By Glenn McDonald, Seeker
In the original Star Trek series, Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy was forever running around the USS Enterprise with his tricorder, a fantastic space-age device that could scan anything and diagnose medical conditions in an instant.
For nearly five years now, dozens of engineering teams from around the planet have been competing to design a real-life tricorder that approximates the functions of the famous Star Trek device. This is no goof-around competition, either: The winner stands to receive millions of dollars in funding from chip manufacturer Qualcomm and the nonprofit organization XPRIZE, which specializes in these kinds of incentivized competitions.
This week, Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE officials announced that two teams of finalists have made it to the last round of the competition, having designed tricorder-style medical devices that are actually pretty space-age in look and function. Weighing in at less that five pounds each, the devices can diagnose and interpret 13 different health conditions within minutes, while continuously monitoring five different vital sign metrics.
The technical requirements for the competition are a bit more detailed — you can read about them at the XPRIZE guidelines page — but the basic goal is a portable medical device simple enough for the general public to use right out of the box. More than 40 teams signed up for the competition in 2012. The top two teams will now advance to final consumer testing.
The first of the two groups, strictly alphabetically, is Dynamical Biomarkers Group (DBG), a team of physicians, scientists and engineers in Taiwan. The team is sponsored by mobile technology company HTC and led by Harvard Medical School professor Chung-Kang Peng.
The DBG device is built around a modified HTC smartphone and a series of sensors that connect to the phone via Bluetooth. All the components fit into one box, which charges all the devices within via a single USB cable.
The DBG Tricorder is built around an HTC smartphone.
The DBG Tricorder is built around an HTC smartphone.
The other finalist, Final Frontier Medical Devices, is led by Pennsylvania brothers Basil Harris, an emergency room physician, and George Harris, a network engineer. The Frontier tricorder kit employs a series of 3D-printed devices that pair wirelessly with an iPad Mini.
Both solutions use the mobile device itself, smartphone or iPad, to provide multimedia instructions to anyone using the kits. (Backup printed instructions are also included.) Ideally, the various diagnostic and monitoring devices can be used by anyone and do not require medical training.
The Final Frontier tricorder was developed by Pennsylvania brothers Basil Harris, an emergency room physician, and George Harris, a network engineer.
The Final Frontier tricorder was developed by Pennsylvania brothers Basil Harris, an emergency room physician, and George Harris, a network engineer.
As per the competition rules, both devices can test for core conditions including anemia, atrial fibrillation, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, leukocytosis, pneumonia, otitis media, sleep apnea and urinary tract infection. In addition to the core conditions, the devices must detect three elective health conditions from a set including HIV screen, hypertension, melanoma, shingles and strep throat.
Both devices will now move to the final stage of the competition, hands-on consumer testing at the Altman Clinical Translational Research Institute at the University of California San Diego. The first prize winner is awarded $6 million, with $2 million for second place and $1 million for the team that receives the highest vital signs score in the final round. An additional $1 million has already been awarded in milestone prizes.
In press materials, Paul E. Jacobs, executive chairman of Qualcomm, said that Star Trek has actually provided more than one sci-fi scenario to inspire real-world innovation.
“The Communicator preceded the smartphone, which has revolutionized our personal interactions, and provided instant access to knowledge and entertainment,” he said. “Star Trek has inspired many engineers on a quest to improve the world by turning science fiction into reality.”
Originally published on Seeker.
Chemist Satish Nune was inspecting the solid, carbon-rich nanorods with a vapor analysis instrument when he noticed the nanorods mysteriously lost weight as humidity increased. Thinking the instrument had malfunctioned, Nune and his colleagues moved on to another tool, a high-powered microscope.
New nano material is potential humanitarian lifesaver
They jumped as they saw an unknown fluid unexpectedly appear between bunches of the tiny sticks and ooze out. Video recorded under the microscope is shaky at the beginning, as they quickly moved the view finder to capture the surprising event again.
The team at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory would go on to view the same phenomenon more than a dozen times. Immediately after expelling the fluid, the nanorods’ weight decreased by about half, causing the researchers to scratch their heads even harder.
A paper published in Nature Nanotechnology describes the physical processes behind this spectacle, which turned out to be the first experimental viewing of a phenomenon theorized 20-some years ago. The discovery could lead to a large range of real-world applications, including low-energy water harvesting and purification for the developing world, and fabric that automatically pulls sweat away from the body and releases it as a vapor.
“Our unusual material behaves a bit like a sponge; it wrings itself out halfway before it’s fully saturated with water,” explained PNNL post-doctoral research associate David Lao, who manufactured the material.
