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Mar 15, 2016
The 8th Annual Global 'Zeitgeist Day' Symposium Promotes Sustainability, Global Unity, and a Post-Scarcity Society Read More >
Jan 31, 2015
Promotes Global Unity, Social Betterment and a More Humane Society Read More >
Sep 12, 2014
Features Live Music, Short Films, Comedy and Art, Promotes Social Consciousness Through the Power of Art Read More >
Mar 01, 2014
Toronto Main Event and Beyond Read More >
Feb 03, 2014
A New Book by The Zeitgeist Movement Read More >
More Press Releases >
Apr 01, 2016 Host: Casey Davidson
In this episode Casey Davidson (Australian national coordinator for TZM) discusses whether the Zeitgeist Movement should interact with political parties, how to find a balance between making ethical choices and connecting with larger audiences as well as introducing the Brisbane chapter's amusing 'Tinfoil hat scale'.
Mar 20, 2016 Host: Jasiek Luszczki
This episode of TZM global is hosted by Jasiek Luszczki from the Polish chapter of TZM. Today's show features an interview with two activists of the Rotterdam TZM Chapter (Holland) - Anthony Jacobi and Robert Schram.
They talk about their way of utilising the NLRBE-like philosophy and code of conduct within the confines of today's monetary system. They present some ideas on how to move away from "business as usual" (working for profit) to "awareness as usual" (generating social capital) mindset.
Feb 10, 2016 Host: James Phillips
This episode of TZM global is hosted by UK chapter member and TZM education coordinator James Phillips and involves an interview with fellow TZM members Jasiek Thejester and Stefan Kengen from the Polish and Danish chapters of TZM respectively about the recent European meeting held in Rotterdam.
Dec 10, 2015 Host: James Phillips
This episode of TZM global is hosted by UK chapter member and co-coordinator of the movements global educational activism project; TZM education, James Phillips.
Along with other movement related news this episode includes a conversation with fellow TZM education member and Hungarian chapter coordinator, Sztella Kantor regarding her experience of taking the materials of TZM education into schools in Hungary.
If you are interested in taking part in this global initiative then please visit: www.tzmeducation.org
*At the time of publication there was an issue with our podcast provider, blogtalk radio. Therefore the show could only be uploaded in it's edited format to you tube at this time. The full version will be released as soon as this issue is resolved.
Nov 25, 2015 Host: James Phillips
Ep 178 European TZM meeting show - Rotterdam. This episode of TZM Global is hosted by UK chapter team member and co-coordinator of TZM Education (www.tzmeducation.org) James Phillips.
This episode includes an interview with the Global Chapters Administration Coordinator Gilbert Ismail regarding the upcoming European TZM Meetup in Rotterdam next month. For more information, please visit the following link: https://www.facebook.com/events/91743...
Also included in this show is a request for more content for TZM Global Radio. Please send pre-recorded submissions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Conventional wisdom would have you believe that most people enter adolescence with a head full of high-minded ideals and a willingness to shake up the system. As they get older, however, they gradually begin to accept the status quo. For me, that process is reversed.
The older I get, the more skeptical I become of our current social model. Why?
Let’s start with this:
It should be of increasing concern to all Americans that there is an extreme disconnect between what Americans believe about man-made climate change, and what science tells us about it. That is to say, despite there being a clear scientific consensus, man-made climate change is more often than not framed as an ambiguous concept in the U.S. mainstream media. Consequently, climate change is generally thought to be far more esoteric than it actually is.
INTRODUCTION AND DISCLAIMER 
The purpose of this project is to enable supporters of a natural law resource based economic model (NLRBE) to understand and appreciate the need to approach the education system in an effort to initiate the value shift required for a more peaceful and sustainable future to emerge.
Today I was reading The Zeitgeist Movement Defined: Realizing a New Train of Thought, again. I did so because I feel the need to express certain frustration on this/my social movement but haven’t found the right words. Also I didn’t want to make any false assumptions on its architecture, so I went straight to the source with a pen in my hand.
I went through the 9 pages that constitute the overview and extracted some notes I would like to post in here:
We need more films about the social, ecological and economic change!
We want to make one and you could help us.
In our Documentary "The Taste of Life" we want to show, that there are people in the whole world, already practicing this change in a great way.
From social symptom to root causes came about as a bi-product of ZDAY 2013 in London, in which all but the introductory talk featured exterior organisations and speakers. Each of whom seek to address a particular social or environmental issue closely aligned with the movement’s materials.
From social symptom to root causes came about as a bi-product of ZDAY 2013 in London, in which all but the introductory talk featured exterior organisations and speakers. Each of whom seek to address a particular social or environmental issue closely aligned with the movement’s materials.
Transcript below. Can also be viewed via PDF HERE.
Welcome to: “3 Questions - What do you propose?” This thought exercise is intended for both the average person, concerned about global problems – along with those who are still confused about - or perhaps even in opposition to The Zeitgeist Movement.
Peter Joseph, ZDay 2016 "Where we go from here" March 26th, Athens Greece [ The Zeitgeist Movement ]
When Jan Scheuermann volunteered for an experimental brain implant, she had no idea she was making neuroscience history.
Scheuermann, 54 at the time of surgery, had been paralyzed for 14 years due to a neurological disease that severed the neural connections between her brain and muscles. She could still feel her body, but couldn’t move her limbs.
Unwilling to give up, Scheuermann had two button-sized electrical implants inserted into her motor cortex. The implants tethered her brain to a robotic arm through two bunches of cables that protruded out from her skull.
Scheuermann’s bet paid off. With just a few days of practice, she was able to bring a bar of chocolate to herself, using only her mind to control the prosthetic.
https://singularityhub.com/2012/12/23/cyborg-future-draws-closer-as-woman-controls-robotic-arm-with-brain-implant/ ">That was 2012. The field of brain-machine interface has been on fire ever since.
Prototype neuroprosthetics can already https://singularityhub.com/2016/08/21/paralysis-partially-reversed-with-virtual-reality-tech-in-surprising-new-study/ ">let the paralyzed walk and https://singularityhub.com/2016/01/13/blind-woman-receives-bionic-eye-reads-a-clock-with-elation/ ">the blind see again—granted, the effects are still far from perfect. Various exoskeletons and retinal implants are steadily making their way through human trials, striving to reach mass market by the end of the decade. Future brain implants may be even bolder, helping restore memory loss in the elderly or https://singularityhub.com/2015/11/15/first-human-tests-of-memory-boosting-brain-implant-a-big-leap-forward/ ">giving healthy brains a boost.
But we’re not there yet. And electrodes—the heart of these devices—are partially to blame.
"Using electrodes to target specific brain circuits is like bringing a bazooka to an ant."
Most electrodes come in a stamp-sized array that activates any neuron in their vicinity. Using them to target specific brain circuits is like bringing a bazooka to an ant—you’ll get the target, but also stimulate thousands of other cells and potentially lead to unintended effects.
They also don’t like biological environments. Chemicals in the brain erode the electrodes over time, and the foreign implant often causes surrounding tissue to scar. Since scar tissue can’t conduct electricity, it renders the electrode useless.
To get around these issues, a team from Harvard and https://www.parc.com/ ">Palo Alto Research Center went back to the drawing board. Recently, they http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/2/12/e1600889.full ">published research on a new type of implant made of tiny, thin copper coils embedded in silicon. Unlike its predecessors, the microcoil uses magnetic waves rather than electricity to stimulate the brain.
