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Feb 3, 2020

Early Life Experiences Biologically and Functionally Mature the Brain

Posted by in categories: biological, education, health, neuroscience

Experiences early in life have an impact on the brain’s biological and functional development, shows a new study by a team of neuroscientists. Its findings, which centered on changes in mice and rats, reveal how learning and memory abilities may vary, depending on the nature of individual experiences in early life.

“The implications of this are many, including environmental influences on mental health, the role of education, the significance of poverty, and the impact of social settings,” says Cristina Alberini, a professor in New York University’s Center for Neural Science and the senior author of the paper, which appears in the journal Nature Communications.

“These results also offer promise for potential therapeutic interventions,” add Alberini and Benjamin Bessières, an NYU postdoctoral researcher and the paper’s co-lead author. “By identifying critical time periods for brain development, they provide an indicator of when pharmaceutical, behavioral or other type of interventions may be most beneficial.”

Feb 3, 2020

The scent of a rose improves learning during sleep

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, education, health, neuroscience

Fragrance helps learning even during sleep!

Effortless learning during sleep is the dream of many people. The supportive effect of smells on learning success when presented both during learning and sleep was first proven in an extensive sleep laboratory study. Researchers at the University of Freiburg—Medical Center, the Freiburg Institute for Frontier Areas of Psychology and Mental Health (IGPP) and the Faculty of Biology at the University of Freiburg have now shown that this effect can be also achieved very easily outside the lab. For the study, pupils in two school classes learned English vocabulary—with and without scent sticks during the learning period and also at night. The students remembered the vocabulary much better with a scent. The study was published in the Nature Group’s Open Access journal Scientific Reports on 27 January 2020.

“We showed that the supportive effect of fragrances works very reliably in and can be used in a targeted way,” said study leader PD Dr. Jürgen Kornmeier, head of the Perception and Cognition Research Group at the Freiburg-based IGPP and scientist at the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at the University of Freiburg—Medical Center in Germany.

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Feb 3, 2020

AI-formulated medicine to be tested on humans for the first time

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics, information science, robotics/AI

The drug, known as DSP-1181, was created by using algorithms to sift through potential compounds, checking them against a huge database of parameters, including a patient’s genetic factors. Speaking to the BBC, Exscientia chief executive Professor Andrew Hopkins described the trials as a “key milestone in drug discovery” and noted that there are “billions” of decisions needed to find the right molecules for a drug, making their eventual creation a “huge decision.” With AI, however, “the beauty of the algorithm is that they are agnostic, so can be applied to any disease.”

We’ve already seen multiple examples of AI being used to diagnose illness and analyze patient data, so using it to engineer drug treatment is an obvious progression of its place in medicine. But the AI-created drugs do pose some pertinent questions. Will patients be comfortable taking medication designed by a machine? How will these drugs differ from those developed by humans alone? Who will make the rules for the use of AI in drug research? Hopkins and his team hope that these and myriad other questions will be explored in the trials, which will begin in March.

Feb 3, 2020

Rocket startup Astra emerges from stealth, aims to launch for as little as $1M per flight

Posted by in categories: business, satellites

There’s yet another new rocket launch startup throwing its hat in the ring — Astra, an Alameda-based company that’s actually been operating in stealth mode (though relatively openly, often referred to as “Stealth Space Company”) for the past three years developing and testing its launch vehicle. Astra revealed its business model and progress to date in a new feature article with Bloomberg Businessweek, detailing how it plans to use mass production to deliver rockets quickly and cheaply for small satellite orbital delivery. Astra revealed it has raised more than $100 million from investors, including Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors, Airbus Ventures, Canann Partners and Salesforce co-founder Marc Benioff, to name a few, and it has big ambitions in terms of cost and capabilities.

Astra’s rockets are smaller than most existing launch vehicles in operation, designed to delivery up to 450 lbs of cargo to space, but with the specific mandate of doing so quickly and responsively. The company is a finalist (and the only remaining one) on DARPA’s Launch Challenge, the terms of which mandate that the winning company deploy two rockets from two different locations within a few weeks of each other. Astra is still in the running, while its erstwhile competitors have dropped out, with Virgin Orbit having voluntarily withdrawn and Vector Launch having gone out of business.

The DARPA challenge, which includes an award of $12 million for the winner, represents a growing trend in terms of defense customer needs: Fast turnaround and responsive operations for small satellite delivery. In an industry where the process of securing a launch service provider to actually flying a payload has typically taken at least six months in the best-case scenario, there’s a growing need for quicker timelines in the interest of building more redundancy and resilience into defense and reconnaissance space operations through use of networks of small satellites, versus single large geostationary satellites that are expensive to launch and more time-consuming to task.

Feb 3, 2020

Magnetic Thread in Brain

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, neuroscience

This magnetically steerable thread could one day be used to clear blockages in your blood vessels.

Feb 3, 2020

A robot is my Wingman

Posted by in categories: military, robotics/AI

In a recent IEEE Spectrum article, read how autonomous fighter jets will accompany human-piloted planes. This self-piloted airplane may be the first experiment to truly portend the end of the era of crewed warplanes. #autonomousplane #autonomousfighterjet

If you drive along the main northern road through South Australia with a good set of binoculars, you may soon be able to catch a glimpse of a strange, windowless jet, one that is about to embark on its maiden flight. It’s a prototype of the next big thing in aerial combat: a self-piloted warplane designed to work together with human-piloted aircraft.

Feb 3, 2020

Why Naked Mole Rats Don’t Get Cancer

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

Circa 2013 o.o! This could allow for a cancer cure.

Hint: What makes their skin elastic helps them fight tumors.

Feb 3, 2020

The tiger genome and comparative analysis with lion and snow leopard genomes

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics

Circa 2013

Tigers and their close relatives (Panthera) are some of the world’s most endangered species. Here we report the de novo assembly of an Amur tiger whole-genome sequence as well as the genomic sequences of a white Bengal tiger, African lion, white African lion and snow leopard. Through comparative genetic analyses of these genomes, we find genetic signatures that may reflect molecular adaptations consistent with the big cats’ hypercarnivorous diet and muscle strength. We report a snow leopard-specific genetic determinant in EGLN1 (Met39Lys39), which is likely to be associated with adaptation to high altitude. We also detect a TYR 260GA mutation likely responsible for the white lion coat colour. Tiger and cat genomes show similar repeat composition and an appreciably conserved synteny. Genomic data from the five big cats provide an invaluable resource for resolving easily identifiable phenotypes evident in very close, but distinct, species.

Feb 3, 2020

Moto Volante Flying Motorcycle

Posted by in category: transportation

This flying motorcycle takes coolness to new heights.

Feb 3, 2020

Can electric cars be charged while driving?

Posted by in categories: sustainability, transportation

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