That‘s Cool News | A weekly breakdown of positive Science & Tech news. show

That‘s Cool News | A weekly breakdown of positive Science & Tech news.

Summary: Bringing you the positive STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) news every Monday and explains why these new futuristic innovations are meaningful. The goal is to leave you feeling optimistic and say ”That‘s Cool!”

Join Now to Subscribe to this Podcast
  • Visit Website
  • RSS
  • Artist: Adam Buckingham
  • Copyright: Copyright 2020 All rights reserved.


 131. Lab-Grown Blood Transfusion, Breast Cancer Vaccine Trials, Microplastic Eating Robot Fish | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 30:54

Show Notes: First human patients receive transfusions of lab-grown blood cells | New Atlas (01:01)  For the first time ever, human patients have received transfusions of blood cells that were grown from stem cells in a lab  Revolutionize blood transfusions Blood donations are life saving, but the demand outweighs the supply But only 13.6 million units of whole blood and red blood cells are collected in the U.S. in a year. According to the Red Cross, only about 3% of age-eligible people donate blood yearly. Nearly 16 million blood components are transfused each year in the U.S. Approximately 29,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the U. S.  An attractive alternative would be large-scale production of red blood cells in labs, which can be tuned to have whichever blood type is needed.  The new clinical trial, named RESTORE, is designed to test the safety of transfusions of these manufactured blood cells, as well as how long they last in the body. Lab-grown blood  is all made “fresh,” so it should all reliably last up to 120 days. For people with conditions that require regular blood transfusions, such as sickle cell, the longer lifespan of the cells should help give them longer gaps between transfusions.  The RESTORE trial will involve at least 10 participants receiving “mini” transfusions of blood, containing just 5 to 10 ml (one to two teaspoons) of red blood cells. So far, two participants have received transfusions of lab-grown blood cells as part of the trial, with the scientists reporting that they have shown no untoward side effects. While this is a major milestone towards that goal, there’s still much more work to do before blood transfusions are regularly lab-grown This clear window coating could cool buildings without using energy | Electrek (06:41) Scientists have used advanced computing tech and AI to design a clear window coating that could lower the temperature inside buildings. Saving a whole lot of cooling energy. Cooling accounts for about 15% of global energy consumption, and it’s only going to get hotter, especially in more tropical climates. The sun’s ultraviolet and near-infrared light are the parts of the solar spectrum that pass through window glass to heat an enclosed room. Why a car gets hot sitting in the sun. If you block that light energy the amount of cooling needed would be reduced According to their new paper, researchers from University of Notre Dame in Indiana and Kyung Hee University in Seoul, successfully designed a clear window coating, or “transparent radiative cooler” (TRC). According to the report,  “[The team] optimized the type, order, and combination of layers using an iterative approach guided by machine learning and quantum computing, which stores data using subatomic particles” Using this quantum method allowed the team to carry out the optimization process faster. Which eventually, “produced a coating design that, when fabricated, beat the performance of conventionally designed TRCs in addition to one of the best commercial heat-reduction glasses on the market.” Through heat simulations of the TRC as a potential window material for a standard office with two windows they were able to figure out roughly the heat savings. 31.1% of the cooling energy consumption when conventional windows are used. The average annual energy saving over the surveyed U.S. cities is 50 MJ/m2 In cities with hot, dry weather the TRC can potentially save around 86.3 MJ/m2 per year. There’s no indication of commercial scaling in the study, but the researchers write that the film “can be potentially scaled up for practical applications because their fabrication can be achieved using state-of-the-art deposition techniques.” Experimental breast cancer vaccine passes first human trials   | New Atlas (12:19) I don’t like using the term vaccine for these types of treatments. It is more of cell/protein therapy so I’ll put that out there before I get into this. Up to 30% of breast cancers involve the overproduction of a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2).  HER2-positive cancers are often more aggressive than other types of breast cancer These treatments deliver DNA blueprints for the production of certain proteins into the nucleus of a cell. The protein is then produced by the cell, triggering an immune response.  This treatment in question prompts cells to produce a specific fragment of the HER2 protein. Note another reason I don’t call it a vaccine:  These are known as “therapeutic vaccines”, given to patients after they are diagnosed with a cancer in the hopes they help the immune system better seek and destroy certain tumors. The trial was not geared to evaluate how effective the experimental treatment is at treating breast cancer.  But still in the trial there were promising signs of efficacy, with 80% of the treated trial participants surviving the full 10-year follow-up Only around 50% of patients with advanced HER2 breast cancer would generally be expected to survive more than five year Looking into the survival rate: 95.8% of females survive breast cancer for at least one year, this falls to 85.0% surviving for five years or more, and continues to fall to roughly 75% for 10 years,  as shown by age-standardized net survival for patients diagnosed with breast cancer during 2013-2017 in England. A Phase 2 trial is currently underway, testing the treatment’s efficacy in a larger cohort of HER2-positive patients. Scientists are working on an official 'alien contact protocol' for when ET phones Earth | Live Science (19:01) For the first time in 35 years, a team of policy experts and scientists have united to establish a set of alien-contact protocols for the entire world to follow in the event of a sudden encounter with E.T.  What better use of “policy experts” … unless they know something Currently, the only alien contact protocol that humans have was established by the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute (SETI) community in 1989. vague when it comes to the international response to extraterrestrial communication mainly focuses on the importance of sharing discoveries with the public and broader scientific community. The new SETI Detection Hub will scan signals for potential messages sent from alien lifeforms and will develop a framework for attaching meaning to those signals. End it with John Elliot, a computer scientist at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and coordinator of the SETI Detection Hub, talking on the preparedness effort: “Will we ever get a message from E.T.? We don't know. We also don't know when this is going to happen … But we do know that we cannot afford to be ill-prepared — scientifically, socially, and politically rudderless — for an event that could turn into reality as early as tomorrow." Open-source fish robot starts collecting microplastics from UK lakes | The Next Web (24:20) Microplastics in the water is a problem: A new study from Stanford University found that blue whales, the biggest creatures on Earth, ingest about 10 million pieces of microplastics per day. What could be the solution? Maybe a plastic eating robot fish? A robot fish that collects microplastics from waterways has been turned from an idea into a working prototype.  The design was brought to life after it won the University of Surrey’s public competition, the Natural Robotics Contest. Competition was to submit an idea for a bio-inspired robot that could help the world. The robotics panelists and researchers, led by Dr. Robert Siddall, turned the design into a 3D-printed prototype about the size of a salmon. consists of a flooded head unit and a watertight tail unit. Set of gills on its sides and a fine mesh in between them that can sieve about two-millimeter particles Filters the water and keeps the microplastics inside its container as it swims. The robot fist has already been tested in the lab and local lakes  Going Forward, according to Siddall, the team is envisioning a range of improvements for the robot: Making It faster and smarter Operate autonomously, rather than being remote controlled.

 130. Honda’s Solid State EV Plan, Lunar Soil Rocket Fuel, The Molecular Computer Dream | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 30:45

Show Notes: Honda aims for a solid-state-powered EV by the end of the decade | Ars Technica (00:53) Honda is working on what it believes will be the breakthrough that brings solid-state batteries to the market.  Working solo on this technology   Shinji Aoyama, Honda's global leader of electrification, told Ars Technica: “In the springtime of 2024, we will start a pilot line (for manufacturing). Then if we can be successful, we believe we can launch a vehicle with a solid-state battery in the latter part of the 2020s. 2029, 2028." CEO and president Toshihiro Mibe added that the automaker hasn't decided which vehicle will be the first to be outfitted with a solid-state battery. Solid State batteries might be potentially cheaper, safer, charge quicker, and hold more energy per pound, but they also don't have much of a life span. As we talked about last week Dendrites are tiny crystal spikes that form in the lithium metal anodes of solid-state batteries over time.  Honda is trying to solve the issue where the dendrites bore through the electrolyte over time and cause a short circuit during charging, reducing the battery's life span. Honda's solution is to sandwich the solid electrolyte with a polymer fabric keeping the dendrites from forming without sacrificing the battery's capabilities. They will roll press the elements instead of stamping, which Honda believes should give the company greater control over the thickness of each battery. The automaker is still in the early stages of testing these batteries at its facility.  They have to work quickly if they want to be ready for the pilot manufacturing of solid-state batteries in the spring of 2024. Bruvi Launches Breakthrough Single-Serve Coffee System  | Business Insider (06:19) Bruvi is a startup which recently launched its breakthrough brewing system today, just in time for the holiday season.  U.S. coffee drinkers use more than 17 million single-serve pods annually, the vast majority of which end up in landfills, where they take around 500 years to decompose. Only about 9% of plastic is recycled and small coffee pods are even more challenging to recycle. Bruvi‘s B-pods is taking a novel approach to bio-degradable coffee pods by assuming they end up at the landfill. And designing them to disintegrate when they do. B-Pods are bio-enzyme infused capsules designed to substantially break down in a landfill more rapidly than untreated plastics through an organic process that leaves no microplastics behind.  Bruvi co-founder Mel Elias, in an interview with TechCrunch, talks on the pods: “We are convinced here at Bruvi that we have found a very viable alternative, other than recycling, to address the problem of plastic waste by using bio enzyme technology … For consumers who are under the perception that single-serve pod coffee systems are bad for the environment, our aspiration at Bruvi is to ultimately turn this perception on its head and demonstrate that if you really care about the environment but still want to drink specialty coffee, Bruvi is your choice.” He continues talking on the bio-enzyme portion of their product: “This is the first time enzyme-infused plastic has been applied to a polypropylene coffee capsule, so this has already been an expensive endeavor for us as a startup … Adding the bio-enzyme admittedly does add a significant enough increase to the actual cost of our pods that would be a disincentive to most. Our social impact mission demands this course of action and so do the consumers we are trying to reach. Simply put, we couldn’t afford not to implement this solution.” Elias ends off with what his hopes are for the company and their mission: “Our immediate hope is that the large waste management companies that own or manage the majority of the active landfills in the U.S. today will be more incentivized, and supported by policy and regulation to increase the number of landfill gas to energy projects that are already in place today … We also hope that the use of infused plastics becomes more commonplace across other industries as an alternative solution to plastic waste — it’s a bio enzyme leading to organic fermentation in an anaerobic environment so no microplastics are created as a by-product and that’s another great benefit.” Scientists Use Actual Lunar Soil Sample To Create Rocket Fuel | Futurism (15:16) A team of Chinese researchers say they managed to convert actual lunar regolith samples into a source of rocket fuel and oxygen  Allowing for use of in-situ resources to fuel up for their return journey. The researchers found that the lunar soil samples can act as a catalyst to convert carbon dioxide and water from astronauts' bodies and environment into methane and oxygen. Builds on previous research suggesting lunar soil can generate oxygen and fuel, this process can be completed using uncrewed systems, even in the absence of astronauts. In an experiment, the team used samples from China's Chang'e-5 mission, which landed in Inner Mongolia back in December 2020 — the first lunar soil returned to Earth since 1976. The Moon soil effectively acted as a catalyst, enabling the electrocatalytic conversion of carbon dioxide into methane and oxygen. The research concludes, “No significant difference can be observed between the manned and unmanned systems, which further suggests the high possibility of imitating our proposed system in extraterrestrial sites and proves the feasibility of further optimizing catalyst recipes on the Moon." But there's one big hurdle to still overcome: liquifying carbon dioxide  Difficult task, because condensing the gas requires a significant amount of heat, Still, it's a tantalizing prospect: an autonomous machine chugging away, pumping out oxygen and fuel for future visitors.  Meta’s AI-powered audio codec promises 10x compression over MP3 | Ars Technica (19:57) Meta announced an AI-powered audio compression method called "EnCodec" that can reportedly compress audio 10 times smaller than the MP3 format at 64kbps with no loss in quality. Could improve the sound quality of speech on low-bandwidth connections, such as phone calls in areas with spotty service. Meta describes its method as a three-part system trained to compress audio to a desired target size. First, the encoder transforms uncompressed data into a lower frame rate "latent space" representation. Next, their "quantizer" compresses the representation to the target size while keeping track of the most important information that will later be used to rebuild the original signal. Finally, the decoder turns the compressed data back into audio in real time using a neural network on a single CPU. Meta says this AI-powered "hypercompression of audio" could support "faster, better-quality calls" in bad network conditions. For now, Meta's new tech remains in the research phase, but it points toward a future where high-quality audio can use less bandwidth, which would be great news for mobile broadband providers with overburdened networks from streaming media. The Sci-Fi Dream of a ‘Molecular Computer’ Is Getting More Real | MIT Tech Review (24:24) David Leigh, an organic chemist from the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, believes that tiny molecular computers could assemble what we struggle to build in the organic realm.  Like new drugs and plastics with traits so enhanced and precise that they’re out of reach for current tools. Leigh is confident it is possible: “It's absolutely clear that it's possible because there already is this working example called biology.” Ribosomes, cellular structures that slide down sequences of mRNA to churn out proteins one amino acid at a time. A molecular machine would work like a ribosome, in that instructions would be encoded on one molecule, and another one would interpret them. Researchers like Leigh are building this molecule piece by piece Developed a “ratchet” molecule in 2007 which was powered by light and could move forward along a molecular track. So five years ago, they discovered how to nudge these ratchet molecules  Now Leigh’s team combined these innovations to demonstrate that a molecule-sized machine can read as it moves. Encoded blocks of information on one molecule (the tape)  Designed another to slide down its length (the head).  The head moved along the tape, it would contort into a predictable shape each time it scanned a specific block of information.  Interpreted the information on the tape based on the changes to the shape of the head It took several hours to move between blocks of information. The scientists were able to follow along with how the head was changing its shape by reading light shined at the molecular machine. Found that you can use the fundamental processes of physics and chemistry to relay information at the molecular level.  Lee Cronin, a chemist at the University of Glasgow who was not involved in the study: “If you could digitally control assembly at the molecular level, and make every single strand bespoke, then you can make amazing materials … But we're a little bit far away from that. And I'm anxious not to over-promise that.” The next step forward will be getting his molecular machines to write.