“We are pretty enamored by these coils right now,” lead author Dr. Shelley Fried http://www.popsci.com/tiny-brain-implant-could-help-paralyzed-people-manipulate-prosthetics-more-precisely?dom=rss-default&src=syn ">remarked at the time. And indeed they are. In May, the team is testing their implant in the visual cortex of monkeys, Fried told Singularity Hub. The goal? To artificially recreate the activity patterns that normally come from the eyes—and have the monkeys “see” the world without ever using their sight.
Using magnets to tweak brain activity sounds bizarre, but scientists have long harnessed magnetic fields to treat severe depression and anxiety.
The therapy, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), usually involves a figure-8 shaped wand that scientists wave over certain parts of the patients’ skull. The device delivers focused pulses of magnetic waves that travel through the skull and trigger tiny electrical fields. Depending on the orientation of the fields, they can either jolt or dampen the activity of select neurons.
Magnetic waves can also easily penetrate scar tissue, making them ideal for long-term use.
But TMS has a size problem. “Even the most precise TMS coils activate much larger regions without any selectivity,” says Fried. The roadblock has been making coils small enough to implant without losing efficacy.
Using an algorithm, the team played with different designs until they found the optimal device configuration: tiny metal coils, each thinner than a single strand of hair. Normally the coils are inert; when electricity passes through, they generate surprisingly strong magnetic fields—strong enough to stimulate neurons.
Because they were so small, the “microcoils allow for much finer control of activation,” to the point that the team could specifically control certain types of neurons within a thin vertical section of the cortex, explains Fried.
The coils were then wrapped in a biocompatible silicon sheath. This makes the brain less likely to attack the implant and decreases the chance of scarring.
The team first tested their device on slices of a mouse brain in a petri dish, to make sure that the microcoils could reliably activate neurons.
"The implant consistently worked like a dream: precise, responsive, and safe."
Then, using a thin, long needle, they inserted the coils into the area of the mouse brain that controls whisker movement. The coils were tethered to electrical cables to power them on, but later generations will likely utilize wireless technologies, says Fried.
When researchers activated the device, the mouse flicked its whiskers—forward, back or both ways—depending on the pattern of stimulation. In multiple trials, the implant consistently worked like a dream: precise, responsive, and safe.
Eye on the prize
The results were so promising that the team made immediate plans to collaborate with primate scientists and test the device on a therapeutic goal: restoring vision.
The new effort will be led by http://neuro.hms.harvard.edu/people/faculty/richard-born ">Dr. Richard Born, a neurobiologist at Harvard Medical School and one of the world's experts in primate visual cortex. Initial experiments will focus on using single microcoils to induce a broad sense of seeing light. If all goes well, the team will follow up with arrays of coils to try to induce more spatially complex patterns.
They’re entering a burgeoning field.
Several retinal prosthetics are already in development, all of which rely on electrode microarrays. These devices, though life changing, generally can only produce images that are grainy and black-and-white. Another potential therapy eschews implants altogether, instead looking to https://singularityhub.com/2015/09/20/meet-the-mind-controlling-algae-protein-that-could-cure-blindness/ ">gene therapy and optogenetics to give blind patients back their vision—a cool idea, but one that comes with its own challenges.
"By artificially inputting activity into the visual cortex, we might be able to trick the brain into 'seeing' things without needing eyes."
The microcoil study stands out in its ambition. Rather than trying to replace the retina, the team is focusing on the final node of visual information processing: the visual cortex. The visual cortex is a master computer: it synthesizes all the information coming from the eyes and transforms electrical spikes into objects, faces and motion. That’s all vision is: patterns of activity.
By artificially inputting similar activity into the visual cortex, we might be able to trick the brain into “seeing” things without needing eyes. The idea’s been hard to test with electrodes, mostly because they lack finesse. Since electrodes often spread the activation to non-targeted neurons, they introduce so much noise to the images that they’re incomprehensible.
Because the activation they induce is so precise, microcoils may finally overcome this problem.
“Prosthetics implanted into the visual cortex can be used to treat a much wider range of visual dysfunctions than the retinal device,” says Fried.
Retinal prosthetics are mainly limited to outer retinal degenerative diseases. Cortical devices, in contrast, “can be used for just about all forms of blindness, including glaucoma, stroke and even traumatic eye injury,” she explains.
And vision’s only the first step.
If successful, the microcoils could be tested in other brain regions, such as those ravaged by Parkinson’s disease or depression. They could even be used to augment existing neural prostheses such as cochlear implants. Outside the brain, they could be used to stimulate the millions of neurons in the gut, which may help people with irritable bowl syndrome or even obesity.
Although microcoils are just beginning to be tested in primates, these applications may not be that far away. If the primate experiments are successful, the same technology will be optimized for human testing. The team hopes to begin human testing in 2018.
“I think it’s too early to say that coils are going to be the method of the future, but I think there’s definitely a possibility that they might,” http://www.popsci.com/tiny-brain-implant-could-help-paralyzed-people-manipulate-prosthetics-more-precisely?dom=rss-default&src=syn ">says Fried.
Image Credit: http://www.shutterstock.com ">Shutterstock
Today’s most successful companies, the ones that are “crushing it,” started as a series of crazy ideas, followed by experiments to test just how viable those ideas might be.
Experimentation is a crucial mechanism for driving breakthroughs in any organization.
If you want to create a successful, hyper-growth company, you've got to focus on empowering your teams to rapidly experiment.
Over the years I have had the pleasure of sitting down with wizards of experimentation, including Jeff Holden, Uber’s Chief Product Officer; Astro Teller, CEO of X; and Jake Knapp, Design Partner at Google Ventures.
Through my conversations, I have compiled a suite of best practices for running great experiments and building a culture of experimentation at your company.
In this post we will discuss:
Building a Culture of Experimentation
- Running effective experiments
- Google Ventures design sprints
- Building a culture of experimentation
The only constant is change, and the rate of change is increasing.
Ultimately, standing still equals death, and the only way to succeed is to be constantly experimenting and innovating (think of it as Darwinian evolution at hyperspeed).
Hyper-growth and experimentation are very closely linked.
Jeff Bezos likes to say, "Our success at Amazon is a function of how many experiments we do per year, per month, per week, per day…"
Jeff Holden, who has built experimental engines at Amazon, Groupon, and Uber, agrees: "The philosophy is you have to build your company to be a big experimental engine and it has to start right at the beginning."
It's not easy to just "retrofit" your company with that engine later—it's a cultural shift. You have to be in the mindset of constantly testing crazy ideas, new business models, new products and new processes.
At Amazon, in the early days, they created a standard experimental platform that was available to almost everyone—meaning, if somebody wanted to test a new button or new feature on the website, they could.
The problem was that many of these experiments were useless.
Jeff Holden continues, "They had no chance of yielding any value. There wasn't any point to them. We were just kind of curious. We were just running a lot of experiments—which have a cost, by the way—and were taking up experimental slots [so others couldn't experiment], and things started colliding with each other."
Their solution was to create an 'Experiments Group'—if you wanted to do an experiment, you had to run it through this group.
The first question the group would ask was: What's your hypothesis?
The second question: What's the value proposition to our company?
"If you couldn't articulate your hypothesis crisply, or your hypothesis didn't matter for Amazon or Uber or Groupon, then they must not do that experiment. Oftentimes you'll send folks back to the drawing board or ask them to recast the experiment. The company learned, and we got much better."
Finally, "You have to be able to interpret the experimental results really well. It's statistics. Know the difference between statistically significant and insignificant results."
Uber, for example, runs thousands of experiments per month to test different features. They A/B test key features that are core to the business and choose the one that performs best.
