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Scooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald!

The bullet that can change direction mid-air: US military develops self-guided 'smart bullet'

The bullet that can change direction mid-air: US military develops self-guided 'smart bullet' | Amazing Science |

You know the phrase "dodging a bullet"? Forget about it. Probably not going to happen anymore. The U.S. military said this week it has made great progress in its effort to develop a self-steering bullet. In February, the "smart bullets" -- .50-caliber projectiles equipped with optical sensors -- passed their most successful round of live-fire tests to date, according to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA. In the tests, an experienced marksman "repeatedly hit moving and evading targets," a DARPA statement said. "Additionally," the statement said, "a novice shooter using the system for the first time hit a moving target." In other words, now you don't even have to be a good shot to hit the mark.

The system has been developed by DARPA's Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance program, known as EXACTO. "True to DARPA's mission, EXACTO has demonstrated what was once thought impossible: the continuous guidance of a small-caliber bullet to target," said Jerome Dunn, DARPA program manager.

"This live-fire demonstration from a standard rifle showed that EXACTO is able to hit moving and evading targets with extreme accuracy at sniper ranges unachievable with traditional rounds. Fitting EXACTO's guidance capabilities into a small .50-caliber size is a major breakthrough and opens the door to what could be possible in future guided projectiles across all calibers," Dunn said.

Videos supplied by DARPA show the bullets making sharp turns in midair as they pursue their targets. It all conjures up images of a cartoon character frantically fleeing a bullet that follows him wherever he goes. Only, these bullets are traveling at hundreds of miles per hour. And even the Road Runner can't run that fast. DARPA says the smart bullets will also help shooters who are trying, for example, to hit targets in high winds. The goals of the EXACTO program are giving shooters accuracy at greater distances, engaging targets sooner and enhancing the safety of American troops, DARPA said.

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This yarn conducts electricity and can be used for smart fabrics and bionic implants

This yarn conducts electricity and can be used for smart fabrics and bionic implants | Amazing Science |

Right now, wearable fitness trackers and bionic devices like electronic skin look cool, but they’re a bit clunky. One reason is that rigid wires tend to lose their conductivity after being bent, limiting the range of flexibility for wearables. Now, researchers report the creation of an ultrathin, fabric circuit that keeps high conductivity even while bending and stretching as much as yoga pants. The fiber’s core mimics spandex, consisting of an elastic synthetic thread—polyurethane—twinned by two cotton yarns.

These stretchy strings were then dipped in silver nanoparticles to instill conductivity and then liquid silicone to encase everything. This silver nanoyarn could stretch as much as spandex—500% of its original length—and retain a high conductivity (688 siemens per centimeter), the team reports online this month in ACS Nano. That’s 34 times the conductivity and five times the flexibility seen with prior attempts at nanowires made from grapheneThe fibers kept high conductivity after being bent 1000 times or wrapped around fingers. The team used their yarn to link light-emitting diodes within foldable plastic (shown above), meaning the fibers might serve as flexible wiring in new-age curved TVs, stretchable digital screens, or electronic clothing. The team tested the biocompatibility of these nanowires by surgically embedding them in the skin of mice for 8 weeks. No inflammation surfaced, suggesting that this silver yarn could be used to wire bionic implants in the future.

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Researchers Create A Simulated Mouse Brain in a Virtual Mouse Body

Researchers Create A Simulated Mouse Brain in a Virtual Mouse Body | Amazing Science |

scientist Marc-Oliver Gewaltig and his team at the Human Brain Project (HBP) built a model mouse brain and a model mouse body, integrating them both into a single simulation and providing a simplified but comprehensive model of how the body and the brain interact with each other. "Replicating sensory input and motor output is one of the best ways to go towards a detailed brain model analogous to the real thing," explains Gewaltig.

As computing technology improves, their goal is to build the tools and the infrastructure that will allow researchers to perform virtual experiments on mice and other virtual organisms. This virtual neurorobotics platform is just one of the collaborative interfaces being developed by the HBP. A first version of the software will be released to collaborators in April. The HBP scientists used biological data about the mouse brain collected by the Allen Brain Institute in Seattle and the Biomedical Informatics Research Network in San Diego. These data contain detailed information about the positions of the mouse brain's 75 million neurons and the connections between different regions of the brain. They integrated this information with complementary data on the shapes, sizes and connectivity of specific types of neurons collected by the Blue Brain Project in Geneva.

A simplified version of the virtual mouse brain (just 200,000 neurons) was then mapped to different parts of the mouse body, including the mouse's spinal cord, whiskers, eyes and skin. For instance, touching the mouse's whiskers activated the corresponding parts of the mouse sensory cortex. And they expect the models to improve as more data comes in and gets incorporated. For Gewaltig, building a virtual organism is an exercise in data integration. By bringing together multiple sources of data of varying detail into a single virtual model and testing this against reality, data integration provides a way of evaluating – and fostering – our own understanding of the brain. In this way, he hopes to provide a big picture of the brain by bringing together separated data sets from around the world. Gewaltig compares the exercise to the 15th century European data integration projects in geography, when scientists had to patch together known smaller scale maps. These first attempts were not to scale and were incomplete, but the resulting globes helped guide further explorations and the development of better tools for mapping the Earth, until reaching today's precision.

Read more:
Human Brain Project:
NEST simulator software :
Largest neuronalnetwork simulation using NEST :

Open Source Data Sets:
Allen Institute for Brain Science:
Bioinformatics Research Network (BIRN):

The Behaim Globe : 
Germanisches National Museum,
Department of Geodesy and Geoinformation, TU Wien,

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NASA Wants To Use A Submarine To Explore Titan's Kraken Ocean

NASA Wants To Use A Submarine To Explore Titan's Kraken Ocean | Amazing Science |

NASA's newest 2015 Video

Saturn is orbited by 62 official moons, the largest of which is Titan. However, Titan is not your average satellite - larger than the planet Mercury, Titan has a thick nitrogen atmosphere and a large liquid hydrocarbon lakes on the surface. Unfortunately, it has been difficult to obtain much information about the lakes’ depth or composition from the orbital missions. NASA has recently revealed what a conceptual submarine mission to Kraken Mare, the largest sea on Titan, would look like. Kraken Mare contains enough liquid methane to fill Lake Michigan three times over. Conditions are presumed to be rough, with changing tides and massive waves. 