 129. 3D-Printed Solid State Batteries, Material Made Like Plastic But Conducts Like Metal, Coal to Nuclear Plants | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 30:16

Show Notes: The future of solid-state batteries could be 3D-printed | The Verge (01:11) Lithium-ion batteries are everywhere: in your phone, car, camera, and more. One major flaw: safety.  Lithium-ion batteries have a tendency to catch fire, especially when damaged or at high temperatures.  Solid-state batteries replace a flammable liquid electrolyte in lithium-ion batteries with a more stable solid one.  Potential solutions for many problems of liquid Li-ion batteries, such as flammability, limited voltage, unstable solid-electrolyte interphase formation, poor cycling performance and strength. Additionally providing more power, faster charging, and a longer lifespan. California-based startup Sakuú, and it’s taking on an even bigger task: 3D-printing these next-gen batteries.  Claims that 3D printing allows it to fit more battery layers in the same amount of space, boosting the capacity of its batteries compared to those made by traditional manufacturing.  Dave Pederson, vice president of marketing and business development at battery technology company Sakuu, explains that has validated its 3D printing processes and materials, and is currently formatting them for a production environment.   “We've proven all of the steps in the lab, and now we're in the process of connecting them in an automated fashion,”  In theory, 3D printed batteries could take on more customized shapes, which could change how batteries are integrated into product design. Sakuu is bullish on this technology, this past August they opened a state-of-the-art multi-faceted engineering hub for its battery platform printing initiatives in Silicon Valley. 79,000 square feet  A floating wind platform has been installed in Spain 50 meters into the water | Interesting Engineering (07:15) A floating wind platform has been successfully installed at the PLOCAN test site in the Canary Islands of Spain. X1 Wind, the firm behind the platform. Oceanic Platform of the Canary Islands (PLOCAN) Connected the fully-functional floating wind prototype to the mooring system and dynamic cable pre-installed last June. The benefit of offshore floating wind turbines is they can take advantage of the strong winds blowing in the deeper areas, which improves energy efficiency. Can manufacture and then tow them out into deeper waters. The new wind platform has been fitted with a Vestas V29 turbine and stationed at a 50 meter water depth in a downwind configuration. 225 kW turbine Enable the firm to provide platforms for the 15MW scale turbines and beyond and to deploy them at very deep sites.  X1 Wind CEO and Co-Founder Alex Raventos explains the importance of this milestone: “This is a key milestone for our company and for the floating wind sector in general being able to install a floating wind platform using a TLP mooring system and requiring only small vessels. This reduces not only the costs but also the impact on the seabed. Data obtained from the X30 will contribute to de-risk the technology, improve the design, and obtain the certification of our commercial-scale platforms in preparation for upcoming tenders in Spain and other countries worldwide.” After its installation is completed, the new project will be tested in fully operational conditions until March 2023 while continuing to feed the electricity it generates to PLOCAN’s smartgrid. Scientists Astonished by Strange Material That Can Be Made Like Plastic but Conducts Like Metal | SciTechDaily (12:13) University of Chicago scientists have discovered a way to create a material that can be made like a plastic, but conducts electricity more like a metal. goes against all of the rules we know about conductivity—to a scientist According to John Anderson, an associate professor of chemistry, “this opens up the design of a whole new class of materials that conduct electricity, are easy to shape, and are very robust in everyday conditions.” If you’re making any kind of electronic device, conductive materials are absolutely essential.  Metals, such as copper, gold, and aluminum, are by far the oldest and largest group of conductors. 50 years ago, scientists were able to create conductors made out of organic materials, using a chemical treatment known as “doping,” which sprinkles in different atoms or “impurities” throughout the material. Both organic and traditional metallic conductors share a common characteristic: They are made up of straight, closely packed rows of atoms or molecules.  Scientists thought a material had to have these straight, orderly rows in order to conduct electricity efficiently. With this new way to create the material, the scientists saw that the molecular structure of the material was disordered.  Anderson said it should not be a metal and there is not a theory to explain this After tests, simulations, and theoretical work, they think that the material forms layers, like sheets in a lasagna.  Even if the sheets rotate sideways, no longer forming a neat lasagna stack, electrons can still move horizontally or vertically—as long as the pieces touch. The scientists are excited because the discovery suggests a fundamentally new design principle for electronics technology.  Explaining that conductors are so important that virtually any new development opens up new lines for technology. The new material has no such restriction because it can be made at room temperature Can also be used where the need for a device or pieces of the device to withstand heat, acid or alkalinity, or humidity has previously limited engineers’ options to develop new technology. Stratolaunch's Roc, the world's largest plane, aces 1st flight carrying hypersonic prototype | (18:57) Stratolaunch, builder of the world's largest airplane, flew a prototype of its planned air-launched Talon hypersonic vehicle for the first time on Friday (Oct. 28). wingspan longer than a football field Stratolaunch's Roc took off from the Mojave Air and Space Port carrying the 28-foot-long (8.5 meters) Talon prototype vehicle attached to a pylon at the center of the giant plane's 385-foot-wide (117 m) wings. flight lasted just over five hours maximum altitude of 23,000 feet (7,000 m), This test proves this huge plane can indeed carry an experimental hypersonic vehicle it's designed to launch from mid-air.  Stratolaunch CEO and President Zachary Krevor told reporters: “I was ecstatic seeing those two vehicles combined as they lifted off the runway and into the sky … Seeing our flight products operating together represents a significant step towards regular and reusable hypersonic flight." The company is developing a series of Talon vehicles as testbeds for hypersonic flights that can reach speeds of up to Mach 6, or six times the speed of sound. First flight for the Roc with the vehicle attached If December's drop test is successful, Stratolaunch aims to test its first hypersonic vehicle, the Talon-A TA-1, in 2023.  Utility Explores Converting Coal Plants into Nuclear Power | Scientific American (22:53) One of the largest utilities in the Western United States, PacifiCorp, announced Thursday they were launching a study to determine if up to five coal plants could be equipped with advanced nuclear reactors. A move further cemented the relationship between TerraPower, a nuclear developer, and PacifiCorp The pair agreed last year to build a 345-megawatt Natrium nuclear reactor at the site of a retiring coal plant in western Wyoming. Signals a new energy transition strategy in the West The first reactor at the Naughton Power Plant in Kemmerer, Wyo., where the two companies hope to demonstrate that a coal-to-nuclear conversion is viable. Yet to have its design approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission  Is projected to cost $4 billion.  The plan to convert the Kemmerer plant into a sodium-cooled Natrium reactor has been embraced by Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon. A recent Department of Energy study found that siting advanced reactors at old coal sites can decrease costs by taking advantage of existing transmission and interconnection infrastructure.  Additionally, nuclear reactors have the added benefit of more jobs than other renewable energy plants. TerraPower estimates its facility will require a workforce of 250 people. Ryan McGraw, vice president of project development at Rocky Mountain Power, a PacifiCorp subsidiary talks on the challenges of this study: “While there are a number of hurdles to overcome prior to commercialization of any new technology, this joint study with TerraPower will help us to understand those challenges and frame a path forward with the best interest of our customers in mind.”  

 128. Radioactive Tumor Killing Implant, 3D Printing Plant Cells, Step Into A Video w/ VR | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 31:50

Show Notes Radioactive implant wipes tumors in unprecedented pre-clinical success | New Atlas (00:52) Pancreatic cancer is notoriously difficult to diagnose and treat, with tumor cells of this type highly evasive and loaded with mutations that make them resistant to many drugs.  3.2 percent of all cancers, yet is the third leading cause of cancer-related death Engineers at Duke University have developed a novel delivery system for cancer treatment and demonstrated its potential against one of the disease’s most troublesome forms A radioactive implant completely eliminated tumors in the majority of the rodents The team wanted to figure out a way to implant into the tumor without causing damage to the surrounding tissue. Created one from more biocompatible materials (instead of titanium)  that wouldn’t post the same risks to the human body. Synthetic chains of amino acids known as elastin-like polypeptides (ELPs), which form a stable gel-like material in the warmer environment of the body. This substance was injected into tumors in various mouse models of pancreatic cancer along with a radioactive element called iodine-131. ELP entombs the iodine-131 and prevents it from leaking into the body. Allows it to emit beta radiation that penetrates into the surrounding tumor. Once the radiation is spent, the ELP biogel safely degrades into harmless amino acids. The treatment was tested in combination with a common chemotherapy drug called paclitaxel. Across all the models tested, the scientists report a 100% response rate to the treatment.  In three quarters of the models, the dual treatment completely eliminated the tumors 80% of the time. The scientists deployed the novel treatment against pancreatic cancer because they wanted to explore its potential against one of the trickiest forms of the disease, but believe these results bode well for its wider application. Study author Jeff Schaal, explains the significance of their finding: “We did a deep dive through over 1,100 treatments across preclinical models and never found results where the tumors shrank away and disappeared like ours did … When the rest of the literature is saying that what we're seeing doesn't happen, that's when we knew we had something extremely interesting." In a first, scientists grow fully mature hair follicles in cultures | Interesting Engineering (07:12) According to a press release, researchers from Japan generated hair follicles in cultures while working on the processes of hair follicle growth and hair pigmentation.  Could contribute to the development of different applications such as hair loss treatment, animal testing and drug screenings. Scientists have been trying to understand the essential mechanisms of hair follicle development through animal models for a long while. Hair follicle morphogenesis wasn’t something that could be reproduced in a culture dish until now. Morphogenesis is the process when the outer layer of skin and the connective tissue interacts while the embryo develops. Researchers built hair follicle organoids by controlling the structure generated from the two types of embryonic cells tapping into a low concentration of extracellular matrices. Extracellular matrix is a network that supplies structure for cells and tissue in the body. These matrices change the spacing between the two types of embryonic cells from a dumbbell-shape to core-shell configuration.  Fully mature hair follicles with approximately 3 millimeter (mm)-long hair shafts were produced by the hair follicle organoids on the 23rd day of being cultured. Researchers included a melanocyte-stimulating drug that helps produce hair color pigmentation in the culture medium.  The findings could help understand how physiological and pathological processes develop in relation to other organ systems as well.  Junji Fukuda, a professor with the faculty of engineering at Yokohama National University, speaks on next steps: “Our next step is to use cells from human origin, and apply for drug development and regenerative medicine.” Team uses live plant cells in 3D printing | Futurity (11:35) Researchers have developed a reproducible way of studying cellular communication among varied types of plant cells by “bioprinting” those cells with a 3D printer. Communication is key to understanding more about plant cell functions. Could ultimately lead to creating better crop varieties and optimal growing environments. They bioprinted cells from the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana and from soybeans to study not just whether plant cells would live after being bioprinted but also how they acquire and change their identity and function.  Lisa Van den Broeck, first author of a paper, describes the work: “A plant root has a lot of different cell types with specialized functions … There are also different sets of genes being expressed; some are cell-specific. We wanted to know what happens after you bioprint live cells and place them into an environment that you design. Are they alive and doing what they should be doing?” Live plant cells without cell walls, or protoplasts, were bioprinted along with nutrients, growth hormones, and a thickening agent called agarose. Agarose helps provide cells strength and scaffolding “When you print the bioink, you need it to be liquid, but when it comes out, it needs to be solid. Mimicking the natural environment helps keep cellular signals and cues occurring as they would in soil,” explained  Professor Ross Sozzani, co-corresponding author of the paper. The research showed that more than half of the 3D bioprinted cells were viable and divided over time to form microcalli, or small colonies of cells. Also bioprinted individual cells to test whether they could regenerate, or divide and multiply, which showed that Arabidopsis root and shoot cells needed different combinations of nutrients and scaffolding for optimal viability. More than 40% of individual soybean embryonic cells remained viable two weeks after bioprinting and also divided over time to form microcalli. End off with Professor Sozzani: “All told, this study shows the powerful potential of using 3D bioprinting to identify the optimal compounds needed to support plant cell viability and communication in a controlled environment,”  IKEA Is Using Driverless Trucks to Move Its Furniture in Texas | SIngularity Hub (18:49) Thanks to its mild climate, expansive highway network, and lax regulations, Texas has become the country’s proving ground for driverless trucks. traveling the state’s highways partially driver-free for a couple of years already autonomous mode on highways, but safety drivers take over to navigate city streets This week Kodiak Robotics announced a partnership to transport IKEA products using a heavy-duty self-driving truck. The route runs from an IKEA distribution center in Baytown, east of Houstin, to a store in Frisco, 290 miles away just north of Dallas. Kodiak has been around since 2018, and is focused on building a technology stack specifically for long-haul trucks.  Use a modular hardware approach that includes easy-to-install “mirror pods” with lidar and cameras. Seems like this company is on the rise with self driving trucks partnerships in place with CEVA Logistics and U.S. Express In August announced an agreement with Pilot Companies to develop services for self-driving trucks at Pilot and Flying J travel centers.  Kodiak’s founder and CEO Don Burnette hopes the IKEA pilot will lead to a long-term relationship between the two companies, and an expansion of delivery routes for the furniture store.  Burnette told Forbes: “Up until now we’ve primarily been working with other carriers who work on behalf of shippers as their customers, and this is the first time we’re working with a shipper directly … It was a really good opportunity to build that relationship and understand their operational needs.” New VR app lets you step inside your smartphone videos | Freethink (24:40) Startup Wist Labs is developing a VR app that converts your smartphone clips into 3D videos — giving you a chance to walk inside your memories using a VR headset. To create a memory with Wist, a user opens the app and records a video.  The app collects the information it needs to make the 2D clip look three-dimensional. Co-founder Andrew McHugh explained to Freethink: “During capture, we save color, depth, device pose, audio, and scene information … Depth is captured using the LiDAR sensors on the Pro model iPhones and iPads.” Once the app processes the video, the user can play it back using mobile AR or a VR headset. Video example of how it works  The next steps for Wist Labs are to close pre-seed funding, launch a beta, and then roll out features to fill in those gaps and improve the app.  McHugh plans to continue using it to capture and share memories of his first child McHugh explaining how the experience has been using it: “I loaded [an ultrasound video] into our VR app, shared it with my mom who lives halfway across the country, and we were able to both walk around that moment together … It’s better than a video because it feels like you’re actually there.”

