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May 29, 2017

The Need for Better Aging Biomarkers

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, life extension

There is an urgent need to develop better biomarkers and to use the in cost effective packages for accurate measurement of aging.

As human life expectancy has increased throughout the 20th and 21st centuries this has led to a steady increase in the population of older people. With that increase has come the rise of age-related diseases and disabilities. As a result it is becoming ever more important to develop preventative strategies to monitor and maintain health as well as therapies that directly address the various aging processes to delay or prevent the onset of age-related diseases.

One of the ways we can do this is by developing more effective ways to measure how someone is aging, this means developing high quality aging biomarkers. The challenge in creating such biomarkers has always been the fundamental question – what do we measure?

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May 29, 2017

Bioelectricity is a new weapon to fight dangerous infection

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, engineering, neuroscience

By Kim Thurler, Tufts University

(MEDFORD/SOMERVILLE, Mass.) — Changing the natural electrical signaling that exists in cells outside the nervous system can improve resistance to life-threatening bacterial infections, according to new research from Tufts University biologists. The researchers found that administering drugs, including those already used in humans for other purposes, to make the cell interior more negatively charged strengthens tadpoles’ innate immune response to E. coli infection and injury. This reveals a novel aspect of the immune system – regulation by non-neural bioelectricity – and suggests a new approach for clinical applications in human medicine. The study is published online May 26, 2017, in npj Regenerative Medicine, a Nature Research journal.

“All cells, not just nerve cells, naturally generate and receive electrical signals. Being able to regulate such non-neural bioelectricity with the many ion channel and neurotransmitter drugs that are already human-approved gives us an amazing new toolkit to augment the immune system’s ability to resist infections,” said the paper’s corresponding author Michael Levin, Ph.D., Vannevar Bush Professor of Biology and Director of the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts and the Tufts Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology in the School of Arts and Sciences. Levin is also an Associate Faculty member of the Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University.

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May 29, 2017

Here’s how to launch a satellite for less than $1M

Posted by in category: satellites

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May 29, 2017

For The First Time Ever, CRISPR Gene Editing Was Used in Humans. So What’s Next?

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

  • With Chinese scientists announcing that they have tested CRISPR on a human for the first time, the U.S. must decide soon whether it will be a leader or a follower in advancing the tech.
  • While gene editing technology could be used in nefarious ways, it could also cure diseases and improve millions of lives, but we won’t know how effective it is until we begin human trials.

While the middle part of the 20th century saw the world’s superpowers racing to explore space, the first global competition of this century is being set in a much smaller arena: our DNA.

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May 28, 2017

How to Realize Autonomous Vehicle Safety and Mobility Benefits

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, transportation

Self-driving vehicles could improve public safety. They could also improve mobility for older Americans, people with disabilities, and others. How can policymakers help ensure that these benefits are realized?

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May 28, 2017

Russia thinks microorganisms may be living outside the space station

Posted by in category: space

May 26 (UPI) — Officials with Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, say their scientists have identified plankton and other microorganisms among dust samples collected from the outside of the International Space Station.

“The micrometeorites and comet dust that settle on the ISS surface may contain biogenic substance of extra-terrestrial origin in its natural form,” Roscosmos officials said in a news release. “The ISS surface is possibly a unique and easily available collector and keeper of comet substance and, possibly, of biomaterial of extra-terrestrial origin.”

NASA officials said they couldn’t confirm the story.

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May 28, 2017

The Solar Industry Is Creating Jobs 17 Times Faster Than the Rest of the U.S. Economy

Posted by in categories: economics, employment, energy, sustainability

Jobs in the solar field in the United States grew at a rate 17 times faster than the overall economy. This was part of a larger trend towards jobs in renewable energy and away from more dangerous, less sustainable jobs in fossil fuels.

A new report released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) reveals that solar jobs in the U.S. (and other nations) are expanding quickly. As of November 2016, the American solar industry employed 260,077 workers. This is an increase of 24.5% from 2015, with a growth rate that is 17 times faster than the United States economy as a whole.

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May 28, 2017

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power | August 24

Posted by in category: futurism

Make your voice heard. Share the new trailer for Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power. In theatres August 24th. #BeInconvenient

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May 28, 2017

The meaning of life in a world without work

Posted by in categories: economics, employment, information science, robotics/AI

Most jobs that exist today might disappear within decades. As artificial intelligence outperforms humans in more and more tasks, it will replace humans in more and more jobs. Many new professions are likely to appear: virtual-world designers, for example. But such professions will probably require more creativity and flexibility, and it is unclear whether 40-year-old unemployed taxi drivers or insurance agents will be able to reinvent themselves as virtual-world designers (try to imagine a virtual world created by an insurance agent!). And even if the ex-insurance agent somehow makes the transition into a virtual-world designer, the pace of progress is such that within another decade he might have to reinvent himself yet again.

The crucial problem isn’t creating new jobs. The crucial problem is creating new jobs that humans perform better than algorithms. Consequently, by 2050 a new class of people might emerge – the useless class. People who are not just unemployed, but unemployable.

The same technology that renders humans useless might also make it feasible to feed and support the unemployable masses through some scheme of universal basic income. The real problem will then be to keep the masses occupied and content. People must engage in purposeful activities, or they go crazy. So what will the useless class do all day?

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May 28, 2017

Near-Term Interstellar Probes: Some Gentle Suggestions

Posted by in categories: innovation, space

A bit of every speculative propulsion system.

When Greg Matloff’s “Solar Sail Starships: Clipper Ships of the Galaxy” appeared in JBIS in 1981, the science fictional treatments of interstellar sails I had been reading suddenly took on scientific plausibility. Later, I would read Robert Forward’s work, and realize that an interstellar community was growing in space agencies, universities and the pages of journals. Since those days, Matloff’s contributions to the field have kept coming at a prodigious rate, with valuable papers and books exploring not only how we might reach the stars but what we can do in our own Solar System to ensure a bright future for humanity. In today’s essay, Greg looks at interstellar propulsion candidates and ponders the context provided by Breakthrough Starshot, which envisions small sailcraft moving at 20 percent of the speed of light, bound for Proxima Centauri. What can we learn from the effort, and what alternatives should we consider as we ponder the conundrum of interstellar propulsion?

by Dr. Greg Matloff

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