Category Archives: technology

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


Hydrogel for damaged joints

“Once it’s been injured, the protective cartilage in our knees and other joints heals very slowly โ€“ if at all. A new injectable gel, however, could both reinforce the tissue after it’s been damaged, and encourage new cartilage to grow over top of it.”

If you’re like me, and starting to find that your joints are not as young as the rest of you, the following article in New Atlas should be of interest: https://newatlas.com/medical/hyaluronic-acid-hydrogel-reinforce-regrow-cartilage/

If you’re young and have no idea what cartilage is, or how a joint works, or why it can cause pain, here’s a simple picture:

Image courtesy Wise Geek https://images.wisegeek.com/frontal-view-of-joint-with-cartilage.jpg labels by me

As you can see, the bone ends that meet in our joints, don’t actually meet. They’re held in place by ligaments [the blue bit] that act a bit like rubber bands. And to make sure the two bones don’t grind against each other, each end is capped by cartilage. Cartilage is a tough but flexible material that acts like the tyre on the wheel of a car – it stops you from driving on the metal rims.

And just like tyres, the cartilage protecting the ends of your bones wears down over time. How much time depends on how much wear and tear it is subjected to. The knee cartilage of runners tends to wear down faster than that of couch potatoes because it’s used more. Unlike tyres, however, joint cartilage can’t be replaced when the ‘treads go bald’, which is why this research is so important.

My tread isn’t bald yet, but it’s getting there, so I can hardly wait for the hydrogel to be commercialised. ๐Ÿ™‚

Have a great weekend everyone,

cheers
Meeks


Proof of concept – Innerscape

Forgive the grandiose title, but I’ve just read an article on Medium that details the current research aimed at creating a computer-brain interface. And that concept, taken to an extreme level, is precisely what Innerscape is all about.

I’ve known about some of the technologies for some time, but I was truly surprised by how much, and how varied, those technologies are. Some are clearly still in their infancy, but I see great potential for others…including football fans. ๐Ÿ™‚

No, I’m not kidding. The article below contains a video about a very special ‘kickoff’. The person doing the kickoff [first kick of the game] is wearing an exoskeleton, and he’s paralyzed. He’s moving the exoskeleton with his brain. That is little short of a miracle.

You can watch a video of that kickoff, and read about the other technologies in development here: https://medium.com/predict/brain-computer-interfaces-the-next-step-in-human-evolution-a0e0723a1791

One thing I very much like about the article is that it talks openly about the elephant in the room – the ethics of some of these technologies. We humans have a habit of jumping into new tech feet first, so enamoured of the potential for good [or profit] that we wilfully ignore the potential for harm. And there is always potential for harm.

It’s Good Friday here in Australia so I’ll wish you all a Safe and Happy Easter if you celebrate it. If not, may you have a Safe and Happy Holiday.

Much love,
Meeks


Strange science

We’ve known for some time that certain animals can navigate using the Earth’s magnetic field, but how they did it was a mystery.

Well, a little bit of that mystery may now be solved via a rather interesting experiment conducted by a team of researchers at the University of Tokyo.

You can find a detailed description of the experiment here but basically what it showed was that waving a magnet over a bunch of cells every 4 seconds caused the fluorescence [light emitting] of those cells to dim, proof positive that it was the magnet – ie magnetism – causing the effect. The scientists think this dimming was caused by the ‘radical pair mechanism’ at work in the cells:

“Essentially, if certain molecules are excited by light, electrons can jump between them to their neighbors. That can create pairs of molecules with a single electron each, known as a radical pair. If the electrons in those molecules have matching spin states, they will undergo chemical reactions slowly, and if theyโ€™re opposites the reactions occur faster.” [Emphasis is mine]

https://newatlas.com/biology/live-cells-respond-magnetic-fields/

So why does this rather obscure discovery excite me so much? Because of that old quote from Hamlet:

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio

http://www.shakespeare-online.com/quickquotes/quickquotehamletdreamt.html

Change the word ‘philosophy’ to ‘science’, and Shakespeare could have been describing how new discoveries are always expanding the boundaries of what we know about the real world.

For a science fiction writer like myself, this is manna from heaven because in one hundred years time, some bright spark may discover that telepathy is not so much supernatural as supranatural! [Don’t hit me! I’m using supranatural as a description of something that doesn’t fit into the physics of the normal world…like quantum mechanics. As I’m no physicist, however, I’ll submit to those who know better.]

Okay, I’ll stop there before I get too carried away, but you can see why I find these kinds of discoveries so exciting.