The hypothetical submarine would travel about 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles) over the course of a 90 day mission. While the craft wouldn’t have a problem staying under the sea during that time and diving, it will need to surface in order to transmit data back to Earth. It would be powered by a radioisotope thermoelectric generator which doesn’t have moving parts, making it a good choice for a craft with such a long journey and will be dropped into the sea. Most of the power will be used to propel the submarine while under the surface, but will be capable of performing science missions as well.

During the mission, the submarine would make a number of observations and collect data using a variety of instruments. Some of the main objectives would be to analyze the chemical composition of the liquid, but also other oceanographic features such as currents and tidal patterns. The craft would also be equipped with cameras in order to image Titan’s shoreline and landscape. The science goals are pretty vague at such an early juncture, but would be more refined and detailed if the mission planning continues.

There are a number of technological and logistical obstacles to address before any proposed launch dates are developed, including Titan’s orbit around Saturn. It takes nearly 30 Earth years for Titan to revolve around the planet, which will influence when such a mission could take place. 

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Fever alarm armband: A wearable, printable, temperature sensor

Fever alarm armband: A wearable, printable, temperature sensor | Amazing Science |
University of Tokyo researchers have developed a "fever alarm armband," a flexible, self-powered wearable device that sounds an alarm in case of high body temperature. This armband will be presented at the 2015 IEEE International Solid State Circuits Conference, San Francisco, on 22-26 February, 2015. The flexible organic components developed for this device are well-suited to wearable devices that continuously monitor vital signs including temperature and heart rate for applications in healthcare settings.

The new device developed by research groups lead by Professor Takayasu Sakurai at the Institute of Industrial Science and Professor Takao Someya at the Graduate School of Engineering combines a flexible amorphous silicon solar panel, piezoelectric speaker, temperature sensor, and power supply circuit created with organic components in a single flexible, wearable package.

Constant monitoring of health indicators such as heart rate and body temperature is the focus of intense interest in the fields of infant, elderly and patient care. Sensors for such applications need to be flexible and wireless for patient comfort, maintenance-free and not requiring external energy supply, and cheap enough to permit disposable use to ensure hygiene. Conventional sensors based on rigid components are unable to meet these requirements, so the researchers have developed a flexible solution that incorporates organic components that can be printed by an inkjet printer on a polymeric film.

The fever alarm armband incorporates several first-ever achievements. It is the first organic circuit able to produce a sound output, and the first to incorporate an organic power supply circuit. The former enables the device to provide audible information when the flexible thermal sensor detects a pre-set value within the ranges of 36.5 ºC to 38.5 ºC, while the latter increases the range of operational illumination by 7.3 times in indoor lighting conditions.

"Our fever alarm armband demonstrates that it is possible to produce flexible, disposable devices that can greatly enhance the amount of information available to carers in healthcare settings," says Professor Someya. "We have demonstrated the technology with a temperature sensor and fever alarm, but the system could also be adapted to provide audible feedback on body temperature, or combined with other sensors to register wetness, pressure or heart rate."
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Scientists create contact lens that magnifies at blink of an eye

Scientists create contact lens that magnifies at blink of an eye | Amazing Science |

A contact lens that magnifies objects at the wink of an eye has been created by scientists to help people with impaired vision. The lens contains an extremely thin telescope that is switched on when the wearer winks their right eye and returns to normal when they wink their left eye.

Eric Tremblay, a researcher at Switzerland’s École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), said the lens could help people with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which leaves them with a blind spot in the centre of their vision. The contact lens magnifies objects by 2.8 times, making road signs, facial features and other objects large enough for people with AMD to recognise with their peripheral vision.

The device was funded by DARPA, the Pentagon’s research agency, as a means of giving soldiers a form of bionic vision. “They were really interested in supervision, but the reality is more tame than that,” said Tremblay at the American Association for the Advancement of Science. So far, only five people have tested the latest version.

The device is larger and slightly thicker than a normal contact lens. It allows the wearer to see normally by correcting for short or long sight. But around the central region is a thin, ring-shaped reflective telescope, which expands the perceived size of objects like weak binoculars.

To swap between normal and magnified vision, the wearer dons a pair of liquid crystal glasses. By winking, they can switch the glasses electronically to polarise light in different planes. The contact lens is designed so that one type of polarised light goes through the normal, central part of the lens, while the other goes through the magnifying region.

More work is needed before the contact lenses are ready for patients to wear regularly. The latest lenses can only be worn for about half an hour, because they do not allow enough oxygen to pass through them and into the eye. Tremblay said he expected a working version of the contact lenses to be available in two years or so.

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Doomsday Clock Set at 3 Minutes to Midnight

Doomsday Clock Set at 3 Minutes to Midnight | Amazing Science |
Frustrated with a lack of international action to address climate change and shrink nuclear arsenals, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists decided to push the minute hand of its iconic Doomsday Clock to 11:57.

It's the first time the clock hands have moved in three years; since 2012, the clock had been fixed at 5 minutes to symbolic doom, midnight. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists doesn't use the clock to make any real doomsday predictions. Rather, the clock is a visual metaphor to warn the public about how close the world is to a potentially civilization-ending catastrophe. Each year, the magazine's board analyzes threats to humanity's survival to decide where the Doomsday Clock's hands should be set.

Experts on the board said they felt a sense of urgency this year because of the world's ongoing addiction to fossil fuels, procrastination with enacting laws to cut greenhouse gas emissions and slow efforts to get rid of nuclear weapons.

Sharon Squassoni, a board member and director of the Proliferation Prevention Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said nuclear disarmament efforts have "ground to a halt" and many nations are expanding, not scaling back, their nuclear capabilities. Russia is upgrading its nuclear program, India plans to expand its nuclear submarine fleet, and Pakistan has reportedly started operating a third plutonium reactor, Squassoni said. She also said the United States has good rhetoric on nuclear nonproliferation, but at the same time is in the midst of a $335 billion overhaul of its nuclear program.

