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Rescooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald from Science and Global Education Trends!

Paralyzed man regains use of arms and hands after stem cell therapy

Paralyzed man regains use of arms and hands after stem cell therapy | Amazing Science |

Doctors at the USC Neurorestoration Center and Keck Medicine of USC injected an experimental treatment made from stem cells and other cells into the damaged cervical spine of a recently paralyzed 21-year-old man as part of a multi-center clinical trial. Two weeks after surgery, Kristopher (Kris) Boesen began to show signs of improvement. Three months later, he’s able to feed himself, use his cell phone, write his name, operate a motorized wheelchair, and hug his friends and family. Improved sensation and movement in both arms and hands also make it easier for Kris to care for himself, and to envision a life lived more independently.


“Typically, spinal cord injury patients undergo surgery that stabilizes the spine but generally does very little to restore motor or sensory function,” explains Charles Liu, MD, PhD, director of the USC Neurorestoration Center. “With this study, we are testing a procedure that may improve neurological function, which could mean the difference between being permanently paralyzed and being able to use one’s arms and hands. Restoring that level of function could significantly improve the daily lives of patients with severe spinal injuries.”

Via Kathy Bosiak
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Touchable Holograms Are Becoming a Reality

Touchable Holograms Are Becoming a Reality | Amazing Science |

Scientists from Japan have created touchable holograms which are named as Fairy lights. This development could well lead to human beings able to interact with holograms.


In particular, this technology could do very well in medicine industry as it can be used to demonstrate complex procedures.


According to the research paper presented by the scientists, the holograms used during the research were made from femtosecond lasers, “a laser that can excite physical matter to emit light in 3D form” explained by the paper.


Furthermore, the lasers can product anywhere between 1000 to 200,000 pulses per second. The rate for frequency depends on the type of lasers used. During tests, pulses responded to the human touch which made it possible for them to be disrupted in the air. 

Rescooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald from CIC biomaGUNE!

Nanosensors could help determine tumors' ability to remodel tissue

Nanosensors could help determine tumors' ability to remodel tissue | Amazing Science |

MIT researchers have designed nanosensors that can profile tumors and may yield insight into how they will respond to certain therapies.


Once adapted for humans, this type of sensor could be used to determine how aggressive a tumor is and help doctors choose the best treatment, says Sangeeta Bhatia, the John and Dorothy Wilson Professor of Health Sciences and Technology and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and a member of MIT's Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research.


"This approach is exciting because people are developing therapies that are protease-activated," Bhatia says. "Ideally you'd like to be able to stratify patients based on their protease activity and identify which ones would be good candidates for these therapies."


Once injected into the tumor site, the nanosensors are activated by a magnetic field that is harmless to healthy tissue. After interacting with and being modified by the target tumor proteins, the sensors are secreted in the urine, where they can be easily detected in less than an hour.


Bhatia and Polina Anikeeva, the Class of 1942 Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, are the senior authors of the paper, which appears in the journal Nano Letters. The paper's lead authors are Koch Institute postdoc Simone Schurle and graduate student Jaideep Dudani.


Tumors, especially aggressive ones, often have elevated protease levels. These enzymes help tumors spread by cleaving proteins that compose the extracellular matrix, which normally surrounds cells and holds them in place.


In 2014, Bhatia and colleagues reported using nanoparticles that interact with a type of protease known as matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) to diagnose cancer. In that study, the researchers delivered nanoparticles carrying peptides, or short protein fragments, designed to be cleaved by the MMPs. If MMPs were present, hundreds of cleaved peptides would be excreted in the urine, where they could be detected with a simple paper test similar to a pregnancy test.


In the new study, the researchers wanted to adapt the sensors so that they could report on the traits of tumors in a known location. To do that, they needed to ensure that the sensors were only producing a signal from the target organ, unaffected by background signals that might be produced in the bloodstream. They first designed sensors that could be activated with light once they reached their target. That required the use of ultraviolet light, however, which doesn't penetrate very far into tissue.

Via MBN Comunicación
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Start-up Humai wants to transfer consciousness to an artificial body to live forever

Start-up Humai wants to transfer consciousness to an artificial body to live forever | Amazing Science |
Forever young?


With the rise of brain-controlled robotic limbs, advanced biomedical implants, and life-saving medical treatments, it seems as though in the modern day, we're closer than ever to conquering death. Some hope to extend the human lifetime indefinitely. Singularity proponents hope that eventually we'll be able to upload our consciousness to computers.


Now the company Humai aims to bring people back from the dead. From their website:


  • We're using artificial intelligence and nanotechnology to store data of conversational styles, behavioral patterns, thought processes and information about how your body functions from the inside-out. This data will be coded into multiple sensor technologies, which will be built into an artificial body with the brain of a deceased human.


