228 posts tagged future
Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google and a donor of €700,000 to Post’s research,
A device the size of an espresso machine quietly whirs to life. The contraption isn’t filled with fresh, pungent grounds but, instead, spoonfuls of opaque, sterile goo. Its robotic arm moves briskly: It hovers, lowers, and then repositions a pair of syringes over six petri dishes. In short, rapid-fire bursts, they extrude the milky paste. Soon, three little hexagons form in each dish. After a few minutes, the hexagons grow to honeycomb structures the size of fingernails. No one here is getting a latte anytime soon. The honeycombs are human livers, says Sharon Presnell, chief technology officer of Organovo—or at least the foundations of them. The tiny masterpieces of biomedical engineering are nearly identical to tissue samples from real human livers, and they are constructed from actual human cells. But instead of growing them, scientists in the gleaming, 15,000-square-foot headquarters of Organovo print them, just as they would a document. Or, more accurately, just as they’d print a scale model. In two decades, 3-D printing has grown from a niche manufacturing process to a $2.7-billion industry, responsible for the fabrication of all sorts of things: toys, wristwatches, airplane parts, food. Now scientists are working to apply similar 3-D–printing technology to the field of medicine, accelerating an equally dramatic change. But it’s much different, and much easier, to print with plastic, metal, or chocolate than to print with living cells. “It’s been a tough slog in some ways, but we’re at a tipping point,” says Dean Kamen, founder of DEKA Research & Development, who holds more than 440 patents, many of them for medical devices. In labs around the world, bioengineers have begun to print prototype body parts: heart valves, ears, artificial bone, joints, menisci, vascular tubes, and skin grafts. “If you have a compass and a straight edge, everything you draw is a box or a circle,” Kamen says. “When you get better tools, you start thinking in different ways. We now have the ability to play at a level we couldn’t play at before.” From 2008 to 2011, the number of scientific papers referencing bioprinting nearly tripled. Investment in the field has spiked as well. Since 2007, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health has awarded $600,000 in grants to bioprinting projects. Last year, Organovo, raised $24.7 million in equity. Three factors are driving the trend: more sophisticated printers, advances in regenerative medicine, and refined CAD software. To print the liver tissue at Organovo, Vivian Gorgen, a 25-year-old systems engineer, simply had to click “run program” with a mouse. Honeycomb-shaped liver tissue is a long way from a fully functioning organ, but it is a tangible step in that direction. “Getting to a whole organ-in-a-box that’s plug-and-play and ready to go, I believe that could happen in my lifetime,” says Presnell. “I cannot wait to see what people like Vivian do. The potential is just out of this world.” (via How 3-D Printing Body Parts Will Revolutionize Medicine | Popular Science)
Audi fleet shuttle quattro featured in film demonstrates futuristic design
Futuristic, progressive, cutting-edge: The Audi design team has created a car specifically for Summit Entertainment’s film adaptation of the award-winning, best-selling novel “Ender’s Game.” The visionary design makes the Audi fleet shuttle quattro fit into the world of the science fiction feature film and combines futuristic design with groundbreaking technology.
Could the Government Get a Search Warrant for Your Thoughts?
We don’t have a mind reading machine. But what if we one day did? The technique of functional MRI (fMRI), which measures changes in localized brain activity over time, can now be used to infer information regarding who we are thinking about, what we have seen, and the memories we are recalling. As the technology for inferring thought from brain activity continues to improve, the legal questions regarding its potential application in criminal and civil trials are gaining greater attention. Last year, a Maryland man on trial for murdering his roommate tried to introduce results from an fMRI-based lie detection test to bolster his claim that the death was a suicide. The court ruled (PDF) the test results inadmissible, noting that the “fMRI lie detection method of testing is not yet accepted in the scientific community.” In a decision last year to exclude fMRI lie detection test results submitted by a defendant in a different case, the Sixth Circuit was even more skeptical, writing (PDF) that “there are concerns with not only whether fMRI lie detection of ‘real lies’ has been tested but whether it can be tested.” So far, concerns regarding reliability have kept thought-inferring brain measurements out of U.S. (but not foreign) courtrooms. But is technology the only barrier? Or, if more mature, reliable brain scanning methods for detecting truthfulness and reading thoughts are developed in the future, could they be employed not only by defendants hoping to demonstrate innocence but also by prosecutors attempting to establish guilt? Could prosecutors armed with a search warrant compel an unwilling suspect to submit to brain scans aimed at exploring his or her innermost thoughts? (via Could the Government Get a Search Warrant for Your Thoughts? - John Villasenor - The Atlantic)
A week tomorrow, at an exclusive west London venue, the most expensive beefburger in history will be nervously cooked and served before an invited audience. Costing somewhere in the region of £250,000, the 5oz burger will be composed of synthetic meat, grown in a laboratory from the stem cells of a slaughtered cow.
