Amazing Science
629.6K views | +212 today
Amazing Science
Amazing science facts - 3D_printing • aging • AI • anthropology • art • astronomy • bigdata • bioinformatics • biology • biotech • chemistry • computers • cosmology • education • environment • evolution • future • genetics • genomics • geosciences • green_energy • history • language • map • material_science • math • med • medicine • microscopy • nanotech • neuroscience • paleontology • photography • photonics • physics • postings • robotics • science • technology • video
Your new post is loading...
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Quantum "Rainbow" Universe Where Time May Have No Beginning and the Big Bang Never Happened

Quantum "Rainbow" Universe Where Time May Have No Beginning and the Big Bang Never Happened | Amazing Science |

What if the universe had no beginning, and time stretched back infinitely without a big bang to start things off? That's one possible consequence of an idea called "rainbow gravity," so-named because it posits that gravity's effects on spacetime are felt differently by different wavelengths of light, aka different colors in the rainbow.


Rainbow gravity was first proposed 10 years ago as a possible step toward repairing the rifts between the theories of general relativity (covering the very big) and quantum mechanics (concerning the realm of the very small). The idea is not a complete theory for describing quantum effects on gravity, and is not widely accepted. Nevertheless, physicists have now applied the concept to the question of how the universe began, and found that if rainbow gravity is correct, spacetime may have a drastically different origin story than the widely accepted picture of the big bang.


According to Einstein's general relativity, massive objects warp spacetime so that anything traveling through it, including light, takes a curving path. Standard physics says this path shouldn't depend on the energy of the particles moving through spacetime, but in rainbow gravity, it does. "Particles with different energies will actually see different spacetimes, different gravitational fields," says Adel Awad of the Center for Theoretical Physics at Zewail City of Science and Technology in Egypt, who led the new research, published in October in the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics. The color of light is determined by its frequency, and because different frequencies correspond to different energies, light particles (photons) of different colors would travel on slightly different paths though spacetime, according to their energy.


The effects would usually be tiny, so that we wouldn't notice the difference in most observations of stars, galaxies and other cosmic phenomena. But with extreme energies, in the case of particles emitted by stellar explosions called gamma-ray bursts, for instance, the change might be detectable. In such situations photons of different wavelengths released by the same gamma-ray burst would reach Earth at slightly different times, after traveling somewhat altered courses through billions of light-years of time and space. "So far we have no conclusive evidence that this is going on," says Giovanni Amelino-Camelia, a physicist at the Sapienza University of Rome who has researched the possibility of such signals. Modern observatories, however, are just now gaining the sensitivity needed to measure these effects, and should improve in coming years.

Vloasis's curator insight, December 9, 2013 2:23 PM

Fun stuff to ponder!

Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Generation of Human Hair from Dermal Papilla Cells

Generation of Human Hair from Dermal Papilla Cells | Amazing Science |
Scientists say they have for the first time successfully grown human hairs using dermal papilla cells taken from the inside of hair follicles.


The method could significantly expand the use of hair transplantation to women with hair loss as well as to men in early stages of baldness. Dermal papilla cells give rise to hair follicles, and the notion of cloning hair follicles using inductive dermal papilla cells has been around for 40 years or so. However, once the dermal papilla cells are put into conventional, two-dimensional tissue culture, they revert to basic skin cells and lose their ability to produce hair follicles. So we were faced with a Catch-22: how to expand a sufficiently large number of cells for hair regeneration while retaining their inductive properties,” said co-author Prof Colin Jahoda from Durham University, UK.

The team found a clue to overcoming this barrier in their observations of rodent hair. Rodent papillae can be easily harvested, expanded, and successfully transplanted back into rodent skin, a method pioneered by Dr Jahoda several years ago. The main reason that rodent hair is readily transplantable, the researchers suspected, is that their dermal papillae tend to spontaneously aggregate, or form clumps, in tissue culture. The team reasoned that these aggregations must create their own extracellular environment, which allows the papillae to interact and release signals that ultimately reprogram the recipient skin to grow new follicles.

To test their hypothesis, the team harvested dermal papillae from 7 human donors and cloned the cells in tissue culture. No additional growth factors were added to the cultures. After a few days, the cultured papillae were transplanted between the dermis and epidermis of human skin that had been grafted onto the backs of mice. In five of the seven tests, the transplants resulted in new hair growth that lasted at least six weeks.

DNA analysis confirmed that the new hair follicles were human and genetically matched the donors.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

New Ghost-Like Cave-Dwelling 'Shrimp' Discovered in California

New Ghost-Like Cave-Dwelling 'Shrimp' Discovered in California | Amazing Science |
A translucent underwater cave dweller that looks like a skeleton and travels like an inchworm is the newest member of California's array of marine life.


Scientists found a new species of skeleton shrimp — a group of tiny crustaceans that are actually caprellid amphipods, not shrimp — in vials collected from a small cave offshore of Southern California's Catalina Island. The two vials, one containing a male and one containing a female, were housed in the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa.


Lead study author José Manuel Guerra-García, a caprellid expert at the University of Seville in Spain, realized the "shrimp" were a never-before-recognized species during a 2010 visit to the museum. Guerra-García compared the ghostlike creatures with other species of the genus, Liropus, and confirmed other scientists had never described the tiny crustaceans.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

MIT: A leap forward in X-ray technology

MIT: A leap forward in X-ray technology | Amazing Science |

X-rays transformed medicine a century ago by providing a noninvasive way to detect internal structures in the body. Still, they have limitations: X-rays cannot image the body’s soft tissues, except with the use of contrast-enhancing agents that must be swallowed or injected, and their resolution is limited.


