large-pricey-laser.html. 

8. Single Molecule Vibration Sensor.
Embedding individual dibenzoterrylene molecules in an anthracene crystal lattice results in a nano-scale vibration sensor able to detect miniscule movements http://phys.org/news/2014-10-molecule-microphone-proton-size-displacements.html. The device works by essentially focusing a laser on individual molecules and measuring changes in fluorescence from the molecule that are dependent on the level and mode of vibration. Such a single molecule vibration sensor could find applications in measuring acoustic strain, molecular sensing, and possibly calibrating nano-scale mechanical oscillators. 

9. CRISPR/Cas9 Gets Forked to RNA.
A new version of the transformative CRISPR/Cas9 system has been engineered, dubbed RCas9, that targets specific RNA sequences for site-specific cutting rather than DNA sequences http://newscenter.lbl.gov/2014/10/03/rcas9/. RCas9 allows direct RNA detection, analysis, and manipulation and importantly, while it can bind and cut desired RNA sequences it avoids corresponding DNA sequences. Straight away this system offers similar capabilities and applications as other RNA interference technology. But by tethering other proteins to RCas9 a range of other powerful applications open up including (i) tethering translation initiation factors to up- or down-regulate protein synthesis from a specific mRNA, (ii) tethering to beads could lead to sensing and analysis assays, (iii) other proteins would allow intron / exon targeting, (iv) tethering fluorescent proteins would allow observations of RNA localisation and cellular transport. 

10. Graphene. Graphene. Graphene. Graphene. Graphene.
Graphene has achieved a number of new milestones recently including (i) a new industrial fabrication technique for 300mm wafer-scale graphene films with 25,000 transistors and obvious ways to scale this up http://nanotechweb.org/cws/article/tech/58674, (ii) creating a superlattice by laying and aligning graphene on boron nitride to create a semi-conductor in which electrons possess different relativistic effects and can be steered http://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/news/article/?id=12790, (iii) the latest on crumpled graphene sheets for promising energy storage applications http://phys.org/news/2014-10-crumpled-graphene-unconventional-energy-storage.html, (iv) graphene biosensors faster and more sensitive than ELISA http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/biomedical/diagnostics/graphene-biosensor-is-faster-and-more-sensitive-than-elisa, and (v) terahertz chips and exceptional conductivity with graphene bonded to germanium http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/semiconductors/materials/graphene-and-germanium-a-happy-marriage-with-exceptional-conductivity. 

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2014-10-02 14:29:27 (10 comments, 0 reshares, 48 +1s)Open 

My Home Town.

Over the weekend we had a little road trip down to my home town of Whyalla to see my immediate family. 450km on Friday night on the way down, 450km on Sunday on the way back. This is where I grew up, this is the environment that shaped me in my formative years, the place where I lived for 18 years and have lived away from for the past 17 years.

This PhotoSphere was taken at the end of a short hike to the top of Mt Laura, which at just 150m high still manages to be the highest point in the region - as you can see from the flatness of the land for many miles around. The town looks very small, nestled up against the ocean and surrounded by red dirt and saltbush. This is the Australian bush and outback that I am most familiar with: semi-arid desert and no or very small trees.

You can see the three most important people in my life off to the side. It was... more »

My Home Town.

Over the weekend we had a little road trip down to my home town of Whyalla to see my immediate family. 450km on Friday night on the way down, 450km on Sunday on the way back. This is where I grew up, this is the environment that shaped me in my formative years, the place where I lived for 18 years and have lived away from for the past 17 years.

This PhotoSphere was taken at the end of a short hike to the top of Mt Laura, which at just 150m high still manages to be the highest point in the region - as you can see from the flatness of the land for many miles around. The town looks very small, nestled up against the ocean and surrounded by red dirt and saltbush. This is the Australian bush and outback that I am most familiar with: semi-arid desert and no or very small trees.

You can see the three most important people in my life off to the side. It was extremely windy and all three of them told me off for taking PhotoSpheres too close to the edge of the cliffs :)

#whyalla #photosphere #australia ___

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2014-09-28 11:49:15 (20 comments, 59 reshares, 124 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 39/14.
Lego microfluidics & self-assembly, CRISPR mouse, spinal rat control, powerful optogenetics, repetitive robotics, switchable telomerase, soft robots, synthetic lethality, sorting cells.

1. Lego-Like Modular Microfluidics.
An ingenious new modular microfluidic system has been developed that comprises a range of eight different standard components, all 3D printed, and each capable of performing a useful function - or processing operation - such as routing, mixing, and analysing fluids that enter the chips http://www.gizmag.com/mfic-modular-microfluidic-lab-on-chip/33962/. Each module has standard interconnects and so can be joined together, like Lego, in arbitrary arrangements, both vertically and horizontally, in order to create and test microfluidic chip designs that perform a particular application. Such a system... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 39/14.
Lego microfluidics & self-assembly, CRISPR mouse, spinal rat control, powerful optogenetics, repetitive robotics, switchable telomerase, soft robots, synthetic lethality, sorting cells.

1. Lego-Like Modular Microfluidics.
An ingenious new modular microfluidic system has been developed that comprises a range of eight different standard components, all 3D printed, and each capable of performing a useful function - or processing operation - such as routing, mixing, and analysing fluids that enter the chips http://www.gizmag.com/mfic-modular-microfluidic-lab-on-chip/33962/. Each module has standard interconnects and so can be joined together, like Lego, in arbitrary arrangements, both vertically and horizontally, in order to create and test microfluidic chip designs that perform a particular application. Such a system enables significant productivity gains in reaction design and testing and with significant cost savings too compared to current practice. The platform should be extensible in the sense that others will create modified modules capable of other useful functions. 

2. Microfluidic Control of Self-Assembly.
On the topic of microfluidics, recent work has shown how microfluidic systems can be used to precisely control the self-assembly characteristics of micrometer-scale droplets http://www.technologyreview.com/view/531121/the-coming-era-of-self-assembly-using-microfluidic-devices/. While the droplets normally flow freely through the channels, decreasing the diameter and bringing the walls closer together to constrict the flow and force the droplets to interact with the walls forces them to tumble and join up with other droplets. The resulting self-assembly process is orders of magnitude faster than brownian motion, and has been used to controllably produce pyramids, tetrahedra, and 3D spirals depending on the materials and conditions. Future work will seek to speed this up further and ultimately collect the assembled structures and induce them to assemble into larger bulk materials with unique properties. 

3. First CRISPR-Cas9 Transgenic Mouse Created.
I’ve been waiting for this one to happen. A new transgenic mouse has been created that natively expresses the CRISPR-Cas9 system in each of its cells http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2014/new-mouse-model-crispr-cas9-0925. Up until now genetic interventions on mice using CRISPR technology demanded that the core CRISPR-Cas9 machinery also had to be delivered along with the element dictating what sequence to cut or replace; now delivery payloads can be much smaller, or more gene-editing functions can be packed in at once. Such a model mouse will make it much easier to study complex diseases, gene regulatory networks, and perturb specific combinations of genes at stages of development that would otherwise be very difficult. 

4. Direct Algorithmic Control of Walking in Rats.
Flexible electrodes implanted into the spines of paralysed rats can send coordinated pulses from a computer that result in the rat walking with fluid, realistic movements http://www.technologyreview.com/news/531051/paralyzed-rats-take-1000-steps-orchestrated-by-computer/. Such direct spinal stimulation has not previously been able to achieve complex, coordinated movement, a feat that was accomplished in this case by feeding video of the rats walking into software that quickly adjusted the pattern of signals in order to produce the fluid, synchronised movements. The hope of course is to test this in human volunteers next, and ideally, in future, hook the device up to a brain-machine-interface in order to enable natural, intentioned, movement. 

5. Optogenetics Evolves Powerful New Capabilities.
The standard optogenetics channel protein Archaerhodopsin normally inhibits neuron signalling in the presence of green light and also weakly emits light when (i) exposed to red light and (ii) the neuronal voltage changes. In recent work the protein underwent directed evolution to both enhance the light it emitted (improving by a factor of twenty) and enhance its sensitivity to neuronal voltage changes and so allowed direct recordings of neurons each time they fired http://www.caltech.edu/content/sensing-neuronal-activity-light. This means that a single optogenetics tool - one protein - when introduced into neurons allows (i) the neurons to be switched off at will, and (ii) the recording of neurons each time they fire in real time. The proof-of-concept involved (i) analysing whole neural circuits (in a dish) and determining which neurons were synaptically connected, and (ii) directly observing active neuronal circuits in a living organism (nematode worm) based on the presence or absence of a stimulus. The next challenge will be optimising this tool to work in mammalian brains. 

6. Robots Learn Tasks Via Repetition.
Taking inspiration from the Baxter robot, a new company has developed a robot operating system called BrainOS that is intended to allow robots to be trained by a user and to repeat a task until the robot can perform it autonomously http://www.technologyreview.com/news/530871/robots-that-learn-through-repetition-not-programming/. While basic demonstrations include quickly following commands to come and go, and moving around a particular path, the company insists that teaching more complex tasks - such as pulling out weeds - will be possible. BrainOS uses a combination of artificial neural networks and other neuromorphic techniques, and once one robot is taught a particular task its learnings can be quickly copied over to every other robot of that model; such rapidly transferable learning presents some intriguing possibilities when a full commercial device is rolled-out to many other people / groups. 

7. The Switchable Nature of Telomerase Revealed.
The length of our telomeres is often believed to be a marker of aging although there are some strong hints that, at least in some cases it might also be a cause - or a contributing factor - of aging-related illnesses. A recent study further elucidated the structure and dynamics of telomere-lengthening enzyme telomerase, in particular identifying a molecular off-state http://www.salk.edu/news/pressrelease_details.php?press_id=2052. Such an off-state lends itself to further investigations and the possible design of interventions to switch telomerase on and off as needed in cells. While always-active telomerase carriers a high risk of cancer developing, there might exist the potential to intervene only intermittently, boosting activity for a short window several times per year for example to try to boost health in old age while minimising cancer risk. 

8. Soft Robotics are Getting Interesting.
The Soft Robotics Toolkit has been launched as a powerful and comprehensive online resource full of plans, models, how-to videos, and cases studies to help build a collaborative community around designing, building, and controlling soft robots and related devices http://www.seas.harvard.edu/news/2014/09/soft-robotics-toolkit-features-everything-robot-maker-needs. The toolkit is based on an open source ethos and the founders hope it will help accelerate development of the platform and applications; it is inherently cheap and accessible with 3D printers and laser cutters for example. It might be particularly interesting to interface the basic toolkit with custom microfluidic devices for example. In related news a robotic fabric that provides both sensing and actuation could also enable soft robots and a host of other applications http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2014/Q3/robotic-fabric-could-bring-active-clothing,-wearable-robots.html. 

9. Applying Synthetic Lethality Against Cancer with Big Data.
Synthetic lethality, the phenomenon whereby cell death occurs as a result of two or more malfunctioning genes that individually allow the cell to live, is being exploited by systematically analysing large databases of cancer genes to find combinations that kill cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alive http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/biomedical/diagnostics/hacking-the-cancer-genome. Over 1,000 combinations have been found. An example application of this in future would be (i) a biopsy and full DNA sequence of a person’s cancer cells, (ii) identify inactive genes, (iii) match to active but synthetically lethal genes, which aren’t synthetically lethal in normal cells, (iv) target and interfere with synthetically lethal genes in patient in order to kill cancer but leave normal cells alone, e.g. with CRISPR, siRNA, etc. 