The scientist behind the “in vitro” burger believes synthetic meat could help to save the world from the growing consumer demand for beef, lamb, pork and chicken. The future appetite for beef alone, for instance, could easily lead to the conversion of much of the world’s remaining forests to barren, manicured pastures by the end of this century.
The precious patty will be made of some 3,000 strips of artificial beef, each the size of a rice grain, grown from bovine stem cells cultured in the laboratory. Scientists believe the public demonstration will be “proof of principle”, possibly leading to artificial meat being sold in supermarkets within five to 10 years.
Stem cells taken from just one animal could, in theory, be used to make a million times more meat than could be butchered from a single beef carcass. The reduction in the need for land, water and feed, as well as the decrease in greenhouse gases and other environmental pollutants, would change the environmental footprint of meat eating.
Artificial meat could make a carnivorous diet more acceptable to the green movement as well as to vegetarians opposed to livestock farming on animal-welfare grounds. Animal-rights organisations have already given their qualified approval to the idea, and some vegetarians have said they would be happy to eat it given its semi-detached status from the real thing. (via Special report: ‘In vitro’ beef - it’s the meat of the future - Science - News - The Independent)
World’s first lab-grown burger to be cooked and eaten
The world’s first lab-grown burger is to be unveiled and eaten at a news conference in London on Monday.
Scientists took cells from a cow and, at an institute in the Netherlands, turned them into strips of muscle which they combined to make a patty. Researchers say the technology could be a sustainable way of meeting what they say is a growing demand for meat. Critics say that eating less meat would be an easier way to tackle predicted food shortages. BBC News has been granted exclusive access to the laboratory where the meat was grown in a project costing £215,000. Prof Mark Post of Maastricht University, the scientist behind the burger, said: “Later today we are going to present the world’s first hamburger made in a lab from cells. We are doing that because livestock production is not good for the environment, it is not going to meet demand for the world and it is not good for animals”. But Prof Tara Garnett, head of the Food Policy Research Network at Oxford University, said decision-makers needed to look beyond technological solutions. “We have a situation where 1.4 billion people in the world are overweight and obese, and at the same time one billion people worldwide go to bed hungry,” she said. “That’s just weird and unacceptable. The solutions don’t just lie with producing more food but changing the systems of supply and access and affordability so not just more food but better food gets to the people who need it.” (via BBC News - World’s first lab-grown burger to be cooked and eaten)
The team that brought us the first neurally remote controlled beetle has a new paper out today proposing a huge step forward in brain-computer interfaces. In an article published the arXiv Quantitative Biology archive, Dongjin Seo, Michael Maharbiz, and colleagues from the University of California at Berkeley propose a system they call ‘Neural Dust’. Brain-computer interfaces today generally work by sticking electrodes into the brain. That runs into severe problems - all those electrodes cause trauma as they penetrate the brain, and leave wires that wind through and between the brain’s neurons, potentially attracting scar tissue or driving the brain to reject the implant. The proposed ‘Neural Dust’ system (and it’s just a proposal for now) would work differently. The authors propose sprinkling tiny dust-sized passive silicon sensors, about 100 microns across, throughout the human cortex. These sensors would be about as big around as the thickness of a human hair, and fabricated via a CMOS process, the same as used for many conventional computer chips. They’d be sprinkled through the cortex. Just outside the cortex but underneath the skull would be a larger chip, still only millimeters across, that would communicate with them via ultrasound. The use of ultrasound would let the neural dust particles send information pulses without disrupting the activity of neurons around them, and without needing to have any wires or electrodes getting in the way.
You Can Hold This Ice Cream of the Future in Your Bare Hands
A WikiPearl is a ball of ice cream surrounded by a flavored, edible skin. Image: Phase One Photography
In a little shop near the Louvre museum in Paris, a very strange type of ice cream is being sold. At the counter customers don’t order cups, cones or shakes; here they ask for WikiPearls, little donut hole-sized balls of ice cream that are covered in a flavored, protective skin. “People come in and say, ‘What’s this all about?’” says David Edwards, the mastermind behind WikiPearl and the newly opened WikiBar. It’s a very good question, actually. Much like Dippin’ Dots, the pearl-like ice cream that blew kids’ minds in the ‘90s, WikiPearls is angling to change the way we eat ice cream. But it’s not just frozen snacks that Edwards is looking to revolutionize—the Harvard bioengineering professor has bigger plans than that. (via You Can Hold This Ice Cream of the Future in Your Bare Hands | Wired Design | Wired.com)
Aaron Saenz: I, For One, Welcome Our New Robot Overlords
Aaron Saenz is a former physicist, an improvisational actor, and a tech journalist. He currently writes for SingularityHub.com, covering everything from crowd-sourced holographic Japanese pop stars to open source research robotics. He’s also the host of Singularity Hub’s Accelerated Tech News, a new video recap of the week’s top stories in science and technology. Follow his work on Twitter: @adsaenz
@ BAASICS.2: The Future (by BAASICSsf)