“Now that we’ve gotten over the initial shock of this unforeseen behavior, we’re imagining the many ways it could be harnessed to improve the quality of our lives,” said PNNL engineer David Heldebrant, one of the paper’s two corresponding authors.
“But before we can put these nanorods to good use, we need to be able to control and perfect their size and shape,” added Nune, the paper’s other corresponding author.
Expectations v. Reality
Ordinarily, materials take on more water as the humidity around them increases. But these carbon-rich nanorods — which the researchers mistakenly created while trying to fabricate magnetic nanowires — suddenly expelled a large amount of water as the relative humidity inside the specimen holder reached anywhere between 50 and 80 percent.
Water expulsion can clearly be seen in the microscope video. Water is visible as a gray, cloudy haze — and only emerges from where nanorods intersect. When the team went on to raise the humidity further, the nanorods’ weight also increased, indicating they were taking on water again. It was also reversible, with water being ejected and later absorbed as humidity was gradually lowered back down.
The team was further intrigued. They couldn’t think of any other material that takes on water at a low humidity and spontaneously releases it at a high humidity. So they dug through the canons of scientific literature to find an explanation.
Old theory, new evidence
They found a 2012 paper in the Journal of Physical Chemistry B that explained how, in certain situations where liquid is confined in a teeny-tiny space (roughly 1.5 nanometers wide), the liquid can spontaneously evaporate. And the authors of a 2013 paper in the (Journal of Chemical Physics described how water can condense into the confines of close hydrophobic materials, which do not play well with water, and quickly turn into vapor due to attractive forces between the surfaces of the two materials facing each other. The 2013 paper gave this phenomenon a very long, technical name: “solvent cavitation under solvo-phobic confinement.”
These papers also noted the process was theorized as early as the 1990s by scientists examining crystallized proteins. Back then, scientists noticed they only saw water vapor surrounding hydrophobic sections of protein, while liquid water would surround other areas. The researchers proposed that there was some sort of process that enabled the water caught between hydrophobic protein sections to suddenly vaporize.
Armed with this knowledge, the PNNL team hypothesized water was condensing and forming a bridge between the nanorods, through a process known as capillary condensation. Next, they believe water between rods forms a curved cavity whose surface tension pulls the adjacent rods closer together. When two intersecting nanorods reach about 1.5 nanometers apart, the team reasoned, the water caught between them could be forced to quickly evaporate.
Though understanding the nanorods’ unexpected behavior is a triumph in itself, the PNNL team also foresees a future where this phenomenon could also improve quality of life. They see their discovery as a potential humanitarian lifesaver, describing it as “a paradigm shift in water purification and separation,” in their paper.
Theoretically, large quantities of the water-spitting nanomaterial could repeatedly take on and then eject collected water when a certain humidity level is reached. Such a system could be used in remote deserts, where it would collect water from the air and harvest it for human consumption. Another vision is to create a membrane that takes on and later expels water as humidity changes.
The membrane could be used in jacket fabrics and enable more comfortable outdoor adventures by removing sweat from inside a jacket and emitting it outside as a vapor. To make these applications possible, the team is exploring ways to make more of its nanorods spray water. The team estimates only around 10 to 20 percent of the material spits water right now. The plan is to scale up production of the current material, creating more than a few grams of the material at a time. They will do further analysis to ensure the phenomenon is still present when larger amounts are present. They are also conducting a more detailed examination of the material’s physical and chemical properties and determining if other materials that have similar properties. The team is also intrigued by the idea other nanomaterials could potentially be developed to collect other liquids, such as methanol ( via sciencedaily.com ).
Because of the huge development in effectiveness and size of solar panels in the last 10 years, designer Jesper Frausig was able to create a bicycle with panels in the wheels that can go up to 30 mph.
The on-board battery resides on the down tube. At capacity, it can run the bike for about 43 miles. According to Frausig, “The on-wheel solar cells deliver clean energy directly to the battery. While the Solar Bike is standing still, it charges the battery. When it is in motion, the solar cells and the battery provides energy for the motor.”
Not all the questions have been answered, like how long does it take to charge, but if you are looking for an electric bike that never needs to plug in it is now available ( via minds.com ).
Here is a promotional video with funk
Isn’t it about time camping tents got an upgrade? It seems like tent design has remained the same for a long while now. This design makes up for lost time though. It’s called the Orange Solar Tent and it combines the classic small and portable tent aesthetic with solar power capabilities such as actually being able to charge electronics. The design was by the U.S. based design firm, Kaleidoscope, and they hooked up with a UK telecommunications company called Orange Communications. The vision is now brought to life and the tents are being implemented at music fests, like the Glastonbury Festival in the UK.
