Category Archives: technology

A potential leap forward in the treatment of tumours

As someone who has had a brush with cancer myself, I know at first hand how invasive and unpleasant the current treatments are. That’s why the fireworks went off in my head when I read about the ‘Drug factory” beads implanted in mice’ that eliminated tumours within a week. And without causing damage to the surrounding healthy tissues!

https://newatlas.com/medical/drug-factory-beads-tumors-cancer-week/?utm_source=New+Atlas+Subscribers&utm_campaign=3f49431b45-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2022_03_03_11_44&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_65b67362bd-3f49431b45-92416841

Interleukin-2, a drug already approved by the FDA in the US, is made on-site by the drug factories [beads]. And the results were nothing short of miraculous:

โ€œOnce we determined the correct dose โ€“ how many factories we needed โ€“ we were able to eradicate tumors in 100 percent of animals with ovarian cancer and in seven of eight animals with colorectal cancer.โ€

https://newatlas.com/medical/drug-factory-beads-tumors-cancer-week/?utm_source=New+Atlas+Subscribers&utm_campaign=3f49431b45-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2022_03_03_11_44&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_65b67362bd-3f49431b45-92416841

Mice are not the same as humans so clinical trials will need to be carried out to see if this novel delivery system works as well in us as it does in lab animals, but we could be looking at a major revolution in the treatment of at least some cancers.

I strongly recommend reading the whole article on the New Atlas website.

cheers,
Meeks


A tech article with a difference – Update Feb. 25, 2022

After this post went live, Matthew Wright from New Zealand sent me the link to a radio interview with the researcher who made this discovery. Fascinating stuff:

https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/morningreport/audio/2018831823/scientists-find-the-brain-relives-memories-in-final-moments

cheers,
Meeks

Death is not something any of us like to think about. Perhaps that’s why we try to hide the signs of ageing so much, but now the New Atlas has published research about the last moments of a person’s life – and the research seems to show that those moments involved parts of the brain associated with dreaming and memories.

Entitled “First-ever recording of dying human brain reveals dream-like activity“, the article goes on to describe how researchers were monitoring the brain of an 87 year old epilepsy patient when he/she suddenly had a heart attack and died. Not from the monitoring I should add!

The researchers recorded about 15 minutes of brain activity:

‘They focused in on the 30 seconds either side of when the heart stopped beating, and detected increased activity in types of brain waves known as gamma oscillations. These are involved in processes such as dreaming, meditation and memory retrieval, giving a glimpse into what a person may be experiencing during their final moments.’

https://newatlas.com/medical/first-recording-dying-human-brain-activity/?utm_source=New+Atlas+Subscribers&utm_campaign=8e1bc84bfc-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2022_02_22_11_45&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_65b67362bd-8e1bc84bfc-92416841

One, single recording doesn’t prove a thing, especially as the patient suffered from epilepsy so their brain was hardly ‘normal’, but the mere thought that the research might be true gives me a strange sense of comfort. I’m in no danger of dying, but I sat with my father for the last two days of his life, and I hope that he passed gently and in peace. I hope that’s how I go too…in about 30 odd years time. ๐Ÿ™‚

I hope none of you have found this post to be morbid. It wasn’t meant to be.

Huge hugs,
Meeks


Another win for Innerscape – real surgical robots

This is the Mako Stryker:

https://www.stryker.com/us/en/portfolios/orthopaedics/joint-replacement/mako-robotic-arm-assisted-surgery.html

I just stumbled across the Mayo Stryker in an article about ’12 Medical Miracle Technologies’ on Medium. All twelve will save countless lives, but this one made my heart skip a beat:

https://medium.com/predict/12-medical-miracle-technologies-to-watch-23e9b7b6ec52

Those of you who’ve read the first book of the trilogy – Miira – may remember the scene in which an autonomous AI controlled robot pares Miira’s body back to the bits that still work. The process is overseen by a team of surgeons who never touch the patient at all.

That scene was more or less in its finished version by May, 2015.

I don’t have a crystal ball, nor do I have the kind of expert knowledge that results in a breakthrough like the Mayo Stryker, but I am a problem solver, and it seems that my theoretical, fictional solution was logical enough to become real.