"The risk from nuclear weapons is not that someone is going to press the button, but the existence of these weapons costs a lot of time, effort and money to keep them secure," Squassoni said, adding that there have been troubling safety discrepancies reported in recent years at power plants. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists was founded in 1945 by scientists who created the atomic bomb as part of the Manhattan Project and wanted to raise awareness about the dangers of nuclear technology.

The Doomsday Clock first appeared on a cover of the magazine in 1947, with its hands set at 11:53 p.m. The clock's hands shifted quite a bit over the following seven decades. They were closest to midnight in 1953, set at 11:58 p.m., after both the United States and the Soviet Union conducted their first tests of the hydrogen bomb. The clock's hands were pushed all the way back to 11:43 p.m., 17 minutes to midnight, in December 1991, after the world's superpowers signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which at the time, seemed like a promising move toward nuclear disarmament.

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Elon Musk reveals plan to put internet connectivity in space

Elon Musk reveals plan to put internet connectivity in space | Amazing Science |

At the SpaceX event held in Seattle, Elon Musk revealed his grand (and expensive) $10 billion plan to build internet connectivity in space. Musk’s vision wants to radically change the way we access internet. His plan includes putting satellites in space, between which data packets would bounce around before being passed down to Earth. Right now, data packets bounce about the various networks via routers.

Some say that Elon Musk’s ambitious project would enable a Smartphone to access the internet just like it communicates with GPS satellites. SpaceX will launch its satellites in a low orbit, so as to reduce communication lag. While geosynchronous communication satellites orbit the Earth from an altitude of 22,000 miles, SpaceX’s satellites would be orbiting the Earth from an altitude of 750 miles.

Once Musk’s system is in place, data packets would simply be sent to space, from where they would bounce about the satellites, and ultimately be sent back to Earth. “The speed of light is 40 percent faster in the vacuum of space than it is for fiber,” says Musk, which is why he believes that his unnamed SpaceX venture is the future of internet connectivity, replacing traditional routers and networks.

The project is based out of SpaceX’s new Seattle office. It will initially start out with 60 workers, but Musk predicts that the workforce may grow to over 1,000 in three to four years. Musk wants “the best engineers that either live in Seattle or that want to move to the Seattle area and work on electronics, software, structures, and power systems,” to work with SpaceX.

JebaQpt's comment, January 21, 2015 11:21 PM
Elon Musk quotes
Justin Boersma's curator insight, March 27, 2015 7:12 AM

Global internet connectivity through Low Earth Orbit satellites can prove to be incredibly useful and revolutionise the way certain information may travel, e.g. designate specific types of data to be transmitted only through this network of satellites. This would overall increase connectivity and speed across the globe, and most likely require an overhaul of current networking hardware.

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The future of fitness could just be a chest-worn sticker

The future of fitness could just be a chest-worn sticker | Amazing Science |

For the last couple of years, medical science has been working on a way to build health sensors into stickers for better patient monitoring. It looks as if the folks behind AmpStrip might have gotten there first. AmpStrip is a piece of wearable technology that sticks onto your chest (we're told that the ideal location is below your nipple) and monitors your vitals without needing any other of the numerous fitness products we've seen on the market.

Nestled within the Band-Aid-sized hardware is an accelerometer, thermometer and a heart rate sensor, which, combined, are capable of monitoring your heart rate, movement and activity. You don't actually stick the AmpStrip directly onto your skin, it has to be said; instead you use a sticky pad that lasts for between three and seven days, depending on your workout. Stick it down properly, however, and it should hold firm even when you go swimming, which you can do with the AmpStrip.

Because the hardware is self-contained, you'll need to drop it onto a wireless charging plate for a couple of hours. That's not much charging, but the company promises that a combination of Bluetooth Low Energy and some secret algorithmic sauce will keep the battery ticking over for a full seven days. The hardware itself is currently in beta, but now that AmpStrip has beaten its Indiegogo goal, production should begin sometime this summer.

judyhaar's curator insight, January 15, 2015 12:42 PM
Wow, state of the art.
MyHealthyBee's curator insight, January 28, 2015 5:10 AM

Will you wear a health sensor on your chest?

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The High-Tech Future of the Uterus: Scientists are pursuing the new frontier of a bioengineered womb

The High-Tech Future of the Uterus: Scientists are pursuing the new frontier of a bioengineered womb | Amazing Science |
Following the recent success of the world's first uterus transplant, scientists are pursuing the new frontier of the bioengineered womb.

Bioengineered organs have a number of practical advantages over donor transplants, including the fact that recipients wouldn’t need to take immunosuppressants for the rest of their lives, as transplant recipients typically do to prevent their bodies from rejecting the new organ. “A bio-regenerated uterus allows you to avoid immunosuppression, and you get rid of the risks of surgery for the person donating the uterus,” says Dr. Arthur Caplan, director of the Division of Medical Ethics at the NYU Langone Medical Center. “The failure rates of transplanted organs are high, and we don’t have enough organs. Bioengineered organs are definitely the long-term solution.”

But the bioengineered uterus is years, if not decades, away. Hellström’s research group at the University of Gothenburg is on the cutting edge with their recent experiments in rat-uterus decellularization, a process that involves removing cells from tissue, leaving behind only the extracellular matrix (ECM), which then serves as a 3-D scaffold for introducing new cells. Yet Hellström laughed at my suggestion that artificial-uterus transplants might be available within 10 years: “Look at how long it took my colleague [Mäts Brannström] to develop the live-donor uterus transplant: 15 years of nonstop work. Now I have the same journey to make, the only difference being that my colleagues started with perfect material to transplant. I’m constructing the material as well.”

Years ago, the theoretical possibility of an artificial uterus gave rise to the idea of gestating a baby outside the mother’s body rather than transplanting the organ. This came to be called “Baby in a Box” after journalist Natalie Angier’s widely-read 1999 New York Times Magazine article of the same title. Angier predicted that the artificial uterus was “coming, if not in 10 years, then in 15 or 50.” The introduction to a 2006 anthology of bioethics essays, titled Ectogenesis: Artificial-Womb Technology and the Future of Human Reproductionpredicted that “we might soon see the day when a woman’s contribution to the birth of a live baby will be similar to that of a man, namely, both will only need to provide or donate gametes.”

