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Knowmads, Infocology of the future
Exploring the possible , the probable, the plausible
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Does religion make kids less generous?

Does religion make kids less generous? | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
Religious parents are more likely to describe their children as empathetic and concerned about justice than are non-religious parents. But, new evidence reported in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on November 5 suggests that the opposite is in fact true.

In the study, children growing up in households that weren't religious were significantly more likely to share than were children growing up in religious homes. The findings support the notion that the secularization of moral discourse may serve to increase rather than decrease human kindness, the researchers say.

"Some past research had demonstrated that religious people aren't more likely to do good than their nonreligious counterparts," said Jean Decety of the University of Chicago. "Our study goes beyond that by showing that religious people are less generous, and not only adults but children too."

To examine the influence of religion on the expression of altruism, Decety and his colleagues asked more than 1,100 children between the ages of five and twelve from the US, Canada, Jordan, Turkey, South Africa, and China to play a game in which they were asked to make decisions about how many stickers to share with an anonymous person from the same school and a similar ethnic group. Most of the children came from households that identified as Christian, Muslim, or not religious. The study also included smaller numbers of children from Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, and agnostic homes.

The children became more generous with age, consistent with earlier studies. But their religious rearing environment also fundamentally shaped their altruistic tendencies, with more-religious children showing less generosity. Importantly, the researchers report, children who were the most altruistic came from atheist or non-religious families.
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Can trees really change sex?

Can trees really change sex? | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
The revelation that the UK’s oldest tree is showing signs of switching sex has sparked much excitement in the world of horticultural science. The Fortingall yew (main image) in Perthshire, Scotland, having apparently spent 5,000 years as a male tree, has suddenly produced female berries. So what is going on?

Plant genders actually come in more varieties than the likes of humans. Many flowering plants bear flowers that are hermaphrodite, for example, with both male and female reproductive organs in every flower. There are quite a few in the rose family, for instance. Many hermaphrodite flowers have evolved complex mechanisms to ensure that they rarely pollinate themselves. This helps a species to endure by ensuring that different plants mix their genes.

Another plant gender variety is known as “monoecious”, which refers to species that produce separate male and female flowers on the same plant. Anyone who has grown courgettes or cucumbers will recognise that only some of the flowers bear the swollen ovary at the base (which will become the courgette). The ones without are the males. In other words, when you eat a courgette you are eating the plant’s ovaries.
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Dr. Joscha Bach: Build Strong AI that Bridges Humanity and the Powers that Be

Dr. Joscha Bach: Build Strong AI that Bridges Humanity and the Powers that Be | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
Dr. Joscha Bach of the MIT Media Lab, and the Harvard Program for Evolutionary Dynamics, has dedicated much of his research pursuits to figuring out how the mind works. Over a decade ago he founded the MicroPsi project, in which virtual agents are constructed and used in a computer model to discover and describe the interactions of emotion, motivation, and cognition of situated agents. Bach’s mission to build a model of the mind is the bedrock research in the creation of Strong AI i.e. cognition on par with that of a human being.

Building Stronger AI with Reinforcement Learning

Reinforcement learning drives much of the agent interactions in MicroPsi. Though a type of machine learning, Bach points out that reinforcement learning is “different from machine learning, in that it involves interaction with the world and becoming more intelligent as a consequence, something that AI is not yet smart enough to do on its own”.
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Meet the world's first android actress

Meet the world's first android actress | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
Meet Geminoid F. In many ways, she’s perfect for the movie business. She’s beautiful, engaging, and can carry out a director’s every request on cue.

Time after time, she replicates the same performance without the slightest fluff or fumble, and can work for weeks on end without complaint. You don’t even have to pay her. Just remember to plug her in at night so she doesn’t die on set the next day, and she’ll be fine.

