So, you are well aware that biotech will drive our evolution, you took the crash course on synthetic genomics, you’ve got your map of the DNA world in your backpack and are now eager to redesign some microbes that turn waste into energy, eat plastic, detect flu, or build a better being altogether? You have a brilliant project plan already, but only need some – let say– euro 25.000 and a bit of help from a research group to turn your vision into reality? We have cake for you.
Another breakthrough in the fusion of the made and the born: the world’s first completely artificial heart was recently transplanted in France in a patient nearing the end of his life.
Lithium-battery powered and self-regulating, the heart mimics the human organ like no other device. It is made from soft biomaterials and functions with the aid of a multitude of sensors designed to copy every little detail of a real beating heart, explain its chief engineers Alain Carpentier and Philippe Pouletty. This transplant is a significant moment for regenerative medicine, representing the first viable alternative to a real transplanted heart.
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Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) has one major benefit over traditional gasoline – it’s cheap. About 1/3 of the cost, to be exact. Unfortunately, it also has to be kept under very high pressure, which means that traditional gas tanks simply can’t stand up to it. Until now, the only way to store CNG fuel has been in reinforced plain geometric cylinders. Used for their strength, they also take up valuable space and weigh quite a lot. Chrysler is trying to find a better way, using human lungs as inspiration. Enrico Pisino, Chrysler’s senior manager of innovation, explains that human lungs store oxygen in numerous small sacs called alveoli, and that his researchers are using this method to design new, stronger storage tanks.
Recently the internet has become fascinated with a fruit fly found in the United Arab Emirates whose wings appear to have an ornate pattern deliberately resembling an ant-like insect. With some experts confirming that the pattern indeed represents an ant, the image has been explained in a different light by Morgan D. Jackson, an entomology student at the University of Guelph in Canada.
Do you remember the invisible headphone implants directly grafted in the ears? Nowadays it seems everyone can become a DIY cyborg. The latest experiment in body modification was made by the biohacker Tim Cannon. Without any medical assistance he implanted directly under the skin of his arm a clearly visible computer chip that can record and transmit his biometrical data.
Scientists at Juntendo University in Tokyo have developed a practice called EUFI, extrauterine fetal incubation. In EUFI, the researchers take goat fetuses, thread catheters through the large vessels in the umbilical cord and supply the fetuses with oxygenated blood while suspending them in incubators that contain artificial amniotic fluid heated to body temperature.
It may seem that Aldous Huxley’s words from Brave New World have come to life: “One by one the eggs were transferred from their test-tubes to the larger containers; deftly the peritoneal lining was slit, the morula dropped into place, the saline solution poured . . . and already the bottle had passed on through an opening in the wall, slowly on into the Social Predestination Room”.
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If Apple is right we are making strides towards a future without passwords. We’ll only need our biometric data to access to our personal devices, services and websites, for instance using our fingerprints. It seems like we are going to identify ourselves with technology every day more.
In future electric cables could be made ??of spider webs. 100% natural electric cables, sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s possible! Researcher at National High Magnetic Field Laboratory of Tallahassee, Florida, found out that spider silk becomes a robust and flexible electricity conductor if coated with carbon nanotubes.
In the basement recording studio of the journal Nature scientist and broadcaster Adam Rutherford sat down with speculative architect Liam Young to discuss the mythical beasts of synthetic biology. Rutherford recently worked with the BBC on a series called the ‘Gene Code’ which explored the consequences of decoding the human genome. Recognizing the potential externalities of communicating science poorly, Rutherford works at conveying the poorly understood field of synthetic biology to a broader audience.