Europe against GMO crops! Please, sign the Avaaz petition! I already did.
It's us who decide, not Monsanto!!!

Monday, 25 January 2010

Technology of the future, January, 2010

Robots climb up the wall (w/ Video) - check out the video, the first robot is particularly creepy.
Space cannon to shoot payloads into orbit (w/ Video) - this isn't new, but I'm glad they are thinking about it again (and improving it).
Fruit fly neuron can reprogram itself after injury. - so much about non-regenerating neurons.

Today:

  1. Two Retinal Imaging Display Devices at Prototype Stage
  2. Microsoft Researchers Developing Muscle-Based PC Interface (w/ Video)
  3. Brain scanners can tell what you're thinking about
  4. Implant-based cancer vaccine is first to eliminate tumors in mice
  5. Researchers develop anti-cancer 'nano cocktail'

Two Retinal Imaging Display Devices at Prototype Stage

October 30, 2009 by Lin Edwards
(PhysOrg.com) -- NEC and Brother are both developing wearable prototype devices that use Retinal Imaging Display (RID) technology to project images directly on the wearer's retina. NEC's gadget is designed to interpret foreign languages and project a translation onto the retina, making it possible to have a conversation without an interpreter. Brother's device will project images of documents, allowing the wearer to read them in complete privacy.

NEC's prototype, the "Tele Scouter" consists of an eyeglass frame with a tiny projector and a microphone mounted on it. The microphone picks up the speech and transmits it to a small computer worn on the waist. The computer then converts the speech to text and translates it into the wearer's own language. A retinal display on the frame then projects the text directly into the wearer's peripheral vision. This allows the user to maintain eye contact with the other person even while reading the translation.

NEC says the device can be used for many hours without causing eye strain because the wearer does not need to focus on the text.

Brother's gadget is so far unnamed and consists of an eyepiece and optical scanner, and a power box that includes a light source comprising blue, red and green diodes. The device produces an image at 800 x 600 resolution, which appears to the viewer as an object about 10 cm square and one meter away.

NEC's Tele Scouter is not yet capable of translating well enough for business users or travelers, but a version is expected to be released in 2010. This device will be for factory workers and shop employees and will display of information such as operating instructions and diagrams. Brother also expects to release its device next year. source

My comment: Woah! Awesome! Like really!!! This is my total dream, to have one of those devices so that I put my sunglasses on and I can read a document while traveling. It's so stunningly cool. Or to load instructions for something, like making a cake and have them in your field of vision the whole time. It really really is amazing that they are so close to the market. I can only hope that they won't cost too much. And you of course could watch movies on them, while on a boring meeting :)

Microsoft Researchers Developing Muscle-Based PC Interface (w/ Video)

October 30, 2009 by John Messina
(PhysOrg.com) -- Microsoft researches have teamed up with the University of Washington and the University of Toronto to develop a muscle-controlled interface that allows for hands-free, gesture-driven interaction with computers.
By attaching a band of electrodes to a person's forearm, can be read from different arm muscles. The signals are then compared to different hand and processed by software.

The current model uses six electromyography sensors (EMG) and two ground electrodes placed in a ring around a person's upper right forearm for sensing finger movement. Two additional sensors are placed on the upper left forearm for identifying hand squeezes.

Since the sensors can't accurately interpret activity, software must be used to train the associate electrical signals with different gestures. By using standard machine-learning algorithms, the software learns to recognize EMG signals produced by a user performing gestures.

The algorithms use three aspects of the EMG signal: the magnitude of muscle activity, the rate of , and the wave patterns taking place across several at once.

After the software is properly trained, using standard machine-learning algorithms, participants gestures were accurately determined 85 percent of the time. source

My comment: See the videos on the source page, they are amazing! But I still have my doubts that mouse and keyboards will become obsolete. Ok, the mouse maybe, if you can point on the screen with your thought. But if it is with your hand, that's other thing. Because the mouse offers a 2d interface supported by the surface of the table - it requires less energy than to actually point on the screen or make a 3d gesture. Sure, for some things it will be useful, but for everyday use, I'm not so sure. I mean, I have the ability to point on my phone, so far it's not very exciting or easy.

Brain scanners can tell what you're thinking about

Last week at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Chicago, Jack Gallant, a leading "neural decoder" at the University of California, Berkeley, presented one of the field's most impressive results yet. He and colleague Shinji Nishimoto showed that they could create a crude reproduction of a movie clip that someone was watching just by viewing their brain activity. Others at the same meeting claimed that such neural decoding could be used to read memories and future plans - and even to diagnose eating disorders.