If it sounds like something out of science fiction, that's because it is. The challenges are significant: taking a dead brain and bringing it back to life; wiring up the brain so that it can control a silicon-based machine; and trying to replicate that vital thing that is you--your personality, your past experiences, your mind. We wouldn't bet on this thing working, at least not anytime soon. But hopefully it won't hurt to try.


The CEO and founder of Humai explains: "Our mission is fairly simple to understand but obviously difficult to execute. We'll first collect extensive data on our members for years prior to their death via various apps we're developing. After death we'll freeze the brain using cryonics technology. When the technology is fully developed we'll implant the brain into an artificial body. The artificial body functions will be controlled with your thoughts by measuring brain waves. As the brain ages we'll use nanotechnology to repair and improve cells. Cloning technology is going to help with this too. Every step we take toward understanding how to get your thoughts to control an artificial body will be huge progress. I'm confident that in the process we'll develop a technology that will even save lives. However, the ultimate test will be when we perform the first surgical procedure to implant a human brain to an artificial body."


Humai CEO's answer is: "in Bionics, nanotechnology and artificial intelligence. I think the body has limitations and I don't believe the body was evolved with the best possible functions. I think an artificial body will contribute more to the human experience. It will extend the human experience. So much so, that those who accept death will probably change their mind."

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Rescooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald from Future Technology!

The Next Wearable Technology Could Be Your Skin

The Next Wearable Technology Could Be Your Skin | Amazing Science |

Technology can be awkward. Our pockets are weighed down with ever-larger smartphones that are a pain to pull out when we’re in a rush. And attempts to make our devices more easily accessible with smartwatches have so far fallen flat. But what if a part of your body could become your computer, with a screen on your arm and maybe even a direct link to your brain?


Artificial electronic skin (e-skin) could one day make this a possibility. Researchers are developing flexible, bendable and even stretchable electronic circuits that can be applied directly to the skin. As well as turning your skin into a touchscreen, this could also help replace feeling if you’ve suffered burns or problems with your nervous system.


The simplest version of this technology is essentially an electronic tattoo. In 2004, researchers in the US and Japan unveiled a pressure sensor circuit made from pre-stretched thinned silicon strips that could be applied to the forearm. But inorganic materials such as silicon are rigid and the skin is flexible and stretchy. So researchers are now looking to electronic circuits made from organic materials (usually special plastics or forms of carbon such as graphene that conduct electricity) as the basis of e-skin.


Typical e-skin consists of a matrix of different electronic components — flexible transistors, organic LEDs, sensors and organic photovoltaic (solar) cells — connected to each other by stretchable or flexible conductive wires. These devices are often built up from very thin layers of material that are sprayed or evaporated onto a flexible base, producing a large (up to tens of cm2) electronic circuit in a skin-like form.

Via Anna Hu , TechinBiz
Anna Hu 's curator insight, June 30, 7:55 PM
How cool is this
Gust MEES's curator insight, July 1, 8:24 AM
Technology can be awkward. Our pockets are weighed down with ever-larger smartphones that are a pain to pull out when we’re in a rush. And... read more


Learn more / En savoir plus / Mehr erfahren:



Rescooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald from Limitless learning Universe!

Ultrathin, transparent oxide thin-film transistors for wearable display

Ultrathin, transparent oxide thin-film transistors for wearable display | Amazing Science |

With the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT) era, strong demand has grown for wearable and transparent displays that can be applied to various fields such as augmented reality (AR) and skin-like thin flexible devices. However, previous flexible transparent displays have posed real challenges to overcome, which are, among others, poor transparency and low electrical performance. To improve the transparency and performance, past research efforts have tried to use inorganic-based electronics, but the fundamental thermal instabilities of plastic substrates have hampered the high temperature process, an essential step necessary for the fabrication of high performance electronic devices.


As a solution to this problem, a research team led by Professors Keon Jae Lee and Sang-Hee Ko Park of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) has developed ultrathin and transparent oxide thin-film transistors (TFT) for an active-matrix backplane of a flexible display by using the inorganic-based laser lift-off (ILLO) method. Professor Lee's team previously demonstrated the ILLO technology for energy-harvesting (Advanced Materials, February 12, 2014) and flexible memory (Advanced Materials, September 8, 2014) devices.


The research team fabricated a high-performance oxide TFT array on top of a sacrificial laser-reactive substrate. After laser irradiation from the backside of the substrate, only the oxide TFT arrays were separated from the sacrificial substrate as a result of reaction between laser and laser-reactive layer, and then subsequently transferred onto ultrathin plastics (4μm thickness). Finally, the transferred ultrathin-oxide driving circuit for the flexible display was attached conformally to the surface of human skin to demonstrate the possibility of the wearable application. The attached oxide TFTs showed high optical transparency of 83% and mobility of 40 cm^2 V^(-1) s^(-1) even under several cycles of severe bending tests.


