Boeing and HRL win Guinness World Record for world’s lightest metal

November 10, 2016 by  
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Boeing and HRL Laboratories created a metal microlattice that has been awarded the Guinness World Record for the world’s lightest metal . The entire structure of the microlattice is 99.99 percent air, making it 100 times lighter than styrofoam. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the new metal is not its light weight, but the fact that it was created to emulate human cell structure. It’s far from a bionic metal, but it illustrates that developing technology to mimic nature can help us achieve great things. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6N_4jGJADY While the weight of a material is often associated with its strength, that isn’t always the case. For many applications, the use of a lighter material can lend a number of benefits in terms of durability and flexibility, all important considerations where all sorts of structures are concerned. Like human bones, which are porous, the microlattice is incredibly strong despite being mostly air. Its spindly structure is capable of absorbing and distributing force to reduce damage. The team placed the metal microlattice atop the delicate head of a dandelion (already gone to seed) to demonstrate its ultra light weight. Related: Scientists develop world’s lightest metal, 100x times lighter than styrofoam Boeing’s new metal microlattice is made from nickel phosphorus and is approximately 100 times lighter than styrofoam. While the aerospace company is certainly looking forward to potential applications in commercial airplane wings, the lightweight yet durable microlattice could have other uses in vehicle engines, military protective gear, and possible even in the medical world. Because of the way the microlattice’s structure mimics porous human cells, it could someday be used to develop an artificial lung. The microlattice is the product of several years of research and development, and initially introduced in 2011 . The Guinness World Record was just awarded last year , after a long application and review process. Via ArchDaily Images via Boeing

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Boeing and HRL win Guinness World Record for world’s lightest metal

World’s first 3D-printed heart-on-a-chip could help end animal testing

October 25, 2016 by  
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When it comes to medical breakthroughs, the most exciting advances tend to involve technology that can lead to better and earlier diagnoses of various health problems , but breakthroughs that save animals are pretty good too. A team of Harvard University researchers has done just that by developing an entirely 3D-printed “heart-on-a-chip” that may some day eliminate animal testing in medical research. The innovation, which makes it possible to monitor heart performance, is the latest in a medical technology trend of building functional, synthetic replicas of living human organs in an effort to better understand how they work, or—more to the point—how they fail. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHhMlL9flMY Each organ-on-a-chip (also known as a “microphysiological system”) is constructed from a translucent, flexible polymer. The 3D-printed organs mimic the biological environment of our internal organs, and give scientists an up-close look at how they function. The heart-on-a-chip developed at Harvard can help researchers collect reliable data for short-term and long-term studies. Because the device is 3D-printed , scientists can easily customize its design to meet the specifications of their research, and the chips can be fabricated quickly. Related: See-through microchip organs help scientists test new drugs “This new programmable approach to building organs-on-chips not only allows us to easily change and customize the design of the system by integrating sensing but also drastically simplifies data acquisition,” said Johan Ulrik Lind, lead author and postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). Other Harvard research teams have developed microphysiological systems that mimic the microarchitecture and functions of lungs, hearts, tongues, and intestines. These synthetic organs could replace animal testing with a customizable and completely humane alternative that may also lead to more accurate results. Unfortunately, the cost for fabricating these organs-on-a-chip is still quite high, and the process is also time-consuming. Researchers are continuously pushing forward to improve their methods, though, in the hopes of making this a viable and cost-effective alternative toward the cruel practice of animal testing. The results of the team’s research were published this week in the journal Nature Materials. Via Gizmodo Images via Harvard University

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REI announces plan to close all 149 stores on Black Friday

