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Science, technology and innovation to October 2013

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How 3-D Printing Startups Are Shaping the Future. "10-22-38 Astoria" -- that was the message written on the first photocopied page, which was produced in 1938. In the 50 years that followed, Xerox was born, a trillion-dollar industry developed around document duplication, every business got a copier (if not two) and home printers became able to reproduce pages. But today, with 3-D printing, we can print a lot more than just words and images. With the emergent technology, any desktop computer can output objects as simple as a ball and as intricate as a human bone. Printing in a variety of materials, from bendable nylon filaments to strong thermoplastics, these devices have gone from invention to adoption twice as fast as the photocopy machine. And this 3-D printing revolution signals big changes for small businesses, allowing them to keep development costs low, innovation churning and a new way to keep their secret prototypes in-house and safe from copycats.

Portland, Ore. THE SIXTH WAVE: THE RISE OF THE CREATIVE CITIES. Innovation is no longer driven by states or nations. It’s driven by cities. The key for the future of competitiveness is the development of local ecosystems. And these ecosystems will be built around cities. Some years ago, I developed the thesis of the six innovation waves. The economist Joseph Schumpeter was the first in introducing the concept of innovation in the economic literature. This view of innovation was closely linked to public R+D spending, mainly for military issues, fueled by the II World War and the Cold War. Soon, innovation emerged as a new management concept. But echoes from the automotive sector, the most competitive and R+D intense in the world said that it wasn’t enough.

And the new century arrives. But, after the last international crisis, a surprising phenomenon is raising: innovation seems to stick to some specific locations. Why innovation tends to concentrate in some specific areas, and why cities offer the best scenarios to develop innovation ecosystems? Infographic: The World’s Technology Hubs. The Rise of the Intangible Economy: U.S. GDP Counts R&D, Artistic Creation. On July 31, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis will rewrite history on a grand scale by restating the size and composition of the gross domestic product, all the way back to the first year it was recorded, 1929.

The biggest change will be the reclassification—nay, the elevation—of research and development. R&D will no longer be treated as a mere expense, like the electricity bill or food for the company cafeteria. It will be categorized on the government’s books as an investment, akin to constructing a factory or digging a mine. In another victory for intellectual property, original works of art such as films, music, and books will be treated for the first time as long-lived assets. It’s a great idea, if late. GDP is the main yardstick of macroeconomics—the sum total of all goods and services produced in the country. The effect of the revision will be immediate. Of course, it’s hard to work up much excitement over an upward revision in historical GDP figures. Safecity Crowdsources India’s Sexual Assault Incidents To Highlight Danger Zones. Four Indians are exposing India’s sexual harassment hotspots via Safecity, a website for victims to anonymously report when and where they were abused.

The founders hope that it could be the first step to address the cultural stigma of reporting assaults. Social entrepreneurs Alsa D’Silva, Saloni Malhotra, Surya Velamuri, and Aditya Kapoor also launched a campaign to map 100 unsafe spots in the country’s two biggest cities — where a fatal gang-rape alerted the world to the dangers women may face travelling around the subcontinent’s most populated cities. The team created the website for women to report any type of violation, including men who take their pictures, indecent exposure, and rape. They were prompted to take action by infamous events last December, when six men travelling on a bus abducted and raped a 23-year old physiotherapy intern, who ultimately died from injuries sustained during the attack. The crowdsourced approach has achieved mixed results in other countries. Safecity Crowdsources India’s Sexual Assault Incidents To Highlight Danger Zones. Researchers Build The First Brain-To-Brain Control Interface.

Researchers at the University of Washington, Rajesh Rao and Andrea Stocco, have created a remote, non-invasive brain-to-brain interface that allowed Rao to move Stocco’s finger remotely on a keyboard using his thoughts. “The Internet was a way to connect computers, and now it can be a way to connect brains,” Stocco said in a release. “We want to take the knowledge of a brain and transmit it directly from brain to brain.” Rao has been working on these interfaces for a decade and brain-to-brain control has been achieved in mice using invasive techniques. This is the first time the process has been used on humans and requires a transcranial magnetic stimulation coil to be placed on the head of the subject. The user in control can then send a signal by reacting to something on a screen or in the room. A electroencephalography machine picks up the brain waves and transmits them to the subject who, in turn, mimics the motion of the controller.

