Cockroaches Injected With DNA Nanobots
Mystery barges, floating cities, mind-controlled cars and Bitcoin ATMs are just a handful of the latest technology to surface this week.
The New York City Council officially approved plans for the Empire Outlets and the New York Wheel, a 630-foot-tall ride and tourist attraction that will finally put Staten Island on the map. Groundbreaking will take place in 2014.
Laboratoire de Photophysique et Photochimie Supramoléculaire et Macromoléculaire, in Paris, and Crime Scene Technology
A new product called Lumicyano reveals fingerprints faster and cheaper than existing techniques. The fingerprint powder is made from a chemical compound and a dye considered the smallest fluorescent colorants known to date. As opposed to waiting two days for results, this technique gives results instantly when dusted and then shined with a UV lamp. Additionally, any DNA in those prints remains unharmed.
Video screengrab, Tom Bell, Portland Press Herald
Two mystery barges have shown up in the harbors of San Francisco and Portland, ME. They belong to Google, but the company won't divulge what the vessels, which are made from stacked shipping containers, are for. Speculations and rumors abound. Some say the barges might be floating data centers or floating retail stores for Google Glass or floating VIP party boats. No is certain and only time will tell.
+ Phil Pauley
London designer Phil Pauley has reimagined the home of the future, where sea levels have risen and land is scarce. His Sub-Biosphere 2 is comprised of a Central Support Biome surrounded by eight spherical Living Biomes. According to Pauley's website, the biome would contain life support systems for air, water, food, electricity and "other resources through its innovative control of variant atmospheric pressures that occur at depth."
The world's first Bitcoin ATM, owned by the company Bitcoiniacs, went live inside a downtown Vancouver coffee shop. Bitcoin is a distributed peer-to-peer digital currency that functions without the intermediation of any government or central authority.
Alejo Bernal, a recent graduate of Design Academy Eindhoven, has developed a toy car that can be driven forward with thought. He designed it to improve concentration skills. The user controls it wearing NeuroSky EEG headset and then focusing for several seconds on the car. He knows if he's concentrating correctly because the vehicle lights up to indicate neuronal activity and then drives forward.
New technology could reduce cop car chases. The “Starchase” projectile is a GPS-equipped bullet that is launched from a squad car’s grille and controlled from a console inside the cab. Once shot, the device sticks to the perpetrator's car and then sends real-time GPS coordinates to a law-enforcement computer or phone, allowing the police to track the offender without engaging in a high-speed chase.
Laboratory of Intelligent Systems
The GimBall robot, created by roboticists at the École Polytechnique Fédérale in Lausanne, Switzerland, is a quadrotor encased in a spherical, flexible cage that protects its innards. Inspired by flies that simply bounce off walls or windows and then continue their flight, this robot needs no sensors to view its flight path. It merely follows its direction to get from point A to B, and if it collides with an obstacle along the way, it simply bounces off and continues flying.
A pair of smart glasses could help visually impaired people see. The glasses have two small cameras that capture two different images, just as human eyes do. A computer transfers the images to transparent LED displays on the lenses, so the wearer can see an enhanced image. The cameras also read text from road signs, send it to the computer, which then converts it into speech and plays it through a set of headphones.
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The Neurocam and its accompanying app use EEG sensors to measure brainwave activity and look for spikes. When one is measured, the app assumes the wearer is interested in what she is seeing and that cues the phone's camera to start recording a video. Footage is recorded as five-second GIFs, which are then stored in an album so users can remember what exactly struck their interest.
Cockroaches might be the new guinea pig. Bioengineers have successfully injected them with nanorobots made from DNA that can unfold to dispense drugs.
The nanoscale robots were made using DNA strands that fold and unfold like origami. They can function like mini-computers, carrying out simple tasks. One day similar nanorobots could be programmed to seek out diseases inside humans and treat them at the site, with medical precision.
The work is being led by Daniel Levner from Wyss Institute at Harvard University and scientists at Bar Ilan University in Israel. He and his colleagues programmed the DNA nanorobots to interact with each other and move around inside a living cockroach.
The programs were simple logical operations that directed the DNA to unfold and release a molecule, for example, when it encountered a specific protein.
Each nanorobot had a fluorescent marker so the team could track the robots as they moved around inside the roach and see where the bot unfolded to deliver a substance carried in the folds, New Scientist’s Sarah Spickernell reported. The research was just published in Nature Nanotechnology (abstract).
“This is the first time that biological therapy has been able to match how a computer processor works,” Ido Bachelet from Bar Ilan University’s Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials told New Scientist. Next, they said they plan to scale up the computing power that can be put inside a single cockroach — enough to equal a Commodore 64.
Cockroaches have the advantage of not rejecting the tiny machines as foreign invaders like mammals do, although the team told New Scientist they are confident about making the bots stable enough to start human trials within five years. When mini robots eventually do prolong our lives, we’ll have the lowly cockroach to thank.
Photo Credit: iStockPhoto.