Scientists create tattoo-like sensors that reveal blood oxygen levels

A silk film holding a chromophore and implanted under the skin will glow under UV light to reveal levels of oxygen in the blood.

by  Tufts University

People get tattoos to remember an event or a person, to make a statement, or simply as an aesthetic embellishment. But imagine a tattoo that could be functional—telling you how much oxygen you are using when exercising, measuring your blood glucose level at any time of day, or monitoring a number of different blood components or exposure to environmental toxins.

Now engineers at Tufts University have taken an important step toward making that happen with the invention of a silk-based material placed under the skin that glows brighter or dimmer under a lamp when exposed to different levels of oxygen in the blood. They reported their findings in Advanced Functional Materials.

The novel sensor, which currently is limited to reading oxygen levels, is made up of a gel formed from the protein components of silk, called fibroin. The silk fibroin proteins have unique properties that make them especially compatible as an implantable material.

When they are re-assembled into a gel or film, they can be adjusted to create a structure that lasts under the skin from a few weeks to over a year. When the silk does break down, it is compatible with the body and unlikely to invoke an immune response.

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Nuclear-Powered Vessel Named Thor Could Be Next Generation Of Sea Travel

A potential answer to a sustainable cruise ship industry has been announced in the shape of a nuclear-powered vessel named Thor.

By Anamarija Brnjarchevska

A potential answer to a sustainable cruise ship industry has been announced in the shape of a nuclear-powered vessel named Thor.

Norway-based company Ulstein say the eye-catching 149m (489ft) replenishment, research and rescue ship concept is powered by a thorium Molten Salt Reactor (MSR) that can be used to recharge battery-driven cruise ships at sea.

This enables the vessel to operate as a mobile power/charging station for a new breed of battery driven cruise ships.

Ulstein claim Thor’s charging capacity has been scaled to satisfy the power needs of four expedition cruise ships simultaneously. Thor itself would never need to refuel. As such, the ship is intended to provide a blueprint for entirely self-sufficient vessels of the future.

“The vessel concept is capable of making the vision of zero-emission cruise operations a reality,” the firm states.

Ulstein believes the concept may be the missing piece of the zero emissions puzzle for a broad range of maritime and ocean industry applications.

To demonstrate its feasibility, Ulstein has also developed the Ulstein Sif concept, a 100m-long, 160 POB capacity, zero-emission expedition cruise ship. This Ice Class 1C vessel will run on next-generation batteries, utilising Thor to recharge while at sea.

Sif would accommodate up to 80 passengers and 80 crew, offering silent, zero-emission expedition cruises to remote areas, including Arctic and Antarctic waters.

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Ulstein reveals thorium-powered ship concept to support ecocruising

The nuclear-powered Thor concept

By David Szondy

Norway-based marine group Ulstein has introduced Thor, its concept design for a 149-m (489-ft) replenishment, research and rescue (3R) ship powered by a thorium Molten Salt Reactor (MSR) that can be used to recharge battery-driven cruise ships at sea.

As environmental consciousness grows, ecotourism has become a booming business, but with the desire to visit exotic environments comes the need to protect these often under-threat locations. This is particularly urgent for cruise ships going into the polar regions, which are notoriously fragile.

Polar cruises not only have to deal with the intrinsic needs to protect the Arctic and Antarctic coastal regions, but also meet increasingly stringent government regulations and pressure from environmental groups. On top of this, icy seas make refueling ships away from port difficult, expensive, and potentially damaging to the surrounding area.

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Stanford’s Futuristic Gravity Telescope Could Image Exoplanets – 1,000x More Powerful Than Current Technology

An example of a reconstruction of Earth, using the ring of light around the Sun, projected by the solar gravitational lens. The algorithm that enables this reconstruction can be applied to exoplanets for superior imaging. Credit: Alexander Madurowicz

By EMILY MOSKAL

A futuristic “gravity telescope” technique conceptualized by Stanford astrophysicists could enable astronomical imaging significantly more advanced than any present today.

In the time since the first exoplanet was discovered in 1992, astronomers have discovered more than 5,000 planets orbiting other stars. However, when astronomers detect a new exoplanet, we learn relatively little about it: we know that it exists and a few features about it, but the rest is a mystery.

To sidestep the physical constraints of telescopes, Stanford University astrophysicists have been developing a new conceptual imaging technique that would be 1,000 times more precise than the strongest imaging technology currently in use. By taking advantage of gravity’s warping effect on space-time, called gravitational lensing, scientists could potentially manipulate this phenomenon to create imaging far more advanced than any currently available.

