A 15-unit apartment building has been constructed in the German city of Hamburg that has 129 algae filled louvered tanks hanging over the exterior of the south-east and south-west sides of the building—making it the first in the world to be powered exclusively by algae. Designed by Arup, SSC Strategic Science Consultants and Splitterwerk Architects, and named the Bio Intelligent Quotient (BIQ) House, the building demonstrates the ability to use algae as a way to heat and cool large buildings.
To make use of the algae, which the team retrieved from the nearby Elbe river, it was put into large thin rectangular clear cases. Inside, the algae live in a water solution and are provided nutrients and carbon dioxide by an automated system. Each tank was then affixed to the outside walls of the building onto scaffolding that allows for turning the tanks towards the sun—similar to technology used for solar collectors. As the algae grows—mostly in the summer—it provides more shade for the building, helping to keep it cool (and serves as a sound buffer as well). Excess heat that builds up in the water in the tanks is transferred to saline water tanks underneath the building for use later. When the amount of algae growth in the tanks reach a certain point, some is harvested and taken to a processing facility inside the building. There the biomass is converted to biogas which can be burned to provide heat in the winter. Thus, the building makes use of both solar thermal and geothermal energy allowing it to be heated and cooled without using any fossil fuels.
The design and construction of the BIQ has taken three years and has cost approximately €5 million, all funded by Internationale Bauausstellung (IBA) as part of the ongoing International Building Exhibition – 2013. The BIQ House is one of 16 projects undertaken by the group, with the goal of proving that cost effective ways of making bio-friendly buildings are available today. To highlight the building, the team has painted its exterior green and has added a giant cartoon-like bubble on one side with the word "Photosynthesis?" in it.
The building is to serve as a test case and will be studied by various architects and engineers from around the world to determine if the design is feasible and if so, to perhaps serve as a model when erecting buildings in other cities.
When the mind is at rest, the electrical signals by which brain cells communicate appear to travel in reverse, wiping out unimportant information in the process, but sensitizing the cells for future sensory learning, according to a study of rats conducted by researchers at the National Institutes of Health. The finding has implications not only for studies seeking to help people learn more efficiently, but also for attempts to understand and treat post-traumatic stress disorder―in which the mind has difficulty moving beyond a disturbing experience. During waking hours, brain cells, or neurons, communicate via high-speed electrical signals that travel the length of the cell. These communications are the foundation for learning. As learning progresses, these signals travel across groups of neurons with increasing rapidity, forming circuits that work together to recall a memory. It was previously known that, during sleep, these impulses were reversed, arising from waves of electrical activity originating deep within the brain. In the current study, the researchers found that these reverse signals weakened circuits formed during waking hours, apparently so that unimportant information could be erased from the brain. But the reverse signals also appeared to prime the brain to relearn at least some of the forgotten information. If the animals encountered the same information upon awakening, the circuits re-formed much more rapidly than when they originally encountered the information. “The brain doesn’t store all the information it encounters, so there must be a mechanism for discarding what isn’t important,” said senior author R. Douglas Fields, Ph.D., head of the Section on Nervous System Development and Plasticity at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the NIH institute where the research was conducted. “These reverse brain signals appear to be the mechanism by which the brain clears itself of unimportant information.”
Peter Phillips's insight:
The importance of sleep for learning and trauma recovery us highlighted in this new study.
When a school teacher writes her name on a blackboard on the first day of class, what she's really doing is crushing the skeletons of terribly ancient earthlings into a form that spells out the name "Mrs. ...".
A piece of chalk, when you think about too much, is a miracle. What is it, exactly? Well, if you look under a microscope, as British naturalist Thomas Huxley did in the 1860s, what you see is this (see figure). Chalk is composed of extremely small white globules. They look, up close, like snowballs made from brittle paper plates. Those plates, it turns out, are part of ancient skeletons that once belonged to roundish little critters that lived and floated in the sea, captured a little sunshine and carbon, then died and sank to the bottom. There still are trillions of them floating about in the oceans today, sucking up carbon dioxide, pocketing the carbon. Over the millennia, so many have died and plopped on top of each other, the weight of them and the water above has pressed them into a white blanket of rock, entirely composed of teeny skeletons. Scientists call these ancient plates "coccoliths." Technically, they are single-celled phytoplankton algae.
Chalk doesn't proclaim itself. It is usually out of view, buried in the ground below. Every so often, when a highway is being carved through a mountain, or when the sea and wind erode the side of a hill, that's when the green cover comes off, then you can see it. The White Cliffs of Dover are all chalk, piled hundreds of feet high.
In 1853, when the transatlantic cable was being laid, engineers would occasionally yank thick loops of wire up 10,000 feet from the ocean bottom, and every time, they found the same coating of white muck: chalk again. It turns out, writes biologist Bernd Heinrich, "the Atlantic mud, which stretches over a huge plain thousands of square miles, is raw chalk."
“A great chapter of the history of the world is written in chalk.
Since then geologists have found a chalk layer stretching 3,000 miles across Europe into Asia. It's under France, Germany, Russia, Egypt, Syria. How did it get there?
That, said Thomas Huxley (who first saw those teeny skeletons under his microscope) is one of the "most startling conclusions of physical science." In 1868, he gave a lecture to the "working men of Norwich" where he declared that "a great chapter of the history of the world is written in chalk."
