We’ve come to expect impossible, even improbable standards of beauty to populate our magazines and our television shows. It’s another thing entirely to find they’ve invaded our workplace.
SciO might not have the most airtight use case, but I’m sure we’ll think of something.
Any nerd can appreciate the appeal of the “tricorder” device made famous by Kirk, Spock, Scotty, and other characters from Star Trek. Point it at prett…
Wow, their Kickstarter is already $2 million over their original goal of $200k.
Conceptually, bioelectronics is straightforward: Get the nervous system to tell the body to heal itself. But of course it’s not that simple. “What we’re trying to do here is completely novel,” says Pedro Irazoqui, a professor of biomedical engineering at Purdue University, where he’s investigating bioelectronic therapies for epilepsy. Jay Pasricha, a professor of medicine and neurosciences at Johns Hopkins University who studies how nerve signals affect obesity, diabetes and gastrointestinal-motility disorders, among other digestive diseases, says, “What we’re doing today is like the precursor to the Model T.”
Scientists have created a sonic tractor beam. And it’s not simply an amazing proof of concept: This beam pulls with a billion times more force and can tow objects a million times larger than previous schemes for tractor beams. Tractor beams are staples of science fiction, projected from the Death Star in Star Wars and the Enterprise in Star Trek. The term was coined by sci-fi author and chemical engineer E.E. “Doc” Smith in 1931. In reality, scientists have previously succeeded in using light and sound waves to push and pull objects around on the microscopic level. For example, take laser-based optical tweezers, in which light imparts a slight push or pull on an item. Since the forces involved are small, these devices are used for moving things of correspondingly tiny size, including cells. Now acoustical engineers, led by Christine Démoré and Patrick Dahl at the University of Dundee in Scotland, have developed an acoustic tractor beam that can reel in centimeter-size objects.
A new “GPS” for your DNA can track your where your ancestors lived a millennium ago, and much more accurately than previous methods—down to the exact village in some cases. The GPS method stands for Geographic Population Structure, and is a play on words as it helps you find your way home, just not the home you currently live in, explain the researchers behind the method, Ehran Elhaik of Sheffield University and Tatiana Tatarinova of the University of Southern California.
According to their study published this week in Nature, the tool has traced DNA origins with 98 percent accuracy, while previous methods were often off by 700 km, which is a whole different country in some parts of the world. But when researchers applied their GPS-based approach to over 200 Sardinian villagers, they were able to place a quarter of them in their villages of genetic origin, and the rest within 50 km.
The increased accuracy of the new model is based on a simple, if controversial, assumption made by the study authors: that race doesn’t exist.
“The model of races is incorrect and should be dismissed,” Elhaik told me in an email. Up until now, tracing genetic origins assumed that people could be typified as a mix of two to three defined races, presupposing a homogenous “European” identity, Elhaik said.
“By contrast, GPS represents a paradigm shift in population genetics whereby all populations are considered admixed to various degrees.”
oh my god they did it!
A very innovative idea to turn salt water into potable water.
The Disrupteneur of the day award goes to Gabriele Diamanti. This is beautiful story
“Projects ‘for the 90%’ mostly fall somewhere between two extremes: charity and business,” designer Gabriele Diamanti tells Co.Design. “Neither was my inspiration!” Instead, spurred on by his own extensive travel and friends’ involvement in NGOs, he developed a fascination with global water scarcity as a graduate student at Milan Polytechnic in 2005; he recently decided to pursue his interest again and the result is Eliodomestico, an open-source variation on a solar still.
It functions by filling the black boiler with salty sea water in the morning, then tightening the cap. As the temperature and pressure grows, steam is forced downwards through a connection pipe and collects in the lid, which acts as a condenser, turning the steam into fresh water. Once Diamanti established the fundamentals were sound, he experimented with a series of concepts for the aesthetic of the object. “My goal was to design something friendly and recognizable for the users,” he explains. “The process developed quite naturally to determine the current shape; every detail is there for a reason, so the form, as well as production techniques, represent a compromise between technical and traditional.” Primary field studies in sub-Saharan Africa revealed the habit of carrying goods on the head—also a common practice in other areas around the world—and this was integrated into Eliodomestico’s plan. And while solar stills aren’t a totally new concept, Diamanti says it’s rare to find them in a domestic context rather than in missions or hospitals, or as large plants overseen by qualified personnel that serve entire communities. “I tried to make something for a real household that could be operated directly by the families,” he says.
The project recently won a Core77 Design Award for Social Impact; already, Diamanti has received international feedback, and hopes to see locals adapt and modify the design to take advantage of their own readily available materials and native environments. “The idea is that instructions for the project can be delivered to craftsmen” with the help of NGOs, he says, then a micro-credit program could be established to finance small-scale start-ups specializing in production. “So the NGO is the spark, micro-credit is the fuse, the local craftsmen are the bomb!”
“This animation shows the prototype starshade, a giant structure designed to block the glare of stars so that future space telescopes can take pictures of planets.”
(That last GIF is a prototype,..it’s like we’re using the natural mechanics of flower petals for space..so awesome.)
One day this may be used to take the first picture of another Earth.
Today, scientists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics announced they’ve found evidence of the big bang that they’ve been seeking for decades: gravitational waves in the cosmic microwave background (CMB). The research team at the BICEP2 facility in Antarctica made the discovery, which not only backs up the inflation theory behind the big bang in which the universe expanded rapidly right after its birth, but also will shape our understanding of physics and the origins of the universe for years to come.