But a new approach developed by researchers at MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) could dramatically change that, enabling the most detailed images ever — including clear views of soft tissue without any need for contrast agents.


The new technology “could make X-rays ubiquitous, because of its higher resolution, the fact that the dose would be smaller and the hardware smaller, cheaper, and more capable than current X-rays,” says Luis Velásquez-García, a principal research scientist at MIT’s Microsystems Technology Laboratories and senior author of the PowerMEMS paper.

Velásquez-García says that while conventional X-ray systems show little or no structure in most soft tissues — including all of the body’s major organ systems — the new system would show these in great detail. A test the team performed with an eye from a cadaver using X-rays from a particle accelerator clearly shows “all the structures, the lens and the cornea,” he says. “In time we are confident our system will be able to achieve such resolution with a far simpler and cheaper device.”

The key is to produce coherent beams of X-rays from an array of micron-sized point sources, instead of a spread from a single, large point as in conventional systems, Velásquez-García explains. The team’s approach includes developing hardware that is an innovative application of batch microfabrication processes used to make microchips for computers and electronic devices.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Added Molecules Allow Metal-Organic Frameworks to Conduct Electricity in a Tunable Fashion

Added Molecules Allow Metal-Organic Frameworks to Conduct Electricity in a Tunable Fashion | Amazing Science |

Scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Sandia National Laboratories have added something new to a family of engineered, high-tech materials called metal-organic frameworks (MOFs): the ability to conduct electricity. This breakthrough—conductive MOFs—has the potential to make these already remarkable materials even more useful, particularly for detecting gases and toxic substances.

MOFs are three-dimensional crystalline materials with nanoscale pores made up of metal ions linked by various organic molecules. MOFs have huge surface areas, and scientists can easily control the size of their pores and how the pores interact with molecules by tinkering with their chemistries. These characteristics make them ideal for use as catalysts, membranes or sponges for gas storage or for drug delivery, among other applications.


Thousands of new MOF structures are discovered and characterized each year. While they come in a dizzying array of chemistries and structures, none of them conducts electricity well. The NIST/Sandia team developed a method to modify the electrical conductivity of MOF thin films and to control it over six orders of magnitude. 

"MOFs are typically extremely poor electrical conductors because their constituent building blocks, the organic linkers and the metal ions, don't really talk to each other in terms of electrical conduction," says NIST materials engineer Andrea Centrone. "Our work points to a way of controlling and increasing their conductivity."


The group accomplished this by "infiltrating an insulating MOF with redox-active, conjugated guest molecules." In other words, they infused and bound electron-sharing molecules into MOF thin films to create a material that is stable in air and approximately a million times more conductive than the unaltered MOF.

"Based on several spectroscopic experiments, we believe that the guest molecules serve two important purposes: they create additional bridges between the metal ions—copper, in this case—and they accept electrical charge," says NIST chemist Veronika Szalai.


According to NIST physicist Paul Haney, who provided some modeling for the experimental data, the arrangement of the guest molecules in the MOF creates a unique conductivity mechanism while preserving the benefits of the porous MOF crystalline structure.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Public Lectures - Stephen Hawking: My Life in Physics

Public Lectures - Stephen Hawking: My Life in Physics | Amazing Science |

Hawking has given many lectures to the general public. Below are some of the more recent public lectures. Included with these lectures is a Glossary of some of the terms used.

Into a Black Hole (2008): Is it possible to fall in a black hole, and come out in another universe? Can you escape from a black hole once you fall inside? What have we discovered about black holes?

The Origin of the Universe (2005): Why are we here? Where did we come from? The answer generally given was that humans were of comparatively recent origin, because it must have been obvious, even at early times, that the human race was improving in knowledge and technology. So it can't have been around that long, or it would have progressed even more.

Godel and the End of Physics (2002): How far can we go in our search for understanding and knowledge? Will we ever find a complete form of the laws of nature - a set of rules that in principle at least enable us to predict the future to an arbitrary accuracy, knowing the state of the universe at one time? A qualitative understanding of the laws has been the aim of philosophers and scientists, from Aristotle onwards.

Space and Time Warps (1999): In science fiction, space and time warps are a commonplace. They are used for rapid journeys around the galaxy, or for travel through time. But today's science fiction, is often tomorrow's science fact. So what are the chances for space and time warps?

Does God Play Dice (1999): Can predict the future, or is it arbitrary and random? In ancient times, the world must have seemed pretty arbitrary. Disasters such as floods or diseases must have seemed to happen without warning or apparent reason. Primitive people attributed such natural phenomena, to a pantheon of gods and goddesses, who behaved in a capricious and whimsical way. There was no way to predict what they would do, and the only hope was to win favour by gifts or actions.

The Beginning of Time (1996): Has time itself a beginning, and will it have an end? All the evidence seems to indicate, that the universe has not existed forever, but that it had a beginning, about 15 billion years ago. This is probably the most remarkable discovery of modern cosmology. Yet it is now taken for granted. We are not yet certain whether the universe will have an end.

Life in the Universe (1996): Speculations about how life has developed in the universe, and in particular, the development of intelligent life.

Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Climate Commons - an interactive map to connect weather with emission data and climate news

Climate Commons - an interactive map to connect weather with emission data and climate news | Amazing Science |
Mapping media coverage of climate change and the vital data needed to understand its causes and impacts.