This is not mind control. This Magical Desalinating Water Bottle Will Make The Ocean Drinkable. This bottle that separates drinking water from ocean water doesn't exist yet--except in the renderings you see here. But it would be nice if it did. It could be a useful addition to a boat's safety equipment, ensuring the shipwrecked are able stay alive without resorting to their own urine. The bottle was designed by a team from Yonsei University in South Korea, who recently entered it to the 2013 IDEA awards. The idea is simple: You pump a plunger at the top, pressurizing ocean water until it's pushed through a membrane at the bottom of one chamber.

Fresh water then enters into another chamber. "The Puri portable fresh water equipment has reverse osmosis technology," the students say. The students make a plausible case for what such a water bottle might look like, down to the materials for all the parts. Growing shoes and furniture: A design-led biomaterial revolution. The natural world has, over millions of years, evolved countless ways to ensure its survival. The industrial revolution, in contrast, has given us just a couple hundred years to play catch-up using technology.

And while we've been busily degrading the Earth since that revolution, nature continues to outdo us in the engineering of materials that are stronger, tougher, and multipurpose. Take steel for example. According to the World Steel Association, for every ton produced, 1.8 tons of carbon dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere. In total in 2010, the iron and steel industries, combined, were responsible for 6.7 percent of total global CO2 emissions. Then there's the humble spider, which produces silk that is—weight for weight—stronger than steel. It's a fantastical place where plants are magnetic, a vase is built by 60,000 bees, furniture is made from funghi, and shoes from cellulose. In other parts of the exhibit, biology is the inspiration and shows what might be. BioCouture. Stop Hyping Big Data and Start Paying Attention to 'Long Data' | Wired Opinion.

Our species can’t seem to escape big data. We have more data inputs, storage, and computing resources than ever, so Homo sapiens naturally does what it has always done when given new tools: It goes even bigger, higher, and bolder. We did it in buildings and now we’re doing it in data. Sure, big data is a powerful lens — some would even argue a liberating one — for looking at our world. Despite its limitations and requirements, crunching big numbers can help us learn a lot about ourselves. But no matter how big that data is or what insights we glean from it, it is still just a snapshot: a moment in time. That’s why I think we need to stop getting stuck only on big data and start thinking about long data. Samuel Arbesman is an applied mathematician and network scientist. By “long” data, I mean datasets that have massive historical sweep — taking you from the dawn of civilization to the present day.

Why does the time dimension matter if we’re only interested in current or future phenomena? Cradle turns smartphone into handheld biosensor. CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Researchers and physicians in the field could soon run on-the-spot tests for environmental toxins, medical diagnostics, food safety and more with their smartphones. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers have developed a cradle and app for the iPhone that uses the phone's built-in camera and processing power as a biosensor to detect toxins, proteins, bacteria, viruses and other molecules. Having such sensitive biosensing capabilities in the field could enable on-the-spot tracking of groundwater contamination, combine the phone's GPS data with biosensing data to map the spread of pathogens, or provide immediate and inexpensive medical diagnostic tests in field clinics or contaminant checks in the food processing and distribution chain. "We're interested in biodetection that needs to be performed outside of the laboratory," said team leader Brian T.

Cunningham, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and of bioengineering at the U. of I. Revolutionary "Superman" Memory Crystals Can Store Data Virtually Forever. Quartz Crystal photo from Shutterstock While most of us are just getting used to the idea of 3D printing, scientists are already working on technological marvels that operate two dimensions deeper. Researchers at the University of Southampton have succeeded in recording and retrieving five dimensional digital data using a quartz crystal. The ‘Superman’ memory crystal is a futuristic storage technique with unprecedented features – including a 360 terabyte per disc data capacity, thermal stability up to 1000°C and a practically unlimited lifetime.

We’ve all seen those sci-fi movies where a gorgeous alien shoves a pointy crystal into some mega computer and the world is saved. Well, it appears that sci-fi has now become sci-reality. Although it probably won’t save the human world, the researchers working on the ‘Superman’ memory crystal say it will most definitely stick around to share a record of our race with whatever beings excavate the remains of our civilization.