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Hooking Up The Brain To A Computer: Human Cyborgs Reveal How We Learn

Hooking Up The Brain To A Computer: Human Cyborgs Reveal How We Learn | Amazing Science |
Hooking the brain up to a computer can do more than let the severely disabled move artificial limbs. It is also revealing the secrets of how we learn

When the patient Scheuermann began losing control of her muscles in 1996, due to her genetic disorder—spinocerebellar degeneration— she gave up her successful business as a planner of murder-mystery-themed events. By 2002 her disease had confined her to a wheelchair, which she now operates by flexing her chin up and down. She retains control of the muscles only in her head and neck. “The signals are not getting from my brain to my nerves,” she explains. “My brain is saying, ‘Lift up!’ to my arm, and my arm is saying, ‘I caaaan't heeeear you.’”

Yet technology now exists to extract those brain commands and shuttle them directly to a robotic arm, bypassing the spinal cord and limbs. Inside Scheuermann's brain are two grids of electrodes roughly the size of a pinhead that were surgically implanted in her motor cortex, a band of tissue on the surface of the brain that controls movement. The electrodes detect the rate at which about 150 of her neurons fire. Thick cables plugged into her scalp relay their electrical activity to a lab computer. As Scheuerman thinks about moving the arm, she produces patterns of electrical oscillations that software on the computer can interpret and translate into digital commands to position the robotic limb. Maneuvering the arm and hand, she can clasp a bar of chocolate or a piece of string cheese before bringing the food to her mouth.

When neuroscientists first set out to develop brain-controlled prostheses, they assumed they would simply record neural activity passively, as if taping a speech at a conference. The transcript produced by the monitored neurons would then be translated readily into digital commands to manipulate a prosthetic arm or leg. “Early on there was this thought that you could really decode the mind,” says neuroscientist Karunesh Ganguly of the University of California, San Francisco.

Yet the brain is not static. This extraordinarily complex organ evolved to let its owner react swiftly to changing conditions related to food, mates and predators. The electrical activity whirring inside an animal's head morphs constantly to integrate new information as the external milieu shifts.

Ganguly's postdoctoral adviser, neuroscientist Jose M. Carmena of the University of California, Berkeley, wondered whether the brain might adapt to a prosthetic device as well. That an implant could induce immediate changes in brain activity—what scientists call neuroplasticity—was apparent even in 1969, when Eberhard Fetz, a young neuroscientist at the University of Washington, reported on an electrode placed in a monkey's brain to record a single neuron. Fetz decided to reward the animal with a banana-flavored pellet every time that neuron revved up. To his surprise, the creature quickly learned how to earn itself more bites of fake banana. This revelation—that a monkey could be trained to control the firing rate of an arbitrary neuron in its brain—is what Stanford University neuroscientist Krishna Shenoy calls the “Nobel Prize moment” in the field of brain-computer interfaces.

Scientists were beginning to discover, however, that neurons can adjust their tuning in response to the software. In a 2009 study Carmena and Ganguly detailed two key ways that neurons begin to learn. Two monkeys spent several days practicing with a robotic arm. As their dexterity improved, their neurons changed their preferred direction (to point down rather than to the right, for example) and broadened the range of firing rates they were capable of emitting. These tuning adjustments gave the neurons the ability to issue more precise commands when they dispatched their missives.

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40,000-year-old blood brings mammoth cloning closer

40,000-year-old blood brings mammoth cloning closer | Amazing Science |
Mammoth cloning is closer to becoming a reality following the discovery of blood in the best-preserved specimen ever found.

An autopsy on a 40,000-year-old mammoth has yielded blood that could contain enough intact DNA to make cloning possible, galvanising scientists who have been working for years to bring back the extinct elephant relative. Tests are still being conducted on the blood to see if it will yield a complete genome – the genetic code necessary to build an organism.

The mammoth (nicknamed Buttercup) was discovered in 2013 on Maly Lyakhovsky Island in northern Siberia and excavated from the permafrost. The flesh was remarkably well-preserved, and oozed a dark red liquid when scientists cut into it. That liquid has now been confirmed as blood, following an autopsy conducted by scientists including Museum palaeobiologist Dr Tori Herridge.

'As a palaeontologist, you normally have to imagine the extinct animals you work on,' said Dr Herridge. 'So actually coming face-to-face with a mammoth in the flesh, and being up to my elbows in slippery, wet, and frankly rather smelly mammoth liver, counts as one of the most incredible experiences of my life.' The South Korean firm Sooam Biotech Research Foundation is leading the research project.

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Google[x] Reveals Nano Pill To Seek Out Cancerous Cells

Google[x] Reveals Nano Pill To Seek Out Cancerous Cells | Amazing Science |

Detecting cancer could be as easy as popping a pill in the near future. Google’s head of life sciences, Andrew Conrad, took to the stage at the Wall Street Journal Digital conference to reveal that the tech giant’s secretive Google[x] lab has been working on a wearable device that couples with nanotechnology to detect disease within the body.

“We’re passionate about switching from reactive to proactive and we’re trying to provide the tools that make that feasible,” explained Conrad. This is a third project in a series of health initiatives for Google[x]. The team has already developed a smart contact lens that detects glucose levels for diabetics and utensils that help manage hand tremors in Parkinson’s patients.

The plan is to test whether tiny particles coated “magnetized” with antibodies can catch disease in its nascent stages. The tiny particles are essentially programmed to spread throughout the body via pill and then latch on to the abnormal cells. The wearable device then “calls” the nanoparticles back to ask them what’s going on with the body and to find out if the person who swallowed the pill has cancer or other diseases.

“Think of it as sort of like a mini self-driving car,” Conrad simplified with a clear reference to Google[x]‘s vehicular project. “We can make it park where we want it to.” Conrad went on with the car theme, saying the body is more important than a car and comparing our present healthcare system as something that basically only tries to change our oil after we’ve broken down. “We wouldn’t do that with a car,” he added.

