Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Light: now one step closer to replacing electricity in the transportation of information

Current technology utilizes the movement of electrons to carry information through many of the things that we take for granted, such as computers and television. In an effort to carry information at a faster rate, we've replaced electricity with beams of light, which move thousands of times faster due to the fact that there is no longer any need to deal with natural resistance caused by wires.
The problem with light is that it cannot easily change direction without it being weakened or distorted, which can cause a loss in the transmitted information. Altering the light's path without such consequences requires a gradual turn, which is inefficient for practical use in today's small devices. However, thanks to researchers at the University of Texas El Paso and the University of Central Florida, advancements in nanotechnology have overcome that hurdle.
The device they use to achieve such a feat is a plastic device smaller than a bee's stinger. It is a lattice structure shaped in such a way that light that enters it can be guided around corners without any loss of energy, allowing for the optical transmission of data in small, possibly handheld, devices.
Scientists invent new way to control light, critical for next gen of super fast computing
These kind of components may one day be used in our laptops, cellphones, and other everyday devices that require the transmission of information. For now, the team of researchers that created this device are looking to improve it, seeking a way to make light beams take sharper turns in less space.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Repairing Damaged Nerves via 3D Printing

In cases with traumatic injuries casualties are susceptible to damaged nerves. What that means is that the 3 types of nerves you have in you body, the autonomic, the motor , and the sensory nerves are unable to function as they were created. Damage to the nerves causes dysfunctions such as unable to control muscles and even losing sensation in the body part rendering you unable to feel pain in that area.

There are currently methods of repairing nerve endings which require suturing the nerve endings in surgery but results prove to be rather inefficient in producing desirable results for not only the patients but the doctors as well. What’s needed is a way to repair the nerves to restore function as close to the way the patient was prior to the injury. This is where the 3D printers come in.

Using their Nerve Guidance Conduit(NGC) on mouses, the Scientists at the University of Sheffield have successfully restored nerve function on a mouse. The scientists utilized a form of 3D printing called Computer Aided Design(CAD) in order to create unique nerves personalized to the patient being treated.The benefits of 3D printing are quite obvious, the modern technology permits clinicians to print exact models that encourages the self-repairing of nerves over time. Their experiments with the mouse concluded with the repair of a 3mm injury gab over the course of 21 days. All that is left is to conduct trials on a larger scale to see if the NGC works. This brings great potential in restoring nerve function to patients who no longer have them at the moment.

Learn more about nerve damage here: 

Click on the link below to read more on NGCs:

Written by: Josh Estores

Google Artificial Intelligence

Google's artificial intelligence, DeepMind, has figured out how to play and master a handful of Atari video games. Partnered with Oxford University, Google developed an AI unit capable of learning and bettering itself over time. ”with its algorithm can not only learn how to play computer games from scratch - but go on to ace them after a few hours of practice.” This self taught AI not is not only capable of learning from past mistakes, it also has the capability to develop new tactics based on them.  At first, the algorithm struggles to return the ball but, after a few hundred plays, it eventually learns the best strategy to beat the game: break a tunnel into the side of the brick wall and then aim the ball behind the wall.” This is one step forward for science as it shows that we can create more delicate robots implemented with artificial intelligence, capable of distinguishing right from wrong and that are able to perform more delicate tasks.

Written by: Jeff Almozar

A Minute's Charge

A tedious task most young adults face nowadays is having to charge their phones on the dial. In certain cases, this repeated charging session can happen more than once a day depending on the user. There is a plethora of different smart phone devices that have varying uses. Some of these uses can list from job-related tasks/quotas to daunting social media platforms (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snap Chat). While many devices have a battery interfaces that can last through the day, there are plenty of other devices that do not. Battery interfaces have become a hot issue for all smartphone makers alike. As communal productivity increases, the need for technology increases too. These smartphone makers are amidst the different options they can go into in terms of steady performance and task endurance. It wasn’t until later last year where a unique Israeli company showed potential in finding the solution to smartphone battery interfaces once and for all.

The StoreDot is a by-product of presumably unrelated research made by the nanotechnology department at the Tel Aviv University. While looking into the Alzheimer’s disease, the researchers discovered a peculiar peptide molecule that has high capacitance (ability to hold an electric charge). Batteries utilizing the peptide molecule absorb electric charges faster than previous smartphone batteries. Another aspect to look into is the battery’s capacity. Interestingly enough, the overall capacity for these peptide batteries are smaller. The current state of the StoreDot cannot be used in existing smartphones and tablets due to its low capacity. However, that doesn’t stop the StoreDot's company leaders from further developing their much-needed battery. The need for modification of these battery interfaces has been identified as well. The company had already discussed the future of utilizing the StoreDot in future smartphone contenders with more than fifteen different smartphone makers. Of these makers, one of two companies hopes to use of this technology in future device by the Christmas of year 2016.

