Test CircleCount PRO now!
Login now

Not your profile? Login and get free access to your reports and analysis.

Mark Bruce

Mark Bruce 

Australian based technophile loving life and avidly looking forward to the future.

Location: Adelaide

Followers: 15,538

Following: -

Views: 145,912,618

Cream of the Crop: 04/19/2012

Added to CircleCount.com: 03/21/2012That's the date, where Mark Bruce has been indexed by CircleCount.com.
This hasn't to be the date where the daily check has been started.
(Update nowYou can update your stats by clicking on this link!
This can take a few seconds.
)

Tags

Sign in

The following tags have been added by users of CircleCount.com.
You can login on CircleCount to add more tags here.

  • Scientists

Are you missing a tag in the list of available tags? You can suggest new tags here.

Login now

Do you want to see a more detailed chart? Check your settings and define your favorite chart type.

Or click here to get the detailed chart only once.

Shared Circles including Mark Bruce

Shared Circles are not available on Google+ anymore, but you can find them still here.

The Google+ Collections of Mark Bruce

New!
Login and checkout your own profile to see the average response per collection.
Or check out how it looks like on the profile page of +CircleCount.

Looks like this is your profile but we haven't loaded your posts yet to show you here the average numbers per collection.
Just open your dashboard and let the server work for you.

Activity

Average numbers for the latest posts (max. 50 posts, posted within the last 4 weeks)

11
comments per post
0
reshares per post
54
+1's per post

5,654
characters per posting

Top posts in the last 50 posts

Most comments: 47

2016-06-07 14:02:32 (47 comments; 0 reshares; 53 +1s; )Open 

What Does the term Transhuman mean?

I've been wondering for a while whether the term, transhuman, has started to lose some of its meaning. I still associate with it the basic definition of simply someone who wishes to use technology to overcome their human limitations. We can split hairs and strictly refer to such a person as a transhumanist and a transhuman as a person who has already embraced technology to a point where their basic condition is noticeably altered, while transhumanism is the ad hoc "movement" of those seeking to promote and support efforts to enable and allow this.

For me the concern is partly due to seeing those who identify as transhuman splinter into slightly different branches along both political (libertarian, socialist, anarchist, etc) and other lines, some of which I don't identify with at all. And at least once I've had to correct... more »

Most plusones: 123

posted image

2016-08-16 13:58:53 (25 comments; 0 reshares; 123 +1s; )Open 

Prediction for Google's Fuchsia OS

My prediction for Google's mysterious new Fuchsia OS program isn't one that I've seen suggested yet, although given the nature of ideas I'm pretty sure this has occurred to a great many people already. The framework certainly has.

I don't buy the Internet of Things angle, for which we have Brillo, nor the Android + Chrome merger angle, for which we already have Android Apps hitting Chrome this year, nor the VR OS for which we've already seen Daydream and other approaches.

The only option that makes sense to me is that Fuchsia is the predictable evolution for Google Assistant into a stand alone AI OS. We've seen Google Now develop into Google Now on Tap and this year into Google Assistant, which will play an ever bigger role in the latest iteration of Android N as well as power key messaging apps such... more »

Latest 50 posts

posted image

2016-08-23 13:46:22 (17 comments; 0 reshares; 17 +1s; )Open 

Modern Day Cults can Wield Considerable Influence

This is an excellent presentation and blog post reviewing a book that resulted from the psychological study and research of cults and cult-like behaviour. There were a number of times when I felt chills down my spine while listening, as I realised that the behaviour and actions being discussed were descriptive of influential mainstream groups, organisations, and movements in the real world today. Some of which wield considerable cultural and political power.

Also, we’re all a little bit cultish in our behaviour and even if that typically doesn’t manifest to the extent of actual “cult membership” it is more prudent, more necessary, and more important than ever to question one’s beliefs regularly and deeply. Deliberate exposure to ideas and content outside of your typical media consumption and social exposure can makethis nece... more »

Modern Day Cults can Wield Considerable Influence

This is an excellent presentation and blog post reviewing a book that resulted from the psychological study and research of cults and cult-like behaviour. There were a number of times when I felt chills down my spine while listening, as I realised that the behaviour and actions being discussed were descriptive of influential mainstream groups, organisations, and movements in the real world today. Some of which wield considerable cultural and political power.

Also, we’re all a little bit cultish in our behaviour and even if that typically doesn’t manifest to the extent of actual “cult membership” it is more prudent, more necessary, and more important than ever to question one’s beliefs regularly and deeply. Deliberate exposure to ideas and content outside of your typical media consumption and social exposure can make this necessary process easier.

I’ve started to wonder if the dynamics of the Internet and the media consumption behaviours it encourages in all of us actually serve to exploit the idiosyncrasies of human psychology to make the formation of cults and cult-like behaviour much easier, and much more effective than we really appreciate. The filter bubbles. The echo chambers. The self-righteous morally outraged victimhood culture. The politics of the other. The suppression and censorship of dissent. All feedback powerfully one on the other to make modern day cults that much more powerful, invisible, and pervasive.

Groupthink, wrongthink, and doublethink are all endemic to cults.

Selected Excerpts

Here’s a selection of key excerpts if you don’t have time for the entire presentation, which lasts for a bit of 30 minutes, or for the blog post, which is lengthy. But I’d encourage one or the other if you can manage it.

The structure of cults is basically authoritarian; obedience and hierarchical power tend to take precedence over truth and conscience when they conflict, which they often do. Unfortunately, certain psychological benefits can make authoritarian groups very attractive – they provide the opportunity to feel protected and cared for … Intelligent, well-educated people join cults because they simultaneously desire a sense of working for a higher purpose and because they are afraid of being on their own.

What I wish to stress is not that every group is a cult, but that cult thinking is the effect of psychological forces endemic to the human mind, and that these forces operate in the everyday life of each of us; they distort perception, bias thinking, and inculcate belief … and while not all cults require a formal leader as such, the authority figures … empower the group by giving them a source of confidence and righteousness that enables them to delegitimise dissenting points of view through their air of authority.

Projection offers protection from the anxiety of being bad and the punishment of being abandoned. In addition, by making other people bad in our own mind, we can legitimise behaviour toward them that would otherwise be morally unacceptable, even to the point of sanctioning cruel and vicious actions … Projection is is infused with self-righteousness to increase moral security. If the group member represents all that is good and the outsider represents all that is bad, it is natural to feel morally superior. It allows the group member to separate the world into a false dichotomy in which they have chosen the sacred path and the path the outsider has chosen is profane … Perhaps the most important thing to understand about devaluing the outsider is that it is a necessary preliminary to harming others, to doing violence.

Only a lively appreciation of dissent’s vital function at all levels of society can preserve it as a corrective to wishful thinking, self-inflation and unperceived rigidity.

A cult is a group fantasy created and maintained around specific beliefs for the emotional protection of its members. If information or opinions exist that contradicts the dogma or goals of the group, the only protective measure the group can take is suppression. Thus the core philosophy of the group becomes rooted in the distortion, if not outright fabrication, of reality. This censorship does not have to be as overtly authoritarian as one might imagine.

Care to suggest any groups this reminds you of?

Sources
Main video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htqOIjzi-jE
Blog transcript: https://therationalists.org/2016/08/17/cult-behaviour-an-analysis/
Second video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxO_UWr43Rw - this covers case studies of actual cults and is also worth a listen.
___

posted image

2016-08-21 07:22:48 (15 comments; 0 reshares; 64 +1s; )Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 34/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/08/jumping-robot-legs-uber-launches.html

Purifying carbon nanotubes, Anti-inflammatories for Alzheimer’s, Jumping robot legs, Protein sweeteners, Fortified GMO rice, Uber launches autonomous cars, Bacterial conducting nanowires, Superconducting electron superfluids, CRISPR for EvoDevo, Massively engineered genomes.

1. Purifying Carbon Nanotubes
One of the biggest obstacles to developing carbon nanotube applications is separating mixtures of carbon nanotubes to obtain pure samples of either metallic or semiconducting nanotubes depending on the requirements of the application. A new method for doing this involves a newly engineered polymer based on a template that was able to wash away semiconducting carbon nanotubes to leave metallic versions for use, buti... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 34/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/08/jumping-robot-legs-uber-launches.html

Purifying carbon nanotubes, Anti-inflammatories for Alzheimer’s, Jumping robot legs, Protein sweeteners, Fortified GMO rice, Uber launches autonomous cars, Bacterial conducting nanowires, Superconducting electron superfluids, CRISPR for EvoDevo, Massively engineered genomes.

1. Purifying Carbon Nanotubes
One of the biggest obstacles to developing carbon nanotube applications is separating mixtures of carbon nanotubes to obtain pure samples of either metallic or semiconducting nanotubes depending on the requirements of the application. A new method for doing this involves a newly engineered polymer based on a template that was able to wash away semiconducting carbon nanotubes to leave metallic versions for use, but is now able to selectively wash away metallic carbon nanotubes to leave semiconducting versions for use http://dailynews.mcmaster.ca/article/mcmaster-researchers-resolve-a-problem-that-has-been-holding-back-a-technological-revolution/. Next step will be to make more efficient polymers and scale up production.

2. Anti-Inflammatory Drugs Treat Alzheimer's
Recent work shows that certain types of common Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs are effective in treating Alzheimer’s disease in animal models by completely reversing memory loss and brain inflammation http://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/news/treatment-option-for-alzheimers-disease-possible. Next steps will be to confirm that the effect carries over to humans and, with these drugs already on the market for other NSAID-related indications, seek approval for repurposing in light of side effects.

3. Explosive Jumping Robot Legs
A new “GOAT” robot leg design is capable of explosive jumping to twice its height that can also walking, running, and compliant landings http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/goat-robot-leg-demonstrates-explosive-jumping. Next step is to improve the hardware then mount the legs onto both bipedal and quadruped robots, which I think will be very impressive to see. In related robotic automation news, agricultural fruit and vegetable picking robots continue to get better with the demonstration of a new automated apple picker http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/industrial-robots/sri-spin-off-abundant-robotics-developing-autonomous-apple-vacuum.

4. Protein-based Artificial Sweeteners
A protein that occurs naturally in a West African fruit turns out to be 2,000 sweeter than sugar http://phys.org/news/2016-08-protein-big-sweetener.html. Producing the protein at scale for commercial uses has been problematic however, although in this recent work the use of genetically engineered yeast to produce larger amounts of the protein via fermentation is showing promise. A reliable source of protein-based, non-sugar, non-aspartame sweeteners would benefit the food and beverage industry by circumventing the different problems surrounding conventional sweeteners.

5. Engineered Rice Addresses Zinc & Iron Deficiency
A new type of genetically engineered rice that fixes and stores significantly more zinc and iron has been created that can improve the lives of those suffering from deficiencies, especially in the third world http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2016/08/modified-rice-has-five-times-zinc-and.html. This is a similar approach to the Golden Rice that has been around for a while that was engineered to produce more Vitamin A. In this case the iron and zinc content of grains was increased from ~3ppm to 15ppm and from 16ppm to 45ppm respectively. Next steps are to introduce the rice for cultivation in Bangladesh.

6. Uber Introduces Autonomous Car Service
Uber and Volvo will introduce a driverless taxi service in Pittsburgh this month using a fleet of 100 Volvo vehicles http://spectrum.ieee.org/cars-that-think/transportation/self-driving/uber-will-start-driverless-service-in-pittsburghthis-month. This won’t be a general-purpose service, but will rather ferry passengers between fixed points of interest around the city and the collaboration will further develop technology and mapping resources. The cars will apparently include “safety drivers” in the cars for the first rollout, not only to intervene if necessary but also to condition customers to get comfortable with autonomous taxis.

7. Producing Conducting Nanowires with Bacteria
Genetically engineered bacteria can now be controllably harnessed to produce electrically conducting nanowires http://www.onr.navy.mil/Media-Center/Press-Releases/2016/Geobacter.aspx. This builds on earlier work that first discovered and characterised the natural bacterial nanowires, which allowed the rational design of modified nanowires by rearranging amino acids into an improved architecture. The nanowires produced by the bacteria are protein-based, 2,000 times more conductive than natural counterparts, and measured 1.5 nanometers wide. Future applications include electronics, sensors, and as power conductors in microbial circuits.

8. Electron Superfluid Critical for High Temperature Superconductivity
Recent analysis of materials that perform as high temperature superconductors reveals that their atomic architecture facilitates the formation of electron pairs into an electron superfluid that flows without resistance https://www.bnl.gov/newsroom/news.php?a=11864. Analysing different types of these copper oxide materials (that include lanthanum and strontium) showed that differences in transition temperature between materials are determined by differences in the density of electron pairs. This challenges conventional theories of superconductivity and is hoped that this better understanding will lead to the design of materials with much higher, room-temperature transition temperatures.

9. CRISPR Accelerating the Field of Evolutionary Developmental Biology
CRISPR is having a transformative effect on the field of evolutionary developmental biology by allowing experiments to not only be done that could never be contemplated before but by significantly accelerating the rate and progress of the field http://www.nature.com/news/crispr-s-hopeful-monsters-gene-editing-storms-evo-devo-labs-1.20449. Recent work traced the gene changes required for (i) turning fins into feet, (ii) improving photoreceptors in butterflies to detect a broader spectrum of colours, and (iii) how crustaceans acquired claws. Future work will look to modify the genes and pathways involved in building chicken beaks to find the sequences required for building theropod dinosaur snouts; we might yet get our chickenosaurus.

10. Most Engineered Bacterial Genome
The most engineered and radically rewritten bacterial genome has been produced recently http://www.nature.com/news/radically-rewritten-bacterial-genome-unveiled-1.20451. The synthetic genome was synthesised with 3.8% of the original genome edited to replace 7 of 64 codons with code that produces the same components and so create an organism that functions on 57 instead of 64 codons. This would not have been possible even a few years ago and represents the largest completely synthesised genome with the most functional changes; next step is to boot it up into a functional cell.

Bonus: Festo’s Fantastic Flying Robots.
The latest robots from Festo are always a pleasure to behold http://spectrum.ieee.org/video/robotics/robotics-hardware/festos-fantastical-flying-robots

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

posted image

2016-08-16 13:58:53 (25 comments; 0 reshares; 123 +1s; )Open 

Prediction for Google's Fuchsia OS

My prediction for Google's mysterious new Fuchsia OS program isn't one that I've seen suggested yet, although given the nature of ideas I'm pretty sure this has occurred to a great many people already. The framework certainly has.

I don't buy the Internet of Things angle, for which we have Brillo, nor the Android + Chrome merger angle, for which we already have Android Apps hitting Chrome this year, nor the VR OS for which we've already seen Daydream and other approaches.

The only option that makes sense to me is that Fuchsia is the predictable evolution for Google Assistant into a stand alone AI OS. We've seen Google Now develop into Google Now on Tap and this year into Google Assistant, which will play an ever bigger role in the latest iteration of Android N as well as power key messaging apps such... more »

Prediction for Google's Fuchsia OS

My prediction for Google's mysterious new Fuchsia OS program isn't one that I've seen suggested yet, although given the nature of ideas I'm pretty sure this has occurred to a great many people already. The framework certainly has.

I don't buy the Internet of Things angle, for which we have Brillo, nor the Android + Chrome merger angle, for which we already have Android Apps hitting Chrome this year, nor the VR OS for which we've already seen Daydream and other approaches.

The only option that makes sense to me is that Fuchsia is the predictable evolution for Google Assistant into a stand alone AI OS. We've seen Google Now develop into Google Now on Tap and this year into Google Assistant, which will play an ever bigger role in the latest iteration of Android N as well as power key messaging apps such as Allo and others to start with. Then combine this with App Streaming that Google is playing with and this year's release of Instant Apps, and you basically have embryonic capabilities for genuinely app-less functions on demand with different chunks of apps or core capabilities available on demand as needed and depending on the context of the situation.

I'll go out and "predict" that Fuchsia will be an "app-less" AI OS, an ever-more-capable Google Assistant that you interact with to get anything and everything done.

Main: http://www.androidpolice.com/2016/08/12/google-developing-new-fuchsia-os-also-likes-making-new-words/
Instant Apps: http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2016/05/android-instant-apps-will-blur-the-lines-between-apps-and-mobile-sites/
Google Now: http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2015/05/android-ms-google-now-on-tap-shows-contextual-info-at-the-press-of-a-button/
Google Assistant: https://techcrunch.com/2016/05/18/google-unveils-google-assistant-a-big-upgrade-to-google-now/
Framework, Future without Apps: https://medium.com/fwd-thoughts/the-future-is-without-apps-ddf43ec52aab#.t3ks89jzs ___

posted image

2016-08-16 12:32:08 (6 comments; 0 reshares; 28 +1s; )Open 

Proton Radius Anomaly

Obviously last week's news but still interesting, novel, and unexpected enough that I wanted to add it to this collection.

Recent work investigating the size of the simplest nuclei when orbited by electrons or muons revealed variations in the diameter of these simplest nuclei that are not accounted for by the best current theories.

The proton was measured to be slightly larger when orbited by an electron than when orbited by a (much heavier) muon. Likewise a deuteron (proton plus neutron) is also slightly larger when orbited by an electron than when orbited by a muon. Further, this effect appears to scale compared to the proton and offers the tantalising suggestion of new and unexplored fundamental physics.

There are a couple of other possible explanations that will need to be ruled out first of course.

Main:... more »

Proton Radius Anomaly

Obviously last week's news but still interesting, novel, and unexpected enough that I wanted to add it to this collection.

Recent work investigating the size of the simplest nuclei when orbited by electrons or muons revealed variations in the diameter of these simplest nuclei that are not accounted for by the best current theories.

The proton was measured to be slightly larger when orbited by an electron than when orbited by a (much heavier) muon. Likewise a deuteron (proton plus neutron) is also slightly larger when orbited by an electron than when orbited by a muon. Further, this effect appears to scale compared to the proton and offers the tantalising suggestion of new and unexplored fundamental physics.

There are a couple of other possible explanations that will need to be ruled out first of course.

Main: https://www.quantamagazine.org/20160811-new-measurement-deepens-proton-radius-puzzle/
Proton: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proton
Deuteron: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deuterium
Muon: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muon ___

posted image

2016-08-14 06:24:29 (3 comments; 0 reshares; 73 +1s; )Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 33/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/08/engineering-biological-machines-neural.html

Engineering biological machines, Neural dust developments, Tailored AFM probes, BEC optical computer, Faceless recognition systems, Propelled liquid metals, Nanobead optical superlens, Custom ion pores, Optogenetic neural networks, Proton size discrepancy.

1. Engineering Biological Machines
An interesting advance in synthetic biology involved engineering a light-driven cell membrane proton-pump in order to enable it to be further controlled by being chemically switched on and off http://www.unibe.ch/news/media_news/media_relations_e/media_releases/2016_e/media_releases_2016/synthetic_biology_engineering_a_chemical_switch_into_a_light_driven_proton_pump/index_eng.html. The interesting thing here is the use of... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 33/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/08/engineering-biological-machines-neural.html

Engineering biological machines, Neural dust developments, Tailored AFM probes, BEC optical computer, Faceless recognition systems, Propelled liquid metals, Nanobead optical superlens, Custom ion pores, Optogenetic neural networks, Proton size discrepancy.

1. Engineering Biological Machines
An interesting advance in synthetic biology involved engineering a light-driven cell membrane proton-pump in order to enable it to be further controlled by being chemically switched on and off http://www.unibe.ch/news/media_news/media_relations_e/media_releases/2016_e/media_releases_2016/synthetic_biology_engineering_a_chemical_switch_into_a_light_driven_proton_pump/index_eng.html. The interesting thing here is the use of two types of the protein, each of which is oriented facing-in or facing-out from the cell, driven by light to create or remove proton gradients across the cell wall that is crucial for driving many cellular processes. One or the other of these processes can then be controlled at will in order to control the gradient that is needed for driving a particular process or application.

2. Latest Developments in Neural Dust
Neural dust has taken the next step with a 3mm long batteryless implantable device for implantation against muscles and peripheral nerves, and most recently demonstrated in animal experiments http://news.berkeley.edu/2016/08/03/sprinkling-of-neural-dust-opens-door-to-electroceuticals/. The devices are powered by external ultrasound to detect, process, and transmit neural signals for remote control of devices and prosthetics for example. The roadmap includes coating with materials able to last more than a decade in the body, commercialising applications for these larger peripheral devices, and further miniaturising towards 50 microns for genuine brain-computer interfaces.

3. Tailored AFM Probes
New 3D confocal laser lithography techniques allow custom atomic force microscope probes to be fabricated on demand depending on the required purpose http://www.kit.edu/kit/english/pi_2016_111_tailored-probes-for-atomic-force-microscopes.php. Custom probes are usually made manually and expensive; this new approach allows researchers to design the shape of the probe they need then have the system automatically sculpt a probe tip that can then be placed on any commercially available AFM measurement needles to begin working straight away. Nice example of the benefits of modularity in technology.

4. BEC Optical Computer
For the first time a Bose-Einstein Condensate has been harnessed to work as an optical computer http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/semiconductors/optoelectronics/a-polariton-boseeinsten-condensate-for-switching-and-storing-optical-data. BECs can be induced to form quasiparticles comprised of photons and electron-hole pairs (called exciton polaritons) that are able to store information in a couple of ways. When this type of BEC is trapped between thin layers of semiconductor low-energy voltage pulses can be used to read and write data in the BEC. This appears to be one of the first times a practical device has been built with a BEC, a good fundamental advance.

5. Faceless Recognition Systems
Automated face recognition systems have now reached the point of being faceless recognition systems, at least as far as this new prototype neural network system is concerned http://motherboard.vice.com/read/faceless-recognition-system-can-identify-you-even-when-you-hide-your-face. The system predicts the identity of obscured faces by examining other salient features in the scene; recognition accuracy rises from 70% with just 1.25 instances of a fully-visible face, to 92% for 10 instances of the person’s face. While the system is particular to certain situations and does have some weaknesses, it does constitute a privacy concern for those seeking to remain anonymous.

6. Self-Propelled Liquid Metals
Work with liquid metals including non-toxic alloys of gallium promises malleable, self-propelled liquid metal systems for electronics and other applications https://www.rmit.edu.au/news/all-news/2016/august/liquid-metals-propel-future-electronics. These latest materials were tested in microfluidic systems in which tweaks to the pH and salt of the surrounding fluid induced controllable movements and shape changes of liquid metal droplets, and used to create moving objects, switches, and pumps. The end-goal here in future might be things like reconfigurable electronic circuits, displays, and other devices.

7. Nanobead Optical Superlens
Titanium dioxide nanoparticles have been used to fabricate a 3D superlens that uses the refractive properties of the nanoparticles to achieve super-resolution optical microscopy with conventional microscopes, and appearing to resolve surface features below 60nm http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-08/bu-sti080816.php. As a proof of concept the group used the lens with a conventional microscope to image the groves and information stored on the surface a Blu-Ray disc, something that is impossible with conventional microscopes. Cheap, easy, and versatile extension to any optical microscopy system.

8. Custom Ion-Selective Pores
A new synthetic ion-recognition system has been developed for selective ion transport that can be customised and fine-tuned depending on the ion that needs to be isolated http://www.research.a-star.edu.sg/research/7539/ringing-the-changes. The basic architecture consists of a macrocycle ring molecule whose internal cavity is adjusted in order to pick out particular metal ions from many different others. The current prototypes are selective for Cs, Ag, and K, but the platform provides many avenues for further engineering to capture other metal ions. Applications will include molecular sensing, water purification, microfluidics, and even synthetic biology.

9. Reprogram Brain Networks with Optogenetics
The latest work on optogenetics in mice demonstrates that neural networks in the brain trained to fire together can be reactivated later if just one neuron is stimulated, and also lending direct support to Hebbian learning http://datascience.columbia.edu/researchers-reprogram-network-brain-cells-light. The work involved stimulating just 20 neurons out of the mouse’s 100 million and was achieved by using two-photon stimulation and two-photon calcium imaging. The optogenetically-treated and stimulated neurons were located in the mouse’s visual cortex and the group propose behavioural tests to determine if stimulating the network with light induces an image or visual artifact in the animal’s awareness.

10. Better Measurements of Proton and Deuteron
Another excellent article by Natalie Wolchover covering recent work investigating measurements of the size of fundamental particles including the proton and deuteron suggests that fundamental theories may need to be updated https://www.quantamagazine.org/20160811-new-measurement-deepens-proton-radius-puzzle/. The proton is measured to be slightly larger when orbited by an electron than when orbited by a (much heavier) muon. New work shows that a deuteron (proton plus neutron) is also slightly larger when orbited by an electron than when orbited by a muon, an effect that appears to scale compared to the proton and offering interesting avenues to explore.