 127. Bionic Pancreas, Mental Benefits of Blue Spaces, Untethered Exoskeleton | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 35:56

Show Notes: A bionic pancreas could solve one of the biggest challenges of diabetes | MIT Technology Review (01:02) In a recent trial, a bionic pancreas that automatically delivers insulin proved more effective than pumps or injections at lowering blood glucose levels in people with type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is a serious condition that causes a person’s level of glucose, or sugar, to become too high because the pancreas can’t produce enough insulin Needs to be monitored and requires insulin intake every day. But maybe this bionic pancreas, which is a credit card-sized device called an iLet, could alleviate that constant monitoring It monitors a person’s levels around the clock and automatically delivers insulin when needed through a tiny cannula, a thin tube inserted into the body.  Worn constantly, generally on the abdomen. Determines all insulin doses based on the user’s weight, and the user can’t adjust the doses.  A Harvard Medical School team has submitted its findings from the study to the FDA in the hopes of eventually bringing the product to market in the US.  Provided 219 people with type 1 diabetes who had used insulin for at least a year with a bionic pancreas device for 13 weeks.  Compared their blood sugar levels with those of 107 diabetic people who used other insulin delivery methods The blood sugar levels of the bionic pancreas group fell from 7.9% to 7.3%, while the standard care group’s levels remained steady at 7.7%.  Goal according to the American Diabetes Association recommends a goal of less than 7.0% Duane Mellor, the lead for nutrition and evidence-based medicine at Aston Medical School, in Birmingham, UK, who was not involved in the study, provided a pro and con for this device: “Being able to take carbohydrate counting out of the equation is a really big advantage, because it’s a burden … On the flip side, they have to relinquish control [of determining the insulin dose], which could be difficult for people who’ve had diabetes for a long time.” The aim of the project is to democratize good glucose control, says Steven Russell, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, who led the study: “There are plenty of people who are struggling right now because they don’t have the right tools, and I think the iLet could help a lot of them have much better glucose control.” Positive Childhood Experiences of Blue Spaces Linked to Better Adult Well-Being |  Neuroscience News (09:37) A new study on blue spaces from data pulled from the BlueHealth International Survey (BIS) including 18 countries, showcases the benefits 15,000 people across 14 European Countries and 4 other non-European countries/regions Adults with better mental health are more likely to report having spent time playing in and around coastal and inland waters, such as rivers and lakes. Mounting evidence shows that spending time in and around green spaces such as parks and woodlands in adulthood is associated with stress reduction and better mental health. But not much info about blue spaces Respondents between the ages of 0-16 were asked to recall their blue space experiences how local they were,  how often they visited them,  how comfortable their parents/guardians were with them playing in these settings,  They found that individuals who recalled more childhood blue space experiences tended to place greater intrinsic value on natural settings in general, and to visit them more often as adults. Associated to better mental wellbeing in adulthood Valeria Vitale, Lead author and PhD Candidate at Sapienza University of Rome, talks on the findings:  “In the context of an increasingly technological and industrialized world, it’s important to understand how childhood nature experiences relate to wellbeing in later life… Our findings suggest that building familiarity and confidence in and around blue spaces during childhood may stimulate an inherent joy of nature and encourage people to seek out recreational nature experiences, with beneficial consequences for adult mental health.” Scientists detect dementia signs as early as nine years ahead of diagnosis | MedicalXpress (15:14) Researchers from the University of Cambridge have shown that it is possible to spot signs of brain impairment in patients as early as nine years before they receive a dementia-related diagnosis. Found impairment in several areas, such as problem solving and number recall The findings raise the possibility that in the future, at-risk patients could be screened to help select those who would benefit from interventions. Maybe reduce their risk of developing one of the conditions, Or could help identify patients suitable for recruitment to clinical trials for new treatments. The issue with treatment for neurological disease is because these conditions are often only diagnosed once symptoms appear, whereas the underlying neurodegeneration may have begun years—even decades—earlier.  May be too late in the disease process to alter its course. UK Biobank collected data from a battery of tests including problem solving, memory, reaction times and grip strength, as well as data on weight loss and gain and on the number of falls. UK Biobank is a biomedical database and research resource containing anonymized genetic, lifestyle and health information from half a million UK participants aged 40-69. Allows for the ability to go back at previous medical history to see if there were signs of neurodegeneration First author Nol Swaddiwudhipong, a junior doctor at the University of Cambridge, said,  "When we looked back at patients' histories, it became clear that they were showing some cognitive impairment several years before their symptoms became obvious enough to prompt a diagnosis. The impairments were often subtle, but across a number of aspects of cognition … This is a step towards us being able to screen people who are at greatest risk—for example, people over 50 or those who have high blood pressure or do not do enough exercise—and intervene at an earlier stage to help them reduce their risk." Offshore wind turbine prototype breaks world record; 359 megawatt-hours within 24 hours | Interesting Engineering (20:10) One of the world's biggest wind turbines has recorded a remarkable renewable energy production total, reining in a massive 359 megawatt-hours within 24 hours. Enough energy to power around 18,000 households yearly Siemens Gamesa, a Spanish-German wind engineering company that manufactures wind turbines for onshore and offshore services, noted that their SG 14-222 DD has broken the record for most power produced by a single turbine in one day. SG 14-222 DD now equals the 14-MW nominal capacity of GE's biggest Haliade-X turbines and only just trailing behind the giant 15-MW Vestas rigs and the world's outright offshore champion, the "monstrous" MingYang 16 MW. The turbine achieved the milestone just ten months after it produced its first electricity and delivered it to the grid at the test center in Østerild, Denmark. Turbine Specs: 14 megawatt (MW) offshore wind turbine with a capacity of up to 15 MW with the "Power Boost" 728 feet (222-meter) diameter rotor  354-feet-long (108-meter-long) B108 blades which can be recycled,  A swept area of 419,792 square feet (39,000 square meters). The company wrote the following on the turbine: “With every new generation of our offshore direct drive turbine technology – which uses fewer moving parts than geared turbines – component improvements have enabled greater performance while maintaining reliability. We are able to reduce the time to market of the SG 14-222 DD thanks to standardized processes and a fully developed supply chain. Enabling high-volume production at low risk. The serial production is planned for 2024.” Stanford exoskeleton breaks out of the lab to offer 30-lb walking boost | New Atlas (29:32) Scientists at Stanford University have been working on an ankle exoskeleton designed to make walking easier. View to one day helping people with impaired mobility  first untethered version for use beyond the lab Their ankle exoskeleton prototype is adjustable in the level of assistance with the max offering a boost akin to taking off a 30-lb (13-kg) backpack. In research published last year, the team demonstrated a version of the device that could increase a wearer’s walking speed by around 40%. Previous iterations of the ankle exoskeletons involved complicated laboratory setups with wires, treadmills and external motors. Important for gathering motion data and rapidly testing and fine-tuning the systems to offer the optimal level of assistance The new exoskeleton is a motorized boot that applies torque at the ankle, in doing so performing some of the function of the calf muscle, helping the user push off with each step. Sensors are built into the boot to monitor movement  Uses machine learning algorithms to adapt the level of assistance based on the way the person walks. Takes about an hour of walking for the exoskeleton to become accustomed to the user Team leader Steve Collins, discusses the speed boost they saw: “Optimized assistance allowed people to walk 9% faster with 17% less energy expended per distance traveled, compared to walking in normal shoes … These are the largest improvements in the speed and energy of economy walking of any exoskeleton to date. In direct comparisons on a treadmill, our exoskeleton provides about twice the reduction in effort of previous devices.” The team is now looking to test it out on older adults and disabled subjects, and are also working on versions that improve balance and joint pain. Team member Patrick Slade, on this point said: “I believe that over the next decade we’ll see these ideas of personalizing assistance and effective portable exoskeletons help many people overcome mobility challenges or maintain their ability to live active, independent, and meaningful lives.”

 126. Open Letter Against Weaponized Robots, Before Birth Stem Cell Treatment, New Blood Group | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 25:35

Show Notes: Scientists Have Discovered a New Set of Blood Groups | Wired (00:52) After performing an emergency C-section for a pregnant woman, researchers were curious why there were these strange antibodies in the blood. They made a startling discovery:  The woman’s blood was of an ultra rare type, which may have made her baby’s blood incompatible with her own.  Prompting her immune system to produce antibodies against her baby’s blood Scientists were able to unpick exactly what made her blood different, and in the process confirmed a new set of blood grouping—the “Er” system, the 44th to be described. A, B, O, and AB isn’t the only classification system There are many ways of grouping red blood cells based on differences in the sugars or proteins that coat their surface, known as antigens.  Differences in antigens results in the following situation: Someone receives incompatible blood from a donor, for example, the recipient’s immune system may detect those antigens as foreign and react against them.  One new blood classification system has been described by researchers each year during the past decade.  tend to involve blood types that are extremely rare “Discovering a new blood group system is like discovering a new planet. It enlarges the landscape of our reality,” says Daniela Hermelin at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine, who was not involved in the study. Due to those genetic differences, a small number of people have alternative amino acids, or building blocks, in their Piezo1 protein. Causing the different ER blood type There are five Er antigens in total—five possible variations of Piezo1 on the surface of red blood cells that can lead to incompatibility.  Benefit of this finding:  It adds to our knowledge of how blood incompatibility can affect pregnant mothers and their babies Boston Dynamics, Agility and others pen letter condemning weaponized ‘general purpose’ robots | TechCrunch (05:38) A group of prominent robotics firms (Boston Dynamics, Agility, ANYbotics, Clearpath Robotics and Open Robotics) issued an open letter condemning the weaponization of “general purpose” robots. The piece comes amid mounting concern around the proliferation of advanced robotics systems. With fictional depictions and real-world efforts like the Ghost Robotics dog that has been outfitted with a sniper rifle, raising significant red flags for many. Part of the letter states: “We believe that adding weapons to robots that are remotely or autonomously operated, widely available to the public, and capable of navigating to previously inaccessible locations where people live and work, raises new risks of harm and serious ethical issues. Weaponized applications of these newly-capable robots will also harm public trust in the technology in ways that damage the tremendous benefits they will bring to society.” Ghost Robotics, which has its own take on the topic, told TechCrunch at the time: “We don’t make the payloads. Are we going to promote and advertise any of these weapon systems? Probably not. That’s a tough one to answer. Because we’re selling to the military, we don’t know what they do with them. We’re not going to dictate to our government customers how they use the robots.” Today’s open letter finds the signees pledging not to weaponize their systems, while calling on lawmakers to do more to prohibit this use for robotics. They end off their letter saying: “We also call on every organization, developer, researcher, and user in the robotics community to make similar pledges not to build, authorize, support, or enable the attachment of weaponry to such robots. We are convinced that the benefits for humanity of these technologies strongly outweigh the risk of misuse, and we are excited about a bright future in which humans and robots work side by side to tackle some of the world’s challenges.” World-first stem cell therapy trial treats spina bifida before birth | New Atlas (13:14) Spina bifida is a birth defect in which the spine fails to develop properly, which can lead to weakness or paralysis of the lower limbs, cognitive issues, and urinary and bowel dysfunction. Currently no cure, post-birth surgery can improve the symptoms in some cases. But a new clinical trial aims to intervene earlier. Signs of spina bifida can appear very early on in the pregnancy. Allowing for time to treat it while the baby is still developing, potentially improving the outcomes. The treatment involves administering a stem cell patch to the baby’s spine while still developing in the womb, and early results are promising one year on. Three babies have been born out of the eventual 35 that will be enrolled in the CuRe trial. The Cellular Therapy for In Utero Repair of Myelomeningocele (CuRe) trial, conducted at UC Davis Health. One baby girl was expected to be born with leg paralysis – and yet, she was seen to be kicking and wiggling her toes right away. The scientists will monitor the babies until they’re six years old, and there’s a particular milestone at 30 months of age to check how well they’re walking and toilet training. A new AI tool could predict the risk of heart disease and death through retinal images | Interesting Engineering (17:10) A new study has found that an artificial intelligence (AI) tool that images the retina's network of veins and arteries can accurately predict a person's risk of cardiovascular disease and death in less than a minute. Non-invasive screening method that doesn't have to be done in a clinic The new study demonstrates that the width of veins and arteries in the retina could indicate circulatory disease early and accurately. Circulatory diseases include cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, heart failure, and stroke The fully automated AI-enabled tool called Quartz evaluates the potential of retinal vasculature imaging plus known risk factors to predict vascular health and death. Scanned the retinal images of 88,052 people between the ages of 40 and 69 Later scanned an additional 7,411 participants who were aged between 48 and 92. The results showed: In men, the width, curviness, and width variation of veins and arteries in the retinas are important predictors of death from circulatory disease. In women, artery area and width and vein curviness and width variation contributed to risk prediction. From the study: Below 0.5 indicates a very poor model. 0.5 means that the model is no better than predicting an outcome than random chance. Values over 0.7 indicate a good model. Values over 0.8 indicate a strong model. “Prediction models for circulatory mortality in men and women had optimism adjusted C-statistics and R2 statistics between 0.75–0.77 and 0.33–0.44, respectively.” The C-statistic is a measure of goodness of fit R2, coefficient of determination, is used to analyze how differences in one variable can be explained by a difference in a second variable.   

