Videos of the month
Medical Tricorder X-Prize
An X Prize Foundations offers a $10 million prize to develop a real life, operational tricorder. From 300 entries, the 2 finalists have recently been selected. Also see our article on the Medical_Tricorder_X-Prize.
Genome Editing with CRISPR-Cas9 Explained Ever wondered how CRISPR Cas9 works? This animation explains it. Also see our article on CRISPR Cas9.
Drones to the rescue A new perspective on drone usage. Also see our article on Drones.
Fighting Invasive Species
Invasive species are nothing new to the world. However, it has accelerated with increases in world trade and travel. Also see our article on the Emerald Ash Borer.
Activating the Immune System Against Cancer
This video explains how the immune system is activated against cancer cells and how cancer cells respond.
Atlas in the Snow
In 2015, we had a video of Atlas, a Boston Dynamics robot. Boston Dynamics is a 1992 spin-off from The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was purchased by Google (now Alphabet) in 2013. Since then Atlas has been developed to new heights of skills and human-like performance. I frequently walk through snow in the woods so I can say from experience that it is not easy to keep your balance and Atlas does it as well as I can, if not better. The video not only illustrates the amazing coordination and balance of Atlas, it also shows a certain amount of bullying behavior of the handlers. Perhaps future versions of Atlas will not be so tolerant to this kind of treatment. If you have time to view the video, take a look at some of the other amazing robots like Spot and Wildcat.
Master Inventor Artur Fischer Passed
The creative and productive German inventor, Artur Fischer, died in January at the age of 96. He is credited with more patents than Thomas Edison. I have used a number of his inventions, and probably you have also, without knowing who to thank for them. Have you ever hung a picture on a wall or taken a flash photo?
Robots and Cookies at SLAS2016
Girl Scouts Ashley and Alyssa Farrrell combine their love of robots and girl scout cookies! At SLAS2016, they demonstrated some of their engineering prowess as members of the US FIRST robotics team, The Robo Junkies. But these aren’t their only interests – the sisters honor veterans, often signing the National Anthem for example. Read more at http://www.AshleyandAlyssa.com
Atlas robot walking through a forest
We recently featured a link to a robotics competition (see DARPA 2015 Robotics Challenge). Developments in this field continue as the below link to the website livescience illustrates. This features a human-like robot, Atlas, from Boston Dynamics (a Google company) walking through a forest. Atlas is not yet as fluid and graceful as a human, but that won't take too long to accomplish. Be warned, the livescience website can be addictive and you may find yourself spending longer than you should checking out article after article.
Why Tomatoes Are Fruits, and Strawberries Aren't Berries
This is also the time of year when there is an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables from local farms. What could be better than a fresh tomato, but are you eating a vegetable or a fruit? Botanists have devised a detailed methodology for defining these things. A tomato may be a fruit and raspberries and blackberries may be aggregate drupes, but I think I'll just enjoy the taste and ignore the nomenclature.
Explaining PD1 Inhibitors
This video explains a new class of drugs that block PD-1, the PD-1 inhibitors. It activates the immune system to attack tumors and is therefore used to treat cancer.
Dawn of the Cyborg Bacteria
Harvesting the power of bacteria: A single bacteria may not seem like a powerful force, but get 100's of thousands working together and you might have something powerful. That's what some students at the University of Pennsylvania have done.
Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment
In a previous posting there was an article about a ESA (European Space Agency) mission that circled and landed on an asteroid. That was an amazing feat of precision. The ESA is now involved in a similar mission, but with a different purpose - planetary defense. Asteroids and/or meteors hitting the earth have been credited with the extinction of the dinosaurs and their potential for massive destruction has been a concern. What can we do about a potential space intruder? The ESA is involved in a mission to "push" an actual asteroid of off it's path to see if this is a feasible way to protect Earth.
More on LabAutopedia: AIDA: Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment study
Tour of the International Space Station
For those of us who are earth bound but fascinated by those pioneers who venture beyond gravity, the video link will be an eye opener. That's American slang for informative. It's a tour of the international space station done by the residents. It's 25 minutes long, but well worth the time.
ESA Rosetta Mission landed on a comet
In November a spacecraft (Rosetta) launched by the European Space Agency orbited comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Launched in 2004, the craft travelled the solar system gaining speed by gravitational assist around Earth (3 times) and Mars (1 time) and performing other comet observations. More about the mission.