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

posted image

2016-08-07 09:48:11 (4 comments; 0 reshares; 76 +1s; )Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 32/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/08/negative-poissons-ratio-ibm.html

Negative Poisson’s ratio, IBM lab on chip, IBM neuromorphic computing, Single pixel cameras, Magnetic atom chains, On-chip LIDAR, Code patching bots, Airship fixing bots, Resistant productive microbes, Novel electrical materials.

1. Materials with Negative Poisson’s Ratio
Materials with a positive Poisson’s ratio contract when stretched, but those with a negative ratio actually expand when stretched, and while rare metamaterials are being engineered to create materials that possess this property of expanding when stretched http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=44123.php. This review article digs into the negative Poisson’s ratio materials that already exist as well as laying out avenues for exploring everbetter ... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 32/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/08/negative-poissons-ratio-ibm.html

Negative Poisson’s ratio, IBM lab on chip, IBM neuromorphic computing, Single pixel cameras, Magnetic atom chains, On-chip LIDAR, Code patching bots, Airship fixing bots, Resistant productive microbes, Novel electrical materials.

1. Materials with Negative Poisson’s Ratio
Materials with a positive Poisson’s ratio contract when stretched, but those with a negative ratio actually expand when stretched, and while rare metamaterials are being engineered to create materials that possess this property of expanding when stretched http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=44123.php. This review article digs into the negative Poisson’s ratio materials that already exist as well as laying out avenues for exploring ever better materials with beneficial mechanical properties such as shear resistance, indentation resistance, and fracture toughness. I’d even just like to play with a strip of this stuff.

2. IBM’s Latest Lab on a Chip
IBM’s latest microfluidic lab on a chip devices are capable of size-based separation of biological particles down to 20nm, a scale that allows DNA, viruses, and cellular exosomes to be separated out http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/50275.wss. Working with researchers they are examining exosome communication and signalling between cells, and working with clinicians they are using the new capability in a similar way to diagnose cancer and other diseases. The architecture of the device allows variable particle separations under continuous flow and can actually split a mixture of many different particle sizes into a spread of defined particle streams, analogous to a prism splitting light. Meanwhile other microfluidic systems are replicating the connections between neurons and muscle fibers http://news.mit.edu/2016/replicating-connection-between-muscles-and-nerves-0803.

3. IBM’s Latest Neuromorphic Computing Device
IBM’s latest brain-like computing hardware has demonstrated chips that produce spiking neuromorphic features using phase-change materials to store and process data http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/50297.wss. IBM’s phase-change technology platform has already demonstrated novel memory techniques, but these new neuromorphic applications can perform data correlation detection and also unsupervised learning at high speed and low energy; updating these phase-change neurons requires just five picojoules. When will we start to see these things appearing in robots?

4. Single Pixel Camera Advances
The latest advance in computational photography using single-pixel cameras now enables single-pixel camera devices to not only produce human-like foveated images in which the center is captured in high-resolution and periphery in low-resolution, but can now also move this foveated region around to follow objects in the field of view https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602090/single-pixel-camera-reaches-milestone-mimicking-human-vision/. The system can produce two moveable foveated regions, works in visible and infrared, and might enable applications in terahertz imaging for which single pixel sensors are available and arrays are not, as well as allowing conventional trade-offs between resolution and framerate to be optimised on the fly for general imaging systems.

5. One Dimensional Magnetic Atom Chains
That’s a headline I didn’t expect to write this side of 2020. By combining a process of evaporating metals onto a surface with the controlled introduction of oxygen, one dimensional magnetic atom chains bordered by oxygen can now be created, and all via a process of self-assembly http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/semiconductors/materials/onedimensional-magnetic-atom-chain-forged. Metals explored as part of the proof-of-concept include Mn, Fe, Co, & Ni. The atom chains cover the entire surface, space 0.8nm apart, and up to 500 atoms long without a single structural defect. In the new one dimensional state the different metal atoms exhibit altered magnetic properties including non-magnetic, ferromagnetic, & anti-ferromagnetic. Such structures may have applications in high-density data storage but the advance will be a boon to studying and controlling one dimensional systems in general.

6. On-Chip LIDAR Systems
Recent advances in developing on-chip LIDAR systems for 3D mapping and ranging local environments using conventional semiconductor fabrication techniques look set to produce complete LIDAR systems smaller than a dime at less than $10 per unit http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/semiconductors/optoelectronics/mit-lidar-on-a-chip. While not only being orders of magnitude smaller than conventional systems, and orders of magnitude cheaper, the devices have 1,000 times faster image scanning. There is a roadmap to boost field of view from 50 to 100 degrees, from 2m to 10m soon and 100m later in range, and further boosting resolution. These systems are going to be absolute game changers for autonomous vehicles, robots, drones, and our smart devices generally, massively boosting their ability to move about in the real world. Spectrum shared a big drone sporting big LIDAR system navigating a barn this week, as part of http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/drones/video-friday-drone-with-lidar-robot-tai-chi-strange-android.

7. Smarter Bots Fix Malicious Code
New machine learning approaches are able to search hacker marketplaces and other hidden parts of the Web to help find and identify zero day exploits and other critical software vulnerabilities in order to drastically improve the ability of organisations to fix broken code and distribute patches before they can be exploited https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602115/machine-learning-algorithm-combs-the-darknet-for-zero-day-exploits-and-finds-them/. In related news DARPA’s Grand Cyber Challenge continues to encourage the development of ever-better software systems able to quickly find and fix a range of different software bugs better than human teams can http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/telecom/security/autonomous-supercomputers-seek-and-destroy-software-bugs-in-darpa-cyber-grand-challenge.

8. Spider Bots Monitor Airships
Lockheed Martin has developed a SPIDER bot platform that involves groups of robots that move around and inspect the skin of an airship for tiny pinholes that are difficult for humans to detect, which can then be quickly patched and sealed to prevent the leakage of Helium http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/industrial-robots/how-lockheed-martin-spider-blimp-fixing-robot-works. While this is a prototype autonomous inspection and repair system that should contribute to airship safety and cost reduction, the team hope that further development will allow such systems to function in-flight as needed in a range of conditions.

9. Resistant Productive Microbial Fermenters
To combat the problem of undesirable contaminant microbes growing in fermenters and bioreactors with productive microbes and so serving to decrease and contaminate yields, productive microbes are being engineered to be able to extract the vital growth nutrients nitrogen and phosphorous from unconventional xenobiotic compounds http://news.mit.edu/2016/microbial-engineering-technique-could-reduce-contamination-biofermentation-plants-0804. In some cases this involved the addition of six genes to provide the enzymatic processing network needed to extract nutrients from the xenobiotic compounds; contaminant microbes lacking these pathways are unable to use the nutrients and are massively outcompeted by the productive microbes.

10. Novel Electrical Materials
Some interesting new electrical materials and devices this week. First, nanoparticles of topological insulators appear to provide a platform for strong coupling between a single photon and a single electron that could be useful for photonics and optoelectronics in future http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/newsandeventspggrp/imperialcollege/newssummary/news_4-8-2016-11-5-15. Second, a layer of buckyballs proves important in creating tiny on-chip diodes that conduct electricity 1,000 times more effectively on one direction as opposed to the other http://science.energy.gov/bes/highlights/2016/bes-2016-08-a/. Third, graphene appears to facilitate a novel property of electrons called pseudospin http://phys.org/news/2016-08-electrons-electronics.html. Finally, the ability to create and manipulate two-dimensional sheets of silicon, or silicene, for electronics applications takes a major step forward http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/semiconductors/materials/breakthrough-in-silicene-production-promises-a-future-of-silicenebased-electronics.

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

posted image

2016-08-03 12:45:03 (2 comments; 0 reshares; 33 +1s; )Open 

Explaining a Quantum Phenomenon Classically

Strong coupling is the phenomenon whereby light and matter are both affected by the interactions of one on the other and has been considered a purely quantum mechanical effect. To study this a group looked at a collection of tens to hundreds of millions of electrons on the surface of liquid helium, locked in a cavity containing electromagnetic waves.

http://www.oist.jp/news-center/news/2016/8/2/bridging-gap-between-quantum-and-classical-worlds

Based on their observations and data collected the group were able to create a classical, predictive model to describe the strong coupling phenomenon they were observing.

I like this result because it is an example of curious people striking out against the entrenched dogma of a field, daring to ask questions that might not be typically tolerated - especially in this case... more »

Explaining a Quantum Phenomenon Classically

Strong coupling is the phenomenon whereby light and matter are both affected by the interactions of one on the other and has been considered a purely quantum mechanical effect. To study this a group looked at a collection of tens to hundreds of millions of electrons on the surface of liquid helium, locked in a cavity containing electromagnetic waves.

http://www.oist.jp/news-center/news/2016/8/2/bridging-gap-between-quantum-and-classical-worlds

Based on their observations and data collected the group were able to create a classical, predictive model to describe the strong coupling phenomenon they were observing.

I like this result because it is an example of curious people striking out against the entrenched dogma of a field, daring to ask questions that might not be typically tolerated - especially in this case as strong coupling is often important for quantum computing applications (although it does not imply that quantum computing fundamentals are classical of course). ___

posted image

2016-07-31 15:06:02 (11 comments; 0 reshares; 17 +1s; )Open 

Patreon

Who else uses Patreon? Which creators do you support? I signed up last month in order to contribute at least a small, token monthly amount towards YouTube creators whose content I appreciate and some of which have videos that are occasionally demonetised by YouTube. These include:

Kraut and Tea
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCr_Q-bPpcw5fJ-Oow1BW1NQ
Rationalist social and political commentary by an eloquent yet forcefully spoken German.

Gad Saad
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLH7qUqM0PLieCVaHA7RegA
Great interviews with diverse guests, rationalist social and political commentary and dissections, free speech promotion, all from a Jewish Lebanese Canadian Professor.

Computing Forever
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCT9D87j5W7PtE7NHOR5DUOQ
Mix of technology reviews and social / political... more »

Patreon

Who else uses Patreon? Which creators do you support? I signed up last month in order to contribute at least a small, token monthly amount towards YouTube creators whose content I appreciate and some of which have videos that are occasionally demonetised by YouTube. These include:

Kraut and Tea
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCr_Q-bPpcw5fJ-Oow1BW1NQ
Rationalist social and political commentary by an eloquent yet forcefully spoken German.

Gad Saad
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLH7qUqM0PLieCVaHA7RegA
Great interviews with diverse guests, rationalist social and political commentary and dissections, free speech promotion, all from a Jewish Lebanese Canadian Professor.

Computing Forever
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCT9D87j5W7PtE7NHOR5DUOQ
Mix of technology reviews and social / political commentary by a principled Irishman.

The Rubin Report
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJdKr0Bgd_5saZYqLCa9mng
Interesting, frank, and open interviews with diverse thinkers, conversations on free speech and political correctness, led by a Californian.

Sargon of Akkad
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-yewGHQbNFpDrGM0diZOLA
Rationalist social and political commentary on many matters from a thorough Englishman.

Black Pigeon Speaks
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmrLCXSDScliR7q8AxxjvXg
Rationalist cultural and political commentary by a skilled video producer of unknown origin who collates exhaustive links and references.

Aside from Patreon and Paypal or Bitcoin does anyone use any other online tipping or subscriber / payment support platform?

___

posted image

2016-07-31 07:26:26 (8 comments; 0 reshares; 54 +1s; )Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 31/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/07/assembling-protein-nanostructures.html

Assembling protein nanostructures, Superatom molecules, Printable Lego Microfluidics, Advanced 3D printing, Cockroach milk, Drone 3D mapping, Microbial production systems, Telomerase therapeutics, WiFi contact lens, Nanostructures control light.

1. Large Self-Assembling Protein Nanostructures
A DARPA project has used computational methods to screen hundreds of thousands of different protein combinations to find those candidates that self assemble into cages, and then successfully produced these structures inside living cells http://www.darpa.mil/news-events/2016-07-21. Progress appears to be quite rapid with the group successfully creating a 120-subunit icosahedron out of self-assembling proteins inside a... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 31/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/07/assembling-protein-nanostructures.html

Assembling protein nanostructures, Superatom molecules, Printable Lego Microfluidics, Advanced 3D printing, Cockroach milk, Drone 3D mapping, Microbial production systems, Telomerase therapeutics, WiFi contact lens, Nanostructures control light.

1. Large Self-Assembling Protein Nanostructures
A DARPA project has used computational methods to screen hundreds of thousands of different protein combinations to find those candidates that self assemble into cages, and then successfully produced these structures inside living cells http://www.darpa.mil/news-events/2016-07-21. Progress appears to be quite rapid with the group successfully creating a 120-subunit icosahedron out of self-assembling proteins inside a genetically engineered cell, being the largest of a diverse family of different protein cages that have now been produced. The team claims this work “opens the door to a new generation of genetically programmable protein-based molecular machines.” It’ll be interesting to see how they further functionalise these things.

2. Building Molecules Out of Superatoms
Superatoms, nanoscale clusters of atoms that behave as a single atomic entity, offer a fascinating and huge space of new materials exploration. In recent work, simple molecules or supermolecules, are being created out of superatoms http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/2016/07/molecule-clusters-superatoms-superatomic-structure. These supermolecules have well defined surface definition, bonding, and electrochemistry and were made with cobalt selenide superatoms, demonstrating a versatile platform for exploring the space of superatom molecules and properties. Interesting, fundamental materials platform. Meanwhile super-ions are boosting perovskite solar cell performance http://phys.org/news/2016-07-materials-based-clusters-atoms-super-ions.html.

3. Modular Lego Microfluidics
3D printable Microfluidic Evolutionary Components (MECs) represent a powerful new modular microfluidics experimentation and prototyping platform https://3dprint.com/143152/3dp-modular-lab-instruments/. So far there is a library of 200 different MECs for different microfluidic functions such as pumps, valves, storage, mixing, etc that can be 3D printed and connected together via standard interfaces to create custom circuits to perform as novel chemical and biological research instruments. This has the potential to be transformative for both DIYers and industrial research labs, able to accelerate innovation, and deliver unexpected results.

4. Pushing the Envelope with 3D Printing
The Lawrence Livermore Lab is pushing 3D printing this week. First, they can now hierarchically build ultralight flexible metallic structures with fractal lattices that have feature scales in the nm to cm range https://www.llnl.gov/news/new-study-unlocks-potential-ultra-lightweight-and-flexible-3d-printed-metallic-materials, although the technique first prints in polymer that is removed after coating in metal. Second, newer metal 3D printers are being used to build lasers, supports, and optics, and including diagnostic sensors to confirm the part will perform as predicted once finished https://www.llnl.gov/news/3d-printing-could-revolutionize-laser-design.

5. Cockroach Milk?
It turns out that certain cockroaches produce a type of protein-crystal “milk” to feed it’s young, and this protein complex happens to four times as nutritious as cows milk, contains proteins with all essential amino acids, as well as fats and sugars like a complete food http://www.sciencealert.com/scientists-show-why-we-should-all-start-drinking-cockroach-milk. The gene sequence has now been identified and efforts are underway to engineer yeast to produce bulk volumes artificially. Maybe a future version of the Soylent food replacement powder / drink will include a dose of cockroach milk protein as a more robust and well-rounded food supplement?

6. High-Res 3D Mapping via Drones
Lockheed Martin has developed Hydra Fusion, a system that allows drones to quickly and easily produce 3D topographic maps of landscapes and features https://www.newscientist.com/article/2098120-stitching-a-drones-view-of-the-world-into-3d-maps-as-it-flies/. People have been trying to do this for a while of course, and the article mentions a number of other efforts in this space in addition to applications including estimating mining ore volumes, toxic material released, crop growth, construction project progress, rail movements, and others. I wonder if Google will ever commission a Drone-view project to embed high-res 3D topography across Maps/Earth like it does for Street-view?

7. Advanced Microbial Production Systems
Another DARPA project has resulted in the creation of a microbe bioreactor for producing different pharmaceuticals as needed http://news.mit.edu/2016/portable-device-produces-biopharmaceuticals-on-demand-0729. The device is a microfluidic chip containing a population of genetically engineered yeast cells that respond to different simple feedstocks to produce doses of either human growth hormone or interferon, plus systems for keeping the cells alive and filtering media. Different cells might be used to produce a huge range of different drugs from the same chip in future; I see this as another step on the path towards mature productive nanosystems. Meanwhile smart building bricks have been created with microbial fuel cells embedded to produce electricity, clean water, and create detergents http://info.uwe.ac.uk/news/uwenews/news.aspx?id=3428.

8. Telomerase Therapeutics for Aging
Recent human clinical trials have shown that dosing patients with the synthetic male hormone danazol actually works to stimulate the production of the telomerase enzyme, and causing telomeres to be extended in cells at a rate about 3-fold greater than the rate they would normally be lost http://www.sciencealert.com/a-new-hormone-treatment-can-reverse-cell-ageing-in-humans. This is a commonly available drug, used off-label in many cases, but check the wikipedia listing for possible side effects. Still, might be an interesting temporary drug to try in order to gain a few extra healthy years, similar to Bioviva’s telomerase gene therapy. A recent review of Telomerase as a therapeutic target provides far more detail and nuance https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/07/a-review-of-telomerase-as-a-therapeutic-target/.

9. WiFi Enabled Smart Contact Lens
New antennas (and antenna materials) and wireless communication protocols employing the phenomenon of backscattering allow tiny unpowered devices to convert Bluetooth signals into power that is then used to produce WiFi signals for data transmission https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602035/first-wi-fi-enabled-smart-contact-lens-prototype/. The devices basically use the equivalent of Bluetooth white noise generated by a nearby device to broadcast WiFi data to a range of a little over 24 inches, which is sufficient for these types of applications. Prototypes include functional contact lenses and implantable devices.

10. Advanced Light Manipulation for Displays and Data
First, new metasurfaces comprised of precisely arranged nano-scale blocks arrayed as pixels can manipulate light to produce colour holograms http://phys.org/news/2016-07-high-efficiency-holograms-metasurface-nanoblocks.html; by changing the orientation of the blocks it is easy to produce different holographic images with different colour properties as desired. Second, new on-chip laser architectures produce vortex lasers with corkscrew encoding to achieve 10 times greater data capacity http://www.buffalo.edu/news/releases/2016/07/034.html.

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

posted image

2016-07-28 14:49:22 (23 comments; 0 reshares; 51 +1s; )Open 

Free Speech & its Censorship

I’ve become increasingly worried about the censorship of free speech online and more broadly this year. I worry that we seem to be seeing ever more censorship enacted by not just major platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Google, and YouTube, but also society, our institutions, and media generally, and often done inconsistently, hypocritically, and for purely subjective and ideological reasons. It is at times a form of fascism.

I’ve thought for years that we need user-friendly decentralised uncensorable alternatives to the current platforms in the future, at the very least as a buffer, but this is the first time I’ve thought we need these options right now. Swarm on ethereum and IPFS both have basic projects to try and begin building alternatives like this - check out Tweether for example - but these won’t be ready for a while, andSynero ... more »

Free Speech & its Censorship

I’ve become increasingly worried about the censorship of free speech online and more broadly this year. I worry that we seem to be seeing ever more censorship enacted by not just major platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Google, and YouTube, but also society, our institutions, and media generally, and often done inconsistently, hypocritically, and for purely subjective and ideological reasons. It is at times a form of fascism.

I’ve thought for years that we need user-friendly decentralised uncensorable alternatives to the current platforms in the future, at the very least as a buffer, but this is the first time I’ve thought we need these options right now. Swarm on ethereum and IPFS both have basic projects to try and begin building alternatives like this - check out Tweether for example - but these won’t be ready for a while, and Synero has been around promoting this space for a year or two as well. Even Wikileaks recently announced a desire to launch a similar network.

I never post on Twitter, really just auto-share the Sunday SciTech posts, but the other day I posted a quick “reply” post for the first time in many years, to a user who was inquiring about decentralised alternative social platforms, and simply informed them about some of the alternatives above. Twitter deleted my reply about alternatives to Twitter; I’m sure there was a simple, innocent reason for this ;)

One of the main common themes running through this phenomenon seems to be that feelings, and ideology, are given more weight and more importance than facts, evidence, and reality, and in a sense entail actively denying uncomfortable truths. It is almost like George Orwell’s 1984 is coming to life but it isn’t the State censoring and silencing us, it is ourselves, our broader society trying to censor and silence each other, influencing corporates to do the same, and leading to an amazing rise in groupthink and doublethink - a paradox in the egalitarian Information Age if it weren’t for the filter bubbles and echo-chambers our beloved InterWebs also empowers.

Of course this is just the west; in China and Iran and other places state based censorship is a whole different and very worrying problem that needs addressing.

Some good, recent commentary on these themes that came my way in the last two weeks include:

Welcome on Stasibook!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUmN80JB8cA, looking at the case in Germany with Facebook actively supporting the German government in censoring free speech, including raiding people’s houses for posting ramblings online and on Facebook. The draconian use of poorly-crafted hate speech laws, the rampant double standards of punishing different groups of people differently when they commit the same crimes. In the height of irony Facebook actually hired a former Stasi officer to report posts to the government . . . which simply beggars belief.

AllSpeechMatters: We’re In Trouble Here
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcXQpYKPl_s, looking at YouTube censorship of videos that may cause offense or hurt people’s feelings or criticise religion and social movements, and stemming from other very loose hate speech policies, and yet applied haphazardly to remove some content while leaving very similar content untouched. The potential start of a very slippery slope that risks later being used to censor the speech of those same people who used it to censor their perceived dissenting opinions of the time. A call to speak out, be more opinionated, and put your beliefs and ideas out there, not only online but in the real world.

Milo Yiannopoulos, Twitter, and Freedom of Speech
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CiuKREqBFsg, Gad Saad discusses his take on free speech, defending the rights of holocaust deniers to speak, and the efforts of academics to silence him personally by declaring some questions shouldn’t be asked. Stating that this is the first and most inalienable right people have, and the importance to a free and prosperous society of having and engaging in an open marketplace of ideas.
___

posted image

2016-07-24 08:53:08 (9 comments; 0 reshares; 61 +1s; )Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 30/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/07/atomic-scale-data-one-dimensional.html

Atomic scale data, MRI enhancements, One dimensional transistors, Modular chiplets, Fast consumer drones, Synbio computers, Detailed brain map, Tactile intelligence, Placenta on chip, Injectable biosensors.

1. Writing Data Atom by Atom
A scanning tunneling microscope has been used to produce re-writable data storage by positioning arrays of individual chlorine atoms in one of two defined positions (representing 0 or 1) http://www.tudelft.nl/en/current/latest-news/article/detail/kleinste-harddisk-ooit-schrijft-informatie-atoom-voor-atoom/. The prototype successfully stored 1 kilobyte of data or 8,000 bits on a copper surface, and achieved a storage density of 500 Terabits per square inch. The array is organised into... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 30/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/07/atomic-scale-data-one-dimensional.html

Atomic scale data, MRI enhancements, One dimensional transistors, Modular chiplets, Fast consumer drones, Synbio computers, Detailed brain map, Tactile intelligence, Placenta on chip, Injectable biosensors.

1. Writing Data Atom by Atom
A scanning tunneling microscope has been used to produce re-writable data storage by positioning arrays of individual chlorine atoms in one of two defined positions (representing 0 or 1) http://www.tudelft.nl/en/current/latest-news/article/detail/kleinste-harddisk-ooit-schrijft-informatie-atoom-voor-atoom/. The prototype successfully stored 1 kilobyte of data or 8,000 bits on a copper surface, and achieved a storage density of 500 Terabits per square inch. The array is organised into blocks of 64 bits but requires very clean vacuum conditions and liquid nitrogen temperatures to work. Still, a very impressive proof of concept.

2. Advances in Imaging Technology
First, new nuclear magnetic resonance microscope comprises a very thin wire connected to a tiny magnetic ball is able to achieve an imaging resolution of less than 10nm, a 100-million fold improvement in the volume resolution of bulk NMR http://www.physics.leidenuniv.nl/index.php?id=11573&news=931&type=LION&ln=EN. Second, a new technique for energy-filtered transmission electron microscopy is now claiming subatomic resolution and the ability to obtain clear images of electron orbitals within an atom https://www.tuwien.ac.at/en/news/news_detail/article/10225/ . . . which is a headline I never expected to see for a long time to come. Finally, manipulation of plasmonics on surfaces now allow optical microscopes to perform like electron microscopes with 65nm resolution http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/biomedical/imaging/plasmonics-enable-optical-microscopes-to-perform-like-electron-microscopes.