Take care and stay well,
-hugs-
Meeks


Dancing Robots Bid Farewell to 2020

There’s still 15 and a half hours till the start of New Year here in Australia, but…Happy New Year anyway!

Let’s dance!

https://newatlas.com/robotics/entire-boston-dynamics-robot-dances-spot-atlas-handle/

love,
Meeks


Making tech work in the 3rd World

This is an interview between Dr John Campbell and David Davies of AgUnity. The first few minutes are about Covid but the rest of this incredible interview is about how AgUnity makes it possible for poor farmers in developing nations to work co-operatively with their villages and, for example, the Fair Trade organisation, to better their lives.

How? By providing the farmers with a very cheap, specially tailored smart phone.

This is smart tech. And yes, the bloke with the tan is an Aussie. ๐Ÿ˜€ To find out more about AgUnity, visit their website http://www.agunity.com or contact them via hello@agunity.com.

cheers
Meeks


New Knees, using 3D printing

I’m not at the point of needing to get my knees fixed yet, but they definitely ain’t what they used to be, so I was fascinated by the idea of using 3D printing to build the implants. More importantly, I was thrilled by the idea that the bioinks used in the 3D printing process could actually encourage the body to create new cells itself:

‘…the researchers used several bioinks together to print the entire fibrocartilage tissue layer by layer, in an interleaved crosshatch pattern. The first was a composite gellan gum and fibrinogen ink, which encourages the bodyโ€™s own cells to repopulate. The second bioink is a silk fibroin methacrylate, which helps keep the structure strong and flexible.’

Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM)

You can find the whole article on the New Atlas website. It’s quite short and not super technical, so if you’re like me and starting to creak, check it out.

I have to say I’m quite looking forward to becoming a ‘bionic’ woman in the years ahead. ๐Ÿ™‚

cheers
Meeks


I’m a genius!

-grin- no really! I just read a New Atlas scientific article about :

“…biohybrid synapses that let living cells communicate with electronic systems, not with electrical signals but with neurotransmitters like dopamine.

New Atlas: https://newatlas.com/computers/artificial-synapses-living-cells-communicate-dopamine/?utm_source=New+Atlas+Subscribers&utm_campaign=ff0315b360-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_06_17_12_51&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_65b67362bd-ff0315b360-92416841

Remember when Miira was inducted into Innerscape and basically lost her whole skull so Kenneth Wu’s nano interface could connect the AI to her brain? Not quite there yet but…this article shows that it’s coming. And I actually forecast it…

Okay, okay, probably not that hard to do if you read sci-fi, but I’m still proud as punch.

Ahem, that’s all. As you were….


Advances in wearable tech

I know that most of you won’t be interested in the technical side of this article: https://www.physics-astronomy.org/2020/04/mini-generator-cheaply-converts-heat.html but it could have really important implications for how we use technology in the future.

At the moment, wearable technology is limited by the need to power the device[s] :

a) without bulky batteries, and
b) without those batteries quickly going flat

We could wear little solar panel hats; they could charge the batteries as we walk around. But only outside, and only when there’s some sunshine. Plus there’s the added problem of fashion. Hats simply aren’t ‘in’ at the moment.

Or…we could use the heat of our own bodies to generate power. Mammals maintain a constant body temperature so we could have a constant source of power to run our wearable devices – no need for batteries at all.

Using body heat to generate power isn’t a new idea, but the research described in the article offers a new, more efficient way of doing so. If the researchers can make it work at a cost efficient price, we could be wearing our computers and communications devices within twenty years. Or less.

Let’s just hope that fashion and function go hand in hand. ๐Ÿ™‚

cheers
Meeks


Plastic eating gut bacteria

We all know that plastic is a huge problem – just think of the garbage patches in the Pacific ocean. Not only does all this rubbish have to be collected, it has to be broken down somehow, but plastic doesn’t ‘break down’ the way organic material does. The bits do get smaller, but that just makes them more dangerous, not less.

So what’s the solution? The following quote is taken from a New Atlas tech article:

‘In recent years, scientists have identified a number of organisms with an ability to eat away at common plastics. These include engineered enzymes, mealworms with an appetite for Styrofoam and a type of bacterium with an ability to break down PET plastics in a relatively short space of time.

Waxworms are another exciting example. These … critters also have quite an appetite for plastic, with an ability to chew through it, digest it, and turn it into ethylene glycol, a type of alcohol.’

Hopefully one day, these waxworms will be part of the rubbish recycler’s toolbox, cleaning up this man-made mess and turning it into something useful.

Please go to the New Atlas website and read the whole article. A bit of good news never goes astray. ๐Ÿ™‚

Meeks


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