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Archive for the ‘biological’ category: Page 8

Oct 6, 2019

China Grows Cotton Plant on the Far Side of the Moon in Biological First

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biological, space

China has broken new lunar ground, successfully growing cotton on the moon for the first time. The experiment was part of the Chang’e 4 project, in which China is exploring the far side of the moon with a lander. This is the same lander that recently discovered a mysterious gel-like substance on the moon’s surface.

The cotton plant was one of several organisms encased in a mini biosphere weighing just 2.6 kilograms (5.7 lbs) with a pressure of 1 atmosphere which was aboard the lander. The organisms experienced an environment largely similar to that on Earth, however, they did have to contend with both space radiation and microgravity.

In an interview with engineering magazine IEEE Spectrum, project leader for the experiment Xie Gengxin explained more about the challenges of growing plants in the restricted environment. “The weight of the Chang’e-4 probe demanded that the weight [of the experiment] can’t exceed three kilograms,” he said. That’s why it was important to select the biological samples in the experiment carefully.

Oct 6, 2019

29-Year-Old French Entrepreneur Creates Light Without Electricity

Posted by in categories: biological, food

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Sandra Rey, 29, was participating in a student design competition with the theme “biology” and got to watching videos on YouTube of bioluminescent sea creatures when she thought there must be a way to replicate that natural technology. Five years later, her startup, called Glowee, is creating brilliant luminescent art installations for hotels and public spaces.

While she admits, “We’ll never replace the lights in your kitchen,” she hopes to create enough light and enough beauty to play a role in the world’s lighting mix to help reduce reliance on electric lighting.

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Oct 5, 2019

How Will We Store Three Septillion Bits of Data? Your Metabolome May Have the Answer

Posted by in categories: biological, computing, information science, neuroscience

For the “big data” revolution to continue, we need to radically rethink our hard drives. Thanks to evolution, we already have a clue.

Our bodies are jam-packed with data, tightly compacted inside microscopic structures within every cell. Take DNA: with just four letters we’re able to generate every single molecular process that keeps us running. That sort of combinatorial complexity is still unheard of in silicon-based data storage in computer chips.

Add this to the fact that DNA can be dehydrated and kept intact for eons—500,000 years and counting—and it’s no surprise that scientists have been exploiting its properties to encode information. To famed synthetic biologist Dr. George Church, looking to biology is a no-brainer: even the simple bacteria E. Coli has a data storage density of 1019 bits per cubic centimeter. Translation? Just a single cube of DNA measuring one meter each side can meet all of the world’s current data storage needs.

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Oct 3, 2019

As Silicon Valley faces a tech reckoning, biologists point to the next big opportunity

Posted by in categories: biological, food, genetics

At SynBioBeta, entrepreneurs making plant-based foods and genetically engineered bacteria rallied to promote the idea that it’s biology’s century.

Oct 3, 2019

Would You Survive a Merger with AI?

Posted by in categories: biological, Elon Musk, life extension, robotics/AI, transhumanism

The idea that humans should merge with AI is very much in the air these days. It is offered both as a way for humans to avoid being outmoded by AI in the workplace, and as a path to superintelligence and immortality. For instance, Elon Musk recently commented that humans can escape being outmoded by AI by “having some sort of merger of biological intelligence and machine intelligence.”1 To this end, he’s founded a company, Neuralink. One of its first aims is to develop “neural lace,” an injectable mesh that connects the brain directly to computers. Neural lace and other AI-based enhancements are supposed to allow data from your brain to travel wirelessly to one’s digital devices or to the cloud, where massive computing power is available.

For many transhumanists, uploading is key to the mind-machine merger.

Perhaps these sorts of enhancements will turn out to be beneficial, but to see if this is the case, we will need to move beyond all the hype. Policymakers, the public, and even AI researchers themselves need a better idea of what is at stake. For instance, if AI cannot be conscious, then if you substituted a microchip for the parts of the brain responsible for consciousness, you would end your life as a conscious being. You’d become what philosophers call a “zombie”—a nonconscious simulacrum of your earlier self. Further, even ifmicrochips could replace parts of the brain responsible for consciousness without zombifying you, radical enhancement is still a major risk. After too many changes, the person who remains may not even be you. Each human who enhances may, unbeknownst to them, end their life in the process.