"Build a team inside your organization that has an experimental ethos, and make sure that the experiment, value proposition, and hypothesis are really thought through before you invest the time and energy to actually do them."
In general, only hire people who are familiar with the experimentation/data-driven mindset and set the stage for experimentation in the beginning.
How to Launch Good Experiments
Astro Teller, Chief of Moonshots, explains that the following three principles describe a good experiment:
Principle 1: Any experiment where you already know the outcome is a BAD experiment.
Principle 2: Any experiment when the outcome will not change what you are doing is also a BAD experiment.
Principle 3: Everything else (especially where the input and output are quantifiable) is a GOOD experiment.
Seems simple enough, right?
You must ask the kind of questions to which you don't currently know the answer, but if you did, you’d change the way you operate.
If you already know the answer, or if you are testing an insignificant detail that doesn’t matter, you’ll just be wasting time and money.
To get good questions/experiments, you must create a culture that incentivizes asking good questions and designing good experiments.
Astro describes a very unique approach to doing just this:
“At X, we set up a ‘Get Weirder Award.’ The whole point of the Get Weirder Award was to focus the team on experiments and to drive home they needed to think in terms of experiments.”
Teams would be challenged to ask “weird” questions—to put forth crazy ideas around framing problems differently and to design experiments that really push the limits.
Critically, Astro only gives out the Get Weirder Award after the experiments are run.
“If you give out the award after they’ve run the experiment, independent of the results, then people start to really feel that you don't actually care about the outcome. You care about the quality of the question. So every two weeks, we would give out an award for the best experiment.”
Doing so constantly (and viscerally) reinforced the behavior of asking good questions—accordingly, at X, they’ve built a culture around celebrating the questions themselves.
Google Ventures: Design Sprint
A sprint, invented by my friends Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky of Google Ventures, is a fantastic tool for rapid experimentation in your company.
I have leveraged the sprint process across all of my companies.
Participating in a sprint orients the entire team and aims their efforts at hitting clearly defined goals.
Sprints are useful starting points when kicking off a new feature, workflow, product, business or solving problems with an existing product.
Here are the five phases of a sprint, typically done sequentially over the course of five days, that you can try with your team:
Day 1: Understand: Develop a common understanding of the working context, including the problem, the business, the customer, the value proposition and how success will be determined. By the end of this phase, you should also aim to identify some of your biggest risks and start to make plans to mitigate them. Common understanding will empower everyone’s decision-making and contributions to the project. Understanding your risks enables you to stay risk-averse and avoid investing time and money on things that rely on unknowns or assumptions.
Day 2: Diverge: Generate insights and potential solutions to your customer’s problems. Explore as many ways of solving the problems as possible, regardless of how realistic, feasible, or viable they may or may not be. The opportunity this phase generates enables you to evaluate and rationally eliminate options and identify potentially viable solutions to move forward with. This phase is also crucial to innovation and marketplace differentiation.
Day 3: Converge: Take all of the possibilities exposed during phases 1 and 2, eliminate the wild and currently unfeasible ideas and hone in on the ideas you feel best about. These ideas will guide the implementation of a prototype in phase 4 that will be tested with existing or potential customers. Not every idea is actionable or feasible, and only some will fit the situation and problem context. Exploring many alternative solutions helps provide confidence that you are heading in the right direction.
Day 4: Prototype: Build a prototype that can be tested with existing or potential customers. Design the prototype to learn about specific unknowns and assumptions. Determine its medium by time constraints and learning goals. Paper, Keynote, and simple HTML/CSS are all good prototyping tools for software products and 3D printing for hardware. The prototype storyboard and the first three phases of the sprint should make prototype-building fairly straightforward. There shouldn’t be much uncertainty around what must be done. A prototype is a very low-cost way of gaining valuable insights about what the product needs to be. Once you know what works and what doesn’t, you can confidently invest time and money on more permanent implementation.
Day 5: Test and Learn: Test the prototype with existing or potential customers. It is important to test with existing or potential customers because they are the ones for whom you want your product to work and be valuable. Their experiences with the problem and knowledge of the context have influence on their interaction with your product that non-customers won’t have. Your customers will show you the product they need. Testing your ideas helps you learn more about things you previously knew little about and gives you a much clearer understanding of which directions you should move towards next. It can also help you course-correct and avoid building the wrong product.
Sprints offer a path to solve big problems, test new ideas, and accelerate the decision-making process. By the way, you can learn a lot more about the sprint process http://www.gv.com/sprint/ ">here.
Image Credit: http://www.shutterstock.com ">Shutterstock
From digital currency to machine learning, the financial industry is being rocked by exponential technologies. Blockchain, artificial intelligence, big data, robotics, quantum computing, crowdfunding, and computing systems are allowing startups to solve consumer needs in new ways.
The downfall of the world’s largest institutions may not be imminent, but these new technologies are breaking up the previously rock solid foundation of finance, and allowing the fintech world to spring through the cracks. What’s happening now will rewrite the future of finance for years to come. By recognizing this reality and planning for it now, financial professionals can learn to thrive in an increasingly uncertain global economy.
https://exponential.singularityu.org/finance/?direct_reg=No&invitationcode=SUHUB2017®istration_code=SUHUB2017&utm_source=hub&utm_campaign=xfin17&utm_medium=feb22article&utm_content=link1 ">Singularity University’s Exponential Finance was created to bring the financial services and tech industries together in a deliberate and meaningful way. Now, in 2017, Exponential Finance is the definitive place to learn, connect and collaborate with fellow financial leaders to reinvent the financial industry.
https://exponential.singularityu.org/finance/?direct_reg=No&invitationcode=SUHUB2017®istration_code=SUHUB2017&utm_source=hub&utm_campaign=xfin17&utm_medium=feb22article&utm_content=bannergif ">http://singularityhub.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Apply-Singularity-University-Exponential-Finance-XFin-2017.gif " alt="Apply-Singularity-University-Exponential-Finance-XFin-2017" width="750" height="100" />
https://exponential.singularityu.org/finance/?direct_reg=No&invitationcode=SUHUB2017®istration_code=SUHUB2017&utm_source=hub&utm_campaign=xfin17&utm_medium=feb22article&utm_content=link2 ">Exponential Finance 2017 will be held June 7-9 at the Marriott Marquis at Times Square in New York City. The event will feature world-renowned leaders who will share their insights on how exponential technologies are impacting the financial industry, as well as how you can grab a seat at the table.
CNBC’s Bob Pisani will emcee, and speakers will include the likes of Mary Harman (Enterprise Payments Executive at Bank of America) discussing the latest trends in digital banking, Anju Patwardhan (Senior Partner at CreditEase Fintech Investment Fund and Member of Global Future Council on Blockchain at World Economic Forum) on blockchain and the future of our digital identities, and Peter Randall (CEO at SETL) on capital markets and digital banking.
These individuals will be joined by Peter Diamandis (Co-founder and Chairman at Singularity University), Ray Kurzweil (Co-Founder and Chancellor at Singularity University), Angela Strange (Partner at Andreessen Horowitz), Jane Barratt (Founder & CEO at GoldBean), Bill Bachrach (Financial Advisor Trainer), Lisa Kay Solomon (Managing Director of Transformational Practices at Singularity University) Neil Jacobstein (AI and Robotics Chair at Singularity University), John Bowen (Founder and CEO at CEG Worldwide), Roman Chwyl (Head of Financial Services Google Cloud), Ric Edelman (Chairman and CEO at Edelman Financial Services), Ashish Gadnis (Co-founder at BanQu, Chair of Financial Inclusion Working Committee at Wall Street Blockchain Alliance), and many others.