 125. First Planetary Defense Test, Faster Cheaper Gene Sequencing, United Airlines’ $1 Billion Bet | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 34:50

Show Notes: Google Fiber Revs Up Its Multi-Gig Speeds to 20Gbps in Newest Field Test |  CNET (01:29)  Google Fiber CEO Dinni Jain announced Tuesday via blog post that 20 gigs is coming, The company achieved a 20.2Gbps download speed in a field test in Kansas City Google Fiber currently offers two plan options: 1-gigabit download speeds for $70 per month and a 2-gig plan for $100 monthly.  cheapest 2Gbps plan among major internet providers CNET reached out to a Google Fiber spokesperson, and was told that more information will be on the way in the coming weeks. No word yet on pricing or when to expect the plan to be available to customers. A 25Gbps speed tier from EPB costs around $1,500 per month According to Google Fiber's CEO this is just the beginning: “In the coming months, we'll have announcements to dramatically expand our multi-gigabit tiers. These will be critical milestones on our journey to 100 Gig symmetrical internet." NASA crashes DART spacecraft into asteroid in world's 1st planetary defense test | (06:45) For the first time in history, a spacecraft from Earth has crashed into an asteroid to test a way to save our planet from extinction.  Spacecraft: NASA's Double Asteroid Rendezvous Test (DART) probe Asteroid: Dimorphos, 7 million miles (11 million kilometers) from Earth The goal of the mission was to change the orbit of the space rock around its larger asteroid parent Didymos . Trying to test if humanity could deflect a dangerous asteroid if one was headed for Earth. Elena Adams, DART's mission systems engineer, said that “our first planetary defense test was a success”   The golf cart-sized DART (1,320 pounds) spacecraft slammed into the asteroid at 14,000 mph. Would be enough to move the 534-foot-wide (163 meters) Dimorphos a bit faster (10 minutes faster) in its orbit around its parent.  Poses no risk of changing the binary system's orbit to come anywhere near Earth.  The DART mission is the first demonstration of what NASA calls a "kinetic impactor" for planetary defense: crashing a spacecraft into an asteroid to change its orbit. Basic method to protect the Earth if a potentially dangerous asteroid were spotted five or 10 years before a prospective impact.  Angela Stickle, the leader of DART's impact working group, said the team's simulations and models suggest the spacecraft would likely create a crater up to 65 feet (20 m) wide.  Images Show Huge Plume of Debris as NASA Probe Smashes Asteroid  A vast network of ground-based telescopes were trained on the event and will be following the binary Didymos-Dimorphos system over time to see how much faster Dimorphos is now moving in its orbit.  The Era of Fast, Cheap Genome Sequencing Is Here | WIRED (13:35) At an industry event in San Diego today, genomics behemoth Illumina unveiled what it calls its fastest, most cost-efficient sequencing machines yet, the NovaSeq X series. Illumina controls around 80 percent of the DNA sequencing market globally The company believes its new technology will slash the cost to just $200 per human genome while providing a readout at twice the speed. Currently costs $600 for scientists to perform sequencing Sequence 20,000 genomes per year; its current machines can do about 7,500 Francis deSouza, Illumina’s CEO, states:  “As we look to the next decade, we believe we’re entering the era of genomic medicine going mainstream. To do that requires the next generation of sequencers … We need price points to keep coming down to make genomic medicine and genomic tests available much more broadly.” Stacey Gabriel, chief genomics officer at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, states they have been “waiting for this for a long time.” She continues to talk about the benefits of the new tech: “With greatly reduced costs and greatly increased speed of sequencing, we can sequence way more samples.” A major benefit of cheaper and more efficiency sequencing is increasing the diversity of genomic datasets. Different populations might have different disease-causing genetic variations that are more or less prevalent.  Additionally, by sequencing more genes you can compare and contrast the genetic sequences of a healthy individual and a disordered individual. Allows researchers to see the nuances in their genetic makeup.  Illumina's new system will cost around $1 million, about the same as its existing machines.  The high price tag is a key reason they’re not yet common in smaller labs and hospitals, or in rural regions. Startup Says It Can Store 100TB in Nintendo-Like Cartridges | Futurism (20:24) A startup called Folio Photonics is attempting to take over the archival storage market, one Nintendo-ish cartridge at a time. Storage types like tapes, and hard disks are favored by enterprise-scale archiving purposes. Folio claims to offer a cost-effective, incredibly high-performing optical alternative to tapes, hard disks, and DNA storage Just one of their oddly-shaped, multi-layered cartridges can allegedly fit 100 terabytes of data.  100,000 gigabytes, which is nearly three times the storage of the densest Blu-Ray disk CEO Steven Santamaria explains how their tech can hold this much data: “Traditional Blu-ray discs are three or four layers and have been for 20 years (the Archival disc achieves 6 layers by having 3-layers on both sides) ... Our first product will be 8 layers per side, meaning we will have a 16 layer double sided disc." Additionally, the company claims their storage device, unlike hard drive and tape storage,  is "impervious" to electromagnetic disruption, damage from radiation or saltwater, and extreme temperatures  We will end off with more of the CEO talking about the tech: “Our talented engineering team has pioneered a fresh approach to optical storage that overcomes historical constraints and puts unheard of cost, cybersecurity and sustainability benefits within reach … With these advantages, Folio Photonics is poised to reshape the trajectory of archive storage." Why United Airlines is betting $1 billion on flying cars | Emerging Tech Brew (25:12) Investors, startups, and aviation bigwigs have all put billions of dollars toward making that vision a reality with electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) ventures. United Airlines being one of them The company has been an investor in California-based Archer Aviation since the startup was preparing to go public via SPAC in 2021 and also reached a $1 billion deal to buy Archer’s eVTOLs last February. An option to purchase an additional $500 million of aircraft.  Archer is building a four-passenger electric aircraft and aims to get it certified by the FAA for use in the US by the end of 2024. This past September, United agreed to buy 200 eVTOL aircraft from Eve Air Mobility. Why are they doing this? Mike Leskinen, president of United Airlines Ventures, told Emerging Tech Brew: “It’s about making our airline the airline that customers choose to fly  … A) We want to innovate. And we want to provide that to our customers first B) We have the footprint—the geographic footprint—that makes us the right player C) It decarbonizes that trip to the airport. This is not taking regional aircraft out of the skies, but it is taking cars off the road, many of which will be burning gasoline” eVTOLs could change the way we travel in the long term, with the nearer-term use case of replacing helicopters and serving as a way to get from an urban center to an airport faster. CEO Leskinen talks on the pricing of these eVTOL rides: “They’re going to be expensive at first … As you build this product, as you certify this product, there are going to be massive economies of scale. And the cost is going to come down rapidly, to the point where I see a world where—because you get so much more utility out of the aircraft—the cost is no more than using an Uber X. But initially it’s going to look like an Uber Black.” The challenging part will be building the infrastructure for air taxis, the “vertiports, ” which could  resemble helipads with charging stations.

 124. Hearing Mars Meteoroid Impacts, 3D Printing Swarm Drones, 3D Printing Wooden Objects | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 23:13

Show Notes: InSight hears meteoroid impacts on Mars | EarthSky (01:15) Since 2018, NASA’s InSight lander has been busy studying the interior of Mars detecting  over 1,300 marsquakes NASA announced on September 19, 2022, that, for the first time, InSight has heard the impacts of four meteoroids as they crashed into the Martian surface. Detected the vibrations from the impacts in 2020 and 2021. The impacts produced small marsquakes, up to a magnitude of 2.0.  This is the first time that InSight – or any Mars lander or rover – has ever detected the seismic waves from a meteoroid impact. The four impacts occurred between 53 and 180 miles from InSight’s location in Elysium Planitia.  Elysium Planitia, a flat-smooth plain just north of the equator making it a great location to study the Martian interior.  NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter took images of the impact sites from orbit.  Appeared as dark spots in the orbiter’s black-and-white Context Camera.  The seismic waves generated by the impacts can give scientists clues about both the impacting rocks and the Martian subsurface. Additionally, scientists can use impact craters to determine the age of the surface. More craters = Older the surface is By using both InSight’s data and orbital images of the impact craters, researchers can determine the meteoroid’s trajectory and size of its shock wave (seismic wave).  7,000-year-old structure near Prague is older than Stonehenge, Egyptian pyramids | Live Science (05:27) Archaeologists digging near Prague have discovered the remains of a Stone Age structure that's older than Stonehenge and even the Egyptian pyramids: an enigmatic complex known as a roundel.  7,000 years ago during the late Neolithic, or New Stone Age Viewed from above, roundels consist of one or more wide, circular ditches with several gaps that functioned as entrances.  "Roundels are the oldest evidence of architecture in the whole of Europe," according to Jaroslav Řídký, a spokesperson for the Institute of Archaeology of the Czech Academy of Sciences (IAP). Radio Prague International reported, the excavated roundel is large — about 180 feet (55 meters) in diameter, or about as long as the Leaning Tower of Pisa is tall Clear that this was part of the Stroked Pottery culture, which flourished between 4900 B.C. and 4400 B.C.  Located in the Bohemian region of the Czech Republic Many farming villages found near the intersection of contemporary Poland, eastern Germany and the northern Czech Republic  Carbon-dating organic remains from this roundel excavation could help the team pinpoint the date of the structure's construction and possibly link it with a Neolithic settlement discovered nearby. Watch this team of drones 3D-print a tower | MIT Technology Review (09:03) A mini-swarm’s worth of drones have been trained to work together to 3D-print some simple towers. Could, one day, help with challenging projects such as post-disaster construction or even repairs on buildings that are too high to access safely. The process has multiple drones work together to build from a single blueprint, with one essentially checking the others’ work as it goes. Inspired by the way bees or wasps construct large nests To demonstrate the drones’ capabilities, the researchers got them to use foam and a special lightweight form of cement to build structures with heights ranging from 0.18 meters to 2.05 meters.  The technique is limited for now because drones struggle to carry heavy loads, need regular charging, and still require human supervision. The researchers are hoping to alleviate some of these issues by automating the charging of drones during projects World's largest geothermal lagoon planned for Canada | New Atlas (14:12) A project, called geoLagon, is underway in Canada for a magnificent new open air lagoon in Canada that will be kept at balmy temperatures year round through a “huge Thermos” heating system underneath.  Designed to be the largest of its type in the world Modeled on the famous geothermal lagoons of Iceland, the geoLagon is designed as an open-air attraction for visitors to relax and soak up the surroundings. To be built in Charlevoix, Quebec,  span some 12,000 square meters (130,000 sq ft)  warmed to a pleasant 39 °C (102 °F) all year It will be heated through an energy ecosystem consisting of geothermal, biomass, photovoltaics and solar heating systems, along with a thermal reservoir beneath the lagoon’s base to store heat. Clusters of chalets will surround the lagoon once the project is completed, capturing solar energy with photovoltaic cladding to help run the heat pumps for the water. CEO Louis Massicotte says that further optimizations and technologies like sewer heat recovery could see the geoLagon village even become an energy provider, but is positive that the project will at the very least be able to sustain itself without drawing power from the grid. The project is planned in three stages, beginning with the construction of 150 solar-powered cottages, followed by the lagoon as the second stage and then the remaining 150 chalets thereafter. Expected to get underway in March and should take around 18 months. Israeli researchers managed to produce 3D printer ink to make wooden objects | Interesting Engineering (18:29) This Wood Ink is made from a mixture of wood flour and plant extracts. Doron Kam, a Ph.D. student working on the project, and colleagues developed this technology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The technology converts organic "wood derivatives" into a paste that is then used as ink by a 3D printer.  The scientists have so far used 3D printing to construct saddle, dome, and helix-shaped models out of their wood-infused ink. They think it might be used to make more sophisticated self-assembling products like furniture. What is the plan for this material, according to Doron Kam: “We are trying to make a material that won’t last forever, that’s what plastic is for. We are not looking for that … Three or four years of use, and then you can grind it down and print it again. This is sustainability in our product, this is our principle.” 

