February 11, 2014
Nanotechnology researchers control artificial nanomotors inside living cells (w/video)
(Nanowerk News) – For the first time, a team of chemists and engineers at Penn State University have placed tiny synthetic motors inside live human cells, propelled them with ultrasonic waves and steered them magnetically. It’s not exactly “Fantastic Voyage,” but it’s close. The nanomotors, which are rocket-shaped metal particles, move around inside the cells, spinning and battering against the cell membrane.
February 6, 2014
NASA: Engineered microbes could help support life in space
(Costa Rica Times) – Engineered microbes could aid in the settlement of life in space, NASA Ames Research Center’s director said at a Stanford conference on Tuesday. Altered bacteria could provide the necessary ingredients for life, such as breathable air, on places like Mars or the moon, S. Pete Worden told the annual symposium of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts Program. “We can edit the genome to help us live in space,” he said.
Nanotechnology is getting closer to 3D printing
(Nanowerk) – Fabrication of three-dimensional (3D) objects through direct deposition of functional materials – also called additive manufacturing – has been a subject of intense study in the area of macroscale manufacturing for several decades. These 3D printing techniques are reaching a stage where desired products and structures can be made independent of the complexity of their shapes – even bioprinting tissue is now in the realm of the possible.
February 5, 2014
An artificial arm gives one man the chance to feel again
(NPR) – With a standard prosthetic, Sorensen can’t feel anything he’s holding or touching. So when he heard about an experimental prosthetic that would let him feel again, he jumped at the chance to try it. “First of all I was thinking, this, this can’t be true,” he says. But it was, and Sorensen traveled to Rome to become the first person to try it.
February 3, 2014
3D printing will ignite major debate on ethics, regulation
(Today’s Medical Developments) – The technology of 3D bioprinting (the medical application of 3D printing to produce living tissue and organs) is advancing so quickly that it will spark a major ethical debate on its use by 2016, according to Gartner Inc. At the same time, 3D printing of non-living medical devices such as prosthetic limbs, combined with a burgeoning population and insufficient levels of healthcare in emerging markets, is likely to cause an explosion in demand for the technology by 2015.
As artificial intelligence grows, so do ethical concerns
(San Francisco Gate) – The price tag and the specifics of the deal remain unclear, but Google will set up an ethics board to oversee DeepMind’s artificial intelligence projects, according to the Information website. The price tag and the specifics of the deal remain unclear, but Google will set up an ethics board to oversee DeepMind’s artificial intelligence projects, according to the Information website. And those questions could start popping up soon, says Eliezer Yudkowsky, a fellow at the Machine Intelligence Research Institute. He says ethics boards should be more common because computer technology is evolving so quickly that an explosion of artificial intelligence might not be far off.
January 29, 2014
Compounds in exhaled breath may identify early lung cancer
Of all cancers, lung cancer is the biggest killer in both men and women. According to the American Lung Association, it causes more deaths than colon, breast and prostate cancer combined. Diagnosing the disease can involve a number of tests, but scientists have discovered that specific compounds in exhaled breath may be used to diagnose the disease in its early stages. (Medical News Today)
Google acquires UK artificial intelligence company DeepMind
Google’s acquisition spree continues as it snaps up London-based DeepMind Technologies, a company describing itself as being on the cutting edge of artificial intelligence. Re/Code, which originally reported the news, said Google had paid $400 million (£242 million) for the company, although after confirming the acquisition with Google itself, The Information reports the acquisition was worth more than $500 million (£300 million). (Wired)
Beyond the Moore’s Law: Nanocomputing using nanowire tiles
An interdisciplinary team of scientists and engineers from The MITRE Corporation and Harvard University have taken key steps toward ultra-small electronic computer systems that push beyond the imminent end of Moore’s Law, which states that the device density and overall processing power for computers will double every two to three years. In a paper that will appear this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team describes how they designed and assembled, from the bottom up, a functioning, ultra-tiny control computer that is the densest nanoelectronic system ever built. (Phys.org)
January 24, 2014
Trusty stethoscope faces threat from portable hi-tech
Along with the white coat, the stethoscope is among the most recognisable symbols of the medical profession. But according to an editorial in the journal Global Heart this week, the stethoscope is in its death throes, in danger of being consigned to medical history, having been overtaken by technology. So are the stethoscope’s days numbered? (BBC)
Doctors spend third of time with patients looking at computer
Doctors spend about a third of their visits looking at a computer screen and as a result their communication with patients suffers, U.S. researchers say. First author Enid Montague, an assistant professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and an assistant professor in industrial engineering at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, said when physicians spend too much time looking at the computer screen in the exam room, non-verbal cues might get overlooked and affect doctors’ ability to pay attention and communicate with patients. (UPI)
What jobs will the robots take?