10. High-Throughput Cell Sorting.
A new method of high-throughput cell sorting has been developed that works by measuring the differences in each cell’s surface free energy http://phys.org/news/2014-09-high-throughput-method-cells.html and http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ac503100a. Unlike other techniques this is a bulk method based on spectrophotometric analysis used to determine surface free energy of the cells and can sort 10 billion cells in 30 minutes at 96% efficiency and 99% cell viability. A solution of two types of cells, one of which was only present at 1% compared to the second, was also sorted to a purity of 99%, which could be useful for quickly and cheaply finding and isolating stem cells or cancer cells from a patient’s biopsy for example. 

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2014-09-23 15:05:27 (84 comments, 26 reshares, 69 +1s)Open 

Getting Into and Exploring Bitcoin and Other Cryptocurrencies.
An overly long account of my recent explorations and learnings for those curious about distributed, peer-to-peer, public-ledger-backed digital currencies but are yet to take the plunge and acquire some.

Until this past six weeks Bitcoin and other digital cryptocurrencies were not much more than a curiosity to me; I read the tech news, watched some videos, wondered about the future of money, pondered the statement digital currencies will do to money what email did to postal mail, and learned the conceptual basics of blockchains, public ledgers, mining, and exchanges https://bitcoin.org/en/how-it-works. The Bitcoin wikipedia page is also a very good starting point for beginners http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitcoin. 

Following on from this post http://goo.gl/1HhK5E of mine about Bitcoin and distributed exchanges,... more »

Getting Into and Exploring Bitcoin and Other Cryptocurrencies.
An overly long account of my recent explorations and learnings for those curious about distributed, peer-to-peer, public-ledger-backed digital currencies but are yet to take the plunge and acquire some.

Until this past six weeks Bitcoin and other digital cryptocurrencies were not much more than a curiosity to me; I read the tech news, watched some videos, wondered about the future of money, pondered the statement digital currencies will do to money what email did to postal mail, and learned the conceptual basics of blockchains, public ledgers, mining, and exchanges https://bitcoin.org/en/how-it-works. The Bitcoin wikipedia page is also a very good starting point for beginners http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitcoin. 

Following on from this post http://goo.gl/1HhK5E of mine about Bitcoin and distributed exchanges, and given a final push by +Peter H. Diamandis via his post http://goo.gl/E9BjQI about Bitcoin and the growing disruptive potential of cryptocurrencies (and including a poke at the end to jump in) I decided to turn Bitcoin into my next tech project and, as is my wont, to jump into the deep end and learn by doing. Six weeks ago I had no idea how to get a digital wallet and bitcoin address. Now I’ve nearly lost count of how many bitcoin addresses have been assigned to me. Bitcoin and its kin are no longer curiosities; I am now a user. 


Getting my first slice of digital currency.

Now, because I’m based in Australia I’m somewhat limited in transacting Bitcoin with my default fiat currency the Australian Dollar (AUD) and can’t make use of the more popular and established exchanges used by those in North America and Europe. At least not at first; once I have bitcoins I can move into those exchanges and make use of their services. If you’re in North America or Europe you might do well to start with Coinbase https://www.coinbase.com/, Kraken https://www.kraken.com/, or Bitstamp https://www.bitstamp.net/. In fact, Kraken’s services look very interesting and I suspect I’ll check them out soon. Regardless of where you start the process will be similar to my experience described below. 

To get my first bunch of bitcoins I decided to go with the local exchange BTC Markets https://www.btcmarkets.net/, a local provider and currency exchange market (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_currency_exchanger) that offers conversions between bitcoin (BTC), litecoin (LTC), and Australian Dollars (AUD), which I found via listings and information via the core www.bitcoin.org website as can be seen here http://howtobuybitcoins.info/au.html. This involved setting up an account with BTC Markets and, in order to be able to deposit my real-world fiat money in the form of Australian Dollars into that account I had to verify and confirm my identity. 

Many choose to get into Bitcoin and keep their usage as private and as anonymous as possible and so may employ other methods to get hold of the currency, including face-to-face meet-ups for exchange of physical cash and the transfer of an agreed amount of currency into an anonymous digital wallet. But in this particular case this was not a priority and I wanted a method that was easy, flexible, and convenient. 

Identity verification involved sending through an image of my passport and another document; I chose the front page of my electricity bill in this case although others are permissible. Once confirmed, account details are upgraded to allow options for depositing and withdrawing AUD to my preferred financial institution. I would have transferred funds via conventional Internet Banking through my default financial institution but, being a Friday the transfer would not have been cleared until late Monday or Tuesday. Instead I went into the local branch of their preferred bank (Wespac) during my lunch break and directly deposited AUD $150 into the account of BTC Markets and made very sure that the cashier added the reference code to ensure transfer into my personal BTC Markets account. 

40 minutes later my BTC Markets account showed AUD $150. 

From this point the BTC Markets user interface (see image 2) provides a number of easy options for withdrawing AUD to another institution, buying and selling bitcoin and litecoin, and transferring BTC and LTC to and from the BTC Markets account, which had auto-generated my first bitcoin and litecoin addresses and would function as a web-based digital wallet http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_wallet if I wished to use it in that capacity. I placed “at market” orders for BTC and LTC, to ensure the transaction was complete as soon as possible (as opposed to “at limit” orders in which you specify a different price to the current market price in the hope of getting a better deal, which can take longer) and quickly purchased units of digital currency with all of my AUD $150, including small transaction fees charged by BTC Markets. 

My account now showed 0.220 BTC and 4.1829 LTC. 

This obviously meant that I had decided to trust BTC Markets to not just take my money and disappear with it. 


Transferring to other digital wallets and currency addresses.

I didn’t want to leave my newly acquired cryptocurrencies within BTC Markets and so examined and reviewed a number of other, different options with regard to storing my currency at different addresses and within different wallets. Again, combined with some searching and the perusal of forums and reviews, bitcoin.org provided a jumping-off point for choosing a wallet https://bitcoin.org/en/choose-your-wallet, while https://litecoin.org/ was useful in a similar vein for Litecoin.  

Bitcoin wallet
For Bitcoin I decided to go with the Bitcoin Wallet by Blockchain https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=de.schildbach.wallet_ltc&hl=en. This option is both a phone-based application Wallet and a Web-based service Wallet that are linked / synchronised to the same account. See images 3, 4, 5, & 6 for details on the user interface. I opened the account at https://blockchain.info/ and it was easy to set up my details in the application on my device; overall I find Blockchain.info to be easy, convenient, and user-friendly. After being issued with a unique Bitcoin address I transferred all of my BTC out of BTC Markets and over to my Blockchain.info Bitcoin address. Again, after twenty or so minutes, and propagating through the blockchain, and generating the required number of confirmations https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Confirmation my 0.220 BTC appeared in both my Blockchain.info web and mobile wallets. 

For now this serves as my main Bitcoin wallet and if you’d like to send me a little BTC you can do so at this address: 15H2nAV4MCUqPeRCboyonsBA3uMGDG8Moj

I also installed a second Bitcoin Wallet as another stand-alone smartphone application, and generated another Bitcoin address for transacting bitcoin. See the app https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=de.schildbach.wallet&hl=en, which is nice and user-friendly (see image 7), and also served as the basis for the Litecoin Wallet application I mention below. Worked well when I transferred a little bit (10 mBTC) of bitcoin from one wallet to the other. 

Litecoin wallet
For Litecoin, the second most popular digital currency, which uses a slightly different cryptographic scheme to Bitcon, I just decided to go with what seemed like the easiest option at first and installed the Litecoin Wallet application for Android https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=de.schildbach.wallet_ltc&hl=en onto my phone. Launching this application generated a new, unique Litecoin address, which I entered into the withdrawal section of BTC Markets and initiated the transfer of all of my litecoins. Twenty or so minutes later, after the transaction had been confirmed and propagated through the blockchain, my 4.1829 LTC appeared in the Litecoin Wallet app on my phone. See image 8 for details on the user interface. 

For now this serves as my main Litecoin wallet and if you’d like to send me a little LTC you can do so at this address: LacoMJiiMCDWJyBafERoLD6Fyq9riFrmsD


From third-party to distributed exchanges.

BTC Markets is an example of a third-party exchange that I used, and trusted, to deposit funds and convert into or purchase other digital currencies. However, one needs to be wary when dealing with third-party exchanges, as highlighted by the Mt. Gox debacle at the start of this year. Mt. Gox was the largest third-party exchange and accounted for 70% of all bitcoin trades at one point. Despite this the service closed earlier this year citing numerous problems and ultimately losing, or being robbed of, or defrauding customers of, many hundreds of thousands of bitcoins worth many hundreds of millions of dollars. Customers and owners of those wallets had no recourse, no ability, to get their money back.
 
Partly as a response to just this sort of risk posed by centralised third-party exchanges, altered versions of distributed digital currencies like Bitcoin have been engineered to also contain the exchange itself. In this way the exchange becomes a distributed peer-to-peer system that contains its own digital currency to facilitate trades.
 
Two examples of these innovative new systems, which I explored in some detail, are Ripple and Stellar; these can be described as distributed payment systems, currency exchanges, and remittance networks built on their own digital currencies, ripples (XRP) and stellars (STR) respectively. I found the learning curves for Ripple and Stellar to be a little steeper. The Ripple wikipedia page is a good starting point for beginners http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ripple_(payment_protocol). In contrast to Bitcoin, Ripple validates transactions via a consensus protocol in which the network of servers that run Ripple come to agreement.  

Ripple
By heading to https://ripple.com/ it is easy to open an account and get started on Ripple, although being new and not knowing how to get my first allocation of XRP I ended up paying a merchant $5 for my first batch. Ripple uses both names and conventional addresses to transfer and process payments between users. For example, my Ripple name is ~markbruce and my Ripple address is ra3A8vtamze6hnA1wTveWKR7yQf7gZhrmZ and any other user of Ripple can transfer me XRP (or any other currency) by sending to either of those addresses. 

Stellar
In the same way, by heading to https://www.stellar.org it is easy to open an account and get started on Stellar; I joined during their launch phase and managed to get some free STR after a few days. Like Ripple, and being a slightly modified fork of Ripple, Stellar uses both names and conventional addresses to transfer and process payments. For example, my Stellar name is markthebruce and my Stellar address is gUxyK1w62tUqjCpZiQvNPuTqVxfCK6o6BX and any other user of Stellar can transfer me STR (and eventually any other currency) by sending to either of those addresses. 

Stellar also has a workable, if early implementation on an Android application called Centaurus Stellar Wallet, which can be found here https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=de.xcoins.centaurus&hl=en, and the user interface can be seen in image 9 (Web-based Stellar UI in image 19). Transferring STR between different accounts and users with this app is pretty easy and straight-forward. Note that the app creates a new Stellar address number that is not linked to your usual Stellar address as above. 


Detour to third-party exchanges again.

Despite the existence of these decentralised exchanges there is still a need for centralised third-party exchanges to help facilitate the efficient functioning of currency exchange markets and the trade of many different types of both fiat and digital currencies. I explored a few of these in detail and read about many others. 

The Rock Trading
The Rock Trading, https://www.therocktrading.com, seemed fairly well-established and reputable. Opening an account was easy (the user interface can be seen via images 10 & 11) and with yet another new Bitcoin address that was created for me, 16ugX1E37qtpVHCiETuRNekWwLKSAK3gtT I was able to transfer a portion of my bitcoin balance from my blockchain.info wallet to my Rock Trading account / wallet. Going into the trade section it was straightforward and easy to sell a portion of my BTC balance for USD. As can be seen in image 12 my Rock Trading account now has BTC and USD sitting in it. 