Understandably, such developments are raising concerns about "mind reading" technologies, which might be exploited by advertisers or oppressive governments.

Gallant's team drew international attention last year by showing that brain imaging could predict which of a group of pictures someone was looking at, based on activity in their visual cortex.

Nishimoto and Gallant started their most recent experiment by showing two lab members 2 hours of video clips culled from DVD trailers, while scanning their brains. A computer program then mapped different patterns of activity in the visual cortex to different visual aspects of the movies such as shape, colour and movement. The program was then fed over 200 days' worth of YouTube clips, and used the mappings it had gathered from the DVD trailers to predict the brain activity that each YouTube clip would produce in the viewers.

Finally, the same two lab members watched a third, fresh set of clips which were never seen by the computer program, while their brains were scanned. The computer program compared these newly captured brain scans with the patterns of predicted brain activity it had produced from the YouTube clips. For each second of brain scan, it chose the 100 YouTube clips it considered would produce the most similar brain activity - and then merged them. The result was continuous, very blurry footage, corresponding to a crude "brain read-out" of the clip that the person was watching.

In some cases, this was more successful than others. That's because the algorithm is more adept at reading off brain patterns evoked by watching movement than those produced by watching apparently stationary objects.

A brain structure called the hippocampus is critical for forming memories, so Maguire's team focused its scanner on this area while 10 volunteers recalled videos they had watched of different women performing three banal tasks, such as throwing away a cup of coffee or posting a letter. When Maguire's team got the volunteers to recall one of these three memories, the researchers could tell which the volunteer was recalling with an accuracy of about 50 per cent.

That's well above chance, says Maguire, but it is not mind reading because the program can't decode memories that it hasn't already been trained on. source

My comment: That's also nice, but I think they are putting the emphasis on the wrong place. It shouldn't be about reading people's mind forcefully, because that should be forbidden by law. Nobody should be forced to allow his mind to be read, no matter why (well, there might be such cases, but this must be very seriously regulated). And what's even more, for now, one has to think of something in order for the machine to see it - thus, even if they want to read your mind, you still can resist it quite easily. So, we shouldn't focus on that. Instead, think of all the things, you can do with your computer, if it is able to read your commands from your mind. That's awesome, right?! Or if even better, it can induce visions directly in your brain. What a future...

Implant-based cancer vaccine is first to eliminate tumors in mice

November 25, 2009
(PhysOrg.com) -- A cancer vaccine carried into the body on a carefully engineered, fingernail-sized implant is the first to successfully eliminate tumors in mammals, scientists report this week.

The new approach, pioneered by bioengineers and immunologists at Harvard University, uses plastic disks impregnated with tumor-specific antigens and implanted under the skin to reprogram the mammalian immune system to attack tumors. The new paper describes the use of such implants to eradicate melanoma tumors in mice.

Most easily skirt the immune system, which operates by recognizing and attacking invaders from outside the body. The approach developed by Mooney's group redirects the immune system to target tumors, and appears both more effective and less cumbersome than other cancer vaccines currently in clinical trials.

Conventional cancer vaccinations remove immune cells from the body, reprogram them to attack malignant tissues, and return them to the body. However, more than 90 percent of reinjected cells have died before having any effect in experiments.

The slender implants developed by Mooney's group are 8.5 millimeters in diameter and made of an FDA-approved biodegradable polymer. Ninety percent air, the disks are highly permeable to immune cells and release cytokines, powerful recruiters of immune-system messengers called dendritic cells.

These cells enter an implant's pores, where they are exposed to specific to the type of tumor being targeted. The dendritic cells then report to nearby lymph nodes, where they direct the immune system's T cells to hunt down and kill tumor cells.

"Inserted anywhere under the skin -- much like the implantable contraceptives that can be placed in a woman's arm -- the implants activate an immune response that destroys tumor cells," Mooney says.

And, much as an immune response to a bacterium or virus generates long-term resistance, researchers anticipate cancer vaccines will generate permanent and body-wide resistance against cancerous cells, providing durable protection against relapse. source

My comment: Well, I can only wish them luck. But I'm not yet convinced that those discs will induce a long-term resistance. Because otherwise, we'll have to keep them in our bodies forever, and that's not fun at all. But I guess it's better than nothing.