Oct 2, 2019

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt believes biology is the next frontier in computing

Posted by in categories: biological, computing

Eric Schmidt told a conference crowd that Silicon Valley is obsessed with biology because it’s the perfect “marriage” with tech right now.

Sep 29, 2019

Stunning Image Shows Astronaut’s-Eye View of Rocket Approaching ISS

Posted by in categories: biological, solar power, space, sustainability

This week a new group of astronauts launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan headed for the International Space Station. The three new ISS crew members, Jessica Meir of NASA, Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos, and Hazza Ali Almansoori of the Emirati Space Agency docked with the station several hours later, temporarily taking the population of the station to nine people. That marks the largest crew aboard the ISS since 2015, but members of previous Expedition team 60 will be returning to Earth in around a week.

While the transferring of astronauts to and from the ISS is fairly standard for space agencies these days, there was something special about this mission. Astronaut Christina Koch was looking forward to being joined by her best friend and fellow NASA astronaut Jessica Meir, so she decided to capture an image of the incoming craft from her perspective on board the ISS. The result is the stunning photo above, showing the ghostly trails from the first stage and the cloud of vapor around the craft.

The astronauts traveled aboard a Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft, docking at the station’s Zvezda service module six hours after launch. The crew will stay aboard the ISS for at least six months and will be working on scientific projects in varied fields including biology, physical sciences, and the development of new technologies. They will also perform upgrades to the stations including installing new lithium-ion batteries which collect power from the station’s solar panels, part of an ongoing project to update the ISS’s power system.

Sep 29, 2019

High-speed microscope illuminates biology at the speed of life

Posted by in categories: biological, genetics, neuroscience

The Columbia team behind the revolutionary 3D SCAPE microscope announces today a new version of this high-speed imaging technology. In collaboration with scientists from around the world, they used SCAPE 2.0 to reveal previously unseen details of living creatures—from neurons firing inside a wriggling worm to the 3D dynamics of the beating heart of a fish embryo, with far superior resolution and at speeds up to 30 times faster than their original demonstration.

These improvements to SCAPE, published today in Nature Methods, promise to impact fields as wide ranging as genetics, cardiology and neuroscience.

Why is having faster, 3D imaging so valuable? “The processes that drive living things are dynamic and ever-changing, from the way an animal’s cells communicate with one another, to how a creature moves and changes shape,” said Elizabeth Hillman, Ph.D., a principal investigator at Columbia’s Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute and the paper’s senior author. “The faster we can image, the more of these processes we can see—and imaging fast in 3D lets us see the whole biological system, rather than just a single plane, offering a clear advantage over traditional microscopes.”

Sep 26, 2019

Otherworldly worms with three sexes discovered in Mono Lake

Posted by in category: biological

Caltech scientists have discovered a new species of worm thriving in the extreme environment of Mono Lake. This new species, temporarily dubbed Auanema sp., has three different sexes, can survive 500 times the lethal human dose of arsenic, and carries its young inside its body like a kangaroo.

Mono Lake, located in the Eastern Sierras of California, is three times as salty as the ocean and has an alkaline pH of 10. Before this study, only two other (other than bacteria and algae) were known to live in the lake—brine shrimp and diving flies. In this new work, the team discovered eight more species, all belonging to a class of microscopic worms called nematodes, thriving in and around Mono Lake.

The work was done primarily in the laboratory of Paul Sternberg, Bren Professor of Biology. A paper describing the research appears online on September 26 in the journal Current Biology.

Sep 22, 2019

With Food Security Becoming One Of Our Biggest Challenges For Humankind’s Survival, What’s On The Menu For The 9 Billion People Inhabiting The World By 2050?

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biological, climatology, security

Food security is one of the biggest challenges we’re facing as we move further into this century. Changing climate, pests, stress on water and land are all limiting our ability to produce sufficient amounts of food. making food production an issue.

Synthetic biology offers ways to help produce and supply enough safe and nutritious food sustainably for the estimated 9 billion people that will inhabit the planet by 2050.

Here are a few ways how.

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