Developing an Appreciation of Our Biological World
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Dorion Sagan Demands That We Make Science an Adventure Again - io9 - io9

Dorion Sagan Demands That We Make Science an Adventure Again - io9 - io9 | Developing an Appreciation of Our Biological World | Scoop.it
Dorion Sagan Demands That We Make Science an Adventure Again - io9 io9 And we see it in genocentric biology, where Max Delbruck simplified the study of life by studying nonmetabolizing viruses of bacteria, so-called bacteriophages, to home in on...
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Herschel Closes Its Eyes On The Universe - SpaceDaily - Space Daily

Herschel Closes Its Eyes On The Universe - SpaceDaily - Space Daily | Developing an Appreciation of Our Biological World | Scoop.it
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Herschel Closes Its Eyes On The Universe - SpaceDaily
Space Daily
Herschel ESA's Herschel space observatory has exhausted its supply of liquid helium coolant, ending more than three years of pioneering observations of the cool universe.
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National Geographic - Inspiring People to Care About the Planet Since 1888

National Geographic - Inspiring People to Care About the Planet Since 1888 | Developing an Appreciation of Our Biological World | Scoop.it
National Geographic provides free maps, photos, videos and daily news stories, as well as articles and features about animals, the environment, cultures, history, world music, and travel.
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Javelin-Hurling Scientists Measure Glacier Melt : DNews

Javelin-Hurling Scientists Measure Glacier Melt : DNews | Developing an Appreciation of Our Biological World | Scoop.it
How quickly are glaciers in Antarctica melting? Researchers are launching javelin-shaped devices out of airplanes to help answer that question.
Jeffrey Bishop's insight:

The drive to find the cause of the worlds environmental issues is strong within society these days, but where are the scientists, and politicians and everyday heroes, striving to develop strategies and methods of prevention for the simple things like recycling and deforestation?

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Printable 'bionic' ear melds electronics and biology

Printable 'bionic' ear melds electronics and biology | Developing an Appreciation of Our Biological World | Scoop.it
Scientists at Princeton University used off-the-shelf printing tools to create a functional ear that can 'hear' radio frequencies far beyond the range of normal human capability.

 

Creating organs using 3D printers is a recent advance; several groups have reported using the technology for this purpose in the past few months. But this is the first time that researchers have demonstrated that 3D printing is a convenient strategy to interweave tissue with electronics.

 

The technique allowed the researchers to combine the antenna electronics with tissue within the highly complex topology of a human ear. The researchers used an ordinary 3D printer to combine a matrix of hydrogel and calf cells with silver nanoparticles that form an antenna. The calf cells later develop into cartilage.

 

Manu Mannoor, a graduate student in McAlpine's lab and the paper's lead author, said that additive manufacturing opens new ways to think about the integration of electronics with biological tissue and makes possible the creation of true bionic organs in form and function. He said that it may be possible to integrate sensors into a variety of biological tissues, for example, to monitor stress on a patient's knee meniscus.

 

David Gracias, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins and co-author on the publication, said that bridging the divide between biology and electronics represents a formidable challenge that needs to be overcome to enable the creation of smart prostheses and implants.

 

"Biological structures are soft and squishy, composed mostly of water and organic molecules, while conventional electronic devices are hard and dry, composed mainly of metals, semiconductors and inorganic dielectrics," he said. "The differences in physical and chemical properties between these two material classes could not be any more pronounced."

 

The finished ear consists of a coiled antenna inside a cartilage structure. Two wires lead from the base of the ear and wind around a helical "cochlea" – the part of the ear that senses sound – which can connect to electrodes. Although McAlpine cautions that further work and extensive testing would need to be done before the technology could be used on a patient, he said the ear in principle could be used to restore or enhance human hearing. He said electrical signals produced by the ear could be connected to a patient's nerve endings, similar to a hearing aid. The current system receives radio waves, but he said the research team plans to incorporate other materials, such as pressure-sensitive electronic sensors, to enable the ear to register acoustic sounds.

