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We're a little crazy, about science!

Posts tagged “future

Mantis Shrimp, is there anything you can’t teach us?

Image from a webcomic [yes there is more!] by- TheOatmeal

Image from a webcomic [yes there is more!] by- TheOatmeal

A big tenant for starting Loony Labs was an idea that nature provides us with answers to some of the biggest technical problems. So I am proud to announce some work done outside of the lab based on a true warrior of the animal kingdom, the one and only mantis shrimp.

The mantis shrimp for those of you who did not read the awesomely done comic by TheOatmeal has some of the most unique talents in the animal kingdom. Namely it’s tenacity for killing things with it’s powerful clubs.

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Is being a human conservationist selfish?

Earth-Day-2014

Earth day, it’s a lot like new years. You make resolutions that you will never follow, promise yourself you will attempt to do things you really don’t want to, and try to do without that thing you know you can live without, but can’t seem to do it.

Yesterday was Earth day, so happy belated earth day, I guess… So how about the state of the planet then? It’s the only one we have, it is the place we call home, and unless you want to deal with chest bursting aliens [hey, I’ve seen the movies] then we are stuck here.

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Alzheimer’s? Forget about it!

Just one of many horrible diseases of the brain.

Just one of many horrible diseases of the brain.

Let’s face it, diseases that affect the brain are some of the hardest to deal with. Anyone who’s lost someone to alzheimer’s knows exactly what I am talking about. Looking at someone you love and watching them slip away without any visible difference can be heart wrenching!

However, there is a new hope! Physicists [of all things] from Michigan State University published an article in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, that might make alzheimers and associated diseases a thing of the past.

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Self-Healing Composites- The Trick is Biology

3D microvascular networks for self-healing composites: Researchers were able to achieve more effective self-healing with the herringbone vascular network (top) over a parallel design (bottom), evidenced by the increased mixing (orange-yellow) of individual healing agents (red and green) across a fracture surface. Photo Credit: University of Illinois

3D microvascular networks for self-healing composites: Researchers were able to achieve more effective self-healing with the herringbone vascular network (top) over a parallel design (bottom), evidenced by the increased mixing (orange-yellow) of individual healing agents (red and green) across a fracture surface. Photo Credit: University of Illinois

Let’s face it, things wear out. Car tires go bye-bye, seals get worn, and Jets need constant upkeep to make sure that cracks in the fuselage [the main body of an aircraft] don’t become points of failure. Thanks to a new technique right out of the labs at the University of Illinois, things may still wear out, but they will also self heal.

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Global Warming Natural? Don’t bet on it.

global warming

Analyzing the temperature data as far back as 1500 almost completely rules out the idea that global warming is a natural phenomena and that human intervention plays no role. That is the punch line to a new study that was recently released.

The study, published April 6th in the journal Climate Dynamics, offers a new approach to finding a solution to the question of whether global warming is natural, or if it is caused by man. Instead of looking complex computer models of greenhouse gases in order to estimate the effect, McGill University physics professor, Shaun Lovejoy examined historical data as a statistical model to assess the competing hypothesis: that warming over the past century is due to natural long-term variations in temperature.

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The Future of Fusion Funding

fusion

Photograph Courtesy of EFDA-JET

Fusion, the promise of clean, renewable energy has been so powerful that scientists have been chasing the dream for roughly 50 years now. Since the birth of atomic energy and the realization of the immense power hidden hidden in the atom, commercial fusion energy has always been 20 years away.

In one of the most ambitious fusion projects global leaders came together to construct the world’s largest fusion plant– ITER [International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor], in the hopes that scaling the technology to a larger size will be key in producing a fusion reaction that creates more energy than it takes to sustain the reaction.

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DARPA wants Biotech Companies

DARPA research

Science fiction… for now.

DARPA [Defense Advanced Research Project Agency] has a long history of making high-risk, high-reward moves. After all, they have helped shape the field for prosthetics, they have been pushing for big battlefield medical advancements and in 1997, they made a large effort to combat biological hazards.

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Scientists cure Muscle Paralysis in Mice

Photo credit: John Carnett/Popular Science - Optogenetics, tested in rodents, can control electrical activity in a few carefully selected neurons.