 123. Starlink Reaches Antarctica, Huge Trial for Cancer Blood Tests, Humidity into Hydrogen | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 31:03

Show Notes: SpaceX’s Starlink internet reaches Antarctica, touching all 7 continents  | New Atlas (01:16) Scientists with the United States Antarctic Program at the McMurdo Station are tapping into the space-based internet service, Starlink. Boosting the bandwidth for scientific research at the end of the Earth. Location of the Antarctic Program? You guess it Antartica The researchers have received a Starlink terminal of their own where it is said to be improving connectivity as they carry out their research. All of this was ,adding possible through laser links between the satellites in orbit that eliminate the need for ground stations at the poles Ultimately this makes Antarctica the seventh and final continent to receive Starlink internet coverage.  Google spins out secret hi-speed telecom project called Aalyria | CNBC (04:52) Codenamed “Minkowski” within Google, the secret project is being unveiled to the public on Monday, Sept. 12th, as a new spinout called Aalyria. No clue how long it’s been working on the technology or how many employees are joining the startup Not too many details about the project. Aalyria said in a news release that its mission is to manage “hyper fast, ultra-secure, and highly complex communications networks that span land, sea, air, near space, and deep space.” The company continues by claiming they have laser communications technology “ on an exponentially greater scale and speed than anything that exists today.” It will be led by CEO Chris Taylor, a national security expert who has led other companies that have worked with the government.  Have an $8.7 million commercial contract with the U.S. Defense Innovation Unit. The Light laser tech is named, “Tightbeam” The claim is that it keeps data “intact through the atmosphere and weather and offers connectivity where no supporting infrastructure exists.” “Radically [improving] satellite communications, Wi-Fi on planes and ships, and cellular connectivity everywhere.” A blood test that could detect cancers early will undergo trials in the U.S. | Interesting Engineering (11:04) According to a report by MIT Tech Review, The U.S. is preparing to launch trials of blood tests that can improve the detection of multiple kinds of cancer. The test will be conducted by the National Cancer Institute Testing efficacy of various blood tests in detecting cancer in 24,000 healthy participants over four years. The only test that is currently used in the U.S. is the Galleri, which claims to detect more than 50 cancer types.  Not approved by the FDA Therefore, it's not covered by most insurance and costs $949. To give a brief explanation on how the majority of these multi-cancer early detection tests (MCEDs) work: Searching for tumor cell remnants that explode after being attacked by the immune system in the bloodstream. A cancer warning before symptoms appear. Only some blood tests can identify the organ where the cancer is in.  To confirm a diagnosis a biopsy has to be performed but if you can’t tell the location that is an issue The whole body of a person cannot be biopsied. The NCI trial should provide a standard approach to launching cancer screening research. Timothy Rebbeck, a professor of cancer prevention at Harvard thinks these tests will be critically helpful in cases of pancreatic, liver, and ovarian cancer, which are fatal and do not have any other screening options. Concluding, “It seems very realistic to me to think that we could reduce death by half." This modular off-grid solar EV charger can be installed in just four hours | Electrek (18:34) Paired Power, a California company, has debuted a modular, off-grid electric vehicle charger that is powered by a solar canopy. The new modular charger called PairTree There is Level 1 (household charging, very slow), Level 2 (adds around twenty or so miles of range to the batteries of your car for every hour), and Fast Charging (Tesla Supercharging stations) A transportable solar canopy with built-in EV charging capabilities Can be used off grid, but it can also be hooked into the grid if desired.  Comes in 5 kW units using 10 bifacial solar panels each Level 2 Charging PairTree is designed to optimize EV charging loads to deliver up to 75 miles of daily range. PairTree can be installed in only four hours by two people. Tom McCalmont, CEO and cofounder of Paired Power, said: “EV charging is no longer a fringe benefit for any location where a car might park; it’s quickly becoming a service that both average citizens and employees expect. There are various reasons why site owners don’t want to wait or might have restrictions on grid-connected EV charging or conventional solar canopies, and PairTree is the solution to bring any location quickly into the EV future.” Paired Power is taking orders for PairTree now, and the company is expecting general delivery to take place in the second quarter of 2023. PairTree’s starting price is $26,900, and that covers the canopy and solar only (no charging or other electronics).  Fully configured units will sell for mid-$60k depending on options. Scientists Just Made Hydrogen Fuel With Nothing But Air and Solar Power | Singularity Hub (23:55) Researchers from the University of Melbourne in Australia have developed a new technique that makes hydrogen fuel out of thin air in even the driest climates. Hydrogen could also be an important part of the energy mix. Burned just like conventional fuels, but the only byproduct it releases is water For hydrogen to contribute to decarbonization, “green hydrogen” is needed. Produced by electrolyzers that split water into hydrogen and oxygen using renewable energy. Gang Kevin Li, co-author on the study, told Newsweek: “The ability to use moisture from air makes this DAE [direct air electrolyzer] module applicable in remote, arid, and semi-arid environments where the accessibility to fresh water is a big problem … Most areas on earth with high solar and wind potentials lack fresh water.” Even in the driest climates, though, there is a considerable amount of moisture in the air. Sahel desert, relative humidity is still around 20 percent on average The researchers device to do all of this hydrogen harvesting consists of  a water harvesting unit that houses a sponge soaked in a water-absorbing liquid that can pull moisture from the air. Electrodes that can be powered by any renewable energy source. When current runs through those electrodes water is split via electrolysis into its constituent oxygen and hydrogen atoms, which can then be collected as gas. The team showed the device could run efficiently for 12 consecutive days   Produced hydrogen with 99 percent purity. In a test for real world potential: rigged up five electrolyzers in parallel and placed them outside powered by a solar panel Produced an average of 745 liters (197 gallons) of hydrogen per square meter per day. Half of conventional electrolyzer methods, but this is running just on humidity Until electrolyzer technology comes down in price and becomes more efficient, hydrogen is unlikely to compete with traditional fuels, whether it’s pulled from thin air or not.

 122. Better Concussion Detection, Restoring Memories With Prosthesis, AI and Epilepsy | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 32:43

Shows Notes: Neck-worn "bandage" sensors could better warn of concussions | New Atlas (01:09) One of the dangerous things about sports-related concussions is the fact that athletes may not realize they have one. A new sensor could let them (or their coaches) know. It would go on their neck, not their head. Helmet-integrated sensors, which have been developed, detect the type of impacts associated with concussions; such devices aren't necessarily 100-percent reliable.  Because a lot of concussions are associated with their head rapidly moving whiplash-style to one side, researchers at Michigan State University developed a thin-film adhesive-patch sensor that could detect the telltale neck movements.  Size of a small bandage prototype device is only about 0.1 mm thick Piezoelectric material that produces an electrical charge when stretched or compressed. Once the material is charged due to the movement of the material, the data is sent to a computer, which will analyze it to determine if a concussion-grade impact occurred. While executing tests with this prototype, they found it performed as well as the helmet-integrated accelerometers at detecting concussion causing impacts, BUT they found the neck-bandage wouldn't produce false readings. The researchers are looking into ways of streamlining the design of the patch, such as equipping it with a transmitter that would wirelessly relay data to a nearby computer or mobile device.   Cancer trial amazingly results in 100% remission in every patient | Brighter Side News (07:41) Immunotherapy harnesses the body’s own immune system as an ally against cancer.  The  Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center was investigating — for the first time ever — if immunotherapy alone could beat rectal cancer that had not spread to other tissues Sascha Roth, a 6-month participant in the clinical trial, found out, “a team of doctors examined my tests … And since they couldn’t find any signs of cancer, Dr. Cercek said there was no reason to make me endure radiation therapy.” These same remarkable results would be repeated for all 14 people — and counting — in the MSK clinical trial for rectal cancer with a particular mutation.  The rectal cancer disappeared after immunotherapy — without the need for the standard treatments of radiation, surgery, or chemotherapy  the cancer has not returned in any of the patients Dr. Cercek talks on this rewarding experience: “It’s incredibly rewarding … to get these happy tears and happy emails from the patients in this study who finish treatment and realize, ‘Oh my God, I get to keep all my normal body functions that I feared I might lose to radiation or surgery.’ ” The research team went out to figure out precisely which patients benefit most from immunotherapy, so they can receive it right away.  Patients who have tumors with a specific genetic makeup known as mismatch repair-deficient (MMRd) or microsatellite instability (MSI). Between 5% and 10% of all rectal cancer patients are thought to have MMRd tumors. 45,000 Americans are diagnosed a year with rectal cancer. Dr. Diaz talks on the mutation and treatment: “An MMRd tumor develops a defect in its ability to repair certain types of mutations that occur in cells. When those mutations accumulate in the tumor, they stimulate the immune system, which attacks the mutation-ridden cancer cells.” An immunotherapy agent called a checkpoint inhibitor releases the brakes on an immune cell, freeing it to recognize and attack cancer cells.  The patients were given the checkpoint inhibitor dostarlimab (Jemperli) intravenously every three weeks, for six months. Another amazing thing is removing the toxicity of chemotherapy, which Dr. Cercek mentions: “The most exciting part of this is that every single one of our patients has only needed immunotherapy. We haven’t radiated anybody, and we haven’t put anybody through surgery … They have preserved normal bowel function, bladder function, sexual function, fertility. Women have their uterus and ovaries. It’s remarkable.” A memory prosthesis could restore memory in people with damaged brains | MIT Technology Review (15:09) A unique form of brain stimulation appears to boost people’s ability to remember new information—by mimicking the way our brains create memories.   Given the term: memory prosthesis It involves inserting an electrode deep into the brain, and it seems to work in people with memory disorders. Copies what happens in the hippocampus Effective in people who had poor memory to begin with The researchers, at University of Southern California, think future devices like this one could  help people with memory loss due to brain injuries or as a result of aging or degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. The hippocampus that it is mimicking helps us form short-term memories but also appears to direct memories to other regions for long-term storage. The researchers’ overall idea is to use brain electrodes to understand the electrical patterns of activity that occur when memories are encoded. Then use those same electrodes to fire similar patterns of activity. The team has tested versions of this prosthesis in animals and in some human volunteers with epilepsy who already had electrodes implanted in their brains.  Two versions: Memory decoding model (MDM), mimics patterns of electrical activity across the hippocampus that occur naturally when each volunteer successfully forms memories. Multi-input, multi-output (or MIMO), more closely mimics how the hippocampus works by learning the patterns of electrical inputs and outputs that correspond with memory encoding, and then mimicking them. The research team saw memory test improvements ranging from 11% to 54% for the MDM prosthetics. The MIMO model had even better results, on average.  The biggest improvements were seen in people who had the worst memory performance at the start of the experiment. The researchers hope that their memory prosthesis could one day be widely used to restore memory in people with memory disorders.   Team Says It Assembled the Most Complex Synthetic Microbiome | GenEngNews (20:15) Scientists at Stanford University report that they have built the most complex and well-defined synthetic microbiome, creating a community of over 100 bacterial species that was successfully transplanted into mice. The ability to add, remove, and edit individual species will allow scientists to better understand the links between the microbiome and health. Additionally, this could lead to developing first-in-class microbiome therapies. Each cell in the microbiome occupies a specific functional niche, performing reactions that break down and build up molecules.   To build a microbiome: Was remarkably stable, with 98% of the constituent species colonizing the gut of these germ-free mice. Ensure that the final mixture is stable, meaning maintains a balance without any single species overpowering the rest. Needs to be functional, performing all the actions of a complete, natural microbiome. They selected over 100 bacterial strains that were present in at least 20% of the Human Microbiome Project (HMP) individuals. They grew in individual stocks and then mixed into one combined culture to make what they call human community one, or hCom1. They found over 20 new bacterial species that inserted themselves in at least two of their three fecal transplant studies. Adding those to their initial community and removing those that failed to take root in mouse guts gave them a new community of 119 strains, dubbed hCom2.  Why is this important? The researchers believe that hCom2, or future versions of it, will enable similar reductionist studies that reveal the bacterial agents involved in other areas, like immunotherapy responses. New AI Algorithm Could Lead to an Epilepsy Cure | SciTechDaily (26:00) Researchers working under the direction of University College London have created an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm that can identify subtle brain abnormalities that cause epileptic seizures. Multicentre Epilepsy Lesion Detection (MELD) Analyzed more than 1,000 patient MRI images from 22 international epilepsy centers. Focal cortical dysplasia are brain regions that have developed abnormally and often cause drug-resistant epilepsy. Finding the lesions on an MRI is an ongoing problem for physicians since MRI scans for FCDs can appear normal. The scientists utilized about 300,000 locations throughout the brain to develop the algorithm, which measured cortical features using MRI scans. How thick or folded the cortex/brain surface was. Then professional radiologists classified MRI examples as either having FCD or having a healthy brain, which served as the algorithm’s training data. According to the results, the algorithm was successful in identifying the FCD in 67% of cases in the cohort (538 participants). The MELD algorithm was able to detect FCD in 63% of instances where professional radiologists did not detect the existing abnormality. Co-senior author, Dr. Konrad Wagstyl stated: “This algorithm could help to find more of these hidden lesions in children and adults with epilepsy, and enable more patients with epilepsy to be considered for brain surgery that could cure epilepsy and improve their cognitive development. Roughly 440 children per year could benefit from epilepsy surgery in England.” The MELD FCD classifier tool can be run on any patient with a suspicion of having an FCD who is over the age of 3 years and has an MRI scan.