Geminoid F is an android – a robot designed to look and act like a human being (although the one thing she cannot do is walk) – and the first of her kind to co-star in a film. That feels like something of a milestone, considering cinema is full of memorable android characters. But from the seductive “machine-human” Maria in Fritz Lang’s 1927 monolith Metropolis to Star Wars’ C-3PO, Blade Runner’s replicants, and the enigmatic Ava from this year’s Ex Machina, almost all have been played by flesh-and-blood actors in costumes. (The others, including Sonny from the Will Smith blockbuster I, Robot, are digital creations, brought to life with motion capture technology.)
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Wells Fargo Wants to Let You Make Million-Dollar Wire Transactions With Your Face and Voice - Singularity HUB

Wells Fargo Wants to Let You Make Million-Dollar Wire Transactions With Your Face and Voice - Singularity HUB | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
“My voice gives me access to proceed, please verify me,” I announced to the phone in my hand. It scanned my face to see if my lips were moving. I then read aloud series of numbers. The voiceprint was a match, and the app unlocked itself — the demonstration was a success. The members of Wells Fargo’s Wholesale and Payments team around me let out a sigh of relief. They then proceeded to show me the features of their new, experimental, biometric-based commercial banking app, CEO. By making transactions faster and reducing friction, the company hoped it would make life easier for their customers. It would also make it possible for them to “make a $10 million wire transaction” on the go.

More than software, it was the company’s best attempt at solving one of their most persistent problems with transitioning to the digital age: getting customers to feel safe doing serious banking online.

The potential of mobile transactions has thus far been constrained by the security options available on our devices. There’s certain types of transactions that can’t reasonably be done with just a password or PIN code. While there are dozens of possible alternatives, the challenge has always been finding a method that is actually usable for most people.
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First complete pictures of cells’ DNA-copying machinery | KurzweilAI

First complete pictures of cells’ DNA-copying machinery | KurzweilAI | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
The first-ever electron microscope images of the protein complex that unwinds, splits, and copies double-stranded DNA reveal something rather different from the standard textbook view.

The images, created by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory with partners from Stony Brook University and Rockefeller University, offer new insight into how this molecular machinery functions, including new possibilities about its role in DNA “quality control” and cell differentiation.

Huilin Li, a biologist with a joint appointment at Brookhaven Lab and Stony Brook University says the new images show the fully assembled and fully activated helicase protein complex — which encircles and separates the two strands of the DNA double helix as it passes through a central pore in the structure — and how the helicase coordinates with the two polymerase enzymes that duplicate each strand to copy the genome.
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Connecting the World's Poorest Is the Best Hope for Ending Poverty

Connecting the World's Poorest Is the Best Hope for Ending Poverty | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
Last month the World Bank published new global poverty estimates. They confirm that the last 25 years represent an auspicious moment in the annals of human progress. A target to cut the rate of extreme poverty in half over this period was achieved seven years ahead of schedule. Preliminary final accounts show a reduction of over 70 percent. A new goal to finish the job by eradicating extreme poverty over the next 15 years has now been endorsed by the UN. To understand how this might be achieved, we must first recognize that the lives of the poor are fundamentally changing: We’re witnessing the end of marginalization thanks to the connections made possible by digital networks.
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Scientific paradigms rest on change not truth – David P Barash – Aeon

Scientific paradigms rest on change not truth – David P Barash – Aeon | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
Coming from a scientist, this sounds smug, but here it is: science is one of humanity’s most noble and successful endeavours, and our best way to learn how the world works. We know more than ever about our own bodies, the biosphere, the planet and even the cosmos. We take pictures of Pluto, unravel quantum mechanics, synthesise complex chemicals and can peer into (as well as manipulate) the workings of DNA, not to mention our brains and, increasingly, even our diseases.

Sometimes science’s very success causes trouble, it’s true. Nuclear weapons – perhaps the most immediate threat to life on Earth – were a triumph for science. Then there are the paradoxical downsides of modern medicine, notably overpopulation, plus the environmental destruction that science has unwittingly promoted. But these are not the cause of the crisis faced by science today. Today science faces a crisis of legitimacy which is entirely centred on rampant public distrust and disavowal.
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Google's Project Loon internet balloons to circle Earth - BBC News

Google's Project Loon internet balloons to circle Earth - BBC News | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
Google believes it is on course to have enough internet-beaming balloons in the stratosphere to form a ring over part of the world next year.