As Peter Diamandis wrote in his book Abundance, “Technology is a resource-liberating mechanism. It can make the once scarce the now abundant.” It’s this sentiment that drives Singularity University to produce Exponential Finance—to connect individuals and organizations and to share knowledge that will liberate resources and create abundance.
Exponential Finance will give participants an interactive and collaborative experience, and will send them home with an understanding of what the future will look like and how to act on it immediately. Participants will have the opportunity to see demos from more than 30 groundbreaking technology companies while connecting with business leaders from leading firms across the industry.
https://exponential.singularityu.org/finance/?direct_reg=No&invitationcode=SUHUB2017®istration_code=SUHUB2017&utm_source=hub&utm_campaign=xfin17&utm_medium=feb22article&utm_content=link3 ">Apply here to join Singularity University and the world’s most forward-thinking financial leaders at Exponential Finance this June. Save up to 15% as a Singularity Hub reader.
Image Credit: https://www.shutterstock.com/ ">Shutterstock
Living life on the edge isn’t just a motto for extreme athletes.
Our planet is literally crawling with organisms that have somehow adapted to living in extreme environments, from the frigid waters surrounding Antarctica to mantle rocks thrust above the seafloor to crystal-encrusted caves.
Scientists have a name for critters that live in the most inhospitable corners of the world: extremophiles. Here I profile five extremophiles whose ability to survive in unthinkable places isn’t just a cool National Geographic snapshot. Each one has something to teach us about how we might further explore the solar system, learn about the evolution of our planet, or even advance medical science.
Outer space algae
What it is: Two strains of cryophilic algae. One is a green algal strain (Sphaerocystis genus) found in Svalbard, Norway, the other a blue-green cyanobacterium (Nostoc genus) from Antarctica.
What it does: The cryophilic algae—cold-loving species with special adaptations such as the ability to survive extreme desiccation—were transported to the International Space Station. There they were exposed to extreme temperature fluctuations in the vacuum of space, not to mention considerable ultraviolet and cosmic radiation. Not only did all but one specimen survive this extended stay in low-Earth orbit, but the Norwegian strains grew new populations. Researchers are now studying whether the long-term radiation exposure damaged algae DNA.
Why it’s important: Astronauts—or even colonists—on a mission to Mars won’t be able to survive on potatoes alone, despite what we might see in films like “The Martian.” Algae are a good source of protein, and hardier strains could be grown in special greenhouses, according to researchers at the Fraunhofer-Institute in Potsdam, which led the research.
The scientists at Fraunhofer also say that the ability of algae to survive—and even thrive—in space could bolster theories that life on Earth originated from space. The concept, known as panspermia, suggests that the seeds of life rode to the planet on meteorites.
What it is: Paenibacillus sp. LC231 is a bacteria found in Lechuguilla Cave, located within Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico, where it has enjoyed a lightless existence for at least four million years.
What it does: The Lechuguilla bacteria has shown http://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms13803 ">resistance to most antibiotics used today, including drugs of last resort, such as daptomycin, according to research published in Nature Communications. The researchers found that Paenibacillus is resistant to 18 different antibiotics. Its defense mechanisms are identical to similar species found in soils. That means the genetic basis for antibiotic resistance existed well before humans started using drugs to treat disease.
Why it’s important: The researchers identified five resistant elements, which they now realize are widespread, that could become pathogenic. That’s the bad news. The good news is that the discovery gives scientists time to develop drugs to overcome these different types of resistance—decades before pathogens ever become dangerous.
“The diversity of antibiotic resistance and its prevalence in microbes across the globe should be humbling to everyone who uses these lifesaving drugs,” says Gerry Wright, co-author on the paper and scientific director of McMaster’s Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, in a https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-12/mu-seb120616.php ">press release.
What it is: Dormant microbes that have been locked inside giant crystals of the Naica cave system in Mexico for up to 50,000 years. Science writer Seth Borensetin wrote that the https://phys.org/news/2017-02-biologists-weird-cave-life-years.html#jCp ">40 different strains of microbes (along with a few viruses) are far removed from their nearest relatives, with 10 percent different genetic material.
What it does: That’s still under investigation. Researchers just presented their work at this month’s annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Like the organisms in Lechuguilla Cave, these bugs derive their energy chemosynthetically, chewing on rocks and minerals.
Why it’s important: Life in other worlds likely won’t be aliens with almond-shaped eyes, but microbes that exist on a chemosynthetic diet.
http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-39013829 ">Says Penelope Boston, director of NASA’s Astrobiology Institute, who presented the research at AAAS: “The astrobiological link is obvious in that any extremophile system that we’re studying allows us to push the envelope of life further on Earth, and we add it to this atlas of possibilities that we can apply to different planetary settings.”
What it is: A diverse microbial community found in rock cores taken from an underwater mountain, Atlantis Massif, which rises about 14,000 feet from the seafloor in the Atlantic Ocean. They were discovered during an international research expedition involving 13 countries.
What it does: Tectonic activity in the geologically active area has pushed mantle rocks from deep within the Earth closer to the surface. When exposed to seawater, these highly reactive rocks undergo a process called serpentinization. In samples of the serpentine materials, scientists found evidence for hydrogen and methane, which microbes metabolize to grow and form new cells. This is yet another example of life existing far from the photosynthetic world that we understand.
Why it’s important: The microbes of Atlantis Massif offer another possible scenario of how life might exist in other worlds. In addition, these microorganisms point the way to how life might have evolved on early Earth.
What it is: A family of fish called Channichthyidae that live in the Southern Ocean that surrounds Antarctica, where the average water temperature is about 28 degrees Fahrenheit. The high salinity content of the ocean prevents the water from freezing.
What it does: To live in such harsh conditions requires special adaptations. The Channichthyidae, also known as icefish, have antifreeze glycoproteins that keep ice crystals from forming in their blood. Many also evolved without swim bladders, which helps control buoyance in the water. To compensate, icefish have fatty tissue and little bone density. However, what really sets this family of fish apart from others in the Southern Ocean is that they lack hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen to the body’s cells. Fortunately for these white-blooded fish, polar waters are rich in oxygen.
Why it’s important: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3537155/ ">Studying these “bloodless” fish might offer many insights into medical science, according to polar researchers. For example, hemoglobin is a protein that contains iron, which promotes the formation of cell-ravaging free radicals that cause oxidative stress. Diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, among others, are associated with oxidative stress. Lacking hemoglobin, icefish offer a possible model on how to reduce problems caused by molecules run amok. Icefish can also serve as an example—with its low bone density—for studying bone development and osteoporosis.
The study of extremophiles isn’t just about understanding mother Earth. These organisms that live in impossible places may someday help us to understand new places beyond this planet, discover miracle drugs or even survive the hazards of deep space.
Special thanks to Steven Profaizer, director of communications at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, and Kelly Siman, Ph.D Biomimicry Fellow at the University of Akron, for their help in compiling this list.
Image Credit: Fraunhofer-Institute
Humanity has come a long way since the very first cities began to emerge about ten thousand years ago. Today, places like New York, Tokyo and Dubai are centers of innovation and human progress. Urban projects globally are pushing the limits of engineering, design and architecture. Exponential technologies are being integrated into the very skeleton of human civilization. Above all, we are seeing an emergence of futuristic societies with an inspiring vision for humanity.
From the man-made https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palm_Islands ">Palm Islands in Dubai to the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shanghai_Tower ">Shanghai tower in China, cities are home to the world’s most impressive engineering feats. They continue to compete with one another for taller skyscrapers, faster transportation systems and cleaner energy sources.