In a paper published today (May 2, 2022) in The Astrophysical Journal, the researchers describe a way to manipulate solar gravitational lensing to view planets outside our solar system. By positioning a telescope, the sun, and exoplanet in a line with the sun in the middle, scientists could use the gravitational field of the sun to magnify light from the exoplanet as it passes by. As opposed to a magnifying glass which has a curved surface that bends light, a gravitational lens has a curved space-time that enables imaging far away objects.

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This Diamond Could Store As Much Data As 1 Billion Blu-ray Discs

Even though it has a diameter of just two inches.

By Nathaniel Mott

Adamant Namiki Precision Jewel Co. has created a diamond wafer that, according to the company, could make its way into a variety of quantum computing projects.

“A 2-inch diamond wafer theoretically enables enough quantum memory to record 1 billion Blu-ray discs,” Adamant Namiki says. “This is equivalent to all the mobile data distributed in the world in one day.” The purity of the diamonds produced using this process could allow the material to be used in quantum computers, quantum memory, and quantum sensing devices.

Adamant Namiki collaborated with Saga University to develop this new diamond creation method. The company says it originally produced a diamond wafer of this size in September 2021, but that iteration of the process introduced too many impurities for the resulting diamond to be useful in quantum computers, so it’s spent the last few months investigating that problem.

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Neural network can read tree heights from satellite images

Researchers at ETH Zurich have developed a world map that for the first time uses machine learning to derive vegetation heights from satellite images in high resolution.

by Stéphanie Hegelbach

Using an artificial neural network, researchers at ETH Zurich have created the first high-resolution global vegetation height map for 2020 from satellite images. This map could provide key information for fighting climate change and species extinction, as well as for sustainable regional development planning.

Last year marked the beginning of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. This initiative is aimed at halting the degradation of ecosystems by 2030, preventing it going forward and, if possible, remedying the damage that has already been done. Delivering on these kinds of projects calls for accurate foundations, such as surveys and maps of the existing vegetation.

In an interview, Ralph Dubayah, the Principal Investigator of NASA’s Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) mission, explains: “We simply do not know how tall trees are globally. […] We need good global maps of where trees are. Because whenever we cut down trees, we release carbon into the atmosphere, and we don’t know how much carbon we are releasing.”

Analyzing and preparing precisely this kind of environmental data is what the EcoVision Lab in the ETH Zurich Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering specializes in. Founded by ETH Zurich Professor Konrad Schindler and University of Zurich Professor Jan Dirk Wegner in 2017, this lab is where researchers are developing machine learning algorithms that enable automatic analysis of large-scale environmental data. One of those researchers is Nico Lang. In his doctoral thesis, he developed an approach—based on neural networks—for deriving vegetation height from optical satellite images. Using this approach, he was able to create the first vegetation height map that covers the entire Earth: the Global Canopy Height Map.

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NVIDIA’s New Tech Can Turn A Set of Photos into 3D Scenes in Seconds

By JARON SCHNEIDER

NVIDIA’s Instant NeRF is a neural rendering model that can produce a 3D scene from 2D data inputs in seconds and can render images of that scene in milliseconds. 

The process is known as inverse rendering and allows AI to approximate how light behaves in the real world, which can be used to turn a collection of still images into a digital 3D scene in seconds. NVIDIA’s research team has developed an approach that accomplishes the task extremely rapidly — almost instantly — which makes it one of the first models of its kind that can combine ultra-fast neural network training and rapid render.

What is a NeRF?

NVIDIA simplifies this explanation and says that NeRFs use neural networks to represent and render 3D scenes based on an input collection of 2D images. The neural network requires a few dozen images taken from multiple positions around the scene as well as the camera’s position of each of those shots.

“In a scene that includes people or other moving elements, the quicker these shots are captured, the better. If there’s too much motion during the 2D image capture process, the AI-generated 3D scene will be blurry,” NVIDIA says.

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Solar hydropanel pulls 10 liters of clean drinking water out of the air per day

Solar-powered water extractor

By Derek Markham

By harvesting water vapor from the air and condensing it into liquid, atmospheric water generators can essentially pull water from the air, and these devices hold a lot of promise for providing an independent source of drinking water. And although drought-stricken regions and locations without safe or stable water sources are prime candidates for water production and purification devices such as those, residences and commercial buildings in the developed world could also benefit from their use, and they make a great fit for off-grid homes and emergency preparedness kits.