 121. Fat Cells and The Brain, Producing Hydrogen at Room Temp, JWST’s First Exoplanet Image | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 32:29

Show Notes: Researchers discover new way fat cells talk directly with the brain | New Atlas (01:36) Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute have discovered a novel communication pathway between fat cells and the brain. Brain doesn’t regulate fat burning by just slowly responding to hormonal signals in the blood. (traditional view) But can directly send messages to fat tissue and influence metabolic processes. The researchers use 2 new ways of looking at the fat tissue: 1.  HYBRiD - This method renders fat tissue transparent, allowing researchers a unique window into the paths of neurons.  2. ROOT, and it lets the researchers study exactly how certain neurons localized in fat tissue communicate with other parts of the body. The big finding from the study was the discovery of sensory neurons that branch out from the spine into fat tissue.  Directly communicate with a part of the brain called the dorsal root ganglia. Co-senior author Li Ye, stated on this finding: “The discovery of these neurons suggests for the first time that your brain is actively surveying your fat, rather than just passively receiving messages about it … The implications of this finding are profound.” Researchers found by blocking communication from these sensory neurons the sympathetic nervous system kicked into gear and began converting the white fat cells into brown fat.  Stepping up the body’s fat-burning processes.  All this finding can clearly establish at this stage is that the newly discovered sensory neuron communication pathway is crucial for keeping fat tissue healthy. Two-Seater eVTOL Will Be Used to Train Pilots for Flying Taxis | Singularity Hub (07:38) London-based SkyFly has recently started taking pre-orders on a personal eVTOL called the Axe. It seats two, different the others trying to hit the market (seat one) Unlike its peers, the Axe has a fixed-wing design, so it’s able to take off and land both vertically and in the conventional way. Vertical takeoff: Four propellers (4 ft diameter) lifts it off the ground, and once airborne, the body tilts forward to gain speed.  Eight 35-kilowatt electric engines power the plane Mounted at a 45-degree angle and don’t rotate. Wingspan is 16.4 feet  Larger than any of the other personal aircraft Weighs 944 pounds (lithium battery pack accounts for a good portion of that total) Lift a maximum weight of 379 pounds.  Its top speed is 100 miles per hour, and its range is 100 miles (200 if you add an optional range extender). Skyfly is aiming for its customer base to be made up of people who are already licensed pilots and/or own their own aircraft, and those who want to become pilots. Right now there’s not only a shortage of pilots for commercial aircraft, there’s not a cost-effective way to train new pilots either.  And Skyfly CEO Michael Thompson wants the Axe to serve as a general aviation platform for pilots in training. SkyFly is taking pre-orders at a base price of US$175k. The company is planning to start production in 2024. A  Simple Way to Produce Hydrogen From Water at Room Temperature | ScienceAlert (15:52) A new study out of University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), provides us with another promising step in Hydrogen clean fuel, provided you can make use of existing supplies of post-consumer aluminum and gallium. Discovered a simple method involving aluminum nanoparticles that are able to strip the oxygen from water molecules and leave hydrogen gas. yields large amounts of hydrogen, and it all works at room temperature. This discovery removes one of the big barriers to hydrogen fuel production: the large amounts of power required to produce it using existing methods. Works with any kind of water, too, including wastewater and ocean water. Materials scientist Scott Oliver from UCSC seemed surprised by this process: "We don't need any energy input, and it bubbles hydrogen like crazy … I've never seen anything like it.” With the help of scanning electron microscopy and X-ray diffraction techniques, the researchers were able to find the best mix of aluminum and gallium for producing hydrogen with the greatest efficiency.  a 3:1 gallium-aluminum composite. Gallium is an expensive and less abundant material, but at least in this process it can be recovered and reused many times over without losing its effectiveness. Bakthan Singaram, a professor of organic chemistry at UCSC, stated: “The gallium separates the nanoparticles and keeps them from aggregating into larger particles … People have struggled to make aluminum nanoparticles, and here we are producing them under normal atmospheric pressure and room temperature conditions." There is still work to do, not least in making sure this can be scaled up from a lab set-up to something that can be used on an industrial scale. Promising sign for hydrogen fuel This Type of Supplement Can Reduce Depression and Anxiety | SciTechDaily (21:50) Researchers from the University of Reading studied the effects of high doses of Vitamin B6 on young adults. Felt less anxious and depressed after taking the supplements every day for a month. Adds to the body of evidence supporting the use of supplements believed to alter brain activity levels for the prevention or treatment of mood disorders. Dr. David Field, the lead author of the study explains: “The functioning of the brain relies on a delicate balance between the excitatory neurons that carry information around and inhibitory ones, which prevent runaway activity. Recent theories have connected mood disorders and some other neuropsychiatric conditions with a disturbance of this balance, often in the direction of raised levels of brain activity. Vitamin B6 helps the body produce a specific chemical messenger that inhibits impulses in the brain, and our study links this calming effect with reduced anxiety among the participants.” Vitamin B6 promotes the body’s production of GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid), a molecule that blocks nerve cell impulses in the brain.  Vitamin B12 was also looked at. Had little effect compared to placebo over the trial period. Vitamin B6 made a statistically reliable difference. Dr. Field talks on foods to consume, and more research that needs to be done: “Many foods, including tuna, chickpeas, and many fruits and vegetables, contain Vitamin B6. However, the high doses used in this trial suggest that supplements would be necessary to have a positive effect on mood. It is important to acknowledge that this research is at an early stage and the effect of Vitamin B6 on anxiety in our study was quite small compared to what you would expect from medication. However, nutrition-based interventions produce far fewer unpleasant side effects than drugs, and so in the future people might prefer them as an intervention.” James Webb Telescope captures its first images of an exoplanet | Interesting Engineering (28:30) In a first for the James Webb Telescope, astronomers from the joint NASA/ESA/CSA cooperative used the space-based telescope to bring back images of an exoplanet. Images of the exoplanet are seen through four different light filters These images lead the way toward future observations that can reveal a broad range of information never before seen on exoplanets. Exoplanet looked at was a gas giant, named HIP 65426 b, which is about six to eight times the size of Jupiter. Only about 15 to 20 million years old, which in planet years is very young Earth: is about four to five billion years old. These detailed images captured an exoplanet so well it is already leading to future possibilities for studying distant worlds. ​​The Webb instrument captures light differently, and so the images have different presentations. Purple shows the NIRCam instruments view at 3.00 micrometers Blue shows the NIRCam instruments view at 4.44 micrometers Yellow images show the mid-infrared instrument's view at 11.4 micrometers. Red shows the mid-infrared instrument's view at 15.5 micrometers The difficulty in getting images of exoplanets is that the stars are so much brighter than planets.  For instance, HIP 65426 b is more than 10,000 times fainter than its host star in the near-infrared, possibly 3,000 times fainter in the mid-infrared. 

 120. Eye Test For Autism, Countdown to Artemis 1, Reversible Gene-Editing Technology | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 29:37

Show Notes: Eye tests can screen children for autism | Brighter Side News (01:11) According to a study from Washington State University researchers, measuring how the eyes’ pupils change in response to light could potentially be used to screen for autism in young children. Known as the pupillary light reflex  Adjustments via the muscles connected to the lens, ciliary bodies, and muscles that make up the iris are stimulated by several nerves. The study builds on earlier work to support the continued development of a portable technology that could provide a quick and easy way to screen children for autism. Hope to catch children earlier in their development when interventions are more likely to benefit them. First author on the study, Georgina Lynch, stated: “We know that when we intervene as early as ages 18 to 24 months it has a long-term impact on their outcomes … Intervening during that critical window could be the difference between a child acquiring verbal speech and staying nonverbal. Yet, after 20 years of trying we still have not changed the average age of diagnosis here in the U.S., which is four years old.” Process of the study: Tested 36 children aged 6 to 17 who had been previously diagnosed with autism Tested a group of 24 typically developing children who served as controls. Pupillary light reflexes were tested using a handheld monocular pupillometer device, which measures one eye at a time. Children with autism showed significant differences in the time it took for their pupils to constrict in response to light.  Pupils also took longer to return to their original size after light was removed. Supported by funding from the Washington Research Foundation, Georgina Lynch is now working to expand testing to a group of 300 or more 2- to 4-year-olds across a larger number of clinical sites. Preparing to file for FDA premarket approval for the screening device    SpaceX's 'Mechazilla' lifts 33-engine Super Heavy onto the launch pad for the first time | Interesting Engineering (05:51) SpaceX's Starship Super Heavy booster prototype, Booster 7, is back on the launch pad. 33 next-gen Raptor engines attached at the launch pad It's all part of SpaceX's pre-launch preparations as the private space firm gears up toward the orbital maiden flight of Starship. eventually lift astronauts to the moon and Mars Musk posted a photo of Booster 7 being held by Mechazilla's arms, with the caption "Mechazilla loads Starship on launchpad." SpaceX is preparing for static fire tests, with one of them set to fire up all 33 Raptor engines on Booster 7 at the same time. Last time only fired 20 SpaceX will be a step closer to performing its first-ever orbital flight of Starship — the massive milestone could take place as soon as next month. Several customers have also penned agreements with SpaceX for Starship flights, including NASA and Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa.  Last year, NASA awarded SpaceX a $2.9 billion contract to send astronauts back to the surface of the moon.   NASA's launch countdown for Artemis 1 moon mission begins today | (11:14) At 10:23 a.m. EDT (1423 GMT) Aug. 27th, the countdown clock began ticking down to the planned launch of NASA's Artemis 1 mission, an ambitious first flight to the moon by the agency's most powerful rocket ever The Space Launch System (SLS)  Orion spacecraft onboard Artemis 1 is the vanguard mission of NASA's Artemis program, which aims to return astronauts to the moon by 2025. The mission flight will send an uncrewed Orion capsule on a 42-day trip to orbit the moon and return to Earth to test if the spacecraft is ready to carry astronauts.  If this mission succeeds,  NASA will follow it up with Artemis 2, a crewed trip around the moon in 2024.  Lead to the Artemis 3 crewed lunar landing a year later (2025). The ultimate goal, NASA has said, is to fly yearly missions to the moon after Artemis 3, stage crewed landings from a Gateway space station in lunar orbit and then aim for crewed flights to Mars. There is a 70% chance of good weather for the Artemis 1 launch Two-hour window in which to launch Artemis 1 to allow for some wiggle room   Recently Discovered Molecule Kills Hard-To-Treat Cancers  | SciTechDaily (17:09) University of Texas at Dallas researchers created a molecule (ERX-41) that kills a variety of difficult-to-treat cancers, including triple-negative breast cancer, by taking advantage of a weakness in cells that was not previously targeted by existing drugs. There are few treatment options for patients with triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) Generally affects women under 40 and has poorer outcomes than other types of breast cancer. Dr. Jung-Mo Ahn, a co-corresponding author of the study, has dedicated more than ten years of his career to developing small molecules that target protein-protein interactions in cells. Ahn talked on the compound: “The ERX-41 compound did not kill healthy cells, but it wiped out tumor cells regardless of whether the cancer cells had estrogen receptors .. In fact, it killed the triple-negative breast cancer cells better than it killed the ER-positive cells.” ERX-41 binds to a cellular protein called lysosomal acid lipase A (LIPA) LIPA is found in a cell structure called the endoplasmic reticulum, an organelle that processes and folds proteins. Cancer cells significantly overproduce LIPA, and according to Ahn, “By binding to LIPA, ERX-41 jams the protein processing in the endoplasmic reticulum, which becomes bloated, leading to cell death.” The researchers fed the compound to mice with human forms of cancerous tumors, and the tumors got smaller.  Observed no adverse effects. Also proved effective at killing cancer cells in human tissue gathered from patients who had their tumors removed. ERX-41 is effective against other cancer types with elevated endoplasmic reticulum stress, including: hard-to-treat pancreatic and ovarian cancers and glioblastoma, the most aggressive and lethal primary brain cancer.  End it with a humble quote from Ahn: “As a chemist, I am somewhat isolated from patients, so this success is an opportunity for me to feel like what I do can be useful to society.”   Researchers allegedly create a new 'controllable, reversible' gene-editing method in China | Interesting Engineering (23:07) Scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) have allegedly developed a new "controllable, reversible and safer" gene-editing approach using CRISPR technology. The system, named Cas13d-N2V8 (rolls off the tongue) The system showed a significant reduction in the number of off-target genes and no detectable collateral damage in cell lines and somatic cells, which indicated its future potential, according to a South China Morning Post newspaper report. The new approach, the researchers claim, uses the Cas13 enzyme, targeting RNA, which is safer because RNAs are transient molecules that only exist in the cell for a short period of time and are not integrated into the genome. The technique involves CRISPR, one of the most commonly used gene-editing techniques in recent years. Researchers explained on the CAS website about the new technique: “Cas13 can degrade both target and non-target RNAs at random … [But] the CRISPR-based gene editing tool does not permanently change the genome, and the effects of editing are controllable, reversible, and safer” The researchers have a system to detect the collateral effects of Cas13 in mammalian cells, which they then used to create a large number of variants. No detectable collateral damage in transgenic mice The study’s abstract ends off with, “High-fidelity Cas13 variants with minimal collateral effects are now available for targeted degradation of RNAs in basic research and therapeutic applications.”