3. One-Dimensional Transistors
By studying two-dimensional atomically-thin transistors made out of molybdenum disulfide a group has discovered that just the edges of the device, which are essentially one-dimensional, might be used as a transistor http://news.utexas.edu/2016/07/18/scientists-glimpse-inner-workings-of-atom-thin-transistors. The current flowing through the device starts first (at very low voltages) by flowing along the edge, and only leaks into the middle of the device as the voltage is boosted to much higher levels; by making purer, defect-free devices the edges should be able to carry the entire current - meaning the bulk of the device isn’t needed and transistor switching requiring much lower power.

4. DARPA’s Modular Chiplets
A new DARPA program aims to reimagine the standard printed circuit board as a modular integrated platform that not only allows further miniaturisation and speed improvements, but also provides standard lego-like size and architecture specifications for which specialised chiplets are able to be dropped into in order to perform some desired electronic or computational function http://nextbigfuture.com/2016/07/tiling-chiplets-will-be-used-to-shrink.html. I think of this as Project Ara for integrated circuits: instead of swapping mobile phone components into a standard platform, this program will allow the rapid design of complete circuits with chiplets for sensing, processing, memory, ASICs, GPUs, antennas, signal processors, etc, all while getting around the main limitations of PCBs.

5. New Drone Tops 70mph
A new consumer quadcopter drone called Teal is set to become the fastest available with a top speed of 70mph and stability in winds up to 40mph http://nextbigfuture.com/2016/07/fastest-commercial-production-drone.html. Boasting a teraFLOP of onboard processing power for machine learning, autonomous flying, image recognition, the group hope to include obstacle avoidance in the near future. The GPS system on board enables 50cm positional accuracy. Of interest: Teal is designed to enable programmers to easily create Apps that make use of or control Teal. Also included this week due to the comment discussion on the linked page - worth a read and serious consideration.

6. Synthetic Biology Programs Compute Stimuli
Another important step in the development of synthetic biology, cells can now be programmed to remember and respond to a series of events http://news.mit.edu/2016/biological-circuit-cells-remember-respond-stimuli-0721. This is a scalable system with the proof-of-concept creating cells that can remember the correct order of three different inputs, and which might allow the recording of complex cell histories. These are like biological state machines. “These recombinase-based state machines open up the possibility of cells being engineered to become recorders of temporal information about their environment, and they can be built to lead the cells to take actions in response to the appropriate string of inputs.”

7. Most Detailed Brain Map Ever
A new MRI measurement study, part of the Human Connectome Project, and using scans of 210 different healthy human brains has produced the most accurate cortical brain map ever http://www.nature.com/news/human-brain-mapped-in-unprecedented-detail-1.20285. The map identifies 180 distinctly different areas of the cortex, which include 83 previously reported brain areas and 97 new ones. The scans themselves collected data across a range of variables including cortical thickness, brain function, regional connectivity, cellular topographic organisation, and levels of myelin and it was well defined differences between this factors that helped delineate one area from another.

8. Tactile Intelligence and Robotic Grasping
This is a good overview of the state of the art and future developments expected for robotic grasping facilitated by tactile intelligence rather than vision and various visual-grasping intelligence approaches http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/why-tactile-intelligence-is-the-future-of-robotic-grasping. After discussing some of the shortfalls of focusing exclusively on vision for grasping we get a presentation of the new CoRo Lab tactile grasping system that combines a robotic hand, UR 10 arm, multimodal tactile sensors, and a kinect for initial targeting that can predict grasp failure 83% of the time and predict object slippage 92% of the time. Both are complex and are facilitated by unsupervised machine learning algorithms that learn over many trials what signal features are important. Such a system would also be very applicable to prosthetics.

9. Placenta on a Chip
Continuing the development of organ-on-microfluidic chip technology we now have a very basic placenta on a microfluidic chip that fully models the transport of nutrients across the placental barrier https://news.upenn.edu/news/penn-researchers-develop-placenta-chip. While this and other organ on chip systems are initially being developed as research and drug development tools, with thoughts of future advances enabling artificial organs, in this case such an artificial placenta hints at the future ability to build artificial wombs. In related reproductive health advances menopause can now be reversed to restore periods and produce viable eggs https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg23130833-100-menopause-reversal-restores-periods-and-produces-fertile-eggs/.

10. Injectable Biosensors & Oxygen
A couple of interesting injectable treatments or enhancement technologies this week. First, a DARPA sponsored project has produced an injectable, implantable biosensor made of hydrogel that can produce a different fluorescent signal when different molecules are present, and which also overcomes the immune rejection problem http://nextbigfuture.com/2016/07/darpa-invests-75-million-for.html. Second, tiny gas-filled lipid microparticles have been developed as an injectable oxygen substitute that in tests was able to keep organs oxygenated and keep animals alive for 15 minutes without taking a single breath http://www.childrenshospital.org/news-and-events/2012/june-2012/injecting-lifesaving-oxygen-into-a-vein. Reminds me of a basic, dumb precursor to respirocytes that would enable enhanced athletic performance across a range of measures and activities.

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

posted image

2016-07-22 14:34:58 (46 comments; 0 reshares; 35 +1s; )Open 

G+

Like many I’ve noticed a bit of a slowdown on here over the last six months or so. Seems to be fewer posts by people and fewer comments than this time last year or the year before, which aside from the spate of posts last week I’ve also been guilty of.

Just wondering what people’s thoughts on the platform as a whole are and whether they’ve changed? Also if you find yourself spending more time elsewhere for whatever reason - if so where and why? Or if there is any general social media fatigue and just a desire to spend less time in general on these platforms?

Personally my usage and engagement has been limited during big chunks this year just by being generally busy. Aside from professional commitments at work I’ve also had many a busy weekend with trips down the coast for a break, trips up north to see the family, relaxing stays in the hills for ouranniversa... more »

G+

Like many I’ve noticed a bit of a slowdown on here over the last six months or so. Seems to be fewer posts by people and fewer comments than this time last year or the year before, which aside from the spate of posts last week I’ve also been guilty of.

Just wondering what people’s thoughts on the platform as a whole are and whether they’ve changed? Also if you find yourself spending more time elsewhere for whatever reason - if so where and why? Or if there is any general social media fatigue and just a desire to spend less time in general on these platforms?

Personally my usage and engagement has been limited during big chunks this year just by being generally busy. Aside from professional commitments at work I’ve also had many a busy weekend with trips down the coast for a break, trips up north to see the family, relaxing stays in the hills for our anniversary, hosting family members and going to football games - even climbing the local Adelaide Oval stadium roof, gardening involving moving tonnes of soil and gravel with a shovel and wheelbarrow, building a retaining wall, day trips to wineries, rifle shooting at a farm, and even the rare odd day to just relax and do nothing!

Social media wise I still prefer Google+, check in to see main and niche circles once or twice a day to quickly check updates and stream, although I’ve noticed that time on site has declined from what it used to be. I never really “got” or “used” Twitter before but I’m finding that I’m using it a little now since a couple of months ago, a quick scroll every day or two, just to check on different types of news that I can’t otherwise find here. Facebook, groan, still where all family and non-tech immediate friends are; quick check once a day or so, in and out as quick as possible unless something so stupid or inane demands a slap, a tiny bit of news, check any random messages, have noticed posting frequency by others has declined hugely. Or have I just hidden so many people there for wasting my attention that it just seems that way?

One big change in recent months is that I’m watching & listening to a lot more YouTube now. I’d estimate maybe 4-5 times as many videos as I used to watch & listen to.

Pic unrelated: just a nice spot near a local winery.___

posted image

2016-07-18 14:10:28 (5 comments; 0 reshares; 67 +1s; )Open 

The Future of Our Individual and Collective Identity

A typically well-written and engaging article from Mark Manson. The Future of Self, recently explored the future of human identity given rapid transformatory advances in technology.

This begins in a light-hearted way, exploring identity from the sense of future brain computer interfaces and mind uploads and what identity means when you can add, remove, and edit skills, memories, and even personality traits. But then we get into far more subtle and interesting discussions centered around the fact that we look for external references to identify ourselves.

External references are determined by your environment and material circumstances; you can’t be Mozart if the piano hasn’t been invented, and if you’re a poor strategist in the chess team you may be a chess god in a community that doesn’t know how to play.And you... more »

The Future of Our Individual and Collective Identity

A typically well-written and engaging article from Mark Manson. The Future of Self, recently explored the future of human identity given rapid transformatory advances in technology.

This begins in a light-hearted way, exploring identity from the sense of future brain computer interfaces and mind uploads and what identity means when you can add, remove, and edit skills, memories, and even personality traits. But then we get into far more subtle and interesting discussions centered around the fact that we look for external references to identify ourselves.

External references are determined by your environment and material circumstances; you can’t be Mozart if the piano hasn’t been invented, and if you’re a poor strategist in the chess team you may be a chess god in a community that doesn’t know how to play. And you certainly couldn’t ask a caveman what side of the political spectrum they favoured: such a question, that we might consider a core part of our identity today, would not even make sense.

Technological and social development since the Enlightenment has continually boosted the complexity of identities that people can assume. Ponder then the impacts on identity when we have advanced genetic engineering and body modification, advanced robotics that provide mass unemployment and remove I am a [job title]. from people’s lexicon, and all the ways genuine and advanced VR will be able to mess with identities in ways we cannot imagine.

What happens when individual identities become so fluid and arbitrary and everyone realises the Self is an illusion? Does the SELF-preservation instinct also dissolve? Realising that no one intrinsically stands for anything? A unicellular organism that continually and arbitrarily swaps new genes in and out rapidly loses its identity as a defined species, and quite probably its ability to survive and pass on any replicable information at all.

This and more at: https://markmanson.net/future-of-self
___

posted image

2016-07-17 13:23:38 (3 comments; 0 reshares; 58 +1s; )Open 

Surprising Hyperuniformity in Bird Retinas

+Natalie Wolchover is one of the best science writers around and she knocks it out of the park again with another brilliant piece over at Quanta discussing the hidden, non-regular, non-random pattern known as hyperuniformity that is present in the distribution of cone cells in bird retinas https://www.quantamagazine.org/20160712-hyperuniformity-found-in-birds-math-and-physics/.

Birds have had the longest time to evolve better colour vision and this hyperuniform pattern on bird retinas, this pattern of the five differently sized colour-sensitive cone cells, the individual distribution of which is neither too close nor too far apart, appears to have been strongly selected for.

The pattern appears to be an optimised solution to a packing problem that must balance the constraints of packing differently sized cells as tightly as... more »

Surprising Hyperuniformity in Bird Retinas

+Natalie Wolchover is one of the best science writers around and she knocks it out of the park again with another brilliant piece over at Quanta discussing the hidden, non-regular, non-random pattern known as hyperuniformity that is present in the distribution of cone cells in bird retinas https://www.quantamagazine.org/20160712-hyperuniformity-found-in-birds-math-and-physics/.

Birds have had the longest time to evolve better colour vision and this hyperuniform pattern on bird retinas, this pattern of the five differently sized colour-sensitive cone cells, the individual distribution of which is neither too close nor too far apart, appears to have been strongly selected for.

The pattern appears to be an optimised solution to a packing problem that must balance the constraints of packing differently sized cells as tightly as possible while ensuring uniform distribution, and contributes to birds having such fantastic vision.

But read the full piece for more detail and some counter-intuitive technological applications for hyperuniform materials distribution.

There was a release from Princeton regarding this work in early 2014, https://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S39/32/02E70/index.xml?section=topstories, although the original discovery dates back much earlier as hinted at in Natalie's article. ___

posted image

2016-07-17 06:52:45 (6 comments; 0 reshares; 71 +1s; )Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 29/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/07/dna-origami-surfaces-robots-walk-like.html

DNA origami surfaces, Robots walk like humans, Printable metal filament, Machine learning tissue scanning, Transparent skull window, Drone vaccine delivery, Retinal Alzheimer’s detection, Inheriting differential cellular damage, Bacteria in brainstem, Molecular electronics.

1. Precise Surface Functionalisation via DNA Origami
Electron-beam lithography chip fabrication tools can create surfaces etched with photonic crystal cavity arrays, tuned to particular wavelengths of light, that contain up to seven distinct internal surface structures to which precise DNA origami shapes can bind to https://www.caltech.edu/news/dna-origami-lights-microscopic-glowing-van-gogh-51280. With fluorescent molecules (whose lighte... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 29/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/07/dna-origami-surfaces-robots-walk-like.html

DNA origami surfaces, Robots walk like humans, Printable metal filament, Machine learning tissue scanning, Transparent skull window, Drone vaccine delivery, Retinal Alzheimer’s detection, Inheriting differential cellular damage, Bacteria in brainstem, Molecular electronics.

1. Precise Surface Functionalisation via DNA Origami
Electron-beam lithography chip fabrication tools can create surfaces etched with photonic crystal cavity arrays, tuned to particular wavelengths of light, that contain up to seven distinct internal surface structures to which precise DNA origami shapes can bind to https://www.caltech.edu/news/dna-origami-lights-microscopic-glowing-van-gogh-51280. With fluorescent molecules (whose light emittance is chosen to match the cavity) attached to specific DNA origami shapes, each cavity can now be precisely filled with from zero to seven fluorescent molecules, and so providing a colour scale with eight shades that the group used to create a dime-sized copy of Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” containing over 65,000 distinct pixels. This is an exciting platform for building precisely patterned functional surfaces; one can imagine the fluorescent molecules being replaced with sensors, quantum dots, enzymes, and other DNA origami structures, perhaps as mini production lines.

2. Human-Like Robotic Gait
DURUS is a robotic platform recently used to demonstrate hyper-efficient, human-like robotic gait and bipedal locomotion http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/humanoids/durus-brings-humanlike-gait-and-fancy-shoes-to-hyperefficient-robots. DURUS walks nearly 20x more efficiently than the original ATLAS humanoid robot, has human-like heel-toe walking, and can wear human shoes while doing so. The most important facet here is that, while some hardware innovations were involved, the platform is mainly improved software that can be used with different hardware configurations and doesn’t suffer from the same restraints as before. More complex tests are planned for running and walking, and the platform should also prove just as useful in providing much improved prosthetics for amputees.

3. Metal Filament for 3D Printers
Filamet is the name for a new metal-based 3D printing filament launched by The Virtual Foundry that any standard plastic-filament-based 3D deposition printer can use to produce custom metallic objects http://3dprintingindustry.com/news/now-can-print-metal-3d-printer-85255/. The first filaments on offer contain either copper or bronze metallic powder in a resin that is only 11.5% plastic, 88.5% metal, that can be used to print a mostly-metal object that can be polished or else post-processed to remove the remaining plastic to achieve 99%+ pure metal. However, while other metals and even glass and ceramic versions are planned, such objects will be structurally composite in nature and won’t achieve the consistency and strength of a conventional metal object.

4. Machine Learning Tissue Scanning
3Scan is a company that produces knife-edge scanning microscopes for very finely slicing tissue samples and imaging these to produce virtual 3D models, and now plans to use machine learning techniques to further speed up and automate this virtual model reconstruction http://www.xconomy.com/san-francisco/2016/07/11/tissue-analyzer-3scan-builds-out-machine-learning-with-14m-series-b/. This will be particularly interesting for slicing, scanning, and producing ever-larger brain connectome maps in future. Talking of virtual models of neurons and chunks of brain tissue, the Allen Institute for Brain Science has launched the comprehensive Allen Brain Observatory to further boost progress in this area http://www.alleninstitute.org/what-we-do/brain-science/news-press/articles/introducing-allen-brain-observatory.

5. Embedding a Transparent Window in the Skull
A new transparent form of the material yttria-stabilised zirconia was developed as part of the Window into The Brain project, aiming to utilise this material to replace sections of a human skull to allow optical access to the brain whenever needed http://www.gizmag.com/transparent-brain-window/44286/. Recent animal studies show that (i) lasers can pass through the device to not only treat neurons but also destroy bacteria that may be present due to surgery etc, and (ii) the material is tolerated extremely well by the body and avoids inflammation and immune rejection. It’ll be interesting to start to see this used with optogenetics.

6. Remote Vaccine Delivery via Drone
Drones are to be used to deliver vaccine-coated food pellets to remote wilderness areas in order to vaccinate ferrets against a particular disease and prevent their ongoing population decline http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2016/07/14/u_s_fish_and_wildlife_announces_plan_to_use_drones_and_candy_to_deliver.html. There are some very interesting biocontrol applications here, for example to combat invasive pest species. In related news the robust SwagBot robot has been developed to help remotely herd cattle on large Australian ranches, and might be used to monitor animal health and take samples as needed http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/industrial-robots/swagbot-to-herd-cattle-on-australian-ranches. The group are next looking to develop and test more autonomous versions.

7. Early Alzheimer’s Detection via Retina
It appears as though the brain and retina undergo similar changes during the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, but the retina is easily accessible to observation whereas the brain is not - simply by examining the retina (in mice and humans) signs of Alzheimer’s can be detected before the onset of symptoms http://www.kurzweilai.net/how-to-detect-early-signs-of-alzheimers-with-a-simple-eye-exam-before-symptoms-appear. In related news we have yet another experimental Alzheimer’s vaccine showing promise http://blogs.flinders.edu.au/flinders-news/2016/07/13/progress-in-worlds-first-alzheimers-vaccine/.

8. Cell Division Differential in Damage Inheritance
An interesting study suggests that cells in both unicellular and multicellular organisms can, in certain circumstances, undergo differential or asymmetric cell division that results in most and sometimes all of the mutations and damage being inherited by only one of the two daughter cells https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/07/studying-bacteria-provides-insight-into-the-origins-of-aging/. In this way only one line of cells accumulates increasing damage with time - aging damage - and there is a population of cells that manages to remain youthful for arbitrary lengths of time, especially during times of stress. While a single cell cannot overcome the accumulation of damage, a group or colony of cells can do so together over time. I wonder if this might be adapted to some sort of anti-aging therapy.

9. How Bacteria Get Into Your Brainstem
In possibly the most terrifying news of the week, a type of bacteria that lives in soil has been found - via an innocuous sniff of the nose - to pass the olfactory mucosa and travel to the central nervous system via the trigeminal nerve https://app.secure.griffith.edu.au/news/2016/07/08/deadly-soil-bug-can-reach-the-brain-in-a-day/. From this route the bugs were found in the brainstem and spinal cord; they can cause the potentially fatal disease meliodosis, which can be fatal 50% of the time if it infects the brain. The finding is important as (i) other bacteria are believed to use the same mechanism, (ii) this might now be used to develop treatments and interventions for diseases and persistent pain disorders, and (iii) these are a possible bioweapon. Although I’ll speculate that engineered bacteria might instead be used as therapeutic or enhancement agents via this route.

10. Molecular Electronics Innovations
There were a few interesting molecular electronics items to cover this week. First, functional atomically thin transistors and circuits can be created out of a precise composite of graphene and molybdenum disulfide http://newscenter.lbl.gov/2016/07/11/atomically-thin-transistors/. Second, standard MIMO protocols can be used to boost communications using molecules instead of radio waves http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/telecom/wireless/for-best-results-send-molecular-messages-through-mimo. Third, single molecule switches can now be reliably operated via mechanochemistry https://news.liverpool.ac.uk/2016/07/05/chemists-show-new-way-operate-single-molecular-switch/.

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

posted image

2016-07-16 13:29:11 (7 comments; 0 reshares; 51 +1s; )Open 

Thermalisation Connects Classical Chaos with Quantum Entanglement

An interesting recent experiment with three entangled qubits involved manipulating the system with electronic pulses to map the entanglement entropy of the qubits over time: Left panel on image. It turns out that these regions of entanglement strongly resemble regions of chaos in a classical system: Right panel on image.

The connection between the two appears to be a process of thermalisation, in which a system seeks to maximise entropy by a process of reaching thermal equilibrium through mutual interaction, but in this case the group admits that the observation of this connection is a surprising and unexpected result.

Original release: http://www.news.ucsb.edu/2016/017014/entanglement-chaos

Paper: http://www.nature.com/nphys/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nphys3830.html
... more »

Thermalisation Connects Classical Chaos with Quantum Entanglement

An interesting recent experiment with three entangled qubits involved manipulating the system with electronic pulses to map the entanglement entropy of the qubits over time: Left panel on image. It turns out that these regions of entanglement strongly resemble regions of chaos in a classical system: Right panel on image.

The connection between the two appears to be a process of thermalisation, in which a system seeks to maximise entropy by a process of reaching thermal equilibrium through mutual interaction, but in this case the group admits that the observation of this connection is a surprising and unexpected result.

Original release: http://www.news.ucsb.edu/2016/017014/entanglement-chaos

Paper: http://www.nature.com/nphys/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nphys3830.html

Thermalisation: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermalisation ___

posted image

2016-07-16 10:38:13 (10 comments; 0 reshares; 49 +1s; )Open 

A Flip in Perspective

I can recall definite periods in which I have changed my mind on some fundamental concept, on some basic belief. For major shifts this takes time and involves a cascade beginning with an updating of one's worldview, subsequently necessitating a revision of beliefs, a consolidation of altered values, and finally an expression of new behaviours to continue to challenge and be challenged by the world.

It is in a way thrilling to watch this unfold in real time, almost from a third-person perspective, faintly viewing distant causal effects leading up to the change, pondering subtle shifts in identity and abandoning some thing formerly held dear or taken for granted.

I like Seth's recent blog post on this Flip in perspective, in which he observes:

The flip isn't something that happens at the first glance or encounter with new... more »

A Flip in Perspective

I can recall definite periods in which I have changed my mind on some fundamental concept, on some basic belief. For major shifts this takes time and involves a cascade beginning with an updating of one's worldview, subsequently necessitating a revision of beliefs, a consolidation of altered values, and finally an expression of new behaviours to continue to challenge and be challenged by the world.

It is in a way thrilling to watch this unfold in real time, almost from a third-person perspective, faintly viewing distant causal effects leading up to the change, pondering subtle shifts in identity and abandoning some thing formerly held dear or taken for granted.

I like Seth's recent blog post on this Flip in perspective, in which he observes:

The flip isn't something that happens at the first glance or encounter with new evidence. This doesn't mean the evidence doesn't matter. It means that we're bad at admitting we were wrong. Bad at giving up one view of the world to embrace the other. Mostly, we're bad at abandoning our peers, our habits and our view of ourselves. If you want to change people's minds, you need more than evidence. You need persistence. And empathy. And mostly, you need the resources to keep showing up, peeling off one person after another, surrounding a cultural problem with a cultural solution.

See: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2016/07/the-flip-is-elusive.html ___

posted image

2016-07-16 05:23:31 (6 comments; 0 reshares; 67 +1s; )Open 

Microscopic Pacman

Here's a cool video of a microscopic version of Pacman: the entire maze is 1mm wide and different microorganisms are standing in for Pacman and the ghosts - you don't really get to see any consumption / engulfing unfortunately but still a nicely executed concept. Original video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVxNvWCTbYo


Microscopic Pacman

Here's a cool video of a microscopic version of Pacman: the entire maze is 1mm wide and different microorganisms are standing in for Pacman and the ghosts - you don't really get to see any consumption / engulfing unfortunately but still a nicely executed concept. Original video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVxNvWCTbYo
___

posted image

2016-07-10 06:01:54 (6 comments; 0 reshares; 86 +1s; )Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 28/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/07/programmable-rna-vaccines-high-res-rna.html

Programmable RNA vaccines, High-res RNA mapping, Robot pick-and-grasp, The six story arcs, Printing electronics, Cyborg insect sensors, Sensitive gravity sensors, Big data cancer, Regenerative tooth fillings, In-ear EEG.

1. Programmable RNA Vaccines
Effective RNA vaccines are now being made from messenger RNA molecules that are packaged into dendrimer nanoparticles measuring 150nm that are able to enter cells after being injected into the body http://news.mit.edu/2016/programmable-rna-vaccines-0704. Once in the cell the mRNA is delivered and translated into specific protein antigens that drive both T-cell and antibody immune responses. Tests in mice demonstrated effective immunity to ebola, influenza, and... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 28/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/07/programmable-rna-vaccines-high-res-rna.html

Programmable RNA vaccines, High-res RNA mapping, Robot pick-and-grasp, The six story arcs, Printing electronics, Cyborg insect sensors, Sensitive gravity sensors, Big data cancer, Regenerative tooth fillings, In-ear EEG.

