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Gen Y-fi caught in web fixation

Gen Y-fi caught in web fixation | MC Information technology | Scoop.it
Young people depend on internet devices such as smartphones to "drive every facet of their lives", a report finds.

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Privacy fears over apps for kids

Privacy fears over apps for kids | MC Information technology | Scoop.it
Apps fail to alert parents about the information they collect and share about their children.

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Computers are better at diagnosing and treating patients than doctors

Computers are better at diagnosing and treating patients than doctors | MC Information technology | Scoop.it
It would seem that no one's immune from the effects imposed by our increasingly sophisticated artificial intelligence and robotics — not even doctors.

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Schools in bind over laptops

Schools in bind over laptops | MC Information technology | Scoop.it
Schools face dilemma over whether to allow students to bring their own devices to school as the computers supplied by the federal government reach their end.

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'The Internet for bimbos': New computer manuals provide advice on technology targeted directly at women

'The Internet for bimbos': New computer manuals provide advice on technology targeted directly at women | MC Information technology | Scoop.it
Apparently women are just as clueless when it comes to the big, bad world of the internet. For 'women dummies,' the books tackle women's apparent online ignorance.

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Synthetic Biologists Make First Steps Toward Biological Computers

Synthetic Biologists Make First Steps Toward Biological Computers | MC Information technology | Scoop.it

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Gerd Moe-Behrens's curator insight, February 14, 2013 10:30 AM


by
Joann Fan 

"Synthetic biology is a field that began more than a decade ago when James Collins, a synthetic biologist at Boston University in Massechusetts developed a genetic 'toggle switch.' He activated the switch in Escherichia coli cells, which are harmless bacteria found in the intestinal tract, and in 2009 he and several others developed a synthetic gene network that could count various user-defined inputs.

This week, Timothy Lu, who worked with Collins in 2009, published a paper in this week's Nature Biotechnology describing the process of altering cells into being able to respond to the 16 binary logic functions (boolean operators such as true, false, and, not, or, etc.). This research takes biology another step closer to electrical engineering, allowing scientists to, someday, encode even more complex computations into cells."We wanted to show you can assemble a bunch of simple parts in a very easy fashion to give you many types of logical functions," Lu, who led the research, told Nature. He and his team developed 16 plasmids (circular strings of DNA) - one for each of the boolean functions - and inserted them into the E. coli cells.Each plasmid type has a promoter and terminator DNA sequence, which regulates gene transcription (the first step in gene expression, where a segment of DNA is copied onto RNA), as well as an 'output gene' that triggers the production of a green glowing protein.You can think of the plasmid as the switch in a logic circuitboard. When certain conditions are fulfilled, it will either transcribe or fail to transcribe the output gene (in this case, green flourescence). "An electric 'AND' gate," which Nature uses as its example, "only gives a positive output when voltage is applied to both inputs." In an electric 'OR' gate, voltage can be applied to either gate, but not both to produce a positive output.In the genetic version of an 'AND' gate, two terminator sequences between the start and the finish must be neutralized by specific kinds of signal enzymes called recombinase, which can snip and rearrange the controller genes, before the output will be transcribed. For example in the picture below, a 'Recombinase 1' and 'Recombinase 2' would have to alter their respective 'Terminator' genes before the 'Output' gene will activate.

Most importantly, the changes triggered by signal compounds would be permanent. Lu's team found that the altered plasmids will be passed down through at least 90 cell generations, which could give a biologist valuable insight on when something may have happened in a cell's ancestry.Lu said that in theory, manufacturers could grow cell cultures that can produce drugs when triggered to, or grow cultures whose production can be halted with the introduction of signal compounds."


http://bit.ly/WKVOnx


original ref:

*Synthetic circuits integrating logic and memory in living cells* byPiro Siuti, John Yazbek & Timothy K Lu "Logic and memory are essential functions of circuits that generate complex, state-dependent responses. Here we describe a strategy for efficiently assembling synthetic genetic circuits that use recombinases to implement Boolean logic functions with stable DNA-encoded memory of events. Application of this strategy allowed us to create all 16 two-input Boolean logic functions in living Escherichia coli cells without requiring cascades comprising multiple logic gates. We demonstrate long-term maintenance of memory for at least 90 cell generations and the ability to interrogate the states of these synthetic devices with fluorescent reporters and PCR. Using this approach we created two-bit digital-to-analog converters, which should be useful in biotechnology applications for encoding multiple stable gene expression outputs using transient inputs of inducers. We envision that this integrated logic and memory system will enable the implementation of complex cellular state machines, behaviors and pathways for therapeutic, diagnostic and basic science applications." http://bit.ly/123ToU3