Photo credit: John Carnett/Popular Science – Optogenetics, tested in rodents, can control electrical activity in a few carefully selected neurons.

Searching for a new way to cure paralysis, a team of scientist has come up with a remarkable and off the wall idea. This discovery comes out of the labs at the University College London. The team, lead by Linda Greensmith, used stem cells and optogenetics to control leg muscles in mice and completely circumvent the nervous system in the process.

For those of you who are not familiar with Optogenetics [and really, why would you be familiar with it?] here is a overly simple rundown of what we are talking about.

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Gene Editing in Live Mice Cures Rare Liver Disease

gene

A chromosome [the “x”] with a DNA strand ‘close up’ in the circle.

Scientists at MIT have successfully used the CRISPR method to replace faulty genes in live mice, curing a rare liver disease. This type of genetic modification has been done in the past, but only in vitro [think petri dish]. Making this a monumental step forward for curing people who are suffering from genetic disease.

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The [real life] Doomsday Vault

Svalbard seed vault

The real life entrance to the real life doomsday seed vault.

It sounds like something out of a sci fi movie, a vault that is designed to withstand the end of days. A ‘doomsday vault’, tucked deep in a mountain, designed to be self sufficient and keep it’s contents protected and safe for decades if not millennia.

From the outside it looks like some secret military bunker. A solid concrete tube that juts out of a mound of snow; a chain on either side of a ramp acting as a guide to the entrance, a man made object in the middle of nothingness.

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Cyberdyne, Google, and the Rise of Drones

terminator hand

Set in a futuristic dystopian world where humans are pitted against advanced robots controlled by an AI, Terminator plays out like the hollywood blockbuster it turned out to be. Set to pit a person’s innate fear of the unknown against the fear of technology itself, it was a big hit.

Any good apocalyptic movie needs to have a grounding in reality before it can take the leap from ordinary to extraordinary, but when events slowly play out, that are eerily similar to the movie, should you be worried?

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Monkey Mind Control

Monkeying around...

Monkeying around…

What does a rhesus monkey and a the Blockbuster Hollywood film Avatar have in common?

They both use mind control to operate an ‘Avatar’.

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital placed a neural implant on the ‘master’ monkey that could monitor up to 100 neurons, this allowed the ‘master’ money to control a second ‘avatar’ monkey.

To test this. they trained the ‘master’ monkey to use a joystick and find a target on the screen.

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Prosthetic hand gives amputee feeling again

Amputee Dennis Aabo Sorensen tests the prosthetic hand in Rome last year. Photo credit [and caption] goes to the independent

Amputee Dennis Aabo Sorensen tests the prosthetic hand in Rome last year. Photo credit [and caption] goes to the independent

Imagine losing an arm. You pick up your smartphone to read this and without even thinking about the thousands of advancements your phone has inevitably made to enable you to do that, the Doctor walks into the room and explains your choices.

Hook or hand?

Those are your choices, do you want a fake non-movable plastic hand, or would you prefer the hook? At that point you are probably wondering why they are now making smartphone watches, but you are stuck getting [almost] the same technology that was used during the civil war.

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Tired of the weather? Blame the jet stream.

queens_new_york_city

Polar vortexes, snow storms and hurricanes, oh my!

Who’s tired of the crazy weather that most of the US and the UK are dealing with? I suspect that most are, in fact I don’t remember the last time I heard someone talk excitedly about being snowed in.

There is good news and bad news though, and like a true gentleman I will give the good news first. We know what is causing the weather changes we’ve seen.

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It’s a swarm… of robots?!

roboticconst

The rather cute TERMES robots doing their thing. Photo credit goes to Eliza Grinnell, Harvard SEAS

You’ve seen a swarm of bees, you’ve seen a swarm of ants. But now, a research group at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences have introduced us to a new kind of swarm, a swarm of robots.

The idea stems from, of all things, termites.

Normally, when you have any sort of large scale building operation, like a home for example, you have someone in charge telling each individual what to do. There are specialized functions for each person, a electrician, a carpenter, etc and if one of them walks out on the project, the project is stalled until they are replaced.

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