With the addition of the battery alone, the company needs to create a special charger and handset component that can easily sync into the fast-charging feature the peptide battery StoreDot has. The addition of these select pieces can cause the phone’s cost to increase. This increase would be approximately $50 USD. It was suggested, by the company, that many buyers would not mind paying the additional fees necessary for a strong battery charge. This poses a question: Who would not be willing to switch?

Read more at:

Written by: Sofia Azmal

Car and Vehicle Safety Programming

The partial control or autonomy of vehicles is pretty prevalent today and we know these features as co-piloting in planes or cruising in cars. Google, one of the leading search engines, is working on a prototype of a car that does not require a steering wheel. Their aim is to create a driverless car in which technology is in control. Safety programming is involved when we do hand over our control to technology. The company has to take into consideration the factors that apply such as human interaction. This is what the Professor Zilberstein from University of Massachusetts Amherst tries to do. He obtains the elements of human behavior and encodes them into computer programs that the technology can read. An experiment Professor Zilberstein conducted involved semi-autonomous cars with drivers with varying levels of fatigue. In this scenario he utilized an algorithm that he created which favored roads that let the vehicle drive autonomously when the control is transferred from the man to the car. His algorithm gave drivers a better sense of safety because the vehicle would avoid roads like highways as they were fatigued. Acting with the support of The National Science Foundation, Zilberstein along with several AI researchers hope to further advance the studies of smart technology as they already integrate themselves into our societies. Studies such as this put to use decades worth of efforts and labor making changes in the world more prominent.

Written by: Josh Estores

3D Printed Concept Car

3D printing is the seemingly magical process of making physical objects from three-dimensional computer models. You can design and produce almost anything through 3D printing and students at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore have even built urban solar electric cars. They have designed a car with an innovative body shell consisting of 150 parts using a 3D printer called the NV(8) which will race in the Urban Concept category at this year’s Shell Eco-marathon Asia which focuses on creating a prototype that is both fuel-efficient and road-worthy. The competition challenges students to build a vehicle that can travel the furthest distance while using the least amount of energy. The students at NTU have also built the NV(9), a three-wheeled racer that can execute sharp turns with little speed loss due to its motorcycle racing inspired tilting ability.
These two cars were built over the span of a year with the goal of highest fuel efficiency. The students built these cars from scratch and faced a couple of difficulties. One of which was the assembly of the cars. The shell of the car was produced in different pieces by a number of 3D printers at the university and other sponsor companies. Creations like this really put into perspective just how revolutionary 3D printing will be.

Written by: Imari Clement

Gimball: Is it SUPPOSED to crash?

There has been astounding, technological progress in terms of vehicles and drones sensing, avoiding, and navigating around sects of obstacles. A new innovation has recently sprung up, which does the exact opposite: This mechanism intentionally collides with obstacles. Swiss company called ‘Flyability’ has recently proposed a novel-like product: The Gimball. The Gimball is a drone consisting of two rotors placed dead-center of a meshed, soft globe. The meshed, outer fractal interchanges in independent motions when compared to the nucleic drone in the center. Due to this independent rotation, the drone is able to bounce off a platitude of different obstacles, while maintaining it’s altitude. This independent rotation is quite unique, because the Gimball actually uses the collision between different materials as a navigating push. When the drone is given a specific endpoint location, it will roll along and steer way off of ceilings and walls in order to find a manageable path towards the endpoint.

In the words of Adrien Briod ( Flyability’s co-founder and CTO), “The goal of this flying robot is to reproduce the amazing capabilities of insects”. Utilizing the term of biomimicry (The design/production of materials modeled after the movements of biological entities), the company hopes to utilize the internal structure of insects that is able to collide into things naturally and continue to fly undamaged when descending.

The company envisions the drone “Gimball” for dangerous indoor situations that need third-party assistance. Some of these situations could be fire, chemical leaks, or nuclear meltdowns. In case of high-danger emergencies, a “Gimball” mechanism can be deployed in order to search and locate any potential survivors, or to determine whether or not going into a particular environment is too dangerous for a human to intervene. I have to say, this little drone can end up making a huge difference for safety precautions in the near future.

Read More At:

Written by: Sofia Azmal

The Blind's Insight on the Brain

Can the blind see? From years before the 21st Century it would've been a ridiculous statement to even ponder upon. However, the technology today permits the unbelievable to happen. Just as the bionic eye allows a man to see through the conversion of images into electrical pulses, the Sensory Substitution Device (SSD), used in the Amedi Lab in the Hebrew University, does the same by converting other senses, such as the sense of feelings and hearings into images that the blind can view.