In addition to BTC and USD The Rock also allows trades with other currencies including LTC (litecoin), XRP (ripples), DOG (dogecoin), NMC (namecoin), EUR (euros), and PPC (peercoin). This exchange also includes a stock market for companies whose shares can be treated / traded like digital currencies; some of these even pay dividends. While I can hold and trade real-world currencies like USD with The Rock, if i wanted to transfer USD to another, conventional, financial banking institution then I would have to verify and confirm my identity with The Rock via the typical provision of copies of my passport and utility bill for example; there is no such restriction on digital currencies. The Rock also has a couple of other interesting features that I want to explore further. 

Justcoin
I also read good things about Justcoin, https://justcoin.com/, a newer, innovative exchange that also seemed to have a good reputation. Again, opening an account was easy (user interface examples via images 13, 14, & 15) and another new Bitcoin address 1Ez6sNYu9vraD6mT8jMJJ5Lo6VaF7FAUF1 allowed me to transfer another allocation of BTC from my blockchain.info wallet to my Justcoin account / wallet. 

One of the reasons I wanted to use Justcoin was because, in addition to BTC, it facilitates trade between other currencies including LTC (litecoin), STR (stellars), XRP (ripples), EUR (euros), USD (dollars), NOK (krone). Holding and trading any currency is easy; but like with The Rock, transfers of fiat (such as EUR or USD) require identity verification as above. I quickly used a portion of my BTC to purchase some STR and XRP, then transferred a portion of these into my Stellar and Ripple accounts in order to establish a more workable account balance on these systems. 

Coinex
Coinex, https://www.coinex.co.nz/, is another exchange that caught my eye due to facilitating my own local fiat currency, Australian Dollars (AUD). Its reputation seems good based on the initial news and reviews I’ve read and during my learnings about cryptocurrencies in general they seem to plug into new services and opportunities pretty quickly. Last I looked they seemed to be upgrading their website and services and as soon as this is complete I’ll open an account there; I suspect Coinex will be a more flexible option for me than my original BTC Markets entry but we will see. In addition to AUD, Coinex facilitates trades between NZD (New Zealand Dollars), USD (dollars), and BTC (bitcoin), and also facilitate conversions with STR (stellars), and XRP (ripples). 


Going back to distributed exchanges and gateways.

Going back to the distributed exchange that is Ripple; one of the main reasons for Ripple and one of it’s killer features is, as discussed above, the ability to reliably and rapidly facilitate the transfer and conversion of any currency, whether fiat or crypto, between any user and particularly for users that don’t, won’t, or can’t use the same currency. 

Gateways
To do this you need to add what are called Gateways to your account and this involves trusting these gateways to transact in currencies and amounts that you approve. For example, third-party exchanges can function as gateways, and to test this out I added The Rock Trading as a trusted gateway that I approved certain currencies and amounts that it would be able to transact through my Ripple account. Note that you do not need to have an account with the exchange in order to add that exchange as a gateway, and in this case my use of The Rock Trading as a gateway was independent of my The Rock Trading exchange account. 

Buying euros
With The Rock added as a gateway, and my Ripple account boosted with the transfer of XRP that I sent from my Justcoin account, I was then able to go into the “Trade” section of the Ripple user interface. From here, as a test I issued a trade order through the Ripple network, setting The Rock as the gateway, and selling a portion of XRP (ripples) for EUR (euros). This transaction was completed almost instantly (again just going for a market and not limit order) and my Ripple account now showed I had XRP and the recently purchased euros. See images 16, 17, & 18 for an example of the user interface and account balance. 

Note: to the best of my knowledge I didn’t actually own the EUR directly, they didn’t directly sit in my account, but rather The Rock had issued an IOU for the euros that I would be able to redeem, convert, or sell at a later date. Hence the need to trust any exchange that you engage in this manner. By adding a number of different gateways you can facilitate, indirectly in this manner, the transfer and conversion of many different types of currencies, even if you never hold them directly, and all for negligible cost. 

Others
There are many other Gateways worth looking at. For example, if I want to trade for CNY (Chinese Yuan) I can use Ripple China https://trade.ripplechina.net/, if I want to trade for SGD (Singapore Dollars), USD (dollars), XAU (Gold), XAG (Silver), or XPT (Platinum) I can use Ripple Singapore https://www.ripplesingapore.com/, and likewise many other gateways and exchanges for many other different currencies and, in future, commodities. As mentioned at the start of the article, Kraken https://www.kraken.com/ would also be worth a look. 

DividendRippler
DividendRippler https://dividendrippler.com/ is another interesting service that functions as an anonymous Ripple gateway and allows transactions in bitcoin, litecoin, terracoin, and namecoin; the introductory announcement here https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=180717.0 is worth a read. It took me a while to get my head around how it works but it seems to be quite a clever implementation and I added DividendRippler as a trusted gateway to Ripple. 


A note on two-factor authentication.

Given the importance of security when dealing in money in general and digital currencies in particular it shouldn’t be surprising that most services employ additional security in the form of two-factor authentication in which you need your password and a code, generated at the time of login, in order to gain access to your account. I’ve used this system with my Google Account for a long time now and would feel very uneasy were it not in place. The services I used employed a couple of different two-factor authentication techniques including emails with codes to my default email address, and time-dependent codes from incredibly useful (but I suspecet underutilised) services such as Google’s Authenticator application https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.apps.authenticator2&hl=en. 


A note on backups.

When using digital wallets, for example on your phone, it is a good idea to perform back-ups. If you don’t and you accidentally delete your digital wallet keys and other information then your digital currency will be lost forever. Likewise if you forget your password; a digital wallet whose password is forgotten is essentially locked forever. And if your phone is stolen or passwords hacked then any digital currency in those accounts is also irrecoverable, one way or another. 


A note on mining.

I don’t mine bitcoins or any other cryptocurrency; I don’t have a “mining-rig” and nor have I downloaded a complete copy of any blockchain and the regular updates / additions that are made. In this situation you are essentially relying on the network and trusting the advanced participants to do this for you; you are not independently verifying your own transactions - you’re trusting others to do this for you. 


Price movements during the period.

Interestingly, during the last week or two while doing additional explorations and finalising this post the price of Bitcoin dropped by about 20%, from about $500 to $400 (see image 20). I’m not sure why and not sure where it will go from here. 


Second generation digital currencies.

At some point I’ll have to explore emerging second generation digital currencies such as Ethereum https://www.ethereum.org/, Skycoin https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=380441.0, Nextcoin https://nextcoin.org/, etc that possess algorithmic improvements over first generation currencies such as Bitcoin - e.g. using proof-of-stake instead of proof-of-work to confirm ownership, better security, invulnerable to 51% attacks, etc. 


In summary

Six weeks ago I didn’t own and didn’t know exactly how to get a hold of bitcoins. Now I have purchased bitcoins and know how to very easily purchase and acquire more. I’ve bought, sold, and traded bitcoins, litecoins, stellars, ripples, US dollars, and euros. I know how to very easily acquire other fiat and crypto currencies as needed for very little transaction costs. I’ve created accounts with third-party exchanges and traded on them. I’ve linked gateways to distributed exchanges and traded with them. I’ve played with obscure little cryptocurrency web services that I never knew existed. I know how to purchase commodities like gold and silver with digital currencies. And I know how to reverse my steps and transfer and convert all of these currencies back into Australian Dollars and into physical cash whenever I need to. 

For me personally I’d say the learning curve has been low-moderate; nothing too difficult and really just requiring the investment of some time, a little patience with inevitable dead ends, and application with avenues that work. But I’m a technophile who absolutely loves learning about, tinkering with, and exploring new technologies and is reasonably well accomplished and knowledgeable with the Web as a tool, an ecosystem, and techno-social landscape. 

However, most people are not like me. 95% of the people I know and interact with in real life would never have the inclination to explore digital currencies to such a level, and likely wouldn’t have the capacity to do what I have done without some support, even with this overly-long post to prompt and guide them. There is only one person, a friend, that I know in real life who has dipped their toe into digital currencies and tentatively acquired some bitcoin via a face-to-face meet-up with another local bitcoin owner. There still exists a huge adoption barrier that most people face when confronted by digital currencies, and this mainly comes down to the sheer complexity of the digital currency ecosystem that exists now - there is a lot to learn, a lot to take in, and a lot to be aware of with regards to security, features, risks, trust, and other factors that must be considered. 

While genuine mass adoption will probably have to wait for incredibly simple user-facing tools and services to be developed, the sheer complexity and variety of the digital currency ecosystem belies how big, productive, and robust this “niche” actually is. Digital currencies have only just started and the first generation cryptocoins gave only a faint hint of what was possible and what was to come. The space is expanding, innovating, and developing rapidly, with distributed exchanges and second-generation digital currencies already in place, and talk of third-generation currencies, digital contracts or crypto-contracts, and decentralised autonomous corporations or organisations to come in the near future. 

It might well be past time you jumped in to poke around. Risk a few dollars in autodidactic education. Learn by doing. Be better prepared and so better able to adapt to the ever-bigger changes that are coming.

#bitcoin   #beginner   #digitalcurrency   #cryptocurrency  ___

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2014-09-21 12:26:18 (26 comments, 53 reshares, 87 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 38/14.
Towards humanised mouse brains, inkjet chemistry, untethered cheetah-bot, artificial spleen, improving plant photosynthesis, cell control, nuclear battery, carbon compounds, soft robotics, laser tunneling in silicon.

1. Mouse Engineered with Human Neural Gene Learns Faster.
Mice engineered with the human version of the FOXP2 gene, a gene with known links to human speech and language, display profound and accelerated learning capabilties when tested on both declarative and procedural learning tasks http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/health/genetics/if-you-give-a-mouse-a-human-speech-gene-it-learns-faster-17210075. The human form of the gene improved rather than “messed-up” the animal’s system. The group are not trying to make smarter (uplifted) animals but rather explore and gain insights into the biology ofintel... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 38/14.
Towards humanised mouse brains, inkjet chemistry, untethered cheetah-bot, artificial spleen, improving plant photosynthesis, cell control, nuclear battery, carbon compounds, soft robotics, laser tunneling in silicon.

1. Mouse Engineered with Human Neural Gene Learns Faster.
Mice engineered with the human version of the FOXP2 gene, a gene with known links to human speech and language, display profound and accelerated learning capabilties when tested on both declarative and procedural learning tasks http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/health/genetics/if-you-give-a-mouse-a-human-speech-gene-it-learns-faster-17210075. The human form of the gene improved rather than “messed-up” the animal’s system. The group are not trying to make smarter (uplifted) animals but rather explore and gain insights into the biology of intelligence. Observations: (i) humans are neither the pinnacle of evolution nor the pinnacle of intelligence and I wonder if the human FOXP2 is in its most optimal form and whether engineering a better version might comprise a relatively safe “low-hanging-fruit” for intelligence augmentation applications, (ii) this work is on a slope towards that set of experiments I thought “could never be done” (on ethical grounds) where we already have engineered rodents sporting fully humanised immune systems and we now have the real prospect of engineering animals with fully humanised neural or CNS systems.

2. High-Throughput Chemistry with Inkjet Printers.
New work by chemists using inkjet printers allows rapid and cheap screening through millions of chemical reactions of certain types http://phys.org/news/2014-09-inkjet-printer-chemistry-lab-diabetes.html. The group demonstrated this capability with solutions of different enzymes loaded into an inkjet printer; when present in the correct ratios the enzyme reaction pathway produces easily-discernable coloured reaction products - the coloured dots on the paper then indicated what mix of enzymes worked best and a million different mixes could be rapidly analysed. As a real-world application the group suggests that with just a couple of enzymes and a urine sample the sample would be able to reveal the presence of glucose in the urine and indicate the likelihood of diabetes for the person. Related to the chemputer / chemprinter concepts and prototypes such devices would ideally allow the production of the enzymes themselves [necessary for the diagnostic] as reaction products to be used in the device. 