Researchers develop anti-cancer 'nano cocktail'

January 4, 2010
(
PhysOrg.com) -- A team of researchers in California and Massachusetts has developed a "cocktail" of different nanometer-sized particles that work in concert within the bloodstream to locate, adhere to and kill cancerous tumors.

In their study, the UC San Diego chemists, bioengineers at MIT and cell biologists at UC Santa Barbara developed a system containing two different nanomaterials the size of only a few , or a thousand times smaller than the diameter of a human hair, that can be injected into the bloodstream. One nanomaterial was designed to find and adhere to tumors in mice, while the second nanomaterial was fabricated to kill those tumors.

Treating tumors with has been challenging because immune cells called mononuclear phagocytes identify them and yank them from circulation, preventing the nanomaterials from reaching their target.

Ji-Ho Park, a graduate student in Sailor's UC San Diego laboratory, and Geoffrey von Maltzahn, a graduate student in Bhatia's MIT laboratory, headed the effort to develop two distinct that would work in concert to overcome that obstacle and others. The first particle is a gold nanorod "activator' that accumulates in tumors by seeping through its leaky blood vessels. The gold particles cover the whole tumor and behave like an antenna by absorbing otherwise benign infrared laser irradiation, which then heats up the tumor.

After the nanorods had circulated in the bloodstream of mice that had epithelial tumors for three days, the researchers used a weak laser beam to heat the rods that attached to the tumors. This sensitized the tumors, and the researchers then sent in a second nanoparticle type, composed of either iron oxide nanoworms or doxorubicin-loaded liposomes. This "responder" nanoparticle was coated with a special targeting molecule specific for the heat-treated tumor.

While one type of nanoparticle improves detection of the tumor, he said, the other is designed to kill the tumor. The researchers designed one type of responder particle with strings of iron oxide, which they called "nanoworms," that show up brightly in a medical magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, system. The second type is a hollow nanoparticle loaded with the anti-cancer drug doxorubicin. With the drug-loaded responder, the scientists demonstrated in their experiments that a tumor growing in a mouse can be arrested and then shrunk. source
My comment: Great, right? I don't understand how could we be so helpless in front of cancer. With all of our knowledge and technology. It's very sad. I can only wish them luck.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Space and life, water is all around us, 2010

First, check out those AMAZING pictures of solar system objects.
Today:
  1. Life existed in the oceans 200 million years before oxygen appearerd on Earth
  2. India’s lunar mission finds evidence of water on the Moon
  3. Mars probe watches water-ice fade
  4. Spot makes strange dwarf planet even stranger
  5. Mice Levitated for Space Research
This is sincerely adorable post. Check the news. They are all so exciting!

Life existed in the oceans 200 million years before oxygen appearerd on Earth

Life evolved at least 200 million years before oxygen began to build up in the atmosphere, a study has shown.

During this period in its history, known as the Archaean, the Earth was covered by a poisonous smog of methane, ammonia and other toxic gases.

Similar conditions exist today on Saturn's moon Titan. Life as we know it today could not have survived on the early Earth.

The new study involved an analysis of ancient preserved seabed rocks from South Africa dating back two to three billion years. US scientists at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, found chemical evidence of nitrogen cycles that could not have taken place without the presence of free oxygen. Nitrogen cycles relate to the way living things obtain and use nitrogen to produce complex organic molecules. Evidence of nitrogen cycles provides a ''fingerprint'' of life.

The researchers, Dr Linda Godfrey and Dr Paul Falkowski, concluded that organisms which produced oxygen as a by-product of photosynthesis must have evolved by around 2.5 billion years ago. Oxygen did not begin to enrich the atmosphere until at least 200 million years later.' source

My comment: Nice, huh! If life could survive back then, then there's probably life on Titan too! Awesome :)

India’s lunar mission finds evidence of water on the Moon

Dreams of establishing a manned Moon base could become reality within two decades after India’s first lunar mission found evidence of large quantities of water on its surface.

Data from Chandrayaan-1 also suggests that water is still being formed on the Moon. Scientists said the breakthrough — to be announced by Nasa at a press conference today — would change the face of lunar exploration.

The discovery is a significant boost for India in its space race against China. Dr Mylswamy Annadurai, the mission’s project director at the Indian Space Research Organisation in Bangalore, said: “It’s very satisfying.”