Climate Commons is an interactive map developed by the Earth Journalism Network. The map features weather data and emissions data related to climate. The map allows you to compare baseline weather data with anomalies and extreme weather events. The map also features articles about climate change. The articles are displayed on the map according to location.

No comment yet.
Rescooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald from Mathematics,Science Resources And News!

WIRED: Visual rendering of first 100 billion digits of pi proves randomness

WIRED: Visual rendering of first 100 billion digits of pi proves randomness | Amazing Science |
This image is a representation of the first 100 billion digits of pi and is equivalent to 10,000 photos from a ten-megapixel camera

Via White Group Mathematics
White Group Mathematics's curator insight, August 20, 2013 11:57 AM

An interesting visualization exercise. Peace.

Semiotic Sorceress's curator insight, December 8, 2013 2:37 PM

""I was interested to see what I'd get by turning a number into a picture," says mathematician Jon Borwein, from the University of Newcastle in Australia, who collaborated with programmer Fran Aragon. "We wanted to prove, with the image, that the digits of pi are really random," explains Aragon. "If they weren't, the picture would have a structure or a repeating shape, like a circle, or some broccoli."

Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Amazon reveals AI air drone capable of delivering goods to customers within 30 minutes of ordering

Amazon reveals AI air drone capable of delivering goods to customers within 30 minutes of ordering | Amazing Science |

As early as 2015, your Amazon purchases could be dropped at your door within 30 minutes courtesy of unmanned aerial drones. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos revealed plans for the delivery service Prime Air (an extension of Amazon Prime which guarantees two-day shipping) in a 60 Minutes prime time interview.


The service would ship orders under five pounds (2.3 kg) after they are packed into small plastic containers and then scooped up by Amazon's custom-built "octocopter." The drone then delivers the package to customers within a 10 mile (16 km) radius of Amazon's fulfillment centers.


Clearly the company will need to jump through various hoops to get the service off the ground, with public safety being a primary concern. "Safety will be our top priority, and our vehicles will be built with multiple redundancies designed to commercial aviation standards," the company says.


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is currently working on rules and regulations for unmanned aerial vehicles, a process which Amazon hopes will be completed sooner rather than later. "We hope the FAA's rules will be in place as early as sometime in 2015. We will be ready at that time."


We have seen a rise in proposals for the use of drones to deliver commercial products. One Australian startup plans to use drones to deliver school textbooks to customers in March 2014, while The Burrito Bomberhopes to be dropping Mexican cuisine on people as soon as 2015. With Amazon's product range, however, Prime Air would be the first to do so on such a large and diverse scale.


It may sound like science fiction, but given that Bezos claims that 300 items per second will be ordered from Amazon on Cyber Monday, it is possible that flocks of Prime Air drones will be zipping around above us in the very near future.

elke de turck's curator insight, December 31, 2013 8:41 AM

Company: Amazon

Segment: Retail - online selling and delivering

ICT-solution: Octocoper (a drone)


Summary: Amazon has built a drone, the Octocoper that will be able to deliver goods (< 5 pounds) within a radius of 16 miles in under 60 minutes.


Business objectives: Because of its fast delivery, people will order regular stuff (like for example cleaning products) online as well. Amazon's profits will rise significantly (which is bad for normal shops).

Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Micro-robots will become soft and move like biological organisms, experts predict

Micro-robots will become soft and move like biological organisms, experts predict | Amazing Science |

Increasingly small robots can carry out their functions even inside the human body. No, this isn’t a sci-fi dream. The technology is almost ready. However there is still one condition they must meet to be effective: these devices need to have the same "softness" and flexibility as biological tissues.

This is the opinion of scientists like Antonio De Simone, from SISSA (the International School for Advanced Studies of Trieste) and Marino Arroyo from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, who have just published a paper in the Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids. Taking inspiration from unicellular water micro-organisms, they studied the locomotion mechanisms of "soft robots."


Forget cogwheels, pistons and levers: miniaturized robots of the future will be 'soft.' "If I think of the robots of tomorrow, what comes to mind are the tentacles of an octopus or the trunk of an elephant rather than the mechanical arm of a crane or the inner workings of a watch. And if I think of micro-robots then I think of unicellular organisms moving in water. The robots of the future will be increasingly like biological organisms" explains Antonio De Simone.

De Simone and his team at SISSA have been studying the movement of euglenids, unicellular aquatic animals, for several years. One of the aims of De Simone's research -- which has recently been awarded a European Research Council Advanced Grant of 1,300,000 euro -- is to transfer the knowledge acquired in euglenids to micro-robotics, a field that represents a promising challenge for the future. Micro-robots may in fact carry out a number of important functions, for example for human health, by delivering drugs directly to where they are needed, re-opening occluded blood vessels, or helping to close wounds, to name just a few.

To do this, these tiny robots will have to be able to move around efficiently. "Imagine trying to miniaturize a device made up of levers and cogwheels: you can't go below a certain minimal size. Instead, by mimicking biological systems we can go all the way down to cell size, and this is exactly the direction research is taking. We, in particular, are working on movement and studying how certain unicellular organisms with highly efficient locomotion move."


In their study, De Simone and Arroyo simulated euglenid species with different shapes and locomotion methods, based chiefly on cell body deformation and swelling, to describe in detail the mechanics and characteristics of the movement obtained.