3. Cheetah Robot Now Running Untethered.
The latest developments in MIT’s cheetah robot have seen the machine break free of its securing tether, running across the grass independently at 10mph and jumping over hurdles http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2014/mit-cheetah-robot-runs-jumps-0915. The key innovations that enabled this are better batteries (to break free of the tether), better electric motors (to run silently and efficiently), and better control algorithms for coordinating leg and body movements and the application of precise amounts of force in precise time frames. The group believes they should be able to get the current model up to 30mph and we can only imagine what future versions will be capable of. 

4. DARPA’s Artificial Spleen Technology.
DARPA’s Dialysis-Like Therapeutics program has resulted in a shoe-box sized device for blood filtration and the removal of pathogens http://www.darpa.mil/NewsEvents/Releases/2014/09/15.aspx. One of the first applications is to assist with fighting sepsis in both civilian and military scenarios and, importantly, to provide this capability remotely, in a mobile format, and away from conventional medical infrastructure. Blood from a patient is fed into the device, and through a series of microfluidic channels where it is cleaned by magnetic nanoparticles coated with an engineered immune system protein, before being returned to the patient. 

5. Plants Engineered with Better Photosynthesis.
Plants have been engineered by replacing the carbon-fixing enzyme that is crucial to photosynthesis with two cyanobacteria enzymes that work at a faster rate http://singularityhub.com/2014/09/18/plant-engineered-to-supercharge-photosynthesis-with-hopes-of-increasing-crop-yields/. While additional oxygen-protection genes from cyanobacteria need to be added (and are planned by the group) in future in order to achieve theoretically-optimal carbon fixation, this work still represents the first time that a plant’s carbon-fixation machinery has been replaced with that of a cyanobacterium. Faster carbon fixation should translate into faster growth rates and possible theoretical gains in yield of 60%. 

6. Ever-Better Control Over Cell Production, Fate, and Utility.
A couple of nice updates this week in cell engineering. First, the safe, rapid conversion of human skin cells into immune cells without going all the way back to a conventional induced pluripotent state http://www.salk.edu/news/pressrelease_details.php?press_id=2050, and requiring just one molecule to “reset” the cell’s identity and one other (a microRNA) to instruct the cell that it is (or activate the genetic programs to become) a white blood cell; these cells solve other problems by grafting into organs and not producing tumours. Second, a summary piece https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2014/09/recent-infrastructure-advances-for-stem-cell-research.php linking to work for (i) massive improvements in efficiently making stem cells, and (ii) rapidly multiplying stem cell numbers by an order of magnitude.

7. A Nuclear Battery for Electrical Energy.
A water-based nuclear battery has been developed that uses radioactive strontium-90, a beta emitter whose emitted electrons are captured by a titanium dioxide and platinum electrode to generate an electric current, all while sitting in a water buffer http://munews.missouri.edu/news-releases/2014/0916-first-water-based-nuclear-battery-developed-by-mu-researcher-can-be-used-to-generate-electrical-energy/. This nominally sounds like a workable and interesting solution for long-lifetime batteries in a range of applications, but taking a closer look at strontium-90 raises a few concerns http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strontium-90, which could limit the application to spacecraft scenarios. 

8. Advanced Carbon Compounds.
The endless variety and utility of carbon compounds was on display this week. First, the synthesis of harder-than-diamond fullerite, a 3D polymer consisting of a C60 fullerene covalently-bound lattice http://phys.org/news/2014-09-scientists-closer-industrial-synthesis-material.html. Second, new investigations into the ceramic hafnium carbide, which can withstand temperatures of 4050°C, show promise in a range of applications including high-speed aircraft http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/newsandeventspggrp/imperialcollege/newssummary/news_12-9-2014-9-37-58. Third, new methods to better link and join carbon nanotubes and graphene ribbons into larger hybrid structres http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/semiconductors/materials/simple-scalable-method-for-controlling-nanotube-junctions-developed. 

9. Soft Sensors and Soft Muscles for Robotics.
The field of soft, flexible robotics is seeing ever more projects emerge and this week was no exception. First, there was a soft optical fingertip sensor - an adaptation of GelSight technology - to provide robots with a high-resolution sense of touch http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2014/fingertip-sensor-gives-robot-dexterity-0919, and tested with a Baxter robot to correctly orient a USB cable for example. Second, is a soft exosuit from Wyss and DARPA that uses belt-mounted actuators to provide precisely-timed muscular assistance to the wearer http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2014/09/the-3-million-suit/, the mechanics of which I could easily see adapted to work with conventional robots instead of humans. 

10. Carving Tunnels within Bulk Silicon.
It has previously been demonstrated that focused laser beams can carve tunnels and waveguides within bulk glass and plastic without cutting or disrupting the surface or edges. Similar techniques have now been adopted to enable the creation of tunnels deep inside silicon, for example within silicon chips http://www.technologyreview.com/view/530911/nanotechnologists-discover-how-to-carve-tunnels-beneath-the-surface-of-silicon-chips/. Such tunnels and pipes don’t have to be two-dimensional, but rather can be of almost any three-dimensional configuration as desired. Applications include sub-surface barcodes and other information storage, photonic waveguides, microfluidic systems for chemical manipulation or perhaps even within-chip cooling.

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

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

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2014-09-20 06:20:57 (5 comments, 1 reshares, 44 +1s)Open 

Surprise Custom Coffee Mug at Work!

One of the girls in our office orders personalised coffee mugs for new staff shortly after they start. Given that I'm still relatively new to the role my mug rocked up on my desk a couple of days ago and I was pleasantly surprised with and very much approving of the personalised caricature she chose :)

Must have made an impression as the crazy tech guy already :P

Surprise Custom Coffee Mug at Work!

One of the girls in our office orders personalised coffee mugs for new staff shortly after they start. Given that I'm still relatively new to the role my mug rocked up on my desk a couple of days ago and I was pleasantly surprised with and very much approving of the personalised caricature she chose :)

Must have made an impression as the crazy tech guy already :P___

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2014-09-16 15:15:39 (61 comments, 43 reshares, 53 +1s)Open 

Might it be that we already have all of the ingredients we need to solve the problem?

I've been a Max Tegmark fan pretty much since the first talk I saw him give. I especially enjoyed this very recent, short, succinct exposition on the hard problem of consciousness - the mechanism of subjective awareness - that Max gave as part of a TEDx event. Consciousness is what it feels like for information to be processed in a certain way, and Consciousness is another state of matter, and There is nothing particularly special about consciousness are all statements that - individually - may be swiftly dismissed by some. But if you allow Max to add some meat to these concepts and weave a descriptive narrative to link them together you might very well find his thesis compelling. I certainly do, and have been pursuing similar lines of thought for some years now. 

I originally came across... more »

Might it be that we already have all of the ingredients we need to solve the problem?

I've been a Max Tegmark fan pretty much since the first talk I saw him give. I especially enjoyed this very recent, short, succinct exposition on the hard problem of consciousness - the mechanism of subjective awareness - that Max gave as part of a TEDx event. Consciousness is what it feels like for information to be processed in a certain way, and Consciousness is another state of matter, and There is nothing particularly special about consciousness are all statements that - individually - may be swiftly dismissed by some. But if you allow Max to add some meat to these concepts and weave a descriptive narrative to link them together you might very well find his thesis compelling. I certainly do, and have been pursuing similar lines of thought for some years now. 

I originally came across this talk on Google+ but can't remember who originally shared it to my stream, having saved it to "Watch Later" a week or two ago. Whoever it was: thank you :)

For anyone interested in adding to their "Watch Later" list, I've dug up another of Max's talks from a couple of years ago that I also found particularly interesting: Max Tegmark on "The Future of Life: a Cosmic Perspective" at Singularity Summit 2011 

#consciousness   #hardproblem   #perceptronium  ___

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2014-09-15 12:39:04 (7 comments, 2 reshares, 21 +1s)Open 

A short video of highlights (for my own memory sake) I captured while in Hong Kong. In order of appearance: Peak Tram, Victoria Peak, Victoria Peak Trails, Hong Kong Park, Central CBD, Mid-Levels Escalator, Ferry Ride, Lantau Island, Tai O fishing village, Giant Buddha, Po Lin Monastery, Cable Car ride, Victoria Harbour, Kowloon Walled City Park, ICC Sky100 observation deck, and Victoria Harbour (night).

A short video of highlights (for my own memory sake) I captured while in Hong Kong. In order of appearance: Peak Tram, Victoria Peak, Victoria Peak Trails, Hong Kong Park, Central CBD, Mid-Levels Escalator, Ferry Ride, Lantau Island, Tai O fishing village, Giant Buddha, Po Lin Monastery, Cable Car ride, Victoria Harbour, Kowloon Walled City Park, ICC Sky100 observation deck, and Victoria Harbour (night).___

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2014-09-15 02:44:23 (3 comments, 0 reshares, 19 +1s)Open 

A short video of highlights (for my own memory sake) I captured while in Singapore. In order of appearance: Singapore Flyer, Helix Bridge, Marina Bay, Flower Dome, Cloud Forest Dome, Supertree Grove, Marina Bay, The Merlion, Botanic Gardens, Orchid Gardens, Singapore River, Raffles Landing Site, Raffles Hotel, Singapore River (night), and Marina Bay Sands Hotel observation deck (night).

A short video of highlights (for my own memory sake) I captured while in Singapore. In order of appearance: Singapore Flyer, Helix Bridge, Marina Bay, Flower Dome, Cloud Forest Dome, Supertree Grove, Marina Bay, The Merlion, Botanic Gardens, Orchid Gardens, Singapore River, Raffles Landing Site, Raffles Hotel, Singapore River (night), and Marina Bay Sands Hotel observation deck (night).___

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2014-09-14 11:32:21 (23 comments, 34 reshares, 83 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 37/14.
Bio-membranes on silicon, origin of life, complex gene logic, molecular rectifier, large DNA origami, machine vision, re-running evolution, aging, protocells, graphene production.

1. Integrating Synthetic Biological Membranes onto Silicon.
A new process first evaporates chitosan molecules onto a silicon surface and then evaporates a phospholipid molecule onto the chitosan coating to form a stable synthetic phospholipid bilayer over the surface http://publishing.aip.org/publishing/journal-highlights/artificial-membranes-silicon. These are standard organic molecules and are being used as part of a dry process to fabricate artificial bio-silicon interfaces. While the group quote the desire to develop biological sensor surfaces for integrated circuits, the promise here is for far more effective medical implants and other... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 37/14.
Bio-membranes on silicon, origin of life, complex gene logic, molecular rectifier, large DNA origami, machine vision, re-running evolution, aging, protocells, graphene production.

1. Integrating Synthetic Biological Membranes onto Silicon.
A new process first evaporates chitosan molecules onto a silicon surface and then evaporates a phospholipid molecule onto the chitosan coating to form a stable synthetic phospholipid bilayer over the surface http://publishing.aip.org/publishing/journal-highlights/artificial-membranes-silicon. These are standard organic molecules and are being used as part of a dry process to fabricate artificial bio-silicon interfaces. While the group quote the desire to develop biological sensor surfaces for integrated circuits, the promise here is for far more effective medical implants and other devices to better reside and interface with various systems within the body. 