Before I get too fat a head, however, I have to acknowledge how much I get absolutely wrong, starting with the speed of development. I think a great many of these logical solutions will become reality decades before I thought they would. Ah well… I’ll take my wins where I find them. ๐Ÿ™‚

cheers,
Meeks


Wetware

https://www.reddit.com/r/MortalKombat/comments/f3q3zf/nrs_we_need_a_half_robot_face_terminator_skin_in/

In the Terminator movies, the robot played by Arnold Schwarzeneger looks like a human on the outside thanks to artificial flesh – i.e. skin and muscle. Well now the researchers at Freiburg University have made an all-protein muscle:

‘For the new study, researchers at the University of Freiburg created artificial muscles that are entirely โ€œbio-based.โ€ Theyโ€™re made of elastin, a natural protein that gives tissues like skin and blood vessels their elasticity.’

https://newatlas.com/robotics/artificial-muscles-human-proteins/?utm_source=New+Atlas+Subscribers&utm_campaign=c5257d2ee4-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2022_02_01_11_50&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_65b67362bd-c5257d2ee4-92416841

But wait…there’s more. The new, artificial muscle can respond to certain kinds of stimuli which means it can react to the outside world. This is huge, not just for robotics but for all sorts of prosthetics and implants.

And then there’s the development of artificial nerves.

‘Sensory nerves carry information from the outside world to our spinal cord and brain. In particular, our ability to perceive touch sensation is achieved by a type of sensory nerve ending called mechanoreceptors which are located in our skin. When pressure is applied to the skin, the mechanoreceptors respond by changing their electric voltage (i.e., a measure of electrical energy). The voltages from multiple mechanoreceptors are combined and transmitted to a single neuron, or nerve cell. At a certain voltage threshold, the neuron generates repetitive electrical pulses that are forwarded to other neurons via junctions called synapses, eventually reaching the neurons in the brain to register the touch sensation. The frequency at which the electric pulses are generated (measured in hertz, i.e., number per second) is determined by the applied pressure. Higher pressures produce electrical pulses at higher frequencies, while lower pressures produce lower frequency pulses (Figure 1). These electrical pulses are eventually transmitted to and processed by the brain to feel the pressure of the external stimulus, according to the pulse frequencies.’

https://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2018/artificial-nerves/

If we could make artificial skin and muscle, and then give that skin artificial nerve endings, we could create robots capable of ‘feeling’.

‘Artificial sensory nerves are at a very early stage in their development… To mimic its biological counterpart, the artificial sensory nerve is constructed using three components: resistive pressure sensors, ring oscillators, and a synaptic transistor, corresponding to the biological mechanoreceptors, neurons, and synapses, respectively (Figure 2).’

https://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2018/artificial-nerves/

Why am I so interested in these developments? Because there are all sorts of stories in the world of Innerscape, including that of Jaimie and Ari. Jaimie is on the ‘inside’. Ari is on the ‘outside’. They can never really be together unless Ari gets very sick and is inducted into Innerscape, not a fate either of them would wish for.

But what if Jaimie could somehow project himself outside? If he could invent a robot capable of ‘feeling’, he could ride the robot in the outside world but ‘feel’ what the robot feels via the Innerscape AI. It would be like the reverse of the gaming suits and biofluid that outsiders use to temporarily project themselves inside Innerscape.

I’ve been thinking about the possibilities for some time, but couldn’t see how I could make it happen, not without making it all up. Now I won’t have to. ๐Ÿ™‚

I know you guys aren’t really interested in my tech posts but…I don’t write them for you. I actually write them for myself so I can find important information months or even years after I originally discover it.

Thanks for putting up with my idiosyncrasies. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Meeks


Storage for renewable energy

One of the criticisms always levelled at renewable energy is that it’s intermittent. Or in layman’s terms, unreliable.
In recent years, that failing has become less acute thanks to all sorts of batteries, but to supply the kind of energy the modern world needs, the capacity of batteries has to become bigger, much bigger.

The link below leads to an article that describes an energy storage system being developed by MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology]. The system uses a variation of hydro power…under the sea:

The idea is that you’d build humungous hollow concrete balls and place them on the ocean floor. When wind farms floating on the surface produced energy, the excess energy – i.e. the energy not immediately needed by the grid – would be used to pump seawater out of the balls. Then, when the wind farms stopped producing energy, water would be allowed back into the balls via generators. That water would turn the turbines which would produce electricity until the balls filled with water again.

The bigger the ball, the better. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Ahem…

I love the simplicity of the MIT concept. My Dad was a mechanical engineer and I loved watching his prototypes working simply because the laws of physics or whatever made it so. Think gravity, or water always flowing downhill etc. As a result, I absolutely love the idea of this underwater hydro system. Nevertheless, achieving such apparent simplicity would not be cheap. As the article says, there is no ship currently powerful enough to tow even one ball from the land to its resting place on the ocean floor. The problem is not insurmountable, but the startup costs would be substantial.

I’m really looking forward to the next ten years when so many of today’s wild ideas become reality. I hope this is one of them.

cheers,
Meeks


Popcorn foam!