With practice, the blind would have the opportunity to read words. The discovery led to a question of whether the sudden implementation of sight via a foreign source such as the SSD, would stimulate the same areas in the brain reserved for reading texts for a blind as it does for a normal person. Scientists immediately got to uncovering the problem by using fMRIs to study the brains of the blind people as they utilize the SSD to identify objects through other means like hearing. Scientists discovered that instead of vision identifying the letters, it is actually the responsibility of specialized compartments in the brain that interprets  the recognition of letters.

Written by: Josh Estores 

The Apple Watch

The multi-billion dollars company, Apple, managed to surprise us once more. The creators of the IPhone introduced their latest technology, said to be released sometimes this year, the Apple Watch. They worked on keeping the retro usage of a watch, with the crown which in old watches were meant to set the time and date,  while focusing on making the device as technologically advanced as possible. “Every new product we’ve introduced has been defined by a unique input device. With Apple Watch, it’s the Digital Crown.”  They worked on keeping a mechanical use for retro lovers, while implementing new usage for it. Instead of the Crown adjusting the date and time, the Crown now scroll up and down to select different functions with the watch itself, zooming in and out, or going straight to the home screen.
Next, because it is connected to your IPhone, the Apple Watch can be used to keep up with schedule, Emails, messages, notifications, and more. It makes the need for checking your phone every 5 seconds futile. It also has a very convenient and updated  new and improved Siri on the go, Siri is now closer than ever. Simply raise your hand and greet Siri or press and hold the Digital Crown and you can get step by step directions. The Apple watch is set to keep the company’s legacy; better technology in a smaller device.

Written by: Jeff Almozar

Measuring How Birds Take Flight

Measuring How Birds Take Flight

Understanding exactly how birds lift off has proven to be difficult for scientists. However, engineers at Stanford have created a device that can precisely and humanely measure the forces generated by a bird’s wings during flight. The work can provide the answer to the many mysteries of how birds take flight. These answers can even aid in the design of innovative and more efficient unmanned aerial vehicles, such as drones. The measurements of the lift forces of birds in free flight has been attempted many times before, with every technique producing uncertain results. Many of the techniques considered are inhumane to the birds being tested, including one technique where a laser is required for measurement. However, this new device allows the birds to fly freely in a nice environment and still provide clean and precise data. It features highly sensitive force sensors located on the bottom of a box the shape and size of a large birdcage with two perches inside. When the bird flies from each perch, the beat of its wings pushes against the air, which then pushes against the bottom of the box and sucks down the ceiling slightly.These forces are recorded and provide a precise measurement for each stroke of the bird’s wings, with the sensors taking a measurement every 1 millisecond. The system is so sensitive that the air conditioning in the lab has to be turned off to avoid the vibrations from the ventilation system being recorded. They have tested the device with two parrots and have already gotten interesting results. They have discovered that, during their downwards stroke, birds produce life equal to two times their body weight, while producing virtually no lift on their upwards stroke. This new device has made it possible to effectively understand how animals fly which can improve designs for drones and get instant and certain feedback.

Written by: Imari Clement

Cool Pocket Synths

What can $59 put into your snug pocket? A cool, miniature pocket synthesizer! Among the years, synthesizers have been used an a captivating musical instrument in many popular songs. The expense of this machine to the music and technology industry is immense. There have been synthesizers created by Roland, Mood, Korg and other, but nothing seems to come close to the more affordable gadget designed by the company: Teenage Engineering. Teenage Engineering, proclaimed makers of the expensive OP-1 synthesizer, have engineered three nifty mechanisms at a measly price of $59 USD (Compared to the OP-1 which is $850 USD). This simplistic machine is powered by two AAA batteries, while the board itself is stripped back to give a rustic appeal. Each synthesizer has it’s own retro casing in the colors: cyan blue, neon green, and tangerine orange. The PO-12 (“Rhythm”) dry machine comes in green, the PO-14 (“Sub”) bass synth in blue and the PO-16 (“Factory”) melody synth in orange. Each designed comes with a sleek checkerboard design of different press-and-play knobs and two 3.5mm ports to interconnect and chain all three devices together for a superior beat making experience; all "bells-and-whistles" included. The main differences between this device and previously made synthesizers are simplicity and size. Usual synthesizers are as large as two checkerboards combines, while these three pocket synthesizers are the sizer of basic calculators. Size can also be a downside to the synthesizer trio. While the small size may prove useful in smaller settings, lack of a larger plethora of sounds and mixes might place a limit on the artist's creativity. How might YOU use the synthesizer? 


Written by: Sofia Azmal

Teixobactin Fights Resisting Bacteria

The new antibiotic teixobactin brings in new promises and hopes to scientists who are searching for a way to treat chronic bacterial infections such as MRSA and tuberculosis. Its discovery began with NovioBiotic and the iChip, which is a modernistic method that enables uncultured bacteria to grow in their natural environment. Over the course of its lifetime, the NovioBiotic iChip has discovered 25 new antibiotics. The researchers at Northeastern University that discovered the antibiotic discovered the teixobactin compound while doing a routine screening using the NovioBiotic iChip to gain access to MRSA and testing the compound to find that MRSA did not portray any mutated versions of it. Teixobactin works by binding lipids utilized in the construction of the bacterium cell wall. It prevents the cell well from building up, making the bacteria weaker. With this innovation, the team aims to develop teixobactin into a drug and ultimately  put a stop to chronic bacterial infections.