The search for water was one of the mission’s main objectives, but it was a surprise nonetheless, scientists said.The unmanned craft was equipped with Nasa’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper, designed specifically to search for water by picking up the electromagnetic radiation emitted by minerals. The M3 also made the unexpected discovery that water may still be forming on the surface of the Moon, according to scientists familiar with the mission.

Scientists are eagerly awaiting the results of two American unmanned lunar missions, which were both launched in June, that could also prove the existence of water on the Moon.

Early results from Nasa’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) recorded temperatures as low as -238C (minus 396.4F) in polar craters on the Moon, according to the journal Nature. That makes them the coldest recorded spots in the solar system, even colder than the surface of Pluto, and could mean that ice has been trapped for billions of years, the journal said. The LRO has also detected an abundance of hydrogen, thought to be a key indicator of ice, at the poles.

source

My comment: Nice! I'm not exactly a fan of Moon colonization - so far it doesn't look like a lovely and interesting place, but it's definitely a good starting point for the longer journey. It's ideal for the production of spaceships, and so far it looks like it's totally green. Of course, that sounds little stupid, I admit, but it's a fact, for the moment, the Moon offers a good opportunity to experiment with spaceship production. If the experiments are under strict-control, so we don't mess the things beyond return, it should be ok. So the discovery of water, even if it's in molecular quantity is still great news. And what is more important- it gives good idea of how well-spread water could be in the universe. Yay for more habitable planets! Habitable by us, of course, there's nothing wrong with all the other planets to be inhabited by other species.


Mars probe watches water-ice fade

By Jonathan Amos
Science reporter, BBC N

Large deposits of nearly pure water-ice may lurk just below the Martian surface, much nearer the equator than previously thought, suggest new images.

The pictures acquired by a Nasa orbiter show white material exposed by fresh meteorite impacts fading over time - behaviour expected of ice on Mars.

An onboard instrument also detected the tell-tale chemical signature of water.

Researchers tell Science magazine that the observations suggest vast sheets of ice may reside in near-surface layers.

To date, exposed water-ice has only been seen at very high latitudes. The US space agency's (Nasa) recent Phoenix probe famously dug into water-ice at its "high Arctic" landing site.

The implication, even with the small set of examples scientists now have, is that broad deposits of ice sit just below the red top-soil of Mars.

"The volume of water is probably comparable to the volume that we would have in the Greenland ice sheet on the Earth - in the buried ice deposits that stretch from each pole to mid-latitudes."

The discoveries made by MRO are said to indicate that Mars had a more humid climate in the relatively recent past , within the last 10,000 years.

Scientists suspect much of this ice came out of the atmosphere. Water vapour in the atmosphere will diffuse through the particles of the soil until it gets to a certain depth where it then freezes.

"Based on the locations of these craters, we are able to say something about how much water was in the Martian atmosphere recently, and that turns out to be a lot more than is in the atmosphere today - maybe almost double what's in the atmosphere today."

CRISM team member Selby Cull, from Washington University in St Louis, said there was a "scientifically heart-breaking" consequence of the MRO discoveries.

This is the realisation that had Nasa's Viking-2 lander, which visited the Red Planet in 1976, dug a little deeper into the Martian soil, it would almost certainly have struck the water-ice MRO is now seeing at the base of impact craters.

source

My comment: Heart-breaking indeed, because it would have changed the whole 30 years long idea that life is exclusive to Earth. And it could have stopped creationism from forming at all, right? Oh, well, still a wonderful news! Better late than never! And with water, one can obtain hydrogen and of course, oxygen - two very critical ingredients of a happy colonization of a planet. Nice, nice, nice :)

Spot makes strange dwarf planet even stranger

A dwarf planet in our solar system, called Haumea, is known for its unusual shape and fast spin. Now astronomers have discovered another distinguishing feature: a dark red spot which appears to be richer in minerals and organic compounds than the surrounding icy surface.

Haumea, discovered in 2004, orbits the sun beyond Neptune, in a region known as the Kuiper Belt. It is classified as a dwarf planet — a celestial body that is big enough to have been rounded by its own gravity, but which has not cleared its orbital region of similar objects. The International Astronomical Union has designated four other bodies as dwarf planets: Ceres, Pluto, Eris and Makemake. Haumea is the fourth-largest dwarf planet.

Haumea is also the fastest-spinning large object in the solar system — one day on Haumea is equal to about 3.9 hours on Earth. This rapid rotation distorts Haumea, elongating it into a football-like shape.

