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Monday, 25 April 2011

Gamma knife and graphene transistor, 2011

Today, some little old but quite interesting news:

  1. Flying car should be available next year (w/ Video)
  2. Large sheets of graphene film produced for transparent electrodes (w/ Video)
  3. NeuroSky lets gamers use their brains
  4. Gamma knife for surgery sans scalpel
  5. Scientists Use Stem Cells To Create Mice With Two Genetic Fathers
  6. Researchers Genetically Modify Living Cells to Compute Like Electronic Circuitry
  7. New glass tops steel in strength and toughness

Flying car should be available next year (w/ Video)

June 30, 2010 by Lin Edwards
( -- The Federal Aviation Administration in the US has given approval to the Transition, a two-seater flying car developed over the last four years by Massachusetts Company, Terrafugia.

The flying car, or “roadable aircraft” as the company calls it, was designed by a team of engineers trained at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It can drive like a car at normal highway speeds but can also unfold its wings and fly.
The runs on normal and has a cruising speed in the air of around 185 kph (115 mph). Its flying range is 740 kilometers (460 miles). When driven like a car with its wings folded the is around 7.85 liters per 100 km (30 mpg). The use of normal fuel instead of a reliance on will make the Transition the most environmentally friendly plane in the air. The vehicle will have features of regular road vehicles, such as crumple zones and airbags. source
My comment: Check out the video! I think it's a very good idea, mostly because it can also work as a normal car, which will make people much more comfortable buying it. The question remains, what kind of license you'll need to drive it and what kind of regulation will be needed to secure the air traffic.

Large sheets of graphene film produced for transparent electrodes (w/ Video)

June 21, 2010 by Lin Edwards( -- Graphene is a relatively new material with outstanding electrical, chemical and mechanical properties that make it an attractive material for use as flexible conductors of the sort used in gadgets such as touch screens and flat panel TVs. In the past attempts to make large films of graphene have been unsuccessful, but now a team of scientists from South Korea and Japan have succeeded in roll-to-roll production of graphene films, growing them by chemical vapor deposition onto flexible copper substrates. source
My comment:  Even better use of graphene: IBM Shows 155GHz Graphene Transistor. Pretty cool, huh?

NeuroSky lets gamers use their brains

June 19, 2010 by Glenn Chapman
NeuroSky wants gamers to start using their brains. The start-up that specializes in technology to measure brainwaves was at the Electronic Entertainment Expo here this week showing videogame titans how they can go beyond motion-sensing controls to tap into the power of the mind.
We can simulate 'The Force' in a game and you can bend things or lift things by thinking," NeuroSky chief executive Stanley Yang said, referring to telepathic powers used by Jedi knights in "Star Wars" films and books.

NeuroSky demonstrated a headset with a single sensor that presses against a player's forehead to read . The sensor measures how intensely a player is concentrating or how relaxed they are as well as eye blinks.
Those signals are translated into on-screen commands in videogames. For example, an AFP correspondent lifted a virtual car by relaxing then set it ablaze by focusing attention on it in a "Neuroboy" demonstration game. source
My comment: What kind of cool way to learn to relax. Something that actually nobody teaches us, but which is essential for being a well functioning human. I'd buy one of those, if they are not too expensive. And this is just the beginning of that technology! As you will see below, there are applications for iPhone that already use the brainwaves!

XWave for iPhone lets you read your own mind - A new application for the iPhone, the XWave, lets you read your own mind via a headset clamped to your head and connected to the phone’s audio jack. - That even doesn't sound that stupid! Check out the videos on the site.

Gamma knife for surgery sans scalpel

MELBOURNE: In what’s claimed to be probably the first scalpel-free surgery, Australian scientists have used a “gamma knife” - a non-invasive neurosurgical tool - to treat a brain cancer patient.

An international team has carried out the treatment at Macquarie University Hospital in Sydney, using the Gamma Knife for treating brain cancer and a range of other brain-related disorders.

Despite its name, it is not a cutting implement and there is no blood or incision involved in treatment. Instead, some 200 radiation beams from cobalt-60 sources converge with high accuracy on the target inside the brain.

Each individual beam has low intensity and therefore does not affect the tissue through which it passes on its way to the target. The beams converge in an isocentre where the cumulative radiation intensity becomes extremely high.

Neurosurgeon John Fuller, who treated the first patient in Australia with the device, said gamma knife treatment is very different to traditional neurosurgery. “Although our first patient had tumours in multiple parts of his brain, we only needed to do one operation lasting an hour or so, no scalpel was used, the patient was awake throughout the entire procedure and only received a local anaesthetic, and he went home last night having been treated in an out-patient setting,” he said.

“Patients who receive Gamma Knife treatment have fewer complications than traditional neurosurgery patients undergoing a craniotomy reducing the need for hospitalisation and intensive care.  source
My comment: Simply amazing! I so love what interference can do. Anyone who had to endure a brain surgery knows that the actual recovery time is not so big, but it's unpleasant because the skull repairs so slowly. With this knife, you avoid all this. And the chance of making a mistake should be greatly reduced, especially if they find a way to target the knives automatically.