If you thought this was going to be a post about food…sorry. It’s a tech post about an innovative way of creating foam packaging [amongst other things] out of, yes, popcorn. ๐Ÿ™‚

Georg August University

You can find the full article here: https://newatlas.com/environment/popcorn-expanded-polystyrene-foam/?utm_source=New+Atlas+Subscribers&utm_campaign=b2daaabfa4-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2021_11_18_11_54&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_65b67362bd-b2daaabfa4-92416841

Climate change is too big for any one person to do much about, but if we all demanded non-plastic packaging, we might clean up those garbage patches in the oceans.

I’m still getting supermarket stuff home delivered [about 4 weeks until I’m fully vaccinated], and the thing I hate the most is that the packer puts each kind of fruit and veg. into a separate plastic bag. Back when I did my own choosing, all my fruit and veg went straight into the trolley or straight into one of my own bags. I know that’s not possible now, but… -sigh-

Anyway, I’m looking forward to edible packaging. ๐Ÿ™‚

Meeks


A hover bike?

This is real. I’m stunned:

You can find the whole article here, on New Atlas.

cheers,
Meeks


ESO, Lion’s Cradle and Bandicam

The video above is the first part of an ongoing walkthrough of a house I built in Elder Scrolls Online, ESO for short. This house is probably the most ambitious thing I’ve built in-game, and you’ll see why when I show you what the original looks like:

Thank god a friend hadn’t built anything on her version of the house yet so I could get a ‘before’ video.

As you can see, the estate appears to be quite small, with just a single room house, a below deck area and a wide deck out front. But…this house has the best view of any house in ESO. So I built out [from the fence] and down as far as the envelope would allow.

In coming videos I’ll show views from the new areas so you can see how much extra space you can make by building out. For my money, Lion’s Cradle is an unsung gem.

And now a bit about the process of creating these videos in the first place. Let’s just say it’s been fraught. In the last three days I’ve tried out:

  • Shadowplay video capture [nVidia GEForce Experience]
  • Democreator [Wondershare]
  • Movavi Gecata
  • OBS
  • Bandicam
  • and Ease-Fab video converter

Shadowplay uses the nVidia graphics card [if you have one] to create great videos, but because they’re created with variable framerates, I couldn’t upload them to anything. It may be possible to make them compatible with Vimeo etc, but I couldn’t work out how, so, no go.

Democreator I couldn’t get to work, can’t remember why. Again a no.

Movavi was okay but I simply don’t have the money to buy software that I may only use once in a blue moon. So, no.

OBS…this is open source software and the most popular app around at the moment, but I had major problems with it. For starters, my operating system [Win 7] is not supported by the app, but I read that I could still use it. So I tried. I could get a screen capture going, of sorts, but the hotkeys didn’t work so I had to record manually from within the app. As a result, I had junk at the beginning and the end. Also I couldn’t get it to record in mp4. So then I tried Ease-Fab to convert it to mp4 but the result was…ick.

And finally, I tried Bandicam. Almost fell off my chair when it worked first time, straight away. I had to experiment with different resolutions, but I think the ones in the videos above are a reasonable trade-off between quality and size. Plus my pc is oldish so it’s not that great with super high resolution.

If you’re using Windows 10 you’ll probably find that most of these apps work better simply because your pc is likely to be more powerful. But…if you use Win 7 like me, it’s nice to know that we still have options.

And finally, to salve my conscience, I have to say that learning how to do all this will come in handy as I try to create video tutorials. That, however, is still some way off as I need equipment and a video editor, none of which I currently have. But knowledge never goes astray, right?

Have a great weekend,

Meeks


Electric vehicles that charge as they drive

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to afford an electric car, but I would love one, so the idea of being able to charge the EV from the road itself is incredibly exciting.

โ€œWireless power transfer is based on the same underlying physics used to send messages through radio waves to spacecraft in deep space, things like Voyager,โ€ the researcher said in aย statement. โ€œExcept now we are sending much more energy across much shorter distances, to moving vehicles.โ€

https://futurism.com/roadway-charges-electric-cars-while-driving?mc_cid=93c2f6287b&mc_eid=bbf5c06f50

The technology is still some way off, and even when it’s finished it will take time to re-engineer our roads and sort out a way for users to pay* for the electricity their cars consumer, but the idea is so elegant I hope it happens in my lifetime.

cheers
Meeks

*I’m no expert, but it occurs to me that Blockchain would make it possible to charge the right amount to the right person without fear of the transaction being hacked or otherwise misused. Time will tell.


More Jet suits!

I’ve posted about jet suits before, but I still get a thrill every time I learn a bit more about them. In the following video, a jet suited marine takes off from a pursuit vessel, boards a gigantic naval vessel, and flies back to the pursuit vessel again. That manoeuvrability is what caught my attention. And the speed. The marine in the jet suit is flying a heck of a lot faster than the boats can power through the water. Love it. ๐Ÿ™‚

cheers
Meeks


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