Professor Lee said, "By using our ILLO process, the technological barriers for high performance transparent flexible displays have been overcome at a relatively low cost by removing expensive polyimide substrates. Moreover, the high-quality oxide semiconductor can be easily transferred onto skin-like or any flexible substrate for wearable application."

Via Mariaschnee, CineversityTV
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New haptic shoes can avoid stumbles, from spacewalks to sidewalks

New haptic shoes can avoid stumbles, from spacewalks to sidewalks | Amazing Science |

MIT engineers find a new haptic interface could enable obstacle avoidance both for astronauts engaged in extravehicular activity and for the visually impaired.


Video of astronauts tripping over moon rocks can make for entertaining Internet viewing, but falls in space can jeopardize astronauts’ missions and even their lives. Getting to one’s feet in a bulky, pressurized spacesuit can consume time and precious oxygen reserves, and falls increase the risk that the suit will be punctured.


Most falls happen because spacesuits limit astronauts’ ability to both see and feel the terrain around them, so researchers from MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AeroAstro) and the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory in Cambridge, Massachusetts are developing a new space boot with built-in sensors and tiny “haptic” motors, whose vibrations can guide the wearer around or over obstacles.


Recently, at the International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, the researchers presented the results of a preliminary study designed to determine what types of stimuli, administered to what parts of the foot, could provide the best navigation cues. On the basis of that study, they’re planning further trials using a prototype of the boot.


The work could also have applications in the design of navigation systems for the visually impaired. The development of such systems has been hampered by a lack of efficient and reliable means of communicating spatial information to users.


“A lot of students in my lab are looking at this question of how you map wearable-sensor information to a visual display, or a tactile display, or an auditory display, in a way that can be understood by a nonexpert in sensor technologies,” says Leia Stirling, an assistant professor of AeroAstro and an associate faculty member at MIT’s Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, whose group led the work.


“This initial pilot study allowed Alison Gibson, a graduate student in AeroAstro and first author on the paper, to learn about how she could create a language for that mapping.” Gibson and Stirling are joined on the paper by Andrea Webb, a psychophysiologist at Draper.

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Why Tomorrow Won't Look Like Today: Things that Advance at Rapid Speed

Just when it seems that technology can't amaze us further, here comes a new batch of next-gen, gee-whiz projects en route to reality. Our panel of big thinkers opens a window on tomorrow. Have you heard of asteroid mining? Eric Anderson's company plans to probe space rocks for water and platinum group metals. Or how about John Kelly's vaunted IBM research team, tooling up its Watson technology (of "Jeopardy!" fame) to help sequence DNA and speed cancer treatment? Or Eric David's Organovo scientists developing printing capabilities to create living tissue--and even human organs--on demand? From the vastness of the cosmos to the microscopic foundations of life, this panel of visionaries points us to the marvels of the future.

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Rescooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald from mHealth- Advances, Knowledge and Patient Engagement!

Smart Dust Is Coming: New Camera Is the Size of a Grain of Salt

Smart Dust Is Coming: New Camera Is the Size of a Grain of Salt | Amazing Science |
The researchers believe future applications include less invasive endoscopic medical imaging of the body—even injection into the brain—and nearly invisible camera sensors on miniature drones or robots.


Miniaturization is one of the most world-shaking trends of the last several decades. Computer chips now have features measured in billionths of a meter. Sensors that once weighed kilograms fit inside your smartphone. But it doesn't end there. Researchers are aiming to take sensors smaller—much smaller.


In a new University of Stuttgart paper published in Nature Photonics, scientists describe tiny 3D printed lenses and show how they can take super sharp images. Each lens is 120 millionths of a meter in diameter—roughly the size of a grain of table salt—and because they're 3D printed in one piece, complexity is no barrier. Any lens configuration that can be designed on a computer can be printed and used. This allows for a variety of designs to be tested to achieve the finest quality images.


According to the paper, the new method not only demonstrates high-quality micro-lenses can be 3D printed, but it also solves roadblocks to current manufacturing methods. These include limitations on how small you can go, failure to combine multiple elements, surface design restrictions, and alignment difficulties.

Via Julie O'Donnell, eMedToday
Julie O'Donnell's curator insight, July 1, 12:50 AM
The stuff of Star Trek episodes.
Rescooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald from Libraries and information literacy skills!

Could a space-based solar farm become a reality by 2040?

