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Jun 14, 2017

NASA-Funded Startup to Build Fusion-Powered Rockets

Posted by in categories: nuclear energy, physics, satellites

Nuclear fusion is the process that powers the sun, but closer to home scientists are trying to develop fusion reactors that could provide immense amounts of energy. These reactors are big and (currently) inefficient, but a NASA-funded startup called Princeton Satellite Systems is working on a small-scale fusion reactor that could power advanced fusion rockets. Suddenly, other planets and even other star systems could be in reach.

All the forms of rocket propulsion we currently have involve accelerating propellant out of a nozzle. Then, physics takes over and the vessel moves in the opposite direction. Most spacecraft use chemical propulsion, which provides a large amount of thrust over a relatively short period of time. Some missions have been equipped with ion drives, which use electrical currents to accelerate propellant. These engines are very efficient, but they have low thrust and require a lot of power. A fusion rocket might offer the best mix of capabilities.

Current nuclear reactors use fission to generate energy; large atomic nuclei are broken apart and some of that mass is transformed into energy. Fusion is the opposite. Small atomic nuclei are fused together, causing some mass to be converted into energy. This is what powers stars, but we’ve had trouble producing the necessary temperatures and pressure on Earth to get net positive energy generation.

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Jun 14, 2017

Organ chips get smart and go electric

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

Organs-on-Chips (Organ Chips) are emerging as powerful tools that allow researchers to study the physiology of human organs and tissues in ways not possible before. By mimicking normal blood flow, the mechanical microenvironment, and how different tissues physically interface with one another in living organs, they offer a more systematic approach to testing drugs than other in vitro methods that ultimately could help to replace animal testing.

As it can take weeks to grow human cells into intact differentiated and functional tissues within Organ Chips, such as those that mimic the lung and intestine, and researchers seek to understand how drugs, toxins or other perturbations alter tissue structure and function, the team at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering led by Donald Ingber has been searching for ways to non-invasively monitor the health and maturity of cells cultured within these microfluidic devices over extended times.

It has been particularly difficult to measure changes in electrical functions of cells grown within Organ Chips that are normally electrically active, such as neuronal cells in the brain or beating heart cells, both during their differentiation and in response to drugs.

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Jun 14, 2017

Reaching a Consensus on Aging Biomarkers

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, life extension

Whilst looking through recent papers about biomarkers and this recent open access paper crossed my desk. The paper is the latest in a line of top to bottom reviews of aging biomarkers for humans. With companies like Unity Biotechnology and the David Sinclair lab entering human clinical trials later this year for senescent cell removal and DNA repair respectively, the development of effective biomarkers to measure how someone is aging and how therapies effect that are a matter of urgency.

Given that there are various causes of aging and that rejuvenation therapies will generally only target one or two of these processes, the first therapies will likely only be partially effective. The aging processes are all interlinked as well so affecting one may effect others, hence there is a need for a comprehensive panel of biomarkers in order for researchers to prove the efficacy of therapies.

Another thing to consider with a therapy such as senescent cell removal is, whilst you can measure how effective it is at removing senescent cells (to a reasonable degree using β-galactosidase etc…) being able to demonstrate the wider benefits of doing so is trickier. So the challenge here is to find a suitable range of biomarkers that can provide a good level of proof that rejuvenation has occurred when using these therapies. This means various measures of functional age and health are required, and these measures should be something the research community as a whole agree upon as being suitable.

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Jun 14, 2017

If you don’t die, you can’t reach God

Posted by in category: life extension

If you are religious, or have religious friends worried about the implications of rejuvenation for their beliefs, this article may help.

Preamble: I am an atheist. So I don’t have any God-related issues concerning rejuvenation/living forever. Other people, though, may believe there’s an afterlife waiting for them once they die, or that curing ageing equals playing God. I don’t think these are particularly problematic concerns.

First, if anyone at all, believer or not, wishes to die at any point, I am in no position to object. It’s their life, not mine, and they can do with it whatever they see fit. If you are afraid of never reaching your god because of quasi-immortality, I think you should be free to die the way you wish, be it by ageing or whatever way you prefer (as long as you don’t take others down with you). I think it’d be crazy to terminate your life for this reason, but hey, whatever sinks floats your boat. It’s your choice, and you should be given it. Rejuvenation isn’t about forcing people to never die. It’s about giving them the possibility of living in perfect health for as long as they see fit.

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Jun 14, 2017

Scientists Make Remarkable Progress Towards Curing HIV

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, sex

A collaborative team of scientists and physicians from the Oxford University, Cambridge University, Imperial College London, University College London and King’s College London have made a remarkable progress towards curing patients with HIV infection.

Of 50 patients taking part in NHS funded revolutionary clinical trial, a 44-year-old British man is the first to complete the trial. He showed no sign of the virus in his blood following treatment.

HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus, is a retrovirus found in body fluids of infected person. These can be semen, vaginal and anal fluids, blood, and breast milk. It can be easily transmitted through unprotected sex or simply sharing infected needles. An infected mother can also transmit HIV to her child during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding.

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Jun 14, 2017

David Wood – We Should Prepare for the Future Now

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, cryonics, life extension

LEAF caught up with Futurist David Wood at the recent International Longevity and Cryopreservation Summit in Madrid to talk about rejuvenation biotechnology.

We recently attended the International Longevity and Cryopreservation Summit in Madrid. LEAF director Elena Milova caught up with futurist David Wood at the summit to ask him about his work and his views on the development of rejuvenation biotechnology.

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Jun 14, 2017

Neural Implant Tech Raises the Specter of Brainjacking

Posted by in categories: cybercrime/malcode, Elon Musk, internet, neuroscience

Fun in fiction. Perhaps not so much in reality.

The human mind is already pretty open to manipulation—just ask anyone who works in advertising. But neural implant technology could potentially open up a direct digital link to our innermost thoughts that could be exploited by hackers.

In recent months, companies like Elon Musk’s Neuralink, Kernel, and Facebook have unveiled plans to create devices that will provide a two-way interface between human brains and machines.

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Jun 13, 2017

When a Computer Program Keeps You in Jail

Posted by in category: computing

Intellectual property claims keep relevant evidence out of court.

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Jun 13, 2017

The human brain sees the world as an 11-dimensional multiverse

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, neuroscience

New research suggests that the human brain is almost beyond comprehension because it doesn’t process the world in two dimensions or even three. No, the human brain understands the visual world in up to 11 different dimensions.

The astonishing discovery helps explain why even cutting-edge technologies like functional MRIs have such a hard time explaining what is going on inside our noggins. In a functional MRI, brain activity is monitored and represented as a three-dimensional image that changes over time. However, if the brain is actually working in 11 dimensions, looking at a 3D functional MRI and saying that it explains brain activity would be like looking at the shadow of a head of a pin and saying that it explains the entire universe, plus a multitude of other dimensions.

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Jun 13, 2017

A Hybrid of Quantum Computing and Machine Learning Is Spawning New Ventures

Posted by in categories: quantum physics, robotics/AI

At the intersection of two challenging computational and technological problems, may lie the key better understanding and manipulating quantum randomness.

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