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Technology Trends - Singularity Blog: Most Anticipated New Technologies for 2015/2016

Technology Trends - Singularity Blog: Most Anticipated New Technologies for 2015/2016 | Amazing Science |
Future timeline, a timeline of humanity's future, based on current trends, long-term environmental changes, advances in technology such as Moore's Law, the latest medical advances, and the evolving geopolitical landscape.

Ursula Sola de Hinestrosa's curator insight, April 24, 2015 4:50 PM

Nuevas tecnologias

AugusII's curator insight, April 25, 2015 6:15 PM

Being up to date a must -  Learning on trends useful.

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CRISPR-CAS editing brings cloning of woolly mammoth one step closer to reality

CRISPR-CAS editing brings cloning of woolly mammoth one step closer to reality | Amazing Science |

A team of researchers working at Harvard University has taken yet another step towards bringing to life a reasonable facsimile of a woolly mammoth—a large, hairy elephant-like beast that went extinct approximately 3,300 years ago. The work by the team has not been published as yet, because as team lead George Church told The Sunday Times, recently, they believe they have more work to do before they write up their results.

Church is quick to point out that his team is not cloning the mammoth, instead they are rebuilding the genome of the ancient animal by studying its DNA, replicating it and then inserting the copy into the genome of an Asian elephant—the closest modern day equivalent. They are not bringing forth a new mammoth yet either—all of their work is confined to simple cells in their lab. What they have done, however, is build healthy living elephant cells with mammoth DNA in them. Their work is yet another step towards that ultimate goal, realizing the birth of a wooly mammoth that is as faithful to the original as is humanly possible.

Talk of cloning a mammoth began not long after scientists learned how to actually do cloning—mammoth carcasses have been found in very cold places which preserved remains, which of course, included DNA. But not everyone has been onboard with the idea—some claim it is stepping into God's territory, others suggest it seems ridiculous considering all of the species that are nearing extinction, including those of elephants. Why not use those financial resources that are now going towards bringing back something that has gone extinct, to saving those that are still here?

The technique the team is using is called Crispr, it allows for reproducing exact copies of genes—in this case 14 mammoth genes, which are then inserted into elephant genes. As Church explains, the team prioritizes which genes are replicated and inserted, based on such factors as hairiness, ear size, and subcutaneous fat, which the animal needed to survive in its harsh cold environment.

Not clear as yet is when or if the team at Harvard has plans to produce an actual living mammoth, or if they will leave that to other teams working on similar projects.

Praveen Senaratne's curator insight, March 26, 2015 5:31 AM

What these researchers tend to achieve is amazing. The woolly mammoth is the great ancestors of the modern elephants and was a magnificent mammal. To bring to life a reasonable facsimile is an extraordinary task. Personally I would love to pursue a career as a researcher and in the future I hope technology helps to further improve the work of researchers.  

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This energy-generating cloth could replace batteries in wearable devices

This energy-generating cloth could replace batteries in wearable devices | Amazing Science |

Scientists at Sungkyunkwan University in Korea and University of Wollongong in Australia report in the journal ACS Nano the first durable, flexible cloth that can harness human motion to generate energy, allowing for self-powered smart clothes. The new technology avoids the need for batteries — a current limitation in wearable electronics.

The new textile can also charge batteries or supercapacitors without an external power source, making new applications possible, such as health care monitoring and batteryless personal electronics. The cloth is based on triboelectric nanogenerators (TNGs). TNGs use two materials with different “triboelectric” polarities.

In a manner analogous to static electricity, when the two materials are contacted or rubbed together, then separated, electrons are generated and can flow through a connected device. TNG devices are usually constructed on plastic materials; it’s been difficult to make them wearable. So the researchers developed a new method of incorporating TNGs into cloth that allows it to be chemically and physically durable, using  a silverized cloth material with nanorods and a silicon-based organic material embedded in four layers of cloth. They were able to generate a high output voltage (up to 120V) with an output current of 65 microamperes.

In tests, they found that the WTNGs (wearable TNGs) were able to power light-emitting diodes, a liquid crystal display, and a vehicle’s keyless entry remote, and worked for more than 12,000 cycles.

Nhan's curator insight, March 24, 2015 9:17 PM

The idea of wearable clothing to be able to produce power to charge different devices is amazing. Understanding the process of how it works is truly surprising.

Sultan Ashfaq's curator insight, March 27, 2015 8:27 AM

By the advent of nanotechnology, self-powered smart clothes are not science fictional anymore. Through this new technology, we will not be dependent on batteries.This make clothes to charge batteries without any external power source.

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First human head transplant could happen within two years

First human head transplant could happen within two years | Amazing Science |

The world's first attempt to transplant a human head will be launched this year at a surgical conference in the US. The move is a call to arms to get interested parties together to work towards the surgery.

The idea was first proposed in 2013 by Sergio Canavero of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group in Italy. He wants to use the surgery to extend the lives of people whose muscles and nerves have degenerated or whose organs are riddled with cancer. Now he claims the major hurdles, such as fusing the spinal cord and preventing the body's immune system from rejecting the head, are surmountable, and the surgery could be ready as early as 2017.

Canavero plans to announce the project at the annual conference of the American Academy of Neurological and Orthopaedic Surgeons (AANOS) in Annapolis, Maryland, in June. Is society ready for such momentous surgery? And does the science even stand up?

The first successful head transplant, in which one head was replaced by another, was carried out in 1970. A team led by Robert White at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio, transplanted the head of one monkey onto the body of another. They didn't attempt to join the spinal cords, though, so the monkey couldn't move its body, but it was able to breathe with artificial assistance. The monkey lived for nine days until its immune system rejected the head. Although few head transplants have been carried out since, many of the surgical procedures involved have progressed. "I think we are now at a point when the technical aspects are all feasible," says Canavero.