Exponential technologies are revolutionizing the future of infrastructure and disrupting the construction industry in the process. Dubai recently announced the opening of the https://www.cnet.com/news/dubai-unveils-worlds-first-3d-printed-office-building/ ">first ever 3https://www.cnet.com/news/dubai-unveils-worlds-first-3d-printed-office-building/ ">D printed office, and Amsterdam may soon be home to the http://mx3d.com/projects/bridge/ ">first ever 3http://mx3d.com/projects/bridge/ ">D printed bridge. With greater convenience, innovative design capabilities and reduced waste, 3D printing may dramatically bring down the cost of quality infrastructure. Given that funding has been a major bottleneck for enabling better infrastructure in many countries, including the US, this could be a liberating tool.
Another major force that will transform the urban landscape is the emergence of the Internet of Things. City-wide systems would use wireless signals to gather data from objects like trash cans, lights and even entire buildings. In a project entirely crowdsourced by citizens, https://thenextweb.com/insider/2015/08/19/the-things-network-wants-to-make-every-city-smart-starting-with-amsterdam/ ">Amsterdam is set to implement “The Things Network”, joining Taipei and Brasilia to become one of many emerging smart cities.
The applications of such “smart” cities are revolutionary. Many big players such as IBM and Cisco are developing data-driven systems for urban planning, transportation, energy, law enforcement and much more. Barcelona alone has experienced ahttp://www.techrepublic.com/article/smart-cities/ "> $58 million annual savings by using smart water meters. Imagine the potential if this kind of data-driven technology was applied to every city in the world, in every possible domain. City officials could plan for efficient energy usage, optimal transportation and minimal pollution levels.
Naturally, many concerns have been raised about privacy and autonomy with the overflow of information. Big city data will certainly transform official urban decision-making and even how politicians choose to interact with their citizens. While there is certainly value for the big data from cities to improve the lives of its citizens, it may also serve as an exploitable tool to private organizations and marketing agencies.
With the rise of technology comes increasing mobilization. Many prototypes of self-driving cars are already being tested in California and autonomous transport pods are running in Masdar City, Abu Dhabi. This increasing mobilization is expected both within and between major cities in the world. Perhaps one of the most anticipated projects is http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2016/11/10/500mph-hyperloop-train-will-travel-from-dubai-to-abu-dhabi-in-12/ ">Elon Musk’s hyperloop, a 500mph train that will travel between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, two cities in the United Arab Emirates 120 kilometers apart, in less than 12 minutes.
The increased connectedness between cities is not only a matter of physical mobility, but digital awareness as well. Dennis Frenchman, from the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning, has said, “Digital technology has put a nervous system into the planet, so we can actually feel the pain in China. This is a global level of consciousness and interdependence that we just never had before.” It is clear that world’s cities are becoming increasingly interconnected, both physically and digitally.
A greener future
As climate change becomes a growing threat against our species, humanity is faced with significant decisions. Many cities are integrating multiple solutions that involve sustainable infrastructure, cleaner transportation and renewable energy sources.
In the realm of renewable energy, the price of solar power alone is dropping to unprecedented lows. The cost of solar panels is expected to fall https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jan/26/solar-panel-costs-predicted-to-fall-10-a-year ">by 10 percenthttps://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jan/26/solar-panel-costs-predicted-to-fall-10-a-year "> every year. In some countries, wind energy is a http://www.huffingtonpost.com/adnan-z-amin/post_10557_b_8600240.html ">cheaper source than coal. Many cities are embracing these trends and integrating them into their urban development. Copenhagen, the most eco-friendly city in the world, is set to be http://ec.europa.eu/environment/europeangreencapital/winning-cities/2014-copenhagen/ ">carbon neutral by 2025, leading the way for all other major cities to follow in its footsteps.
In Abu Dhabi, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masdar_City ">Masdar City is one of the first zero-carbon, zero-emission and zero-car cities. One of its many notable features is a 45-meter-high wind tower that keeps desert temperatures as low as 20C when it’s 35C in other parts of the country. This is a step towards climate-controlled cities. The city is also designed to be a hub for innovative cleantech companies and clean energy research facilities.
The “greenification” of cities is also being led by the emergence of vertical farms. These vertical forests aren’t only aesthetically pleasing, they solve a crucial problem. http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/news/population/world-urbanization-prospects-2014.html ">By the year 2050, two thirds of the world’s population will be living in cities, and as the global population continues to increase, more land will be required to feed them.
Vertical farming could be a solution for cities to grow sustainably, with http://ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/vertical+farming-+learn+more.pdf ">advantages like increased crop production and energy sustainability. Developers from many local governments around the world, including New York, Paris and Bangalore have expressed interest in integrating vertical farming projects within their cities.
Cities are considered to be the center of development. As technological growth allows for an increased quality of life, access to resources and inter-connectedness, we will see an acceleration in innovation. This innovation may not simply be technological, but societal as well. Research has consistently shown that bigger, denser, and more affluent cities are some of the http://www.citylab.com/housing/2015/05/tolerance-and-intolerance-in-the-city/394385/ ">more tolerant places in the world. Cities are known to be the places most welcome to immigrants, artists and institutions. Cities from San Diego to London are investing in innovation hubs, which not only create jobs and boost the economy, but also integrate the very culture of innovation into their communities.
Above all, cities demonstrate that any goal within the laws of physics is possible. They continue to push the boundaries of human progress in all domains, whether it be creative, technological or societal. Pushing these boundaries will undoubtedly have a profound impact on citizens’ mindsets. The prime minister of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, said it best: “The future belongs to those who can imagine it, design it, and execute it. It isn’t something you await, but rather create.”
Image Credit: http://www.shutterstock.com ">Shutterstock
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
—Arthur C Clarke
Medical diagnostics often feels like magic to me. With just a few drops of blood, doctors can quickly decipher a patient’s general health status—are biomarker levels in range? Are there telltale signs of infection? Are the patient’s cells healthy, or have some quietly mutated into cancerous time bombs?
Behind that magical facade, however, diagnostics lives and breathes technology. Most lab tests rely heavily on specialized machinery and teams of technicians to ensure they’re done safely and correctly. It’s a pricey endeavor: even the most basic equipment—a centrifuge that separates different components of the blood, for example—can cost several thousands of dollars, a price tag far beyond what developing countries can afford.
Without access to cheaper options, many countries stricken by HIV or malaria are severely handicapped in their battles against insurgent epidemics. For them, modern diagnostics might as well be magic.
Now, a team of Stanford engineers has figured out a cheaper alternative. A study http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2017/01/31/1621318114.full ">published in http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2017/01/31/1621318114.full ">Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences describes a small, reusable microchip that can diagnose multiple diseases.
Here’s the kicker: each chip is made by standard inkjet printing, requires just 20 minutes to assemble, and the cost? A single penny.
“To the best of our knowledge, such a platform with similar functionalities, cost and advantages has not yet been reported,” the team, led by https://profiles.stanford.edu/ronald-davis ">Dr. Ronald Davis, concluded in http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2017/01/31/1621318114.full ">their paper.
“[This] is really a breakthrough,” http://www.gizmodo.co.uk/2017/02/this-tiny-disease-diagnosing-microchip-costs-less-than-a-penny-to-make/ ">says https://www.scripps.edu/research/faculty/topol ">Dr. Eric Topol at the Scripps Translational Science Institute (not involved in the study). “And I don’t use that word too liberally.”
Diagnostics: from physical labs to lab-on-a-chip
When a disease like HIV or malaria strikes, not every cell in the body is infected. In order to get an accurate readout, scientists often first try to isolate the culprit cells.
