Researchers develop novel nanoparticle that efficiently and selectively kills cancer cells

by Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich

The amorphous nanoparticles dissolve very efficiently in the cell. Credit: von Schirnding et al., Chem 2020

Many chemotherapeutic agents used to treat cancers are associated with side-effects of varying severity, because they are toxic to normal cells as well as malignant tumors. This has motivated the search for effective alternatives to the synthetic pharmaceuticals with which most cancers are currently treated. The use of calcium phosphate and citrate for this purpose has been under discussion for some years now, since they lead to cell death when delivered directly into cells, while their presence in the circulation has little or no toxic effect. The problem consists in finding ways to overcome the mechanisms that control the uptake of these compounds into cells, and ensuring that the compounds act selectively on the cells one wishes to eliminate. Researchers in the Department of Chemistry at LMU, led by Dr. Constantin von Schirnding, Dr. Hanna Engelke and Prof. Thomas Bein, now report the development of a class of novel amorphous nanoparticles made up of calcium and citrate, which are capable of breaching the barriers to uptake, and killing tumor cells in a targeted fashion.

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Japan’s space agency finds ample soil, gas from asteroid

by Mari Yamaguchi

This photo provided by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), shows soil samples, seen inside a container of the re-entry capsule brought back by Hayabusa2, in Sagamihara, near Tokyo,Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. Officials from Japan’s space agency said Tuesday they have found more than the anticipated amount of soil and gases inside a small capsule the country’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft brought back from a distant asteroid this month, a sample-return mission they praised as a milestone for planetary research.(JAXA via AP)

Officials from Japan’s space agency said Tuesday they have found more than the anticipated amount of soil and gases inside a small capsule the country’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft brought back from a distant asteroid this month, a mission they praised as a milestone in planetary research.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said its staff initially spotted some black particles sitting on the bottom of the capsule’s sample catcher when they pulled out the container on Monday. By Tuesday, scientists found more of the soil and gas samples in a compartment that stored those from the first of Hayabusa’s two touchdowns on the asteroid last year.

“We have confirmed a good amount of sand apparently collected from the asteroid Ryugu, along with gases,” JAXA Hayabusa2 project manager Yuichi Tsuda said in a video message during an online news conference. “The samples from outside of our planet, which we have long dreamed of, are now in our hands.”

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GM Opens Its First Major 3D Printing Facility for Production Car Parts



General Motors announced on Monday the opening of a new ground-up facility dedicated to additive manufacturing. That means GM’s engineers will have access to an entire branch whose main purpose is rapid prototyping, which will not only speed up vehicle development but also significantly cut down on the costs required to design a new car.

The new 15,000-square-foot facility, called the Additive Industrialization Center (AIC), houses 24 3D printers capable of printing parts using different manufacturing techniques to produce components in both polymer and metal solutions.

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IBM ‘super-fridge’ aims to solve quantum computer cooling problem

The world’s first super fridge for a 1-million-qubit quantum computer.
The world’s first super fridge for a 1-million-qubit quantum computer.

IBM has ambitions to build a million-qubit quantum computer. To get there, it is building a fridge bigger than anything commercially available. 15 December 2020 

  • IBM has set out a roadmap to develop larger qubit systems – from its current quantum computer of 64 qubits to a 1-million-qubit.
  • To move to a million-plus qubit machine, IBM is developing a dilution refrigerator, which would be larger than any currently available commercially

Say GoldenEye and the 1995 James Bond movie comes to mind, not a giant refrigerator.

But that’s the name computing giant IBM has given to a new refrigeration system in development designed to house the world’s first 1-million-qubit quantum computer.

At 10 feet tall and six feet wide, GoldenEye will go to a temperature of around 15 milli-kelvins or -459 Fahrenheit – or colder than outer space. These are the temperatures required to slow down the movement of atoms, so qubits can hold value. 

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Walmart expands self-driving program with fully driverless vehicles

By Daniella Genovese


Walmart announced Tuesday that it will begin using fully driverless trucks in Arkansas next year as it expands its autonomous vehicle pilot program with Gatik.

For the first time, Gatik’s multi-temperature autonomous box trucks will move customer orders on a 2-mile route between a dark store and a neighborhood market in Bentonville without the supervision of a safety driver, according to Tom Ward, Walmart senior vice president of customer products.

A dark store stocks items for fulfillment but isn’t open to the public.

The move “signifies the first ever driverless operation carried out on the supply chain middle mile for both Gatik and Walmart,” Ward said in a statement.

The development comes nearly a year after Walmart and Gatik launched an autonomous vehicle pilot to fulfill orders. Over the past year, the company says it has tested the multi-temperature trucks on a smaller scale in Bentonville in order to see how they may be able to transfer customer orders from a dark store to a live store or one that is open to the public.

The company has driven more than 70,000 operational miles in autonomous mode with a safety driver, Ward said.

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Research dispels fears human stem cells contain cancer-causing mutations

by University of Exeter


Pioneering new research has made a pivotal breakthrough that dispel concerns that human stem cells could contain cancer-causing mutations.

A team of scientists from the University of Exeter’s flagship Living Systems Institute has shown that stem cells contain no cancer mutations when they are grown in their most primitive or naïve state.

The ground-breaking advances made by the research team should help allay fears surrounding recent controversy about the genetic stability of human embryonic stem cells.

The study is published in leading peer review journal Cell Stem Cell on Monday, December 14th 2020.

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Scientists Set New Solar Cell Efficiency World Record with Tandem Solar Cells at Nearly 30%

By CJ Robles[email protected] 


Researchers are now close to reaching their long-term target of over 30% solar cell efficiency for the perovskite/silicon tandem solar cell category. At 29.15%, it surpassed the current solar cell efficiency world record of 28%.