This month, he published a summary of the technique he believes will allow doctors to transplant a head onto a new body (Surgical Neurology International, It involves cooling the recipient's head and the donor body to extend the time their cells can survive without oxygen. The tissue around the neck is dissected and the major blood vessels are linked using tiny tubes, before the spinal cords of each person are cut. Cleanly severing the cords is key, says Canavero.

The recipient's head is then moved onto the donor body and the two ends of the spinal cord – which resemble two densely packed bundles of spaghetti – are fused together. To achieve this, Canavero intends to flush the area with a chemical called polyethylene glycol, and follow up with several hours of injections of the same stuff. Just like hot water makes dry spaghetti stick together, polyethylene glycol encourages the fat in cell membranes to mesh.

Next, the muscles and blood supply would be sutured and the recipient kept in a coma for three or four weeks to prevent movement. Implanted electrodes would provide regular electrical stimulation to the spinal cord, because research suggests this can strengthen new nerve connections.

When the recipient wakes up, Canavero predicts they would be able to move and feel their face and would speak with the same voice. He says that physiotherapy would enable the person to walk within a year. Several people have already volunteered to get a new body, he says.

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How Wearable Startups Can Win Big In The Medical Industry

How Wearable Startups Can Win Big In The Medical Industry | Amazing Science |

As attention shines down on fitness trackers and smart watches, one of the biggest opportunities for wearable devices remains shadowed in the corner. Turning a product into a business is actually quite simple — get paid. The time is now forwearable companies to build corporate partnerships into their business model.

Existing medical companies need to keep proving that their products offer reimbursable value even after they complete clinical trials and are FDA approved. Wearables enable them to collect “real world evidence” as people go about their daily lives. Some companies are even expanding in population health management and healthcare services to ensure their products deliver on their promise. One case of this is Medtronic, which has expanded beyond cardiovascular devices into tele-health and remote patient monitoring services. Its Cardiocom business unit uses a number of wired products to provide telemedicine. Imagine what its platform would look like if it had 24/7 data from patients on key physiologic measures.

The right partner can also help startups by validating products in clinical trials, which is appealing to an investor. For example, pharma company UCB signed a deal with electronics company MC10 to test its “BioStamp” in clinical trials for new neurological therapies.

Selling to the medical community may seem like a daunting proposition, but I believe this is where the big opportunities lie for medical wearable startups. For one thing, consumer-focused wearables aren’t living up to their promise. Research from Endeavor Partners found that one-third of consumers abandon their wearables after just a few months. Clearly the appeal of tracking steps is not enough to keep people interested in these devices.

Furthermore, focusing wearable device development on the consumer market (specifically young, wealthy, and tech-savvy early adopters) means that, in the words of J.C. Herz, “wearables are totally failing the people who need them most” — the old, the chronically ill, and the poor. Medical wearables are one of the rare and exciting areas where technology canhave a marked, positive impact on people’s lives while also making big money at the same time. I can’t wait to see more entrepreneurs taking on these challenges.

Via Tictrac
Christopher Rudolf's curator insight, February 24, 2015 8:42 AM

Really great article on the way med devices can be built to be successful for patient outcomes and also commercially.

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ViaCyte Starts Stem-Cell Clinical Trial of Bioartificial Pancreas

ViaCyte Starts Stem-Cell Clinical Trial of Bioartificial Pancreas | Amazing Science |

Fourteen years ago, during the darkest moments of the “stem-cell wars” pitting American scientists against the White House of George W. Bush, one group of advocates could be counted on to urge research using cells from human embryos: parents of children with type 1 diabetes. Motivated by scientists who told them these cells would lead to amazing cures, they spent millions on TV ads, lobbying, and countless phone calls to Congress.

Now the first test of a type 1 diabetes treatment using stem cells has finally begun. In October, a San Diego man had two pouches of lab-grown pancreas cells, derived from human embryonic stem cells, inserted into his body through incisions in his back. Two other patients have since received the stand-in pancreas, engineered by a small San Diego company called ViaCyte.

It’s a significant step, partly because the ViaCyte study is only the third in the United States of any treatment based on embryonic stem cells. These cells, once removed from early-stage human embryos, can be grown in a lab dish and retain the ability to differentiate into any of the cells and tissue types in the body. One other study, since cancelled, treated several patients with spinal-cord injury (see “Geron Shuts Down Pioneering Stem-Cell Program” and “Stem-Cell Gamble”), while tests to transplant lab-grown retina cells into the eyes of people going blind are ongoing (see “Stem Cells Seem Safe in Treating Eye Disease”).

Douglas Melton, a biologist at Harvard University who has two children with type 1 diabetes, worries that the ViaCyte system may not work. He thinks deposits of fibrotic, scarlike tissue will glom onto the capsules, starving the cells inside of oxygen and blocking their ability to sense sugar and release insulin. Melton also thinks it might take immature cells up to three months to become fully functional. And many won’t become beta cells, winding up as other types of pancreatic cells instead.

Melton says the “inefficiency” of the system means the company “would need a device about the size of a DVD player” to have enough beta cells to effectively treat diabetes. ViaCyte says it thinks 300 million of its cells, or about eight of its capsules, would be enough. (Each capsule holds a volume of cells smaller than one M&M candy.)    Last October, Melton’s group announced it had managed to grow fully mature, functional beta cells in the lab, a scientific first that took more than 10 years of trial-and-error research. Melton thinks implanting mature cells would allow a bioartificial pancreas to start working right away.

To encapsulate his cells, Melton has been working with bioengineer Daniel Anderson at MIT to develop their own capsule. Anderson doesn’t want to say exactly how it works, but a recent patent filing from his lab describes a container made of layers of hydrogels, some containing cells and others anti-inflammatory drugs to prevent the capsule from getting covered with fibrotic tissue. Both Melton and Anderson are cagey about discussing their results. “We do have some successes we are very excited about,” Anderson says. “The bottom line is we have reason to believe it is possible to use Doug’s cells in our devices and cure diabetes in animals.”

After the stem-cell wars, and then a decade of trying to turn the technology’s promises into reality, Henry says he feels convinced that “cells in bags” of some kind are going to be the answer to type 1 diabetes. He’s aware that curing rodents doesn’t guarantee the technology will help people, but he says the clinical trial he’s running is another in a series of “small steps” toward much-improved lives for millions of people. “I am just so positive that this is the future,” he says. 