"Our work not only helps to understand the movement mechanism of these unicellular organisms, but it provides a knowledge base to plan the locomotion system of future micro-robots."

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Robotic jellyfish could one day patrol oceans, clean oil spills, and detect pollutants

Robotic jellyfish could one day patrol oceans, clean oil spills, and detect pollutants | Amazing Science |
Virginia Tech College of Engineering researchers are working on a multi-university, nationwide project for the U.S. Navy that one day will put life-like autonomous robot jellyfish in waters around the world.


The main focus of the program is to understand the fundamentals of propulsion mechanisms utilized by nature, said Shashank Priya, associate professor of mechanical engineering andmaterials science and engineering at Virginia Tech, and lead researcher on the project. Future uses of the robot jellyfish could include conducting military surveillance, cleaning oil spills, and monitoring the environment.

This isn’t science fiction. It’s happening now in a lab inside Virginia Tech’s Durham Hall, where a 600-gallon tank is regularly filled with water as small robotic jellyfish are tested for movement and energy self-creation and usage. A synthetic rubbery skin, squishy in one’s hand, mimics the sleek jellyfish skin and is placed over a bowl-shaped device covered in electronics. When moving, they look weirdly alive.


The robotic creatures are called RoboJelly are being designed to operate on their own energy versus, say, sea crabs, or mollusks.


“Jellyfish are attractive candidates to mimic because of their ability to consume little energy owing to a lower metabolic rate than other marine species, survivability in varying water conditions, and possession of adequate shape for carrying a payload,” Priya said. “They inhabit every major oceanic area of the world and are capable of withstanding a wide range of temperatures and in fresh and salt waters. Most species are found in shallow coastal waters, but some have been found in depths 7,000 meters below sea level.”


Several sizes of the RoboJelly are under various phases of development, some the size of a man’s hand, while another is more than five-foot wide. The latter robotic creature is too large for the lab tank and is tested in a swimming pool, and is not yet ready for wide public debut, said Priya, director of the Center for Energy Harvesting Materials and Systems.


The idea for a robotic jellyfish did not originate at Virginia Tech, but rather the U.S. Naval Undersea Warfare Center and the Office of Naval Research. Virginia Tech, is teaming with four U.S. universities on the multi-year, $5 million project: University of Texas at Dallas is handling nanotechnology based actuators and sensors; Providence College in Rhode Island is handling biological studies, University of California, Los Angeles, is handling electrostatic and optical sensing/controls, and Stanford University is overseeing chemical and pressure sensing. Virginia Tech is building the jellyfish body models, integrating fluid mechanics and developing control systems. Several other major U.S. universities and industries also are on the project, as well as collaborators and advisory board members.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Latest from ATLAS: Higgs-like Boson Discovered Last Year Behaves Just the Way it Should

Latest from ATLAS: Higgs-like Boson Discovered Last Year Behaves Just the Way it Should | Amazing Science |

At a CERN seminar November 26th, Aliaksandr (Sasha) Pranko of the Physics Division at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) presented key direct evidence that the “Higgs-like” particle discovered at CERN last year does what a Higgs is supposed to do: it couples not only to other bosons but to fermions as well.


Pranko is a member of Berkeley Lab’s contingent of the ATLAS Collaboration at the Large Hadron Collider. Pranko reported the results of the ATLAS search for pairs of fermions – including quarks, constituents of hadrons such as protons, and leptons, particles in their own right such as electrons and neutrinos. The ATLAS search concentrated on finding pairs of bottom (b) quarks; pairs of muons, which are heavier “cousins” of the electron; and pairs of tau leptons, cousins of the electron that are heavier still.


The b-quark and muon searches yielded no events in excess of the cluttered experimental background, but the search for pairs of tau particles yielded striking results, showing marked evidence at a high level of confidence that a Higgs boson can indeed decay to a pair of taus. This was the first evidence that the Higgs couples with leptons.


“Since Higgs coupling should be dependent on particle mass, tau coupling should be much bigger than muon coupling,” says Ian Hinchliffe, who leads Berkeley Lab’s ATLAS contingent. “The ATLAS experiment has very high resolution in muons, but the expected signal is very small.” And detecting decay to a pair of taus is very complicated, due to the large backgrounds and the missing energy carried off by neutrinos from the tau decays.


Hinchliffe credits Pranko with co-inventing the “Missing Mass Calculator” method of reconstructing particle masses, in particular those of tau pairs, and serving as co-leader of the group responsible for the ATLAS Collaboration’s analysis of the data that revealed the Higgs’s coupling to the tau lepton.


The ATLAS results were based on the full data set with the LHC’s colliding beams running at 8 TeV (eight trillion electron volts) center-of-mass proton collisions during the last year of its run, before it recessed for maintenance. The LHC is now preparing for even higher energy runs beginning in 2015.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Not all species deteriorate with age, some buck trend in mortality and fertility

Not all species deteriorate with age, some buck trend in mortality and fertility | Amazing Science |

Water fleas live only days or under optimal conditions weeks, but their mortality increases sharply with age, as is the case in longer-lived animals such as humans. But other animals — such as the hermit crab, the red abalone and the hydra, a microscopic freshwater animal that can live centuries — buck that trend, enjoying near constant levels of fertility and mortality.

A comparison of standardized demographic patterns across 46 species, published in Nature, suggests that the vast diversity of ‘ageing strategies’ among them challenges the notion that evolution inevitably leads to senescence, or deterioration of mortality and fertility, with age, says Owen Jones, a biologist at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense, who led the study.