Could a space-based solar farm become a reality by 2040? | Amazing Science |

It was just over 40 years ago that the concept of a solar power satellite (SPS) first emerged. American scientist and aerospace engineer Dr. Peter Glaser won a patent for a broadcast system using a one-square kilometer antenna to channel power via microwaves to a receiver on the ground. The advantage of such a system, and space-based solar power in general, is that it harnesses the unobstructed output of the sun, unlike land-based solar systems which are affected by the weather and Earth's day/night cycle.


While Glaser's proposal never got off the ground, it did inspire further investigation of the potential of space-based solar power by various government departments and institutions. In 2008, a company called Space Energy conducted a long-range wireless power transmission test using a microwave beam between two Hawaiian islands, a distance of 148 km (91.96 mi). The result was a power yield of 1/1000th of one percent on the receiving end, raising questions over whether the technique could be employed over the much larger distance between a satellite in geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO) and a ground station.


Writing in IEEE Spectrum, Professor Emeritus at JAXA, Susumi Sasaki, argues that this experiment failed largely due to the dense atmosphere disturbing the microwaves' phases as a result of the horizontal transmission. In detailing the agency's proposal he emphasized that in a space-based system the microwaves only need to pass through this dense atmosphere for the last few kilometers of their journey. This, along with new designs for the solar power satellites and anticipated advances in technology over the coming decades, gives JAXA confidence that it can eventually achieve an effective wireless transmission of solar energy over the necessary 36,000 km (22,500 miles) from GEO.


JAXA is working on two concepts. The simpler one involves a huge square panel that measures 2 km (1.24 mi) per side. The top surface would be covered with photovoltaic elements, with transmission antennas on the bottom side. A small bus housing controls and communication systems would be tethered to the panel via 10 km (6.2 mi) long wires. A limitation with this design is that the orientation of the panel is fixed, meaning that as the Earth and the satellite spin, the amount of sunlight the panel receives will vary, impacting its ability to generate power.

Via Tania Gammage
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Molecular mechanical computers are up to 100 billion times more energy efficient

Molecular mechanical computers are up to 100 billion times more energy efficient | Amazing Science |

Ralph Merkle, Robert Freitas and others have a theoretical design for a molecular mechanical computer that would be 100 billion times more energy efficient than the most energy efficient conventional green supercomputer. Removing the need for gears, clutches, switches, springs makes the design easier to build.

Existing designs for mechanical computing can be vastly improved upon in terms of the number of parts required to implement a complete computational system. Only two types of parts are required: Links, and rotary joints. Links are simply stiff, beam-like structures. Rotary joints are joints that allow rotational movement in a single plane.

Simple logic and conditional routing can be accomplished using only links and rotary joints, which are solidly connected at all times. No gears, clutches, switches, springs, or any other mechanisms are required. An actual system does not require linear slides.

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Rescooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald from Daily Magazine!

Wearable Artificial Kidney Completes First Clinical Trial, Could Free People From Dialysis

Wearable Artificial Kidney Completes First Clinical Trial, Could Free People From Dialysis | Amazing Science |
Positive results from the first clinical trial on a wearable artificial kidney may soon replace dialysis.For anyone suffering from kidney disease, their only course of treatment is hemodialysis—a costly, time consuming, and cumbersome method that requires a patient being hooked up to a machine. Through the years, researchers have sought to find a wearable and portable alternative that could allow for more mobility and more sessions, but minus the hassle.

Now, the results of an FDA-approved human trial of a wearable artificial kidney have just been published. The device is essentially a miniature version of the traditional, stationary hemodialysis machine, and it could one day change current methods of dialysis.

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Fireworks of the Future? Startup Looks to Launch Manmade Meteor Shower for Tokyo Olympics

Fireworks of the Future? Startup Looks to Launch Manmade Meteor Shower for Tokyo Olympics | Amazing Science |

The company's "Sky Canvas" project would launch a microsatellite into space (the first is scheduled for next year) that's loaded up with 500 to 1,000 proprietary pellets containing various elements. In the company's earthbound testing, they've place these pellets into a vacuum chamber and blasted them with hot gases traveling at supersonic speeds, simulating atmospheric re-entry, and found that as the pellets burn, they produce different colors depending on which elements they contain.

The plan is that once the satellite is locked into geostationary orbit over the desired site, an onboard device will start spitting the pellets out like a baseball pitching machine. 

Based on their testing, researchers have "no doubt" that the pellets will burn brightly enough to be seen on the ground, even over light-polluted Tokyo, within a 200-kilometer (125-mile) radius. In the event of inclement weather, the meteor shower can be remotely canceled and postponed prior to starting.