It told the BBC the move would let it trial a continuous data service to people living below the balloons' path.

The declaration coincides with the announcement that three of Indonesia's mobile networks intend to start testing Project Loon's transmissions next year.

One expert said the plan had benefits over other solutions.

Sri Lanka previously signed a separate agreement signalling its wish to be another participant in the giant helium balloon-based scheme.
4G-like speeds

Google first revealed its superpressure balloon plan in June 2013, when about 30 of the inflatable plastic "envelopes" were launched from New Zealand.
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This Living Clothing Morphs When You Sweat

This Living Clothing Morphs When You Sweat | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
This garment is printed with bacteria that react to your body heat.

Humans have been bending electronics to our will for more than a century. Biology, on the other hand, has always been a little harder to tame. A new project from the MIT Media Lab’s Tangible Media Group called BioLogic is exploring how we might gain a little more control over the biological side of things.

The investigation, led by Lining Yao of MIT, focuses on how we can grow actuators that control the interfaces around us instead of manufacturing them in a factory. In other words: Yao and her team want to use the natural behavior of certain microorganisms to power objects and interfaces, the same way a motor might.

To power its inventions, BioLogic relies on Bacillus subtilis natto—a bacterium, commonly used in Japanese cooking, that reacts to atmospheric moisture. Like pinecones, these hydromorphic “natto cells” will expand and contract depending on the amount of humidity in the air—the more humidity present, the bigger the bacteria get (the size of an individual cell can change up to 50 percent). With this behavior in mind, Yao partnered with New Balance and designers from the Royal College of Art to create a new type of clothing called Second Skin that becomes more breathable as the wearer’s body heat and humidity increase.

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Make mine an absinthe: Kinetic steampunk bar opens in Romania

Make mine an absinthe: Kinetic steampunk bar opens in Romania | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
Steampunk aficionados and those looking to try something different can now enjoy a tipple at what's probably the world's first kinetic steampunk bar. Based in Transylvania, the Enigma Cafe is an impressively intricate work of interior design chock full of moving clocks, cogs, and whirring machinery.
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System that replaces human intuition with algorithms outperforms human teams

System that replaces human intuition with algorithms outperforms human teams | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
Big-data analysis consists of searching for buried patterns that have some kind of predictive power. But choosing which "features" of the data to analyze usually requires some human intuition. In a database containing, say, the beginning and end dates of various sales promotions and weekly profits, the crucial data may not be the dates themselves but the spans between them, or not the total profits but the averages across those spans.

MIT researchers aim to take the human element out of big-data analysis, with a new system that not only searches for patterns but designs the feature set, too. To test the first prototype of their system, they enrolled it in three data science competitions, in which it competed against human teams to find predictive patterns in unfamiliar data sets. Of the 906 teams participating in the three competitions, the researchers' "Data Science Machine" finished ahead of 615.

In two of the three competitions, the predictions made by the Data Science Machine were 94 percent and 96 percent as accurate as the winning submissions. In the third, the figure was a more modest 87 percent. But where the teams of humans typically labored over their prediction algorithms for months, the Data Science Machine took somewhere between two and 12 hours to produce each of its entries.

"We view the Data Science Machine as a natural complement to human intelligence," says Max Kanter, whose MIT master's thesis in computer science is the basis of the Data Science Machine. "There's so much data out there to be analyzed. And right now it's just sitting there not doing anything. So maybe we can come up with a solution that will at least get us started on it, at least get us moving."
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Bioprinting human tissue may yield cruelty-free drugs, and immortality (Wired UK)

Bioprinting human tissue may yield cruelty-free drugs, and immortality (Wired UK) | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
Humanity doesn't have enough spare organs. Let's make some.

That's the guiding principle behind the work of Gabor Forgacs, a pioneer in bioprinting and founder of Organovo, which specialises in the field of making human tissue to order. The technology for printing, say, a working human heart isn't quite there yet, but as Forgacs told the WIRED2015 audience at London's Tobacco Dock, the science is sound and it's only a matter of time before lab-printed replacements are a medical reality.