1. Programmable RNA Vaccines
Effective RNA vaccines are now being made from messenger RNA molecules that are packaged into dendrimer nanoparticles measuring 150nm that are able to enter cells after being injected into the body http://news.mit.edu/2016/programmable-rna-vaccines-0704. Once in the cell the mRNA is delivered and translated into specific protein antigens that drive both T-cell and antibody immune responses. Tests in mice demonstrated effective immunity to ebola, influenza, and toxoplasma. This platform might tackle a huge range of infectious diseases and is also being used to develop destructive cell therapies such as cancer vaccines and removing other unwanted cells.

2. Mapping RNAs in Whole Tissues
Meanwhile, expansion microscopy - new technique covered last year - has improved and can now be used to precisely map the location and distribution of RNA molecules throughout a cell in whole tissues http://news.mit.edu/2016/rna-nanoscale-brain-0704. Different RNAs can be tagged to distinguish their identity and questions about the transport of RNAs and their storage throughout the cell - such as in neurons responding to signalling and memory formation - can now be better answered, as well as differentiating between different cell types and healthy vs unhealthy cells and the effects they have on gene transcription and their environment.

3. Robotic Picking is Getting Very Good
Team Delft won Amazon’s latest Picking Challenge, designed to award prizes to the best performing robots able to pick things off shelves and put them into boxes, which will ultimately allow the company to significantly reduce its warehouse human work force http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/industrial-robots/team-delft-wins-amazon-picking-challenge. Robots had to master Stow and Pick tasks with complex environments, occluded target items, and items demanding different grasping techniques. The winner currently performs at 25% of the output of a human and with a 16% error rate. Far more teams than predicted passed the minimum performance threshold suggesting that the rate of improvement in this area is picking up (sic).

4. Data Mining Reveals the Six Story Arcs
Data mining techniques and sentiment analysis on 1,700 stories have revealed a set of six core trajectories that form the building blocks of complex narratives in our stories https://www.technologyreview.com/s/601848/data-mining-novels-reveals-the-six-basic-emotional-arcs-of-storytelling/. In summary these are: rags-to-riches rise, tragedy decline, fall then rise, rise then fall, rise-fall-rise, and fall-rise-fall. Further, the most popular stories follow more complex arcs that use the basic building blocks in sequence. This provides some insight into human psychology and might also help build future novel storytelling systems and coaches.

5. Printing Electronics & Sensors
New inks and materials can be loaded into conventional inkjet printers to enable simple and quick printing of flexible electronic circuits, batteries, and supercapacitors in arbitrary designs https://www.technologyreview.com/s/601800/hacking-a-desktop-printer-to-make-batteries-and-circuits/. In one demonstration a printed label attaches to a coffee mug and depending on the temperature activates a blue light if cold and a red light if hot. Meanwhile laser printers can be used to form patterns on cellulose paper that act as cheap and convenient supports for further biochemical functionalisation, which was demonstrated via simple biosensors http://phys.org/news/2016-07-laser-printed-patterns-cellulose-paper-biochemical.html.

6. Distributed Cyborg Insect Sensors
A new cyborg insect platform based on locusts is being developed that co-opts insect olfaction, trains insects to seek out specific scents, functionalises insects with materials that collect specific molecules and others that can impart limited remote control, and finally equips the insects with electronics for monitoring brain signals https://source.wustl.edu/2016/06/engineers-use-cyborg-insects-biorobotic-sensing-machines/. In the first instance the group hopes to create and demonstrate the system in explosives detection applications.

7. Very Sensitive Gravity Detectors
A new gravity sensor, or gravity gradiometer, developed by Lockheed Martin is 20 times as sensitive and provides 10 times greater bandwidth than existing systems http://www.worldoil.com/news/2016/7/6/neos-lockheed-martin-develop-new-sensor-to-seek-out-oil-gas. Applications include resource exploration via gravity-mapping fly-overs of areas to look for interesting geological formations that indicate minerals and other resources buried beneath the ground; the sensor is apparently capable of finding a truck full of gold 20m underground.

8. Big Data Cancer Characterisation
The latest big data analysis of cancer successfully catalogued 1,000 different types of tumours, their alterations, and susceptibility to a range of different cancer drugs http://www.idibell.cat/modul/noticies/en/906/a-big-data-approach-to-developing-cancer-drugs. The 1,000 tumours came from 29 different cell lines from different organs and produced a precise map of both genetic and epigenetic modifications and differences, screened each against 265 different antitumour drugs, and then validated the results against 11,000 additional tumour samples. This amazing resource has been made available via open access and once personalise genome (and tumour) sequencing gets underway will become ever more useful to patients for personalised medicine applications.

9. Regenerative Tooth Fillings
A new dental filling material is made from a type of biomaterial that, when placed into a prepared cavity and hardened with UV light like a conventional filling, subsequently works to stimulate local populations of stem cells in the pulp of the tooth http://www.popsci.com.au/science/medicine/the-end-of-root-canals-,430104. In tests the stem cells proliferated and differentiated into dentin, helping to actually heal the damage caused by tooth decay and cavity preparation. Such a material would not only drastically lower the rate of filling failures but possibly prevent root canals too.

10. Ear-Based Brain EEG Recordings
New in-ear earbud-based EEG sensors have been developed that can sit in the user’s ear and accurately pick up EEG signals from the brain for transmission to a device http://spectrum.ieee.org/the-human-os/biomedical/devices/in-ear-eeg-makes-unobtrusive-brain-hacking-gadgets-a-real-possibility. EEG signals are typically difficult to distinguish but in testing the device the group tested a range of mental states that produced the most clearly distinguishable signals and then used these two states as a binary choice to control some particular computing device function. An in-ear device is discrete and would allow continuous monitoring including sleep and disease states.

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

posted image

2016-07-09 05:00:58 (8 comments; 0 reshares; 46 +1s; )Open 

List of Google Voice Commands

ok-google.io is a slick website (mobile or desktop) with a growing list of voice commands you can speak to Google / your phone for which Google Now will initiate some action or answer some inquiry. Worth bookmarking and checking out for reference, as a reminder of the very many different things you can now accomplish just by speaking to your phone. 

List of Google Voice Commands

ok-google.io is a slick website (mobile or desktop) with a growing list of voice commands you can speak to Google / your phone for which Google Now will initiate some action or answer some inquiry. Worth bookmarking and checking out for reference, as a reminder of the very many different things you can now accomplish just by speaking to your phone. ___

posted image

2016-07-07 14:14:52 (5 comments; 0 reshares; 17 +1s; )Open 

Recent SynBio Keynote by Andrew Hessel

I've been a fan of Andrew Hessel for a long time and this is a good, accessible talk on the very latest in synthetic biology and genome sequencing, synthesising, and viral engineering. Easy to watch or listen to at 1.5x speed.

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

Recent SynBio Keynote by Andrew Hessel

I've been a fan of Andrew Hessel for a long time and this is a good, accessible talk on the very latest in synthetic biology and genome sequencing, synthesising, and viral engineering. Easy to watch or listen to at 1.5x speed.

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

posted image

2016-07-06 15:14:50 (30 comments; 0 reshares; 35 +1s; )Open 

Offsetting Technological Deflation with Quantitative Easing Stipends for all Individuals

Kartik Gada has produced a very interesting ebook that I've just finished reading and would recommend to anyone with interests in accelerating technology, futurism, and solving the paradox of capitalism. The book, The Accelerating TechnOnomic Medium can be found here http://atom.singularity2050.com/

I've subscribed to and been a fan of his The Futurist blog at http://singularity2050.com/ for 10 or so years now and enjoyed the very rare but thorough posts. He approaches technology and futurism from a professional economics and finance background and so brings a level of financial and economic rigor to futurist and economic discussions that I don't often see.

Basically, this book is a proposal and policy recommendation for dealing with technological unemployment and... more »

Offsetting Technological Deflation with Quantitative Easing Stipends for all Individuals

Kartik Gada has produced a very interesting ebook that I've just finished reading and would recommend to anyone with interests in accelerating technology, futurism, and solving the paradox of capitalism. The book, The Accelerating TechnOnomic Medium can be found here http://atom.singularity2050.com/

I've subscribed to and been a fan of his The Futurist blog at http://singularity2050.com/ for 10 or so years now and enjoyed the very rare but thorough posts. He approaches technology and futurism from a professional economics and finance background and so brings a level of financial and economic rigor to futurist and economic discussions that I don't often see.

Basically, this book is a proposal and policy recommendation for dealing with technological unemployment and economic slowdown . . . by balancing technological deflation with a perpetual and ever-growing quantitative easing program in which central banks create money . . . and provide this money not to the big banks via asset purchases but rather to each individual citizen as a regular stipend . . . and gradually accelerating the velocity of money in the economy and abolishing individual income taxes in the process.

This superficially resembles a universal basic income but with quite important differences. The ebook FAQ page covers some basics http://atom.singularity2050.com/faqs.html. Decentralisation purists will have a problem with proposed dependency on central banks but perhaps there are alterations or improvements that are possible and acceptable.

The phenomenon of technological deflation in the economy is slowly gaining increasing awareness and recognition beyond futurists and niche economists, as can be seen for example in this short interview on Bloomberg http://www.bloomberg.com/live/us.

The ATOM proposal notes that continual quantitative easing (current QE3) has failed to raise inflation and has failed to devalue the currency, and it posits that the main reason for this is that accelerating technology has finally reached the point that it is now powering technological deflation to such an extent that it is simply eating this stimulus. Stopping QE is no longer an option.

I remember a discussion with +Mark Lewis a couple of years ago about trying to come up with novel UBI proposals and this definitely fits that category. It'd also be interesting to see if +Kevin Kelly had any thoughts on the proposal. To everyone who made it this far: what do you think of the proposal? ___

posted image

2016-07-03 14:30:45 (3 comments; 0 reshares; 74 +1s; )Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 27/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/07/pear-shaped-nuclei-laser-atom-lattices.html

Pear shaped nuclei, Geoscience for Helium, Laser atom lattices, CRISPR antivirals, Injectable micro camera, Carbon nanotube computing, Engineered probiotics, Immunotherapies vs autoimmunity, Controlled supercavitation, Engineered neurotransmitter receptors.

1. Pear Shaped Nuclei
Building on work in 2013 that found the first pear-shaped atomic nuclei in the form of Radium-224, the second pear-shaped atomic nucleus has been confirmed in the form of Barium-144 http://futurism.com/new-form-of-atomic-nuclei-just-confirmed-and-it-suggests-time-travel-is-impossible/. The interest here is the possibility of insights into new physics as pear-shaped nuclei break conventionally accepted symmetries with more charge and mass... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 27/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/07/pear-shaped-nuclei-laser-atom-lattices.html

Pear shaped nuclei, Geoscience for Helium, Laser atom lattices, CRISPR antivirals, Injectable micro camera, Carbon nanotube computing, Engineered probiotics, Immunotherapies vs autoimmunity, Controlled supercavitation, Engineered neurotransmitter receptors.

1. Pear Shaped Nuclei
Building on work in 2013 that found the first pear-shaped atomic nuclei in the form of Radium-224, the second pear-shaped atomic nucleus has been confirmed in the form of Barium-144 http://futurism.com/new-form-of-atomic-nuclei-just-confirmed-and-it-suggests-time-travel-is-impossible/. The interest here is the possibility of insights into new physics as pear-shaped nuclei break conventionally accepted symmetries with more charge and mass being present on some side of the nucleus than the other and exhibiting octupole properties. Personally I wouldn’t read too much into the speculative anti-time travel commentary associated with this.

2. Better Geoscience for Helium Discoveries
For the first time a huge geological deposit of Helium has been found deliberately rather than by accident http://www.livescience.com/55204-huge-cache-of-ancient-helium-discovered.html. This resulted from better models concerning the role of volcanic heat in producing pockets of Helium gas in the Earth’s crust. Helium is in limited supply and due to its nature is lost to the atmosphere and into space once used. As such the Helium deposit represents a significant find amounting to, by some estimates, an additional 30% of previously known global reserves.

3. Isolating Atoms with Lasers
An array of lasers can be used to produce a 3d lattice of precisely positioned individual atoms on five planes of 25 atoms each http://science.psu.edu/news-and-events/2016-news/Weiss6-2016. Two other crossed-laser beams can then target individual atoms and alter their energy levels and in this was used to produce an array of quantum superpositions using the atoms in the array as qubits, with the nature of the control demonstrated by writing precise patterns as desired. In related news third generation laser Uranium enrichment technology is five times more energy efficient and compact than the best centrifuges http://nextbigfuture.com/2016/06/third-generation-laser-uranium.html.

4. CRISPR for Gene Silencing & Antivirals
First, CRISPR has been modified yet again, this time with a methylation-cleaving subunit that allows the system to target and cut out methylated (silenced) promoters of genes, and replace them with un-methylated promoters to activate the genes https://www.oia.hokudai.ac.jp/blog/unsilencing-silenced-genes-by-crisprcas9/. Second, I’ve been thinking about CRISPR to target viruses for years because I get cold sores and it seems that this is now underway with successful CRISPR tests for targeting, cutting, and inactivating the latent code for viruses that have incorporated into cellular DNA https://www.newscientist.com/article/2095716-gene-editing-could-destroy-herpes-viruses-living-inside-you/. Finally, we’ll probably see the first CRISPR-based human clinical trial begin later this year http://www.nature.com/news/first-crispr-clinical-trial-gets-green-light-from-us-panel-1.20137.

5. Injectable Micro-Camera
A new micro-lens has been developed by 3D printing tiny compound lenses measuring just 120 microns wide including the casing http://phys.org/news/2016-06-micro-camera-syringe.html. Such a lens can focus on objects 3mm away, can be fabricated on conventional CMOS image sensors or optical fibers, and which might then be delivered into the body via a simple injection for example, or otherwise power discrete imaging sensors in the environment.

6. Carbon Nanotube Computing
Spectrum has another good technology overview article, this time on the present state of the art in using carbon nanotubes in computing applications http://spectrum.ieee.org/semiconductors/devices/how-well-put-a-carbon-nanotube-computer-in-your-hand. There already exist fabrication and design techniques, compatible with conventional semiconductor fabs, for building and scaling carbon nanotube circuits on silicon. Key discoveries have solved the two biggest hurdles of such circuits, (i) creating ordered parallel arrays of tubes that don’t overlap, and (ii) clever techniques to selectively remove metallic tubes to leave only semiconducting tubes. Obtaining a 100x to 1,000x improvement in energy efficiency with such chips should be possible in future.

7. Towards Engineered Probiotics
The case and benefits for engineering and delivering novel probiotic bacteria to directly treat various diseases keeps getting stronger. First, strong correlations have been discovered between abnormal bacterial microbiome in the gut and chronic fatigue syndrome, with the possibility of fixing or engineering these patients’ microbiomes resulting in a cure for the disease http://www.deepstuff.org/chronic-fatigue-syndrome-gut-not-head/. Meanwhile a growing number of companies are developing probiotic treatments-in-a-pill designed to target and treat a range of disease, with many products currently in extended human clinical trials under FDA oversight http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-06-30/coming-soon-gut-bacteria-that-actually-cure-your-disease.

8. Killing Specific Immune Cells for Autoimmunity
Building on promising experimental immunotherapies for targeting immune cell cancers, a new approach instead manages to create an immunotherapy to target the specific subset of B-cells responsible for certain autoimmunity disorders https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/07/chimeric-antigen-receptor-strategies-can-be-used-to-target-and-destroy-specific-classes-of-unwanted-immune-cell/. This involves obtaining T-cells from the patient and engineered with a gene that makes them specifically only attach to and destroy those B-cells that produce the antibody responsible for the autoimmune disease. This is great news for a plethora of debilitating diseases such as arthritis, but also for culling and rejuvenating the entire immune system itself back to more youthful levels of effectiveness.

9. Controlled Supercavitation for Underwater Transport
New work on supercavitation shows promise for controlling the instabilities that occur when producing confined air bubbles around underwater vehicles to reduce the drag and friction of water in order to significantly increase the speed of travel underwater http://news.psu.edu/story/414720/2016/06/16/research/innovative-approach-makes-smoother-ride. Such systems might allow much faster underwater travel by submarines, torpedos, and other submersibles.

10. Engineering Controllable Neurotransmitter Receptors
Neurotransmitter receptor proteins found on neurons are now being engineered to be controllably activated and deactivated at will http://www.kyoto-u.ac.jp/en/research/research_results/2016/160628_1.html. Such a tool allows neurons to be genetically altered so that the neurotransmitter receptors they produce can be switched on and off with the addition of specific ligands, and so allowing them to respond, or not, to the conventional neurotransmitters that neurons use for signalling. I do wonder how useful this might be in a living system, as the brain and neurons adapt to normal firing and connection strengths being interfered with.

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

posted image

2016-06-30 14:44:17 (5 comments; 0 reshares; 46 +1s; )Open 

New Art

Probably the most enchanting new type of hybrid art I've seen in a long time. Modular: precise rotation + precise structure + precise light. All made possible with 3D printing and computational design, and emerging from memetic recombination of the concept of a zoetrope + the concept of . . . a closed time-like loop of a piece of block Universe*

The arrival of Mozart was impossible before the invention of the piano.

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Growing_block_universe

New Art

Probably the most enchanting new type of hybrid art I've seen in a long time. Modular: precise rotation + precise structure + precise light. All made possible with 3D printing and computational design, and emerging from memetic recombination of the concept of a zoetrope + the concept of . . . a closed time-like loop of a piece of block Universe*

The arrival of Mozart was impossible before the invention of the piano.

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Growing_block_universe___

posted image

2016-06-30 12:25:30 (10 comments; 0 reshares; 37 +1s; )Open 

Passed a personal milestone tonight: an average of 45 minutes of intense exercise, 5 days per week, for 24 of the last 26 weeks. Mostly Max:30 interval training with some light weights. Time to rest and do sweet FA for a week or more.

Passed a personal milestone tonight: an average of 45 minutes of intense exercise, 5 days per week, for 24 of the last 26 weeks. Mostly Max:30 interval training with some light weights. Time to rest and do sweet FA for a week or more.___

posted image

2016-06-26 07:21:15 (13 comments; 0 reshares; 121 +1s; )Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 26/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/06/brain-scanning-boosts-deep-learning.html

Brain scanning boosts, Deep Learning advances, Robot motion planning, SpotMini robot, Nanoparticle libraries, Analogue compiler, Carbon capture, Chiral metalens, Nanocantilever magnetic actuation, Artificial kidneys.

1. Big Boosts to Brain Scanning
The Human Connectome Project has announced some of its achievements and advances to date http://spectrum.ieee.org/the-human-os/biomedical/imaging/brain-scanning-just-got-very-good-and-very-unsettling. The project has scanned the brains of well over a thousand people, developed techniques to identify an individual’s unique brain activity and identify them with 99% accuracy, predict how people will perform on an intelligence test, and during memory or reading tasks. BigD... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 26/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/06/brain-scanning-boosts-deep-learning.html

Brain scanning boosts, Deep Learning advances, Robot motion planning, SpotMini robot, Nanoparticle libraries, Analogue compiler, Carbon capture, Chiral metalens, Nanocantilever magnetic actuation, Artificial kidneys.

1. Big Boosts to Brain Scanning
The Human Connectome Project has announced some of its achievements and advances to date http://spectrum.ieee.org/the-human-os/biomedical/imaging/brain-scanning-just-got-very-good-and-very-unsettling. The project has scanned the brains of well over a thousand people, developed techniques to identify an individual’s unique brain activity and identify them with 99% accuracy, predict how people will perform on an intelligence test, and during memory or reading tasks. Big Data and numerous software innovations have also resulted. Hardware wise big advances have been made with MRI machines: acquiring high-res 3D scans of a brain used to take 24 hours, but now takes under an hour and with ten times the resolution. Meanwhile brain volume and energy markers have been linked to quantitative reasoning ability and verbal/spatial intelligence respectively https://illinois.edu/blog/view/6367/375272.

2. More Big Steps in Deep Learning
First, Baidu achieves a 30x efficiency gain in GPUs running Deep Learning algorithms http://nextbigfuture.com/2016/06/baidu-improves-efficiency-by-30-times.html. Second, Deep Learning algorithms can now understand or extract summaries of articles with 70% accuracy https://www.newscientist.com/article/2094385-ai-just-got-a-big-boost-in-its-ability-to-understand-the-news/. Third, Deep Learning algorithms are producing impressive results with quite small datasets, for example quickly learning to automate boring tasks such as cell recognition with minimal effort http://www.cosmonio.com/blog/2016/06/20/deep-learning-with-small-data/.

3. Robot Motion Planning Speedup
A new custom processor has been developed specifically for the task of collision checking for robot motion planning, and which is able to speed the process up by three orders of magnitude while using 20 times less power http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-software/custom-processor-speeds-up-robot-motion-planning-by-factor-of-1000. This allows real time millisecond motion planning, and all via an appropriately configured FPGA that allows dedicated circuits to operate simultaneously. The main limitations are that a new FPGA configuration is needed for each new physical setup of a robot.

4. SpotMini from Boston Dynamics
Boston Dynamics has released a new, smaller version of their quadruped robot platform called SpotMini that comes complete with a vision-powered arm and gripper that looks like a head on a long neck http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/home-robots/boston-dynamics-spotmini. SpotMini appears to be fully electric, nimble, adaptable to the outdoors, obstacles, stairs, recovery from loss of footing, and being fitted out with different sensors and arms as needed. Short demonstrations show it picking up a glass to load into a dishwasher and grabbing a tin can to throw in the bin. The “slip mishap” is particularly entertaining to watch.

5. Nanoparticle Libraries on Chips
Taking inspiration from gene chips a new nanoparticle discovery tool on a type of chip enables rapid screening of many millions of different nanoparticles in order to optimally select the best candidate or a particular purpose http://www.mccormick.northwestern.edu/news/articles/2016/06/nanoscientists-develop-the-ultimate-discovery-tool.html. The technique produces combinatorial libraries of nanoparticles with different compositions using dip-pen nanolithography. Variability currently comes from Au, Ag, Co, Cu, Ni elements as well as size from 1nm to 100nm - many more elements and structural variations might be added in future to significantly expand these libraries and explore the vast possible space of nanostructures for useful applications.

6. Analogue Computing Compiler
A new analogue computing compiler has been demonstrated for taking high-level instructions and producing low-level specifications to program the circuit connections in an analogue computer http://news.mit.edu/2016/analog-computing-organs-organisms-0620. Example applications in which analogue systems outperform digital systems include biological simulations but analogue programming has previously been time consuming, especially for large simulations. With a small number of transistors these analogue circuits are solving complicated differential equations that would otherwise take millions of digital transistors millions of clock cycles.

7. Atmospheric Carbon Capture
CarbFix is a new technique for effectively capturing carbon by burying it with basalt rock, the elements of which effectively react with the carbon dioxide and turn it into rock-like minerals such as calcite http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21700371-how-keep-waste-carbon-dioxide-ground-turning-air-stone. In tests it took 2 years for 95% of the injected carbon dioxide to be mineralised. Meanwhile, the latest work on efforts from last year to convert the carbon dioxide from power plants into carbon nanotubes suggests that the approach could be quite economical http://phys.org/news/2016-06-power-co2-emissions-carbon-nanotubes.html.

8. Metalens Can Resolve Molecular Chirality
An ultra-compact flat metalens can capture both the spectral information and distinguish the molecular chirality of a material at the same time https://www.seas.harvard.edu/news/2016/06/ultrathin-flat-lens-resolves-chirality-and-color. This is powered by two arrays of titanium oxide nanofins, which work to produce two separate images of the same object comprising left-circularly polarised and right-circularly polarised light respectively. At just 3mm wide it can be incorporated into conventional portable camera systems for sensing and diagnostic applications.

9. Nanoscale Remote Actuation
A new nanoscale engineering approach has developed a magnetomechanic alternative to MEMS and NEMS that involves controlling nanoactuation via applied magnetic fields http://www.nanogune.eu/newsroom/remote-control-actuation-goes-down-nanoscale. A 3D nano-assembly process creates a nanoscale cantilever that can be moved with nanometer precision and remotely controlled via an applied magnetic field. One of the key benefits here is that no physical contact is needed for control and such cantilevers might be fixed to surfaces or particles suspended in fluid and even introduced into the body to perform some pre-configured task; nanoscale cantilevers might ratchet nanoscale gears for example.

