Tag Archives: biology

Nanotech tea bag creates safe drinking water instantly, for less than a penny

from io9:

A new “tea bag” uses nano-fibers to suck contaminants and bacteria out of water, providing a desperately-needed, cheap solution for the billions of people without clean drinking water.

Researchers at South Africa’s Stellenbosch University made the device from the same material used for the bags of the country’s popular rooibos tea. Inside the sachets are two tiny destroyers of all things unsafe: ultra-thin nanoscale fibers, which filter harmful contaminants, and bacteria-killing grains of carbon.

Researchers create biodegradable self-assembling DNA nanodevices that move and change shape

from Harvard Medical School:

By emulating nature’s design principles, a team at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute has created nanodevices made of DNA that self-assemble and can be programmed to move and change shape on demand.

In contrast to existing nanotechnologies, these programmable nanodevices are highly suitable for medical applications because DNA is both biocompatible and biodegradable.

The work appears in the June 20 advance online Nature Nanotechnology.

DNA nanomachines could be produced inexpensively in almost limitless quantities

from EurekAlert:

DURHAM, N.C. – In a single day, a solitary grad student at a lab bench can produce more simple logic circuits than the world’s entire output of silicon chips in a month.

So says a Duke University engineer, who believes that the next generation of these logic circuits at the heart of computers will be produced inexpensively in almost limitless quantities. The secret is that instead of silicon chips serving as the platform for electric circuits, computer engineers will take advantage of the unique properties of DNA, that double-helix carrier of all life’s information.

Artificial photosynthesis achieved with nanotechnology

Pure awesomeness from MIT:

A team of MIT researchers has found a novel way to mimic the process by which plants use the power of sunlight to split water and make chemical fuel to power their growth.

In this case, the team used a modified virus as a kind of biological scaffold that can assemble the nanoscale components needed to split the hydrogen and oxygen atoms of a water molecule.

Splitting water is one way to solve the basic problem of solar energy: It’s only available when the sun shines. By using sunlight to make hydrogen from water, the hydrogen can then be stored and used at any time to generate electricity using a fuel cell, or to make liquid fuels (or be used directly) for cars and trucks.

By 2020: 20 million chips implanted into living cells with computer controlled movement


What looks possible by 2020 if the research from five different research groups can be combined ?

Here is the five things to combine-

1. Montreal researchers have created computer controlled bacteria to make nanopyramids.

Magnetic nanoparticles under computer control – determine how the cilia operate.

2. Other researchers have placed 3 micron X 3 micron by half a micron chips inside living cells and

3. in the same article as number 2 other researchers have used magnetized nanoparticles to control cells and hold them in desired positions and shapes

4. From the exclusive nextbigufuture interview with an executive from Tilera, a company that makes One hundred core CPUs that use 7 times less energy for the same processing power as Intel chips.

Tilera forecast making 3D cube chips with 1000 cores by 2020.

5. Memristor-CMOS hybrid chips are close – probably first one commercial within 3 years.

Read on…

“Wet computer” that mimics neurons to be created

from whatisartificialintelligence.com:

The project “Wet computer” also known as Chemical or Molecular computing is a form of computational model that mimics the characteristics of the human cells, particularly the brain cells called neurons.

As described by Dr. Klaus-Peter Zauner, project collaborator of the University of Southampton, “wet computer” takes advantage of the lipid-forming characteristic of stable “cells” that forms a coating spontaneously and uses chemistry to establish interactions among these cells similar to that of human neurons.

Video: Computer-controlled bacteria build a miniature pyramid

from PopSci:

By using a computer-controlled magnetic field, the researchers turned the bacteria into fully-compliant biological nanorobots.

The trick was using a type of microbe known as magnetotactic bacteria. These critters have little internal compasses, and will follow the pull of a magnetic field. By manipulating a magnetic field, the researchers tricked the bacteria into forming a giant, computer-controlled swarm.

Photographic Memory coming soon in pill form

from Gizmondo:

Researchers have discovered that increasing production of a protein called RGS-14 could significantly boost visual memory.

Mice with the RGS-14 boost could remember objects they had seen for up to two months. Ordinarily the same mice would only be able to remember these objects for about an hour.

Video: Light-controlled mouse brain

from Singularity Hub:

What do you get when you combine microorganisms and fiber optics? Mind control over mice and rats.

A fiber optic cable is connected into a living mouse or rat with the spliced genes allowing scientists to expose different neurons to different lights.

Future bio-nanotechnology will use computer chips inside living cells

from nano werk:

With transistors the size of tens of nanometers, researchers have begun to explore the interface of biology and electronics by integrating nanoelectronic components and living cells.

If the current rate of miniaturization continues, by 2020 approximately 2,500 transistors – equivalent to microprocessors of the first generation of personal computers – could fit into the area of a typical living cell.