Scientists at Monash University have had first signs of success at bringing at extinct species back to life. In a Jurrasic Park like scenario, dead genetic material from the extinct gastric brooding frog have been brought back to life when implanted in donor eggs from another species.
Interactive. The Global Closet Calculator aggregates the contents of your own closet by origin to generate a map showing your unique global footprint, and puts you in charge of the global journey your stuff takes to get to you.
Nasa mission controllers will put Curiosity through basic moves in cautious return to active service after it went into safe mode (RT @GuardianUS: Mars Curiosity rover to continue roving after technical glitch http://t.co/akzDIbefJ7 DELETE,...
Peter Phillips's insight:
An update on the happenings of NASA's car sized rover on Mars (landed in August 2012).
Researchers mix cells from human adult gum tissue with tooth-inducing cells from mouse embryos to grow new hybrid teeth complete with roots.
Cells taken from adult human gums can be combined with cells from the molars of fetal mice to form teeth with viable roots, according to research published this week in the Journal of Dental Research. The method remains a long way from clinical use, but the findings represent a step toward the goal of growing bioengineered replacements for lost teeth.
Teeth develop when embryonic epithelial cells in the mouth combine with mesenchymal cells derived from the neural crest. Previous studies have shown that these cells can be combined in the lab to formal normal teeth, but the challenge was to find non-embryonic source of the cells that could be used in the clinic.
To test one such source, a team lead by King’s College London stem cell biologist Paul Sharpe extracted epithelial cells from the gums of adult humans, cultured them in the lab, and mixed them with mesenchymal tooth cells derived from embryonic mice. After a week, the researchers transplanted this mixture into the protective tissue around the kidneys of living mice, where some of the cells developed into hybrid human/mouse teeth containing dentine and enamel, and with growing roots.
The research showed that the epithelial cells from adult human gum tissue responded to tooth-inducing signals from the embryonic mouse tooth mesenchyme, making the gum cells a realistic source for clinical use, said Sharpe in a press release. He added that “the next major challenge is to identify a way to culture adult human mesenchymal cells to be tooth-inducing, as at the moment we can only make embryonic mesenchymal cells do this.”
3D printing technology has helped replace 75 percent of a patient's skull with the approval of U.S. regulators. The 3D-printed implant can replace the bone in people's skulls damaged by disease or trauma, according to Oxford Performance Materials. The company announced it had received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its skull implant on Feb. 18, 2013— a decision that led to the first U.S. surgical operation on March 4.
"We see no part of the orthopedic industry being untouched by this," said Scott DeFelice, president of Oxford Performance Materials.
DeFelice's company is already selling 3D-printed implants overseas as a contract manufacturer. But the FDA decision has opened the door for U.S. operations using the implants. [Video: A 3D Printer of Your Own]
3D printing's advantage comes from taking the digitally scanned model of a patient's skull and "printing" out a matching 3D object layer by layer. The precise manufacturing technique can even make tiny surface or edge details on the replacement part that encourage the growth of cells and allow bone to attach more easily.
About 300 to 500 U.S. patients could use skull bone replacements every month, according to DeFelice. The possible patients include people with cancerous bone in their skulls, as well as car accident victims and U.S. military members suffering from head trauma.
At some point in the next decade, if advances in biotechnology continue on their current path, clones of extinct species such as the passenger pigeon, Tasmanian tiger and wooly mammoth could once again live among us. But cloning lost species—or “de-extinction” as some scientists call it—presents us with myriad ethical, legal and regulatory questions that must be answered, such as which (if any) species should be brought back and whether or not such creatures could be allowed to return to the wild. Such questions are set to be addressed at the TEDx DeExtinction conference, a day-long event in Washington, D.C., organized by Stewart Brand’s Revive & Restore project. Brand previewed the topics for discussion last week at the TED2013 conference in Long Beach, Calif.
Scientists are actively working on methods and procedures for bringing extinct species back to life, says Ryan Phelan, executive director of Revive & Restore and co-organizer of the TEDx event. “The technology is moving fast. What Stewart and I are trying to do with this meeting is for the first time to allow the public to start thinking about this. We’re going to hear from people who take it quite seriously. De-extinction is going to happen, and the questions are how does it get applied, when does it get used, what are the criteria which are going to be set?”
Cloning extinct species has been tried before—with moderate success. An extinct Pyrenean ibex, or bucardo, (Capra pyrenaica pyrenaica) was born to a surrogate mother goat in 2009, nine years after the last member of its species was killed by a falling tree. The cloned animal lived for just seven minutes. Revive & Restore itself has launched a project to try to resurrect the passenger pigeon, which went extinct in 1914.
The release of the Monash University team's progress emplanting DNA from an extinct gastric brooder frog is an example of this... and also of how competetive research is... they decided to publish in a newspaper... traditionally a shortcut to fame when many people are about to discover the same thing. Good luck to all however, who work to maintain and reinstate the diversity of life on our planet, and congratulations for the dogged detective work!
Smithsonian (blog) Four-winged birds? First fossils identified NBCNews.com (blog) Xing Xu, a paleontologist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, was the first to point out fossil evidence...
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