10. Three Artificial Kidney Platforms
Three different artificial kidney platforms are currently under development to help people better deal with kidney failure and dialysis http://spectrum.ieee.org/the-human-os/biomedical/devices/3-ways-to-build-an-artificial-kidney. First, the Wearable Artificial Kidney, a prototype belt device with filters, fluids and pumps that is worn by a patient and continuously cleans the blood; during a 24-hour test with patients it worked as well as a conventional dialysis machine but suffered a number of technical problems. Second, an implantable bioartificial kidney that uses a silicon membrane with nanopores to filter blood and a bioreactor with live kidney cells to perform various metabolic and endocrine functions. Finally, Qidni Labs is also building an implantable artificial kidney that uses a nanofiltration system to mimic kidney function.

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

posted image

2016-06-23 11:28:48 (31 comments; 0 reshares; 34 +1s; )Open 

Autonomous Military Drones

Nice share by +Jesse Powell who highlighted one of the key quotes: Either the USAF has a secret UCAV capability, but only in relatively tiny numbers, which handicaps many of the concept's innate advantages, or the alternative is even worse; the USAF has not pursued the technology to any significant degree at all.

http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/3889/the-alarming-case-of-the-usafs-mysteriously-missing-unmanned-combat-air-vehicles

This lengthy article about the history, current state, future possibilities, and unmatched battlefield capabilities of swarms of autonomous military drones is fascinating. Leading on from the above quote it is interesting to consider that cultural factors - and even hubris - might well prevent a military organisation from pursing genuine strength and superiority (and the benefits this brings) at all costs.... more »

A long but important read on UCAVs.

Either the USAF has a secret UCAV capability, but only in relatively tiny numbers, which handicaps many of the concept’s innate advantages, or the alternative is even worse; the USAF has not pursued the technology to any significant degree at all.___Autonomous Military Drones

Nice share by +Jesse Powell who highlighted one of the key quotes: Either the USAF has a secret UCAV capability, but only in relatively tiny numbers, which handicaps many of the concept's innate advantages, or the alternative is even worse; the USAF has not pursued the technology to any significant degree at all.

http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/3889/the-alarming-case-of-the-usafs-mysteriously-missing-unmanned-combat-air-vehicles

This lengthy article about the history, current state, future possibilities, and unmatched battlefield capabilities of swarms of autonomous military drones is fascinating. Leading on from the above quote it is interesting to consider that cultural factors - and even hubris - might well prevent a military organisation from pursing genuine strength and superiority (and the benefits this brings) at all costs.

This reminds me of the initial and ongoing debate concerning whether autonomous robotic weapon systems should be allowed. Reading this article it is made blatantly obvious just how powerful and superior such weapon systems have the possibility of becoming. Absent an enforceable global ban (a fantasy) then some actor can be expected to develop such capability. This dictates you must also develop the same or better capability.

Other Recent Developments in this Space:

The U.S. Navy’s Big Mistake — Building Tons of Supercarriers
https://warisboring.com/the-u-s-navy-s-big-mistake-building-tons-of-supercarriers-79cb42029b8#.bfdbuix48
Makes a compelling case for the obsolescence of the Navy's aircraft carriers and also touches on the above autonomous military fighters that the Navy has considered and that many of you will be aware of. The article is as good as the main one above and covers the history, development, and outrageous costs associated with maintaining a Supercarrier group hosting outrageously costly (and obsolete?) Joint Strike Fighters.

DARPA is BIG on this space of course
DARPA has advanced programs for Vertical Take-Off and Landing autonomous drones http://www.darpa.mil/news-events/2015-12-28, and their Collaborative Operations in Denied Environment (CODE) program relies heavily on autonomous flight capabilities and coordination as per here http://www.darpa.mil/news-events/2016-06-03 and here http://www.darpa.mil/program/collaborative-operations-in-denied-environment.

posted image

2016-06-19 07:36:50 (11 comments; 0 reshares; 76 +1s; )Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 25/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/06/nanostructured-dna-frameworks-brain.html

Nanostructured DNA frameworks, Machine learning, Brain structure insights, Improving gene drives, Wondrous graphene, Metagenomic analysis, Ultrasound BBB, Terahertz microlasers, Invisible sensors, Boosting stem cells.

1. DNA Framework for Nanostructures
DNA origami techniques are being used to form precisely structured, self-assembled nanoparticle lattices with custom architectures https://www.bnl.gov/newsroom/news.php?a=11846. The technique is based on forming modular lego-brick-like frames made of DNA that bind nanoparticles in the center of the frame and then link to other frames in precise orientations and positions, allowing custom 3D lattices to be formed as desired. There are very interesting possibilities... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 25/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/06/nanostructured-dna-frameworks-brain.html

Nanostructured DNA frameworks, Machine learning, Brain structure insights, Improving gene drives, Wondrous graphene, Metagenomic analysis, Ultrasound BBB, Terahertz microlasers, Invisible sensors, Boosting stem cells.

1. DNA Framework for Nanostructures
DNA origami techniques are being used to form precisely structured, self-assembled nanoparticle lattices with custom architectures https://www.bnl.gov/newsroom/news.php?a=11846. The technique is based on forming modular lego-brick-like frames made of DNA that bind nanoparticles in the center of the frame and then link to other frames in precise orientations and positions, allowing custom 3D lattices to be formed as desired. There are very interesting possibilities here in forming interesting materials for optics (metamaterials), electronics, and other applications. In related news, precise modular molecular construction is becoming ever more sophisticated http://www.oist.jp/news-center/news/2016/6/10/new-ukidama-nanoparticle-structure-revealed and http://science.energy.gov/bes/highlights/2016/bes-2016-06-w/.

2. Machine Learning Advances
An interesting trio of machine learning applications this week. First, we have the demonstration of a system able to take a rough sketch (of a face for example) and generate a photo-realistic image as an output https://www.technologyreview.com/s/601684/machine-vision-algorithm-learns-to-transform-hand-drawn-sketches-into-photorealistic-images/. Second, a dashcam app for cars that tracks other cars on the roads, rates their driving, and warns users of dangerous or erratic drivers when nearby and which has interesting insurance and other implications http://spectrum.ieee.org/cars-that-think/transportation/sensors/the-ai-dashcam-app-that-wants-to-rate-every-driver-in-the-world. Finally, a system that can perform accurate eye-tracking using just a smartphone camera and which should open up eye-tracking tools and applications for developers generally http://news.mit.edu/2016/eye-tracking-system-uses-ordinary-cellphone-camera-0616.

3. Brain Structure Insights
A work shows why hierarchical networks appear so often in biology and particularly govern neurons in the brain http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-06/p-rsw060716.php. Hierarchical networks contain fewer connections and the connections themselves - synapses in the case of the brain - are biologically expensive to build and maintain and so are ultimately driven by energy optimisation concerns. Such insights are expected to feed into designing better artificial neural networks. In related news birds turn out to have a much higher density of neurons in their brains, particularly the forebrain, compared to other animals including primates and in some cases match or exceed primate neuron counts, which helps to explain the intelligence exhibited by some bird species http://news.vanderbilt.edu/2016/06/study-gives-new-meaning-to-the-term-bird-brain/.

4. Improving the Effectiveness of Gene Drives
It turns out the current gene drive technology, of ensuring that particular genes are carried throughout a population over many successive generations, and offering the possibility of wiping out traits or whole species, are imperfect and suffer from the evolution of resistance to their effects. Second and third generation gene drive technology is under development however that is far more sophisticated and designed to avoid this evolution of resistance and ensure traits are passed down or local populations of species wiped out regardless of attempts to evolve resistance https://www.newscientist.com/article/2093212-souped-up-gene-drives-may-help-eliminate-pests-and-diseases/.

5. Never Ending Graphene Wonders
First, graphene is being used to produce and control a form of Cerenkov Radiation, in which light hitting the graphene surface is slowed to a point at which electrons travelling along the surface exceed the speed of light and produce a different burst of electromagnetic radiation http://news.mit.edu/2016/new-way-turn-electricity-light-using-graphene-0613. Second, tiny graphene “drums” beating at 100Mhz might be used as highly sensitive mass detectors http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-06/tiof-dbf061416.php. Third, graphene nanoribbons can now be fabricated wafer-scale in suspended non-contact structures http://www.tohoku.ac.jp/en/press/shaping_atomically_thin_materials.html. Finally, another straintronics approach, squeezing graphene can control heat conduction through the material http://www.research.a-star.edu.sg/research/7519/graphene-based-thermal-modulators.

6. Metagenomic Cross Genome Analysis
A metagenome is the total DNA content from many different microorganisms that inhabit the same environment, for example in the human gut. MetaFast is a new piece of software developed to quickly analyse and compare different metagenomes from both similar and different environments http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-06/iu-pmw061516.php. For example, MetaFast might quickly compare the metagenomes of the gut microflora from both healthy and unhealthy patients and feed this into personalised medicine applications, or otherwise rapidly characterise a person or environment as healthy or unhealthy, even without knowing the exact identity of all of the microorganisms being considered.

7. Opening Blood Brain Barrier with Pulsed Ultrasound
In recent work the blood brain barrier can be temporarily opened by using focused pulsed ultrasound to vibrate stabilised (but short-lived) microbubbles that have been injected into the bloodstream https://www.newscientist.com/article/2093829-microbubbles-open-brains-barrier-to-make-chemo-more-effective/. One of the current drawbacks is that the ultrasound device must be placed inside the skull; however in clinical trials the technique was able to deliver five times the amount of a cancer drug into the brain to treat glioblastoma tumours than would otherwise be possible. Such a platform, with further improvements, might be widely applicable to a range of brain and CNS treatments and interventions.

8. Phase-Locked Microlaser Arrays
A single-chip monolithic array of 37 microfabricated laser antennas produces one of the most advanced terahertz light sources created http://news.mit.edu/2016/microlasers-phase-locking-arrays-0613. Each antenna is coaxed to phase-lock with its neighbours to produce a combined light source that is all in-phase, while lateral emissions are recaptured and re-emitted perpendicular to the array to form a very tight terahertz beam source with very low energy requirements. This is another important step in terahertz technology, bringing it closer to real world applications in security and medical diagnostics.

9. Sensors Invisible to Electronic Inspection
Sensors have been rendered invisible to thermal and electrical inspection with a new type of thin copper shell that mimics local thermal and electric fields, while still allowing the enclosed sensor to perform its function and receive appropriate signals from the outside http://news.nus.edu.sg/press-releases/10458-nus-engineering-team-designs-novel-multi-field-invisible-sensor. Such a technology not only has important applications in the security and surveillance space, but also for sensing systems forced to operate in high voltage or high temperature environments.

10. Replacing and Boosting Stem Cells
It appears that most current stem cell treatments don’t involve the introduced cells integrating with target tissues, but rather temporarily alter the local stem cell niche and signalling environment to spur healthy activity in surrounding cells. More recent work is starting to achieve more permanent integration however, particularly with neural stem cells in neurodegenerative disorders https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/06/replacing-neural-stem-cells-in-the-aging-hippocampus/. Also, improved techniques for reprogramming adult stem cells appear to produce cells that are indistinguishable from embryonic stem cells http://futurism.com/scientists-reprogram-adult-stem-cells-to-mimic-embryonic-stem-cells/.

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

posted image

2016-06-16 14:47:29 (7 comments; 0 reshares; 65 +1s; )Open 

My PhotoSpheres Just Passed 10,000,000 Views!

I passed another +Google Maps milestone this week with my PhotoSpheres clocking up 10 million views. The previous week itself contributed over 100,000 views. My Google Maps profile with complete PhotoSphere collection is here https://www.google.com.au/maps/contrib/115624860057949518963/photos.

Clicking this link you can just scroll down and choose a scene to explore. On Mobile: should open in Maps app, an extra tap or two will open the sphere properly. On desktop: can then scroll horizontally along the media bar to choose others. You can also filter by "views" instead of "date" to see those with the most views.

The main PhotoSphere for this post shows some interesting coastal formations on a really nice day by the beach a couple of months ago. I like the scene despite my mistake while capturing the... more »

My PhotoSpheres Just Passed 10,000,000 Views!

I passed another +Google Maps milestone this week with my PhotoSpheres clocking up 10 million views. The previous week itself contributed over 100,000 views. My Google Maps profile with complete PhotoSphere collection is here https://www.google.com.au/maps/contrib/115624860057949518963/photos.

Clicking this link you can just scroll down and choose a scene to explore. On Mobile: should open in Maps app, an extra tap or two will open the sphere properly. On desktop: can then scroll horizontally along the media bar to choose others. You can also filter by "views" instead of "date" to see those with the most views.

The main PhotoSphere for this post shows some interesting coastal formations on a really nice day by the beach a couple of months ago. I like the scene despite my mistake while capturing the image leaving a tinge of red at the top from my finger.

Other recent interesting additions include (links work on desktop):
1. My city's main sports stadium, Adelaide Oval https://goo.gl/maps/aZkzrUYGU3q
2. Really nice setting sun light in beautiful Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens https://goo.gl/maps/34svvxQ1X9L2
3. Famous spot in dry lake bed along the highway to the north, https://goo.gl/maps/K8xsbNKKGBP2
4. Sun setting off Laguna Beach, CA https://goo.gl/maps/UZghU8cvk6n

If on mobile these same images are best viewed in Google Photos as follows (may need an extra tap or two):
1. https://goo.gl/photos/UDwd2EnMhJNrkQs99
2. https://goo.gl/photos/48q3zmKgTu8Eqhed7
3. https://goo.gl/photos/ZSZRAJQ7rHi74XpA7
4. https://goo.gl/photos/gEw1aRgfLk9As1on6

Minor criticism of Google Maps PhotoSphere sharing.
I obviously love PhotoSpheres. One frustration I have with sharing them, something that kinda beggars belief, is that after many years Google Maps still hasn't figured out cross-platform PhotoSphere sharing.

It is impossible to pick a PhotoSphere on mobile or desktop, click "share" and get a link that works on desktop or mobile. The Google Maps links for desktop that I shared here won't work on mobile but will rather just open my profile for scrolling the library. The Google Photos links work cross-platform. But sharing by grabbing a link from Google Streeview app on mobile . . . works on desktop (although it rotates the starting view) but perversely doesn't work on mobile. Weird. Annoying. Tonight I even had an instance of one link from one of my PhotoSpheres instead launching a random PhotoSphere of a baseball stadium in the US that was made by someone else, which is bizarre and really should never happen. Just wondering if +Evan Rapoport might be able to shed some light on this?

Edit: Aaaaand it seems even Google Plus posts now can't display PhotoSpheres natively or launch the Google Photos version from where it was shared. Hence the main PhotoSphere for this post doesn't actually launch into a PhotoSphere. Unfriggenbelievable.

Edit 2: Seems the main PhotoSphere for this post does actually work on mobile Google Plus but not desktop Google Plus. Also, seems as though the first link (this one https://goo.gl/maps/aZkzrUYGU3q) launches the correct PhotoSphere on desktop but launches the bizarre wrong - somebody elses - baseball PhotoSphere on mobile. Seriously Google, WTF!?___

posted image

2016-06-12 08:56:09 (3 comments; 0 reshares; 62 +1s; )Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 24/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/06/knuedge-neural-chip-mitochondria.html

KnuEdge neural chip, Mitochondria regenerate neurons, Curing multiple sclerosis, Curing hemophilia, Preventing protein misfolding, Drones exploit wind, Modular enzyme toolkits, Tunable graphene bandgaps, Machine learning mazes, CRISPR data storage.

1. KnuEdge Launches KnuPath Chip
After raising $100m start-up chip maker KnuEdge comes out of stealth mode to launch the KnuPath neural processing chip http://venturebeat.com/2016/06/06/former-nasa-chief-unveils-100-million-neural-computing-chip-company-knuedge/. This is considered similar to IBMs efforts in the space and signal a maturing of the industry and the prospect of neural processing chips reaching wide consumer roll-out. The company also quotes a KnuVerse tool... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 24/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/06/knuedge-neural-chip-mitochondria.html

KnuEdge neural chip, Mitochondria regenerate neurons, Curing multiple sclerosis, Curing hemophilia, Preventing protein misfolding, Drones exploit wind, Modular enzyme toolkits, Tunable graphene bandgaps, Machine learning mazes, CRISPR data storage.

1. KnuEdge Launches KnuPath Chip
After raising $100m start-up chip maker KnuEdge comes out of stealth mode to launch the KnuPath neural processing chip http://venturebeat.com/2016/06/06/former-nasa-chief-unveils-100-million-neural-computing-chip-company-knuedge/. This is considered similar to IBMs efforts in the space and signal a maturing of the industry and the prospect of neural processing chips reaching wide consumer roll-out. The company also quotes a KnuVerse tool supposed to represent advanced voice recognition and authentication, and a range of SDKs and APIs for developers. The level of innovation in this space is breathtaking; our devices are on the verge of becoming much smarter.

2. Drones That Exploit Wind
Flight and route planning for drones is becoming far more sophisticated with at least one new system enabling drones to exploit wind patterns around buildings in order to reduce flight times and power consumption http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/drones/quadrotors-learning-to-surf-urban-winds. Low wind speeds don’t make much difference, but at just 10m/s over 500m the drone uses 40% less energy while travelling 10% further and 22% quicker, all of which are significant and surprising gains. The system only takes account of a fixed altitude however and so even more gains might be possible once it incorporates full 3D spatial wind volumes.

3. Modular Enzymatic Toolkits
A new synthetic biology toolkit comprises a template, modular enzyme design process that aims to link different enzymes as desired to complete the metabolic processing steps that are required to produce a desired molecule http://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/short/article/33150/. One of the examples demonstrated involved the complex cancer drug taxol, the computing and modelling of all intermediate stages in the enzymatic reaction cascade, and further proposals to connect different enzyme activities together to produce predictable, novel results.

4. Mobilising Mitochondria to Regenerate Neurons
New results suggest that axonal injury renders nearby mitochondria in the neuron incapable of producing sufficient levels of ATP and in adults mitochondria have reduced motility preventing them from responding to such injury. However, by removing the protein syntaphilin from the cells mitochondrial motility is restored, allowing healthy mitochondria to replace the damaged ones, and resulting in nerves regaining the ability to regrow http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-06/rup-mmm060716.php. Adult mice were able to regenerate injured sciatic nerves in this fashion. Syntaphilin thus becomes a very interesting drug target for enhancing neuron function and regeneration.

5. Preventing Protein Misfolding
A novel method for tackling misfolded proteins has been developed that simply involves designing, and delivering appropriate RNA aptamers to where the misfolded protein is present http://mbg.au.dk/en/news-and-events/news-item/artikel/a-new-way-for-prevention-of-pathogenic-protein-misfolding/. Such an approach preserves protein activity while preventing the formation of misfolded protein aggregates and might be used to design different RNA aptamers to tackle misfolded protein diseases involving prions and amyloid plaques for example.

6. Curing Multiple Sclerosis
Cell therapies have been developed that offer the very real outcome of curing multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune disorders https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/06/immune-system-destruction-and-recreation-can-cure-multiple-sclerosis/. The methodology is drastic and involves near complete destruction of the immune system to remove all code that commands certain immune cells to attack the body’s own tissues and then recreation of the immune system via reintroduced stem cell therapies. This is currently risky but for certain diseases quite justifiable; fortunately the approach will get safer with additional developments and might be generally beneficial for deficient aging immune systems.

7. Tunable Graphene Bandgaps & Other Materials
Another, more promising, technique for giving graphene a tunable bandgap has been developed that involves controllably doping the graphene lattice with nitrogen atoms http://www.nrl.navy.mil/media/news-releases/2016/NRL-Develops-New-Low-Defect-Method-to-Nitrogen-Dope-Graphene-Resulting-in-Tunable-Bandstructure, while maintaining charge transport properties, film integrity, and device stability. In related news graphene has been used to enable optoelectronic devices on regular paper http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=43606.php, and a smart contact lens and self-powered biosensor http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=43573.php.

8. Machine Learning Mazes
Mazes built in Minecraft are being used to test and train machine learning algorithms in navigating mazes and complex environments while performing specific tasks https://www.technologyreview.com/s/601646/the-ai-machines-undergoing-behavioral-psychology-tests/. The replicabilty of the maze environments allows different systems to be tested and have their performance ranked relative to other systems. One of the interesting findings from this development is that the best performing systems demonstrate context-dependent memory retrieval. The group hopes that creating ever-more-complex maze environments with ever-more-complex tasks will help train up ever-more-capable algorithms that might have real-world utility in robots for example.

9. CRISPR Records Digital Memory in Bacteria
A new protocol using CRISPR is able to write 100 bytes of data into the genome of bacteria, a significant increase from the 11 bits of data that was achieved previously http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/animals/a21268/scientists-turn-bacteria-into-living-hard-drives/. This works by simply book-ending your data of interest with DNA that looks like viral DNA; CRISPR allows the cell to incorporate this code into its DNA as part of its CRISPR-based immune system. The group hope to improve the technique and use better, more data-storage-friendly bacteria to store up to 3kb of data in a similar fashion.

10. Gene Therapy is Curing Hemophilia
Clinical use of gene therapies using viruses to deliver correct versions of the gene coding for Factor IX have essentially cured human patients of hemophilia to the point that they no longer need to take expensive replacement protein medications even though the activity levels have only been restored to 30% of normal levels https://www.technologyreview.com/s/601651/gene-therapy-is-curing-hemophilia/. This is a booming space with 70 different gene therapy products in clinical testing and should increasingly become routine as time goes on. Further efforts will develop gene variants with higher activity levels and viruses that are better able to evade the immune system.

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

2016-06-07 14:02:32 (47 comments; 0 reshares; 53 +1s; )Open 

What Does the term Transhuman mean?

I've been wondering for a while whether the term, transhuman, has started to lose some of its meaning. I still associate with it the basic definition of simply someone who wishes to use technology to overcome their human limitations. We can split hairs and strictly refer to such a person as a transhumanist and a transhuman as a person who has already embraced technology to a point where their basic condition is noticeably altered, while transhumanism is the ad hoc "movement" of those seeking to promote and support efforts to enable and allow this.

For me the concern is partly due to seeing those who identify as transhuman splinter into slightly different branches along both political (libertarian, socialist, anarchist, etc) and other lines, some of which I don't identify with at all. And at least once I've had to correct... more »

What Does the term Transhuman mean?

I've been wondering for a while whether the term, transhuman, has started to lose some of its meaning. I still associate with it the basic definition of simply someone who wishes to use technology to overcome their human limitations. We can split hairs and strictly refer to such a person as a transhumanist and a transhuman as a person who has already embraced technology to a point where their basic condition is noticeably altered, while transhumanism is the ad hoc "movement" of those seeking to promote and support efforts to enable and allow this.

For me the concern is partly due to seeing those who identify as transhuman splinter into slightly different branches along both political (libertarian, socialist, anarchist, etc) and other lines, some of which I don't identify with at all. And at least once I've had to correct someone in real life that "no, no, it doesn't mean that, it means this..." And outside of the core transhuman community we also have the interesting phenomena of increased public awareness of transgender issues that also has the capacity to cause confusion. Also, and this may be purely my personal idiosyncratic wanderings, but I seem to see transhumanism discussed less frequently these days.

What do you think? Is it a term that has lost or is losing its meaning? Are there other points of ambiguity or confusion? Do we need a new label? Do you still identify as such, happy to correct mislabeling as it arises?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transhumanism ___

posted image

2016-06-07 12:02:41 (1 comments; 0 reshares; 33 +1s; )Open 

Neural Dust BCI

Add this video to Watch Later if you're into the latest developments with brain computer interfaces. I covered this in last week's digest but didn't get the chance to see the presentation until now. While long (1 hr) it covers lots and worthwhile aspects:

- Convey's awe at the sheer complexity of neurophysiology and the difficulty of actually getting recording devices in there without causing damage.

- Presents a good argument and rationale for pursuing the ultrasound + dust option, with ultrasound providing power and communications (good conceptual explanation how this is achieved), preventing infection and other benefits. My only question was whether bandwidth would be sufficient at scale.

- Interesting discussion on the use of mulitplexing and other wireless protocols to address very many individual recording devices... more »

Neural Dust BCI

Add this video to Watch Later if you're into the latest developments with brain computer interfaces. I covered this in last week's digest but didn't get the chance to see the presentation until now. While long (1 hr) it covers lots and worthwhile aspects:

- Convey's awe at the sheer complexity of neurophysiology and the difficulty of actually getting recording devices in there without causing damage.

- Presents a good argument and rationale for pursuing the ultrasound + dust option, with ultrasound providing power and communications (good conceptual explanation how this is achieved), preventing infection and other benefits. My only question was whether bandwidth would be sufficient at scale.

