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Archive for the ‘biological’ category: Page 5

Jan 21, 2024

Ancient Power Unlocked: Scientists Discover 2.5 Billion-Year-Old Bacterial Energy Source

Posted by in categories: biological, chemistry

Biologists from Konstanz have unveiled a unique and ancient phosphorus-based bacterial metabolism. Central to this discovery are four elements: an analytical calculation dating back to the 1980s, a modern sewage treatment facility, the identification of a novel bacterial species, and a remnant from around 2.5 billion years ago.

Our story begins at the end of the 1980s, with a sheet of paper. On this sheet, a scientist calculated that the conversion of the chemical compound phosphite to phosphate would release enough energy to produce the cell’s energy carrier – the ATP molecule. In this way, it should therefore be possible for a microorganism to supply itself with energy. Unlike most living organisms on our planet, this organism would not be dependent on energy supply from light or from the decomposition of organic matter.

The scientist actually succeeded in isolating such a microorganism from the environment. Its energy metabolism is based on the oxidation of phosphite to phosphate, just as predicted by the calculation. But how exactly does the biochemical mechanism work? Regrettably, the key enzyme needed to understand the biochemistry behind the process remained hidden – and thus the mystery remained unsolved for many years. In the following three decades, the sheet stayed in the drawer, the research approach was put on the back burner. Yet the scientist couldn’t get the thought out of his head.

Jan 19, 2024

“Dirt-powered fuel cell” draws near-limitless energy from soil

Posted by in categories: biological, chemistry

A Northwestern University team has demonstrated a remarkable new way to generate electricity, with a paperback-sized device that nestles in soil and harvests power created as microbes break down dirt – for as long as there’s carbon in the soil.

Microbial fuel cells, as they’re called, have been around for more than 100 years. They work a little like a battery, with an anode, cathode and electrolyte – but rather than drawing electricity from chemical sources, they work with bacteria that naturally donate electrons to nearby conductors as they chow down on soil.

The issue thus far has been keeping them supplied with water and oxygen, while being buried in the dirt. “Although MFCs have existed as a concept for more than a century, their unreliable performance and low output power have stymied efforts to make practical use of them, especially in low-moisture conditions,” said UNW alumnus and project lead Bill Yen.

Jan 19, 2024

Ultimate Computing: Biomolecular Consciousness and NanoTechnology

Posted by in categories: biological, chemistry, computing, engineering, mathematics, nanotechnology, neuroscience, physics

The possibility of direct interfacing between biological and technological information devices could result in a merger of mind and machine — Ultimate Computing. This book, a thorough consideration of this idea, involves a number of disciplines, including biochemistry, cognitive science, computer science, engineering, mathematics, microbiology, molecular biology, pharmacology, philosophy, physics, physiology, and psychology.

Jan 19, 2024

Ion-tunable antiambipolarity in mixed ion–electron conducting polymers enables biorealistic organic electrochemical neurons

Posted by in categories: biological, chemistry, neuroscience

Silicon-based complementary metal-oxide semiconductors or negative differential resistance device circuits can emulate neural features, yet are complicated to fabricate and not biocompatible. Here, the authors report an ion-modulated antiambipolarity in mixed ion–electron conducting polymers demonstrating capability of sensing, spiking, emulating the most critical biological neural features, and stimulating biological nerves in vivo.

Jan 18, 2024

Scientists Discover New Sense of Bottlenose Dolphins: They Feel Electricity

Posted by in category: biological

Born tail first, bottlenose dolphin calves are initially adorned with two delicate rows of whiskers along their snout, resembling the tactile whiskers of seals. However, these whiskers are shed shortly after birth, leaving behind a pattern of indentations called vibrissal pits. Recently, Tim Hüttner and Guido Dehnhardt, researchers from the University of Rostock in Germany, began to suspect that these pits might serve a purpose beyond being mere remnants.

Could they allow adult bottlenose dolphins to sense weak electric fields? Taking an initial close look, they realized that the remnant pits resemble the structures that allow sharks to detect electric fields, and when they checked whether captive bottlenose dolphins could sense an electric field in water, all of the animals felt the field.