These can have a much further reach though as they could be used by those going on camping trips, not to mention they would be great for providing comfortable shelter with power for homeless individuals. They definitely will get young people outdoors more as they will be able to charge their phones right inside their tents! SHARE these cool tents with all your friends and family ( via damn.com )!
Google’s robot outfit Boston Dynamics released a new video of their latest version of the humanoid robot Atlas. Watch below to reset your thinking of what robots can do today.
Boston Dynamics revealed a new version of Atlas, a humanoid robot that is designed to operate outdoors and inside buildings. Atlas is specialized for mobile manipulation says the Google owned robot company.
A new video shows Atlas opening a door and walk outside in a snowy forest. The movements are incredible human like. The robot even slips the same way humans do on snow.
In the video Atlas is also shown lifting boxes and place them into a shelf. In another scene a developer pushes Atlas over and he falls on his face. After a couple seconds he gets back up by itself.
Now if Atlas would get angry and charge at the guy with the stick, we would have reached the end of humankind and the robots take over.
The robot is electrically powered and hydraulically actuated. It uses sensors in its body and legs to balance and LIDAR and stereo sensors in its head to avoid obstacles, assess the terrain, help with navigation and manipulate objects. This version of Atlas is about 5′ 9″ tall (about a head shorter than the DRC Atlas) and weighs 180 lbs.
Watch the amazing video of Atlas below.
I4U News is feeding your Geek Mind daily with what is important. The Geek Mind is concerned with life, in all its different forms and facets.
The geek mind wants to know about societal and financial issues, both abroad and at home. If a Fortune 500 decides to raise their minimum wage, or any high priority news, the geek mind wants to know.
The geek mind wants to know the top teams in the National Football League, or who’s likely to win the NBA Finals this coming year ( via i4u.com ).
From low-cost housing to life-saving implants, 3D printing technology is having a growing influence on our lives, and the latest innovation to be announced is a full-sized 3D-printed bridge.
Industry experts MX3D are planning to create a steel bridge in Amsterdam in the Netherlands using independent robot arms. These arms will start on one side of the river and cross over to the other bank, building the structure as they go.
Software studio Autodesk and construction firm Heijmans are two of the partners working with MX3D on the eye-catching project, which is scheduled to start in September once a final location has been chosen. The robotic 3D printers are going to construct their own supports as they go, heating the metal to 1,500 degrees Celsius (2,732 Fahrenheit) before melding it into place.
The site is set to be a tourist attraction even before it’s completed, with a visitor centre in the pipeline that will provide running updates on the bridge’s process.
“What distinguishes our technology from traditional 3D printing methods is that we work according to the ‘printing outside the box’ principle,” MX3D Chief Technology Officer Tim Geurtjens says on the project site.
“By printing with 6-axis industrial robots, we are no longer limited to a square box in which everything happens. Printing a functional, life-size bridge is of course the ideal way to showcase the endless possibilities of this technique.”
The printing arms have been through several iterations to get them ready for the task: MX3D engineers say they’ve seen machines explode, get clogged up and lose their bearings along the way, but now the final version of the hardware is ready to launch into action. A small-scale test run has already taken place, producing a bridge a few feet across that could take the weight of a human being.
The style of the bridge has been sketched out by Dutch designer and artist Joris Laarman. “I strongly believe in the future of digital production and local production, in ‘the new craft’,” he says. “This bridge will show how 3D printing finally enters the world of large-scale, functional objects and sustainable materials while allowing unprecedented freedom of form. The symbolism of the bridge is a beautiful metaphor to connect the technology of the future with the old city, in a way that brings out the best of both worlds.”
The project isn’t just showcasing the novelty value of 3D printing, because the technology could eventually have a practical use too – in areas where natural disasters have occurred or local infrastructure has been destroyed, a self-contained bridge-printing robot could prove invaluable in connecting communities together again.
In the meantime, keep your eyes on MX3D’s new bridge in Amsterdam, because you’ll be seeing a lot more of this technology in the years to come.
Yes, this is for real.
No, there isn’t dinosaur DNA trapped in amber, waiting to be replicated and cloned.
But that’s not the only way to make a dino, said Jack Horner, the paleontologist who worked on “Jurassic World” (and the rest of the “Jurassic Park” films), and he wants to make it happen.
How did we get to this point, where Horner — one of the main inspirations for Michael Crichton’s “Jurassic Park” character Alan Grant — thinks we can make a live dinosaur within five to 10 years?
“It all started with ‘Jurassic Park,'” Horner told Business Insider in an interview.
In 1993, the same year the first movie came out, he and then-graduate student Mary Schweitzer, who has continued to make some amazing discoveries in the field of paleontology, tried to extract DNA from dinosaur bones.