2. Using Information Theory to Tackle Origin of Life Questions.
An interesting analysis using information theory tackles conventional origin of life questions to develop new mathematical models of self-replicating molecules to show how (in some cases) likely self-replicating molecules can develop and evolve https://medium.com/the-physics-arxiv-blog/information-theory-and-the-origin-of-life-4cf6b93d156c. A proof-of-concept demonstration of the predictive ability of the model was able to account for the rate at which others had found self-replicators in a standard in silico simulation system. The key seems to be the difference between the entropy of a non-living and living system; when small the likelihood of finding self-replicating molecules increases by any dozens of orders of magnitude. This is pure mathematics of course and substrate-independent; I wonder if this analysis might be applied to memes, units of human cultural transmission, and the general stuff of thought - and what insights might result. 

3. More Complex Logic from Synthetic Gene Circuits.
Work on genetic logic circuits and programs continues apace, with recent synthetic biology techniques successfully performing complex biological-based logic operations http://www.kurzweilai.net/new-synthetic-gene-circuits-can-perform-complex-bio-logic-tasks. Ultimately aiming for mature technology that allows cells to sense and respond to their environment in programmatic ways, the current demonstration worked by building modular genetic circuits with transcription factors engineered to both sense certain environmental chemicals and bind to certain DNA sequences in order to activate genes of interest - up to four engineered transcription factors worked together to process multiple environmental signals and switch certain genes on or off. 

4. A Molecular Rectifier.
A molecule comprising a carbon buckyball joined to a carbon nano-diamond has been demonstrated to behave like a molecular diode or rectifier, allowing electric current to flow in one direction only http://phys.org/news/2014-09-buckyballs-diamondoids-tiny-electronic-gadget.html. The group next plans to investigate the creation of transistors out of the same components as part of driving towards molecular electronics and molecular computers. 

5. Largest Ever Self Assembled DNA Origami Molecule.
The largest ever DNA origami molecule has been created, self-assembling and folding into a precisely-defined atomically-precise structure measuring 200nm by 300nm and comprising a total of 51,466 bases http://news.ncsu.edu/2014/09/labean-dna-origami/. The achievement was facilitated by new, cheap DNA synthesis techniques (basically a converted inkjet printer) that enabled the rapid synthesis of the 1,600 staple strands required to fold and knit the DNA structure together; the performance of the technique is acceptable with more than 90% of structures self-assembling into the correct shape. On the topic of self-assembly a new molecular assembly line can controllably produce, via repeated iteration, long-chain hydrocarbons of defined length, orientation, and shape http://phys.org/news/2014-09-chemists-assembly-line-molecules.html. 

6. The Rise and Rise of Machine Vision.
Technology Review had an interesting overview of the rise of machine vision, object recognition and the tipping point in performance capabilities that occurred in 2012 http://www.technologyreview.com/view/530561/the-revolutionary-technique-that-quietly-changed-machine-vision-forever/. These systems now routinely involve architectures comprising deep convolutional neural networks with hundreds of thousands of simulated neurons stacked multiple simulated layers that learn to distinguish objects; error rates in machine vision have progressively declined to levels where applications now routinely rival human performance levels. Continual advances in this field should enable automated lip-reading in future, as discussed here http://www.technologyreview.com/view/530641/the-challenges-and-threats-of-automated-lip-reading/ - imagine all those “private” conversations hidden in archived video footage just waiting to be analysed by next-generation machine vision systems. 

7. Evidence Suggesting Re-running Evolutionary History would Produce the Same Results.
A large, ambitious study exploring the evolutionary trajectories of 640 different strains of yeast cells over 500 generations sampled every 12 hours and originating from a single parent cell has generated strong evidence that re-running evolution results in organsims arriving at the same end point http://www.simonsfoundation.org/quanta/20140911-evolutions-random-paths-all-lead-to-the-same-place/. This goes against conventional evolutionary thinking. The study shows that, regarding evolutionary trajectories, the initial mutations accounting for genotypic differences invariably leads to convergence rather than divergence at the fitness level. This suggests that if we started life on this planet from scratch we would evolve in a similar fashion and broadly arrive at the same point. The work also suggests a disconnect between evolution at the genetic level and at the level of the whole organism. 

8. Much Ado About Aging.
There were a nice bunch of aging-related advances this week. First, boosting AMPK (gene / protein) levels in either the intestine or nervous system resulted in a slowing of the aging process beyond the organ in which it was boosted, leading to flies living 30% longer, and believed mainly to be due to significantly increased autophagy and the breakdown of cellular garbage http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/ucla-biologists-delay-the-aging-process-by-remote-control. Second, and related to the first, involves increasing levels of heat shock protein in muscle cells, and which resulted in boosting insulin sensitivity and muscular performance in aged mice https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2014/09/inducing-heat-shock-protein-70-as-a-basis-for-therapies.php. Thrd, a trio of studies demonstrated different approaches to restoring the activity of old muscle stem cells https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2014/09/another-method-of-restoring-activity-in-old-muscle-stem-cells.php. 

9. Creating and Studying Artificial Protocells.
By creating basic water-filled vesicles and filling them with microtubule proteins, kinesin motor proteins, and ATP molecules basic protocells can be created that not only change their shape but can also move across a surface http://singularityhub.com/2014/09/08/simple-artificial-cells-created-that-change-shape-and-move-on-their-own/. By uncovering basic principles for controlling the protocell’s behaviour they hope to facilitate the creation of more advanced artificial cell systems in future. 

10. New Technique for Efficient Production of Graphene Sheets.
A new, simple technique for separating graphene sheets from bulk graphite (and also sheets of other two dimensional materials like boron nitride) has been discovered http://science.psu.edu/news-and-events/2014-news/Mallouk9-2014. The method simply involves intercalation, whereby ions or other molecules are inserted between the graphene layers to pull them apart, and all without the use of oxidising agents and other chemicals that can damage the sheets. In related work graphene was combined with carbon nanotubes to produce ordered three dimensional structures capable of improved energy storage applications for lithium-sulfur batteries http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=37339.php.

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

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

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2014-09-13 12:49:42 (21 comments, 4 reshares, 59 +1s)Open 

Singapore and Hong Kong.

Our recent trip to Singapore and Hong Kong was a relatively impulsive little holiday that we booked months ago; we opted for a short little getaway staying four nights in each city and flying via Singapore Airlines. We splurged a little on accommodation and stayed at the Royal Plaza on Scotts Road in Singapore and at The Park Lane on Gloucester Road in Hong Kong. We also splurged on food this trip - no cheap street market stalls and food, no way ;) and didn’t get sick at all either. 

While I enjoy sharing photos and images from trips the total here is a little high at 270 photos (this was after culling down from about 1,300 total) and I certainly wouldn’t expect anyone to flick through them all; the main reason for posting here is so I can grab auto-enhanced versions to use on our digital photo-frames and other purposes :) Note: Clicking the datestam... more »

Singapore and Hong Kong.

Our recent trip to Singapore and Hong Kong was a relatively impulsive little holiday that we booked months ago; we opted for a short little getaway staying four nights in each city and flying via Singapore Airlines. We splurged a little on accommodation and stayed at the Royal Plaza on Scotts Road in Singapore and at The Park Lane on Gloucester Road in Hong Kong. We also splurged on food this trip - no cheap street market stalls and food, no way ;) and didn’t get sick at all either. 

While I enjoy sharing photos and images from trips the total here is a little high at 270 photos (this was after culling down from about 1,300 total) and I certainly wouldn’t expect anyone to flick through them all; the main reason for posting here is so I can grab auto-enhanced versions to use on our digital photo-frames and other purposes :) Note: Clicking the date stamp in the main image for the post will open the whole album in thumbnail format, which can be quickly scrolled through for any images that jump out.

Best Food
Spoiling ourselves one night in Hong Kong we ate at the penthouse restaurant in our hotel, The Park Lane, with nighttime views looking out from the 27th floor over the Hong Kong skyline. We ordered wine, a main, and dessert each (pics in the album) and enjoyed the delicious “small serving size on big plates” type fare. Memorable for the taste, the views, the ambience, and the nearly AUD $200 cost :P

Best Experience
If we had to choose just one highlight it would probably be the visit to the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest Dome in the Gardens By The Bay along Singapore’s Marina Park. After walking for most of the morning in sunny bustling Singapore’s very humid heat, we expected an even hotter greenhouse as we neared the Flower Dome. Stepping through the sets of double doors we were greeted instead with an incredibly cool, dry (dehumidified), idyllic, peaceful, tranquil, and all-around pleasant environment saturated with finely manicured flowers and little gardens. Something to be experienced. Can't imagine how expensive it is to condition that volume of air. 

Most Unsure / Unsafe Experience
The walk from Lok Fu subway station in Hong Kong / Kowloon, partly in the dreary rain, down streets bordering run-down government housing estates, to reach the Kowloon Walled City Park, all that remains of the infamous Kowloon Walled City (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kowloon_Walled_City). The park itself was beautiful and tranquil and certainly worth seeing along with the last remaining remnants of the city and its foundations. We were decidedly on edge for the entire walk, probably needlessly in hindsight; but we stuck out, were alone, were certainly the only tourists around, were in an unfamiliar environment and situation, and in general enduring a decent bit of culture-shock. Thanks +Ninja On Rye for all of this ;)

Random Observations
* The hallway in our Singapore hotel reminded me of the hotel hallway in the movie Inception - see the picture in the album to see if you agree.
* To our surprise I handled the heat and humidity quite well where we both thought I would do badly. Seems low 30s and high humidity is fine for me so long as I’m drinking plenty of water; Elise suffered however. Must be absolute heat over 40 that gets me and which Elise deals with fine. 
* I entered a building in Hong Kong and found myself in the densest most overwhelming technological marketplace I’ve ever experienced and I managed not to buy anything! 
* Phablet-sized phones in Singapore and Hong Kong were very very common; 5+ inch phones in lots of tiny hands. I never thought I’d want a phablet-sized phone but now I definitely do. 

Singapore
Singapore is a wonderful city - beautiful, ultra-clean, and modern. Affordable in general but not cheap and has plenty of up-market facilities and shopping that we could never afford. One of the busiest ports in the world, one of the best airports in the world, one of the best botanic gardens and zoos in the world. Cosmopolitan, easy to get around, and plenty to see and do. 

We mainly caught taxis when we needed to get around; a taxi fare being about AUD $9 max to go most of the way across the central city. We flew the Singapore Flyer the first morning, the tallest observation wheel in the world, and had a capsule all to ourselves. We walked around Marina Bay, the iconic Marina Bay Sands Hotel (viewing a nighttime Singapore from the floating observation deck), the Gardens by the Bay with the Supertrees and Flower Dome and Cloud Forest Dome, checked out the Merlion, cruised up and down the Singapore River, walked to the famous Raffles Hotel and had a Singapore Sling cocktail, visited the Singapore History Museum, walked around the Botanic Gardens and famous Orchid Gardens, ate at a lovely Clarke Quay restaurant at a table by the river, and did a little shopping in massive labyrinthine malls. 

Hong Kong
Third biggest financial center in the world, second biggest shipping port in the world, most vertical city in the world, 7.2 million inhabitants, and the biggest experiment in laissez-faire capitalism ever. Huge, world-class infrastructure. A passenger jet arrives at or departs Hong Kong airport every 42 seconds. Massive disparities in wealth and poverty. One minute we were walking through ultra-modern shopping malls at the base of world-class skyscrapers sporting jewelery shops with AUD $20,000 watches, and the next we were walking down a street with 20-storey dirty, old, run-down government housing estate buildings crammed with tiny apartments, over-flowing with people and . . . rather fragrant. 