October 25, 2016 by  
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Feeding the frenetic consumerism beast, Black Friday takes a hefty environmental toll each year. To combat the craziness, REI decided to close all 149 branches again this year with their #OptOutside campaign. They’ll pay their 12,287 employees and encourage participants to skip the mall and spend time in nature instead. Want to join in? Share your outdoor adventures on social media with the hashtag #OptOutside. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEVXU4RDUoI With the goal of creating new traditions for the Thanksgiving holiday, REI offers a green alternative through their #OptOutside campaign. To make it even easier for people to forgo shopping and spend time in nature, REI has created an outside activity finder online so people can find state parks or trails close to where ever they are spending Thanksgiving. Explorers can search for places to go hiking, climbing, mountain biking, skiing, or snowboarding. They can also filter for family- or dog-friendly activities. Related: California and Minnesota state parks are free on Black Friday CEO Jerry Stritzke said in a statement, “This year, REI will shut down on both Thanksgiving and Black Friday because fundamentally we believe that being outside makes us our best selves – healthier and happier, physically and mentally. But as a nation we’re still spending over 90 percent of our lives indoors and it’s a trend we need to tackle. I love that there is a community of people in this country who dedicate their lives to that mission, so together, we are asking America, ‘Will you go out with us?'” 275 local and national organizations will join REI to promote the #OptOutside campaign through activities or social media posts, including Subaru, Google, and Meetup. For example, Subaru will offer pet owners in New York City shuttle rides for them and their dogs out of the urban jungle to nature, and will drive shelter dogs to the outdoors to spend time outside of their cages. You can check out the full list of #OptOutside partners here . + REI #OptOutside Images via REI Facebook and REI

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REI announces plan to close all 149 stores on Black Friday

New $150 gadget lets your smartphone detect cancer with laboratory precision

October 20, 2016 by  
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While smartphone spectrometers are already being used to help detect cancer, they have only been able to evaluate one sample at a time, making the work slow and tedious. A breakthrough by a Washington State University research team led to the creation of a low-cost multichannel smartphone spectrometer that uses optical sensors to scan multiple samples simultaneously . The team, led by Lei Li, assistant professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, found their spectrometer to be highly accurate and sensitive, thanks to the custom prism array designed especially for this device. The WSU team has created a device, perhaps the first of its kind, with the same sensitivity level as existing laboratory equipment, capable of detecting proteins and cancer biomarkers with a high degree of accuracy. The team used a customized prism array they built through a hybrid manufacturing process, which makes it possible for the smartphone spectrometer to scan several samples at once in search of cancer biomarkers. The eight-channel smartphone spectrometer can detect human interleukin-6 (IL-6), a known biomarker for lung, prostate, liver, breast and epithelial cancers. Related: World’s first pocket spectrometer lets you measure the molecular makeup of nearly anything The smartphone-based cancer screening device is also a cost-effective solution, with a price tag around $150. The design was based on the iPhone 5, but the team is currently working to make it compatible with other smartphone models. A portable, low-cost spectrometer that produces lab quality results is just the sort of device in high demand in rural areas and especially in developing countries where hospitals lack high-tech cancer screening equipment or are absent altogether. The team’s research was funded by the National Science Foundation along with a WSU startup fund, and the report on their results was recently published in the journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics. Via WSU Images via Wikipedia and Lei Li/WSU

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New $150 gadget lets your smartphone detect cancer with laboratory precision

Brain implants allow paralyzed man to feel his fingertips again

October 14, 2016 by  
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New brain implant technology has given a paralyzed man a whole new lease on life. Since a devastating car accident a decade ago, Nathan Copeland hasn’t been able to feel his hands and fingers. That all changed after scientists implanted chips into his brain to give him sensation through a prosthetic arm . Nathan can not only move and manipulate objects using his mind, but also feel when the robotic fingers are touched. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center recently published their findings in the journal Science Translational Medicine . They believe the innovative technique could ensure future prosthetics include physical touch sensations, which is an essential part of holding, squeezing, and gripping everyday objects. Related: Mind-controlled robotic arm to transform the lives of the paralyzed Two arrays of electrodes were implanted into Nathan’s sensory cortex, allowing him to manipulate objects with his mind. The revolutionary part is the additional two electrode arrays implanted into his sensory cortex. After a month, he started to feel “like I was getting my fingers touched or pushed.” He was also able to identify which finger was being touched when blindfolded. Right now the implant is being evaluated by the FDA, as is done with any new medical device. The researchers behind the study are still unsure how the technology can be applied to become a part of a portable prosthesis , as the system now involves a separate robotic appendage, lots of cables, and a bunch of desktop computers. Nathan has expressed his excitement about the advancement, citing Luke Skywalker’s instantaneous, fully-functional hand replacement; he says such an apparatus could be “not even that far in the future.” Via The Verge Images via University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (screen shot)

