Category Archives: Uncategorized

Machine Gun That Turns Anyone Into A Marksman

A carbine that can call in an airstrike. A computer-aided scope on a machine gun that can turn just about anyone into a marksman.Even firearms that measure and record every movement, from the angle of the barrel to the precise moment of each shot fired, which could provide law enforcement with a digital record of police shootings. The application of information technology to firearms has long been resisted in the United States by gun owners and law-enforcement officials who worry they could be hacked, fail at the wrong moment, or invite government control.

But with the U.S. Army soliciting bids for high-tech battlefield solutions to create the soldier’s rifle of the future, those concerns may quickly become irrelevant. The Army is moving forward regardless. One company seeking an Army contract is working on an operating system that could be embedded into the gun, which could have law-enforcement and civilian applications that may reshape the U.S. debate about gun safety.

You could accomplish some of the functionality by duct-taping an iPhone to your gun. However what we offer is the world’s first truly embedded operating system,” said Melvic Smith, 41, principal owner of Dimensional Weapons Systems, which bills itself as the first patented blockchain-based firearms company.

That system could eventually add any number of applications, Smith said, including “smart gun” technology that would only allow the weapon to be fired by a designated shooter’s handSmart guns in theory could prevent children from accidentally firing guns at home, or render stolen guns useless.

Our team is composed of veterans, law enforcement officers, people that are pro-Second Amendment to begin with,” Smith said, referring to the amendment in the U.S. constitution that grants American citizens the right to bear arms. “But we also have engaged with people in the weapons manufacturing industry. They actually love the technology. They’re worried about political backlash.”

Source: https://www.reuters.com/

Eye Drops Reverse Vision Loss

Eye drops that can reverse poor vision? It may sound like science fiction, but one Israeli company is aiming to bring this product to market. The drops passed their Phase 2b clinical trial earlier this month, meaning they’ve proven to improve farsightedness, the inability to see or read nearby objects, and are highly tolerable.

Although results have yet to be released, Israel-based Orasis, Pharmaceuticals, revealed details last week about the latest results of the Phase 2b study for their CSF-1 eye drops. The drops offer temporary relief reversal of farsightedness. Their effects can be felt quickly, although they only last for a few hours.

The study was based on results from 166 participants across several research centers in the U.S. and designed to test both the efficacy and safety of the product. According to Elad Kedar, CEO of Orasis, results are extremely positive.

We are very encouraged by the results,” said Kedar. “The results were great not only on the efficacy endpoints, but also on the safety and tolerability, so we are moving as quickly as possible into Phase 3.”

According to Kedar, the drops are made from chemicals already existing in eye medication for other treatments. In addition, the concentrations used in the eye drops are far lower than those already used for current eye treatment. In trials, patients improved their eyesight by three eye chart lines, which is the FDA requirement for eyesight studies, according to Kedar.

Source: https://www.orasis-pharma.com/

Brexit Hits UK Science Funding, Deters International Researchers

Uncertainty surrounding Britain’s exit from the European Union has hit science funding to the tune of almost half a billion euros and is putting off international researchers from coming to Britain, a leading institution said on Wednesday. An analysis conducted by the Royal Society scientific academy found that the UK’s annual share of EU research funding has fallen by some 460 million euros ($509.40 million) since 2015, making it a less attractive destination for international science talent. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to take Britain out of the EU with or without a deal by the end of October.

Venki Ramakrishnan, the Royal Society’s president, said the potential paralysis of a no-deal Brexit and the current state of chaos had already lead to a dramatic drop in the number of leading researchers who want to come to the UK.

People do not want to gamble with their careers when they have no sense of whether the UK will be willing and able to maintain its global scientific leadership,” he said in a statement as the analysis was published.

On funding, the Royal Society report found that in 2015 prior to the UK’s referendum on Brexit, Britain secured 1.49 billion euros, or 16% of total grants awarded, under Horizon 2020 – the EU’s research and innovation programme which has around 77 billion euros of funding between 2014 and 2020. By 2018, that had fallen to just over 11% of grants, or 1.06 billion euros.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/

How To Restore Sight To The Blind

For more than a decade, researchers have been working to create artificial digital retinas that can be implanted in the eye to allow the blind to see again. Many challenges stand in the way, but researchers at Stanford University may have found the key to solving one of the most vexing: heat. The artificial retina requires a very small computer chip (nanocoputer) with many metal electrodes poking out. The electrodes first record the activity of the neurons around them to create a map of cell types. This information is then used to transmit visual data from a camera to the brain. Unfortunately, the eye produces so much data during recording that the electronics get too darn hot.