We exclusively caught the subway to get around; clean, rapid (every 3 minutes or so), packed day and night, and AUD $2 - $3 depending on length of trip. We hit the Peak Tram first thing on the first morning and rode up to Victoria Peak for the glorious 360-degree views over Hong Kong and the surrounds, then visited Hong Kong Park before walking through the bustling boardwalks and foot-paths of Central in the CBD, making our way to the iconic HSBC building before walking to the Mid-Levels to catch the longest open-air escalator in the world to simply observe the crowds of people and different aspects of the city - old and new - pass us by. Next day was a tour starting with a ferry ride out of Victoria Harbour and on to Lantau Island where we bussed to a beach and visited a fishing village that itself was an eye-opening experience. 

Fresh oysters drying in the sun with flies crawling on them and street markets filled with all manner of dried fish and other unrecognisable and unpalatable seafood. A cruise up the river exposed the underlying filthiness of the village with makeshift structurally-unsound houses on stilts along the polluted river bank (being fished by a young child) filled with rubbish and debris. Then it was on to see the Giant Buddha and learn a little about Buddhism before visiting a Buddhist monastery for a banquet vegetarian lunch and finishing with a ride on a 5km-long cable-car journey over mountains to the airport. The final day included a Victoria Harbour ferry ride to the Kowloon side, walk along the promenade and avenue of stars looking out over Hong Kong’s iconic skyline, a subway and walk to visit Kowloon Walled City Park, trip to the ICC building and to the Sky100 Observation deck on the 88th floor, a rest at the hotel and a final trip back to the same promenade at night - utterly packed with people - to view the same iconic skyline at night when it was all lit up. 

PhotoSpheres
Of course I took a whole bunch of PhotoSpheres in Singapore and Hong Kong. For those interested in general browsing and discovery you can go to my PhotoSphere profile here https://www.google.com/maps/views/profile/115624860057949518963?gl=au&pv=2&tab=1, expand the map and zoom in to Singapore or Hong Kong to click on the red dots of interest and check them out. 

A few highlights include:

Singapore

1. From inside an observation capsule on the Singapore Flyer
https://www.google.com/maps/views/view/115624860057949518963/gphoto/6054998770767628770?gl=au&heading=180&pitch=90&fovy=75
This one is at the highest point; I took a second one, slightly lower, with a different view.

2. Next to the spiral DNA bridge along the harbour
https://www.google.com/maps/views/view/115624860057949518963/gphoto/6055006005822379858?gl=au&heading=5&pitch=91&fovy=75

3. From the Marina Bay Sands Hotel Observation Deck at night
https://www.google.com/maps/views/view/115624860057949518963/gphoto/6055235608231746418?gl=au&heading=326&pitch=72&fovy=75

4. From the walkway between the Supertrees
https://www.google.com/maps/views/view/115624860057949518963/gphoto/6055142711481957682?gl=au&heading=254&pitch=90&fovy=75

5. Inside the Flower Dome
https://www.google.com/maps/views/view/115624860057949518963/gphoto/6055017464992044194?gl=au&heading=129&pitch=107&fovy=75

6. Along a walkway in the Cloud Forest Dome
https://www.google.com/maps/views/view/115624860057949518963/gphoto/6055139501768964162?gl=au&heading=312&pitch=97&fovy=75

7. The Merlion and Marina Bay
https://www.google.com/maps/views/view/115624860057949518963/gphoto/6055227007071773314?gl=au&heading=276&pitch=95&fovy=75

8. Singapore River; old and new
https://www.google.com/maps/views/view/115624860057949518963/gphoto/6055230102757384466?gl=au&heading=194&pitch=100&fovy=75

9. Botanic Gardens Lake
https://www.google.com/maps/views/view/115624860057949518963/gphoto/6055221247055266178?gl=au&heading=192&pitch=90&fovy=75

10. Botanic Gardens Path
https://www.google.com/maps/views/view/115624860057949518963/gphoto/6055218837505533474?gl=au&heading=334&pitch=91&fovy=75

Hong Kong

1. View from Victoria Peak
https://www.google.com/maps/views/view/115624860057949518963/gphoto/6055865530232566290?gl=au&heading=25&pitch=90&fovy=75

2. Victoria Peak hiking path
https://www.google.com/maps/views/view/115624860057949518963/gphoto/6055892960715917346?gl=au&heading=51&pitch=80&fovy=75

3. Hong Kong Park
https://www.google.com/maps/views/view/115624860057949518963/gphoto/6055894068683995762?gl=au&heading=56&pitch=90&fovy=75

4. Sky100 Observation view
https://www.google.com/maps/views/view/115624860057949518963/gphoto/6056629357880591522?gl=au&heading=172&pitch=90&fovy=75

5. Hong Kong skyline at night
https://www.google.com/maps/views/view/115624860057949518963/gphoto/6056695639893505762?gl=au&heading=266&pitch=71&fovy=75
I also have this spot during the day too.

6. Last remaining foundations of the Kowloon Walled City
https://www.google.com/maps/views/view/115624860057949518963/gphoto/6056626832283764130?gl=au&heading=117&pitch=90&fovy=75

7. Fishing village bridge
https://www.google.com/maps/views/view/115624860057949518963/gphoto/6056243109117172786?gl=au&heading=279&pitch=82&fovy=75

8. The Monastery
https://www.google.com/maps/views/view/115624860057949518963/gphoto/6056255005408624002?gl=au&heading=93&pitch=90&fovy=75

9. The Giant Buddha
https://www.google.com/maps/views/view/115624860057949518963/gphoto/6056252553504330594?gl=au&heading=218&pitch=109&fovy=75

#singapore   #hongkong   #photosphere  ___

2014-09-11 12:25:00 (27 comments, 8 reshares, 81 +1s)Open 

Too much information.
Flying home the other day we encountered quite a bit of turbulence for extended periods. It never really bothers me, knowing that modern planes are never really troubled by turbulence, but it did make me wonder. Glancing at the flight display I saw we were clocking a little over 1,000 kmph and wondered at the glimpse of terror I'd experience if we hit another plane head on. I worked out we were covering a kilometer every 4 seconds and the sudden impact would see me hurtle forward 50m every 1/5th of a second; knowing that human reaction times are about 1/5th of a second, and I was about 50m from the nose of the plane I concluded that I wouldn't experience any terror at all - or anything at all for that matter. Speed of sound is about 1,200 kmph and so I'd barely register the initial noise. Back of the envelope calculations suggest my seat-belt would impart a... more »

Too much information.
Flying home the other day we encountered quite a bit of turbulence for extended periods. It never really bothers me, knowing that modern planes are never really troubled by turbulence, but it did make me wonder. Glancing at the flight display I saw we were clocking a little over 1,000 kmph and wondered at the glimpse of terror I'd experience if we hit another plane head on. I worked out we were covering a kilometer every 4 seconds and the sudden impact would see me hurtle forward 50m every 1/5th of a second; knowing that human reaction times are about 1/5th of a second, and I was about 50m from the nose of the plane I concluded that I wouldn't experience any terror at all - or anything at all for that matter. Speed of sound is about 1,200 kmph and so I'd barely register the initial noise. Back of the envelope calculations suggest my seat-belt would impart a force of some 4,600 MPa or 650,000 Psi to my abdomen, and undoubtedly cut my body in half if the seat-belt didn't break or the chair get ripped from the floor. Satisfied I settled back, continued reading Rainbows End and enjoyed the bumpy ride. ___

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2014-09-10 08:51:24 (8 comments, 5 reshares, 38 +1s)Open 

Smelling the Flowers in Singapore.

Here are a bunch of pictures I took of many different, vibrant flowers in Singapore (and a couple in Hong Kong too). Random fact of the day - I've always liked flowers and taking snap-shots of them; Elise's preferred social network is Instagram and so when she signed up I joined to help her out and thought I'd just post flower pictures there. The images in this album are actually from Instagram image edits of the original flower images. 

Smelling the Flowers in Singapore.

Here are a bunch of pictures I took of many different, vibrant flowers in Singapore (and a couple in Hong Kong too). Random fact of the day - I've always liked flowers and taking snap-shots of them; Elise's preferred social network is Instagram and so when she signed up I joined to help her out and thought I'd just post flower pictures there. The images in this album are actually from Instagram image edits of the original flower images. ___

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2014-09-10 08:32:51 (2 comments, 2 reshares, 9 +1s)Open 

Re-posting a Comment.

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

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

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

Three
Removing the default cycling preview pane from upper-left is something I'm ambivalent about; it was engaging for new users as interactive splashm... more »

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

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

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

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

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

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

#views   #photography   #androidphotography   #landscapephotography   #photosphere   #aloha  ___Re-posting a Comment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#photosphere   #googlemaps   #googlemapsviews  

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2014-09-09 04:25:38 (9 comments, 0 reshares, 42 +1s)Open 

Four Crazy Nights in Hong Kong.

About to board the first of two planes home and thought I'd recap our Hong Kong adventures. Image below is PhotoSphere from Kowloon promenade, looking out over Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong.

Day 1
* Walk to first subway station and learn Hong Kong subway. Get off at Admiralty stop and walk to The Peak Tram stop via the Hong Kong Park. Wait in line 15 minutes and catch the very steep, 45 degree tram up to Victoria Peak and ascend Victoria Tower for stunning 360 degree views over Hong Kong island, the city, Kowloon, and the forested mountains. 
* Have lobster risotto for lunch, because, why not? Go for a walk around one of the forested paths around the peak, covered in lush greenery and offering other, more private, stunning views. 
* Catch tram back down to the city and pass hordes of crowds on the way out (lucky wew... more »

Four Crazy Nights in Hong Kong.

About to board the first of two planes home and thought I'd recap our Hong Kong adventures. Image below is PhotoSphere from Kowloon promenade, looking out over Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong.

Day 1
* Walk to first subway station and learn Hong Kong subway. Get off at Admiralty stop and walk to The Peak Tram stop via the Hong Kong Park. Wait in line 15 minutes and catch the very steep, 45 degree tram up to Victoria Peak and ascend Victoria Tower for stunning 360 degree views over Hong Kong island, the city, Kowloon, and the forested mountains. 
* Have lobster risotto for lunch, because, why not? Go for a walk around one of the forested paths around the peak, covered in lush greenery and offering other, more private, stunning views. 
* Catch tram back down to the city and pass hordes of crowds on the way out (lucky we went early). Enjoy Hong Kong Park a little more before walking to Central (CBD) and along raised walkways between the myriad skyscrapers and over busy roads. 
* Walk to the Mid-Levels and ride the long open-air Mid-Levels escalator for a bit, watching the city change from ultra-modern to old, aged, and a little run-down, and looking out over bustling street markets. 
* Walk back to Central, and subway back to Causeway Bay station, then a short walk through Victoria Park and back to our hotel The Park Lane exhausted and order room service dinner. 

