Science, Technology, and Current Futurism
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What's the deal with eating avocado seeds? | Fox News

What's the deal with eating avocado seeds? | Fox News | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
The research on avocado seed consumption is very limited. In the studies that do exist, scientists conclude that additional research needs to be done to determine whether it’s safe or beneficial to eat them. Additionally, the existing studies have focused on the potential benefits of avocado seed extracts, rather than the consumption of the seed itself, and they provide information only on lab testing, not on clinical data.
Sharrock's insight:
Clinical trials are important because they are trials on actual people. 
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Drones to the rescue

Drones to the rescue | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
Drones could soon be used to help find people missing in remote parts of the country.

Via The Robot Launch Pad, Kalani Kirk Hausman
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Volvo tests cloud-based communication system to make driving safer

Volvo tests cloud-based communication system to make driving safer | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
Volvo has a history of shaping many safety features we take for granted today, regardless of what brand of car we drive.
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We've Built Driverless Cars. Can We Build Their Drivers?

We've Built Driverless Cars. Can We Build Their Drivers? | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
The most dangerous moment in a self-driving car involves no immediate or obvious peril.
Sharrock's insight:

from the article: "Thrust back into control while going full-speed on the freeway, the driver might be unable to take stock of all the obstacles on the road, or she might still be expecting her computer to do something it can't. Her reaction speed might be slower than if she'd been driving all along, she might be distracted by the email she was writing or she might choose not to take over at all, leaving a confused car in command. There's also the worry that people's driving skills will rapidly deteriorate as they come to rely on their robo-chauffeurs."



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Back to School: Protecting Your Child from Identity Theft | NakedLaw

Back to School: Protecting Your Child from Identity Theft | NakedLaw | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
As kids go back to school, parents need to know the signs that child identity theft happened, and how to prevent it.
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'I Will Ruin Him' - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education

'I Will Ruin Him' - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
A cyberstalked novelist traces the evolution of his aggressor’s flirty-turned-fierce digital attacks.
Sharrock's insight:

This is a scary introduction to the cyberstalking problem in existence, but also, the creativity of using the present lax identity security for memberships to forums and other e-groups indicates possibilities of more damage. The security  and integrity of one's digital presence and identity may become a new kind of service. Insurance may become available for these protections as well. Protocols will get drawn up. Huge possibilities in professional development trainings. Many discussions will arise around whether one is ever vigilant enough or paranoid.

 

School personnel and clinicians of various professions have much to worry about. We communicate/collaborate/problem solve in private as well as in groups. The Knowledge Era has a whole set of brand new crimes.

 

The detached keypads (to replace newspaper cutouts we usually see for fictional hostage ransom notes) is creative and ominous. 

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Synthetic Biology Researchers engineered E. coli to rely on artificial amino acids

Synthetic Biology Researchers engineered E. coli to rely on artificial amino acids | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it

By rewriting the DNA of Escherichia coli so that the bacterium requires a synthetic amino acid to produce its essential proteins, two research teams may have paved the way to ensure that genetically modified organisms don’t escape into the environment. The life-or-death dependence of the newly engineered E. coli on synthetic amino acids makes it astronomically difficult for the genetically modified organism to survive outside the laboratory, explains Harvard Medical School’s George M. Church, who led one of the teams reporting the discovery in Nature (2015, DOI: 10.1038/nature14121).

 

That’s because no pool of synthetic amino acids exists in nature, he explains. A similar strategy was simultaneously published by Farren J. Isaacs and his colleagues at Yale University, also in Nature (2015, DOI: 10.1038/nature14095). The discoveries help construct improved containment barriers for genetically modified bacteria currently used in the biotech-based production of products as diverse as yogurt, propanediol, or insulin, Isaacs says. They also set the stage for expanding the use of genetically modified organisms in applications outside the lab, Isaacs adds. For example, he says, the bacteria could be used as the “basis for designer probiotics for diseases that originate in the gut of our bodies, or for specialized microorganisms that clean up landfills or oil spills.”

 

“There are all these ideas for using engineered cells [outside the confines of a lab], but the problem is that they’re not contained,” comments Christopher A. Voigt, a synthetic biologist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “This is the proof-of-principle work for addressing that problem.” To make the genetic firewall, both teams made changes to E. coli’s genome so that the bacteria’s protein production machinery inserts a nonnatural amino acid when it reads a specific three-base-pair codon. “They’ve extended the genetic code so that it can take a 21st amino acid,” explains Tom Ellis, a synthetic biologist at Imperial University, in London, who was not involved in the work. The two teams used different synthetic amino acids, but both groups selected mimics of phenylalanine, a bulky, hydrophobic amino acid.