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New technology allows non-invasive glucose level testing via contact lens

New technology allows non-invasive glucose level testing via contact lens | Amazing Science |

Blood testing is the standard option for checking glucose levels, but a new technology could allow non-invasive testing via a contact lens that samples glucose levels in tears. “There’s no noninvasive method to do this,” said Wei-Chuan Shih, a researcher with the University of Houston who worked with colleagues at UH and in Korea to develop the project, described in the high-impact journal Advanced Materials. “It always requires a blood draw. This is unfortunately the state of the art.”


But glucose is a good target for optical sensing, and especially for what is known as surface-enhanced Raman scattering spectroscopy, said Shih, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering whose lab, the NanoBioPhotonics Group, works on optical biosensing enabled by nanoplasmonics.


This is an alternative approach, in contrast to a Raman spectroscopy-based noninvasive glucose sensor Shih developed as a Ph.D. student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He holds two patents for technologies related to directly probing skin tissue using laser light to extract information about glucose concentrations.  


The paper describes the development of a tiny device, built from multiple layers of gold nanowires stacked on top of a gold film and produced using solvent-assisted nanotransfer printing, which optimized the use of surface-enhanced Raman scattering to take advantage of the technique’s ability to detect small molecular samples.


Surface-enhanced Raman scattering – named for Indian physicist C.V. Raman, who discovered the effect in 1928 – uses information about how light interacts with a material to determine properties of the molecules that make up the material.


The device enhances the sensing properties of the technique by creating “hot spots,” or narrow gaps within the nanostructure which intensified the Raman signal, the researchers said.  

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New Smart Tattoos Let You Control Your Mobile Phone Using Your Skin

New Smart Tattoos Let You Control Your Mobile Phone Using Your Skin | Amazing Science |

In a recent post about biohacking, I wrote about people who have implanted chips into their bodies to benefit their health, simplify their lives, or connect themselves to an external network. Though some have been quick to adopt it, biohacking is still a relatively new and bizarre trend that makes many people wary. The thought of burying chips in our arms is unsettling, and most of us would only do it if it was medically necessary. But for those who are curious yet not quite ready to take the chip-implantation plunge, there’s now another way to join the biohacking party: temporary tattoos.


Created by MIT PhD student Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao in conjunction with Microsoft Research, the Duoskintattoos transfer onto your skin with water, and they can be customized for both aesthetic and functional purposes. Hsin-Liu Kao presented her paper about the tattoos at the International Symposium on Wearable Computers in Heidelberg, Germany last week.


The first step in creating a tattoo is to make a tiny circuit board using graphic design software. A stencil of the circuit is created by applying a layer of vinyl film onto tattoo paper, then gold leaf is layered over the stencil to act as conductive material. The last step is to surface-mount electronics. All tattoos except those with an NFC chip connect to a microcontroller that processes sensor data, supplies power, and links devices through Bluetooth. The total cost of creating a three by four centimeter squared NFC tag is less than $2.50.


In trials, the team tested conductive thread and copper tape as alternatives to gold leaf, but found gold leaf to be the most durable and the most skin-friendly.

Adele Taylor's curator insight, October 4, 8:45 PM

Have I missed something?

I didn't know micro-chipping your body was a thing, would you do it?

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'Artificial pancreas' for type 1 diabetes wins FDA approval

'Artificial pancreas' for type 1 diabetes wins FDA approval | Amazing Science |

The Food and Drug Administration approved a so-called artificial pancreas Wednesday. The first-of-its-kind device, the size of a cell phone, monitors and treats patients with type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes.


In those with type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, a hormone people need to get energy from food. The Medtronic MiniMed 670G system continuously monitors glucose (blood sugar) levels and delivers needed insulin to patients.


"This is a revolutionary day for the treatment of diabetes. We've been long awaiting the artificial pancreas, and it's exciting to see it," said Dr. Robert Courgi, an endocrinologist at Northwell Health's South Side Hospital in Bay Shore, New York.


The device, which requires a prescription and will become available during the spring, is intended for patients 14 or older, according to the company's website.
The Medtronic system includes a glucose meter (an electrode under the skin), an insulin pump strapped to the body and an infusion patch connected to the pump, with a tiny catheter for delivering insulin. The system measures a patient's glucose levels every five minutes and either administers or withholds insulin as needed, helping patients maintain glucose levels within the normal range the majority of the time.
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Will Intelligent Machines Eliminate Us?

Will Intelligent Machines Eliminate Us? | Amazing Science |

Yoshua Bengio leads one of the world’s preëminent research groups developing a powerful AI technique known as deep learning. The startling capabilities that deep learning has given computers in recent years, from human-level voice recognition and image classification to basic conversational skills, have prompted warnings about the progress AI is making toward matching, or perhaps surpassing, human intelligence. Prominent figures such as Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk have even cautioned that artificial intelligence could pose an existential threat to humanity. Musk and others are investing millions of dollars in researching the potential dangers of AI, as well as possible solutions. But the direst statements sound overblown to many of the people who are actually developing the technology. Bengio, a professor of computer science at the University of Montreal, put things in perspective in an interview with MIT Technology Review’s senior editor for AI and robotics, Will Knight.