So how does it work? New Zealand Man is 3D-Printing a Fully-Functional 1961 Aston Martin Replica. New Zealander Ivan Sentch is 3D printing an entire 1961 Aston Martin DB4 replica! Using a CAD rendering from TurboSquid, which he modified to suit his design goals, Sentch has so far produced 2,500 fiberglass molds and four four-inch sections that he has mounted on a wooden frame and glued into place. He spent about $2,000 on plastics for the 3D printing, and now plans to build a mold for a fiberglass exterior shell. There are only 1,200 existing models of the 1961 Aston Martin DB4 in the world, each costing between several hundred thousand to $1 million on the auction circuit.

Because of its limited availability, software engineers can’t get a hold of detailed designs, which eventually forced Sentch to crib a CAD rendering from TurboSquid to get his car built. It may not look like it, but Sentch has been using the 3D printing technology only since last December. So far he’s spent about $2,000 on the 3D printing material and still plans to create the exterior shell out of fiberglass. Chinese Scientists Grow False Teeth From Human Urine. Over the years scientists have made false teeth from a variety of materials – from cuspids crafted out of animal bone to chompers made from wood and gold.

However a group of Chinese scientists just announced that they have successfully grown “rudimentary teeth” from an extremely unlikely and slightly unsettling source: human pee. According to the research, published in Cell Regeneration Journal, the tiny tooth-like structures were grown from stem cells harvested from urine. While the scientists believe it could herald a new, albeit disturbing, age for false teeth, stem cell researchers believe they could have several hurdles to overcome. The Chinese research team, which is based at the Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health used urine as it contains cells that are normally passed out of the body – but in the laboratory they can be come stem cells. These cells were then mixed with organic material to form teeth.

. + Cell Regeneration Journal via BBC News Images © Wonderlane. Researchers claim 3-D printers pose 'health risk' CHICAGO — Three-dimensional printers using the fused deposition molding (FDM) process could pose a health risk to operators, according to researchers from the Illinois Institute of Technology in the U.S. and the National Institute of Applied Sciences in Lyon, France. Writing in the journal Atmospheric Environment, Brent Stephens, Parham Azimi, Zeineb El Orch and Tiffanie Ramos note that “heated thermoplastic extrusion and deposition … is a process that has been shown to have significant aerosol emissions in industrial environments.

“Because most of these devices [consumer FDM 3-D printers] are currently sold as standalone devices without any exhaust ventilation or filtration accessories, results herein suggest caution should be used when operating in inadequately ventilated or unfiltered indoor environments.” The researchers carried out their tests at a 3-D printing bureau in Chicago, The 3D Printing Experience. NeverWet Arrives - Hands-On Product Demonstration.

The Higher Education Bubble Begins To Burst. The Higher Education Bubble Begins To Burst Check out this New York Times article on the beginning of the bursting of the higher education bubble. In the 2012-2013 school year enrollment in for-profit and community colleges dropped. Now enrollment in 4 year non-profit colleges has begun dropping too. A Wall Street Journal article makes similar points. Some colleges will close. The number of kids turning 18 has begun to contract. I expect to a substantial shift toward online learning in order to save costs, speed up education, and get far greater convenience. The rise of massive open online courses (MOOCs) will let most students watch higher quality lectures than they can watch at which ever university they attend.

10 Ways Google Glass Will Change Us — Whether We're Ready Or Not. We have not fully appreciated what "Google Glass" (Google's term for its new wearable computer) will actually mean for our future. If this product is widely used there will be fundamental and irrevocable changes coming soon to our society — sooner than we think. I can envision at least 10: 1. A true panopticon Some would say that Jeremy Bentham's "panopticon" is already upon us. But if you think that closed-circuit TV surveillance implicates privacy issues, consider a system where everyone around you is potentially recording everyone else, all the time.

And not just recording, but instantly uploading their experiences online for potential viewing worldwide. 2. If someone can access information about a real-world object instantly by merely looking at it in front of them, consider what the advertising industry could do with this product. 3. Safety concerns are already being voiced over Google Glass. 4. 5. Legal challenges will abound. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

'Drone It Yourself' Lets You Create a Drone from Any Object. Scientists break record for thinnest light-absorber | Stanford News Release. July 2013: The Future Of Flight. 3-D-printed Cortex cast improves on plaster version. Flexible Glass Solar Cells Could Boost Effectiveness of Solar Shingles. Technology - 3D printing powered by thought.