 

Next, both teams scoured E. coli’s genome for essential proteins that the organism needed to survive. They looked for areas in those proteins where the synthetic amino acids might replace natural amino acids. Although both teams combined computational design and evolutionary biology to select which amino acid to replace in three essential proteins, Church’s team relied more on the former approach and Isaacs’ team on the latter.

 

Finally, they showed that when the engineered bacteria have access to a pool of the synthetic amino acids, they can build their essential proteins. With no access to the synthetic amino acids, protein production stalls and the bacteria die.

 

The teams performed extensive tests to see whether the newly engineered bacteria could evolve ways to sidestep the need for synthetic amino acids. Whenever the microbes managed the feat, the researchers tweaked the DNA until the bacteria depended solely on the synthetic amino acids.

 

Previous strategies for containing genetically modified bacteria seem “naive” in hindsight, Ellis says. These earlier strategies employed kill switches, which are “systems where the organism dies if some compound or environmental cue wasn’t given,” he adds. “Here the kill system is fully embedded in the heart of the bacteria.”

 

In theory, the strategy could be extended to other genetically modified organisms, such as plants, Voigt says. “It will probably be really hard, but not impossible,” he adds. According to Ellis, the next step is to get the platform working in yeast, which will be “an order of magnitude harder than bacteria.”

 

Another important step is to improve containment by ensuring that all DNA engineered into the organism relies on the synthetic amino acid, Ellis says. “If you accidentally spill the bacteria into the environment, it’s going to die,” he says. “But that DNA is left behind. The genetically modified genes could be incorporated into other bacteria through horizontal transfer,” he warns. “To alleviate all fears, we need to ensure that all genes you add to an organism—say for making insulin or biofuels—are also behind the genetic firewall and somehow encode the 21st amino acid.”


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Sharrock's insight:

I didn't know why synthetic biology might ensure our safety to a certain degree. I love this quote: "Another important step is to improve containment by ensuring that all DNA engineered into the organism relies on the synthetic amino acid, Ellis says. “If you accidentally spill the bacteria into the environment, it’s going to die,” he says. “But that DNA is left behind. The genetically modified genes could be incorporated into other bacteria through horizontal transfer,” he warns. “To alleviate all fears, we need to ensure that all genes you add to an organism—say for making insulin or biofuels—are also behind the genetic firewall and somehow encode the 21st amino acid.”" 



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Fernan Aguero's curator insight, January 23, 2015 8:14 AM

Horizontal gene transfer of engineered genes is a big warning, of course. But one must not assume lightly that engineered bacteria cannot survive in the environment. Synthetic aminoacids may not exist in nature as such, but what about chemical analogs (e.g. produced by a plant, insect, fungi) that may substitute them?

 

OK, I'm just being skeptic :)

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Firefighting Robot Prepares To Walk Through Flames

Firefighting Robot Prepares To Walk Through Flames | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
The bot is designed to learn a ship's layout, move around autonomously and see through smoke.

Via Kalani Kirk Hausman
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Robots to the Rescue

Robots to the Rescue | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
Roadside bombs in Afghanistan, mines in the Persian Gulf’s shipping lanes, blazing infernos in downtown neighborhoods – danger seemingly lurks around every corner.
Sharrock's insight:

more information: "While UAS grab most of the headlines, unmanned ground vehicles and maritime systems are also making inroads. Systems such as Lockheed Martin’s Squad Mission Support System lighten soldiers’ loads, improve combat readiness and perform critical re-supply and casualty evacuation missions.

At sea, mines can wreak havoc on shipping lanes. Now, unmanned underwater systems will soon replace the ships that sail into these hazardous waters to clear mines. Featuring an unmanned, autonomous Remote Multi-Mission Vehicle, Lockheed Martin’s Remote Minehunting System will provide the primary mine reconnaissance capability for the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship Mine Countermeasures Mission Package."

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The American Scholar: Luxury of a Toilet - Josie Glausiusz

The American Scholar: Luxury of a Toilet - Josie Glausiusz | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
The necessity is unobtainable for more than a billion people
Sharrock's insight:

It's amazing what results from NOT having  a toilet (with plumbing). Impacts include school attendance, health/disease, physical safety from predators (sexual). 

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Is Robotic Surgery as Safe as It Seems?

“Haphazard” system of reporting yields misleading picture of safety Despite widespread adoption by hospitals of surgical robot technology over the past decade, a “slapdash” system of reporting complications paints an unclear picture of its safety,...
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