Of the tens of thousands of patients that require organ transplants each year, only a (very) rough 10 percent receive them. There simply aren't enough donors, or matches, to go around. Forgacs aims to plug that gap using a process that can grow the building blocks of new organs.

However, "organ printing" is a term Forgacs rejects -- at present. Bioprinting is an adaptation of 3D printing, "for a situation where you want to create three dimensional extended living structures, by the deposition of discrete units we refer to as bio-ink", Forgacs explained. Bio-ink -- little spheres containing mini tissues that, depending on what you want to "build", measure between half a millimetre and 100 microns in diameter -- is implanted on templates according to what you want to grow, such as tubular modules for vascular systems.

This is only the first step in the process though. "Bioprinting is just a tool; biology takes over, after the deposition," Forgacs says. "We can direct this process by providing physiological conditions, which allow the structure to develop further. The cell types sort through for the right locations, and at the end you develop the right mechanical properties."
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Robot toddler learns to stand -- simply by imagining it (Wired UK)

Robot toddler learns to stand -- simply by imagining it (Wired UK) | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
Toddlers often teeter rather precariously, and adorably, on the boundary between falling over and staying upright. Darwin is no different -- except that it's a robot.

Darwin is a humanoid android, built to understand and demonstrate the numerous ways in which machines can learn to navigate challenging and unfamiliar environments. It learns to perform tasks in the same way that children do -- by imagining them first.

The group responsible for Darwin, at the University of California at Berkeley, hope that Darwin will allow robots to learn more naturally, and avoid extensive periods of testing to which robots are currently subjected.

When it's put into an unfamiliar position, MIT Technology Review reports -- such as in a new pose, on the floor -- Darwin's neural networks work on their own to find a solution. The robot itself is controlled by these networks, which are algorithms that mimic the way learning happens in humans. Connections between these simulated neurons, as in humans, strengthen and weaken in response to stimulus. This complex network is known as a deep-learning network.
Darwin has already learned how to stand independently, move its hands and stay upright when the ground beneath it tilts, the team reports. The next step is to take that principle and apply it to other forms of movement and tasks.
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Service robots finally start to catch on

Service robots finally start to catch on | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
This is an exciting time for those of us in robotics. We are finally starting to see sales in the service robot category after years of predictions. Silicon Valley companies such as Fellow Robots, whose OSHBot assists Orchard Supply Hardware shoppers, and Savioke, whose Relay robot makes deliveries to hotel guests, are leading the way into the emerging personal and service robotics industry.

And there are plenty more. Fetch Robotics, for example, builds robots that pack boxes for e-commerce deliveries. Bossa Nova Robotics is building a new service robot. Adept produces an all purpose mobile base that can autonomously navigate around. SRI International, Eksobionics, and Pneubotics are all working on assistive technology suits to make workers stronger, or help people with disability or injury. Catalia Health and RobotsLab are incorporating AI into social robots to help people manage their medication or even act as a personal stylist. And more are on the way.
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The Buddhist Priest Who Became a Billionaire Snubbing Investors

The Buddhist Priest Who Became a Billionaire Snubbing Investors | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
If this 83-year-old billionaire is right, one of the most important lessons of business school is pretty much wrong.

All that stuff about focusing on shareholders? Forget it, says Kazuo Inamori, entrepreneur, management guru and Buddhist priest. Spend your time making staff happy instead. He’s used this philosophy to establish electronics giant Kyocera Corp. more than five decades ago, create the $64 billion phone carrier now known as KDDI Corp., and rescue Japan Airlines Co. from its 2010 bankruptcy.

From Kyocera’s headquarters overlooking the hills and temples of the ancient capital of Kyoto, Inamori expresses doubts about western capitalist ways. His views are a reminder that many bastions of Japanese business don’t buy into Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plans to make companies more devoted to shareholders.

“If you want eggs, take care of the hen,” Inamori said in an interview on Oct. 23. “If you bully or kill the hen, it’s not going to work.”

