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Feb 1, 2016

A Budget Exoskeleton Allows Paraplegics To Walk–For The Price Of A Car

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, cyborgs, robotics/AI, transportation

The Phoenix lets paraplegic people sit, stand, and walk. It costs just $40,000. Here’s how the designers pulled it off.

In 2005, Steven Sanchez was trying to do a flip off a BMX dirt ramp when he was paralyzed from the belly button down. 11 years later, with no miracle surgery to speak of, he stands like any other tourist in line at the Vatican.

“I had this awesome robotic suit on, and nobody cared,” he says. “They just waited for me to move up like everyone else moved up.” It was a moment of incredible, touristy normalcy, provided by a bit of practice—and the Phoenix exoskeleton.

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Feb 1, 2016

DNA Got a Kid Kicked Out of School—And It’ll Happen Again

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

A few weeks into sixth grade, Colman Chadam had to leave school because of his DNA.

The situation, odd as it may sound, played out like this. Colman has genetic markers for cystic fibrosis, and kids with the inherited lung disease can’t be near each other because they’re vulnerable to contagious infections. Two siblings with cystic fibrosis also attended Colman’s middle school in Palo Alto, California in 2012. So Colman was out, even though he didn’t actually have the disease, according to a lawsuit that his parents filed against the school district. The allegation? Genetic discrimination.

Yes, genetic discrimination. Get used to those two words together, because they’re likely to become a lot more common. With DNA tests now cheap and readily available, the number of people getting tests has gone way up—along with the potential for discrimination based on the results. When Colman’s school tried to transfer him based on his genetic status, the lawsuit alleges, the district violated the Americans With Disabilities Act and Colman’s First Amendment right to privacy. “This is the test case,” says the Chadam’s lawyer, Stephen Jaffe.

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Feb 1, 2016

British Researchers Get Approval to Genetically Modify Human Embryos

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

Less than a year after scientists in China became the first to genetically modify human embryos, a research team in Britain has been given the green light to perform similar work. It’s a huge moment in biotech history—one that could eventually lead to “designer babies.”

Last September, scientists at London’s Francis Crick Institute asked the U.K’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HEFA) for permission to perform gene editing work on human embryos. Their request has now been granted, potentially paving the way for other similar work. Human germline editing is deemed controversial because any baby born through the technique has the potential to pass those genetically modified traits down to the next generation. Advocates of the practice say it could eliminate a host of genetic diseases, while at the same time introducing the possibility of human enhancement.

“The work carried out at the Crick will be for research purposes and will look at the first seven days of a fertilized egg’s development (from a single cell to around 250 cells),” noted the lab in a statement. “The knowledge acquired from the research will be important for understanding how a healthy human embryo develops.” Geneticist Kathy Niakan will be overseeing the work.

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Feb 1, 2016

Made in Space & NanoRacks Sign Deal to Build & Deploy 3D Printed Satellites In Orbit

Posted by in categories: 3D printing, satellites, space, transportation

Made in Space and NanoRacks
Made In Space and NanoRacks have been making news lately with the announcement of partnerships to change the way objects are imagined and built off the planet, and now the companies have joined forces to provide a novel new service for CubeSat developers.

mmThey call it “Stash & Deploy,” and the service will leverage the NanoRacks heritage in CubeSat deployment and the capability of Made In Space to provide 3D printing capabilities and deliver – on-demand – satellite manufacturing, assembly, and deployment in the space environment.

The plan calls for a variety of standard and customer-specific satellite components to be “cached” within a satellite deployment vehicle such as the International Space Station, and the components will be “stashed” for rapid manufacture of CubeSats.

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Feb 1, 2016

MIT team wins Hyperloop competition, Elon Musk predicts global transportation network — By Adagio Strange | Mashable

Posted by in categories: Elon Musk, transportation

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“The SpaceX Hyperloop Pod competition crowned a winner on Sunday, naming the MIT Hyperloop Team as the group with the best look at what the Hyperloop transportation pod system might look like in the future.”

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Feb 1, 2016

Apple’s Working On Super Secretive Virtual Reality Technology

Posted by in categories: electronics, virtual reality

Apple’s quietly building a small army of virtual reality developers, and has been working on a headset for several months, but it’s been typically vague about its plans with the public. And on Friday, company representatives confirmed it’s made yet another another acquisition.

“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” Apple told Tim Bradshaw of the Financial Times, confirming its buy of Flyby Media, a company that “is dedicated to building new technology that can elevate, rather than replace, our real-world experiences.”

Continue reading “Apple’s Working On Super Secretive Virtual Reality Technology” »

Feb 1, 2016

British scientists granted permission to genetically modify human embryos

Posted by in category: genetics

The Francis Crick institute will genetically edit the leftover embryos from from IVF clinics.

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Feb 1, 2016

You can now run Windows 95 in your web browser

Posted by in categories: computing, entertainment

Windows 95 just won’t die. The older it gets, the more versatile it becomes. We’ve seen it running on smartwatches, tablets, and handheld consoles — and now you can run it right inside your web browser in an instant.

Andrea Faulds, a 19-year-old developer from Scotland, has been able to get Windows 95 running in almost any web browser using emscripten, an emulator that converts C++ code to JavaScript in real-time. It requires no downloads, plugins, or any special software.

The emulator takes a minute to load up, but once you’re inside it, it’s surprisingly snappy. It provides you with a full Windows 95 operating system and everything you’d expect to get with it — including classic games like Solitaire and Minesweeper — and it runs incredibly well.

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Feb 1, 2016

World’s first ‘robot run’ farm to open in Japan

Posted by in categories: food, robotics/AI, sustainability

A Japanese firm said Monday it would open the world’s first fully automated farm with robots handling almost every step of the process, from watering seedlings to harvesting crops.

Kyoto-based Spread said the indoor grow house will start operating by the middle of 2017 and produce 30,000 heads of lettuce a day.

It hopes to boost that figure to half a million lettuce heads daily within five years.

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Feb 1, 2016

The world’s largest floating solar power plant is being built in Japan

Posted by in categories: solar power, sustainability

As solar power becomes a bigger and bigger part of the overall energy landscape, engineers around the world are busy working out how to build plants that are large and efficient enough to keep up with demand. Now Japanese electronics giant Kyocera is starting construction on what it says will be the largest floating solar power plant (in terms of overall capacity) in the world.

It’s the fourth such floating plant Kyocera has worked on so far, but this one promises to be the most impressive yet: the facility is going to be built on the Yamakura Dam reservoir to the south-east of Tokyo in Japan, and will pump out 13.7 megawatts (MW) of power once it’s completed in March 2018. Some 51,000 photovoltaic panels will be stitched together to cover around 180,000 square metres (about 44.5 acres) of space.

That’s roughly the same area as 18 soccer pitches, so you get a sense of the sort of scale we’re talking about here. Kyocera says the new plant will provide enough power for 4,970 average households and offset around 7,411 tonnes of CO2 emissions every year that it’s in operation (equivalent to 19,000 barrels of oil).

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