'Biobot' Moths Become Cyborgs in Cocoon
This week we feature city surfing, levitating speakers, tornadoes made of light and swarms of robots that self-organize into complex shapes. Above: This cargo plane from UK-based 4x4 Aviation is being designed to carry 30 tons of equipment and supplies. Four clusters of four electrically powered ducted fans provide enough lift for a vertical take off and landing. Once in the plane is airborne, the fans move into a horizontal position for forward flight at 200 mph. See thevideo here
A new urban attraction in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, will bring ocean sports to the city's Steigersgracht Canal.RiF010
is a wave-generating facility that will create a 14-second wave where people can surf, kayak and swim.
Santiago Calatrava and Florida Polytechnic University
The Innovation, Science, and Technology Building at Florida Polytechnic University is the latest project from renowned architect Santiago Calatrava. The 200,000-square-foot building was constructed from aluminum, concrete and glass in a way that promotes the use of natural light without overheating in the Florida sun. FPU is the a member of the state’s university system, and gets its first incoming students this Fall semester.
For the yacht owner who has an extra $50,000 laying around comes the Wet Rod Personal Watercraft from luxury yacht builder,Strand Craft
. The V8 engine generates 300 horsepower and a top speed of 65 mph.
By day, this bottle filters and purifies water using the sun's ultraviolet light and by night, it illuminates dark areas. Perfect for campers. A USB port charges the bottle's battery for 10 hours of light.
The Om/One Bluetooth speaker from Om Audio levitates via magnetism over a 6.3-inch base. You can get one for $179 or donate to the crowdfunding effort on the company's website.
Scientists from the University of Cambridge have used nanotechnology to create a therapeutic 'Trojan horse" that gets into cancerous cells and destroys them from the inside out. It starts with tiny nanoparticles made from gold, which the cancer cells do not see as a threat, and contains cisplatin, a chemotherapy drug. Once the particles are inside the cell, the area is exposed to radiation, which causes the gold to release electrons that damage the the DNA of the cells, enhancing the impact of the chemotherapy drug. In this image, the nanoparticles are green and have entered the nucleus of the cell, which is blue.
, based in England, uses LEDs and long-exposure techniques to create tornadic swirls of light that are simply otherworldly.
A swarm of 1,024 tiny robots have run amok at Harvard University. Well, not quite. The collective of autonomous bots, called Kilobots, are able to work together in a way that resembles bees and ants. In experiments, the bots came together into the shape of a starfish and a letter of the alphabet.
This concept jet has no windows and yet it provides panoramic views. It's able to do that thanks to an interior lined with high-definition digital displays. The IXION from Technicon Design uses cameras mounted on the plane’s exterior to capture the surrounding scenery and then project that onto screens on the cabin walls and ceiling. The display can also present programmed scenery when the view outside is less than captivating.
It’s like my grandma used to say: “Life is a grand adventure, and there are only three things worth worrying about — your family, your health and cyborg moth spies.”
New research out of North Carolina State University this week promises to accelerate the development of cybernetically modified “biobot” moths. The idea? To create remote control moth swarms that could be deployed as a flying sensor network for surveillance or disaster response.
The concept has actually been around for quite a few years — since 2006, officially — in the form of a U.S. government sponsored program called HI-MEMS (Hybrid Insect Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems). The program is administered, rather predictably, by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
The overall goal of the program is to create genuine cybernetic insects — a literal merging of biological and electronic bugs. Circuitry implanted into the moths allows for remote control of the insect, which may also be equipped with various kinds of monitors and transmitters. For example, sensors might include low-power video cameras and microphones, or gas sensors for bugs flying into certain disaster scenarios.
The new research out of N.C. State, published in the online Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE), proposes a new method for attaching electrodes to a moth during its pupal stage, in the cocoon. As the caterpillar is undergoing metamorphosis into the winged adult stage, the sensors embed themselves in such a way that researchers can directly monitor the electrical signals in muscle groups the moth uses during flight.
“We’re optimistic that this information will help us develop technologies to remotely control the movements of moths in flight,” writes paper co-author Dr. Alper Bozkurt, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at N.C. State, on the university project page. “That’s essential to the overarching goal of creating biobots that can be part of a cyberphysical sensor network.”
To test the new technique, the researchers created wireless platform — pictured above — in which the cybernetic moth is tethered to a lightweight platform that is itself suspended in mid-air by electromagnets. It’s a little hard to describe. Check out this video at Phys.org to get a sense of the weirdness.
I assume the whirring sound you hear in the video is my grandma spinning in her grave, but it’s hard to tell for sure.
Credit: Alper Bozkurt, N.C. State