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Jun 5, 2016

We can now ‘cut and paste’ RNA in addition to DNA, and it could disable viruses

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, genetics

You’ve probably heard of CRISPR — the gene editing tool that essentially lets scientists cut and paste DNA, removing things like HIV and muscular dystrophy from our cells — and now scientists have discovered a way to edit RNA with just as much precision.

RNA is DNA’s close biological cousin, responsible for translating messages from the nucleus to the rest of the cell, and being able to change it could open up all-new disease-fighting possibilities.

Just like CRISPR/Cas9 editing, the new procedure selectively cuts up RNA, which gives us microscopic control over genetic information, and the researchers behind it say it could open up the method could be used to block viruses and halt disease in its tracks.

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Jun 5, 2016

Tensegrity Approaches to In-Space Construction of a 1g Growable Habitat

Posted by in categories: habitats, robotics/AI, space

You’ve seen that tensegrity sphere toy. I own one. This is like Bigelow modules but a step beyond.

NASA NIAC has funded a proposal that seeks to design a rotating habitat with a robotic system that constructs the structure and provides a habitat growth capability.

The tensegrity technology allows minimum mass of both the habitat and the robotic system. This proposal solves three unsolved space travel problems:

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Jun 5, 2016

Chile is producing so much solar power, it’s giving it away for free

Posted by in categories: economics, solar power, sustainability

Market forces often produce strange quirks in the economic system, like the one we’re seeing in Chile this year: the country is producing so much solar power that it’s being sold for… nothing at all.

While it’s incredibly encouraging to see so much expansion in the country’s renewable energy output, this huge amount of supply does actually cause problems for the companies looking to invest in solar energy.

Solar capacity on Chile’s central power grid (called SIC or Sistema Interconectado Central) has more than quadrupled over the past three years to 770 megawatts – good news for the environment and customers paying their electricity bills.

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Jun 4, 2016

$17M to shape the future of music

Posted by in categories: engineering, media & arts

Very cool!

Schulich’s Music Multimedia Room has been used as a laboratory for CIRMMT and a favourite recording studio for orchestra-size ensembles since the Elizabeth Wirth Music Building opened in 2005.

By Lev Bratishenko.

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Jun 4, 2016

Did the Irish bring horns to India 2,000 years ago?

Posted by in category: futurism

Irish and the Indians jam together 2000 years ago — wow.

For example a large C-shaped bronze horn known as a kompu, which is used in Kerala in southern India, is similar to late Bronze age horns found in Scandinavia known as lurs.

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Jun 4, 2016

The Chinese Government is Setting Up Its Own Major Science Fiction Award

Posted by in categories: government, space

China’s SciFi Awards — I can see the red carpet and the outfits too. Wonder if China could do their own SciFi Walk of Fame?.

This is pretty interesting: during the latest national congress of the China Association for Science and Technology, chairman Han Qide announced that the country would be setting up a program to promote science fiction and fantasy, including the creation of a new major award.

Throughout much of its genre’s history, China’s science fiction has had a legacy of usefulness, often promoted to educate readers in concepts relating to science and technology. This new award will be accompanied by an “international sci-fi festival” and other initiatives to promote the creation of new stories.

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Jun 4, 2016

Microfluidic cooling may prevent the demise of Moore’s Law

Posted by in category: computing

A new twist to address an old problem.

Micro-drops of water channeled through the chip silicon looks like a promising way to keep chips cool and increase their performance.

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Jun 4, 2016

Scientists to launch 10-year project for creating human genomes

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics


Today a group of 25 scientists officially announced their plan to build a human genome from scratch within the next 10 years. The proposal — called the Human Genome Project-Write — would be, as BuzzFeed News put it, to lay “DNA letters like bricks”.

The group also includes experts from Harvard Medical School, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the USA government’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Yale University, the University of Edinburgh, Columbia University, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Washington, Autodesk Bio/Nano Research Group, Bioeconomy Capital and other institutions, and is led by geneticist Jef Boeke of the New York University Langone Medical Center.

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Jun 4, 2016

Google DeepMind Researchers Develop AI Kill Switch

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

If a robot can be designed with a great big red kill switch built into it, then a robot can be designed that will not ever resist human attempts at pushing that kill switch.

Breathe easy.

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Jun 4, 2016

Sex robots to become a reality

Posted by in categories: ethics, law, robotics/AI, sex

The debate over them highlights one of the more controversial aspects of the increasingly social nature of our interactions with robots as they move from factories into our homes and someday, our bedrooms.”

“‘How we treat robots — it’s a mirror of our own psychology in a way,’ said Kate Darling, an expert in robot ethics at MIT’s Media Lab.

Advancements in machines that can mimic human beings are raising a host of new ethical, legal and moral questions.

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