It’s a view that carries weight because of Inamori’s success. KDDI and Kyocera have a combined market value of about $82 billion. When Inamori was named chief executive of Japan Airlines in 2010, he was 77 and had no experience in the industry. The next year, he returned the carrier to profit and led it out of bankruptcy. In 2012 he relisted it on the Tokyo stock exchange.
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Robot revolution: rise of 'thinking' machines could exacerbate inequality

Robot revolution: rise of 'thinking' machines could exacerbate inequality | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
A “robot revolution” will transform the global economy over the next 20 years, cutting the costs of doing business but exacerbating social inequality, as machines take over everything from caring for the elderly to flipping burgers, according to a new study.

As well as robots performing manual jobs, such as hoovering the living room or assembling machine parts, the development of artificial intelligence means computers are increasingly able to “think”, performing analytical tasks once seen as requiring human judgment.
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The Journey to Digital Immortality — Medium

The Journey to Digital Immortality — Medium | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
Could an AI avatar collect all your thoughts and memories, then become a digital clone of yourself and “live” forever?

It is 2015 and we are closer to launching the Eternime avatar that will eventually become your digital alter ego, your immortal bits-and-bytes clone. Two years, two pivots, all personal savings invested, a new team, more than 30,000 people waiting for it, and we’re one step further on this amazing journey, ready to launch and start fundraising for the next chapter. The past two years have been “part poetry, part hero’s journey, part weird Tarantino movie” as a friend of mine says, so here’s the story of the Eternime journey until today.
Wildcat2030's insight:

go read..

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Facebook Aims Its AI at the Game No Computer Can Crack

Facebook Aims Its AI at the Game No Computer Can Crack | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
In the mid-’90s, a computer program called Chinook beat the world’s top player at the game of checkers. Three years later, to much fanfare, IBM’s Deep Blue supercomputer won its chess match against reigning world champion Gary Kasparov. And in 2011, another IBM machine, Watson, topped the best humans at Jeopardy!, the venerable TV trivia game show. Machines can now beat the best humans at a wide range of games traditionally held up as tests of intellect, from Scrabble to Othello. But there’s one notable pastime where we humans still come out on top: the game of Go.

With all those other games, computers can win by, in essence, analyzing the many possible outcomes of every possible move. Yes, a chess grandmaster like Kasparov can look ahead in a similar way. But a machine can examine far more future moves than Kasparov ever could. Likewise, a machine can look ahead in a game of Go—the Eastern version of chess—but in this case, looking ahead is far more difficult. On a Go board—a 19-by-19 grid where players place pieces at the intersection of two lines—the number of possible moves is far greater, and identifying the benefits of a particular move is far more complicated, even mysterious. The top players will tell you they play in a way that’s, on some level, subconscious. Getting a computer to play this way is another task entirely. You can’t use the same approach as a Deep Blue or a Watson.

With this in mind, researchers at Facebook are now tackling Go with an increasingly important form of artificial intelligence known as deep learning.
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Silly Robots!

Silly Robots! | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
The social-media hive mind recently took a break from circulating humorous cat videos and set out on a new path: circulating humorous robot videos. In many ways, the robots were simply picking up where the cats had left off. Like cuddly animals, the robots in question shared certain features with humans, such as arms, legs, even faces. This almost-human quality seems to be a condition of many successful Internet memes, achieving a type of humor that transcends place or language.

But as you can see if you enter the words "robot" and "fail" into YouTube, the robot meme differs from the cat meme in one important way. While cats achieve fame through displaying an almost-human level of intelligence and cultural nous, robots provoke laughter through precisely the opposite.

Given various simple tasks, such as walking up a flight of stairs, squeezing ketchup onto a hot dog, or applying lipstick to the face of a mannequin, the robots perform abysmally. They keel over sideways; they bury the hot dog under a pile of ketchup; they violently attack the mannequin with lipstick. Stupid robots.
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IBM Is About to Become the Best Weather Forecaster of All Time

IBM Is About to Become the Best Weather Forecaster of All Time | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
In addition to Jeopardy champion and doctor, you can now add meteorologist to the list of hats IBM’s Watson supercomputer wears.

