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Extreme Biomimetics

first_imgImitating spider silk or gecko feet is one thing, but some researchers are going to extremes to try to do what living organisms do.DNA railcar:  Researchers at University of Oxford have constructed a “programable [sic] molecular transport system” that travels like a railcar on DNA molecules, reported PhysOrg.  And that’s not all: they would like to build “synthetic ribosomes,” the article said.  “DNA origami techniques allow us to build nano- and meso-sized structures with great precision,” said Prof. Hiroshi Sugiyama.  “We already envision more complex track geometries of greater length and even including junctions.  Autonomous, molecular manufacturing robots are a possible outcome.”DNA iPad:  More DNA origami is at work creating smaller components for consumer and industrial electronics like iPods, iPads and similar devices, reported another article on PhysOrg.  Japanese researchers at Arizona State University, familiar with their culture’s art of origami, work with “have discovered a way to use DNA to effectively combine top-down lithography with chemical bonding involving bottom-up self-assembly.”Turbo dragonflies:  Imagine “micro wind turbines that can withstand gale-force winds.”  Such marvels are being prepared with inspiration from dragonfly wings, reported New Scientist.  Who would have thought that the energy source for powering your cell phone might some day owe its design to the dragonfly?Flagella carnival:  Nanoscopic inventions being built at Rice University look like “a carnival ride gone mad,” said Science Daily.  Researchers want to build arrays of programmable rotating machines modeled after the bacterial flagellum (07/12/2010) and ATP synthase (see CMI).  Such devices could be used for “radio filters that would let only a very finely tuned signal pass, depending on the nanorotors’ frequency.”  The computers used to model the molecular rotors are not yet capable of characterizing ATP synthase found in all living things, “but as computers get more powerful and our methods improve,” a team member said, “we may someday be able to analyze such long molecules.”Plankton armor:  Science Daily said that “The ability of some forms of plankton and bacteria to build an extra natural layer of nanoparticle-like armour has inspired chemists at the University of Warwick to devise a startlingly simple way to give drug bearing polymer vesicles (microscopic polymer based sacs of liquid) their own armoured protection.”  One goal is “stealth” armor that looks like water but can allow drugs to sneak past the immune system.  What were they looking at for inspiration?  “Organisms that particularly attracted our interest were those with a cell wall composed of an armour of colloidal objects – for instance bacteria coated with S-layer proteins, or phytoplankton, such as the coccolithophorids, which have their own CaCO3-based nano-patterned colloidal armour.”Here’s an update on an old biomimetics story: the imitation of nacre, or mother-of-pearl (see 07/06/2004; 09/18/2008, bullet 4; 12/06/2008, 03/27/2010).  PhysOrg said that researchers at Northwestern University and McCormick School of Engineering are still trying to understand the molecular structure of this attractive material that is strong yet resistant to cracking.  They created an interlocking composite material that, while not as good as nacre, achieved “a remarkable improvement in energy dissipation.”If these researchers succeed in getting DNA and rotating molecules to do the work of molecular machines already active in the living cell, will science finally admit that life shows evidence of intelligent design?  Notice that they cannot yet come close to doing what ATP synthase, a flagellum, mother-of-pearl, a ribosome or a dragonfly wing has been doing for millennia.  Ironic, is it not, that ATP synthase is powering their bodies and minds to imitate it.    Intelligent design is revolutionizing science via biomimetics, promising amazing benefits for human health and society, forcing thinking along engineering concepts, challenging our best scientific minds, inspiring awe at natural capabilities, ignoring Darwin entirely.(Visited 32 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

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Electricity: households ‘must do their bit’

first_img13 January 2012 While South Africa’s big electricity users were doing their bit by cutting power consumption during Eskom’s summer maintenance season, the country’s households were still not helping out by switching off lights and unused appliances, the state company warned on Thursday. Eskom said that while its systems had improved since the call went out to save electricity on Monday, residential households were still not cutting their power consumption enough. The power utility said big organisations had helped out by cutting their electricity consumption this week. The companies had heeded to a warning from Eskom that its systems were running on a very tight reserve margin as it carried out maintenance on several power stations. The utility’s Hilary Joffe said ordinary households needed to do their bit by switching off lights and appliances they were not using. “We have not seen any efficiency on the residential side, and the demand does seem to be rising,” Joffe said. Should residential households not heed to the call, it is possible that Eskom could initiate rolling blackouts to complete its maintenance.Sapalast_img read more

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Do Too Many Friend Connections Harm Unique Thinking?

first_imgTags:#Analysis#NYT#social networks#web Related Posts Guide to Performing Bulk Email Verification Does having too many friends in online social networks make radical, innovative thinking harder to develop and foster group-think instead? That’s the conclusion of one scientist contributing to a recent issue of Science magazine, but we’re not so sure.Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, director of the Information + Innovation Policy Research Center at the National University of Singapore, argues that “the over-abundance of connections through which information travels reduces diversity and keeps radical ideas from taking hold.” Mayer-Schönberger is specifically interested in what it will take to see the next major stage of the Internet come into being and believes that extensive social networking could favor slower iterative development instead of radical paradigm shifts. Smaller networks of developers are more likely to give unusual ideas the time they need to grow and mature, before other thinkers shoot them down or rip them off. Big networks can also be very distracting.Other factors to consider though, we would contend, include the positive impact of collaboration, serendipitous social discovery, rapid news dispersal, interdisciplinary cross-pollination and the increased scalability of support for ideas that living large on social networks enables. A “good or bad” analysis may be too crude for evaluating the effect of extensive social connections online on innovation: it seems true that both extended periods of uninterrupted work time are essential to innovation and that online noise is good for you. Is participation in large social networks a net positive or a net negative? That probably depends on the person, but smaller networks are probably an important option to consider as well.We would post a poll asking for your opinion on the matter, but in writing about group-think online that would seem too ironic.Science magazine subscribers can read Mayer-Schönberger’s article here. MSNBC’s science blog and New Scientist have additional coverage. A Comprehensive Guide to a Content Auditcenter_img The Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videos marshall kirkpatrick Facebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro…last_img read more

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Sania, Paes move into mixed doubles quarter finals at Olympics

first_imgIndia’s mixed doubles duo of Sania Mirza and Leander Paes defeated Nenad Zimonjic and Ana Ivanovic of Serbia to advance into the quarter-finals of the tennis event at the London Olympics on Thursday. Mirza and Paes defeated the Serbians 6-2, 6-4 in straight sets in a match that lasted 64 minutes. The duo will face off against Victoria Azarenka and Max Mirnyi of Belarus in quarters.The win comes as a huge relief for India after Paes who was paired with young Vishnu Vardhan in the men’s doubles crashed out after they went down fighting against Frenchmen Michael Llodra and Jo Wilfried Tsonga in the second round.Sania, who has been more prolific with Mahesh Bhupathi winning the 2009 Australian and 2012 French Open titles, was paired with Paes after much controversy in the Indian tennis circuit.Sania and her partner Rushmi Chakravarthi have been knocked of the women’s doubles in the first round.- With IANS inputslast_img read more

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