"I love to be a scientist." Stefan W. Hell on being awarded the Nobel Prize
Who isn't dreaming of answering the phone and learning that they have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry? Here's an interview with Stefan W. Hell about receiving the award.
Periodic Table Gone Wild
In the 1960's a songwriter/mathematician (Harvard, MIT) wrote a song of the periodic chart of the elements. It was a favorite among science geeks. I recently found an updated version of the song. Both are attached. I'm glad I learned chemistry in the age of Lehrer as there are far too many new elements with unpronounceable names. Above is the original Lehrer song and the makeover is below. You can learn more about Lehrer at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Lehrer
Robotic Snake and Spider
This month we have a video of a giant robotic spider (that a person rides on!) versus a giant robotic snake. Of all the creatures a person could copy for a robot, I would not have chosen these two less loved species. Fear and prejudice aside, both show unique robotic movements and controls. I will spare you the video of President Obama playing soccer with a human-like robot.
Boston Dynamics Robots
Here are two videos from the company Boston Dynamics that show the amazing advances in robot sophistication. I was amazed at the agility of Big Dog and its ability to move and balance over difficult terrain. We have had a very snowy and icy month of December where I live. Big Dog climbs hills and moves through snow and ice with more skill and grace than I am able to show. The other video is a short overview of some of Boston Dynamics other robot advances.
The other interesting fact about Boston Dynamics is that it is one of 7 companies that have been acquired by Google. Google is best known for its search engine and maps which accounts for a large portion of its ad revenue. It cleary has something additional planned for the future or is it a company becoming distracted by diversifying outside of its core expertise?
Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine
James E. Rothmann, Randy W. Schekman and Thomas C. Südhof received the 2013 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for their discoveries of machinery regulating vesicle traffic, a major transport system in our cells. This interview with Professor Juleen Zierath, Chairman of the Nobel Committee for Physiology or Medicine following the announcement gives a bit of background.
More info about the 2013 prizes on LabAutopedia.
Robots are taking more human form and are adept at many activities. While robots playing football may not be all that exciting (the goal is to beat the world cup winners by 2050), it does add to the field by developing the mechanics, software and vision for other applications. As you can see in the video, the goalie needs a lot of work.
Source and additional video: MSNBC
3D Printer Builds Structures From Microscopic Water Droplets
Following up on the April video of the month, we remain with the topic of 3D printing. This video explores how Oxford University researchers use 3D printing to deposit thousands of connected water droplets inside lipid films. This new material can perform some of the functions of the cells within our bodies, and may one day be used to either deliver medicine to targeted areas, or repair damaged tissue. From C&EN.
Source: Oxford University
3D printing is an amazing technology that is available, at a modest price, for home use. The attached video explains a little about 3D printing with some simple examples of making toys. It makes a person wonder what something like this can do in more interesting applications for laboratory support and prototype manufacturing. What are your ideas on how 3D printing might be used in your lab?
The Chemistry of Snow Flakes
The north east of the was hit by a record setting blizzard in February. While the 3 feet (1 meter) of snow caused significant hardships, it's hard to believe all this was caused by small individual snow flakes. This months video explains how individual flakes are formed. A few flakes are beautiful, billions of them are another story!
SLAS2013 Sights and Sounds
This video recaps some sights and sounds from the recent SLAS2013 conference in sunny Orlando, FL. Get ready for San Diego next year!
G-protein coupled receptors are a common target for drug discovery. Except for those who specialize in this receptor, the way they work can be difficult to understand. This video makes the function of these receptors a little easier to visualize. They are amazingly complex and it makes me wonder how they can ever work, but they do.
Robots away from the lab bench: Honda's ASIMO project
We most often associate robots with the type we use in laboratories. This video shows what is being done with human-like robots. It is surprising how well they mimic human movement. When will they mimic human behavior?
Read more about Honda's ASIMO project here:
Science in the news: The discovery of the Higgs Boson
It is seldom that science becomes a major news story or catches the attention of the public, but that happened recently with the discovery of the Higgs Boson.
Definition of Epigenetics
Many conferences covering biology, genetics and drug discovery have sessions on epigenetics. This is a field that gives a biochemical basis to the influence of environmental on gene expression. This video explains epigenetics with an example of the impact it can have on genetically identical mice. It opens a new vista on how we might intervene in gene expression to modify disease progression.
7 Minutes of Terror - Congratulations to the Curiosity Rover!
Did you know Curiosity tweets?