Via Fernando Gil
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Reach in and touch objects in videos with “Interactive Dynamic Video" from MIT

Reach in and touch objects in videos with “Interactive Dynamic Video" from MIT | Amazing Science |

We learn a lot about objects by manipulating them: poking, pushing, prodding, and then seeing how they react.

We obviously can’t do that with videos — just try touching that cat video on your phone and see what happens. But is it crazy to think that we could take that video and simulate how the cat moves, without ever interacting with the real one?


Researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have recently done just that, developing an imaging technique called Interactive Dynamic Video (IDV) that lets you reach in and “touch” objects in videos. Using traditional cameras and algorithms, IDV looks at the tiny, almost invisible vibrations of an object to create video simulations that users can virtually interact with.

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Delphi to Test World-First Self-Driving Taxi Service In Singapore

Delphi to Test World-First Self-Driving Taxi Service In Singapore | Amazing Science |

Robotaxi tests will soon begin in Singapore, and commercial service is projected for 2019, says Delphi, the auto supplier that’s running the project alongside the Singaporean government and with help from Mobileye.  


“It’s one of the first, if not the very first, pilot programs where we’ll demonstrate mobility-on-demand systems,” Glen DeVos, a Delphi senior vice president, told Bloomberg News at a press briefing at the company’s headquarters in Troy, Michigan.


Mobility on demand is fancy-speak for ride-hailing, such as Uber and Lyft offer.  DeVos added that later this year Delphi will announce similar programs in Europe and the United States. 


Nutonomy, a spinoff of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has already road-tested its own robotaxi concept in Singapore’s central business district. That company also plans to go commercial soon.


Delphi’s first modified cars—Audi Q5’s, fitted with extra sensors—will have drivers behind the wheel and will follow three, well-mapped circuits just 5.6 kilometers (3.5 miles) around. After researchers gain experience, they will let the cars dispense with their human minders and range over the entire city-state.


Singapore, as an island, is a good testbed because of its compact size, sober drivers, unified government, and congested roads. Robotaxis can ease congestion because they should decrease the number of cars on the road and they rarely need a parking space. A cab ride in a dense urban area can cost US $3 to 4 a mile, DeVos said. “We think we can get to 90 cents a mile.” 

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Will Organs-in-a-Dish Ever Replace Animal Models?

Will Organs-in-a-Dish Ever Replace Animal Models? | Amazing Science |

Increasingly sophisticated tissue organoids can model many aspects of disease, but animal studies retain a fundamental role in research, scientists say.


From mini brains to mini kidneys, an increasing number of organ models can now be grown in vitro. Some of these “organoids” can even perform certain functions of the human body in both health and disease, reducing the need for animal models. But organoid-based models still can’t fully recapitulate complex aspects of physiology that can only be studied in whole organisms.


“I believe that organoid models will replace a lot of current animal experimentation,” Hans Clevers of the Hubrecht Institute in Utrecht, Netherlands, one of the field’s pioneers, wrote in an email to The Scientist. However, “a living organism is more than the sum of its parts,” he added. “There will always be the need for confirmation of any finding . . . in vivo.”


Organoids are three-dimensional miniature organs grown in vitro from adult or embryonic stem cells under chemical and physical conditions that mimic the human body. Clevers and colleagues grew the first mini guts in 2009; since then, researchers have succeeded in growing mini brains, kidneys, livers, pancreases, and prostate glands (see “Orchestrating Organoids,” The Scientist, September 1, 2015).


One area where organoids are well suited to reduce the use of animal models is toxicology, Clevers and others have noted.

Many drugs prove successful in mouse models only to fail in human trials. Organoids, on the other hand, can be grown from human stem cells. “The fact that [the cells are] human is really important,” James Wells, a professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center whose lab develops stomach organoids, told The Scientist. “There can be very different responses to drugs in a mouse and a human.”


Another advantage of organoids is that they can be used for personalized medicine.


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Skull implant delivers life-saving laser treatments to patients with brain disorders

Skull implant delivers life-saving laser treatments to patients with brain disorders | Amazing Science |

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside have developed a transparent “window to the brain” — a skull implant that is biocompatible, infection-resistant, and does not need to be repetitively replaced.


Part of the ongoing “Window to the Brain” project, a multi-institution, cross-disciplinary effort, the idea is to use transparent skull implants to provide laser diagnosis and treatment of a wide variety of brain pathologies, including brain cancers, traumatic brain injury, stroke, and neurodegenerative diseases, without requiring repeated craniotomies (a surgical operation in which a bone flap is temporarily removed from the skull to access the brain). Such operations are vulnerable to bacterial infections.