The statistics speak for themselves:

  • 40 percent of America’s 50,000 community water systems have had water quality violations, according to the EPA.
  • 15 percent of Americans still rely on wells as their main source of water. A full 50 percent of that water wouldn’t pass a quality test.
  • Over 450,000 California residents who are served by a Community Water System are subjected to water that is failing to meet the Safe Drinking Water Act.
  • Evidence shows that American households facing water insecurity and poor water quality are likely to have lower incomes and live in areas where infrastructure has been systemically underfunded.
  • 100 percent of California’s failing systems serve less than 100,000 people; 96.4 percent serve less than 10,000 people. Tulare County, where Allensworth is located, has largest number of systems without safe water. (Community Water Center’s Drinking Water Tool identifies exactly where communities have the environmental burden of no clean water and are also disadvantaged.)
  • The most common contaminants found in these water systems are arsenic, nitrate, lead, copper, Uranium, and E.Coli.
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Ion Engines Could Work on Earth too, to Make Silent, Solid-State Aircraft

Ion engines are the best technology for sending spacecraft on long missions. They’re not suitable for launching spacecraft against powerful gravity, but they require minimal propellant compared to rockets, and they drive spacecraft to higher velocities over extended time periods. Ion thrusters are also quiet, and their silence has some scientists wondering if they could use them on Earth in applications where noise is undesirable.

Powered flight is noisy. Helicopters make a horrible racket, and screaming jet engines can make life near an airport almost unbearable. Even small propeller-driven aircraft are noisy. But what if ion engines could be used instead of these louder propulsion systems, at least in some applications where noise is an issue?

Steven Barrett from MIT thinks the idea has merit. Barrett is a Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He’s also the Director of the MIT Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment. “The aim of Steven’s research is to help aviation achieve zero environmental impacts,” the MIT website says. “This includes developing low emissions and noise propulsion technologies for aircraft…” This is where Barrett’s work on ion propulsion comes in.

Barrett’s been interested in an ion propulsion system for many years. In 2018 Barrett and colleagues published an article in the journal Nature titled “Flight of an aeroplane with solid-state propulsion.” Solid-state propulsion systems have no moving parts, so they’re very quiet. The power for flight comes from electroaerodynamics, where electricity moves ions and provides propulsion. Barrett and colleagues call the flow of ions the “ionic wind.” They’ve used it to propel a small test aircraft on steady, stable flights. 

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First Molecular Electronics Chip Developed – Realizes 50-Year-Old Goal

The Roswell Molecular Electronics Chip uses single molecules as universal sensor elements in a circuit to create a programmable biosensor with real-time, single-molecule sensitivity and unlimited scalability in sensor pixel density.

A platform for single-molecule measurement of binding kinetics & enzyme activity.

The first molecular electronics chip has been developed, realizing a 50-year-old goal of integrating single molecules into circuits to achieve the ultimate scaling limits of Moore’s Law. Developed by Roswell Biotechnologies and a multi-disciplinary team of leading academic scientists, the chip uses single molecules as universal sensor elements in a circuit to create a programmable biosensor with real-time, single-molecule sensitivity and unlimited scalability in sensor pixel density. This innovation, appearing this week in a peer-reviewed article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), will power advances in diverse fields that are fundamentally based on observing molecular interactions, including drug discovery, diagnostics, DNA sequencing, and proteomics.

“Biology works by single molecules talking to each other, but our existing measurement methods cannot detect this,” said co-author Jim Tour, PhD, a Rice University chemistry professor and a pioneer in the field of molecular electronics. “The sensors demonstrated in this paper for the first time let us listen in on these molecular communications, enabling a new and powerful view of biological information.”

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Scientists Create Mind-Blowing Tool to ‘See’ Millions of Brain Cell Connections in Mice

Every green glowing area is one synapse in a living mouse’s brain. The image shows dense constellations of millions of synapses throughout the mouse cortex. Credit: Austin Graves, Johns Hopkins Medicine

To solve the mysteries of how learning and memory occur, Johns Hopkins Medicine scientists have created a system to track millions of connections among brain cells in mice — all at the same time — when the animals’ whiskers are tweaked, an indicator for learning.

Researchers say the new tool gives an unprecedented view of brain cell activity in a synapse — a tiny space between two brain cells, where molecules and chemicals are passed back and forth.

“It was science fiction to be able to image nearly every synapse in the brain and watch a change in behavior,” says Richard Huganir, Ph.D., Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Neuroscience and Psychological and Brain Sciences at The Johns Hopkins University and director of the Department of Neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

A summary of the research was published online first Oct. 18 and in its final form Nov. 25 in the journal eLife.

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Top 10 future technologies you’ve definitely never heard of

And how they will change the world

By Adrien Book

CRISPR, Quantum, Graphene, Smart Dust, Digital Twins, the Metaverse… You’ve heard about it all. Seen it all. Read it all. These technologies no longer hold any secrets for you. Hell, you even regularly mention them over dinner and at work, and have become the go-to person for questions about future innovations.

Yet, technology is ever-changing, and this precious knowledge must be both managed and updated regularly. With this in mind, I’ve put together a list of 10 technologies that are likely to make big waves in the future, but are not on the public’s radar as of today.

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