- Interesting discussion on the use of mulitplexing and other wireless protocols to address very many individual recording devices embedded into the cortex.

- Conveys the sheer scale of activity in this area (that we almost never hear about), the clinical trials, the patient tests, and the sheer level of rapid innovation and performance improvements.

- Coveys the surprising / amazing / fortunate adaptability of the brain and of individual neurons and how your signal processing algorithms don't have to be that great because the neural networks reconfigure and adapt to better interface with the device and compensate for the limitations (up to a point) of your crappy hardware and software.

Overall the talk shows that this research and development is very real, very much happening, and driven by very serious people that are very serious about creating the tools needed to record activity from every single neuron in a brain in real-time. These sorts of crazy brain computer interfaces seem to be hell bent on leaving the realms of science fiction sooner or later. ___

posted image

2016-06-05 09:15:04 (11 comments; 0 reshares; 76 +1s; )Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 23/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/06/rna-plant-editing-stentrode-clinical.html

RNA plant editing, Stentrode clinical trials, Neural dust interface, New RNA CRISPR, Kniterate knitter, Bacterial probiotics, Biological signal processing, Autonomous robot surgeons, Metamaterial lenses, New cell therapies.

1. Editing Plants with RNAi
Monsanto has developed a spray-on genetic regulation platform using RNA interference for post-transcriptional gene regulation in plants, including delivery systems to ensure the RNAi molecules are carried through the plant and into cells https://www.technologyreview.com/s/601447/monsanto-cultivates-a-rose-that-doesnt-wilt/. One of the simpler demonstrations is for switching off certain enzymes that produce ethylene in flowers, which normally causes ripening and... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 23/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/06/rna-plant-editing-stentrode-clinical.html

RNA plant editing, Stentrode clinical trials, Neural dust interface, New RNA CRISPR, Kniterate knitter, Bacterial probiotics, Biological signal processing, Autonomous robot surgeons, Metamaterial lenses, New cell therapies.

1. Editing Plants with RNAi
Monsanto has developed a spray-on genetic regulation platform using RNA interference for post-transcriptional gene regulation in plants, including delivery systems to ensure the RNAi molecules are carried through the plant and into cells https://www.technologyreview.com/s/601447/monsanto-cultivates-a-rose-that-doesnt-wilt/. One of the simpler demonstrations is for switching off certain enzymes that produce ethylene in flowers, which normally causes ripening and wilting of flowers and blocking this significantly boosts the transport and shelf life of flowers. There are many equilibria in plants that could be similarly shifted one way or the other for some benefit. And the patent fully describes the entire platform: DIY Bio groups could produce their own custom interventions for novel applications. Meanwhile delivering RNA therapies to human cells body-wide is coming along http://biontech.de/2016/06/01/nature-publication-describes-first-example-of-a-clinically-applicable-and-systemic-mrna-cancer-immunotherapy-vaccine/.

2. Stentrode Entering Clinical Trials
The stentrode - a stent with a novel array of electrodes design for insertion into capillaries in the brain to detect neural activity in the cortex - was first announced a year or two ago, and will now enter human clinical trials in 2017 https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/articles/moving-with-the-power-of-thought. The stentrode recently completed successful animal trials and the ultimate goal is to have the device allow patients to control prosthetics and exoskeletons just by thinking. Speaking of exoskeletons, those planned for 2018 are starting to look quite advanced http://nextbigfuture.com/2016/05/liquid-armor-and-tiny-high-power.html.

3. Neural Dust Brain Interfaces
Another technology first covered a year or two ago and continuing to show progress is neural dust, in which tiny low-power sensors are introduced into the cortex along with a sub-dural transceiver for powering and relaying signals from the dust to a larger external transceiver that ultimately connects to any computer or network http://nextbigfuture.com/2016/06/neural-dust-ultra-small-brain.html. In this case the technology has now been demonstrated in remote controlling live cyborg insects in free flight; I wonder how long until they move to animals? In related news implanted neuroprostheses are improving the walking ability of stroke patients with walking impairments http://wolterskluwer.com/company/newsroom/news/2016/05/implanted-neuroprosthesis-improves-walking-ability-in-stroke-patient.html.

4. New CRISPR Version for RNA Control
CRISPR tools and genetics continues to innovate at an impressive pace with the discovery and development of a new CRISPR tool for precisely targeting and editing RNA in the cell http://news.mit.edu/2016/new-crispr-system-targeting-rna-0602. This alternative version does not introduce permanent edits to genomic DNA, but rather can be used to cut specific RNAs, block protein production, add code to RNA to alter function, add tags to RNA to track and localise RNA, and generally provide an alternative tool to conventional siRNA interventions.

5. Kniterate, the Automated Knitting Machine
Kniterate is an attempt to make knitting as easy and flexible as 3D printing http://spectrum.ieee.org/view-from-the-valley/at-work/start-ups/updating-the-knitting-machine-to-be-an-easytouse-3-d-printer-for-fabric. Simply design or download a pattern and have kniterate produce the custom designed and custom sized piece for you. This isn’t so much a revolution as an evolution over existing systems, with a level of automation that lowers the knowledge and skill requirements of the user desiring to produce different fabrics. A nice addition the tools of distributed production.

6. Bacterial Probiotics Boost Immune Function
Certain bacterial probiotics appear to boost immune function by increasing the size of the thymus and elevating the expression of FoxN1 that helps to program immune cells https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/06/bacterial-stimulation-of-foxn1-theorized-to-enhance-healthy-longevity/, and this effect also seemed to boost the size and growth of skeletal muscle. The molecular signalling pathway for this is still being investigated but as the thymus of everyone atrophies and reduces immune function with age this appears to be a simple and effective method to at least partially offset this decline and improve human health with age.

7. Analogue & Digital Biological Processing in Cells
Both analogue and digital computational gene circuits have been integrated into engineered cells for the first time to facilitate more complex processing and responses http://news.mit.edu/2016/gene-circuits-live-cells-complex-computations-0603. These circuits can work by analogy to electronic comparators that take analogue input signals and produce a digital output. The idea here is to produce cells that are able to respond to different levels of some molecule and produce another molecule (e.g. drug) in response. The group have created a company, Synlogic, to commercialise this platform technology initially via engineered probiotics.

8. Autonomous Robot Surgeons
This is a good review article of the current state of the art and trends in developing autonomous robotic surgeons http://spectrum.ieee.org/robotics/medical-robots/would-you-trust-a-robot-surgeon-to-operate-on-you. This covers everything from merely robot-assisted surgeries, to human-oversight robotic surgeries, to on-going tests and projected roll-outs of fully-autonomous systems. The key hurdle for fully autonomous systems is the capacity to deal reliably with unexpected crisis events that demand rapid novel adaptation to control before moving on.

9. Metamaterial Lens for Microscopes and Cameras
A new flat, planar metalens has been demonstrated, created by using algorithms to determine the best metamaterial structures required to focus light, and made by forming titanium dioxide pillars on quartz surfaces http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-36438686. Such flat metalenses might be fabricated directly onto phone camera modules for example, and in tests demonstrated 30% better sharpness than even state-of-the-art conventional, bulky objective lenses. They would also allow quickly creating arbitrarily large lenses. In related news we had plasmonic pixels to enable long-lasting colours http://phys.org/news/2016-05-plasmonic-pixels-non-fading.html.

10. Recent Cell Therapy Developments
First, modified adult stem cells, when introduced into the brains of patients who had suffered stroke some time in the past, help induce substantial recoverey http://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2016/06/stem-cells-shown-safe-beneficial-for-chronic-stroke-patients.html. The patients involved in the trial demonstrated clinically meaningful improvements, including regaining arm and leg movement. Second, we have yet more promising work on cancer immunotherapies, this time by activating a patient's immune cells by injecting nanoparticles of fat containing pieces of RNA expressed by certain cancer cells http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/cancer-vaccine-immunotherapy-universal-immune-system-rna-nature-journal-a7060181.html and offering a platform that might be used to selectively target many different cancers.

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

posted image

2016-06-05 05:37:31 (29 comments; 0 reshares; 76 +1s; )Open 

The Age of Outrage

Good timely piece by Mark Manson on the age of outrage; taking offense at every tiny slight, inciting moralistic witch hunts, and trying to suppress and censor free speech and expression because of opposing viewpoints http://markmanson.net/outrage.

I see this growing over the last few years, I see it making society more divisive, I see the rise of fallacious reasoning, I see it mainly from the extreme-left, and I see parallels with fundamentalist religions, but I can't yet see how we deal with this problem.

And deal with it we must. 

The Age of Outrage

Good timely piece by Mark Manson on the age of outrage; taking offense at every tiny slight, inciting moralistic witch hunts, and trying to suppress and censor free speech and expression because of opposing viewpoints http://markmanson.net/outrage.

I see this growing over the last few years, I see it making society more divisive, I see the rise of fallacious reasoning, I see it mainly from the extreme-left, and I see parallels with fundamentalist religions, but I can't yet see how we deal with this problem.

And deal with it we must. ___

posted image

2016-05-29 11:09:00 (5 comments; 0 reshares; 117 +1s; )Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 22/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/05/mapping-ncrna-computers-driving-maths.html

Mapping ncRNA, Protein modularity, Better infrared light capture, Clutter busting robots, Computers driving maths & science, Automatic DNA origami, Scaling quantum dots, Cancer immunotherapies, Reducing amyloid plaques, Large-scale IoT.

1. Mapping Non-Coding RNA from Junk DNA
A new technique called LIGR-Seq captures interactions between different RNA molecules, isolates them, sequences them, and so identifies novel functions for new non-coding RNA molecules http://www.thedonnellycentre.utoronto.ca/news/shedding-light-%E2%80%98dark-matter%E2%80%99-genome. Types of non-coding RNA’s include the following: rRNA, tRNA, snRNA, snoRNA, piRNA, miRNA, and lncRNA. Only 2% of the genome codes for mRNA and proteins.T... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 22/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/05/mapping-ncrna-computers-driving-maths.html

Mapping ncRNA, Protein modularity, Better infrared light capture, Clutter busting robots, Computers driving maths & science, Automatic DNA origami, Scaling quantum dots, Cancer immunotherapies, Reducing amyloid plaques, Large-scale IoT.

1. Mapping Non-Coding RNA from Junk DNA
A new technique called LIGR-Seq captures interactions between different RNA molecules, isolates them, sequences them, and so identifies novel functions for new non-coding RNA molecules http://www.thedonnellycentre.utoronto.ca/news/shedding-light-%E2%80%98dark-matter%E2%80%99-genome. Types of non-coding RNA’s include the following: rRNA, tRNA, snRNA, snoRNA, piRNA, miRNA, and lncRNA. Only 2% of the genome codes for mRNA and proteins. The other 98% was thought to be junk, but it turns out that 50% - 75% of this “junk” is transcribed into non-coding RNAs now thought to have many functions in the cell and that previously had been incredibly difficult to identify, study, and characterise. This new tool changes that and should significantly boost our understanding of the cell and ways to manipulate it.

2. Better Understanding Protein Modularity and Design
A new evolutionary analysis of protein structure-function reveals strong conservation over time and across species for modular protein components that form loops for active sites that bind molecules or other proteins http://singularityhub.com/2016/05/25/scientists-unearth-key-evolutionary-link-in-proteins/. These modules are essentially used over and over again in different genes throughout different species and their identification provides avenues for directed synthetic biology applications, combining different modules to create proteins with novel functions. This phenomenon, known as hierarchical modularity has been observed in other complex man-made networks.

3. Efficiently Capturing Infrared Light
By etching thin grooves into semiconducting thin films a group has created ultraefficient infrared light absorbers capable of capturing 99% of infrared light instead of the conventional approaches that manage 7.7% http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-05/uos-obt052416.php. The structure of the grooves direct the light sideways into the material and drastically reduce reflections; I wonder if they are trying similar techniques for photovoltaics? Applications include much cheaper and more portable night-vision capabilities, thermal imaging generally, and perhaps types of sensing spectroscopy.

4. Robots Dealing with Clutter
New software is helping robots better deal with clutter via “rearrangement planning”, especially when pick-and-place becomes unfeasible or too time consuming http://www.cmu.edu/news/stories/archives/2016/may/robots-clutter.html. Obvious applications in sorting objects in complex environments and also in path planning when traversing cluttered and uneven surfaces. Next step is to incorporate additional levels and means of feedback for the robot to react and adjust to the environment as it goes about rearranging things. Meanwhile a new robot quickly sorts different types of rubbish for recycling applications http://spectrum.ieee.org/view-from-the-valley/robotics/industrial-robots/to-reycle-or-not-to-recycle-a-trash-robot-knows-for-sure.

5. Computers Solving Maths and Mining Science
The largest ever mathematics proof has been announced, in this case for computationally cracking the Boolean Pythagorean Triples problem, and is contained in a 200 Terabyte file http://www.nature.com/news/two-hundred-terabyte-maths-proof-is-largest-ever-1.19990?. Such brute-force proofs are becoming increasingly common and are no doubt useful, but people question whether they actually lead to increased mathematical understanding as is the case with general proofs. In related news machine learning techniques are being used to help researchers filter immense volumes of scientific papers and data to better direct research efforts, ask better questions, and reduce wasted efforts http://singularityhub.com/2016/05/26/machine-learnings-next-trick-will-transform-how-research-is-done/ and https://www.technologyreview.com/s/601589/the-first-visual-search-engine-for-scientific-diagrams/.

6. Automating DNA Origami Design
DAEDALUS is a new software algorithm that allows a user to design and specify a 3D structure, complete with holes, for which it then automatically designs the optimised sequence and number of DNA strands needed for form that particular DNA origami nanoparticle http://news.mit.edu/2016/automating-dna-origami-opens-door-many-new-uses-0526. Such a tool will further accelerate the field of self-assembled DNA nanostructures, and broaden its accessibility to more people across more fields. Applications include designing better gene-delivery vehicles, conjugation with proteins for functional targeting, functional memory blocks, basic nano-scale building blocks, functionalisation with metals for quantum dots, next-generation nanomachines and nanodevices.

7. Scaling Up Quantum Dot Production
Another recent technique for scaling up quantum dot production makes use of bacterial fermentation to do so https://www.ornl.gov/news/ornl-demonstrates-large-scale-technique-produce-quantum-dots. In this case zinc sulfide nanoparticles were fabricated by bacteria in a fermentation / biomanufacturing technique that results in the quantum dot nanoparticles being produced outside of the cell, and possibly 90% cheaper than other methods. Seems we really are getting closer to mass manufacturing of nanometer-scale quantum dots with magnetic, photovoltaic, and catalytic properties for a wide range of applications in electronics, energy generation and storage, and imaging.

8. Nuances in Cancer Immunotherapies
It turns out that techniques for activating a patient’s own immune cells to attack cancer cells may not be as effective as introducing immune cells taken from healthy volunteers https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/05/borrowed-immune-cells-to-fight-cancer/. The introduced cells turned out to be much better at recognising the cancer cells as cancerous, which the patient’s own immune system had otherwise failed to recognise; this is probably one of multiple mechanisms for the benefits of parabiosis. Immunotherapies are some of the most promising techniques currently being trialled and advances like this should only help to make them more effective.

9. Reducing Amyloid Plaques Systemically
It appears that organs and tissues peripheral to the brain play a role in removing and clearing Amyloid-beta protein and reducing the levels of Amyloid plaques the brain that are characteristic of Alzheimer’s Disease https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/05/the-possibility-of-reducing-amyloid-in-the-brain-by-reducing-it-elsewhere/. Amyloid produced in the brain appears to be somewhat cleared in the periphery, and boosting this clearance in the periphery helps to prevent Alzheimer’s Disease pathogenesis. This could be a source of low-hanging-fruit for temporarily pushing back Alzheimer’s Disease in humans to buy time for more advanced therapies.

10. First Large-Scale Internet of Things Network
Building of the first nation-wide network dedicated to the Internet of Things has been announced by Samsung, to be tested and rolled-out through South Korea http://nextbigfuture.com/2016/05/samsung-and-sk-telecom-to-build-world.html. This brings together a range of innovations in wireless communications, networking, data analytics, and electronic sensing to demonstrate a viable and effective nation-wide Internet of Things platform that people can expand and build applications on top of. As an example streetlights will collect weather and traffic information to facilitate lighting adjustments and pollution monitoring.

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

posted image

2016-05-28 08:17:41 (7 comments; 0 reshares; 50 +1s; )Open 

Inflammatory Alarmism and Other Nonsense Against Human Genome Editing

I came across a few articles recently that promoted outrageous inflammatory alarmism over human genome editing. The sentiment, pessimism, and authoritarianism present in all cases annoyed and offended me deeply and I couldn't help but get a little rant off my chest. This little rant turned out a little longer than anticipated.


We Need a Species-Wide Conversation About the Future of Human Enhancement
http://techcrunch.com/2016/05/01/homo-sapiens-2-0-we-need-a-species-wide-conversation-about-the-future-of-human-genetic-enhancement/

This piece discusses the impending future of human genome editing and enhancement via CRISPR and other tools, but leans on the side of allowing the dictates of the uninformed majority to guide development and finishes with outright alarmist... more »

Inflammatory Alarmism and Other Nonsense Against Human Genome Editing

I came across a few articles recently that promoted outrageous inflammatory alarmism over human genome editing. The sentiment, pessimism, and authoritarianism present in all cases annoyed and offended me deeply and I couldn't help but get a little rant off my chest. This little rant turned out a little longer than anticipated.


We Need a Species-Wide Conversation About the Future of Human Enhancement
http://techcrunch.com/2016/05/01/homo-sapiens-2-0-we-need-a-species-wide-conversation-about-the-future-of-human-genetic-enhancement/

This piece discusses the impending future of human genome editing and enhancement via CRISPR and other tools, but leans on the side of allowing the dictates of the uninformed majority to guide development and finishes with outright alarmist conclusions that cataclysmic outcomes will result if we don’t do this. I think it is well written but basically fanciful in its main thrust.

We get a discussion of how over nearly 40 years the first test tube baby went from being a moral abomination to passing a very routine 5 millionth IVF birth, and how human genome editing will probably go through a similar phase of aversion and acceptance. This will be unavoidable and start with fighting disease. There are many bits I have a problem with:

Not everyone will be comfortable with genetic enhancement based on some people’s understandable ideological or religious beliefs or for real or perceived safety concerns. Life is not just about science and code. It involves mystery and chance and, for some, spirit. This erroneously presumes you won’t still have those things when genome editing is common, which is just wrong and misleading.

69 percent of Americans felt that genetically altering unborn babies to reduce their risk of developing serious diseases should be illegal. The sheer level of ignorant sadism in this statement, shared by more than two thirds of the population, is just breathtaking. When reducing the suffering of another human is trivially easy, and you seek to use state force to prevent people from doing so, and so cause needless human suffering, you are most definitely part of the problem.

Eighty three percent felt that genetic alterations to improve the intelligence or physical characteristics of unborn babies should be banned. Again, what right do people think they have to dictate what other people can and can’t do to improve the life of their children? How is their desire to use state force to stop people from doing this any different than those people using the state to enforce the adoption of these techniques on all people whether they want them or not?

No matter what the intention of parents, might genetic selection of children become a form of liberal or not-so-liberal Eugenics that challenges the moral core of our humanity? Might it encourage us to devalue the critically important and varied contributions everyone makes in a diverse society? There is more than a hint of regressive political correctness here and ill-considered virtue signalling, assuming one’s own morals and values are the moral core and collective values of humanity and seeking to impose this on everyone else, and all while using shaming name-calling (Eugenics) to shut down rational debate.

If a relatively small number of even very well intentioned people unleash a human genetic revolution that will ultimately touch most everyone and alter our species’ evolutionary trajectory without informed, meaningful, and early input from others, the backlash against the genetic revolution will overwhelm its monumental potential for good. Ending on a rather alarmist and pessimistic note. The whole piece almost becomes contradictory here, calling for a species-wide conversation on our future use of these technologies, which would not only be infeasible in principle, but it sure as hell wouldn’t be informed or meaningful with most of those people.


A Secret Meeting on Creating Synthetic Human Genomes
TechnologyReview coverage: https://www.technologyreview.com/s/601540/big-ideas-big-conflicts-in-plan-to-synthesize-a-human-genome/
Engadget coverage:
http://www.engadget.com/2016/05/13/scientists-held-a-secret-meeting-to-debate-creating-synthetic-hu/
Cosmos criticism:
https://cosmosmagazine.com/society/should-we-synthesise-human-genome

So a bunch of geneticists and technologists met at Harvard recently to discuss and plan the Human Genome Project Write, focused on the technical ability to synthesise very large whole genomes from scratch, basically doing for human cells what Craig Venter has already done for minimal microbes. This amounts to pitching a mega-project to help drive technological evolution and drastically reduce the price of DNA synthesis. But they’ve been slammed for making the meeting “secret”.

The TechnologyReview article is quite good and includes rational responses from George Church towards some of the myopic criticism the proposal received.

The Engadget piece has just terrible science reporting:
At the top of their worry pile is that the project will end up innovating new ways to make synthetic human genes, which could lead to them being used to artificially create humans. Nope, we can already create synthetic human genes if we want, and we already have IVF and other techniques for artificially creating humans. This is misleading alarmist BS.

And if the meeting was about synthetic human genes, there should be a public debate on the morality of creating or editing human genes. Human genes are already being edited as part of standard gene therapies; the debate has already been had. But no, let’s hinder and block the technology again and force the morals of some segment of the population onto everyone else and block free expression and choice.

The original criticism in Cosmos is just backwards and full of the same authoritarian moralistic impositions as other pieces here:
A project that made polio virus from scratch in 2002 generated such fear that public funding for improving DNA synthesis tools was cancelled, unwittingly harming research across diverse and unrelated fields while policy makers struggled to imagine how such tools could ever be controlled. So yes let’s bow down again to the ignorant and the uninformed.

Would it be OK, for example, to sequence and then synthesise Einstein’s genome? Yep, it’d be irrelevant.

We note that the narrative of creation of the human is the central narrative for many religious communities. How is this even remotely relevant to the matter at hand?

To create a human genome from scratch would be an enormous moral gesture whose consequences should not be framed initially on the advice of lawyers and regulators alone. Nope, in the grand scheme of things it would be a trivial and quite irrelevant step, just doing for larger genomes what we’ve already done for smaller, and opening up a range of more interesting applications that would be consequently cheaper and easier to pursue. Sure, if you’re a religious nut believing in a creator santa claus then it might seem morally relevant but to those unblinded by such then it is morally irrelevant. The value of a human lies in more than just their DNA code.

The perspectives of others including self-identified theologians, philosophers, and ethicists from a variety of traditions should be sought out from the very beginning. Yes let’s prostrate ourselves before theologians of all things and self-appointed morally superior bioethicists, and follow their dictates because the moral compass and ethical outlook of those actually driving and developing the technology, those who understand it best, are obviously inferior. Simply unfriggenbelievable that in this day and age there are calls for theologians to be involved in setting science policy and guidelines.


Let People Most Affected by Gene Editing Write CRISPR Rules
https://www.newscientist.com/article/2086548-let-people-most-affected-by-gene-editing-write-crispr-rules/

A fantastic example of self-righteous bioethicists seeking to arrogantly impose and enforce their morals on everyone else in order to justify their existence. Far be it from those most versed in the technology, those most expert, those most willing to devote time, effort and resources to the technology, no; instead apparently the disabled and the third world should write the rules of how CRISPR is used that everyone else should be forced to follow.

And all because some disabled people might like being disabled and might not like the idea of gene editing to cure their disability. Aside from the fact that use of such technology would be a choice, no; they might not like it so they should be able to control the availability of that choice for everyone else.

And also because this will be an elitist treatment that won’t benefit the poor in the third world and has to be shared equally. Aside from the fact that the massive amount of investment involved dictates first generation CRISPR therapies will be costly, not least because those same bioethicists dictate onerous and incredibly expensive clinical trials forcing this to be so, and ignoring the fact that not much more than a decade at most after first market entry cheap generic versions of these same therapies will be manufactured and available to everyone just like current drugs today.

And even because women will suffer because they are the primary carers of people with disabilities, and this risks putting them out of a job. Seriously.

I find sentiment like this unbelievably disappointing. Let’s hinder CRISPR, slow it down, make it harder for therapies to be developed, tie it up in regulation, suffocate innovation, drive it underground. Just get out of the way and let the technology evolve; the benefits will come. Attempts at prohibition will just deliver nasty unexpected side effects and costs. Just like they do every, single, time.