“By taking a grand view and doing a survey across species, we found plenty of violations of this underpinning theory,” says Jones.

To compare fertility and mortality patterns, the authors assembled published life-history data sets for 11 mammals, 12 other vertebrates, 10 invertebrates, 12 vascular plants and a green alga, and standardized the trajectories — dividing mortality rates at each point in the lifespan by the average mortality rate.


The researchers found no association between the length of life and the degree of senescence. Of the 24 species showing the most abrupt increase in mortality with age, 11 had relatively long lifespans and 13 had relatively short lifespans. A similar split in lifespan occurred in the species that had a less abrupt increase in mortality.

Laurence Mueller, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California at Irvine, agrees. “Organisms in the field die from a lot of causes — for example, predation or disease — other than ageing,” he says. “Unfortunately, the unknown source of mortality in field-data sets confounds the age-related patterns of senescence, which is what we’re all interested in,” he adds.


Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Michio Kaku: What does the future look like?

Dr. Michio Kaku, Professor of Theoretical Physics at City University of New York shares his vision of mankind's future.

Laura E. Mirian, PhD's curator insight, December 9, 2013 4:15 PM


Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Germs That Build Circuits: Biological Self-Assembly Projects

Germs That Build Circuits: Biological Self-Assembly Projects | Amazing Science |
With viruses serving as construction crews and DNA as the blueprint, biotechnology may hold the key to postlithography ICs


Biological self-assembly, as this field of research is called, has a compelling appeal. Living creatures produce the most complex molecular structures known to science. Crafted over eons by natural selection, these three-dimensional arrangements of atoms manifest a precision and fidelity, not to mention a minuteness, far beyond the capabilities of current technology. Under the direction of genes encoded in DNA, cells construct proteins that put together the fine structures necessary for life. And now that scientists can alter the genetic codes of microbes with increasing ease and accuracy, more and more research is showing that this same mechanism can be forced to construct and assemble materials critical not to nature necessarily, but to future generations of electronics.


Most scientists say the technology will first be used to construct sensors consisting of one or a few nanodevices connected to ordinary silicon circuitry. But that's not what drives the research. Their ultimate ambition is to upend current fabrication methods by genetically engineering microbes to build nanoscale circuits based on codes implanted in their DNA. No more cutting patterns into semiconductor wafers, an increasingly arduous process involving lasers, plasma, exotic gases, and high temperatures in expensive industrial environments. Instead, a room-temperature potion of biomolecules will execute, on cue, a genetically programmed chemical dance that ends in a functioning circuit with nanometer-scale dimensions.


In 2001, Belcher and UCSB's Evelyn Hu founded Semzyme (Cambridge, MA), a company that will exploit biological self-assembly to make electronic materials as well as more biotechnology-specific applications, such as long-term storage of DNA. The company is set to begin operations this year and is choosing a first product to bring to market.


Big, established companies are taking this research seriously, too. The Army's Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies has attracted sponsorship from Aerospace Corp., Applied Biosystems, Genencor, IBM, SAIC, and Becton Dickinson.


Genencor, in particular, took an early interest in bioengineering viruses, forming a $35 million partnership with silicon materials giant Dow Corning in 2001. In the short term, the two firms are merging peptides with silicon-based chemicals to make fabric treatment and cosmetic products. Sensors and other electronics elements are future targets.


DuPont, too, is tinkering with bioevolved peptides. According to Tim Gierke, the company has identified one short-term application: purifying carbon nanotubes. Recently, these hollow pipes just a few nanometers wide have been turned into experimental logic circuits and other devices. Depending on the nanotube's structure, it acts as either a semiconductor or a metal. Unfortunately, current methods generate tubes of both types along with a messy soup of soot, and there's no good way of sorting anything out.


So DuPont evolved peptides that selectively grab the nanotubes and ignore other forms of carbon. To separate the semiconductors from the metallics, the company turned to another important biomolecule--DNA. DuPont scientists discovered that when a particular form of DNA and carbon nanotubes bind, metallic and semiconducting tubes can, to a degree, be separated using a common laboratory trick.

Miro Svetlik's curator insight, December 9, 2013 3:17 AM

I am watching this field of technology with lot of excitement. Biologically produced circuits will be next big step in our technology. Specially in the nano-size world it is probably most effective way to produce new technology to extend properties of living tissues. Eventually it will change the medicine as we know it.

Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Here Come 5 Dimensions: 5D Stores Much More Data Than 3D

Here Come 5 Dimensions: 5D Stores Much More Data Than 3D | Amazing Science |
Glass media that stores data in 3-spatial and 2-optical dimensions could outlast us all


An experimental computer memory format uses five dimensions to store data with a density that would allow more than 300 terabytes to be crammed onto a standard optical disc. But unlike an optical disc, which is made of plastic, the experimental media is quartz glass. Researchers have long been trying to use glass as a storage material because it is far more durable than existing plastics.


A team led by optoelectronics researcher Jingyu Zhang at the University of Southampton, in the U.K., has demonstrated that information can be stored in glass by changing its birefringence, a property related to how polarized light moves through the glass.


In conventional optical media, such as DVDs, you store data by burning tiny pits on one or more layers on the plastic disc, which means you're using three spatial dimensions to store information. But in Zhang's experiment, he and colleagues exploit two additional, optical dimensions.