They failed. DNA basically starts coming apart as soon as a cell dies, says Horner, and no one has ever found intact dinosaur DNA — he doesn’t think it’s possible. “If you did the thing they did in ‘Jurassic Park,'” says Horner (referring to the story’s solution of filling in dino DNA gaps with frog DNA), “you’d basically have a frog.”
About 20 years of genetics research later, however, Horner has another plan — and it relies on the fact that we have a more effective way to get “dinosaur” DNA.
We have creatures on the planet that are the direct descendants of dinosaurs: birds. And if you ask a paleontologist, birds are dinosaurs, specifically avian dinosaurs.
They might not look like dinosaurs, but birds have feathers, just like dinosaurs, including the ferocious velociraptor. Over time, their descendants’ snouts turned into beaks, they stopped growing tails, and wings further evolved into modern bird wings.
But birds didn’t necessarily lose the genes that code for tails or arms or snouts — instead, those same traits most likely exist in their genetic code, inactive, while the newer genes for wings, tail feathers, and beaks are expressed.
Horner thinks that we can suppress these new genes and express the atavistic, throwback dinosaurian genes instead. And his plan is to do this first with a well-researched bird that we’re all familiar with, a chicken, giving us… a “chickenosaurus,” as he described in a TED talk, or a “dino-chicken.”
Picture it: a small, feathered creature, with a tail that helps it balance, small arms with claws, and a toothy snout, instead of a beak.
Remember, real velociraptors were just the size of a large turkey.
Horner has talked about pet dinosaurs for a while. Publishers of his book, “How to Build a Dinosaur: Extinction Doesn’t Have to Be Forever” came out in 2009, originally planned to release it around the same time as “Jurassic Park 4.”
Basically, Horner says, he’s trying to discover the genetic pathways that turned birds into the modern creatures we know, so we can turn back the clock on a chicken’s evolutionary history.
And as wild as this may sound, Horner’s not the only one doing this type of work. A pair of Harvard and Yale scientists recently announced they’d found a way to turn chicken beaks back into dinosaur snouts. Skeptics think building a dino snout won’t be so easy, and will involve as-yet undiscovered genetics. But the researchers counter that their work shows just how fast the science in this field is developing.
Horner says we can look at the beak study as a “proof of concept” that this reverse engineering process is feasible.
That Harvard-Yale team is working on the beak. In 2014, another group reported in PLOS Biology they’d figured out how dinosaur arms fused into wings. Horner is working on the tail. And he thinks that with the right funding, we can reverse-engineer and grow a dinosaur in five to ten years.
If researchers reverse-engineer a bird, they’d have some sort of dinosaur, though it would still be a new species — the process by which modern birds evolved happened over tens of millions of years, and the few changes we’re talking about here probably wouldn’t represent an exact creature that existed 65 million years ago.
And dinosaurs that weren’t of the avian variety still wouldn’t be represented. We have no modern descendant of a stegosaurus or a brontosaurus (newly restored to real dino status).
But the rapidly changing world of genetics could open up the possibility for creating animals just like, say, a triceratops.
Horner says that if we were interested, we could genetically engineer creatures like these, or like anything else we can figure out a genetic code for, even if it never existed in nature. Once we figure out the genes that create a trait, those genes could potentially be incorporated into an animal. We’ve already done this. Researchers used the genes from jellyfish to make rabbits that glow in the dark, and other researchers made mice with transparent skin. Once we know the code for a trait, we could use that to make a creature.
Horner uses a unicorn as an example — we’d just need to add genes for a horn. “We could probably get to a unicorn before we get to a dino-chicken,” he says.
So why do it?
Though some of this might sound like it’s totally out there, there are practical applications. If Horner’s team figures out how to make a tail grow, that might unlock the ability to better understand the growth of vertebrae and neural tissue, with fascinating medical implications.
He also thinks “if we can make a dino-chicken, it’s pretty cool.” It might help get kids interested in genetics at a young age — what kid doesn’t love dinosaurs?
Plus, Horner points out that we’ve been genetically modifying the genes of animals for thousands of years. We’ve just called it “breeding.”
“People made chihuahuas out of wolves, for God’s sake,” he says.
One phenomenon all ponerogenic groups and associations have in common is the fact that their members lose (or have already lost) the capacity to perceive pathological individuals as such, interpreting their behavior in fascinated, heroic, or melodramatic ways.
ARTICLE SOURCE: http://www.businessinsider.com.au/the-paleontologist-who-worked-on-jurassic-world-is-trying-to-create-a-real-dinosaur-within-5-to-10-years-2015-6
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