Since diseased cells are usually a much smaller population than healthy cells, scientists often need to tag them with a special marker in order for the machines to reliably pick them out—kind of like sticking a reflective sticker on a night-time cyclist for more visibility. This step is long and tough: not all target cells get tagged with the marker, and sometimes the marker itself can change the properties of a cell, which disrupts subsequent readouts.
About 15 years ago, scientists began exploring the possibility of simplifying—and miniaturizing—the whole process. Most cells and biomolecules have distinctive properties—size, shape, density and electronic charges, to name a few. Exploiting these properties, scientists made dozens of specialized sensors that only capture bioparticles with a particular property.
When combined with microfluidics, a technology that deals with small amounts of liquid, the sensors were about to isolate blood cells, sequester bacteria, or grab onto various proteins and DNA molecules from droplets of blood and other biological samples—and the first lab-on-a-chip devices were born.
Almost immediately, global health advocates realized the potential of these portable diagnostic wonders for helping poor, developing countries. But they were tough to make.
“[These] platforms often require access to a clean room, sophisticated equipment, and highly trained personnel to perform…manufacturing procedures,” says study author https://www.omicsonline.org/editor-profile/Rahim_Esfandyarpour/ ">Dr. Rahim Esfandyarpour to Singularity Hub. “This entire procedure can take several days or weeks.”
The flexible inkjet-nanoparticle-printed biochip
To circumvent these problems, Davis’s team turned to a surprising manufacturing device: an ink-jet printer, similar to the one you probably have at your workplace.
The new chip, dubbed FINP chip, is a modular, three-layered sandwich: the top reusable layer is made of commercially available conductive particles directly printed onto a flexible polyethylene sheet. The bottom layer is a disposable silicone chamber designed to hold biological fluids. A thin insulating barrier separates the top electronics from the chamber.
Making the chip is an easy two-step process.
First, users can use any vector-drawing software—for example, Adobe Illustrator—to draw a customized electronic configuration. Because different configurations can be used for different diagnostic purposes, this step tailors the chip to a user’s exact needs.
Next, using any inkjet printer, the drawn electronic pattern is printed onto a cheap, plastic-like sheet, and plopped onto single-use chambers that can be supplied to the user in bulk.
Just like 3D printing, these designs may eventually be downloadable, allowing anyone with a printer to produce their own biochips when needed.
“Production only takes 20 minutes,” says Esfandyarpour.
Similar to previous microchips, the FINP chip isolates cells and biomolecules based on their intrinsic electrical properties. As proof-of-concept, the team designed a chip with two types of chambers: one that isolates cells, and one that analyzes them. They then ran the device through a series of experiments to validate the chip.
In one test, the team showed that the device could efficiently capture breast cancer cells from a fluid sample. Similar to most biomolecules like proteins and DNA, cancer cells have a unique surface charge. By manipulating the electronic field, researchers were able to steer the cancer cells toward a specific chamber on the chip and trap them there, away from all the other cell types.
Since the ability to pick out rare circulating tumor cells can increase our understanding of cancer metastasis, the device could help us detect early spread and potentially save lives, especially in developing countries, the authors explain.
In another experiment, the team wanted to see if the chip could be used to accurately count the number of cells in a given sample. Immune cell counts are often used to diagnose infectious diseases like tuberculosis and malaria, and traditionally done with a technique called flow cytometry that can cost $100,000 for the equipment alone. The penny chip performed just as well.
The FNIP chip is the latest win for frugal science—a field that’s bringing cheap, portable and reliable tools to doctors anywhere in the world.
You’ve probably heard of some previous designs: https://www.ted.com/talks/manu_prakash_a_50_cent_microscope_that_folds_like_origami?utm_source=MIT+TR+Newsletters&utm_campaign=51ae6e3194-The_Download&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_997ed6f472-51ae6e3194-153764309 ">a foldable microscope that costs just 50 cents, or http://www.nature.com/articles/s41551-016-0009 ">a paper centrifuge that doesn’t require electricity.
Davis and his team are now working hard to get their chip ready for commercialization.
“Any platform for diagnostics or other biomedical applications must go through several testing, validation and optimization paths before commercialization, and we'll take and follow it very seriously,” says Esfandyarpour.
But the team is optimistic that their device can make a difference.
“[We believe] this work will enable greater individual access to… diagnostic applications in resource-poor and developing countries,” http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2017/01/31/1621318114.full ">says Davis.
Image Credit: http://www.shutterstock.com ">Shutterstock
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/can-artificial-intelligence-predict-earthquakes/ " target="_blank">Can Artificial Intelligence Predict Earthquakes?
Annie Sneed | Scientific American
"Along with more sophisticated computing, he [Johnson] and his team are trying something in the lab no one else has done before: They are feeding machines raw data—massive sets of measurements taken continuously before, during and after lab-simulated earthquake events. They then allow the algorithm to sift through the data to look for patterns that reliably signal when an artificial quake will happen."
https://www.wired.com/2017/02/piaggio-gita-drone/ ">The Cute Robot That Follows You Around and Schleps All Your Stuff
David Pierce | WIRED
"The team’s first product is http://gita.piaggiofastforward.com/ " target="_blank">Gita, a round rolling robot that can carry up to 40 pounds of cargo for miles at a time. Rather than get you from A to B as fast as possible, it’s meant to get you there more easily. More than that, Gita is a way to begin to explore what the world looks like when humans and robots share the sidewalk. And, hopefully, to make that idea seem a little less scary."
http://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/2/15/14613878/national-academy-genome-editing-humans " target="_blank">Scientists Can Now Genetically Engineer Humans. A Big New Report Asks Whether We Should.
Brad Plumer | VOX News
"On Tuesday, the influential National Academy of Sciences released a 261-page report on this issue, titled https://www.nap.edu/catalog/24623/human-genome-editing-science-ethics-and-governance " target="_blank">“Human Genome Editing: Science, Ethics, and Governance.” It’s one of the most thorough looks yet at what’s likely to be possible with new genome-editing techniques—and why scientists should tread carefully. The report’s recommendations are eyebrow-raising."
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/10/opinion/sunday/microbes-a-love-story.html " target="_blank">Microbes, a Love Story
Moises Velasquez-Manoff | The New York Times
"What Dr. Erdman’s research suggests is that the microbes we carry, the same ones that make us attractive to potential mates, also directly influence our reproductive success. So when mammals choose mates based on the glow of health, they’re choosing not just an attractive set of genes, but also perhaps a microbial community that might facilitate reproduction."
http://www.theverge.com/2017/2/15/14623572/nasa-space-launch-system-crewed-sls-flight-10-investigation " target="_blank">NASA Is Thinking About Putting Astronauts on the First Flight of Its Future Giant Rocket
Loren Grush | The Verge
"The current plan for EM-1 is to launch the SLS [Space Launch System] from Kennedy Space Center on September 30th, 2018. The vehicle is supposed to carry NASA’s Orion crew capsule—without a crew—into an orbit around the Moon. Orion will spend a total of three weeks in space before coming back and landing on Earth with the aid of parachutes. Astronauts would then ride inside Orion for the first time on EM-2, the second flight of the SLS. That trip isn’t supposed to happen until 2021 at the earliest."
FUTURE OF WORK
https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603465/the-relentless-pace-of-automation/ " target="_blank">"The Relentless Pace of Automation"
David Rotman | MIT Technology Review
"But many economists argue that automation bears much more blame than globalization for the decline of jobs in the region’s manufacturing sector and the gutting of its middle class... It is 'glaringly obvious,' says Daron Acemoglu, an economist at MIT, that political leaders are “totally unprepared” to deal with how automation is changing employment."