‘It was very impressive to see,’ says Dehnhardt, who recently published the extraordinary discovery and how the animals could use their electric sense in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

Jan 18, 2024

The Iron-60 Enigma: Decoding Cosmic Explosions on Earth

Posted by in categories: biological, climatology, particle physics, space

When large stars or celestial bodies explode near Earth, their debris can reach our solar system. Evidence of these cosmic events is found on Earth and the Moon, detectable through accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS). An overview of this exciting research was recently published in the scientific journal Annual Review of Nuclear and Particle Science by Prof. Anton Wallner of the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR), who soon plans to decisively advance this promising branch of research with the new, ultrasensitive AMS facility “HAMSTER.”

In their paper, HZDR physicist Anton Wallner and colleague Prof. Brian D. Fields from the University of Illinois in Urbana, USA, provide an overview of near-Earth cosmic explosions with a particular focus on events that occurred three and, respectively, seven million years ago.

“Fortunately, these events were still far enough away, so they probably did not significantly impact the Earth’s climate or have major effects on the biosphere. However, things get really uncomfortable when cosmic explosions occur at a distance of 30 light-years or less,” Wallner explains. Converted into the astrophysical unit parsec, this corresponds to less than eight to ten parsecs.

Jan 18, 2024

Neural Connectivity: A Universal Network Phenomenon

Posted by in categories: biological, neuroscience, physics

Summary: A groundbreaking study by physicists and neuroscientists reveals that the connectivity among neurons stems from universal networking principles, not just biological specifics.

Analyzing various model organisms, researchers found a consistent “heavy-tailed” distribution of neural connections, guided by Hebbian dynamics, indicating that neuron connectivity relies on general network organization.

This discovery, transcending biology, potentially applies to non-biological networks like social interactions, offering insights into the fundamental nature of networking.

Jan 17, 2024

Minds in Machines: Comparing Biological and Synthetic Intelligence

Posted by in categories: biological, neuroscience, robotics/AI

The incredible explosion in the power of artificial intelligence is evident in daily headlines proclaiming big breakthroughs. What are the remaining differences between machine and human intelligence? Could we simulate a brain on current computer hardware if we could write the software? What are the latest advancements in the world’s largest brain model? Participate in the discussion about what AI has done and how far it has yet to go, while discovering new technologies that might allow it to get there.

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Jan 17, 2024

Amazing Robot Controlled By Rat Brain Continues Progress

Posted by in categories: biological, cyborgs, robotics/AI

Some technologies are so cool they make you do a double take. Case in point: robots being controlled by rat brains. Kevin Warwick, once a cyborg and still a researcher in cybernetics at the University of Reading, has been working on creating neural networks that can control machines. He and his team have taken the brain cells from rats, cultured them, and used them as the guidance control circuit for simple wheeled robots. Electrical impulses from the bot enter the batch of neurons, and responses from the cells are turned into commands for the device. The cells can form new connections, making the system a true learning machine. Warwick hasn’t released any new videos of the rat brain robot for the past few years, but the three older clips we have for you below are still awesome. He and his competitors continue to move this technology forward – animal cyborgs are real.

The skills of these rat-robot hybrids are very basic at this point. Mainly the neuron control helps the robot to avoid walls. Yet that obstacle avoidance often shows clear improvement over time, demonstrating how networks of neurons can grant simple learning to the machines. Whenever I watch the robots in the videos below I have to do a quick reality check – these machines are being controlled by biological cells! It’s simply amazing.

Jan 16, 2024

Architecture All Access: Neuromorphic Computing Part 2

Posted by in categories: biological, education, internet, mapping, neuroscience, robotics/AI

In Neuromorphic Computing Part 2, we dive deeper into mapping neuromorphic concepts into chips built from silicon. With the state of modern neuroscience and chip design, the tools the industry is working with we’re working with are simply too different from biology. Mike Davies, Senior Principal Engineer and Director of Intel’s Neuromorphic Computing Lab, explains the process and challenge of creating a chip that can replicate some of the form and functions in biological neural networks.

Mike’s leadership in this specialized field allows him to share the latest insights from the promising future in neuromorphic computing here at Intel. Let’s explore nature’s circuit design of over a billion years of evolution and today’s CMOS semiconductor manufacturing technology supporting incredible computing efficiency, speed and intelligence.

Continue reading “Architecture All Access: Neuromorphic Computing Part 2” »

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