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Randal Koene – The Neuroscientist Who Wants To Upload The Mind To A Computer

Randal Koene – The Neuroscientist Who Wants To Upload The Mind To A Computer | Amazing Science |


While the first upload of a human brain remains decades—if not centuries— away, proponents believe humanity may be far closer to reaching another key technological milestone: a preservation technique that could store a brain indefinitely without damaging its neurons or the trillions of microscopic connections between them.

“If we could put the brain into a state in which it does not decay, then the second step could be done 100 years later,” says Kenneth Hayworth, a senior scientist at Howard Hughes Medical Institute, “and everyone could experience mind uploading first hand.”

To promote this goal, Hayworth cofounded The Brain Preservation Foundation, a nonprofit that is offering a $106,000 technology prize to the first scientist or team to rise to that challenge. He says the first stage of the competition—the preservation of an entire mouse brain—may be won within the year, an achievement that would excite many mainstream neuroscientists, who want to map the brain’s circuitry to better understand memory and behavior.

Current preservation methods (aside from cryonics, which has never successfully been demonstrated to preserve the brain’s wiring) involve pumping chemicals through the body that can fix proteins and lipids in place. The brain is then removed and immersed in a series of solutions that dehydrate naturally occurring water and replace it with a plastic resin. The resin prevents chemical reactions that cause decay, preserving the brain’s intricate architecture. But in order for all of the chemicals to fully permeate brain tissue, scientists must first slice the organ into sections 100 to 500 microns thick—a process that destroys information stored in connections made along those surfaces.

Shawn Mikula, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg, Germany, developed a protocol that appears to safeguard all of the brain’s synapses. It preserves the extracellular space in the brain so that the chemicals can diffuse through myriad layers of the whole organ. Then, if the brain is sliced and analyzed at a future date, all of its circuitry will remain visible. Hayworth is currently using electron microscopy to examine the mouse brains sent to him as proof of principle. (In order to win the technology prize, the protocol must also be published in a peer-reviewed journal.) So far, Hayworth says, Mikula’s technique seems effective.

If immortality is defined as brain preservation via plastination, Mikula says, then it’s a reasonable extrapolation of his research results. But as for actually uploading it to a computer: “Who can predict these things? Science is modern-day magic,” Mikula says, “and in the absence of a strong argument against the future feasibility of mind uploading, anything is possible.”

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Water-soluble silicon leads to dissolvable electronics

Water-soluble silicon leads to dissolvable electronics | Amazing Science |

Researchers working in a materials science lab are literally watching their work disappear before their eyes—but intentionally so. They're developing water-soluble integrated circuits that dissolve in water or biofluids in months, weeks, or even a few days. This technology, called transient electronics, could have applications for biomedical implants, zero-waste sensors, and many other semiconductor devices.

The researchers, led by John A. Rogers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Fiorenzo Omenetto at Tufts University, have published a study in a recent issue of Applied Physics Letters in which they analyzed the performance and dissolution times of various semiconductor materials.

The work builds on previous research, by the authors and others, which demonstrated that silicon—the most commonly used semiconductor material in today's electronic devices—can dissolve in water. Although it would take centuries to dissolve bulk silicon, thin layers of silicon can dissolve in more reasonable times at low but significant rates of 5-90 nm/day. The silicon dissolves due to hydrolysis, in which water and silicon react to form silicic acid. Silicic acid is environmentally and biologically benign.

In the new study, the researchers analyzed the dissolution characteristics of silicon dioxide and tungsten, which they used to fabricate two electronics devices: field-effect transistors and ring oscillators. Under biocompatible conditions (37 °C, 7.4 pH), dissolution rates ranged from 1 week for the tungsten components, to between 3 months and 3 years for the silicon dioxide components. The dissolution rates can be controlled by several factors, such as the thickness of the materials, the concentration and type of ions in the solution, and the method used to deposit the silicon dioxide on the original substrate.

As shown in the microscope images, the circuits do not dissolve in a uniform, layer-by-layer mode, but instead some places dissolve more rapidly than others. This is due to mechanical fractures in the fragile circuits, which cause the solution to penetrate through the layers more in some locations than in others. Although organic electronic materials are also often biodegradable, silicon-based electronics have the advantages of an overall higher performance and the use of complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) fabrication processes that allow for mass-production.

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New 'cyborg' spinal implant attaches directly to the spine and could help paralysed to walk again

New 'cyborg' spinal implant attaches directly to the spine and could help paralysed to walk again | Amazing Science |

Paralysed patients have been given new hope of recovery after rats with severe spinal injuries walked again through a ‘groundbreaking’ new cyborg-style implant. In technology which could have come straight out of a science fiction novel or Hollwood movie, French scientists have created a thin prosthetic ribbon, embedded with electrodes, which lies along the spinal cord and delivers electrical impulses and drugs.

The prosthetic, described by British experts as ‘quite remarkable’, is soft enough to bend with tissue surrounding the backbone to avoid discomfort.

Paralysed rats who were fitted with the implant were able to walk on their own again after just a few weeks of training. Researchers at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne are hoping to move to clinical trials in humans soon. They believe that a device could last 10 years in humans before needing to be replaced. 

The implant, called ‘e-Dura’, is so effective because it mimics the soft tissue around the spine – known as the dura mater – so that the body does not reject its presence. “Our e-Dura implant can remain for a long period of time on the spinal cord or cortex,” said Professor Stéphanie Lacour.

“This opens up new therapeutic possibilities for patients suffering from neurological trauma or disorders, particularly individuals who have become paralyzed following spinal cord injury.” Previous experiments had shown that chemicals and electrodes implanted in the spine could take on the role of the brain and stimulate nerves, causing the rats' legs to move involuntarily when they were placed on a treadmill.

However the new gadget is flexible and stretchy enough that it can be placed directly onto the spinal cord. It closely imitates the mechanical properties of living tissue, and can simultaneously deliver electric impulses and drugs which activate cells. The implant is made of silicon and covered with gold electric conducting tracks that can be pulled and stretched. The electrodes are made of silicon and platinum microbeads which can also bend in any direction without breaking.

