Scientists have grown muscles in the lab. (Who else would?) These muscles can self-heal, fluoresce when they compress and have been successfully implanted into mice.
The Duke University researchers say their success was down to creating the perfect environment for muscle growth – well-developed contractile muscle fibres and a pool of immature stem cells, known as satellite cells, that could develop into muscle tissue.
In tests, the lab-grown muscle was found to be strong and good at contracting and was able to repair itself using the satellite cells when the researchers damaged it with a toxin.
When it was grafted into mice, the muscle appeared to integrate well with the rest of the surrounding tissue and began doing the job required of it.
They say more tests are needed before they could move the work into humans.
Lead researcher Nenad Bursac said: “The muscle we have made represents an important advance for the field.
“It’s the first time engineered muscle has been created that contracts as strongly as native neonatal [newborn] skeletal muscle.”
Scientists say future uses of the muscles include “going back to the beach and giving that sand-kicking bully a taste of his own medicine.” But, for now, laboratory tests on the mice to measure bully resistance have been less than encouraging and they are looking into teaching the rodents karate.
The perch, which holds the wires, is made to look like a branch and the camera is hidden behind a black screen.
These come in a variety of shapes.
There’s something particularly creepy about cute and harmless looking things that are anything but. (Like those kids in horror movies.) You can trust a monster that looks like a monster. Problem is, most monsters don’t. (There’s very little profit in that for the monster, you see.) And there’s little reason why CCTV cameras should be any different.
CCTV cameras were ugly and I guess this is, in some sense, an improvement but the problem with the cameras is not how they look but what they do, how they do it and who they do it for. This won’t solve any of those problems. It may just make us fear large aluminum crickets, which, come to think of it, is a pretty good policy.
via Archie McPhee
This is from the NY Post, so you know . . .
Robots aren’t just taking your jobs, they’re stealing your profits on stock trades, too.
The stock market has been rigged by a group of tech-savvy insiders who are using super-computers to game trades at the expense of normal investors, journalist Michael Lewis charges in his new book, “Flash Boys.”
The high-tech traders have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to roll out computer networks with high-speed fiber-optic connections that can quickly detect when investors place orders to buy stocks, according to the new book, which hits shelves this week.
The robots’ high-speed networks allow them to buy the stocks milliseconds in advance — enough time to push up the price for the investor that had made the original order.
“They’re able to identify your desire to, to buy shares in Microsoft and buy them in front of you and sell them back to you at a higher price,” Lewis said. “The speed advantage that the faster traders have is milliseconds … fractions of milliseconds.”
Reading this article, I like to imagine some guy who just lost his job to a robot, thinking ‘At least I still have my investments’ and opening his morning paper. He spits out his coffee, starts writing letters to the editors and his local politicians, complaining to his neighbors about the robot menace and is considered by all to be little more than an affable crank until one day THE ROBOTS RISE. And people are all like “We should have heeded your warnings, Barry.” They make him head of the human resistance. It’s a total disaster. They replace him with a robot.
pic nicked from here
Here’s a headline that sounds more exciting than it is: Facebook’s Drones Will Battle Google’s Balloons to Spread Internet Access. I mean, you hear something like that and you picture little planes shooting at exploding balloons with the pew-pew and blam-blam and pow-pow. But no. They’ll just be battling in business or some shit. Yawn.
Facebook announced today that it has set up a team to work on solar powered aircraft that would circle at a height of 20 kilometers to provide Internet access to suburban areas of the world where connectivity is scarce.
The only trouble is, that’s territory already staked out by Google for the fleet of high altitude balloons at the heart of its own plan to improve access to the Internet in poor regions of the world. Google has carried out test flights of the balloons already, and says they will operate at between 18 and 27 kilometers above the Earth.
Both companies have chosen those heights because they put their craft far above weather and commercial air traffic. Neither has said anything about how their balloons or drones might detect and avoid one another.
Wait . . . They might crash into each other? That sounds interesting. I’d like to see a drone crash into a balloon. Who wouldn’t? Maybe the people below them. Who has time to ask? Or to think for that matter. You wouldn’t want a bunch of regulations holding back progress, would you?
Stories like these are supposed to set the imagination aflame but I get the distinct sense that’s about all they’re really supposed to do. This seems like theater for shareholders performed at the expense of the people below. “Look, progress!” Use the words ”drone” and “Internet” and someone will be talking about how “science fiction” it all is and “it’s so future.” Cyberpunk will be invoked. And we must all bow before Cyberpunk. Because internet. Democratization. So on and so forth.
But we’ve heard these sorts of predictions before. More times than I can count.
All that’s happening here is profit, probably (hopefully) disconnected from actual reality, and a battle over a market share of the sky.
And before I’m told to THINK OF THE CHILDREN, who must be living their terrible lives in squalid hovels, denied the simple pleasures and economic opportunities created by Farmville or whatever that shit is called, let me just hook you up with this piece: Why flying ‘Internet drones’ over Africa is a dumb, libertarian fantasy:
Let me be even more clear: The Internet already exists in Africa! With few exceptions, no matter where I went in Ghana, I got wireless service – and was even able to tether my laptop to my BlackBerry. All of these experiences, as well as quickly signing up for a pre-paid wireless service in nearby Nigeria, make me deeply skeptical about the much-hyped attempts by massive Western corporations to “bring” Internet service to Africans. Google is planning on floating balloons over unconnected parts of the continent. And now Facebook, according to Techcrunch, is looking at buying a drone company called Titan Aerospace to do much the same thing: Toss up solar-powered unmanned flying craft that will beam down Internet to remote areas – like something out of a remake of The Gods Must Be Crazy.
It’s one of the most sensible things I’ve read on the subject. (Hard to believe it appeared in The Globe and Mail.) I especially like this part:
I don’t trust people in Silicon Valley to tell me what’s happening elsewhere in California, let alone what’s happening (or should be happening) in Africa. The steady stream of idiotic products that accompanies every sliver of innovation from the tech world is evidence enough of this. But every once in a while, international aid in the form of technology metastasizes into something particularly stupid – like Kony2012 – and the ideas gain outsized attention (and funds and credence) by playing on simplistic assumptions by people who know absolutely nothing about the situation on the ground. There are thousands of smart Africans already working in technology in Africa, and doing amazing things, and I don’t hear many of them talking about balloons and drones (except those other sorts of drones).
Because it’s not the balloons or drones that I hate so much as it is the breathless imperialist hype around these things. I trust these companies about as far as I can throw them and that’s more trust than they’ve earned. And maybe I’m just over-sensitized from too much time listening to sci-fi writers and their fans and the ensuing techno circle jerk that ensues whenever a bright shiny new toy arrives, starting to hear the fap-fap-fap-FUTURE-fap-fap-fap-MY STORY-fap-fap-fap when there is none to be heard but I don’t think it’s good enough to talk about “being in the future” when we’re actually dealing with technologies as old as the internet and politics as old as western relations with Africa and have more than enough data to reach some unflattering conclusions about both. Like, sometimes, don’t. Just don’t.
Some ideas are best left as fantasy. This is one.
pic nicked from here