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Oct 10, 2015

h+ Magazine: Synthetic Biology — The True Savior of Mankind

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, disruptive technology, DNA, environmental, ethics, futurism, genetics, health, innovation, science, sustainability, transhumanism

Encapsulation Pictures

Fear of scientists “playing god” is at the centre of many a plot line in science fiction stories. Perhaps the latest popular iteration of the story we all love is Jurassic World (2015), a film I find interesting only for the tribute it paid to the original Michael Crichton novel and movie Jurassic Park.

Full op-ed from h+ Magazine on 7 October 2015 http://hplusmagazine.com/2015/10/07/opinion-synthetic-biolog…f-mankind/

john hammond jurrasic parkIn Jurassic Park, a novel devoted to the scare of genetic engineering when biotech was new in the 1990s, the character of John Hammond says:

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Oct 10, 2015

These Mysterious Blazing-Fast Ripples Racing Around a Star Defy Explanation

Posted by in category: space

Scientists were looking for planets forming in the large disk of dust surrounding a young star when they encountered a surprise: fast-moving, wavelike arches racing across the disk like ripples in water.

The team first spotted the five structures in data from the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile while searching for lumps and bumps that might indicate planets forming around the young star. When the researchers looked back at images taken with the Hubble Space Telescope in 2010 and 2011, they managed to spot the same features — but in new locations. A new video of the mysterious ripples, describes the strange features as seen by ESO scientists.

“Our observations have shown something unexpected,” Anthony Boccaletti, a researcher from LESIA (Observatoire de Paris/CNRS/UPMC/Paris-Diderot) in France and lead author on the paper, said in a statement. “The images from [the Very Large Telescope instrument] SPHERE show a set of unexplained features in the disk, which have an archlike or wavelike structure unlike anything that has ever been observed before.” [The Top 10 Strangest Things in Space]

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Oct 9, 2015

This HIV breakthrough could lead to a cure, scientists say

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, innovation

Scientists in the UK and Australia have identified three biomarkers, which when they attached to T-cells (part of the immune system) in high numbers prior to anti-retroviral therapy, increase the chance of early rebound.

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Oct 9, 2015

Scientists paint quantum electronics with beams of light

Posted by in categories: computing, electronics, materials, quantum physics

A team of scientists from the University of Chicago and the Pennsylvania State University have accidentally discovered a new way of using light to draw and erase quantum-mechanical circuits in a unique class of materials called topological insulators.

In contrast to using advanced nanofabrication facilities based on chemical processing of materials, this flexible technique allows for rewritable ‘optical fabrication’ of devices. This finding is likely to spawn new developments in emerging technologies such as low-power electronics based on the spin of electrons or ultrafast quantum computers.

The research is published today in the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s new online journal Science Advances, where it is featured on the journal’s front page.

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Oct 9, 2015

Greek town glimpses mass transit future: driverless buses

Posted by in categories: futurism, robotics/AI

TRIKALA, Greece (AP) — There’ll be no arguing with the driver on this bus: the rides are free and there’s no driver anyway.

Trikala, a rural town in northern Greece, has been chosen to test a driverless bus in real traffic conditions for the first time, part of a European project to revolutionize mass transport and wean its cities off oil dependency over the next 30 years.

Trials of the French-built CityMobil2 buses started last week and will last through late February.

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Oct 9, 2015

A Whole New World: Disney App Renders Coloring Book Pages as 3D Images — By Lulu Chang | Digital Trends

Posted by in categories: augmented reality, media & arts

“Who said coloring was just for kids?”

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Oct 9, 2015

The Light L16 uses 16 cameras on its front to take 52-megapixel photos

Posted by in category: electronics

Light’s compact L16 camera has 16 camera modules on its front, and is gunning to kill DSLRs.

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Oct 9, 2015

A Heart Of Foam: This Simple Artificial Heart Could Save Your Life

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

Artificial hearts can be clunky and flawed, but making one out of foam could be an efficient and reliable solution.

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Oct 9, 2015

DARPA wants to build vehicles that disappear after delivering supplies

Posted by in category: military

What if the vehicle delivering the goods to a remote village or group of soldiers could just vanish after it made the drop? Sounds crazy, right? Well, DARPA is hoping to do just that. The research unit it looking to develop solutions that can carry supplies to their intended destinations and then disappear. Named for the story of a man who’s wings of feathers and wax melted when he flew too close to the sun, DARPA’s new ICARUS program that’ll examine the possibilities is an extension of its VAPR project. Of course, we expect DARPA is aiming for a more positive outcome. VAPR, which stands for Vanishing Programmable Resources, has developed self-destructing electronic components since it began two years ago. Aside from the obvious military uses, DARPA says a vehicle that vanishes in to thin air could also offer an unmanned solution for taking critical supplies to hard to reach areas in the aftermath of events like a natural disaster. Once the load is delivered, personnel wouldn’t have to worry about getting the vehicle back out of the area.

[Image credit: SEBASTIEN BOZON/AFP/Getty Images].

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Oct 9, 2015

Brain simulation breakthrough reveals clues about sleep, memory

Posted by in categories: information science, neuroscience, supercomputing

The Blue Brain Project is a vast effort by 82 scientists worldwide to digitally recreate the human brain. While still far from that goal, the team revealed a breakthrough that has already provided insight into sleep, memory and neurological disorders. They created a simulation of a third of a cubic millimeter of a rat’s brain. While that might not sound like much, it involves 30,000 neurons and 37 million synapses. In addition, the simulated level of biological accuracy is far beyond anything so far. It allowed them to reproduce known brain activities — such as how neurons respond to touch — and has already yielded discoveries about the brain that were impossible to get biologically.

To create the simulation, researchers did thousands of experiments on rat brains over a 20 year period, logging each type of synapse and neuron discovered. That led to a set of fundamental rules describing how neurons connect to synapses and form microcircuits. Using the data, they developed an algorithm to pinpoint the synapse locations, simulating the circuitry of a rat’s brain. All of that data was then run through a supercomputer: “It was only with this kind of infrastructure that we could solve the billions of equations needed,” said software lead Felix Schurmann.

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