The researchers have developed a transparent version of the material yttria-stabilized zirconia (YSZ), a ceramic material used in hip implants and dental crowns.


The researchers implanted the material in a hamster, where it integrated into the host tissue without causing an immune response or other adverse effects, as they describe in a paper in the journal Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine. The internal toughness of YSZ, which is more impact-resistant and biocompatible than the titanium, thermoplastic polymers, and glass-based materials developed by other researchers, makes it “the only transparent skull implant that could conceivably be used in humans,” according to the researchers.


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Artificial pancreas likely to be available by 2018

Artificial pancreas likely to be available by 2018 | Amazing Science |

The artificial pancreas -- a device which monitors blood glucose in patients with type 1 diabetes and then automatically adjusts levels of insulin entering the body -- is likely to be available by 2018, conclude authors of a paper in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes). Issues such as speed of action of the forms of insulin used, reliability, convenience and accuracy of glucose monitors plus cybersecurity to protect devices from hacking, are among the issues that are being addressed.


Currently available technology allows insulin pumps to deliver insulin to people with diabetes after taking a reading or readings from glucose meters, but these two components are separate. It is the joining together of both parts into a 'closed loop' that makes an artificial pancreas, explain authors Dr Roman Hovorka and Dr Hood Thabit of the University of Cambridge, UK. "In trials to date, users have been positive about how use of an artificial pancreas gives them 'time off' or a 'holiday' from their diabetes management, since the system is managing their blood sugar effectively without the need for constant monitoring by the user," they say.


One part of the clinical need for the artificial pancreas is the variability of insulin requirements between and within individuals -- on one day a person could use one third of their normal requirements, and on another 3 times what they normally would. This is dependent on the individual, their diet, their physical activity and other factors. The combination of all these factors together places a burden on people with type 1 diabetes to constantly monitor their glucose levels, to ensure they don't end up with too much blood sugar (hyperglycaemic) or more commonly, too little (hypoglycaemic). Both of these complications can cause significant damage to blood vessels and nerve endings, making complications such as cardiovascular problems more likely.  


 There are alternatives to the artificial pancreas, with improvements in technology in both whole pancreas transplantation and also transplants of just the beta cells from the pancreas which produce insulin. However, recipients of these transplants require drugs to suppress their immune systems just as in other organ transplants. In the case of whole pancreas transplantation, major surgery is required; and in beta cell islet transplantation, the body's immune system can still attack the transplanted cells and kill off a large proportion of them (80% in some cases). The artificial pancreas of course avoids the need for major surgery and immunosuppressant drugs.


Researchers globally continue to work on a number of challenges faced by artificial pancreas technology. One such challenge is that even fast-acting insulin analogues do not reach their peak levels in the bloodstream until 0.5 to 2 hours after injection, with their effects lasting 3 to 5 hours. So this may not be fast enough for effective control in, for example, conditions of vigorous exercise. Use of the even faster acting 'insulin aspart' analogue may remove part of this problem, as could use of other forms of insulin such as inhaled insulin. Work also continues to improve the software in closed loop systems to make it as accurate as possible in blood sugar management.


A number of clinical studies have been completed using the artificial pancreas in its various forms, in various settings such as diabetes camps for children, and real life home testing. Many of these trials have shown as good or better glucose control than existing technologies (with success defined by time spent in a target range of ideal blood glucose concentrations and reduced risk of hypoglycemia). A number of other studies are ongoing.


The authors say: "Prolonged 6- to 24-month multinational closed-loop clinical trials and pivotal studies are underway or in preparation including adults and children. As closed loop devices may be vulnerable to cybersecurity threats such as interference with wireless protocols and unauthorised data retrieval, implementation of secure communications protocols is a must."


The actual timeline to availability of the artificial pancreas, as with other medical devices, encompasses regulatory approvals with reassuring attitudes of regulatory agencies such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is currently reviewing one proposed artificial pancreas with approval possibly as soon as 2017. And a recent review by the UK National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) reported that automated closed-loop systems may be expected to appear in the (European) market by the end of 2018. The authors say: "This timeline will largely be dependent upon regulatory approvals and ensuring that infrastructures and support are in place for healthcare professionals providing clinical care. Structured education will need to continue to augment efficacy and safety."

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Hyperloop One shows off magnetic drive in dramatic demonstration in Nevada desert

Hyperloop One shows off magnetic drive in dramatic demonstration in Nevada desert | Amazing Science |

Hyperloop One demonstrated its rapidly developing technology earlier this year in the Nevada desert. There, electromagnets propelled a sled at 115 mph (185 km/h) along a special test track. The ultimate goal of the Hyperloop system is the create a tube in which a vacuum in front of a passenger or cargo capsule removes air friction and allows mass ground travel at unprecedented speeds. The company is currently working to bring about a magnetic drive that could get a capsule up to 700 mph (1,126 km/h), for example.