Mike Dele's curator insight, March 21, 2015 1:50 AM

This research is astounding and it will be most valued in Africa.

Tamer Tekin's curator insight, September 30, 2015 5:04 PM

It is very new innovation.

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World Energy Outlook: In 2040, Fossil Fuels Will Still Reign

World Energy Outlook: In 2040, Fossil Fuels Will Still Reign | Amazing Science |

By 2040, the world’s energy supply mix will be divided into nearly four equal parts; Oil, gas, coal and low-carbon sources—nuclear and renewables—according to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) 2014 World Energy OutlookThe assessment by the IEA finds that under current and planned policies, the average temperature will also increase by 3.6 degrees Celsius by 2100. Renewable energy takes a far greater role in new electricity supply in the near future—expanding from about 1700 gigawatts today to 4550 gigawatts in 2040—but it is not enough to offset the global dominance of fossil fuels.

“As our global energy system grows and transforms, signs of stress continue to emerge,” IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven, said in a statement. “But renewables are expected to go from strength to strength, and it is incredible that we can now see a point where they become the world’s number one source of electricity generation.”

Renewable energy production will double as a share of world electricity demand by 2040, according to the report. But that still does not dethrone coal in electricity generation. Coal will simply shift regionally from the United States and China to Southeast Asia and India, according to the EIA.

The least attractive piece of all, energy efficiency, is poised to be a winner in coming decades and could have an even greater impact if some of the world’s largest energy users carry through with proposed efficiency plans. Efficiency measures are set to halve the global growth in energy demand from 2 percent annually to about 1 percent beginning in 2025, according to the IEA.

Efficiency standards for cars and more stringent energy efficiency targets for industry and everyday devices are key to slowing the demand for energy, but they do not necessarily help diminish the world’ reliance on fossil fuels because the true price of fossil fuels are not acurately reflected in the price people pay in some regions.

Fossil fuels receive about $550 billion in subsidies in 2013, compared to $120 billion for all renewable energies. Although the fossil fuel subsidies were $25 billion lower than 2012, there is still vast room for improvement to end price breaks for the mature industries, especially in gas and oil-rich nations, which offer the bulk of the subsidies.

pdeppisch's comment, December 15, 2014 4:20 PM
Except that the world will not be recognizable in 2040!
J. Steven Sprenger ✔'s curator insight, December 16, 2014 4:07 PM

Disruptive technologies, as the article points out, could be the game changer that could change these projections. 

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Experiment demonstrates direct brain to brain interface between humans

Experiment demonstrates direct brain to brain interface between humans | Amazing Science |

University of Washington researchers have successfully replicated a direct brain-to-brain connection between pairs of people as part of a scientific study following the team’s initial demonstration a year ago. In the newly published study, which involved six people, researchers were able to transmit the signals from one person’s brain over the Internet and use these signals to control the hand motions of another person within a split second of sending that signal.

At the time of the first experiment in August 2013, the UW team was the first to demonstrate two human brains communicating in this way. The researchers then tested their brain-to-brain interface in a more comprehensive study, published Nov. 5 in the journal PLOS ONE ("A Direct Brain-to-Brain Interface in Humans").

“The new study brings our brain-to-brain interfacing paradigm from an initial demonstration to something that is closer to a deliverable technology,” said co-author Andrea Stocco, a research assistant professor of psychology and a researcher at UW’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences. “Now we have replicated our methods and know that they can work reliably with walk-in participants.”

In this photo, UW students Darby Losey, left, and Jose Ceballos are positioned in two different buildings on campus as they would be during a brain-to-brain interface demonstration. The sender, left, thinks about firing a cannon at various points throughout a computer game. That signal is sent over the Web directly to the brain of the receiver, right, whose hand hits a touchpad to fire the cannon.

Read more: Study shows direct brain interface between humans (w/video) 

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Rescooped by Dr. Stefan Gruenwald from Popular Science!

New System Lets Humans Control Mouse Genes With Their Thoughts

New System Lets Humans Control Mouse Genes With Their Thoughts | Amazing Science |

Scientists have been able to tinker with the genes of other organisms for some time now—that’s nothing new. But controlling genes in another animal using only your thoughts? Sounds a rather insane idea that wouldn’t be out of place in a Sci-Fi movie, but it turns out it’s now possible, thanks to a newly-developed mind-controlled system.

As described in the journal Nature Communications, the system works by using brain waves from human participants to activate a light inside a mouse’s brain, which then switches on a particular set of genes. This marks the first time that synthetic biology has been linked to the mind, and the authors believe this work could lead to the development of novel ways totreat medical conditions. For example, the technology could one day be used to instantly deliver drugs when epileptic patients are about to experience a seizure. However, the authors note that the study is very much proof-of-concept at the moment.

To create the system, scientists from ETH Zurich married up two different technologies that were already in existence. The first is a brain computer interface (BCI) device that is capable of processing brain waves recorded by an electroencephalography (EEG) headset. Recently, this system allowed paralysed people to power a robotic arm using their thoughts. The second is a method called optogenetics which uses light to control specific events within cells.

The researchers started off by inserting a gene from a species of bacteria that uses light as a source of energy into designer human kidney cells. This gene is responsible for the production of a protein that is responsive to near-infrared light. The cells were engineered in such a way that when this protein is activated, a cascade of events are triggered that ultimately switch on a different gene that encodes a specific human protein. Alongside an infrared LED light that can be activated wirelessly, these cells were put inside a tiny implant that was inserted into the brain of a mouse.

Next, the researchers recorded the brain waves of eight volunteers while they were either meditating or concentrating. These activities produce different signatures of brain activity, which can then be recognized and processed by the EEG headset they were wearing. This information was then fed wirelessly into the brain implant, and if a particular threshold of brain activity was reached, the LED was switched on.

Via Neelima Sinha
Neelima Sinha's curator insight, November 12, 2014 5:29 PM

Mind control of gene expression, Wild!