 119. Tesla Bots Out In 2022, Rocket Lab’s Self Funded Venus Mission, Bioengineered Corneas Restore Sight | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 27:53

Show Notes: Elon Musk's 'AI-Powered Tesla Bots' Will Replace 'Boring' Household Activities by 2022! | Tech Times (01:14) Information was recently reported on the AI robots being developed by Tesla giving us a clearer picture of what life will be like on Earth in the following decades. The Tesla Bot, about 172 cm tall (5’ 7”), seeks to gradually free up regular people brave enough to adopt a robot from "boring" duties. .  This comes from what Musk stated in an essay published in China Cyberspace magazine :  "Tesla Bots are initially positioned to replace people in repetitive, boring, and dangerous tasks. But the vision is for them to serve millions of households, such as cooking, mowing lawns, and caring for the elderly."  Musk stated that the robot, code-named "Optimus," will utilize the same chips and sensors as Tesla's so-called Autopilot software in 2021.  The robot will be able to lift 150 pounds (68 kg) and carry 45 pounds (20.4 kg), and it will be able to run 5 miles (8 km) per hour. Additionally, he claimed that if his company can manage mass manufacturing, the Tesla Bot prototype should be available by the year's end.  But you should take this with a grain of salt since he has not always been the best with time predictions. Life Wire previously reported the EV manufacturer plans to introduce the new Tesla Optimus machine in September.  According to “certain sources”, the prototype will arrive specifically on September 30. Musk is optimistic about the power of robots: “It is foreseeable that with the power of robots, we will create an era of extreme abundance of goods and services, where everyone can live a life of abundance. Perhaps the only scarcity that will exist in the future is for us to create ourselves as humans.”   World's first liquid-nitrogen outdoor cooling system set for trials | New Atlas (07:43) Israeli company Green Kinoko is preparing for the first public tests of a remarkable clean outdoor cooling system. The inverse of an outdoor cafe heater, cooling several tables per unit without using any electricity. The secret: liquid nitrogen.  Standard tanks hold liquid nitrogen at -196 °C (-321 °F), which are loaded into the coolers, and when they're switched on, the liquid is slowly released. Expands rapidly to nearly 700 times its liquid volume as it becomes a gas The coolers then harness the energy of the expansion through a mechanical engine, using it to blow nitrogen gas out at a much more palatable -10 °C (14 °F). The device is more environmentally friendly than an air conditioner since it uses no mains power and doesn't blow hot air out somewhere else.  Nitrogen makes up about 78% of the ambient air, it's completely safe to breathe. The tanks will need replacing every 7-10 days, depending on how hot it is outside and how hard you're running them. Green Kinoko's Moran Goldberg told New Atlas: “Usually, the cost of the nitrogen is about €50-60 (US$50-60) per tank … Today, it's mostly produced as a byproduct when hospitals and medical services make pure oxygen. Of course, there's a logistics part of the equation we have to take into account in each country as well, but it's not going to cost more than the existing solutions. As far as a restaurant or venue is concerned, the cost of owning and running an outdoor heater is what we're benchmarking." The company plans on running a pilot trial in the first weeks of September With enquiries already pouring in from at least 40 different countries, Green Kinoko is preparing to gear up for serious volume production. One thing of concern: The safety and materials handling portion Liquid nitrogen can cause extreme cold burns, explosions and even asphyxiation if improperly handled, so these units will need to be treated with care.   Rocket Lab will self-fund a mission to search for life in the clouds of Venus | Ars Technica (13:24) Rocket Lab founder Peter Beck has made no secret of his love for humanity's next-closest world, Venus. You know the hell-planet, which is all consumed by carbon dioxide, crushing pressures, and fiery temperatures. Scientists believe that high above that terrible surface, in the clouds of Venus, there are air pressures not dissimilar to those found on Earth, where conditions might be conducive for some forms of life. Peter Beck wants to use his small Electron rocket to find out Recently Rocket Lab announced that it will self-fund the development of a small spacecraft, and its launch, that will send a tiny probe flying through the clouds of Venus for about 5 minutes, at an altitude of 48 to 60 km.  Electron will deliver the spacecraft into a 165 km orbit above Earth,  The rocket's high-energy Photon upper stage will perform a number of burns to raise the spacecraft's orbit and reach escape velocity. Assuming a May 2023 launch—there is a backup opportunity in January 2025—the spacecraft would reach Venus in October 2023.  The spacecraft will be tiny, as deep-space probes go, containing a 1 kg scientific payload consisting of an autofluorescing nephelometer, which is an instrument to detect suspended particles in the clouds.  If Rocket Lab succeeds with a Venus mission, they’ll certainly catch the attention of scientists, NASA, and others interested in what would be a promising new era of low-cost, more rapid exploration of the Solar System.    A new breakthrough method is changing kidney's blood type to make transplants easier | Interesting Engineering  (17:11) Researchers from the University of Cambridge achieved altering the blood type of donor kidneys. A development that will be life-saving for patients waiting for a suitable kidney. The project, funded by charity Kidney Research UK, could increase the supply of kidneys available for transplant, particularly within ethnic minority groups who are less likely to be a match for the majority of donated kidneys.  A kidney from someone with blood type A cannot be given to someone with another blood type changing the blood type of a kidney to the universal O-type, the kidney can now be transplanted into any patient. Talked about something like this on Episode 96 Professor Mike Nicholson and Ph.D. student Serena MacMillan used a normothermic perfusion machine to flush blood infused with an enzyme through the deceased kidney. Normothermic perfusion machine: a device that connects with a human kidney to pass oxygenated blood through the organ to better preserve it for future use By taking B-type human kidneys and pumping the enzyme through the organ using our normothermic prefusion machine, we saw in a matter of just a few hours that we had converted a B-type kidney into an O-type,” stated Serena MacMillan Professor Nicholson also talked on the importance of this: “Blood group classification is also determined via ethnicity and ethnic minority groups are more likely to have the rarer B type. After successfully shifting blood group to the universal O type, we now need to look at whether our methods can be successful in a clinical setting and ultimately carried through to transplantation.”   These Bioengineered Corneas Gave 14 Blind People Their Sight Back | Singularity Hub (21:46) Corneal blindness is one of the leading causes of blindness globally, accounting for over five percent of cases where people lose their sight. Corneal transplants are one solution, but in addition to a shortage of donors, recipients must take immunosuppressants to keep their bodies from rejecting the transplanted cornea. A research team at Linköping University and LinkoCare Life Sciences in Sweden have come up with what appears to be a highly viable alternative. Using collagen protein extracted from pig skin as the base for an artificial cornea. Besides having a structure similar to that of human skin, pig skin is a byproduct from the food industry (that means it’s abundant and cheap) and is already used for medical applications, including glaucoma surgery and as a wound dressing. What did the researchers do with the skin? Chemical crosslinking refers to intermolecular or intramolecular joining of two or more molecules by a covalent bond. Purified the extracted collagen Placed it in a cornea-shaped hydrogel scaffold, using chemical crosslinking to reinforce the collagen Surgeons in India and Iran implanted the engineered corneas into 20 patients, 14 of whom were completely blind and 6 of whom had impaired vision. Used a minimally-invasive surgical technique, making a laser incision in the existing cornea and inserting the implant The team monitored the recipients for 24 months, noting no complications or adverse events.  The implant caused their corneas to return to normal thickness and curvature.  More importantly the 14 participants who were blind before the operation had their vision restored. Those who weren’t blind moved from severe visual impairment to low or moderate vision. Three patients even ended up with 20/20 vision The team notes that its results are comparable to those of standard corneal transplants, but with a simpler surgical technique and no need for human donors.  Even though two years is a sufficient time frame to know that the transplants restored patients’ sight, the artificial tissue’s integration and stability will need to be monitored over a longer term. The team’s next aim is to do a larger clinical trial involving 100 or more participants in Europe and the US, and to get the ball rolling on regulatory approval from the FDA.  

 118. Kite Energy Productions, TAE’s Nuclear Fusion Reactor, Reviving Pig Organs | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 30:04