The one positive was specific mention of and support for DIY at-home CRISPR hacking. So it wasn’t a complete waste.


The above is just so damn depressing that I have to finish on an optimistic note: BioViva ups the ante on medical tourism by planning an age-reversal clinic in Fiji.
https://www.inverse.com/article/15895-bioviva-plans-an-age-reversal-clinic-in-fiji-as-medical-tourism-gets-weird

The trailblazing Liz Parish, CEO of BioViva, who last year performed the first life-extension gene therapies on herself, has partnered with Sierra Sciences and announced the creation of the world’s first age reversal clinic in Fiji. Fiji has implemented very progressive policies with regards to medical regulation, branding itself as a medical tourism destination, and provides tax incentives to medical institutes.

Looks like the partnership hopes to kick things off with a launch to medical tourists in 2017 or 2018 at the latest, and using revenues to bring costs down. This is great, optimistic news and a real cause for hope. Even if the worst comes to pass, as hinted at in the above list of myopic attempts at control of biotechnology, then we should still be able to jump on a plane to Fiji and other places in order to access the tools and treatments that we want.

As always, prohibition never works. ___

posted image

2016-05-25 13:16:55 (12 comments; 0 reshares; 96 +1s; )Open 

How Technology Hacks People's Minds

This article is just too damn good not to share - easily the best I've read in recent memory. I forget who first shared it here but thank you.

https://medium.com/@tristanharris/how-technology-hijacks-peoples-minds-from-a-magician-and-google-s-design-ethicist-56d62ef5edf3#.x953hbytl

It discusses 10 psychological hacks used in designing (typically) digital products and services to better grab and hold your attention, to the point of inducing a form of addiction if possible. In summary these are:

1. Controlling the menu to control the choices.
2. Making the experience like a slot machine.
3. The fear of missing something important.
4. The need for social approval.
5. Social favours and reciprocity.
6. Infinite feeds and autoplay.
7. Instant, "urgent" interruption. ... more »

How Technology Hacks People's Minds

This article is just too damn good not to share - easily the best I've read in recent memory. I forget who first shared it here but thank you.

https://medium.com/@tristanharris/how-technology-hijacks-peoples-minds-from-a-magician-and-google-s-design-ethicist-56d62ef5edf3#.x953hbytl

It discusses 10 psychological hacks used in designing (typically) digital products and services to better grab and hold your attention, to the point of inducing a form of addiction if possible. In summary these are:

1. Controlling the menu to control the choices.
2. Making the experience like a slot machine.
3. The fear of missing something important.
4. The need for social approval.
5. Social favours and reciprocity.
6. Infinite feeds and autoplay.
7. Instant, "urgent" interruption.
8. Making your reasons their reasons.
9. Offering choices that are inconvenient.
10. Forecasting errors via foot-in-the-door tactics.

The author Tristan Harris worked for Google as a Product Philosopher / Design Ethicist exploring and recommending ways to protect and defend people's minds from being hijacked and their time from being wasted.

We need our smartphones, notifications screens and web browsers to be exoskeletons for our minds and interpersonal relationships that put our values, not our impulses, first. People’s time is valuable. And we should protect it with the same rigor as privacy and other digital rights.

Other Resources

Tristan's TEDx talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jT5rRh9AZf4

Tristan's resource site for better design and time saving: http://timewellspent.io/___

posted image

2016-05-25 11:50:32 (14 comments; 0 reshares; 50 +1s; )Open 

Thanks for the Free Upgrade Google

YouTube Red finally launched in Australia a week or so ago and I was happy to note that my existing $10 per month Google Play Music subscription automatically granted me access upon opening the newly updated YouTube app for the first time after the announcement. So this was like a free bonus as no extra $10 per month was needed.

The updated YouTube app is damn slick and smooth. With the Red option active, little differences that seem minor, such as (i) no adverts to skip or sit through, (ii) the ability to play audio in the background while using other apps, and (iii) the ability to play audio with the screen off, make a very noticeable and exceptionally welcome impact when using YouTube. The one thing I don't expect to use much is the "download to watch offline" function.

I listen to a lot of YouTube talks, lectures,... more »

Thanks for the Free Upgrade Google

YouTube Red finally launched in Australia a week or so ago and I was happy to note that my existing $10 per month Google Play Music subscription automatically granted me access upon opening the newly updated YouTube app for the first time after the announcement. So this was like a free bonus as no extra $10 per month was needed.

The updated YouTube app is damn slick and smooth. With the Red option active, little differences that seem minor, such as (i) no adverts to skip or sit through, (ii) the ability to play audio in the background while using other apps, and (iii) the ability to play audio with the screen off, make a very noticeable and exceptionally welcome impact when using YouTube. The one thing I don't expect to use much is the "download to watch offline" function.

I listen to a lot of YouTube talks, lectures, and debates and the video imagery is usually optional. Being able to just listen to the audio with screen off while driving is great and also saves on mobile data consumption. I know there have been specialised apps for years that have allowed you to do this but having the ability in the native YouTube app just makes things that much easier and convenient. Also: similar benefits on desktop and Chromecast.

Anyone else using and enjoying YouTube Red? Any complaints? ___

posted image

2016-05-24 13:45:17 (5 comments; 0 reshares; 100 +1s; )Open 

Vysor

I've been playing around with Koush's new Vysor app, which you can grab via http://www.vysor.io/

Basically Vysor lets you control your phone from your computer and allows you to generate a shareable link to the session for other people or devices to control your phone from anywhere. It's all done in the browser and the execution is pretty slick.

Install the Chrome webapp from the Chrome Store, plug your phone in (my Nexus 6P here), launch the Vysor app, a Chrome window opens to allow mouse control of the phone and keyboard entry, etc. Click a button to share access, grab the link, send to someone else, they click and can execute the same control of your phone in their browser (example here of wife logged into Chromebook).

Potentially useful to troubleshoot a friend's or family member's phone remotely and quickly. Or perhaps... more »

Vysor

I've been playing around with Koush's new Vysor app, which you can grab via http://www.vysor.io/

Basically Vysor lets you control your phone from your computer and allows you to generate a shareable link to the session for other people or devices to control your phone from anywhere. It's all done in the browser and the execution is pretty slick.

Install the Chrome webapp from the Chrome Store, plug your phone in (my Nexus 6P here), launch the Vysor app, a Chrome window opens to allow mouse control of the phone and keyboard entry, etc. Click a button to share access, grab the link, send to someone else, they click and can execute the same control of your phone in their browser (example here of wife logged into Chromebook).

Potentially useful to troubleshoot a friend's or family member's phone remotely and quickly. Or perhaps remotely control a device that the phone has been linked to and has control over, e.g. LIFX lights, a Lego robot, etc. Or even set up as a remote video camera.

Next step will be full wireless capabilities to untether from the computer if possible; it should be given I played with basic apps with that level of functionality about 4 years ago, e.g. https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/hscDMkAnsh6.

Note I paid the $10 for the Pro version.___

posted image

2016-05-24 11:53:32 (17 comments; 0 reshares; 29 +1s; )Open 

Your Brain Does Not Store or Process Information
Or so claims Robert Epstein in this piece: https://aeon.co/essays/your-brain-does-not-process-information-and-it-is-not-a-computer

There are quite a few problems with this article and its thesis but I still think it is worth a read for those interested in the brain, cognition, and consciousness. The article is ultimately an appeal to the field of Embodied Cognition.

Some of the worthwhile bits include passages like the following and just simply recognising the fundamental importance of metaphor in our thinking, our understanding, and how we see the world:

The information processing (IP) metaphor of human intelligence now dominates human thinking, both on the street and in the sciences. There is virtually no form of discourse about intelligent human behaviour that proceeds without employing this metaphor, just as... more »

Your Brain Does Not Store or Process Information
Or so claims Robert Epstein in this piece: https://aeon.co/essays/your-brain-does-not-process-information-and-it-is-not-a-computer

There are quite a few problems with this article and its thesis but I still think it is worth a read for those interested in the brain, cognition, and consciousness. The article is ultimately an appeal to the field of Embodied Cognition.

Some of the worthwhile bits include passages like the following and just simply recognising the fundamental importance of metaphor in our thinking, our understanding, and how we see the world:

The information processing (IP) metaphor of human intelligence now dominates human thinking, both on the street and in the sciences. There is virtually no form of discourse about intelligent human behaviour that proceeds without employing this metaphor, just as no form of discourse about intelligent human behaviour could proceed in certain eras and cultures without reference to a spirit or deity. The validity of the IP metaphor in today’s world is generally assumed without question.

But the IP metaphor is, after all, just another metaphor – a story we tell to make sense of something we don’t actually understand. And like all the metaphors that preceded it, it will certainly be cast aside at some point – either replaced by another metaphor or, in the end, replaced by actual knowledge. The IP metaphor is ‘sticky’. It encumbers our thinking with language and ideas that are so powerful we have trouble thinking around them.

Prevailing metaphors adopted to understand the world are heavily influenced by and at times dictated by the technological paradigm of the time. Hindsight allows us to see the errors and simplicity in old, outdated, metaphors. If nothing else the article forces us to ask: is the prevailing metaphor of our times, that of computation, the final metaphor? If not then improved future understanding and metaphors will look at us as we do our forebears. This forces the author to give an account as to why it isn’t the final metaphor but I don’t think they achieve this.

As an example, the dollar bill-in-memory test doesn’t appear to offer a satisfactory explanation:

But she hadn’t made a deliberate effort to ‘memorise’ the details. Had she done so, you might argue, she could presumably have drawn the second image without the bill being present.

And also:

But neither the song nor the poem has been ‘stored’ in it. The brain has simply changed in an orderly way that now allows us to sing the song or recite the poem under certain conditions . . . We simply sing or recite – no retrieval necessary.

The author argues that even if she draws the dollar bill perfectly from memory, she doesn’t actually have the bill in memory in her brain. This seems like a tautology of sorts or else I have something very wrong here. My understanding, to put it simply, is that the act of memorisation of a detailed object involves the brain forming an ever-more-accurate pattern in the brain representing the object and this accurate pattern can be re-experienced, i.e. re-membered, in order to recognise or reproduce it in future; surely this counts as storing the memory of that thing and this pattern has been computed by the neural networks of the brain?

Throughout the piece I kept wanting a clear and coherent alternative to be presented. The author claims to do so, but as far as I can tell either fails, demands too much prior jargon from the reader, or otherwise dispenses with any clarity. The closest to clarification they come to concerns a description of catching a flying ball:

The IP perspective requires the player to formulate an estimate of various initial conditions of the ball’s flight – the force of the impact, the angle of the trajectory, that kind of thing – then to create and analyse an internal model of the path along which the ball will likely move, then to use that model to guide and adjust motor movements continuously in time in order to intercept the ball.

That is all well and good if we functioned as computers do, but McBeath and his colleagues gave a simpler account: to catch the ball, the player simply needs to keep moving in a way that keeps the ball in a constant visual relationship with respect to home plate and the surrounding scenery (technically, in a ‘linear optical trajectory’). This might sound complicated, but it is actually incredibly simple, and completely free of computations, representations and algorithms.

With this and other descriptions (see below) I can’t help but think the author is blinded or hindered by an incredibly constrained understanding or definition of computation. To me this explanation manages to explain very little, and certainly not how it is free of computation. Fortunately the author makes reference to and recommends other prominent proponents of Embodied Cognition and after searching a bunch of their blog posts I found what appears to be their best explanation here http://psychsciencenotes.blogspot.com.au/2015/07/brains-dont-have-to-be-computers-purple.html.

While their explanation may be even more obtuse, one of the key examples or analogies they are relying on concerns the Polar Planimeter. Knock out the Planimeter and you knock out one of the foundations of their argument. They claim the Planimeter doesn’t actually compute the area of the shape it traces out, despite the fact that it takes an input - moving the needle around the edge of the shape - and produces an output - the area of the shape thus traversed. It seems to me as though the Planimeter does indeed compute the area of the shape or am I missing something here?

The computation, or algorithmic function, for determining the area of the shape transcribed is encoded in the design of the device and its gears, or so it appears to me. Am I wrong or missing something here? They seem to claim something along the lines of “simply by interacting with its environment the Planimeter naturally produces a suitable response to that environment” but it all seems terribly hand-wavy and imprecise, and again suffers from a restricted definition of computation. Others have referred to Planimeters as analogue calculating devices; surely they can also be referred to as analogue computing devices?

A problem with this passage and those that precede it:

Fortunately, because the IP metaphor is not even slightly valid, we will never have to worry about a human mind going amok in cyberspace; alas, we will also never achieve immortality through downloading.

This seems to claim that the human mind / cognition / consciousness is not physical, that it exists apart from matter and physical law. There are few people who have time to entertain such simplistic dualism. All evidence points to these things having a physical basis and as such claiming substrate independence for the phenomena is a reasonable claim. I suspect the author is caught up in holding only the most basic of computational substrates as a possible alternative, when other substrates can easily be posited to address arguments he has against these.

Finally, for this passage:

Worse still, even if we had the ability to take a snapshot of all of the brain’s 86 billion neurons and then to simulate the state of those neurons in a computer, that vast pattern would mean nothing outside the body of the brain that produced it.

I would ask if fMRI studies are now allowing us to partially determine what someone is thinking then surely running a complete connectome simulation and likewise measuring activity would allow us to determine what that brain was thinking, even without a body?

Planimeters
[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_W35iDhRfZg
[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdxPEZnv-U0
[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_k_0hRpOA4
[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planimeter ___

posted image

2016-05-23 11:55:52 (8 comments; 0 reshares; 37 +1s; )Open 

Serving up slices of home-made bread to go with our home-made soup last night I couldn't help but notice it looked like the cross-section of a brain. A little bit of frontal lobe damage on the left hemisphere perhaps but damn tasty nonetheless. 

Serving up slices of home-made bread to go with our home-made soup last night I couldn't help but notice it looked like the cross-section of a brain. A little bit of frontal lobe damage on the left hemisphere perhaps but damn tasty nonetheless. ___

posted image

2016-05-22 07:02:02 (23 comments; 0 reshares; 105 +1s; )Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 21/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/05/massive-photon-theories-chiral-mirror.html

Massive photon theories, Chiral mirror enzymes, TensorFlow ASIC, Efficient solar cells, Carbon computing, Better autonomous vehicles, Fast wireless Internet, Fixing mitochondria, 3D printed hair, Smartphone urine test.

1. Dark Energy & Massive Photons
A new theory suggests that if photons have a mass of about 10^-70kg then the way that photons interact with different fields and matter in the Universe would lead to a repulsive effect that looks a lot like dark energy causing the Universe to expand http://www.sciencealert.com/heavy-light-could-explain-dark-energy. This replaces the current unexplainable cosmological constant with an unmeasurable property in the tiny mass of photons. Of course it also goes... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 21/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/05/massive-photon-theories-chiral-mirror.html

Massive photon theories, Chiral mirror enzymes, TensorFlow ASIC, Efficient solar cells, Carbon computing, Better autonomous vehicles, Fast wireless Internet, Fixing mitochondria, 3D printed hair, Smartphone urine test.

1. Dark Energy & Massive Photons
A new theory suggests that if photons have a mass of about 10^-70kg then the way that photons interact with different fields and matter in the Universe would lead to a repulsive effect that looks a lot like dark energy causing the Universe to expand http://www.sciencealert.com/heavy-light-could-explain-dark-energy. This replaces the current unexplainable cosmological constant with an unmeasurable property in the tiny mass of photons. Of course it also goes against all known physics that demands light have zero mass. Still interesting as it ties in with recent work on the EM Drive and the Unruh radiation explanation for acceleration that is dependent on photons having a small inertial mass. In related news light has been discovered to have another property thought to be impossible and not in line with current physics, that of half-integer angular momentum https://www.tcd.ie/news_events/articles/physicists-discover-a-new-form-of-light/6815#.Vzv11d8rJR0.

2. Synthetic Chiral Mirror Enzymes
All of life is built on and deals with handed or chiral molecules: all amino acids are left-handed while all DNA twists like a right-handed screw. For the first time a synthetic chiral mirror-image polymerase protein that can both copy mirror-DNA and transcribe it to mirror-RNA has been engineered http://www.nature.com/news/mirror-image-enzyme-copies-looking-glass-dna-1.19918. This part of a wider research program to make a complete mirror-image cell in which all proteins, polynucleotides, and other molecules are chiral, mirror images of a normal cell. This is interesting because mirror-image chemistries are incompatible with each other and so such a biological system would have natural resistance to normal viruses, degradation enzymes, and potentially have potent effects.

3. Machine Learning AISC by Google
Google revealed that it developed, tested, deployed, and used - over the last year - a custom ASIC chip called a Tensor Processing Unit (TPU) specifically for machine learning and tailored to their TensorFlow platform https://cloudplatform.googleblog.com/2016/05/Google-supercharges-machine-learning-tasks-with-custom-chip.html. TPUs deliver 10x better performance per watt for machine learning, leaping ahead 7 years with regards to Moore’s Law. They are currently used by 100 teams in Google and power things like RankBrain, StreetView, and AlphaGo and are being made available to third party developers. Meanwhile machine learning is being applied to controlling Bose-Einstein Condensates http://www.anu.edu.au/news/all-news/artificial-intelligence-replaces-physicists and discover new materials http://www.nature.com/news/can-artificial-intelligence-create-the-next-wonder-material-1.19850.

4. Solar Cells Reach 34.5% Efficiency
A new four-junction solar cell demonstrates non-concentrated light-to-energy conversion efficiency of 34.5%, significantly improving on the previous record holder at 24% http://newsroom.unsw.edu.au/news/science-tech/milestone-solar-cell-efficiency-unsw-engineers. As a comparison recent technology roadmaps aimed to achieve 35% by 2050. Multi-junction architectures are more complex and costly than simpler alternatives but the team are working to reduce manufacturing complexity and reduce the cost of such cells to help facilitate broader uptake.

5. Carbon Computing Advances
Akhan Semiconductor is set to announce a diamond integrated circuits, and has demonstrated diamond devices running at 100 GHz with 100nm feature size, due mainly to diamond’s vastly superior thermal conductivity compared to silicon http://www.eetimes.com/document.asp?doc_id=1329663. While they wish to revitalise the processor clock race they are focusing initially on power electronics and heat management. Meanwhile a new bilayer graphene-based transistor design also claims the possibility of achieving 100 GHz processing speeds while achieving low-voltage switching http://www.nanowerk.com/nanotechnology-news/newsid=43427.php.

6. Autonomous Vehicles Getting Better
New dynamic planning and control algorithms allow autonomous cars (at least scale models) to powerslide and drift around dirt tracks http://spectrum.ieee.org/cars-that-think/transportation/self-driving/autonomous-mini-rally-car-teaches-itself-to-powerslide. It’ll be interesting to watch this demonstrated in a full-size rally car; such control algorithms will help make autonomous cars safer too. Meanwhile Otto is developing an autonomous self-driving system for the purpose of retrofitting trucks, an attractive, cheaper option for converting existing trucking fleets http://nextbigfuture.com/2016/05/billion-dollar-startup-otto-developing.html.

7. Super-Fast Wireless Internet
Starry, a new Internet service provider from the guy behind failed TV rebroadcaster Aereo, is solving the problem of last-mile high-speed Internet access using their new Starry Router (installed outside the customer’s home) and their own fibered transmitter that is able to serve 600 - 900 routers within a 1km range at speeds of 300Mbps to 1Gbps https://www.technologyreview.com/s/601442/wireless-super-fast-internet-access-is-coming-to-your-home/. As an infrastructure play customer acquisition is $25 instead of $2,500, and this is all made possible due to newer active phased array technologies solving a range of problems including costs, range, and interference. My Australian government National Broadband Network should consider something like this to reduce costs and accelerate roll-out.

8. Compensating for Loss of Mitochondrial Function
Engineering allotropic expression of remaining mitochondrial genes takes another step forward with the recent demonstration of the relocation of another two mitochondrial genes to the cell nucleus with proven targeting to mitochondria in the cell and able to compensate for mitochondria in which these genes have been damaged https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/05/announcing-success-in-the-mitosens-project-crowdfunded-at-lifespanio-in-2015/. Only 8 more genes to go to address this mechanism of aging. In related - and utterly fascinating news - we have the discovery of a eukaryotic single-celled organism that appears to have dispensed with its energy-producing mitochondria and replaced it with a different system acquired from bacteria via lateral gene transfer http://www.cell.com/current-biology/abstract/S0960-9822%2816%2930263-9; I’d love to see whether a multicellular organism like a nematode could be engineered with this replacement.

9. 3D Printed Hair
3D printed polymer strands about 100 microns thick produce a surface of well-defined hair that not only provides a soft, different texture for printed objects but can be used to produce surprising effects http://www.engadget.com/2016/05/16/3d-printed-hair-finds-practical-uses/, as can be seen in the video. By making the hairs vibrate for example you can make objects placed on the surface move over it and follow a specific path, or folded onto itself it can produce motors to make objects perform lateral or rotational movement. Of course opposing hairy surfaces can also function as a type of velcro for certain applications. The video is the killer here - really surprising and very clever.

10. Smartphone Urine Test Device
A new microfluidic urinalysis system ensures that paper-based dip-tests receive the correct amount of urine and consistent lighting levels to enable a smartphone (camera) to analyse colour changes over 30 seconds to 2 minutes and provide an accurate diagnosis for any disease detected https://news.stanford.edu/2016/05/16/stanford-engineers-design-home-urine-test-scan-diseases/. At-home, do-it-yourself, point-of-care diagnostic and medical systems are a hot space undergoing a lot of development and this simple urine analysis system using paper dip sticks with 10 colour-changing pads looks like a very convenient and cheap platform that could take advantage of people developing a range of other paper based tests for other disorders.

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

posted image

2016-05-19 12:43:41 (23 comments; 0 reshares; 64 +1s; )Open 

Genetically Engineering Super-Intelligent Humans

Point
Nautilus has an interesting discussion on the thousands (10k) of genetic variations that contribute to or are correlated with human intelligence, and with single variants being responsible for less than 1 point of IQ http://nautil.us/issue/18/genius/super_intelligent-humans-are-coming. Statistical analysis indicates that when an individual possess just 100 more of these positive variants above the population average then they will enjoy an IQ boost of one standard deviation, or an extra 15 points. Swapping out all 10,000 variants in an individual for the optimal positive variants might, in theory, result in that person having an IQ of 1,000 - if you just go by the statistical analysis. It isn’t really clear whether an IQ this high really has much meaning, especially considering human IQ is quoted as just double or triplet... more »

Genetically Engineering Super-Intelligent Humans

Point
Nautilus has an interesting discussion on the thousands (10k) of genetic variations that contribute to or are correlated with human intelligence, and with single variants being responsible for less than 1 point of IQ http://nautil.us/issue/18/genius/super_intelligent-humans-are-coming. Statistical analysis indicates that when an individual possess just 100 more of these positive variants above the population average then they will enjoy an IQ boost of one standard deviation, or an extra 15 points. Swapping out all 10,000 variants in an individual for the optimal positive variants might, in theory, result in that person having an IQ of 1,000 - if you just go by the statistical analysis. It isn’t really clear whether an IQ this high really has much meaning, especially considering human IQ is quoted as just double or triple that of chimpanzees. Regardless, this analysis makes it seem conservative that we can pass the IQ 200 or 300 mark.

The piece discusses support for this in more detail but if it turns out to be true then well within 10 years we will have the technology to fairly easily ensure any particular human baby conceived via IVF will have a 15 point IQ boost. There will be very real consequences for any country that bans such technology.

Counterpoint
PZ Myers disagrees however and attempts to dismiss the proposal in a thoroughly disparaging and ad hominem manner http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2016/04/05/superbrains-will-not-come-out-of-a-test-tube/. Resisting the urge to dismiss Myers as a buffoon, at a basic level he simply isn’t convinced that boosting absolute human intelligence is a desirable thing, and would rather indirectly boost intelligence as a whole by improving global nutrition and education. His objections boil down to two things. First, that such a thing would be technically impossible; but this seems utterly unrealistic given the rapid pace of technology development in genetics, CRISPR, and embryo editing.

Second, that such a thing would be theoretically impossible, and quotes evolutionary arguments that (i) if it was possible evolution would have already done it, and (ii) humans are so multidimensional that tweaking one variant for one trait invariably involves compromise for other traits; basically that other things in the organism would suffer.