When their data-recording laser marks the glass, it doesn’t just make a pit: it changes two parameters of the birefringence of the glass. The researchers set these parameters, called slow axis orientation and strength of retardance, by controlling the polarization and intensity of their laser beam. Add the two optical dimensions to three spatial coordinates and the result is "5D data storage," as Zhang calls it.


Previous attempts at storing data in glass consisted of burning tiny holes into the material, but that approach means that an optical microscope is required to read out the data. Zhang's goal is to write data into glass in a format readable with lasers, like existing optical discs, to keep data-reading costs down.


The writing costs will be higher, though, since changing birefringence in glass requires fine control of a laser's polarization and intensity. Earlier attempts involved rotating the laser and using an attenuator, Zhang says, but that could take several seconds between writing operations, making it far too slow for practical applications.


Instead Zhang and colleagues bounced the beam of their ultrafast writing laser off a tiny, commercially available LCD-like screen called a spatial light modulator, or SLM (see illustration below). It changes its reflectivity quickly in response to electrical charges, giving the team fine control over the intensity of the reflected beam.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

RoboEarth Project: Connecting robots world-wide

RoboEarth Project: Connecting robots world-wide | Amazing Science |
At its core, RoboEarth is a World Wide Web for robots: a giant network and database repository where robots can share information and learn from each other about their behavior and their environment.


Bringing a new meaning to the phrase “experience is the best teacher”, the goal of RoboEarth is to allow robotic systems to benefit from the experience of other robots, paving the way for rapid advances in machine cognition and behaviour, and ultimately, for more subtle and sophisticated human-machine interaction.


RoboEarth offers a complete Cloud Robotics infrastructure, which includes everything needed to close the loop from robot to RoboEarth to robot. The RoboEarth World-Wide-Web style database is implemented on a server with Internet and Intranet functionality, making it attractive for both research and business applications. It stores information required for object recognition (e.g., images, object models), navigation (e.g., maps, world models), tasks (e.g., action recipes, manipulation strategies) and hosts intelligent services (e.g., image annotation, offline learning).


To close the loop, the RoboEarth Collaborators have implemented components for a ROS compatible, robot-unspecific, high-level operating system as well as components for robot-specific, low level controllers accessible via a Hardware Abstraction Layer.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Extreme ultraviolet movies reveal inside story of complex materials

Extreme ultraviolet movies reveal inside story of complex materials | Amazing Science |

A new X-ray movie technique using extreme ultraviolet (XUV) pulses from Artemis, could help unravel the mysteries of phenomena such as magnetism or high-temperature superconductivity. 


The new materials science beamline at Artemis has succeeded in making movies of electronic and structural changes in a complex material, using XUV pulses produced through high harmonic generation, a technique where a laser is fired into a gas jet and just one part in a million is converted into XUV pulses.


Members of the international collaboration from the STFC Central Laser Facility, Diamond Light Source and the universities of Hamburg, Lausanne, Oxford and Padua used these XUV pulses to study a layered crystal of Tantalum Disulphide. The resulting movies – whose frames captured slices of time lasting less than a millionth of a millionth of a second –revealed that electrical conductivity in this material is governed by strong interactions between the electrons themselves.


Understanding this type of ‘correlated-electron’ behaviour is of crucial importance, since it underlies effects such as high-temperature superconductivity. Superconductivity is the phenomenon where electric current can travel through a material with no loss, because the material is a perfect conductor with zero resistance. Although superconductors are widely used, how they work is less well understood. Even high temperature superconductors need to be kept at -170°C, requiring sophisticated cryogenics systems.


The world has ever increasing energy requirements and the search is on to find superconductors that work at room temperature. Understanding the complex physics that underlies this phenomenon is the key.

Rescooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald from Marine Conservation!

Viruses Associated With Coral Epidemic of 'White Plague' also known as Coral Bleaching

Viruses Associated With Coral Epidemic of 'White Plague' also known as Coral Bleaching | Amazing Science |

 They call it the "white plague," and like its black counterpart from the Middle Ages, it conjures up visions of catastrophic death, with a cause that was at first uncertain even as it led to widespread destruction -- on marine corals in the Caribbean Sea.


Now one of the possible causes of this growing disease epidemic has been identified -- a group of viruses that are known as small, circular, single-strand DNA (or SCSD) viruses. Researchers in the College of Science at Oregon State University say these SCSD viruses are associated with a dramatic increase in the white plague that has erupted in recent decades.


Prior to this, it had been believed that the white plague was caused primarily by bacterial pathogens. Researchers are anxious to learn more about this disease and possible ways to prevent it, because its impact on coral reef health has exploded.


"Twenty years ago you had to look pretty hard to find any occurrences of this disease, and now it's everywhere," said Nitzan Soffer, a doctoral student in the Department of Microbiology at OSU and lead author on a new study just published in the International Society for Microbial Ecology. "It moves fast and can wipe out a small coral colony in a few days.


"In recent years the white plague has killed 70-80 percent of some coral reefs," Soffer said. "There are 20 or more unknown pathogens that affect corals and in the past we've too-often overlooked the role of viruses, which sometimes can spread very fast."


This is one of the first studies to show viral association with a severe disease epidemic, scientists said. It was supported by the National Science Foundation.


Marine wildlife diseases are increasing in prevalence, the researchers pointed out. Reports of non-bleaching coral disease have increased more than 50 times since 1965, and are contributing to declines in coral abundance and cover.


White plague is one of the worst. It causes rapid tissue loss, affects many species of coral, and can cause partial or total colony mortality. Some, but not all types are associated with bacteria. Now it appears that viruses also play a role. Corals with white plague disease have higher viral diversity than their healthy counterparts, the study concluded.