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Brain implants allow paralyzed man to feel his fingertips again

Apple’s new Regent Street store is filled with daylight and living trees

October 14, 2016 by  
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Apple’s new Regent Street store designed in collaboration between Foster + Partners , Jonathan Ive and Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s senior vice president of retail. Located in a nineteenth-century building with a restored Grade II-listed facade , the new interior pays homage to the area’s architectural heritage and traditional craftsmanship. Related: Apple unveils nature-filled, solar-powered future for its retail stores worldwide The tree-filled, double-height grand hall creates a kind of town square that invites people to mingle, check out the products and socialize. Accentuating transparency and accessibility, the Regent Street store is bathed in natural light which improves visual connections between the two levels. Portland stone adorns the interior of the wall facade, while luminous ceiling panels-the longest in the world, according to Apple-cover the entire ceiling. Related: Foster + Partners Unveils Istanbul’s First Apple Store The interior features a warm material palette, with stone, wood and terrazzo creating a dynamic interplay of textures. Display tables are placed along a new interactive wall display called The Avenue. The center of the space is called The Forum, where customers can learn from experts and enjoy different entertainment content. A new meeting space and Apple’s Genius Bar is located on the mezzanine level. The new store will open to customers on Saturday. + Foster + Partners

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Apple’s new Regent Street store is filled with daylight and living trees

Student discovers a way to destroy superbug bacteria without antibiotics

September 28, 2016 by  
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A 25-year-old student has discovered a way to destroy antibiotic-resistant bacteria without pummeling them with more antibiotics . Shu Lam successfully destroyed superbugs in lab tests using a star-shaped polymer that literally rips the cells to shreds. This breakthrough could signal a complete overhaul in how the medical community approaches these deadly bacteria . Currently, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, including Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus ( MRSA ), kill 700,000 people per year. Scientists are worried that number could skyrocket to 10 million by the year 2050 , so they’re searching for ways to successful intervene before more damage is done. University of Melbourne student Shu Lam believes she may have found a solution. Related: ‘Nightmare’ bacteria found in the U.S. resists all known antibiotics Her study , published in Nature Microbiology , details the mechanism of SNAPPs, or structurally nanoengineered antimicrobial peptide polymers . SNAPPs work by directly targeting, attacking, and destabilizing the cell membranes of superbugs. They are large enough that they do not affect healthy cells, which are affected by conventional approaches that “poison” the bacteria. So far, Lam has successfully tested SNAPPs on six different strains of superbugs in a laboratory setting, and one in live mice. In each experiment, the nasty bacteria were all killed and did not develop resistance to the polymers in future generations. The development is still in its early phases, yet Lam and her team believe they are onto something big. Via Science Alert Images via Wikipedia , Flickr

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Student discovers a way to destroy superbug bacteria without antibiotics

Shining lasers on human blood could help detect tumors

September 6, 2016 by  
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A team of University of Michigan researchers have discovered how to use lasers to see intricate cell structure and activity in human blood. Shining laser light on whole human blood combined with a fluorescent dye reveals incredible detail, according to the researchers, leading to hope the technology can improve how doctors monitor cell activity in the body, including how to identify tumors. The researchers, led by Biomedical Engineering professor Xudong (Sherman) Fan, tested out their technique by shining a laser into a cavity containing whole human blood mixed with Indocyanine green, a medical dye used in diagnostic tests. By examining the light reflected back at them, they discovered they could see changes happening to the cells all the way down to the molecular level. Related: Scientists reprogram E. coli bacteria to attack tumor cells The precise picture allows observers to see the even smallest changes and to tune out unnecessary background details. Even though the technique has only been used outside the human body, the researchers are hopeful it can be applied in the future to living tissue . Medical teams could be able to more accurately monitor cell activity in the body, as well as see how widely blood vessel-fed tumors expand when performing surgery to remove them. + University of Michigan Via Daily Mail Images via Pixabay , University of Michigan