"This chal­lenges the dogma that we've oper­ated under that bac­teria will always develop resis­tance. Well, maybe not in this case." - Professor Kim Lewis

Written by: Josh Estores

Biomimetic Ocean Robots

Engineering researchers at the University of Singapore are working on biomimetic ocea robots that not only act like the real aquatic animals, but also have a brain of their own. Biomimetics is the study and development of synthetic systems that mimic the functions of structures of biologically produced substances and materials and biologic processes or mechanisms. These new robots will be able to perform tasks too hazardous for humans to perform. For example, the team could create a group of tiny robotic fish and sea turtles to detect nuclear wastes underwater which would be much too dangerous for a human to do. Researchers at the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department of the University of Singapore are looking towards nature to solve technical challenges. They have created a robotic sea turtle that is smaller and lighter than other underwater robots due to its lack of a ballast system for its diving and sinking functions. However, since it is smaller and lighter it is able to carry bigger payloads, allowing it to perform more complex tasks such as surveillance and water quality monitoring. Being smaller and lighter also increases its energy efficiency. The NUS turtle is also agile and able to turn sharp corners without a loss in speed. It is able to self-charge, eliminating the need for it to return to base for charging. To be able to create this and other life-like biomimetic robots, researchers had to study the functions of real ocean animals such as the energy efficient and maneuverable movements of fish. One of the professors working on the project says he expects to invent robots that are able to perform collaborative missions in three to five years. They also hope to develop robotic fish that are able to respond to external stimuli and make critical decisions to complete a mission.  

Written by: Imari Clement

Walkman NW-ZX2: What's the fuss?

In a massive cellular age consistent of MP3 audio, what happens to the old, clunky has-been mechanisms of the Walkman? Apparently, it’s been brought back from the dead by Sony Corporations. The Walkman NW-ZX2, coexisting as an amped version of the NW-ZX1, has given consumers light to high quality sound in their audio books, music, and pod casts. The catch to this yesteryear memory, however is the price. At a whopping 1200 USD, one can obtain the refined music player styled with a black-and-gold aluminum body and eccentric circuitry. The pride of the Walkman has been brought forth to compete against Apple’s iPod market. The impressive sound quality of the NW-ZX1 is recognized as high-resolution audio; a proud declaration made by the ever insistent Tokyo-based company. High resolution audio isn’t something that’s particularly new nor anything captivating to the American consumer. Consistent on embracing their own technological format to refute the iPods third-party format, the decline of Walkman users has since caused been on the rise due to the inconvenience of purchasing Sony formatted music. Scarce visibility in US retail has caused a controversial question for the company’s progress: Are Walkmen going to debut once more?

Written by: Sofia Azmal

CES: Visions of cas on Auto pilot

CES: Visions of cas on Auto pilot
The driverless car was introduced in the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) by  Dieter Zetsche, the head of Mercedes-Benz cars and chairman of of Daimler AG, in Las Vegas. It allows the consumer to simply connect his smartphone and sit back for, and I quote, a “Luxurious ride.”

“Just like our phones, cars are getting much smarter,” Mr. Ahn, chief technology officer of LG Electronics, said As technology continue to develop , we continue to try and find new ways of improving, and in a way, bettering our ways of life; which in a way is exactly what engineers do.  Mr. Scott Ahn said “We’re seeing an increasing need to connect our smart devices to cars." This driver-less car would rely strictly on GPS and would be able connect with our smart phones, this concept would prevent lots of deaths caused by car crashes. An estimated 30 000 lives is claimed every year by fatal highway crashes. Crashes caused mostly by texting and driving. If we implement this idea of a driverless car, allowing the passenger to just connect his or her device to it, this would reduce a great quantity of car crashes related to texting while driving.

Written by: Jeff Almozar

Printing Medicine: Small Molecules

Small molecules, which are dense carbon structures commonly found in medicine and many drug applications, are very difficult to create and synthesize.  In order to tackle these problems, Martin Burke and his lab team have created a machine that functions like a 3D printer to fabricate small molecules.  Though 3D printers were essentially no more than toys for designers a few years ago, engineers have started to find applications for the 3D printer in industry and manufacturing.  Prototyping, mass production, and custom part fabrication are all useful applications today of the 3D printer.  And, in labs like Burke’s, their power is being extended to the world of chemistry and beyond.  In this case, small molecules will be more readily available because this machine can create them more easily.