The chips required to build a high-quality artificial retina would essentially fry the human tissue they are trying to interface with,” says E.J. Chichilnisky, a professor in the Neurosurgery and Ophthalmology departments, who is on Stanford’s artificial retina team.

Members of the team, including Chichilnisky and his collaborators in Stanford’s Electrical Engineering and Computer Science departments, recently announced they have devised a way to solve that problem by significantly compressing the massive amounts of visual data that all those neurons in the eye create. They discuss their advance in a study published in the IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Circuits and Systems.

To convey visual information, neurons in the retina send electrical impulses, known as spikes, to the brain. The problem is that the digital retina needs to record and decode those spikes to understand the properties of the neurons, but that generates a lot of heat in the digitization process, even with only a few hundred electrodes used in today’s prototypes. The first true digital retina will need to have tens of thousands of such electrodes, complicating the issue further. Boris Murmann, a professor of electrical engineering on the retina project, says the team found a way to extract the same level of visual understanding using less data. By better understanding which signal samples matter and which can be ignored, the team was able to reduce the amount of data that has to be processed. It’s a bit like being at a party trying to extract a single coherent conversation amid the din of a crowded room — a few voices matter a lot, but most are noise and can be ignored.

We compress the data by being more selective, ignoring the noise and baseline samples and digitizing only the unique spikes,” Murmann says. Previously, digitization and compression were done separately, leading to a lot of extra data storage and data transfer. “Our innovation inserts compression techniques into the digitization process,” says team member Subhasish Mitra, a professor of electrical engineering and of computer science. This approach retains the most useful information and is easier to implement in hardware.

Source: https://engineering.stanford.edu/

Cotton As Human Food

U.S. regulators gave the green light for genetically modified cotton to be used for human consumption, paving the way for a protein-packed new food sourceedible cottonseed that tastes a bit like chickpeas – that its developers said could help tackle global malnutrition.

The Food and Drug Administration’s decision on the cotton plant developed by Texas A&M University scientists means it is allowed as food for people and all types of animals.

Texas A&M AgriLife Research plant biotechnologist Keerti Rathore said the scientists are holding discussions with companies and hope to have the plant commercially available within about five years. Rathore said the team also will explore seeking regulatory approval in other countries starting with Mexico.

Genetically modified cotton plants with an edible cottonseed trait are seen growing near Belvidere, North Carolina, U.S.
Yes, we are fully aware of the resistance to GMOs in many countries, but I remain hopeful that counties who are desperate for food will adopt this technology,” Rathore added.

Cotton is grown in more than 80 countries, with its fiber used to make textiles and cottonseed currently used among other purposes to feed animals such as cattle and sheep that have multiple stomach chambers. Ordinary cottonseed is unfit for humans and many animals to eat because it contains high levels of gossypol, a toxic chemical.

Rathore’s team used so-called RNAi, or RNA interference, technology to “silence” a gene, virtually eliminating gossypol from the cottonseed. Gossypol was left at natural levels in the rest of the plant because it guards against insects and disease.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/

Walking Again With Robot Exoskeleton Steered By The Brain

The French tetraplegic man who has been able to walk again using a pioneering four-limb robotic system, or exoskeleton, said walking was a major feat for him after being immobile for years. The French scientists behind the system, which was publicly unveiled last week, use a system of sensors implanted near the brain which send signals to the robotic system, moving the patient’s legs and arms. Speaking to media in the French city of Grenoble, the 30-year-old patient, who was identified only by his first name, Thibault, said he had to re-educate to use his brain when he started to try the whole-body exoskeleton.

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  • As I hadn’t moved for two years I had to re-learn to use my brain,” he said. “At the beginning, walking was very difficult. Now I can stand up for two hours in the exoskeleton and I can do walking cycles for a very long time”, he also said. “This is a feat for me.”

In a two-year-long trial, two recording devices were implanted, one either side of Thibault’s head between the brain and the skin, spanning the region of the brain that controls sensation and motor function. Each recorder contained 64 electrodes which collected brain signals and transmitted them to a decoding algorithm. The system translated the brain signals into the movements the patient thought about, and sent his commands to the exoskeleton. Over 24 months, the patient carried out various mental tasks to train the algorithm to understand his thoughts and to progressively increase the number of movements he could make. For now the exoskeleton is purely an experimental prototype.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/

Bacteria Becomes Resistant When Exposed To Li-Ion Nanoparticles

Over the last two decades, nanotechnology has improved many of the products we use every day from microelectronics to sunscreens. Nanoparticles (particles that are just a few hundred atoms in size) are ending up in the environment by the ton, but scientists are still unclear about the long-term effects of these super-small nanoparticles. In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers have shown that nanoparticles may have a bigger impact on the environment than previously thought.