Most of what we know about this object was determined from studying variations in its brightness, called a "light curve." And it is through examination of this light curve that scientists have found the dark spot.

Additionally, the light curve is not exactly the same shape in all wavelengths. Small but persistent differences indicate that the dark spot is slightly redder in visible light and slightly bluer at infrared wavelengths.

While the origin of the spot is unknown, possible interpretations of these measurements are that the spot is richer in minerals and organic compounds, or that it contains a higher fraction of crystalline ice. If the spot is a scar of a recent impact, then the spot material might resemble the composition of the impactor, perhaps mixed with material from the inner layers of Haumea.

New observations of this spot are planned for early 2010 using the ESO Very Large Telescope. source

My comment: I find it amazing that they managed to get all that info from the lightcurve, but then, it's a reflective lightcurve, it should be easier. Anyway, I'm so excited about this. I mean, this object is strange because of the spinning, but this "spot" is even cooler. I sincerely can't wait for the VLT observations. It's one to see the light curve, but something else to see it with your eyes. That's precisely why I so love astronomy - you see so many exciting objects. It could be only a dull rock, but until you see it and feel it - it's like a present in a box, it can be everything!

Mice Levitated for Space Research

September 11th, 2009 by Lin Edwards
(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists have managed to levitate young mice in research carried out for NASA. Levitated mice may help research on bone density loss during long exposures to low gravity, such as in space travel and missions to other planets.

The scientists built a variable gravity simulator consisting of a superconducting magnet that could generate a magnetic field strong enough to levitate the inside every cell in the mouse's body (water is weakly diamagnetic).

The mice were confined to a plastic cage, which had a base with holes to allow waste to be removed, and an open top to allow in air, food, water, and to allow the proceedings to be filmed.

The first subject to be levitated was just three weeks old. The tiny mouse was disturbed and disoriented and began to spin when it kicked out as though trying to find something to hold on to.

The next young mouse was mildly sedated before being levitated, and it was less agitated by the experience. The levitation experiments were repeated a number of times, and showed that the mice quickly adjusted to the conditions, even eating and drinking normally after a few hours of levitation. Even without sedation, the mice became quite comfortable floating in zero gravity.

The powerful seemed to have no short term effects on the mice, and earlier studies on rats showed there were no ill effects even after 10 weeks' exposure to strong magnetic fields. source

My comment: This is nice, because it shows that low-gravity is ok with our psychology. I think I already published one study in which it was shown that embryos don't grow normally in low-gravity. The question is, what means normally? Because life in low-gravity is certainly different - if you will spend all of your life in such environment, normally may mean something different for you. So the main questions is are those changes dangerous or they are just optimal for your life!

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Technology cateches up - artificial nerves, dna detectors and more, 2010

Take a look on those artificial spy-flies!
The worst is that I think I've seen such already.
Also, check the list of the TOP 10 TECHNOLOGIES of today. Thinking about it, mobile phones and MRI are really unbelievable!
Today:

  1. Major advance in organic solar cells
  2. Salt and Paper Battery May One Day Replace Lithium Batteries
  3. Stimulating sight: New retinal implant developed
  4. Scientists create artificial nerve cell connections with plastic beads
  5. Rapid DNA Detection Quickly Diagnoses Infections
  6. Nanoparticles used in common household items caused genetic damage in mice

Major advance in organic solar cells

October 19th, 2009

Professor Guillermo Bazan and a team of postgraduate researchers at UC Santa Barbara's Center for Polymers and Organic Solids (CPOS) today announced a major advance in the synthesis of organic polymers for plastic solar cells.

Bazan's team:

  • reduced reaction time by 99%, from 48 hours to 30 minutes, and
  • increased average molecular weight of the polymers by a factor of more than 3.
The reduced reaction time effectively cuts production time for the organic polymers by nearly 50%, since and purification time are approximately equal in the production process, in both laboratory and commercial environments.

The higher molecular weight of the polymers, reflecting the creation of longer chains of the polymers, has a major benefit in increasing current density in by as much as a factor of more than four. Over batches with varying average molecular weights, produced using varying combinations of the elements of the new methodology, the increase in current density was found to be approximately proportional to the increase in average molecular weight.source

My comment: I just can't understand why after all these lovely news on solar panels I published, there is still no an exciting new types of cheap panel to buy for our homes. Are they making those discoveries for the science or they after all directed to the market. And because I don't believe they do not want to sell them to the business the question is who bought/paid the patents and what they are doing with them -producing or just stalling the production.