Via Prof Brendan Godley
No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Deep beneath the Pacific ocean's surface: 800 ft tall waves discovered

Deep beneath the Pacific ocean's surface: 800 ft tall waves discovered | Amazing Science |
Deep beneath the Pacific’s surface, the world’s tallest waves have been discovered. Reaching up to 800 feet, they are known to researchers as internal waves.


Almost three miles beneath the ocean’s surface, internal waves are formed at the boundary of layers of water with different densities in a deep South Pacific trench, known as the Samoan Passage. These giant waves rise up due to ridges on the ocean floor in a narrow channel to the northwest of Samoa where cold, saltier water rises up into the warmer water above then plunges back down into the denser water on the other side of the ridge.

The findings are published in a journal named Geophysical Research Letters where Professor Matthew Alford says, “the flow accelerates substantially at the primary sill within the passage, reaching speeds as great as 0.55 m s−1. A strong hydraulic response is seen, with layers first rising to clear the sill and then plunging hundreds of meters downward.”

Although it will never (we can safely assume) be possible for surfers to ride these waves, they do play a much more important role. Scientists say that the waves are essential for mixing nutrients in the ocean.


“Oceanographers used to talk about the so-called ‘dark mixing’ problem, where they knew that there should be a certain amount of turbulence in the deep ocean, and yet every time they made a measurement they observed a tenth of that,” Alford said.


As the dense bottom layer of water flows over two consecutive ridges in the Samoan Passage, it forms waves, similar to air rising over a mountain. On reaching the lighter, warmer water above, they become unstable and break, mixing the two layers of water. The waves may also play a role in stimulating global currents teaching us that the seasonal swells we enjoy at our local breaks aren’t an annual coincidence.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

ELABELA (EL), a novel hormone essential for heart development discovered

ELABELA (EL), a novel hormone essential for heart development discovered | Amazing Science |
Scientists have identified a gene encoding a hormone that could potentially be used as a therapeutic molecule to treat heart diseases.


The hormone -- which they have chosen to name ELABELA is highly conserved throughout evolution and is made out of 32 amino acids. Present in human embryonic stem cells, ELA is expressed at the onset of zebrafish zygotic transcription and is ubiquitous in the naive ectodermal cells of the embryo. Using zinc-finger-nuclease-mediated gene inactivation in zebrafish, we created an allelic series of ela mutants.


Ela null embryos have impaired endoderm differentiation potential marked by reduced gata5 and sox17expression. Loss of Ela causes embryos to develop with a rudimentary heart or no heart at all, surprisingly phenocopying the loss of the apelin receptor (aplnr), which we show serves as Ela's cognate G protein-coupled receptor.


Deficiencies in hormones are the cause of many diseases, such as the loss of insulin or insulin resistance, that results in diabetes, and irregularities in appetite and satiety hormones that can cause obesity.


Hormones are known to control functions such as sleep, appetite and fertility. However, this is the first time that scientists have revealed the existence of a conserved[1] hormone playing such an early role during embryogenesis, effectively orchestrating the development of an entire organ.


The team also found that ELABELA uses a receptor previously believed to be specific to APELIN, a blood-pressure controlling hormone. This receptor called APJ or Apelin Receptor has dual functions -- it first conveys signals from ELABELA and then from APELIN. Mutations in the Apelin Receptor also prevent the heart from forming. Zebrafish bereft of the Apelin Receptor are referred to as the Grinch, in reference to the cold and heartless cartoon character created by Dr. Seuss in 1957.


ELABELA has also been found to be expressed in human embryonic stem cells, indicating that it might have other functions beyond its role in cardiovascular development.


The team's findings hold great promise for the potential use of ELABELA as a therapeutic molecule for cardiovascular disease to be used in cardiac repair and control of hypertension. As some people might have a harmful copy of the ELABELA gene in their genetic make-up, sequencing and screening for this particular gene in the general population might also help to detect predisposition to heart anomalies before the disease progresses.


Dr Bruno Reversade said, "The human genome has been sequenced over a decade ago. That we can still find anonymous hormones charms me. There are a still a few more to discover…but not for long."


Prof Birgitte Lane, Executive Director of IMB, said, "This discovery shows great promise for the development of targeted therapies for heart disease and blood pressure control in the future. It is an excellent example of how basic research can lead to surprising and unexpected findings that may change and refine medical practice."

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Shapley Supercluster of Galaxies is the Most Massive Structure within a Billion Light Years

Shapley Supercluster of Galaxies is the Most Massive Structure within a Billion Light Years | Amazing Science |

While scanning the sky for the oldest cosmic light, ESA’s Planck satellite captured snapshots of some of the largest objects populating the Universe today: galaxy clusters and superclusters.


Several hundred galaxies and the huge amounts of gas that permeate them are depicted in this view of the core of the Shapley Supercluster, the largest cosmic structure in the local Universe.


The supercluster was discovered in the 1930s by American astronomer Harlow Shapley, as a remarkable concentration of galaxies in the Centaurus constellation.


Boasting more than 8000 galaxies and with a total mass more than ten million billion times the mass of the Sun, it is the most massive structure within a distance of about a billion light-years from our Milky Way Galaxy.


The hot gas pervading galaxy clusters shines brightly in X-rays, but it is also visible at microwave wavelengths, which Planck sees as a distinctive signature in the cosmic microwave background – the afterglow of the Big Bang.