Human arm transmits 10mbps broadband signals

from NewScientist:

Researchers at Korea University in Seoul have transmitted data at a rate of 10 megabits per second through a person’s arm, between two electrodes placed on their skin 30 centimetres apart.

The thin, flexible electrodes use significantly less energy than a wireless link like Bluetooth. That’s because low-frequency electromagnetic waves pass through skin with little attenuation, a route that also shelters them from outside interference.

Telepathic computer can read your mind

from Telegraph.uk:

Telepathy has taken a step closer to reality after British scientists developed a computer that can read your thoughts.

The system is able to decipher thought patterns and tell what people are thinking simply by scanning the brain.The breakthrough is a step forward because it can delve into people’s memories and differentiate between different recollections.

The power of plant clock computing

from MIT’s Technology Review:

A newfound ability to model the complex feedback loops that control plant clocks could have important implications for computing.

One of the limitations of conventional thinking in computation is that computable functions proceed in a sequential manner, one independent step after another. When computer scientists talk of parallelism, they usually mean carrying out more than one of these independent linear computations at the same time.

In the biological world, things are more complex because steps in biological computations may not be independent.

Tiny chip made of paper diagnoses diseases and costs just a penny

from PopSci:

A Harvard University chemist has created a prototype “chip” technology out of paper that could help diagnose HIV, malaria, tuberculosis and other diseases for just a penny each time, according to CNN.

A drop of blood on one side of the paper chip results in a colorful tree-like pattern that tells physicians or nurses whether a person has certain diseases. Water-repellent comic-book ink helps channel the blood into the tree-like pattern, as several layers of treated paper react to the blood and create the telling colors.

Coming Soon: Flowers that can smell like anything

from Singularity Hub:

Ever wanted a rose that smelled like bananas? Maybe a petunia that reeked of root beer? Researchers at the University of Florida Gainesville have isolated 13 genes in flowers that key for the blossom’s fragrance.

According to a news release from UF and an interview in Discovery News, these scientists have already started work on tastier tomatoes, and their first crop of petunias that smell like roses are scheduled to blossom this summer.

Symposium: The future food supply – biotech, nanotech & synth-biology roles discussed

from ScienceDaily:

[...] Synthetic biology, nanotechnology, genetic engineering and other applications of biotechnology — and the public’s role in determining their acceptable uses — were all addressed by panelists during the session. [Association for the Advancement of Science]

“Unaided food production is an unattainable ideal — current society is irrevocably grounded in the technological interventions underpinning the agricultural revolution that now strives to feed the world,” Hill said.

More details on Invetech & printing 3D body parts

from Next Big Future: <- [Much more at link]

[...] The printer, developed by Invetech, fits inside a standard biosafety cabinet for sterile use. It includes two print heads, one for placing human cells, and the other for placing a hydrogel, scaffold, or support matrix.

Invetech plan to ship a number of 3D bio-printers to Organovo during 2010 and 2011 as a part of the instrument development program. Organovo will be placing the printers globally with researchers in centers of excellence for medical research.

DNA 2.0: A new operating system for life is created

from NewScientist:

A new way of using the genetic code has been created, allowing proteins to be made with properties that have never been seen in the natural world. The breakthrough could eventually lead to the creation of new or “improved” life forms incorporating these new materials into their tissue.

In the genetic code that life has used up to now, there are 64 possible triplet combinations of the four nucleotide letters; these genetic “words” are called codons. Each codon either codes for an amino acid or tells the cell to stop making a protein chain. Now Chin’s team have created 256 blank four-letter codons that can be assigned to amino acids that don’t even exist yet.

IFTF Health: ‘Biological previews’

from the Institute For the Future:

Looking for a way to see if a drug might give you side effects–without having to deal with the whole pesky process of experiencing those effects?

Science writer David Ewing Duncan highlights an experimental technology from Cell Dynamics International involving reverse engineering cells from the body, such as blood cells, into pluripotent stem cells, and then engineering them back into organ cells in order to test out how different stimuli and medications might impact one’s cells.

DIY biohacking gaining popularity

from H+ Magazine via  futurismic:

It‘s not just enhancement technology that can benefit from DIYbiology. As the popular distrust of doctors grows, people will want to understand and monitor their own body.

Likewise, as personalized medicine becomes a reality, we will probably see a rise in the number of hobbyists who treat their own bodies as machines to be worked on — like a radio or a car — branching out from personalized genomics to things like DIY stem cell extraction and manipulation, DIY prosthetics, DIY neural prosthetics and sensory enhancements (infrared vision, anyone?), immune system testing, and general tweaking of whatever system strikes the hobbyist‘s fancy.

This hacker‘s paradise has not yet come to pass, but it is, perhaps, our exciting future.

Personally, this sounds like it might be a little dangerous. What do you think?