Image Source: https://www.shutterstock.com " target="_blank">Shutterstock
Today, most of us carry the world in our pockets. Global navigation satellite systems (GNSS)—what most people typically just call GPS—aren’t simply about sending geo-located tweets from our favorite restaurants. Countless industries rely on high-precision navigation, from agriculture to construction. The brave new world of self-driving cars and Amazon booty delivered by drone is largely predicated on all those satellites orbiting the planet.
The accuracy of these systems is amazing. The signals broadcast from US Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites http://www.gps.gov/systems/gps/performance/accuracy/ ">are accurate to within less than three feet 95 percent of the time, according to the official US government website GPS.gov. In reality, the signal is never quite that good. Local features such as buildings and trees can affect the signal, not to mention atmospheric interference. The typical smartphone is accurate within a 16-foot radius.
A consortium of European universities, institutes and companies thinks it can do better by integrating the world’s four main GNSS constellations. It’s called TREASURE, squeezing all these words into the acronym: Training, REsearch and Applications network to Support the Ultimate Real time high accuracy EGNSS solution.
The TREASURE team plans to integrate signals from the US’s GPS constellation, along with Russia’s Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS), China’s BeiDou Navigation Satellite System and Europe’s new Galileo navigation system.
This multi-GNSS would provide accuracy within just a few centimeters in real time.
“Although accuracy is at the core of our vision, the improvement we are aiming for is not only to do with accuracy—we are also especially concerned with robustness,” explains project lead Marcio Aquino, from the Nottingham Geospatial Institute, by email. “The big challenge today is to enable centimeter-level accuracy anywhere, anytime in the world.”
It won’t be easy. For example, GPS uses a different transmission system than Russia’s GLONASS. Signals from Galileo are similar to GPS but with slightly different carrier frequencies, according to Aquino. Not to mention that the various constellations use different time and geodetic reference systems.
Weathering the storm
One of the goals of the TREASURE project is to reduce atmospheric disturbances to the signals beamed from satellites back to Earth. Most of the problems occur in the upper layer of the atmosphere, known as the ionosphere, located about 50 to 375 miles above Earth. That’s where solar radiation from the sun ionizes atoms and molecules, creating a layer of electrons. Free electrons can interfere with satellite signals, especially during space weather events.
“The atmosphere poses the greatest threat to the success of robust high-accuracy GNSS positioning, whatever individual constellation you consider,” Aquino says. “The ionosphere, in particular, may be so disturbed that it can render these services pretty useless, especially during periods of high solar activity and in parts of the globe that are more prone to suffer with these effects, such as equatorial and high-latitude regions.”
Aquino explains that the ability to use the signals from the different GNSS constellations will make it much easier to monitor and measure disturbances, because of the greater number of signals probing the atmosphere. “The same applies for local interference,” he notes, “where the more signals you have, the better your chances of modeling and countering the problem.”
Interestingly, GPS satellites themselves carry special sensors that collect data about space weather. Los Alamos National Laboratory recently released http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2017SW001604/abstract;jsessionid=6A25F46287F985DE634ABAD8D0B64CCF.f04t03 ">more than 16 years of data in the journal Space Weather to researchers.
Carried on 23 of the 30 current GPS satellites, the sensors measure the energy and intensity of charged particles trapped in Earth’s magnetic field. The sensors take detailed measurements of the trapped particles, which form the Van Allen radiation belts, every six hours.
The measurements provide data on variations in the largest of the Van Allen radiation belts, including how it responds to solar storms. That information should help researchers develop models to forecast space weather—an important step in protecting the satellites themselves and the signals they emit back to Earth.
Going beyond GPS
High-precision GPS for self-driving cars and unmanned drones is an obvious application of a multi-GNSS. However, a team of researchers at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) believe GPS alone isn’t the answer to reliable navigation for autonomous systems. They have developed a http://www.ece.ucr.edu/~zkassas/papers/Kassas_Signals_of_Opportunity_Aided_Inertial_Navigation.pdf ">navigation system that instead uses environmental signals such as cellular and WiFi.
They note that GPS signals don’t do well in some environments, such as deep canyons. Signals can be intentionally jammed and even hacked. This has led manufacturers of autonomous systems like cars and drones to add cameras, lasers and other sensors for navigation.
“By adding more and more sensors, researchers are throwing in everything but the kitchen sink to prepare autonomous vehicle navigation systems for the inevitable scenario that GPS signals become unavailable. We took a different approach, which is to exploit signals that are already out there in the environment,” says Zak Kassas, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at UCR’s Bourns College of Engineering, in a https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-10/uoc--ngn101316.php ">press release.
Using what they call “signals of opportunity,” the scientists are working toward building software-defined radios that can extract timing and positioning information from environmental signals. The project also includes developing navigation algorithms and testing the final system on autonomous vehicles and drones.
“Self-driving cars and many other applications rely on a combination of different sensors where multi-GNSS is definitely a major player,” Aquino notes. “Our main goal, however, is to make multi-GNSS robust and accurate as a technology that can be relied upon as the backbone of these applications, and therefore provide the means for new multi-GNSS-based ideas to flourish.”
A highly accurate multi-GNSS wouldn’t just be a boon to navigation on Earth. Deep-space missions might also benefit from a more robust satellite navigation system, though that’s beyond the scope of TREASURE.
NASA has already been working to improve the use of GPS signals above low Earth orbit, defined as between 100 and 1,200 miles. LEO, as it’s known, is where most space missions take place. The International Space Station, for example, cruises around the planet at about 250 miles. Meanwhile, GPS satellites fly in medium Earth orbit (MEO) at an altitude of about 12,500 miles.
However, GPS signals above LEO are much weaker. Several years ago, the space agency developed the Navigator GPS flight receiver, which significantly boosted the signals. In fact, last year NASA’s https://mms.gsfc.nasa.gov/about_mms.html ">Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission satellites (MMS) set a Guinness World Record for highest altitude fix of a GPS signal at 43,500 miles above Earth. MMS is studying the connections between the Earth and sun’s magnetic fields.
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-11/nsfc-nnc110416.php ">Now NASA is developing a new technology called NavCube. The name—and the technology—merges the Navigator GPS flight receiver with SpaceCube, NASA’s fast flight computing platform. NASA believes the combined technology has the potential to improve navigation to areas of space near the moon.
In addition, the technology might also demonstrate X-ray communication in space. NASA scientists say it has the potential to transmit gigabits per second through the solar system.
GPS: It’s more than just a cool feature on your smartphone. And the better it gets, the more we can explore the world—and beyond.
Image Credit: http://www.shutterstock.com ">Shutterstock
Go to any airport and you’ll see wearied travelers huddled around outlets leeching out precious electricity to feed their devices. They aren’t alone in their need for power. With more than 3 billion smartphones alone in circulation in 2016, more people are experiencing the frustration of a phone dying when you’re using maps in an unfamiliar area or just watching the latest viral video.
In response, consumers are increasingly calling for bigger, longer-lasting batteries so that they spend less time looking for anywhere to plug in.
But those days may be coming to an end, thanks to new technology from Disney Research. The company has developed a method for wireless power transmission where the only thing you have to do to charge your phone is be in a specially-designed room.
This means airport outlet mobbing may soon be nothing but an unpleasant memory.
The new method, called http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0169045 ">quasistatic cavity resonance (QSCR, works by inducing electrical currents inside a room where the walls, floor and ceiling have been metalized. The electrical currents permeate the room with magnetic fields, enabling power to be transmitted to a device’s receiving coils operating at the same resonant frequency.
