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Apr 5, 2019

Can human mortality be hacked?

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, life extension, nanotechnology, robotics/AI, transhumanism

A fringe group of scientists and tech moguls think they’re closing in on the fountain of youth. Here’s everything you need to know:

What is biohacking? Silicon Valley is built on the idea that technology can optimize, or “hack,” any aspect of our lives — so why not the human life span? Until recently, anyone hawking pills or treatments that promised to restore youthfulness was considered a quack, yet a growing number of “transhumanists” are convinced that, in time, human beings can be transformed through bioengineering, and that aging will be curable just like any other malady.

In light of rapid gains in gene editing, nanotechnology, and robotics, some futurists expect this generation’s biohackers to double their life spans. Aubrey de Grey, a regenerative medicine researcher backed by tech mogul Peter Thiel, insists that someone alive today will live to be 1,000. “It’s extraordinary to me that it’s such an incendiary claim,” de Grey says. Korean physician and financier Joon Yun has offered two $500,000 prizes to anyone who can restore a test animal’s youthful heart rate and extend its lifespan by 50 percent. For humans, the mortality rate at age 20 is 0.001 percent, Yun figures, “so if you could maintain the homeostatic capacity of that age throughout your life, your average life span would be 1,000.”

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Apr 5, 2019

A light-based carrier system for CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing

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

A team of researchers from Nanjing and Xiamen Universities in China has developed an alternative to using viruses to transport CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing tools into a desired cell—and it involves two types of light. In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, the group describes their new type of carrier and how well it worked with test mice.

CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing tools are a coming revolution in treating genetic conditions, and scientists continue to test their abilities in a variety of applications. One area of study has involved looking for a replacement carrier system—the current approach uses a virus to carry the gene editing tool into a particular cell. Early on, researchers knew that the virus approach was not viable because of possible responses from the , or worse, the threat of initiating tumors. In this new effort, the team in China has come up with an entirely new way to deliver the gene editing tool using two kinds of light.

Their carrier system consists of nanoparticles that are sensitive to low-energy near– (NIR) and that emit UV light. When NIR is shone on the nanoparticles, the light is absorbed and converted to UV light, which is emitted. Inside of a cell, the package is activated by shining NIR onto the skin, where it penetrates into the body and makes its way to the gene editing tool. When the NIR is converted to UV light, it cuts molecules in the carrier package, releasing the gene editing tool to do its work.

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Apr 5, 2019

Microbes May Take Some of the Blame for the Reproducibility Crisis

Posted by in category: biological

Scientists find varied microbiota among the same strain of mice from four vendors—and that variability affects their susceptibility to infection.

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Apr 5, 2019

The AA battery that never dies: Forever Battery uses Wi-Fi-like signals to stay fully charged

Posted by in categories: energy, internet

This AA battery will never run out of power.

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Apr 5, 2019

The better batteries that will power your phone—and a green future

Posted by in categories: food, mobile phones

It’s a difficult choice: Go hungry or go it alone.

When soldiers are weighed down on the battlefield by food supplies and the heavy battery packs that power their communication equipment, they often choose to ditch the rations. It’s a sacrifice made to keep devices powered up and communication lines open in the field.

Smaller, longer-lasting batteries would help lighten a soldier’s load, so USC researchers are working with the U.S. Department of Defense to develop better batteries that weigh half as much as current power packs.

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Apr 5, 2019

First-of-Its-Kind HIV Therapy Draws out the Virus, Then Kills It

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

HIV is a sneaky virus. It can hide in the immune cells of people taking daily antiretroviral therapy (ART) drugs, waiting until they stop the therapy to come back with a vengeance.

This forces them to continue ART — and continue dealing with its many side effects — for their entire lives.

But now, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh have developed an HIV immunotherapy that not only kicks the virus out of hiding, but also kills it permanently — the first step, they say, to an HIV vaccine.

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Apr 5, 2019

SpaceX’s Starship Hopper Completes First Tethered “Hop”

Posted by in category: space travel

The prototype is one step closer to real liftoff.

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Apr 5, 2019

Getting a big look at tiny particles

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, nuclear energy, quantum physics, supercomputing

At the turn of the 20th century, scientists discovered that atoms were composed of smaller particles. They found that inside each atom, negatively charged electrons orbit a nucleus made of positively charged protons and neutral particles called neutrons. This discovery led to research into atomic nuclei and subatomic particles.

An understanding of these ’ structures provides crucial insights about the forces that hold matter together and enables researchers to apply this knowledge to other scientific problems. Although electrons have been relatively straightforward to study, protons and neutrons have proved more challenging. Protons are used in medical treatments, scattering experiments, and fusion energy, but nuclear scientists have struggled to precisely measure their underlying structure—until now.

In a recent paper, a team led by Constantia Alexandrou at the University of Cyprus modeled the location of one of the subatomic particles inside a , using only the basic theory of the strong interactions that hold matter together rather than assuming these particles would act as they had in experiments. The researchers employed the 27-petaflop Cray XK7 Titan supercomputer at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF) and a method called lattice quantum chromodynamics (QCD). The combination allowed them to map on a grid and calculate interactions with high accuracy and precision.

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Apr 5, 2019

New NASA Robots Will Be ‘Busy As a Bee’ Aboard ISS

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, space

NASA’s newest International Space Station crew members are creating quite the buzz.

The agency is sending three Astrobee robots to the orbiting outpost.

The cube-shaped devices will stay “as busy as a bee” flying around the station, assisting with routine tasks like maintenance and inventory tracking.

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Apr 5, 2019

The Latest Wave of Sensor Tech Could be a Game Changer for LiDAR-Equipped Drones

Posted by in categories: drones, military

The following is a guest post by talented author and self-described nerd Ryan LaDue.

The Latest Wave of Sensor Tech Could be a Game-Changer for LiDAR-Equipped UAVs

Avalanche photodiode sensors are semiconductors capable of converting photons into electrons with an extremely high level of precision. The technology isn’t as new as you might think, but accessible units used for laser range finders (as part of LiDAR systems) have only been making their way into consumer markets in recent years.

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