Researchers from the National Science Foundation Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology, led by scientists at the University of Minnesota, found that a common, non-disease-causing bacteria found in the environment, called Shewanella oneidensis MR-1, developed rapid resistance when repeatedly exposed to nanoparticles used in making lithium ion batteries, the rechargeable batteries used in portable electronics and electric vehicles. Resistance is when the bacteria can survive at higher and higher quantities of the materials, which means that the fundamental biochemistry and biology of the bacteria is changing.

At many times throughout history, materials and chemicals like asbestos or DDT have not been tested thoroughly and have caused big problems in our environment,” said Erin Carlson, a University of Minnesota chemistry associate professor in the University’s College of Science and Engineering and the lead author of the study. “We don’t know that these results are that dire, but this study is a warning sign that we need to be careful with all of these new materials, and that they could dramatically change what’s happening in our environment.”

Carlson said the results of this study are unusual because typically when we talk about bacterial resistance it is because we’ve been treating the bacteria with antibiotics. The bacteria become resistant because we are trying to kill them, she said. In this case, the nanoparticles used in lithium ion batteries were never made to kill bacteria.

The research is published in Chemical Science, a peer-reviewed journal of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Source: https://twin-cities.umn.edu/

How To Make Robots More Effective On The Future Battlefield

In an effort to make robots more effective and versatile teammates for Soldiers in combat, Army researchers are on a mission to understand the value of the molecular living functionality of muscle, and the fundamental mechanics that would need to be replicated in order to artificially achieve the capabilities arising from the proteins responsible for muscle contraction.

Bionanomotors, like myosins that move along actin networks, are responsible for most methods of motion in all life forms. Thus, the development of artificial nanomotors could be game-changing in the field of robotics research.

Researchers from the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command‘s Army Research Laboratory ‘(CCDC ARL) have been looking to identify a design that would allow the artificial nanomotor to take advantage of Brownian motion, the property of particles to agitatedly move simply because they are warm.

The CCDC ARL researchers believe understanding and developing these fundamental mechanics are a necessary foundational step toward making informed decisions on the viability of new directions in robotics involving the blending of synthetic biology, robotics, and dynamics and controls engineering.

Army researchers are on a mission to understand the value of the molecular ‘living’ functionality of muscle, and the fundamental mechanics that would need to be replicated in order to artificially achieve the capabilities arising from the proteins responsible for muscle contraction

By controlling the stiffness of different geometrical features of a simple lever-arm design, we found that we could use Brownian motion to make the nanomotor more capable of reaching desirable positions for creating linear motion,” said Dean Culver, a researcher in CCDC ARL’s Vehicle Technology Directorate. “This nano-scale feature translates to more energetically efficient actuation at a macro scale, meaning robots that can do more for the warfighter over a longer amount of time.”

These widely accepted muscle contraction models are akin to a black-box understanding of a car engine,” Culver explained. “More gas, more power. It weighs this much and takes up this much space. Combustion is involved. But, you can’t design a car engine with that kind of surface-level information. You need to understand how the pistons work, and how finely injection needs to be tuned. That’s a component-level understanding of the engine. We dive into the component-level mechanics of the built-up protein system and show the design and control value of living functionality as well as a clearer understanding of design parameters that would be key to synthetically reproducing such living functionality.”

Culver stated that the capacity for Brownian motion to kick a tethered particle from a disadvantageous elastic position to an advantageous one, in terms of energy production for a molecular motor, has been illustrated by ARL at a component level, a crucial step in the design of artificial nanomotors that offer the same performance capabilities as biological ones.

This research adds a key piece of the puzzle for fast, versatile robots that can perform autonomous tactical maneuver and reconnaissance functions,” Culver said. “These models will be integral to the design of distributed actuators that are silent, low thermal signature and efficient – features that will make these robots more impactful in the field.”

Culver noted that they are silent because the muscles don’t make a lot of noise when they actuate, especially compared to motors or servos, cold because the amount of heat generation in a muscle is far less than a comparable motor, and efficient because of the advantages of the distributed chemical energy model and potential escape via Brownian motion.