In the demonstration of QSCR detailed in their paper, researchers built a 16-by-16-foot room with aluminum walls, ceiling and floor bolted to an aluminum frame. The metal floor was covered with insulating carpet, and a capacitor-filled copper pole was placed in the center of the room. A spiral drive coil was used to stimulate the room.
They were able to safely transmit 1.9 kilowatts of power to a receiver at 90 percent efficiency—that’s equivalent to charging 320 phones at once.
As much as wireless charging sounds appealing, concerns about the health risks of electromagnetic fields abound. During their simulations, researchers tracked Specific Absorption Rate, which measures how much power is absorbed by biological tissue, and ensured the value stayed at or below an established threshold.
Though the research is still in early stages, researchers predict they’ll eventually be able to reduce the need for fully-metalized rooms, perhaps by retrofitting existing structures with modular panels or conductive paint. Larger spaces could be accommodated by using multiple copper poles.
"This new innovative method will make it possible for electrical power to become as ubiquitous as WiFi," https://phys.org/news/2017-02-wireless-power-transmission-safely-devices.html ">said Alanson Sample, associate lab director & principal research scientist at Disney Research.
Besides making our day-to-day lives easier, QSCR could accelerate the progress of electronic devices by reducing our dependence on batteries.
Many of us probably don’t realize that the devices we are carrying around in our purses and pockets are basically big batteries with a chip and a screen attached to them. For an iPhone 7, for example, the battery alone takes up two-thirds of the length, over half the width, and a fifth of the total weight. Our phones are essentially designed around the battery, thus power is a major limiting factor for smartphone technology as a whole.
But what if our devices didn’t need big batteries? How would that change their weight, their design, and their capabilities? Rather than being designed for the battery’s sake, they could be designed for the engagement we want.
Augmented reality and virtual reality, for example, are power-hungry apps that would be much more feasible to use on our phones if power wasn’t an issue (just ask Pokemon Go players). Imagine if you could have a phone for heavy duty data visualizations. Or how about having triple or quadruple the amount of storage space?
Beyond our phones, think of the other power-hungry devices like quadcopters or Google glass that suddenly could have new designs with continuous usage through wireless charging.
Solving the power problem, then, is just the first step—deciding what to do with all that extra space will follow close behind.
Banner Image Credit: http://www.shutterstock.com ">Shutterstock
Organ donation has saved countless lives, but could donating our personal data have an even more transformative impact on healthcare?
The potential impact of Big Data and machine learning on healthcare is only just beginning to become apparent. Barely a month goes by without researchers unveiling algorithms giving human doctors a run for their money at diagnostic challenges like http://edition.cnn.com/2017/01/26/health/ai-system-detects-skin-cancer-study/ ">detecting skin cancer or https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/ai-matches-docs-in-diagnosing-rare-eye-condition ">identifying congenital cataracts.
The approach is http://www.nbcnews.com/mach/innovation/how-machine-learning-revolutionizing-diagnosis-rare-diseases-n700901 ">particularly powerful for rare diseases. Human experts are only likely to have seen a handful of cases, which makes it hard for them to notice patterns. But a machine can churn through every historical case report to pick up the subtle cues.
This ability to identify patterns in the huge amount of data held in personal medical records and lifestyle data collected by wearables and apps—like daily exercise levels, calorie intake and alcohol consumption—could not only help catch disease early, but also help personalize healthcare.
It’s well known that certain treatments work better for some patients than others. If everyone’s health data was easily accessible—especially their genomic data—it would be much easier for doctors to identify which treatments work on specific groups of patients and tailor treatments to individuals.
The same process could also http://www.mckinsey.com/industries/pharmaceuticals-and-medical-products/our-insights/how-big-data-can-revolutionize-pharmaceutical-r-and-d ">supercharge the pharmaceutical R&D process and academic research into disease. Being able to target specific groups of patients to enroll in medical trials based on everything from their genetic information to their social media feed could allow smaller, shorter, cheaper and more focused drug trials. Live data streams could also enable trials to be monitored in real time.
At present, though, understandable concerns around privacy and security mean it’s often tough to get hold of this kind of data. A http://www.reuters.com/article/us-cybersecurity-hospitals-idUSKCN0HJ21I20140924 ">report by Reuters found that medical information is worth ten times more on the black market than credit card details. Information about someone’s health can be particularly embarrassing as well, so it’s no surprise there are stringent regulations about handling health data.
While it is possible to anonymize data, it’s perfectly http://www.forbes.com/sites/kalevleetaru/2016/08/24/the-big-data-era-of-mosaicked-deidentification-can-we-anonymize-data-anymore/#796905704839 ">possible to deanonymize it too. Many of the most transformative uses of healthcare also don’t allow for the data to be anonymized–there’s no point in identifying the perfect medical trial candidate if you can’t contact them.
So while more than 80 percent of US hospitals and doctors have an electronic medical record (EMR) system, ultimately http://www.nature.com/nbt/journal/v33/n9/full/nbt.3341.html ">few research projects take advantage of this wealth of data because of the huge amounts of red tape surrounding patient consent.
This has resulted in a growing push to encourage patients to donate their data for the public good. http://www.personalgenomes.org/ ">The Personal Genome Project aggregates donated genome, health, and trait data, while https://www.openhumans.org/ ">Open Humans allows people to share data from everything from wearables to health apps with projects of their choice. Both are run by the Open Humans Foundation.
https://www.patientslikeme.com/ ">PatientsLikeMe lets people connect with others suffering similar problems to them for support and health advice, but it also offers researchers real-time patient generated data on disease progression and treatment efficacy. Others have suggested http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.15252/embr.201541802/pdf ">a model closer to organ donation to encourage people to donate their medical records after their death.
Encouraging widespread adoption of data donation faces significant hurdles though, not least how to incentivize donors to come forward. Datadonors, another service that sought to aggregate donated health data, closed in December after failing to attract enough users. Founder Dani Nofal told me they focused too much on the back end and too little on communication, but the https://github.com/wikilife-org ">source code is on GitHub and he hopes someone else can take the idea forward.
A https://www.researchgate.net/publication/269101036_Data_Donation_Sharing_Personal_Data_for_Public_Good ">study by researchers from the University of Nottingham found that while many were motivated to donate their data on the basis of helping others, the possibility of benefiting themselves was also a significant driver for some. This suggests proponents should seek to explain the beneficial knock-on effects of sharing your data.
People also need to feel safe sharing their data, according to http://interactions.acm.org/archive/view/september-october-2015/exploring-personal-data-for-public-good-research ">a report in The Association for Computing Machinery Interactions magazine, which means giving them control over how their data is used and by whom. In addition, most research proposals require informed consent to pass ethics reviews. Using data from apps and online services where users simply tick a box to accept terms and conditions is unlikely to meet this requirement.
There is a technical challenge too—open healthcare databases are only useful if they are easily accessible and their data is in a usable format. That is going to require https://hbr.org/2015/12/the-untapped-potential-of-health-care-apis ">open, standardized application programming interfaces (APIs) of the kind championed by the tech industry that would provide access to the information needed to come up with innovative new solutions to healthcare problems.
If successful, this kind of open access could finally put the enormous wealth of healthcare data to good use. Not only could it accelerate biomedical research and help doctors and patients make more informed decisions about their treatment, it will also open healthcare up to software developers who can bring new approaches to solving some of medicine’s most intractable problems.
Image Credit: http://www.shutterstock.com ">Shutterstock