Looking for this signature – called the Sunyaev–Zel’dovich effect – Planck has already spotted more than 1000 galaxy clusters, including several superclusters and pairs of interacting clusters.


This composite image of the core of the Shapley Supercluster combines the gas detected with Planck at large scales between the members of the supercluster (shown in blue) with that detected in X-rays within the galaxy clusters of Shapley using the Rosat satellite (pink), as well as a view of its rich population of galaxies as observed at visible wavelengths in the Digitised Sky Survey.


The largest pink blobs of X-rays identify the two galaxy clusters Abell 3558 on the right and Abell 3562 on the left, as well as a couple of smaller groups between them.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Crystallin chaperon protein in the lens safeguards against cataracts

Crystallin chaperon protein in the lens safeguards against cataracts | Amazing Science |
Activation mechanism of a protective protein in the ocular lens resolved The lens of the human eye is made up of a highly concentrated protein solution that imparts the eye its high refractive power.


Yet, despite this high protein content the ocular lens must remain clear and transparent. To this end ocular lens cells have developed a remarkable strategy: They have thrown overboard the complex machinery present in all other cells of the human body for building up and breaking down proteins. Instead, lens proteins are created only once in a lifetime – during embryonic development. They are as old as the organism itself. To make them last a lifetime, the proteins are kept permanently in a dissolved state. If they clump together, the lens clouds over and the patient gets cataracts.


To date, this condition could only be treated surgically by replacing the clouded lens with an artificial one. However, if the precise mechanism by which lens proteins are kept in a dissolved state were understood, it would open up new avenues for treatment. So, how does the cell manage to keep the proteins soluble for so long? The magic lies in two proteins, αA-crystallin and its relative, αB-crystallin. They are the best-known representatives of the class of so-called small heat shock proteins. They play an important role in all human cells, since they prevent other proteins from turning into useless clumps when subjected to strong heat or cell stress.


What exactly these protective proteins look like and how they act remained shrouded in mystery for a long time, in spite of intensive research. “The great challenge in the analysis of these two crystallin types lies in their inordinate variety,” explains Johannes Buchner, professor for biotechnology at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen. “These proteins exist as a mixture of very different forms, each comprising a variable number of subunits. This makes it very difficult to distinguish the individual structures from one another.”


In 2009, in very close collaboration with Sevil Weinkauf, professor for electron microscopy at the Technische Universität München, the first part of the αB-crystallin puzzle fell into place. The team successfully deciphered the molecular structure of the most important form of this versatile protein – a molecule comprising 24 subunits. Under normal conditions, i.e. when the cell is not exposed to stress, this complex is the most common variant. However, it is merely an idle form that contributes little to the prevention of clumping in other proteins. It was clear that there must be another molecular switch that triggers the protective protein.


It is this trigger mechanism that the team headed by Buchner and Weinkauf uncovered now. When a cell is exposed to stress, for instance when subjected to heat, phosphate groups are attached to a specific region of the protein. The negative charges of these phosphates break the links between the subunits and the large complexes consequently disintegrate into numerous smaller ones of only six or twelve subunits each. As a result of this breakup, the regions at the ends of the complexes become more flexible allowing the molecules to dock up with different partners, thereby preventing them from clumping – the protective protein is now active.


The success of the scientists can be traced back above all to the interdisciplinary combination of biochemical and electron-microscopic methodologies. Aligning the information from the 2D protein disintegration images with the manifold 3D structures of αB-crystallin proved particularly difficult. “Imagine you only have a few pictures of a coffee cup’s shadow cast and want to infer the shape of the cup from that,” Weinkauf explains to illustrate the problem. “Now, if you think that sounds difficult, try to imagine you have not just a single cup, but a cupboard full of china that you want to deduce from the shadow casts. It is precisely this daunting challenge that we met for αB-crystallin.”


The newly acquired insights into the αB-crystallin mode of action form a solid footing for new therapeutic approaches. For instance, medication to treat cataracts could be developed: it would trigger the αB-crystallin activation mechanism to clear up clouded ocular lenses. But αB-crystallin also plays a role in other tissue cells. In cancer cells, for example, it is overly active and interferes with the so-called programmed cell death. In this case new medication would aim at inhibiting the protein.


No comment yet.
Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

Google’s droids to take on Amazon’s drones for manufacturing and home deliveries

Google’s droids to take on Amazon’s drones for manufacturing and home deliveries | Amazing Science |

Andy Rubin, the Google executive who developed Google’s free Android software, has revealed to The New York Times he is working on a secret Google project to create a new generation of robots.

The goal: improve the efficiency of manufacturing of small electronics — now largely manual — and packing goods in warehouses, and ultimately making home deliveries — perhaps via Google-designed autonomous vehicles.


“Google has recently started experimenting with package delivery in urban areas with its Google Shopping service, and it could try to automate portions of that system,” the Times suggests.


Google executives describe this robotic vision as a “moonshot.” But it appears to be “more realistic than Amazon’s proposed drone delivery service,” opines the Times.


Stephen Colbert begs to disagree: “These Amazon drones are a great idea, and guaranteed to be safe, thanks to all the drone testing we’ve done overseas. I mean, worse-case scenario, a few homes get carpet-gifted with some collateral generosity.”

196766's curator insight, December 6, 2013 11:37 AM

lkj lkj

Jerome Libeskind's curator insight, December 11, 2013 8:28 AM

Après les drones et les fusées, voici les robots....