Salt and Paper Battery May One Day Replace Lithium Batteries

September 15th, 2009 by John Messina
(PhysOrg.com) -- Salt and paper battery can be used in many low-power devices, such as medical implants, RFID tags, wireless sensors and smart cards. This battery uses a thin-film which makes it an attractive feature for many portable devices that draws a low current.

At Uppsala University in Sweden, researchers have developed a flexible made of two inexpensive materials: cellulose and salt.

The cellulose is derived from a polluting algae found in seas and lakes. The algae's walls contain cellulose that has a different , which gives it 100 times the surface area.

The battery is made by coating the paper, made from this cellulose, with a conducting polymer and inserting a salt-solution-soaked filter paper between the paper electrodes.

The battery can be recharged in tens of seconds because the ions flow through the thin quickly. In comparison to a that would take 20 minutes to recharge.

The salt and paper battery is still in the early stages of development as compared to other thin-film technologies. The battery could be produced commercially in about three years and made available to distributors. source

My comment: Nice! Seriously, the lithium is kind of limited and mostly to Bolivia, Chile, Argentina and Tibet. And it is essential for other production lines so if we can decrease its use in other products that would be great. And off course, paper and salt are much easier recycled.

Stimulating sight: New retinal implant developed

September 23rd, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Inspired by the success of cochlear implants that can restore hearing to some deaf people, researchers at MIT are working on a retinal implant that could one day help blind people regain a useful level of vision.

The implant is designed for people who have lost their vision from retinitis pigmentosa or age-related macular degeneration, two of the leading causes of . The retinal prosthesis would take over the function of lost retinal cells by electrically stimulating the that normally carry visual input from the retina to the brain.

Such a chip would not restore normal vision but it could help blind people more easily navigate a room or walk down a sidewalk.

Led by John Wyatt, MIT professor of electrical engineering, the team recently reported a new prototype that they hope to start testing in blind patients within the next three years.

Patients who received the implant would wear a pair of glasses with a camera that sends images to a microchip attached to the eyeball. The glasses also contain a coil that wirelessly transmits power to receiving coils surrounding the eyeball.

When the microchip receives visual information, it activates electrodes that stimulate nerve cells in the areas of the retina corresponding to the features of the visual scene. The electrodes directly activate optical nerves that carry signals to the brain, bypassing the damaged layers of retina.

About 10 years ago, the research team attached electrodes to the retinas of six blind patients for several hours. When the electrodes were activated, patients reported seeing a small number of "clouds" or "drops of blood" in their field of vision. When there was no stimulus, patients accurately reported seeing nothing. Those tests confirmed that retinal stimulation can produce some kind of organized vision in blind patients, though further testing is needed to determine how useful that vision can be.

After those initial tests, with grants from the Boston Veteran's Administration Medical Center and the National Institutes of Health, the researchers started to build an implantable chip, which would allow them to do more long-term tests. Their goal is to produce a chip that can be implanted for at least 10 years.

One of the biggest challenges the researchers face is designing a surgical procedure and implant that won't damage the eye. In the latest version, described in the October issue of IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, the implant is attached to the outside of the eye, and the electrodes are implanted behind the retina.

That subretinal location, which reduces the risk of tearing the retina and requires a less invasive surgical procedure, is one of the key differences between the MIT implant and retinal prostheses being developed by other research groups.

While they have not yet begun any long-term tests on humans, the researchers have tested the device in Yucatan miniature pigs, which have roughly the same size eyeballs as humans. Those tests are only meant to determine whether the implants remain functional.

So far, the prototypes have been successfully implanted in pigs for up to 10 months, but further safety refinements need to be made before clinical trials in humans can begin. source

My comment: Also nice even if in preliminary phase and kind of rough. I mean, the goal isn't to cause bloody clouds in one's vision, but to restore the vision as much as possible. But it's better than nothing and it is a good start. Though, the article I posted about seeing trough the tong seemed more optimistic.


Rapid DNA Detection Quickly Diagnoses Infections

October 5th, 2009 by John Messina
(
PhysOrg.com) -- A new portable device can detect bacteria and help prevent the spread of infectious diseases. This new tool takes from 15 minutes to 2 hours to diagnose a patient for infectious diseases and can be used in hospitals, doctor's office and at home.