Show Notes: Startup's new stunning kite can pull energy from the sky | Interesting Engineering (01:07) Several kite power companies are attempting to pull energy out of the sky, and they are succeeding. Kitekraft, a Munich-based company developing a kite power system is one of those companies working on this technology Their co-CEO and chief technology officer, Florian Bauer, commented on the tech: “It’s cheaper to manufacture, cheaper to transport, and also has higher efficiency … If you have all those advantages, why would anyone build a conventional wind turbine?” How does the technology called airborne wind actually work? Three-step approach: Rigid enough to withstand high winds Has the form of a sailplane, and 4 propellers are only needed for taking off and landing. Designed to move quickly and effortlessly Connects the kite to the ground Transforms the pull force from the kite to the ground-station generator. A kite flies across the wind it pulls against the tether and unwinds the winch, driving a generator that produces electricity.  Durable and can be exposed to varying environmental conditions such as moisture and UV light. Converts the tractive force from the tether to electricity. A control system is found in the ground station and makes sure all flights are conducted safely and efficiently. 1. The kite is a specially designed aircraft composed of composite materials.  2. The Tether 3. The ground station So far, Kitemill, another kite power company, claims that their system can produce an average power of >1 hour of operation with continuous cycles at 5.5 kW. The airborne wind is currently in its infancy. The industry will have to overcome many hurdles, such as proving that it is safe and reliable and does not cause any noise pollution. Right now, none of the kite companies have produced energy in the megawatt scales required to compete with other renewable energy sources.    How balloons could one day detect quakes on Venus | Science News (07:32) Back on December 14, 2021, a tiny device dangling beneath the large, transparent balloon recorded sudden, jerky fluctuations in air pressure: echoes of an earthquake more than 2,800 kilometers away.  Became the first network of devices to monitor an earthquake from the air. The finding could help scientists track earthquakes in remote areas on Earth. Opens the door to one day sending specially equipped balloons to study the geology of other worlds, including our closest planetary neighbor, Venus. When the ground shakes, it releases low-frequency sound waves that can travel long distances in the atmosphere. The military, who first tried this back in the 1940s, planned on using the microphones to pick up on the sound of the ground shaking from a nuclear explosion.  Project was eventually deemed too expensive and dropped  Now back to Venus, the reason the idea of balloons to take measurements on the planet is due to the extreme heat and pressure on the surface.  The dense atmosphere means that the planet’s surface has about the same pressure as Earth’s deep ocean. No current lander/rover could withstand For the project to even go forward, scientists have to show that they could design devices small enough to be carried by balloons but sensitive enough to pick up earthquakes far below. In 2021, that is what they did They attached micro-barometers to 16 balloons launched from the Seychelles Islands, off the coast of East Africa The researchers were able to use the changes in air pressure to pinpoint the epicenter of the earthquake and calculate its 7.3 magnitude. Although the surface of Venus is an extremely hostile environment, at about 50 kilometers above the surface the atmosphere of Venus is the most earth-like environment (other than Earth itself) in the solar system. Paul Byrne, a planetary scientist at Washington University in St. Louis believes, even if they can’t detect Venus quakes, the balloons, if designed to survive in the Venusian atmosphere, might be able to detect changes in air pressure that reveal clues about the planet’s volcanic eruptions and mysterious highlands. The researchers are hoping that earthquake-detecting balloons will feature in the next major mission Believing their data could help researchers understand why Earth and Venus — alike in size and distance from the sun, relative to the other planets — have gone down such different paths.   TAE's planned billion-degree, hydrogen-boron nuclear fusion reactor | Interesting Engineering & New Atlas (13:02) TAE Technologies today announced recently that it has secured strategic and institutional investments to fund the construction of its next research reactor, 'Copernicus.’ ​​This is after achieving temperatures greater than 135 million degrees Fahrenheit (75 million degrees Celsius) While also demonstrating unmatched real-time control of plasma with its cutting-edge fusion research reactor, dubbed 'Norman.' The non-radioactive method used by TAE, hydrogen-boron fusion, is the quickest, most feasible, and most cost-effective way to supply the grid with large amounts of carbon-free electricity.  Reminder fusion is banging the nuclei of two atoms together hard enough, they can fuse together to create a different element. Resulting fused atom will weigh less than the two banged together Why does fusion release a lot of energy? The difference in mass from the fusion will be released as energy, as predicted by Einstein's famous E=MC2 equation. C2 – the square of the speed of light – is a rather large number, so a small mass of fuel can produce a large release of energy. The goal of the 'Copernicus' reactor is to show that the company's advanced beam-driven field-reversed configuration (FRC) can generate net energy. Will be built in a 100,000-square-foot (1,076,391 m2) facility in Irvine, California.  The last step on the road to commercializing clean fusion power. The 'Norman' reactor, which was developed by TAE to maintain plasma at 54 million degrees Fahrenheit (30 million degrees Celsius), was unveiled in 2017.  Has demonstrated the ability to retain stable plasma at a temperature of more than 135 million degrees Fahrenheit (75 million degrees Celsius),  250% greater than its initial aim Why does TAE want to achieve hydrogen-boron fusion? CEO of TAE Technology, Michl Binderbauer, explains to New Atlas: "There's no radioactivity involved in the input or the output. The output is helium, chemically inert, about as benign as you can get. Boron's made by the metric ton today. It's used in detergents, it's a commodity product. So there's no scarcity, it's found everywhere; there's no sort of Saudi Arabia of boron." He continues to explain: “People have shied away from boron historically because fusion is already darn hard … But it turns out that if you design your fusion reactor around tritium, you get some serious defects, along with a big disconnect from the commercial world where cost is important." TAE has raised a total of $1.2 billion for its commercial fusion development. The company recently closed its Series G-2 financing round, in which it secured $250 million from investors in the energy, technology, and engineering sectors.  The company's most recent investors include Chevron, Google, Reimagined Ventures, Sumitomo Corporation of Americas, and TIFF Investment Management, as well as a sizable mutual fund manager with headquarters on the West Coast of the United States and a sizable U.S. pension fund. Sandro Hasegawa, General Manager, Energy Innovation Initiative Americas at SCOA, explains:  “We look forward to being a partner in bringing TAE’s clean energy solutions to the APAC market, which will be paramount to sustaining local economies without impacting our planet … We are pleased to support TAE’s groundbreaking fusion technology to create safe, sustainable energy sources across multiple industries and applications.”   Treating Chronic Pain With Sound Plus Electrical Body Stimulation | SciTechDaily (21:01) Researchers have found that electrical stimulation of the body combined with sound activates the brain’s somatosensory or “tactile” cortex.  This increases the potential for using the technique to treat chronic pain and other sensory disorders. The non-invasive technique was tested on animals and the team is planning clinical trials on humans in the near future. During the experiments, the scientists played broadband sound while electrically stimulating different parts of the body in guinea pigs.  They discovered the combination of the two activated neurons in the brain’s somatosensory cortex.  This is the area that is responsible for touch and pain sensations throughout the body.  The scientists hope that their results will lead to a therapy for chronic pain that’s safer and more accessible than drug treatments. Cory Gloeckner Ph.D, lead author on the paper, explains: “Chronic pain is a huge issue for a lot of people, and for most, it’s not sufficiently treatable … Right now, one of the ways that we try to treat pain is opioids, and we all know that doesn’t work out well for many people. This, on the other hand, is a non-invasive, simple application. It’s not some expensive medical device that you have to buy in order to treat your pain. It’s something that we think would be available to pretty much anyone because of its low cost and simplicity.” How Scientists Revived Organs in Pigs an Hour After They Died | Singularity Hub (23:59) Oxygen is the elixir of life. Stop its flow—during a stroke, heart attack, or death—and the body’s tissues respond in a biological storm that eventually leads to their death.  Not great for organ transplants. They are deprived of oxygen, they rapidly lose their function. Upon death, the heart stops pumping, meaning all tissues are starved of oxygen and nutrients, and even after reperfusion with blood, they wither away.  Their protective membranes break down.  Organs lose their structural integrity. In a new study, using an external circulation system, a team of scientists partially revived organs in pigs hours after their deaths. The system, dubbed OrganEx, works like an alternative circulatory system. Pumps a synthetic substitute to trick the body into thinking it’s still somewhat alive. The trick to keeping tissue healthy is a special fluid called cryoprotective perfusate.  Think of it as an incredibly nutritious smoothie that goes straight into your blood circulation. The cells in the pig’s heart, liver, and kidneys repaired themselves while on the system. Based on multiple molecular analyses. Dr. Robert Porte at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, who was not involved in the study, wrote, “The achievement poi nts to ways to improve transplants and the treatment of strokes and heart attacks.” Another Doctor not involved in the study, Dr. Sam Parnia at New York University wrote, “This is a truly remarkable and incredibly significant study. It demonstrates that after death, cells in mammalian organs (including humans) such as the brain do not die for many hours.” For now, the study suggests that tissues and organs have a surprising ability to regenerate after being deprived of blood. The researchers stated, “Overall, further optimization and expansion of our technology will be needed to fully understand its broader effects on ischemic tissues and recovery.”

 117. Ultrasound + Lasers = Bye Heart Disease, Mapping The Immune System, 3D-Printed  Hypercar | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 28:55

Show Notes:  Groundbreaking heart disease treatment uses ultrasound-assisted lasers | Brighter Side News (01:21) Atherosclerosis, a buildup of plaque, can lead to heart disease, artery disease, and chronic kidney disease and is traditionally treated by inserting and inflating a balloon to expand the artery.  Rohit Singh, of the University of Kansas, and other researchers developed a method that combines a low-power laser with ultrasound to remove arterial plaque safely and efficiently.  High-power laser treatments direct thermal energy to vaporize water in the artery and create a vapor bubble, which expands and collapses to break the plaque.  The addition of irradiation from ultrasound causes the microbubbles to expand, collapse, and disrupt the plaque.   Singh talks about the combo of laser treatment with ultrasounds: “In conventional laser angioplasty, a high laser power is required for the entire cavitation process, whereas in our technology, a lower laser power is only required for initiating the cavitation process … Overall, the combination of ultrasound and laser reduces the need for laser power and improves the efficiency of atherosclerotic plaque removal."   Because it destroys rather than compresses the plaque, the combination technique will have a lower restenosis rate, or re-narrowing of the artery, compared to balloon angioplasty or stenting. Restenosis occurs when an artery that was opened with a stent or angioplasty becomes narrowed again.   Singh and collaborators are also using the methodology for photo-mediated ultrasound therapy and ultrasound-assisted endovascular laser thrombolysis.  Former can be used to remove abnormal microvessels in the eye to prevent blindness The latter can dissolve blood clots in veins.   Locusts can 'smell' human cancer cells | Futurity (05:54) Researchers, at Michigan State University, have shown that locusts can not only “smell” the difference between cancer cells and healthy cells, but they can also distinguish between different cancer cell lines. This work could provide the basis for devices that use insect sensory neurons to enable the early detection of cancer using only a patient’s breath. The success of engineered devices can make it easy to overlook the performance of our natural tools, especially the sense organ right in front of our eyes. Why we trust dogs and their super-sniffers to detect telltale smells of drugs, and explosives Scientists are working on technology that can mimic the sense of smell, but nothing they’ve engineered can yet compete with the speed, sensitivity and specificity of old-fashioned biological olfaction. Olfaction: The sense of smell. Why not start with the solutions biology has already built after eons of evolution, and engineer from there?  The research team is essentially “hacking” the insect brain to use it for disease diagnosis. Easily attach electrodes to locust brains The scientists then recorded the insects’ responses to gas samples produced by healthy cells and cancer cells, and then used those signals to create chemical profiles of the different cells. How well could the locusts differentiate healthy cells from cancer cells using three different oral cancer cell lines? According to Christopher Contag, the director of IQ, “We expected that the cancer cells would appear different than the normal cells … But when the bugs could distinguish three different cancers from each other, that was amazing.” Although the team’s results focused on cancers of the mouth, the researchers believe their system would work with any cancer that introduces volatile metabolites into breath, which is likely most cancer types.  In biochemistry, a metabolite is an intermediate or end product of metabolism. The term metabolite is usually used for small molecules.  Let’s end it off with a quote from Contag about early detection: “Early detection is so important, and we should use every possible tool to get there, whether it’s engineered or provided to us by millions of years of natural selection … If we’re successful, cancer will be a treatable disease.” Scientists create first full map of human immune system connectivity | New Atlas (11:15) By using advanced screening methods to tune into the communications taking place between individual cells, scientists have produced the first full connectivity map of the human immune system. Will help researchers better understand the way different disease such as cancer progress, and work towards next-generation treatments Researchers at the Wellcome Sanger Institute and ETH Zurich have been working to establish a more comprehensive diagram of the immune system throughout the body. The breakthrough stems from new understanding of the signaling that takes place between different immune cells. Some of these patrol the body looking for signs of injury or disease, and then send messages to other immune cells to join the fight. Communication takes place through proteins on the surface of immune cells, which bind to receptor proteins on the surfaces of other cells. Mapping involved a technique called high-throughput surface receptor screening, which allowed them to map immune cell protein interactions on an unprecedented scale. This wiring diagram details how immune cells connect and communicate throughout the body and includes previously unknown interactions.  Valuable insights into the way the body organizes its immune defenses,  May help efforts to develop treatments that increase their ability to fight disease, with immunotherapy for cancer a prime example. Additionally, it could offer a blueprint for the prevention and treatment of autoimmune diseases Let’s end it off with a quote from Professor Gavin Wright, senior author, discussing the research: “Immunotherapies work with the body’s immune system to combat diseases such as cancer and autoimmunity… They can be incredibly effective in certain groups of people, but not all, leaving some people without treatment. Our research, a culmination of over two decades of work, could hold the key to understanding why these treatments are more effective in some groups, and how they could be adapted to ensure that as many people as possible can benefit from them.” Flying car 'Switchblade' with foldable wings and a retractable tail gets FAA approval | Interesting Engineering (15:46) A flying sports car named Switchblade recently passed the safety tests of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and now it is ready for market launch.  Oregon-based company Samson Sky claims it took 14 years to develop this innovative vehicle.  Can be easily parked inside a residential garage, and it is suitable for both roadside driving and flying. Not the first to receive approval from the FAA, but it might become the first flying car available to the public in the US. Already started taking online reservations for Switchblade, and over 1,600 people have already shown interest in buying the car.  The estimated starting price for Switchblade would be $150,000. The features of the Switchblade: Three-wheeler sports car that comes with foldable wings and a retractable tail Within three minutes, these flexible components can turn this roadside vehicle into a small aircraft Capable of flying at 16,000 feet (4.8 km) The top speed of this two-seater flying machine ranges between 125 mph (201 km/h) (on-road) and 200 mph (321 km/h) (during flight). Runs on 91 octane gasoline The official website of Samson Sky mentions that the car comes equipped with a hybrid electric drive and fly system, a climate-controlled cabin, front and rear crumple zones, and a parachute that covers the whole vehicle to ensure complete comfort and safety of its users. For instance, the vehicle has been approved by the FAA, but that only means that Samson Sky can sell this vehicle.  Buyers might still need to get permission from local authorities before they drive or fly Switchblade for the first time since it is not an ordinary vehicle. Another difficulty, the Switchblade is a flying vehicle, and there is no company in the US that offers flying car insurance. Insurance laws in most American states require drivers to carry active vehicle insurance with them. Switchblade buyers might need to buy both car and aircraft insurance. What’s interesting about this is that Switchblade isn’t the only flying car that is ready to launch.  There are companies working on this, and it would be fascinating to see which of them we see first on the road. List by Interesting Engineering of 14 other flying cars being developed:  Real Flying Cars That Will Soon Take Flight   Czinger’s 3D-Printed 21C Hypercar Could Spark an Automaking Revolution | Robb Report (22:00) The $2 million, carbon-fiber-bodied, tandem-seat Czinger 21C astounds with specs—1,250 hp, zero to 62 mph in 1.9 seconds, a claimed top speed of 253 mph Recently blew away the McLaren P1’s production-car track record at Circuit of the Americas by six seconds. However, more impressive is the hybrid’s build process: The main structural components are designed by Czinger’s proprietary AI software and then 3-D-printed. Co-founder Kevin Czinger, stated: “These structures cannot be made more perfect for the requirements inputted … You could have 1,000 engineers and they would never get to this solution.” Figuring out how to put these “perfect Lego blocks” together was tasked to Lukas Czinger, Kevin’s son, who invented a fixtureless assembly system No part-specific fixture or tooling required to hold pieces in place during the robotic build. Additionally, the polymer team created an adhesive that bonded in under two seconds. The result is a 22-robot cell that doesn’t have to be retooled from one application to another, meaning the same hardware can transition from creating a rear frame to a full chassis with only a software change—a potentially revolutionary new approach to manufacturing.


Login or signup comment.