Scientists Use Stem Cells To Create Mice With Two Genetic Fathers

Using stem cell technology, scientists have produced male and female mice from two fathers, a breakthrough that could conceivably allow same-sex couples to have their own genetic children.
The multi-generational technique combines genes from the chromosomes of two male mice and uses surrogate mothers, according to researchers at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas.
To produce the male and female offspring, the team first manipulated tissue cells from a male mouse fetus to produce an induced pluripotent stem cell line. Without explaining why, the team says about one percent of these iPS cells spontaneously lost their Y chromosomes, resulting in XO cells. In humans, this monosomy is known as Turner syndrome; girls with the disorder usually have various physical abnormalities and cognitive defects. Normally, people have one pair of sex chromosomes in each cell — women have two X chromosomes and men have X and Y.
The scientists injected the XO stem cells into blastocysts from donor female mice, and these early embryos were implanted into surrogate mothers. When the mothers gave birth, their female offspring were XO/XX chimeras — they had one X chromosome from the original male mouse cells. Finally, the researchers harvested egg cells from these chimeras and mated them with normal male mice. The result was male and female offspring that had chromosomes from two fathers — from the regular male and derived from the stem cells. source
My comment: Just to clarify - they take DNA from two males, but they still need the females to complete the process. So it's not very fair to say they found a way to avoid the females. But still, yay for the gay rights :) Otherwise, I'm not yet sure what the benefits will be from that discovery.

Researchers Genetically Modify Living Cells to Compute Like Electronic Circuitry

Synthetic biologists at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden have taken a rather large step in that direction by creating genetically modified cells that communicate with each other as though they were electronic circuits.
Using yeast cells, the team there devised synthetic circuits via a gene-regulated communication method employed naturally by the cells. The cells are programmed genetically to collect information about their environment based on a set of criteria established by the researchers. The yeast cells then communicate that information to each other by secreting molecules.
The researchers accomplished this with a single type of yeast cells with a single type of modification, but by diversifying the kinds of genetic modifications the researchers could produce different yeasts with different roles, allowing for more complex “circuits” to be constructed. That, in turn, could lead to some very cool applications; biological cells could be programmed to monitor our bodies for signs of particular toxins or illnesses, and artificial networks could be created that could perform tasks at very tiny scales in industry, medicine, and science. source
My comment: That's pretty nice, but one should remember that living things use chemical communications, so that automatically decrease the speed of the whole "bionic circuit" compared to the electronic ones. From the other side, as censors, they should be superb!

New glass tops steel in strength and toughness

January 10, 2011 by Lynn Yarris
( -- Glass stronger and tougher than steel? A new type of damage-tolerant metallic glass, demonstrating a strength and toughness beyond that of any known material, has been developed and tested by a collaboration of researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab)and the California Institute of Technology. What's more, even better versions of this new glass may be on the way.
The new metallic glass is a microalloy featuring palladium, a metal with a high "bulk-to-shear" stiffness ratio that counteracts the intrinsic brittleness of glassy materials.
"Because of the high bulk-to-shear modulus ratio of palladium-containing material, the energy needed to form shear bands is much lower than the energy required to turn these shear bands into cracks," Ritchie says. "The result is that glass undergoes extensive plasticity in response to stress, allowing it to bend rather than crack."
Glassy materials have a non-crystalline, amorphous structure that make them inherently strong but invariably brittle. Whereas the crystalline structure of metals can provide microstructural obstacles (inclusions, grain boundaries, etc.,) that inhibit cracks from propagating, there's nothing in the amorphous structure of a glass to stop crack propagation. The problem is especially acute in metallic glasses, where single shear bands can form and extend throughout the material leading to catastrophic failures at vanishingly small strains.In earlier work, the Berkeley-Cal Tech collaboration fabricated a metallic glass, dubbed "DH3," in which the propagation of cracks was blocked by the introduction of a second, crystalline phase of the metal. This crystalline phase, which took the form of dendritic patterns permeating the amorphous structure of the glass, erected microstructural barriers to prevent an opened crack from spreading. In this new work, the collaboration has produced a pure glass material whose unique chemical composition acts to promote extensive plasticity through the formation of multiple shear bands before the bands turn into cracks. source
My comment: Simply awesome! Can't wait to see something built from this. They don't say how expensive it will be, however. Because that's key for its future use.


Robotics breakthrough: Scientists make artificial skin  - Biotech wizards have engineered electronic skin that can sense touch, in a major step towards next-generation robotics and prosthetic limbs. 

The lab-tested material responds to almost the same pressures as human and with the same speed, they reported in the British journal .

Spinal cord regeneration success in mice-
US researchers have for the first time encouraged substantial regrowth in nerves controlling voluntary movement after spinal cord injury.
By manipulating an enzyme involved in cell growth, researchers were able to regenerate spinal cord nerves in mice, Nature Neuroscience reports.
It follows similar work on repairing the optic nerve to restore sight.
UK experts said the next challenge would be to turn the findings into a treatment suitable for humans.
GM chickens that don't transmit bird flu developed - Chickens genetically modified to prevent them spreading bird flu have been produced by researchers at the Universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh. - ROFL! When they are going to produce flue resistant human? Oh, wait, I forgot that flu virus mutates each year!
Lake Erie hypoxic zone doesn't affect all fish the same, study finds - Large hypoxic zones low in oxygen long have been thought to have negative influences on aquatic life, but a Purdue University study shows that while these so-called dead zones have an adverse affect, not all species are impacted equally. - Interesting. Because Black Sea also has such zones (well, almost the whole deep region actually). And it makes some sense to believe some organisms can actually benefit from such zones. To certain degree that is.

Iapetus moon's mighty ridge stirs debate - The mountainous ridge that circles the equator on the Saturnian moon Iapetus is both weird and spectacular. Discovered in 2004, the icy rim is as much as 20km high and runs fully 1,600km from end to end. No explanation for its existence has yet won total support; it is a puzzle.



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