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Jun 9, 2016

Chemical reaction lights the way for tracking microRNA in living organisms

Posted by in categories: biological, genetics

The ability to track molecular events inside the cells of living organisms offers a powerful window into fundamental biological processes, but methods for visualizing RNA in vivo without interfering with cell processes have been elusive. Now, researchers have developed a light-induced chemical reaction that accomplishes this feat in live zebrafish embryos (ACS Cent. Sci. 2016, DOI: 10.1021/acscentsci.6b00054). It is the first technique for detecting specific strings of nucleic acids in live vertebrates that doesn’t require genetically modifying the organism. What’s more, it’s sensitive enough to visualize the expression of microRNAs, small noncoding RNAs that act as puppetmasters of gene expression.

To do the reaction, chemical biologist Nicolas Winssinger, biochemist Marcos Gonzalez-Gaitan, and their colleagues at the University of Geneva designed two nucleic acid probes that each complement and bind to adjacent halves of a target microRNA sequence. The researchers conjugated one probe to a ruthenium complex that absorbs visible light and the other to a fluorogenic rhodamine that lights up when its azide bonds are cleaved. When the probes attach to the target sequence, the two reagents come close enough to react. Shining a light on the sample activates the ruthenium which then reduces the azide in the rhodamine conjugate, releasing its fluorescence. The dependence on external light allows researchers to control when the reporting reaction happens, Winssinger explains.

The team first developed the system three years ago (Chem. 2013, DOI: 10.1002/chem.201300060) for use in cultured cells; here, they adapted it for use in just-fertilized zebrafish embryos. “That’s really not trivial,” says Winssinger. The probes had to be nontoxic, stable for a day or more, and powerful enough to work even after being diluted through cell division.

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Jun 9, 2016

Living computers and nano-robots: what’s the future for DNA manipulation?

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, computing, nanotechnology, robotics/AI

Matteo Palma examines how DNA technology has become a versatile tool for scientists.

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Jun 9, 2016

Scientists design energy-carrying particles called ‘topological plexcitons’

Posted by in categories: particle physics, solar power, sustainability

Scientists at UC San Diego, MIT and Harvard University have engineered “topological plexcitons,” energy-carrying particles that could help make possible the design of new kinds of solar cells and miniaturized optical circuitry.

The researchers report their advance in an article published in the current issue of Nature Communications.

Within the Lilliputian world of solid state physics, light and matter interact in strange ways, exchanging energy back and forth between them.

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Jun 9, 2016

Using Adenosine Triphosphate to Create Biological Super-Computers

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, computing, engineering, nanotechnology, sustainability

Machines running on human energy? Yes, it can happen, according to Dan Nicolau, Jr. from the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of California. Nicolau and his colleagues successfully completed a proof-of-concept study of a book-sized computer that runs on adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a biochemical that releases energy in cells and aids in energy transfer.

The study results published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), describe the combination of geometrical modeling and engineering as well as nanotechnology to create circuitry that uses 1.5 × 1.5 cm in area and the naturally occurring protein to operate.

A More Sustainable Option

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Jun 9, 2016

US intelligence wants real-time behavior monitoring software

Posted by in category: surveillance

Think your personal time is yours? Think again.


A new initiative from the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence aims to create an intelligent surveillance system that can analyze live video and spot suspicious behavior in real time. According to Defense One, the research project is called Deep Intermodal Video Analytics (a.k.a. DIVA) and it will be a joint effort between academics, the private sector and ODNI’s Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency.

In an announcement, IARPA officials laid out the project’s goals: “The DIVA program will produce a common framework and software prototype for activity detection, person/object detection and recognition across a multicamera network,” IARPA officials wrote. “The impact will be the development of tools for forensic analysis, as well as real-time alerting for user-defined threat scenarios.” In other words: the system should be able to identify suspicious behavior in real-time.

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Jun 9, 2016

Intelligence experts approach industry for UUV networks for covert surveillance of shipping

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, surveillance

WASHINGTON, 9 June 2016. U.S. intelligence experts are asking industry for ideas on developing networks of unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV) for covert surveillance of international ship traffic in important harbors, waterways, and choke points.

Officials of the U.S. Intelligence Advanced Projects Agency (IARPA) in Washington issued a sources-sought notice Tuesday (IARPA-BAA-16–09) for the UnderWatch project.

The IARPA UnderWatch project seeks to use UUV networks to monitor ships and maneuver to inspect contacts of interest. IARPA is the research arm of the U.S. Director of National Intelligence.

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Jun 9, 2016

Adidas Spins Plastic from the Ocean into Awesome Kicks — By Margaret Rhodes | Wired

Posted by in categories: business, environmental

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“That thread comes from a company called Parley for the Oceans, and it’s special, spun from plastic waste and old fishing nets retrieved from the coast of Africa.”

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Jun 9, 2016

Augmented virtual reality for business

Posted by in categories: augmented reality, business, transhumanism, virtual reality

Fun video and article with some transhumanism now on the main China Public TV (English).


We’ve heard a lot about Augmented and Virtual Reality. But outside of gaming, is it practical in the workplace? That’s a key focus at this year’s Augmented World Expo in Silicon Valley.

At the Augmented World Expo, it’s goggles, goggles and more goggles.

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Jun 9, 2016

3000 Engineers Might Get Fired At Wipro After Artificial Intelligence Learns To Do Their Work!

Posted by in categories: employment, robotics/AI

Today’s reminder that you are definitely living in the future — 3,000 engineers have an “uncertain future” after Holmes, an artificial intelligence (AI) tool at Wipro which can automate these projects.

The Prostitutes Of The Future Will Be Robots, According To This Study

According to the Mint, it will free up 3,000 engineers from “mundane” software maintenance jobs, and save save the company about $46.5 million.

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Jun 9, 2016

First Demonstration of 10-Photon Quantum Entanglement

Posted by in categories: computing, quantum physics

The ability to entangle 10 photons should allow physicists to prove, once and for all, that quantum computers really can do things classical computers cannot.

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