Diagnosing bacterial infections today requires growing cultures in a lab. This process takes days but with this new type of DNA sensor, common bacterial infections can be diagnosed within an hour or two.

The new ultrafast DNA nanosensor is based on various that are under development for ultrasensitive, fast DNA detection.

Each nanosensor contains a folded strand of DNA, which is complementary to the being targeted. The remains folded until a target genetic sequence is linked to it. By using disposable cartridges with the nanosensor, blood or urine samples can be placed directly on the cartridge for testing.

Benjamin Miller a professor and biomedical engineering at the University of Rochester Medical Center stated: "In the cartridge there are steps for cleaning up samples, that is, extracting material you're interested in and amplifying the bacterial DNA". The cartridge is then placed in a small portable device for analysis. The disposable cartridges would only cost a few dollars, thereby making it economical.

By placing different DNA strands in cartridges, you can test for multiple pathogens. Researchers have developed sensors to detect antibiotic-resistant staph bacteria that cause skin infections.

Researchers are working on other sensors for rapid DNA detection that uses carbon nanotubes, , and nanoparticles. All these methods promise low cost and high accuracy. source

My comment: Now this is awesome. I so dream of those little devices that can be brought everywhere and detect everything. Really cool. I wish them luck.

Scientists create artificial nerve cell connections with plastic beads

WASHINGTON: In a breakthrough study, scientists have successfully created nerve cell connections with the help of artificial substances, a major advance, which the researchers say, will help make nerve cell repair possible.

Scientists from Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital (The Neuro) and McGill University created the artificial nerve cell connections using plastic beads coated with a substance that encourages adhesion, and attracts nerve cells.

The novel approach will help healthy nerve cells form functional contacts with artificial substrates in order to create a paradigm that can be adapted to model systems in which neurons are damaged.

It will be combined with strategies to encourage the outgrowth of damaged neuronal branches through which these connections, or synapses, are formed.

The synapses generated in this study are virtually identical to their natural counterparts except the 'receiving' side of the synapse is an artificial plastic rather than another nerve cell or the target tissue itself.

"Even though components of synapses have been induced in similar earlier studies, their functionality was not proven. In order to assess function - that is transmission of a signal from the synapse, we stimulated the nerve cells with electricity, sending the signal, an action potential, to the synapse.

"By artificially stimulating nerve cells in the presence of dyes, we could see that transmission had taken place as the dyes were taken up by the synapses.

"We believe that within the next five years we will have a fully functional device that will be able to directly convey natural nerve cell signals from the nerve cell itself to an artificial matrix containing a mini-computer that will communicate wirelessly with target tissues," Colman added. source
My comment: Awesome! Really! I can only hope that this research will soon find its place in medicine, because it's badly needed.

Nanoparticles used in common household items caused genetic damage in mice

November 16, 2009

Titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles, found in everything from cosmetics to sunscreen to paint to vitamins, caused systemic genetic damage in mice, according to a comprehensive study conducted by researchers at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The TiO2 nanoparticles induced single- and double-strand DNA breaks and also caused chromosomal damage as well as , all of which increase the risk for . The UCLA study is the first to show that the nanoparticles had such an effect, said Robert Schiestl, a professor of pathology, radiation oncology and environmental health sciences, a Jonsson Cancer Center scientist and the study's senior author.

Once in the system, the TiO2 nanoparticles accumulate in different organs because the body has no way to eliminate them. And because they are so small, they can go everywhere in the body, even through cells, and may interfere with sub-cellular mechanisms.

In the past, these TiO2 nanoparticles have been considered non-toxic in that they do not incite a chemical reaction. Instead, it is surface interactions that the nanoparticles have within their environment- in this case inside a mouse - that is causing the genetic damage, Schiestl said. They wander throughout the body causing oxidative stress, which can lead to .

It is a novel mechanism of toxicity, a physicochemical reaction, these particles cause in comparison to regular chemical toxins, which are the usual subjects of toxicological research, Schiestl said. source

My comment: Case closed for toxicity of these nanoparticles. And I'm sure that more and more will be found toxic. Not all of them, hopefully, because they can be very useful. But their random use is really hazardous and shouldn't be done the way we do it currently.

How fish is cooked affects heart-health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids

November 17, 2009

If you eat fish to gain the heart-health benefits of its omega-3 fatty acids, baked or boiled fish is better than fried, salted or dried, according to research presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2009. source

My comment: That's odd and I think you have to read it. But it certainly makes sense.