Day 2
* Up early and picked up from hotel by tour group, transfer to 3 different buses and then to the main Pier. Board and catch a ferry, motoring out of Victoria Harbour towards Lantau Island to the west. Jump on another bus and head to a local swimming beach - just for look and western-style toilet stop. 
* Travel to the fishing village of Tai O on the west coast and continue by foot. Explore the village and its c. 1400 temple and take a short 10 minute boat ride up and down the river past some of the most shocking / filthy / impoverished living conditions that I've ever seen. Fresh oysters drying in the sun with flies on them. No ma'am, thank you, it looks delicious, but I don't wish to partake of your dried fish wares on display in the street. Very real contrast to the up-market shopping malls in Hong Kong. A good eye-opening experience. 
* Travel to the Giant Buddha of Lantau, walk inside and explore the history of Buddhism, then walk around the base of the giant while enjoying vast panoramic views of lakes, ocean, and forested mountains. 
* Bus back to the bottom of the hill and enjoy a vegetarian banquet lunch with the rest of our group at the local monastery. Explore the monastery on foot, inside and out with views up the hill to the Buddha. 
* Walk to the cable car station and catch a cable car over a 5km suspended cable track with expansive views and a distant drop to the ground below. Finish up crossing the ocean near Hong Kong airport and observe a plane coming or going every 40 or so seconds. Board bus for the hour or so trip back to Hong Kong and hotel but miss most of the drive due to sleep. 
* Treat ourselves to classy over-priced dinner / fine-dining (small servings on big plates) at the roof-top restaurant looking out over Hong Kong all alight at night.

Day 3
* Up early again and subway to Central, walk to Pier, and ferry (for AUD 0.30 each) across Victoria Harbour to Kowloon. Walk along promenade in the humid heat and snap the PhotoSphere for this post looking out over one of the most iconic sights / skylines in the world. 
* Walk along the avenue of the stars and seek refuge from the heat at a Starbucks with an espresso frappuccino and cake.
* Walk to nearest subway, long underground trek past malls and to another station and then, inspired by a +Ninja On Rye post, catch two trains to Lok Fu station and drag Elise on a long walk through the rain, past dodgy-unsafe-looking-we're-not-in-Kansas-anymore government housing estates to reach the Kowloon Walled City Park, all that remains of the infamous Kowloon Walled City. 
* It was worth it. Kowloon Walled City Park was tranquil and beautiful, green, and the sun even came out for us for a bit. We even saw another tourist couple there. The PhotoSpheres are already up.
* Trek back to the station and thankfully it doesn't rain on us this time. Catch another train, then two; Elise wants to go reat at hotel but I drag her onto a third and hop off at Kowloon station where we walk through the luxury Estate Shopping Mall where we can't afford anything but manage to grab some affordable lunch. 
* Then short walk to destination, the ICC Tower and up to the Sky100 360 degree observation deck on the 88th floor - Hong Kong's tallest tower. While cloudy and overcast the views are still amazing. 
* Two subway trains later and we're back at the hotel after a slight shopping detour for Elise. Rest and lazily grab the hotel buffet for dinner. 
* Elise exhausted so at 8:20pm I head back out and two subway trains and a decent walk later find myself back at the location on the promenade where the PhotoSphere for this post was taken, only this time it is night time and Hong Kong is brightly lit up and offering a different perspective. Despite being a Monday night there seems to be a festival on and the streets and water front are absolutely packed with people. People everywhere.
* Another two packed subway trains and I'm back in the hotel room by 9:30pm. Exhausted. Clocked up well over 21,000 steps the final day. 

*Write this post while travelling on the bus to the airport, punching keys on a Chromebook tethered to my phone with international roaming.*___

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2014-09-07 10:27:42 (15 comments, 41 reshares, 82 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 36/14.
Crazy-busy holiday abridged version, posted while looking out over the Hong Kong skyline!

1. Multicolour Thin Films from Silver Nanoparticle Films.
Silver nanoparticles fabricated as part of thin films exploit plasmonic interference to produce colour holograms that go beyond conventional diffraction limits http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/semiconductors/memory/nanoparticles-enable-new-levels-of-holographic-optical-data-storage-. 

2. Electrical and Magnetic Neural Probes.
New optoelectric neural probes work with optogenetics to both stimulate neurons directly with light and record the electrical activity of the surrounding neurons, while new magnetic nanoparticle neural probes can be tuned with different magnetic resonance properties to selectively stimulate different neural regions... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 36/14.
Crazy-busy holiday abridged version, posted while looking out over the Hong Kong skyline!

1. Multicolour Thin Films from Silver Nanoparticle Films.
Silver nanoparticles fabricated as part of thin films exploit plasmonic interference to produce colour holograms that go beyond conventional diffraction limits http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/semiconductors/memory/nanoparticles-enable-new-levels-of-holographic-optical-data-storage-. 

2. Electrical and Magnetic Neural Probes.
New optoelectric neural probes work with optogenetics to both stimulate neurons directly with light and record the electrical activity of the surrounding neurons, while new magnetic nanoparticle neural probes can be tuned with different magnetic resonance properties to selectively stimulate different neural regions http://phys.org/news/2014-09-flexible-polymer-probes-magnetic-nanoparticles.html. 

3. Simple 3D Scanning Technique.
3D scans of complex objects can now be produced very simply with a single camera and two projectors that drape the object in different stripes http://www.technologyreview.com/view/530536/simple-illumination-technique-creates-3-d-virtual-models-using-one-digital-camera/. 

4. Flying a Simulated Plane via Neural Network Grown in a Dish.
A neural network of comprised of 25,000 rat neurons grown in a dish has been trained, with inputs from a flight simulator, to produce outputs able to “fly” the simulated plane http://singularityhub.com/2014/09/04/experimental-rat-brain-fighter-pilot-may-yield-insights-into-how-the-brain-works/. 

5. Better Microfluidic Pumps.
A piezoelectric micropump that is cheap to fabricate has been demonstrated as an effective means to precisely move fluids around a microfluidic chip http://phys.org/news/2014-09-cost-effective-high-performance-micropumps-lab-on-a-chip-disease.html. 

6. Low Light Images at Less than One Photon per Pixel.
Normal digital cameras take images by capturing tens of thousands of photons per pixel but a new technique allows images to be taken with less than one photon per pixel https://medium.com/the-physics-arxiv-blog/researchers-take-low-light-images-using-less-than-one-photon-per-pixel-22f03c391235. 

7. Trio of Graphene Advances.
A graphene-based flexible display was demonstrated http://phys.org/news/2014-09-graphene-based-flexible.html, graphene demonstrated seven times better infrared microscopy http://nextbigfuture.com/2014/09/monolayer-graphene-offers-7-fold.html, and graphene photodetectors allow data rates of 50 gigabits per second http://phys.org/news/2014-09-ultrafast-graphene-based-photodetectors-gbits.html. 

8. Medtronic’s Future Healthcare Model.
Medtronic announced their latest tiny pacemaker and its extensibility to a wide range of other sensors and stimulators, and outlines the desire for a distributed model of medicine with sensors implanted in people’s bodies wirelessly connected to their phones http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/biomedical/devices/medtronic-sees-a-hightech-solution-to-global-health-woes. 

9. Immunotherapy for Autoimmune Disorders.
In an interesting proof-of-concept the specific immune cells responsible for autoimmune disease were selectively targeted by building on prior work in allergic desensitisation with fragments of peptides that cause autoimmune response; the cells exhibited much lower autoimmune activity and began protecting against the disease https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2014/09/antigen-specific-immunotherapy-to-treat-autoimmune-disease.php. 

10. Automatic Face and Emotion Recognition.
A new Google Glass application now automatically recognises faces within its field of view and characterises with a degree of confidence the range of emotions the person is displaying http://singularityhub.com/2014/09/02/have-digital-devices-ruined-your-ability-to-read-emotions-no-worries-an-app-for-that-is-on-the-way/. 

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

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

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2014-09-06 02:40:12 (13 comments, 0 reshares, 82 +1s)Open 

Nothing really prepared me for this city. Mind blown.

Nothing really prepared me for this city. Mind blown.___

posted image

2014-09-05 03:05:07 (4 comments, 5 reshares, 42 +1s)Open 

Four Wonderful Nights In Singapore.
Tiny Planet image of hotel lobby pictured.

Day 1
* Taxi first thing to Singapore Flyer and a capsule all to ourselves from the tallest observation wheel in the world. Yes I got PhotoSpheres from inside the capsule :)
* Walk across DNA bridge with views over Marina Bay and explore the massive and modern Marina Bay Shopping Mall, then walk to Gardens By The Bay and grab coffee and cake.
* Enter into the huge, utterly amazing, highlights of the day, Flower Dome and Cloud Forest Dome. Peaceful and cool in the Flower Dome with more flowers than I've ever seen in my life and wealthy Indonesian family wanting to take family photos with us because . . . we're Caucasian? Cloud Dome had one of the tallest indoor waterfalls in the world. Grab lunch and more fluids!
* Go explore the SuperTree Grove and ascend to the elevated... more »

Four Wonderful Nights In Singapore.
Tiny Planet image of hotel lobby pictured.

Day 1
* Taxi first thing to Singapore Flyer and a capsule all to ourselves from the tallest observation wheel in the world. Yes I got PhotoSpheres from inside the capsule :)
* Walk across DNA bridge with views over Marina Bay and explore the massive and modern Marina Bay Shopping Mall, then walk to Gardens By The Bay and grab coffee and cake.
* Enter into the huge, utterly amazing, highlights of the day, Flower Dome and Cloud Forest Dome. Peaceful and cool in the Flower Dome with more flowers than I've ever seen in my life and wealthy Indonesian family wanting to take family photos with us because . . . we're Caucasian? Cloud Dome had one of the tallest indoor waterfalls in the world. Grab lunch and more fluids!
* Go explore the SuperTree Grove and ascend to the elevated platform for amazing views, then walk along the waterways before walking through the Marina Bay Sands hotel (three pillars / sails and boat thing on roof).
* Walk around Marina Bay to check out the Merlion, then rest and jump in a taxi back to hotel. Rest, grab Thai for dinner in nearby shopping district. Exhausted, covered over 18.5k steps.

Day 2.
* Up early again, jump in taxi to the Singapore Botanic Gardens and go exploring through one of the best botanic gardens in the world. Cover only 25% of the whole thing but manage the Orchid Garden, Evolution Garden, a lake, and surrounding fields and paths. Rest with coffee and cake.
* Taxi to hotel for rest then head out exploring the Ion Ochard shopping precinct and surrounds for Elise to get her shopping fix in. Get lost inside labyrinthine underground malls but work it out in the end.
* Relax in hotel streaming in YouTube that night.

Day 3.
* Up early and taxi to Fullerton Hotel then walk across to Merlion again to board the nearby Singapore River Cruise for a boat trip up and down the river that enters Marina Bay. Learn a bit of history, chat to another Aussie couple.
* Rest for coffee and cake again!
* Walk along river to Raffles Statue at landing spot, then walk for a bit to the grand colonial Raffles Hotel and grab a tasty (pricey) Singapore Sling cocktail at The Long Bar inside the hotel.
* Grab lunch then walk to Singapore National Museum to check out the galleries and learn a little more about Singapore's history. More coffee and cake afterwards!
* Jump in taxi back to hotel to rest up, then more shopping, then hotel rest, then taxi to Clarke Quay for dinner. Clarke Quay was pumping as the sun came down. Have a delicious Indian dinner at a table right on the river's edge in amongst a lively vibrant atmosphere.
* Board another boat for a cruise along the river at night to the futuristic Marina Bay Sands Hotel, then pay for tickets and take the lift up to the roof observation deck for amazing night time views over Singapore all lit up. Another 18.5k steps.
* Taxi to hotel, pack, sleep, get up at 6am for trip to airport and next leg of trip and post this post from our A380 flight at 40,000 feet. ___

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2014-09-02 13:17:51 (18 comments, 0 reshares, 30 +1s)Open 

That will do for today. Step counter not an error.

That will do for today. Step counter not an error.___

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2014-09-02 13:16:14 (7 comments, 2 reshares, 43 +1s)Open 

Managed to capture this PhotoSphere today during an amazing day full of epic sights in . . . 