 

In addition to McAlpine, Verma, Mannoor and Gracias the research team includes: Winston Soboyejo, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton; Karen Malatesta, a faculty fellow in molecular biology at Princeton; Yong Lin Kong, a graduate student in mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton; and Teena James, a graduate student in chemical and biomolecular engineering at Johns Hopkins.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Zinc: The Goldilocks metal for bioabsorbable stents?

Zinc: The Goldilocks metal for bioabsorbable stents? | Developing an Appreciation of Our Biological World | Scoop.it
In 2012, more than 3 million people had stents inserted in their coronary arteries. These tiny mesh tubes prop open blood vessels healing from procedures like a balloon angioplasty, which widens arteries blocked by clots or plaque deposits.

 

After about six months, most damaged arteries are healed and stay open on their own. The stent, however, is there for a lifetime. Most of the time, that's not a problem, says Patrick Bowen, a doctoral student studying materials science and engineering at Michigan Technological University.

 

The arterial wall heals in around the old stent with no ill effect. But the longer a stent is in the body, the greater the risk of late-stage side effects. For example, a permanent stent can cause intermittent inflammation and clotting at the implant site. In a small percentage of cases, the tiny metal segments that make up the stent can break and end up poking the arterial wall.

 

"When the stent stays in place 15, 20 or 25 years, you can see these side effects," says Bowen. "It's not uncommon to have a stent put in at age 60, and if you live to be 80, that's a long time for something to remain inert in your body."

 

That's why researchers are trying to develop a bioabsorbable stent, one that would gradually -- and harmlessly -- dissolve after the blood vessel is healed.

 

Many studies have investigated iron- and magnesium-based stents. However, iron is not promising: it rusts in the artery. Magnesium, on the other hand, dissolves too quickly. "We wondered, 'Isn't there something else?'" Bowen said. "And we thought, 'Why not zinc?'"

 

So they placed tiny zinc wires in the arteries of rats. The results were amazing. "The corrosion rate was exactly where it needed to be," Bowen said. The wires degraded at a rate just below 0.2 millimeters per year -- the "magic" value for bioabsorbable stents -- for the first three months.

 

After that, the corrosion accelerated, so the implant would not remain in the artery for too long. On top of that, the rats' arteries appeared healthy when the wires were removed, with tissue firmly grasping the implant.

 

"Plus, zinc reduces atherosclerosis," he added, referring to zinc's well-known ability to fight the development of plaque in the arteries. "How cool is that? A zinc stent might actually have health benefits."

 

There is one drawback. "A stent made of conventional zinc would not be strong enough to hold open a human artery," he said. "We need to beef it up, double the strength."

 

"The good news is that there are commercial zinc alloys that are up to three times stronger," Bowen said. "We know we can get there. We just don't want to ruin our corrosion behavior."


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Half-Life 2 mod 'Minerva' gets Director's Cut on Steam | Joystiq

Half-Life 2 mod 'Minerva' gets Director's Cut on Steam | Joystiq | Developing an Appreciation of Our Biological World | Scoop.it
Six years after its initial release, Adam Foster's acclaimed Half-Life 2 mod MINERVA has been re-released as a free "Director's Cut" version on Steam. MINERVA is an atmospheric first-person adventure game in which players ...
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How plants may offset global warming

How plants may offset global warming | Developing an Appreciation of Our Biological World | Scoop.it
Plants release gases that stick to human-produced aerosols that in turn leads to more cloud coverage and chances cooler temperatures.
Jeffrey Bishop's insight:

Life on the planet Earth is doing its best to keep a healthy, balanced nature. It's our job as humans to support life in that endeavour.

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Twitter / Earth_Pics: A baby sloth. http://t.co/DEGLKk4ki5

Twitter / Earth_Pics: A baby sloth. http://t.co/DEGLKk4ki5 | Developing an Appreciation of Our Biological World | Scoop.it
“@Earth_Pics: A baby sloth. http://t.co/mtuX8c1KRd”; this dude is chillin
Jeffrey Bishop's insight:

Is the miracle of a child born in the animal kingdom any less beautiful than that of a human child?

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