According to a press release about today's announcement, Hyperloop One now has feasibility studies being conducted in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Dubai, Los Angeles, the UK, Finland, and Sweden.

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Here’s How Electric Cars Will Cause the Next Oil Crisis

Here’s How Electric Cars Will Cause the Next Oil Crisis | Amazing Science |
This isn’t something oil markets are planning for, and it’s easy to see why. Plug-in cars make up just one-tenth of 1 percent of the global car market today. They’re a rarity on the streets of most countries and still cost significantly more than similar gasoline burners. OPEC maintains that electric vehicles (EVs) will make up just 1 percent of cars in 2040. Last year ConocoPhillips Chief Executive Officer Ryan Lance told me EVs won’t have a material impact for another 50 years—probably not in his lifetime.

But here’s what we know: In the next few years, Tesla, Chevy, and Nissan plan to start selling long-range electric cars in the $30,000 range. Other carmakers and tech companies are investing billions on dozens of new models. By 2020, some of these will cost less and perform better than their gasoline counterparts. The aim would be to match the success of Tesla’s Model S, which now outsells its competitors in the large luxury class in the U.S. The question then is how much oil demand will these cars displace? And when will the reduced demand be enough to tip the scales and cause the next oil crisis?
Marc Kneepkens's curator insight, June 19, 3:20 PM

Major shifts are happening, we're about to witness what humans are capable of once they put their minds together for change.

Carlos Garcia Pando's comment, June 20, 3:27 AM
Good point, thanks for sharing.
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Gene circuits in live cells can perform complex computations

Gene circuits in live cells can perform complex computations | Amazing Science |
MIT researchers have developed a technique to integrate both analogue and digital computation in living cells, allowing them to form gene circuits capable of carrying out complex processing operations.


Living cells are capable of performing complex computations on the environmental signals they encounter. These computations can be continuous, or analogue, in nature — the way eyes adjust to gradual changes in the light levels. They can also be digital, involving simple on or off processes, such as a cell’s initiation of its own death. Synthetic biological systems, in contrast, have tended to focus on either analogue or digital processing, limiting the range of applications for which they can be used.


But now a team of researchers at MIT has developed a technique to integrate both analogue and digital computation in living cells, allowing them to form gene circuits capable of carrying out complex processing operations. The synthetic circuits, presented in a paper published today in the journal Nature Communications, are capable of measuring the level of an analogue input, such as a particular chemical relevant to a disease, and deciding whether the level is in the right range to turn on an output, such as a drug that treats the disease. In this way they act like electronic devices known as comparators, which take analogue input signals and convert them into a digital output, according to Timothy Lu, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science and of biological engineering, and head of the Synthetic Biology Group at MIT’s Research Laboratory of Electronics, who led the research alongside former microbiology PhD student Jacob Rubens. “Most of the work in synthetic biology has focused on the digital approach, because digital systems are much easier to program,” Lu says.


However, since digital systems are based on a simple binary output such as 0 or 1, performing complex computational operations requires the use of a large number of parts, which is difficult to achieve in synthetic biological systems.


“Digital is basically a way of computing in which you get intelligence out of very simple parts, because each part only does a very simple thing, but when you put them all together you get something that is very smart,” Lu says. “But that requires you to be able to put many of these parts together, and the challenge in biology, at least currently, is that you can’t assemble billions of transistors like you can on a piece of silicon,” he says.


The mixed signal device the researchers have developed is based on multiple elements. A threshold module consists of a sensor that detects analogue levels of a particular chemical.

This threshold module controls the expression of the second component, a recombinase gene, which can in turn switch on or off a segment of DNA by inverting it, thereby converting it into a digital output.


If the concentration of the chemical reaches a certain level, the threshold module expresses the recombinase gene, causing it to flip the DNA segment. This DNA segment itself contains a gene or gene-regulatory element that then alters the expression of a desired output.


“So this is how we take an analogue input, such as a concentration of a chemical, and convert it into a 0 or 1 signal,” Lu says. “And once that is done, and you have a piece of DNA that can be flipped upside down, then you can put together any of those pieces of DNA to perform digital computing,” he says.


The team has already built an analogue-to-digital converter circuit that implements ternary logic, a device that will only switch on in response to either a high or low concentration range of an input, and which is capable of producing two different outputs.

Ziggi Ivan Santini, PhD.'s curator insight, June 13, 3:35 AM

Researchers have developed a technique to integrate both analogue and digital computation in living cells, allowing them to form gene circuits capable of carrying out complex processing operations.