Rebuttal
Stephen Hsu, the author of the original Nautilus post concisely responds to Myer’s counter-arguments with a rebuttal on his private blog here http://infoproc.blogspot.com.au/2016/04/this-is-for-pz-meyers.html. The rebuttal presents some very straight-forward arguments from basic population genetics that support the proposal, clears up Myer’s confusion between genes and variants, states the completely non-controversial fact that cognitive ability is highly heritable, and presents data supporting the fact that there are many thousands of variants responsible for IQ. Myer’s response to this rebuttal was to dismiss Hsu as a dilettante.

Bonus Coverage
Finally, Scott Alexander from SlateStarCodex weighs in to take apart the multidimensionality claim of Myers http://slatestarcodex.com/2016/05/04/myers-race-car-versus-the-general-fitness-factor/. Turns out it is hard to find traits that are traded off against increases in intelligence, which would otherwise be easy to find if the multidimensionality claim were true. People with high IQ live longer, are taller, healthier during childhood, commit less crime, are fitter, have lower rates of stroke, diabetes, and heart disease, and are possibly more attractive. As usual Scott provides additional, substantial, and fascinating thoughts and analysis that are well worth reading.

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

If it is almost trivially possible to grant a person an additional 15 points of IQ with little to no risk of downside, is it unethical not to do so? ___

posted image

2016-05-17 12:43:44 (14 comments; 0 reshares; 27 +1s; )Open 

The Mystery of Consciousness = The Mystery of Matter

This article flips the conventional hard problem of consciousness on its head by suggesting that it is not so much the hard problem of consciousness that is the issue as is the hard problem of matter.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/16/opinion/consciousness-isnt-a-mystery-its-matter.html

This is a refreshing perspective on this most fundamental of all questions and one that I sympathise with.

The hard problem concerns how conscious experiences and raw conscious sensations can arise from physical matter, when the more our knowledge of the brain and its mechanistic function grows, and the more detailed our knowledge of matter becomes, the harder it is to see “where” consciousness resides or “what” role it has or “how” it exists “atop” a physical substrate that appears to have no need of it.

As ... more »

The Mystery of Consciousness = The Mystery of Matter

This article flips the conventional hard problem of consciousness on its head by suggesting that it is not so much the hard problem of consciousness that is the issue as is the hard problem of matter.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/16/opinion/consciousness-isnt-a-mystery-its-matter.html

This is a refreshing perspective on this most fundamental of all questions and one that I sympathise with.

The hard problem concerns how conscious experiences and raw conscious sensations can arise from physical matter, when the more our knowledge of the brain and its mechanistic function grows, and the more detailed our knowledge of matter becomes, the harder it is to see “where” consciousness resides or “what” role it has or “how” it exists “atop” a physical substrate that appears to have no need of it.

As the article points out we’re caught in an incredibly strong belief that we actually know more about the physical, about matter, than we really do. As powerfully descriptive and predictive as our neuroscience, biology, chemistry, and ultimately physics is, none of it tells us anything about the intrinsic nature of the matter that comprises physical structures. Of course, there is a separate debate here about how we interpret, and how we trust the tools and models with which we probe reality. The hard problem is not what consciousness is, it’s what matter is, what the physical is.

I disagree with the article where the author claims there are two groups of people: dualists who believe consciousness is non-physical stuff and eliminativists who believe everything is physical and deny the existence of consciousness. For years I’ve thought both positions are absurd and that there is a third option: everything is physical but our knowledge of the physical, of the fundamental properties of matter, is woefully incomplete, that there is something else about matter, about the physical that is responsible for - or just is - consciousness.

Of course this third option is that which is promoted by the author and the reason this piece resonated with me. And it was this third option that I was getting at, that I was attempting to articulate (poorly) in my previous essays on consciousness here https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/3FA1C5xWg1B and here https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarkBruce/posts/gEce5bdDjGt and which some people thought worthy of derision if not ridicule.

The piece doesn’t mention panpsychism at all but it is certainly a related philosophical concept. I’ll finish with a few choice quotes from the piece:

We know what conscious experience is because the having is the knowing: Having conscious experience is knowing what it is.

The nature of physical stuff is mysterious except insofar as consciousness is itself a form of physical stuff.

“We know nothing about the intrinsic quality of physical events, except when these are mental events that we directly experience.” - Bertrand Russell___

posted image

2016-05-16 14:22:15 (7 comments; 0 reshares; 37 +1s; )Open 

Swarm: A Blockchain Contender for the Distributed Web

Swarm is an Ethereum implementation for a decentralised, distributed version of the Web, facilitating key services such as content storage and distribution via an inherently peer-to-peer storage and serving system http://swarm-gateways.net/bzz:/swarm/.

Swarm is designed to be DDOS resistant, zero downtime, fault tolerant, censorship resistant, and self sustaining, and uses the Ethereum blockchain for domain name resolution and other components of necessary infrastructure. Much like the InterPlanetary FIle System (IPFS) implementation that attempts to provide a similar capability, systems like this just look like the future. The ideas, benefits, and underlying technology are just too damn good, innovation and technical evolution is currently extremely rapid, and such platforms possess transformative capacity once they start... more »

Swarm: A Blockchain Contender for the Distributed Web

Swarm is an Ethereum implementation for a decentralised, distributed version of the Web, facilitating key services such as content storage and distribution via an inherently peer-to-peer storage and serving system http://swarm-gateways.net/bzz:/swarm/.

Swarm is designed to be DDOS resistant, zero downtime, fault tolerant, censorship resistant, and self sustaining, and uses the Ethereum blockchain for domain name resolution and other components of necessary infrastructure. Much like the InterPlanetary FIle System (IPFS) implementation that attempts to provide a similar capability, systems like this just look like the future. The ideas, benefits, and underlying technology are just too damn good, innovation and technical evolution is currently extremely rapid, and such platforms possess transformative capacity once they start to mature.

___

posted image

2016-05-16 13:52:14 (10 comments; 0 reshares; 40 +1s; )Open 

Recent Natural Selection in Humans

+Stephen Hsu presents a recent paper demonstrating evidence for very recent natural selection of various traits in humans http://infoproc.blogspot.com.au/2016/05/evidence-for-very-recent-natural.html. This shows humans have been subject to strong selection pressure in just the last 2,000 years, which seems pretty incredible.

Adult height, birth size, female hip size, and birth weight are all traits that seem to be closely related such that selecting for just one of these factors selects for the others as well.

Recent Natural Selection in Humans

+Stephen Hsu presents a recent paper demonstrating evidence for very recent natural selection of various traits in humans http://infoproc.blogspot.com.au/2016/05/evidence-for-very-recent-natural.html. This shows humans have been subject to strong selection pressure in just the last 2,000 years, which seems pretty incredible.

Adult height, birth size, female hip size, and birth weight are all traits that seem to be closely related such that selecting for just one of these factors selects for the others as well.___

posted image

2016-05-15 11:20:10 (5 comments; 0 reshares; 88 +1s; )Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 20/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/05/industrial-synthetic-enzymes.html

Industrial synthetic enzymes, Mimicking protein evolution, Topological spintronics, Smooth telepresence robots, Silk preservation technique, Regrowing cartilage, Improving prosthetic hands, Parsey McParseface, Graphene light harvesting, RNA life origins.

1. New Enzymes for Industrial Synthesis
A bacterium with enzymes that make it resistant to heavy metals has been co-opted to produce a bacterium that secretes quantum dots into solution that can then be purified by simple centrifugation http://www1.lehigh.edu/news/quantum-dots-nature. These are cadmium- or lead-sulfide quantum dots, with plans to create more varieties for a range of applications in electronics, photonics, and sensing, and produced via conventional... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 20/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/05/industrial-synthetic-enzymes.html

Industrial synthetic enzymes, Mimicking protein evolution, Topological spintronics, Smooth telepresence robots, Silk preservation technique, Regrowing cartilage, Improving prosthetic hands, Parsey McParseface, Graphene light harvesting, RNA life origins.

1. New Enzymes for Industrial Synthesis
A bacterium with enzymes that make it resistant to heavy metals has been co-opted to produce a bacterium that secretes quantum dots into solution that can then be purified by simple centrifugation http://www1.lehigh.edu/news/quantum-dots-nature. These are cadmium- or lead-sulfide quantum dots, with plans to create more varieties for a range of applications in electronics, photonics, and sensing, and produced via conventional fermentation processes with fine control over nanometer sizes. In other new a new enzyme AbyU has been discovered in bacteria living at the bottom of the ocean that is able to catalyse the industrially important Diels-Alder reaction http://www.bristol.ac.uk/news/2016/may/enzyme-antibiotic-discovery.html.

2. Mimicking Evolution to Develop Novel Proteins
In related protein engineering news a new technique called SEWING has been developed that recombines portions of existing proteins to produce new structures and functions https://news.unchealthcare.org/news/2016/may/unc-school-of-medicine-scientists-digitally-mimic-evolution-to-create-novel-proteins. This is a tool for creating proteins that don’t exist in nature and have structures that allow new functions and reactions that weren’t previously possible. The evolutionary process starts with computer simulations, and in the latest demonstration mapped 50,000 variably stitched proteins to arrive at an optimised sample of 21 structures that were then synthesised in the lab and experimentally verified to have the predicted structure.

3. Spintronics from New Topological Insulators
New topological insulators made from bonding layers of bismuth selenide with magnetic europium sulfide manages to retain all of the properties of a topological insulator but with strong magnetic properties, at room temperature http://news.mit.edu/2016/unexpected-magnetic-effect-thin-film-materials-0509. Such new materials have promising applications in realising spintronics as well as new magnetic memories with possible molecular scale information storage. In related news, graphene has been made magnetic by inserting hydrogen atoms into specific locations of the carbon lattice, and resulting in graphene now also functioning as a promising spintronic material http://www.eetimes.com/document.asp?doc_id=1329572.

4. Silky Smooth Telepresence Robots
Disney research impresses yet again with the demonstration of a telepresence robotic system that is powered by a hybrid hydrostatic transmission system that enables the user to feel immersed in the remote environment via (i) stereoscopic cameras and (ii) head and arm actuation that responds with multiple degrees of freedom and force-feedback https://www.disneyresearch.com/publication/haptic-telepresence-robot/. The system demonstrated physical human interaction and very fine & detailed object manipulation. Meanwhile RE2 Robotics also demonstrated a very impressive remote robotic operation system http://www.gadgetify.com/re2-imitative-controller-robots/.

5. Silk Preservation Technology
Tufts University has demonstrated a couple of silk preservation technology applications. First, an ultra-thin coating of biocompatible silk proves very effective at extending the room temperature shelf-life of a range of different fruits, prolonging freshness and slowing ripening https://now.tufts.edu/news-releases/silk-keeps-fruit-fresh-without-refrigeration. Second, blood samples can be stabilised for long periods of time, even after 84 days, and even at high (45C) temperatures after being encapsulated in air-dried silk protein http://now.tufts.edu/news-releases/silk-stabilizes-blood-samples-months-high-temperatures.

6. Regrowing Cartilage
Regrowing cartilage has proven to be one of those persistent problems people have struggled with. A new bio-glass material that mimics the shock-absorbing and load bearing qualities of real cartilage has the potential to encourage cartilage cells to regrow to help reform and repair damaged areas of cartilage, while the material degrades and disappears over time http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/newsandeventspggrp/imperialcollege/newssummary/news_12-5-2016-9-57-13. The material can be 3D printed to customer or personalised dimensions and lead applications include replacing damaged intervertebral discs and knee cartilage and could be transformational given the limitations of current materials and implants. Meanwhile a new injectable gel helps generate blood vessels https://www.technologyreview.com/s/601416/injectable-gel-generates-new-blood-vessels/.

7. Improvements for Robotic & Prosthetic Hands
Yet another DARPA project is demonstrating natural control of a prosthetic hand and arm by a human amputee, this time utilising Myo armbands to pick up signals from the upper arm and translat them into precise hand movements and facilitated by an osseointegration surgical procedure that secured a metal utility rod to the upper arm bone http://gizmodo.com/darpas-mind-controlled-arm-will-make-you-wish-you-were-1776130193. In related news that may feed into prosthetics like the above, machine learning techniques are helping to produce robotic hands that are approaching human-like dexterity http://www.washington.edu/news/2016/05/09/this-five-fingered-robot-hand-learns-to-get-a-grip-on-its-own/.

8. SyntaxNet & Parsey McParseface
Google opensourced SyntaxNet, a neural network implemented in TensorFlow that provides a foundation for Natural Language Understanding systems, as well as an English language parser called Parsey McParseface (the most accurate such model in the world with 94% accuracy) that can be used to analyse English text http://googleresearch.blogspot.com.au/2016/05/announcing-syntaxnet-worlds-most.html. These tools analyse the linguistic structure of language, explain the functional role of words in sentences, and can be used to automatically extract information, translate text, and better determine the meaning of text.

9. Efficient Light Harvesting with Graphene
By creating a Morie superlattice of layered graphene and boron-nitride researchers created material states that are very efficient at converting light into electrcity, with up to five electrons being kicked to flow through the material with each photon http://www.washington.edu/news/2016/05/13/uw-researchers-unleash-graphene-tiger-for-more-efficient-optoelectronics/. I really liked the exploitation of geometry in this work as it reminded me of this great Numberphile video discussing dot patterns and the surprising superstructures that can result https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QAja2jp1VjE.

10. RNA Life Origins Gains More Evidence
While it has been previously shown that 2 of the 4 bases in RNA could be made via natural chemical reactions on early Earth, it has only recently been demonstrated that the other 2 bases can also be made via similar natural chemical reactions on early Earth http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/05/rna-world-inches-closer-explaining-origins-life. In this case the only requirements were hydrogen, cyanide, water, and a little bit of acid; it turned out to be far simpler than previously thought. The next piece of the puzzle will be finding out how the 4 bases linked together to form the first RNA molecules whose autocatalytic self-replicating behaviour could begin being selected for by evolution.

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

posted image

2016-05-10 12:28:46 (7 comments; 0 reshares; 11 +1s; )Open 

[Aristotle], On Trolling

Great share / find by Anders on the nature and categorisation of the phenomenon of Trolling and those who practice it, and written in an eclectic, engaging style that is hard to find these days. Found via Anders' G+ share of the summary of his blog, here http://aleph.se/andart2/academia/aristotle-on-trolling/.

As the OP requires a couple of extra clicks to get the full text, a more direct link to the On Trolling article is here: http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=10293503&fulltextType=RA&fileId=S2053447716000099 and just click PDF or HTML to read the whole thing.

And as helpfully reminded by Anders, Harry Frankfurt's classic article On Bullshit is also a worthwhile read in this context: http://www.stoa.org.uk/topics/bullshit/pdf/on-bullshit.pdf

I think Aristotle got trolling right: http://aleph.se/andart2/academia/aristotle-on-trolling/___[Aristotle], On Trolling

Great share / find by Anders on the nature and categorisation of the phenomenon of Trolling and those who practice it, and written in an eclectic, engaging style that is hard to find these days. Found via Anders' G+ share of the summary of his blog, here http://aleph.se/andart2/academia/aristotle-on-trolling/.

As the OP requires a couple of extra clicks to get the full text, a more direct link to the On Trolling article is here: http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=10293503&fulltextType=RA&fileId=S2053447716000099 and just click PDF or HTML to read the whole thing.

And as helpfully reminded by Anders, Harry Frankfurt's classic article On Bullshit is also a worthwhile read in this context: http://www.stoa.org.uk/topics/bullshit/pdf/on-bullshit.pdf

posted image

2016-05-08 07:34:05 (14 comments; 0 reshares; 78 +1s; )Open 

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 19/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/05/towards-artificial-womb-printed.html

Towards artificial wombs, Printed terahertz lens, Autonomous robot surgeons, Cloud quantum computing, Machine learning development, Rejuvenation updates, Biomimicking bee navigation, Modular microfluidics, Femtosecond clock synchronisation, Holographic displays.

1. Towards an Artificial Womb
An artificial placenta has been developed that successfully kept alive extremely premature baby lambs outside the womb http://labblog.uofmhealth.org/health-tech/artificial-placenta-holds-promise-for-extremely-premature-infants. The device utilises extracorporeal membrane oxygenation to help oxygenate the tissues when the lungs are not fully developed; in humans this might allow the current limit of 24 weeks to be pushed back... more »

SciTech #ScienceSunday Digest - 19/2016.
Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/05/towards-artificial-womb-printed.html

Towards artificial wombs, Printed terahertz lens, Autonomous robot surgeons, Cloud quantum computing, Machine learning development, Rejuvenation updates, Biomimicking bee navigation, Modular microfluidics, Femtosecond clock synchronisation, Holographic displays.

1. Towards an Artificial Womb
An artificial placenta has been developed that successfully kept alive extremely premature baby lambs outside the womb http://labblog.uofmhealth.org/health-tech/artificial-placenta-holds-promise-for-extremely-premature-infants. The device utilises extracorporeal membrane oxygenation to help oxygenate the tissues when the lungs are not fully developed; in humans this might allow the current limit of 24 weeks to be pushed back significantly. Meanwhile new protocols allow human embryos to reach the 2 week stage of development for the first time, and was only cut short due to established ethical policies that will hopefully be overturned http://www.theverge.com/2016/5/4/11591318/cambridge-rockefeller-university-human-embryo-study-ethics-limit. I can see this gap continuing to shrink.

2. 3D Printed Terahertz Lens
A lens for focusing the terahertz spectrum of light has been developed by 3D printing a metamaterial structure with a gradient refractive index https://3dprint.com/132220/northwestern-terahertz-lens/. This method used a curable photopolymer to build up the precise features of the lens, which might be useful in imaging, security, and biological applications. In other 3D printing news a better recipe has been developed for 3D printed bones http://inbt.jhu.edu/2016/05/04/building-a-better-recipe-for-3d-printed-bones/.

3. Autonomous Robot Surgeons
In certain surgical tasks robots are now outperforming humans, as demonstrated in recent work in which a robot stitched up a pig’s small intestine http://spectrum.ieee.org/the-human-os/robotics/medical-robots/autonomous-robot-surgeon-bests-human-surgeons-in-world-first. This was done on both intestine samples and also on living anesthetised pigs; the intestines repaired by robots had more consistent stitches and were more resistant to leaks. This is considered a breakthrough as the first time a robotic system has outperformed human surgeons on soft tissue repair work.

4. Quantum Computing in the Cloud
IBM launched a new cloud service to provide users everywhere with access to their 5-qubit quantum computer processor http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/49661.wss. While the current system is not a universal quantum computer the main purpose here is to provide the scientific community with access to the system in order to help accelerate innovations in the field and discover new applications for the technology.

5. Latest Machine Learning Developments
Machine learning is well on the path to ubiquity with Qualcomm’s announcement of a new deep learning SDK for their Snapdragon 820 processors, which will find their way into many if not most mobile devices launched this year and next https://www.qualcomm.com/news/releases/2016/05/02/qualcomm-helps-make-your-mobile-devices-smarter-new-snapdragon-machine. Nvidia demonstrates a deep learning system that taught an autonomous car how to drive after watching humans drive for just 72 hours, and which continuously learns after deployment http://www.digitaltrends.com/cars/nvidia-gpu-driverless-car/. And another deep learning system suggests autonomous cars would respond to new situations in a similar manner to humans https://www.kuleuven.be/english/news/2016/machines-can-learn-to-respond-to-new-situations-like-human-beings-would.

6. Latest Rejuvenation Biotech Updates
FightAging! had a trio of interesting rejuvenation developments this week. First, another senolytic drug candidate working via a different mechanism to kill senescent cells https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/05/abt-737-is-another-new-senolytic-drug-candidate-working-via-bcl-w-bcl-xl-and-induced-apoptosis/. Second, a new study shows how macrophages repair broken and leaky blood vessels in the brain, suggesting another benefit of boosting macrophage activity https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/05/macrophages-repair-broken-capillaries-in-the-brain/. Finally, an interesting new drug that enhances autophagy in the cell, boosting cellular cleanup of damage and wastes https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/05/auten-67-as-an-example-of-an-autophagy-enhancing-drug-candidate/.

7. Bee Navigation for Drones
The latest improvements in computer models of how bees navigate the world using vision to detect movement in the world around them and avoiding collisions look set to provide superior navigation and object avoidance abilities to robots and autonomous drones http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/news/nr/bee-model-1.573018. The new work provides a system able to detect both motion direction and motion speed using the optical flow of the visual world around them. Definitely looking forward to seeing autonomous drones using this to zip effortlessly through a forest.

8. Modular Plug-n-Play Microfluidics & Lablets
Microfluidics takes a step forward with the development of standard modular components including microvalves and micropumps that can be reliably used plug-n-play style to develop and evolve different microfluidic circuits and applications http://www.research.a-star.edu.sg/research/7504/small-devices-make-a-big-impact. Drilling down to smaller scales electronic microlabs (lablets) measuring 140 micrometers can control specific chemical reactions with voltage codes designed to enable an interesting platform for chemical evolution http://rubin.rub.de/en/featured-topic-when-science-and-science-fiction-merge/electronic-micro-labs-control-chemical; this is a fascinating chemical synthesis and control platform.

9. Femtosecond Clock Synchronisation
DARPA has a femtosecond clock synchronisation project (QuASAR & PULSE) underway aimed at facilitating advanced applications in ultraprecise satellite formations and radio astronomy http://nextbigfuture.com/2016/05/femtosecond-clock-synchronization-for.html. The most recent work demonstrated the most accurate clock ever with uncertainty measuring 2 parts in 10^18, or 1 second in 14 billion years, giving 10,000 times better performance than existing GPS clocks, and with novel time and motion compensations in both free space and atmospheric conditions.

10. Flexible Holographic Displays
HoloFlex is a new flexible smartphone with a holographic display http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/consumer-electronics/gadgets/holoflex-a-flexible-smartphone-with-a-holographic-display. The display is a 1080p flexible OLED screen with a layer of 3D printed flexible lenses - over 16,000 individual lenses - that enable a holographic lightfield display and 3D glasses-free images over a 35 degree field of view. An interesting display platform to keep an eye on.

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

posted image

2016-05-07 07:04:27 (7 comments; 0 reshares; 30 +1s; )Open 

The Psychology of Procrastination & The Fear of Not Trying

A couple of recent excellent TED talks discuss procrastination and related quirks of psychology. First, the main talk below The surprising habits of original thinkers by Adam Grant discusses the three key habits of original thinkers and the benefits of trying to learn from or imitate them:

1. Being late to the party, and the benefits of both learning from others and doing it better, and also procrastinating to drive creativity.
2. Feeling doubt and fear, but in the sense of doubt in ideas and not doubt in the self, and being more afraid of not trying than trying and failing.
3. Having lots and lots of bad ideas, because the greatest success tends to accrue to those who fail the most because they try the most.

Other key take-aways include (i) vuja de and the knack for looking at a common thing... more »

The Psychology of Procrastination & The Fear of Not Trying

A couple of recent excellent TED talks discuss procrastination and related quirks of psychology. First, the main talk below The surprising habits of original thinkers by Adam Grant discusses the three key habits of original thinkers and the benefits of trying to learn from or imitate them:

1. Being late to the party, and the benefits of both learning from others and doing it better, and also procrastinating to drive creativity.
2. Feeling doubt and fear, but in the sense of doubt in ideas and not doubt in the self, and being more afraid of not trying than trying and failing.
3. Having lots and lots of bad ideas, because the greatest success tends to accrue to those who fail the most because they try the most.

Other key take-aways include (i) vuja de and the knack for looking at a common thing and seeing it afresh with possibility, and (ii) our biggest regrets are not of our actions, but of our inactions.

The second, related, and excellent talk is Inside the mind of a procrastinator by Tim Urban of the WaitButWhy blog https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arj7oStGLkU. The key take-away concerns identifying the two types of procrastination:

1. Procrastination when there are deadlines, which can generally be managed and dealt with.
2. Procrastination on things for which there are no deadlines, which are often ignored and chronically neglected by most people. This includes things such as developing a career, seeing family, exercising, taking care of personal health, working on relationships, and other important life goals. These commonly extend out forever via the typical “I’ll get around to it one day” delusional throw-away line.

One of the strategies to consider when you catch yourself procrastinating on type 2 goals that lack deadlines is simply to erect artificial deadlines. ___

Buttons

A special service of CircleCount.com is the following button.

The button shows the number of followers you have directly on a small button. You can add this button to your website, like the +1-Button of Google or the Like-Button of Facebook.






You can add this button directly in your website. For more information about the CircleCount Buttons and the description how to add them to another page click here.

Mark BruceTwitterCircloscope