Managed to capture this PhotoSphere today during an amazing day full of epic sights in . . . ___

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2014-08-31 11:10:46 (24 comments, 57 reshares, 95 +1s)Open 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2014-08-31 08:13:24 (10 comments, 0 reshares, 47 +1s)Open 

Cheese & Wine Tasting at the Start of Spring.

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

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

#adelaide   #cheese   #wine  

Cheese & Wine Tasting at the Start of Spring.

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

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

#adelaide   #cheese   #wine  ___

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2014-08-31 02:08:39 (24 comments, 2 reshares, 41 +1s)Open 

Criticism of Last Week's SciTech Digest.

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

Criticism Summary:

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

Criticism of Last Week's SciTech Digest.

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

Criticism Summary:

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

My First Response:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Second Summary Criticism from Person:

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

My Final Rejoinder:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2014-08-28 11:49:06 (5 comments, 18 reshares, 51 +1s)Open 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Links to resources demonstrated in the video:

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

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

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

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

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

#photosphere   #googlemaps   #googlemapsviews  ___

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2014-08-27 11:41:45 (39 comments, 40 reshares, 112 +1s)Open 

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

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

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

#googlecardboard   #virtualreality   #omfg  ___

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2014-08-25 10:52:38 (4 comments, 3 reshares, 19 +1s)Open 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#ardrone   #quadcopter   #ps3  ___

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2014-08-24 11:55:46 (17 comments, 31 reshares, 71 +1s)Open 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2014-08-22 02:50:26 (17 comments, 9 reshares, 51 +1s)Open 

Indirect Optical Mapping of Brain Circuits.

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

The scenario I had in mind would entail the following:

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

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

Indirect Optical Mapping of Brain Circuits.

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

The scenario I had in mind would entail the following:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#brain   #mapping   #ideas  ___

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2014-08-19 03:16:55 (4 comments, 12 reshares, 55 +1s)Open 

Cancer Cells Explore & Disperse Over the Surface of a Chip.

Metastasis, the spread of cancer cells and secondary growths from the original site of origin is a fairly critical parameter to inform patient prognosis and available treatment regimes. To progress to this stage cancer cells must acquire additional mutations and transformations that allow them to break off and thrive individually. 

To better study and understand this process one group built a chip whose surface is intended to mimic some of the tissue features such cells encounter. Via http://gizmodo.com/watch-cancer-cells-scurrying-over-the-surface-of-a-micr-1623183040. 

Just imagine being diagnosed with cancer and your doctor telling you that the origin tumour has started to metastasize; you now have a basic idea of what might be happening in the tissue surrounding the tumour. I couldn't help butbe... more »

Cancer Cells Explore & Disperse Over the Surface of a Chip.

Metastasis, the spread of cancer cells and secondary growths from the original site of origin is a fairly critical parameter to inform patient prognosis and available treatment regimes. To progress to this stage cancer cells must acquire additional mutations and transformations that allow them to break off and thrive individually. 

To better study and understand this process one group built a chip whose surface is intended to mimic some of the tissue features such cells encounter. Via http://gizmodo.com/watch-cancer-cells-scurrying-over-the-surface-of-a-micr-1623183040. 

Just imagine being diagnosed with cancer and your doctor telling you that the origin tumour has started to metastasize; you now have a basic idea of what might be happening in the tissue surrounding the tumour. I couldn't help but be morbidly fascinated with watching these little cancerous cells, with their defective but lethal codes, scurrying over this surface. ___

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2014-08-17 07:45:21 (26 comments, 44 reshares, 75 +1s)Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 33/14.
Cancer avatars, peptide click-synthesis, inkjet biosensors, nano-meso-self-assembly, tattoos produce energy, thousand robot swarm, pulsed fields open brain barrier, cancer screening with blood, supercapacitors.

1. Your Own Surrogate Cancer Avatar.
In the latest step for personalised medicine, people can, for $12,000 purchase a cancer avatar service from Champions Oncology; (i) a biopsy from a patient’s tumour is implanted under the skin of mice, (ii) the tumours grow because the mice are immunodeficient, (iii) a battery of different cancer drugs and combination is administered to the different mice, (iv) the drug(s) that were most effective against the tumours is chose to be administered to the human patient http://www.technologyreview.com/news/529901/a-mouse-with-the-same-cancer-as-you/. The animals serve as a livingp... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest, 33/14.
Cancer avatars, peptide click-synthesis, inkjet biosensors, nano-meso-self-assembly, tattoos produce energy, thousand robot swarm, pulsed fields open brain barrier, cancer screening with blood, supercapacitors.

1. Your Own Surrogate Cancer Avatar.
In the latest step for personalised medicine, people can, for $12,000 purchase a cancer avatar service from Champions Oncology; (i) a biopsy from a patient’s tumour is implanted under the skin of mice, (ii) the tumours grow because the mice are immunodeficient, (iii) a battery of different cancer drugs and combination is administered to the different mice, (iv) the drug(s) that were most effective against the tumours is chose to be administered to the human patient http://www.technologyreview.com/news/529901/a-mouse-with-the-same-cancer-as-you/. The animals serve as a living personalised medicine test tube. Such a powerful approach should help to remove the guesswork and trial and error in choosing the right drug(s) to give to patients, and so provide the best treatment sooner. 

2. Reprogrammed Peptide Synthetase Incorporates Novel Click-Chemistry Amino Acids.
A non-ribosomal peptide synthetase has been engineered to allow it to incorporate non-natural amino acids capable of click-chemistries, and so creating a platform for the production of peptides and proteins that can quickly be connected to other component molecules via click-chemistry coupling reactions http://phys.org/news/2014-08-reprogramed-nonribosomal-peptide-synthetase-incorporates.html. The catalytic activity of the enzyme complex was not reduced by the changes. This basically means that the substances produced by such enzymes can now be equipped with a convenient reactive site for highly-specific and efficient chemical modification - I’m thinking along the lines of directed self-assembly. And speaking of click-chemistry, this week we had an even more fundamental advance with the development of just the second “perfect” click-reaction to allow general connectors for molecular building blocks http://phys.org/news/2014-08-chemists-uncover-powerful-click-chemistry.html. 

3. Inkjet Printed Biosensors.
It is now possible to use an inkjet printer to print flexible organic thin film transistors on various substrates and then subsequently functionalise the insulator component with specific antibodies in order to create a device able to accurately detect the presence of a protein or molecule of interest http://phys.org/news/2014-08-inkjet-printed-field-effect-transistor-label-free-biosensing.html. The proof-of-concept device was used to detect a model human protein and successfully demonstrated the ability of the platform to cheaply produce novel biosensors against a range of different molecular targets. 

4. Self-Assembly Over Multiple Length-Scales.
While the (paywalled) journal article is infinitely more informative than this press release http://www.umass.edu/newsoffice/article/eco-friendly-%E2%80%98pre-fab-nanoparticles%E2%80%99-could, what this group has done is develop a method for controlling molecular assembly over multiple length scales. This involves an initial step of molecular self-assembly in which defined free polymers and macromolecules separately formed nanoparticles of targeted & tunable sizes, and is followed by a second step of geometric packing of nanoparticles into mesoscale composite materials and devices, the properties of which depend on particle composition, size, and ratio. The proof-of-concept included the creation of photovoltaic surfaces that might lend themselves to future roll-to-roll wet phase manufacturing methods. This is an interesting platform for mesoscale self-assembly of defined materials and structures. Speaking of self-assembly we also saw magnetic nanocubes spontaneously forming well-defined helical fibers http://phys.org/news/2014-08-coax-nanocubes-helical.html. 

5. Electronic Tattoos Produce Energy from Sweat.
A new sensor in the form of a temporary stick-on tattoo contains enzymes that detect and strip electrons from lactate produced by the body and so produces a weak electrical current http://phys.org/news/2014-08-tattoo-biobatteries-power.html. An iteration of the sensor turned it into a battery that, measuring 6mm square, produces 4 microWatts - something that the group hopes to enhance further with additional development. Think passive power sources for miniature wearable devices and yet another option in the future tool set for powering implanted medical devices. 

6. One Thousand Tiny Robots Collectively Swarm into Desired Shapes.
The robotics team behind kilobots keep making progress every year and this week published a pretty amazing demonstration with 1,024 tiny kilobot robots, each individually following very simple rules, but able to collectively self-assemble large arbitrary shapes as desired http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/a-thousand-kilobots-self-assemble. Be sure to watch the video too: A Swarm of One Thousand Robots. As the article points out, when you have a swarm that size the failure or individual units doesn’t really matter. Future work will focus on working with larger swarms, perhaps smaller robots, and robot designs that can securely attach to form stable structures; a fascinating form of digital matter that gets exponentially more interesting the smaller the robots and the larger their number. Assembling 3D structures and moving large groups at once (not just individuals traversing the perimeter) would also be great to see. 

7. Pulsed Electric Fields Open Up the Blood-Brain Barrier.
A new study showed that generating pulsed electric fields in targeted regions of the brain via insertion of miniature needle electrodes causes the blood brain barrier to open up and so allow the passage of drugs and other molecules that otherwise wouldn’t be able to enter the brain http://www.worldscientific.com/page/pressroom/2014-08-08-02. The study demonstrated little to no damage to surrounding brain tissue, failed to induce uncontrolled muscle twitches, and consistently opened the BBB for a defined period of time. The group have spun out a company to help commercialise the technology. I’m wondering if they can take it a step further, like an enhanced tDCS application, and achieve the same without the need for needle insertion. 

8. Early Detection of Cancer via Blood Screening for DNA.
Turns out that many, if not most, cancers shed fragments of damaged DNA into blood and this increases the more advanced the cancer becomes. Some groups have used this fact to perform studies looking at the possibility of using standard DNA sequencing techniques to do routine, early tests of patients - for example those who do not yet have symptoms - to detect whether or not the person has developed the very earliest stages of cancer http://www.technologyreview.com/featuredstory/529911/spotting-cancer-in-a-vial-of-blood/. Some of these groups have been largely successful in these efforts with most but not all types and stages of cancer; further improvements and detection sensitivity would ideally be developed. But regardless, in the majority of cases where this worked it would most definitely save lives because early detection and intervention gives the best chance for patient survival. Some precancerous cells can take decades to develop into full-blown cancers and so the window to successfully intervene early can be quite large. 

9. Engineering Better Supercapacitors.
I try to set a high bar for any battery or storage coverage in this list due to a range of reasons but this week we had a couple of interesting supercapacitor developments. First, a new material comprising stacked graphene riddled with holes of defined size demonstrated increase energy density and allowing supercapacitors to reach energy densities comparable to or better than lead-acid batteries http://phys.org/news/2014-08-graphene-framework-bridges-gap-traditional.html. Second, using hemp-derived carbons as electrodes and an ionic liquid as electrolyte produces supercapacitors with better performance compared to existing graphene supercapacitors, although not as good as the holey graphene above http://www.kurzweilai.net/could-hemp-nanosheets-topple-graphene-for-better-supercapacitor-electrodes. 

10. Capturing Carbon with Copper Foams.
Fine copper foam structures have been demonstrated as effective catalysts for converting carbon dioxide into formic acid and propylene, both of which can more easily be used as chemical feedstocks to produce other chemicals http://phys.org/news/2014-08-copper-foam-carbon-dioxide-chemicals.html. There are strong suggestions that the precise architecture of the foam is critical for conversion parameters and future work will explore the relationship between modifying foam pore depth and diameter and the amount and type of compound created; ideally controlling the architecture will allow the production of specific and desired compounds.

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

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

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

Random Update.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Random Update.

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

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

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

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

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

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

* As usual, another interesting week in science!

Will catch up with you all in earnest tomorrow :)

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

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