The Miracle of Bionics – Presenting Challenging Questions

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 Oscar Pitorius – the “blade runner”

Oscar Pistorius – also known as ‘Blade Runner’ – is a double leg amputee who is using specially developed artificial legs to compete in races. A world record holder in the 100, 200 and 400 meters Paralympic events, Pistorius was denied by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) his application to participate in the 2008 Summer Olympics. The IAAF argued that his prosthetic racing legs give him a clear competitive advantage. On May 16, the IAAF’s decision was overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, allowing Pistorius to participate in the Olympics if he could make the minimum qualifying time.
This episode drives home the monumental issues our society will be facing in the not too distant future thanks to our increasing technological ability to enhance the human body.

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Childhood Exposure to Lead Linked to Adult Crime

 Childhood Exposure to Lead Linked to Adult Crime

Possibles sources of lead poisoning

In what may be the strongest link yet between lead exposure and crime rates, researchers at the University of Cincinnati on Tuesday released new evidence, spanning more than 20 years, that draws a direct relationship between the amount of lead in a child’s blood and the likelihood he or she will commit crimes as an adult.

 

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Stanford Builds Better Chip With Carbon Nanoribbon Technology

 Stanford Builds Better Chip With Carbon Nanoribbon Technology

 Y-shaped nanotubes are ready-made transistors

For the first time, a research team led by Hongjie Dai, the J. G. Jackson and C. J. Wood Professor of Chemistry, has made transistors called “field-effect transistors”-a critical component of computer chips-with graphene that can operate at room temperature. Graphene is a form of carbon derived from graphite. Other graphene transistors, made with wider nanoribbons or thin films, require much lower temperatures.

“For graphene transistors, previous demonstrations of field-effect transistors were all done at liquid helium temperature, which is 4 Kelvin [-452 Fahrenheit],” said Dai, the lead investigator. His group’s work is described in a paper published online in the May 23 issue of the journal Physical Review Letters.

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New Robotic Tweezers Can Grab A Single Human Cell

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The University of Toronto in Canada has developed a pair of robotic grippers that can apply as little of 20 nanoNewtons of force on an object, using its three-millimeters-long arms to grab cells 10 micrometers across and transport them. What’s more, the gripper has sensors that allow it to know how hard it’s grabbing something and keep it from running into things – an important development for robotic grippers.

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Nanotech Venture Capital is Out of Sync with Returns

Nanotech Venture Capital is Out of Sync with Returns

 Nanomedical start-ups generate 77% of returns but get only 27% of investment

Venture capital (VC) firms invested $702 million in nanotechnology start-ups last year across 61 deals, slightly down from $738 million across 73 deals in 2006. But this VC spending is sharply out of sync with investment returns. Although application-oriented life-sciences companies have delivered the majority of VC returns in nanotech, VC firms consistently devote most of their funding to companies in other areas, according to a new report from Lux Research entitled “How Venture Capitalists Are Misplaying Nanotech.”  

 

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Targeting Tumors with Tiny ‘Nanoworms’

Targeting Tumors with Tiny ‘Nanoworms’

 Segmented “nanoworms” composed of magnetic iron oxide and
coated with a polymer are able to find and attach to tumors.

Scientists at UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara and MIT have developed nanometer-sized “nanoworms” that can cruise through the bloodstream without significant interference from the body’s immune defense system and—like tiny anti-cancer missiles—home in on tumors.

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Nano-Bandages Used to Stop Severe Bleeding

Nano-Bandages Used to Stop Severe Bleeding

 New gauze material is infused with nanoparticles to quickly stop bleeding

Medical gauze has received its first upgrade since World War I. Chemists have infused it with nanoparticles derived from kaolin clay, which somehow give it an amazing ability to stop severe bleeding. It was developed when the Navy approached a team of inorganic chemists at the University of California Santa Barbara to solve a problem with QuikClot, a zeolite-based hemostatic agent that became way too hot and caused burns when it came in contact with water or blood. While performing blood clotting tests, they realized that kaolin clay, which has been used as a control for clotting experiments since the 1950’s, could also be used as a first aid product.

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