According to Culver, the breadth of applications for actuators inspired by the biomolecular machines in animal muscles is still unknown, but many of the existing application spaces have clear Army applications such as bio-inspired robotics, nanomachines and energy harvesting.

 

The Journal of Biomechanical Engineering recently featured their research.

Source: https://www.arl.army.mil/

First Russian Lab-grown Meat

Earlier this week, the Ochakov Food Ingredients Plant (OKPI), a Russian food innovation lab, announced it has produced the country’s first sample of cultivated meat. “Cultivated meat” is one of the terms used to indicate meat produced by in vitro cultivation of animal cells, without the need to slaughter any animal. In this case, the 40-gram sample was grown using the muscle tissue of an Aberdeen Angus calf. The project was carried out over a 2-year period and the sample cost 900,000 rubles (around $14,000) to produce, stated the lab in its press release.

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In vitro meat, also known as cultivated meat, is a very promising direction for the meat industry […] From our point of view, laboratory meat production has the most significant ethical significance for modern society, since we can refuse the slaughter of living creatures to obtain meat,” said Nikolai Shimanovsky, a molecular pharmacologist and the project’s head.

Barring legal impediments, the lab predicted that locally-produced cultivated meat may appear in Russian supermarkets by 2023 at a retail price of 800 rubles per kilo ($12). Meat supply per person in Russia grew from 39.86 kg in 2000 to 74.82 kg in 2013 and OECD-FAO projections estimate that it will grow steadily over the next 10 years.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/

Bacteria trapped — and terminated — by graphene filter

Airborne bacteria may see what looks like a comfy shag carpet on which to settle. But it’s a trapRice University scientists have transformed their laser-induced graphene (LIG) into self-sterilizing filters that grab pathogens out of the air and kill them with small pulses of electricity. The flexible filter developed by the Rice lab of chemist James Tour may be of special interest to hospitalsAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, patients have a 1-in-31 chance of acquiring a potentially antibiotic-resistant infection during hospitalization. The device described in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Nano captures bacteria, fungi, fungi, prions, endotoxins and other biological contaminants carried by droplets, aerosols and particulate matter. The filter then prevents the microbes and other contaminants from proliferating by periodically heating up to 350 degrees Celsius (662 degrees Fahrenheit), enough to obliterate pathogens and their toxic byproducts. The filter requires little power, and heats and cools within seconds.

LIG is a conductive foam of pure, atomically thin carbon sheets synthesized through heating the surface of a common polyimide sheet with an industrial laser cutter. The process discovered by Tour’s lab in 2014 has led to a range of applications for electronics, triboelectric nanogenerators, composites, electrocatalysis and even art. Like all pure graphene, the foam conducts electricity. When electrified, Joule heating raises the filter’s temperature above 300 C, enough to not only kill trapped pathogens but also to decompose toxic byproducts that can feed new microorganisms and activate the human immune system. The researchers suggested a single, custom-fit LIG filter could be efficient enough to replace the two filter beds currently required by federal standards for hospital ventilation systems.

Seen in an electron microscope image, micron-scale sheets of graphene created at Rice University form a two-layer air filter that traps pathogens and then kills them with a modest burst of electricity

So many patients become infected by bacteria and their metabolic products, which for example can result in sepsis while in the hospital,” Tour said. “We need more methods to combat the airborne transfer of not just bacteria but also their downstream products, which can cause severe reactions among patients.

“Some of these products, like endotoxins, need to be exposed to temperatures of 300 degrees Celsius in order to deactivate them,” a purpose served by the LIG filter, he added. “This could significantly lessen the transfer of bacteria-generated molecules between patients, and thereby lower the ultimate costs of patient stays and lessen sickness and death from these pathogens.”

The lab tested LIG filters with a commercial vacuum filtration system, pulling air through at a rate of 10 liters per minute for 90 hours, and found that Joule heating successfully sanitized the filters of all pathogens and byproducts. Incubating used filters for an additional 130 hours revealed no subsequent bacterial growth on the heated units, unlike control LIG filters that had not been heated.

Bacteria culturing experiments performed on a membrane downstream from the LIG filter indicated that bacteria are unable to permeate the LIG filter,” said Rice sophomore John Li, co-lead author of the paper with postdoctoral researcher Michael Stanford. Stanford noted the sterilization feature “may reduce the frequency with which LIG filters would need to be replaced in comparison to traditional filters.” Tour suggested LIG air filters could also find their way into commercial aircraft.

Source: https://news.rice.edu/