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Giant paper boats use holographic photovoltaic cells to boost California coral growth

September 6, 2016 by  
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A team from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania envisions a bold new world where giant paper boats float off Santa Monica Pier, harnessing solar energy to revitalize California’s coastal ecology. Another finalist of LAGI 2016: Santa Monica , an international design competition that promotes renewable energy and public art, Paper Boats is designed to harness solar energy using concentrated photovoltaics (CPV), reflectors, and Holographic Planar Concentrator (HPC) technology. Unlike other energy and water-generating designs, this energy is redirected to accelerate coral growth. And if you are weary of designs that don’t yet exist, note that LAGI’s competition guidelines require all entries to be technologically and physically feasible. In this way, Paper Boats, The Pipe, and other LAGI designs symbolize potential applications of existing technology . “Throughout the years, over-hunting and over-fishing of some key species have allowed purple urchin to graze on the kelp without competition, Christopher Makrinos, Stephen Makrinos, and Alexander Bishop write in their design brief. “This has led to “urchin barrens,” which offer little in the way of genetic diversity, food, or nesting habitats. Paper Boats has reversed this trend by establishing pockets of coral and kelp (once commonplace here) within underwater “shipwreck” frames that anchor each boat to the historic breakwater.” The team adds that in a process known as accretion, the “shipwrecks” mirror the sculptures above, promoting coral growth . A trickle of direct current electricity produced by the sails, or solar collectors, flows through the rebar, and accelerates coral growth that is said to be five times faster than normal. Paper Boats designers say that accretion was first observed by Wolf Hilbertz. Related: Solar-powered pipe desalinizes 1.5 billion gallons of drinking water for California Every boat has four sails. The outer shell uses Fresnel lenses to direct light, while the sail as a whole acts as a concentrated photovoltaic collector . It has an annual capacity of 2,400 MWh. Holographic photovoltaic cells beneath the sails use laser-etched glazing and bi-facial silicone panels to harness sunlight from both directions “with incredible efficiency.” The iridescent sails refract light, a special bonus for people visiting Santa Monica Pier during sunset. “The solar panels are attached to a ceramic-cladded aluminum framework,” the designers continue. “The structure conceals the CPV conduits and acts as a passive heat sink. A trickle of energy is diverted to the “shipwrecks” before entering the main conduit.” “This small charge provides a catalyst for coral growth, strengthening the local marine ecosystem .” + LAGI 2016: Santa Monica

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Giant paper boats use holographic photovoltaic cells to boost California coral growth

Stanford students take on dangerous superbugs

August 10, 2016 by  
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Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, or “ superbugs ,” are one of the biggest challenges of the medical community. They are popping up at faster rates as antibiotic use increases, causing serious alarm among professionals familiar with their power. A few undergraduate students from Stanford University believe they may be on to a revolutionary idea that could kill off some of the most dangerous superbugs out there. Last fall, students Zach Rosenthal, Christian Choe and Maria Filsinger Interrante entered a Stanford University competition to provide solutions for major healthcare problems. Their idea of developing a set of proteins to annihilate antibiotic-resistant bacteria won them a $10,000 grant to test their hypotheses. “As soon as I started to read literature about multidrug-resistant bacteria, I decided it was a huge need area and interestingly neglected by the pharmaceutical industry,” said now-graduated Filsinger Interrante. She says that a smaller market size, lower profitability, and seeming inevitability of drug resistance lowers manufacturers’ enthusiasm about producing new antibiotics . Related: Dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria found in food products for the first time The specifics of their project are being kept secret, yet Rosenthal explains the mechanism of their attack, “We target something that’s essential to bacterial survival.” Preliminary reports of their tests are successful and the team hopes to continue working toward finding the Achilles heel for Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Acinetobacter baumannii , two of the most drug-resistant and fatal superbugs existing today. Via NPR , Stanford News Images via Pexels, Stanford University

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