IBM confirmed today that it will acquire the digital assets of the Weather Company, the corporate parent of the Weather Channel and Weather.com. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, but the deal includes essentially all of the Weather Company’s assets other than the Weather Channel television station, including Weather.com, the Weather Channel mobile apps, the Weather Underground website and, perhaps most importantly, Weather Services International , a division that sells weather data to companies such as airlines and the insurance industry.
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Exxon Knew about Climate Change Almost 40 Years Ago

Exxon Knew about Climate Change Almost 40 Years Ago | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
A new investigation shows the oil company understood the science before it became a public issue and spent millions to promote misinformation
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'Tractor beam' grabs beads with sound waves - BBC News

'Tractor beam' grabs beads with sound waves - BBC News | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
Engineers in Bristol have developed a system that can grab, hold and move small objects without touching them, using "holograms" made of sound waves.

It offers the kind of remote control that naturally draws comparison with the "tractor beams" of science fiction.

So far the team has tested the design on small pea-sized objects, which they can manipulate from 30-40cm away.

Writing in Nature Communications, they suggest the work could help develop remote surgical instruments.

In essence, an object sitting in a "quiet" region of space can be held there if it is surrounded by very high-intensity sound waves. As the pattern of that boundary shifts, the object can be moved around.

The researchers programmed a grid of small speakers to emit ultrasound in intricate, shifting patterns, crafting shapes from the interacting waves that resembled tweezers, bottles, and tiny tornado-like twisters.

These "holograms" were able to control small beads up to 5mm across. Crucially, the design works from just one side - including above or below the beads - instead of requiring the object to be surrounded by loudspeakers.
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Scientists turn tomatoes into efficient medicinal compound factories

Scientists turn tomatoes into efficient medicinal compound factories | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
A team from the John Innes Center in the UK has developed a method for producing large quantities of beneficial compounds by growing them in tomatoes. Given how high yielding the fruit is, it could be used to produce the substances on an industrial scale.

The compounds in question are phenylpropanoids. They include substances like Resveratrol – which is found in wine, and has been shown to extend lifespan in animals – and Genistein – found in soybeans and thought to be useful for prevention of certain cancers.

To get tomatoes to produce the substances, the researchers turned to a common garden plant known as Arabidopsis thaliana. It contains a protein called AtMYB12, which activates genes responsible for switching on metabolic pathways than in turn produce the natural compounds. The more of the protein that's present, the more of the compounds is produced.

Interestingly, when introduced into tomato plants, AtMYB12 didn't only increase the amount of the compounds produced, but also increased the amount of energy that the plant dedicated to producing them, making it an extremely effective phenylpropanoids factory. In fact, a single tomato contained as much Resveratrol as you'd find in 50 bottles of wine, and as much Genistein as present in 2.5 kg of tofu.
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Noninvasive imaging method can look twice as deep inside the living brain | KurzweilAI

Noninvasive imaging method can look twice as deep inside the living brain | KurzweilAI | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
University of Washington (UW) researchers have developed a noninvasive light-based imaging technology that can literally see inside the living brain at more than two times the depth, providing a new tool to study how diseases like dementia, Alzheimer’s, and brain tumors change brain tissue over time.

The work was reported Oct. 8 by Woo June Choi and Ruikang Wang of the UW Department of Bioengineering in the Journal of Biomedical Optics, published by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics.

Noninvasive deep imaging

According to the authors, this new optical coherence tomography (OCT) approach to brain study may allow for examining acute and chronic morphological or functional vascular changes in the deep brain.

OCT is normally used to obtain sub-surface images of biological tissue at about the same resolution as a low-power microscope and can instantly deliver cross-section images of layers of tissue without invasive surgery or ionizing radiation. OCT images are based on light directly reflected from a sub-surface.

Widely used in clinical ophthalmology, OCT has recently been adapted for brain imaging in small animal models. Its application in neuroscience has been limited, however, because conventional OCT technology hasn’t been able to image more than 1 millimeter below the surface of biological tissue.
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