According to a press statement from Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin (HZB), the HZB development team led by Bernd Stannowski and Steve Albrecht already received official certification for the recent value from the CalLab of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE).

Continue reading… “Scientists Set New Solar Cell Efficiency World Record with Tandem Solar Cells at Nearly 30%”

Scientists discover a superhighway network to travel the solar system

Shane McGlaun 


Researchers have discovered what they describe as a new superhighway network to travel the solar system much faster than previously thought possible. Scientists say that these routes can push comets and asteroids close to the distance between Jupiter and Neptune in under a decade. The speedy paths can also move comets and asteroids 100 astronomical units in less than a century.

It’s possible these superhighway networkscould be used to send spacecraft to the far reaches of the planetary system relatively quickly. Now that these networks have been discovered, they can also be used to monitor and understand near-Earth objects that might impact our planet. Researchers have observed the dynamical structures of these routes, forming a connected series of arches inside something known as space manifolds extending from the asteroid belt to Uranus and beyond.

The “œcelestial autobahn” can act over several decades instead of hundreds of thousands or millions of years that usually go along with solar system dynamics. Jupiter is linked to the most conspicuous arch structures, and the strong gravitational forces exerted. The population of Jupiter-family comets, which have orbital periods of 20 years, and small solar system bodies known as Centaurs are controlled by manifolds on “unprecedented timescales.”

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German Bionic raises $20M led by Samsung for exoskeleton tech to supercharge human labor

Ingrid Lunden@ingridlunden 


Exoskeleton technology has been one of the more interesting developments in the world of robotics: Instead of building machines that replace humans altogether, build hardware that humans can wear to supercharge their abilities. Today, German Bionic, one of the startups designing exoskeletons specifically aimed at industrial and physical applications — it describes its Cray X robot as “the world’s first connected exoskeleton for industrial use,” that is, to help people lifting and working with heavy objects, providing more power, precision and safety — is announcing a funding round that underscores the opportunity ahead.

The Augsburg, Germany-based company has raised $20 million, funding that it plans to use to continue building out its business, as well as its technology, both in terms of the hardware and the cloud-based software platform, German Bionic  IO, that works with the exoskeletons to optimize them and help them “learn” to work better.

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Zoox unveils a self-driving car that could become Amazon’s first robotaxi

By Sean O’Kane

Seats up to four, and can drive in multiple directions

Zoox, a self-driving car company that Amazon bought in June, has finally revealed its robotaxi after six years of gnarly prototypes and secrecy. And while it broadly resembles other first-generation autonomous vehicles from automakers and Silicon Valley startups, Zoox’s robotaxi has a few standout features, as well as an overall polish to it that makes obvious why Amazon thinks it might be the cornerstone of a fledgling autonomous ride-hailing service.

The autonomous “carriage-style” vehicle is an all-electric four-wheeler that seats up to four people, and is similar in appearance to fully self-driving vehicles created by other companies in the space. At just 3.63 meters long, it falls somewhere in between the big, boxy Origin robotaxi from Cruise (which is owned by General Motors) and the delivery-focused robot made by NuroZOOX CLAIMS A TOP SPEED OF 75 MILES PER HOUR, HINTING AT HIGHWAY USE

To further differentiate, Zoox has spent the last few years working on outfitting its autonomous vehicle with the ability to drive both forward and backward, and side to side, or “bi-directionally.” Combined with four-wheel steering functionality, Zoox says its vehicle will be able to handle precise maneuvers like “tight curbside pickups” and “tricky U-turns.” Zoox also claims its vehicle is the first of its kind to be able to travel at up to 75 mph, a possible nod to ambitions to one day put the vehicles on the highway.  

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This CEO Just Brilliantly Explained How Remote Work Will Change the World by 2030, and It’s Next-Level

BY JUSTIN BARISO, AUTHOR, EQ [email protected]


Chris Herd thinks he’s seen the future. And it’s ruled by remote work.

As more and more companies rush to adapt new remote work policies, many find themselves behind the curve.

But what if you could look into the future? What if you could see how remote work will change the world over the next decade?

Chris Herd believes he has. 

Herd is founder and CEO of Firstbase, a startup focused on helping solve its customers remote work problems. Over the course of the past nine months, he’s spoken to more than 1,500 people about the future of remote work, and how it’s likely to change the world in the very near future.

Herd summed up his insights recently in a brilliant Twitter thread. Below you’ll find the highlights, along with my personal commentary.

Continue reading… “This CEO Just Brilliantly Explained How Remote Work Will Change the World by 2030, and It’s Next-Level”

More Robots, More Jobs

Peter St Onge


Many people fear robots will take all the jobs. This fear drives a number of policy proposals, from Universal Basic Income to taxing or regulating robots. Today I want to talk about what actually happens in automation, and what we should expect in the future.

In a sense, fearing automation is bizarre. We could understand if we were living in medieval Europe, where generation-to-generation there was almost no innovation. Perhaps an improved wagon axle would be the biggest innovation in a lifetime —  “Imagine, junior, how hard it was for Mom and me growing up with those dodgy axles.”

But, instead, here we sit in the midst of history’s greatest natural experiment on jobs and automation: the Industrial Revolution. Which is very specifically 200 years now of machine replacing man.

We’ve got an almost unique historical advantage of knowing precisely what happens when countries industrialize, when Ethiopia, say, becomes Switzerland — more jobs, better jobs, better standard of living. Indeed, industrialized countries have far less need for handouts than un-industrialized countries, specifically because of automation — replacing human labor with physical capital.

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