Another way of posing the same question is: Where do machines work better than people? Tractors are more powerful than farmers. Robotic arms are stronger and more tireless than assembly-line workers. But in the past 30 years, software and robots have thrived at replacing a particular kind of occupation: the average-wage, middle-skill, routine-heavy worker, especially in manufacturing and office admin. (The Atlantic)
January 22, 2014
Robo-ankle uses artificial muscles to get you walking
Go go robo-ankle! A robotic device kitted out with artificial muscles could help people with cerebral palsy strengthen their foot and ankle muscles, helping to improve their walking. Yong-Lae Park of Carnegie Mellon University and his colleagues took a standard knee strap, ankle brace and shoe, and attached four pneumatic artificial muscles. These are flexible tubes that contract when filled with air, mimicking the action of biological muscles. Three artificial muscles link the knee with the front of the ankle while a fourth is placed on the back, in an effort to replicate the normal configuration of muscles and tendons. (New Scientist)
Head space: Finding a way to do 3D surgery on the brain
In the last 25 years minimally invasive surgery has become commonplace for the relatively easy-to-reach areas of the body, such as keyhole surgery on the abdomen and womb. And more recently surgeons have been able to use scopes (tube-like instruments) in brain surgery too. During these procedures a thin scope is inserted via a surgically-made or naturally-occurring port in the skin. A camera attached to the end of the scope relays images to a screen for the surgeon to see. (BBC)
Nanotechnology: Is the magic bullet becoming a reality?
Slightly over a century ago, Paul Ehrlich coined the term “magic bullet” to refer to therapeutic compounds designed to selectively target a pathogen without affecting the host. Subsequently, this idea flourished not only for infectious diseases but also for other fields, such as cancer therapy. At the recent “Nanomedicines: Addressing the Scientific and Regulatory Gap” conference held at the New York Academy of Sciences in late November, investigators discussed key concepts shaping a vibrant field that promises to bring this concept closer to the clinic. (Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News)
January 20, 2014
Google’s new sugar-sensing contact lens
The Google lab known for working on unusual projects like self-driving cars is crafting a contact lens that could help diabetics manage blood sugar levels. “We’re now testing a smart contact lens that’s built to measure glucose levels in tears,” project co-founders Brian Otis and Babak Parviz said Thursday in a blog post. (Discovery News)
January 17, 2014
Google reveals smart contact lens prototype designed to aid diabetics
Google unveils a contact lens that monitors glucose levels in tears, something millions of diabetics currently have to draw their own blood to check. The lenses use a minuscule glucose sensor and a wireless transmitter to help those among the world’s 382m diabetics who need insulin keep a close watch on their blood sugar and adjust their dose. (The Telegraph)
A New Edition of Public Understanding of Science is Available
Public Understanding of Science (Volume 23, No. 1, January 2014) is now available online by subscription only.
- “Why should we promote public engagement with science?” by Jack Stilgoe, et al.
- “Unbalanced progress: The hard road from science popularisation to public engagement with science in China” by Hepeng Jia and Li Liu
- “On the limits of public engagement for the governance of emerging technologies” by Patrick Sturgis
- “From ‘trust us’ to participatory governance: Deliberative publics and science policy” by Michael M. Burgess
- “Building the capacity for public engagement with science in the United States” by David H. Guston
- “Citizen science as seen by scientists: Methodological, epistemological and ethical dimensions” by Hauke Riesch and Clive Potter
January 16, 2014
Science enters $1,000 genome era
The ability to sequence a human genome for just $1,000 has arrived, a US genetics company has announced. San Diego-based Illumina says it is to release a new sequencing machine that can deliver five genomes in a day. The race to unlock a human’s genetic blueprint for $1,000 has been underway for more than a decade. (BBC)
Gene therapy ‘could be used to treat blindness’
Surgeons in Oxford have used a gene therapy technique to improve the vision of six patients who would otherwise have gone blind. The operation involved inserting a gene into the eye, a treatment that revived light-detecting cells. The doctors involved believe that the treatment could in time be used to treat common forms of blindness. (BBC)
In ‘Transcendence’, Johnny Depp plays a brilliant scientist whose mind is allowed to live on and evolve through artificial intelligence, after his body is attacked. (U.S.A. Today)