lunes, 23 de febrero de 2015

Thompson Innovation: The ONE is here (IP Searching Tool)

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ORIGINAL: Thompson Reuteres Innovation

sábado, 21 de febrero de 2015

Mad Scientists at MIT Are Designing Chairs That Assemble Themselves


The last chair you purchased likely arrived fully assembled, but let’s be clear: It didn’t assemble itself. There’s only one chair in the world that can do that, and it’s way too small for you to sit on. This very special chair, standing upon a 15 cm by 15 cm footprint, is the work of Skylar Tibbits and his team at the Self-Assembly Lab at MIT.

You’ve seen Tibbits’ (and his researchers’) work before. This is the same lab that made these programmable materials and created this self-assembling aerial installation out of balloons. Crazy stuff. The lab’s most recent project, Fluid Assembly Furniture, is an investigation into how structures might be able to autonomously assemble in uncontrolled environments like water.

In the video you see six white blocks thrown into a tank. Turbulence shooting through the water jostles them around until eventually, after a good bit of random interaction, you see the pieces hook together to form a miniature chair.

Viewed in time lapse, it looks easy enough, but getting materials to self-assemble isn’t simple. Every variable—the size, weight and geometry of the individual pieces, the force of turbulence, the amount of water, etc.—impacts how efficiently the chair builds itself. In this rough prototype, the chair is made up of six components. Each is embedded with magnets and has an unique connection point that allows it to latch onto another piece. Think of it like a puzzle with the magnets acting as the attracting force. “At close proximity, each piece should easily connect with its corresponding component but never with another one,” explains Baily Zuniga, a student in the lab who led the research.

The way the pieces eventually find each other is mostly a result of trial and error—pieces floating next to each other until they find their perfect match. It’s hard to tell from the video, but it took seven hours for the chair to fully assemble itself. Not lightning fast, but an impressive starting point. “Finding a way to make the pieces more interchangeable would increase the probability of the pieces finding their matches,” says Zuniga. “Thus resulting in a faster assembly.

Faster is good, but there’s a delicate balance between randomness and control at play in self-assembly. Exert too much control over the system and you’ll be stuck with a one-trick object. Allow too much randomness, and you lose the ability to dictate the final form at all. “This project is somewhere in the middle,” says Athina Papadopoulou, a researcher in Tibbits’ lab. The chair project is more controlled than, say, the lab’s work on fluid crystallization, where 350 submerged spheres aggregate together without a formal shape. Still, there’s an element of not quite being able to govern what happens in the tank.

In some ways, this is a good thing. Flexibility will allow an object to adapt, which could be a useful trait in situations where underwater infrastructure needs to self-repair, for instance. But in the context of assembling furniture or some other pre-determined design, efficiency is important. Right now, the team is gathering quantitative data on the project to get a better understanding of why certain materials and shapes work better than others. Eventually, the team plans to make a self-assembling chair that’s large enough humans to sit in and show parallel assembly with hundreds of chairs coming together simultaneously, but hang tight Goldilocks—that’s gonna take a lot more research and a much bigger tank.

By Liz Stinson
02.16.15 |

jueves, 19 de febrero de 2015

Una colombiana lidera (equipo) en misión de la Nasa en Júpiter

Luz María Martínez aportará conocimientos para permitir la expedición a luna de ese planeta.
Foto: Archivo particular. Luz María Martínez, ingeniera física de la U. Eafit.

La ingeniera Luz María Martínez lidera un equipo de la Nasa cuya misión es modelar y simular el ambiente de Júpiter con precisión para garantizar el éxito de la futura expedición robótica a una de sus lunas, Europa.

Luz María Martínez, ingeniera física de la Universidad Eafit de Medellín, forma parte del Departamento de Ambientes Naturales Espaciales del Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) de la Nasa.

Allí se encarga de simular y determinar la radiación y los micrometeoritos que las naves espaciales encontrarán en las misiones estipuladas.

Como los niveles de radiación en Júpiter son muy altos, para mi grupo esta misión va a ser un gran reto. Necesitamos simular el ambiente de Júpiter lo mejor posible para garantizar que la misión sea un éxito, así que en este momento estamos muy involucrados con esto”, refiere la ingeniera.

Nosotros tenemos que garantizar que las naves espaciales sobrevivan en ambientes hostiles. Por ende, es relevante que los ingenieros que las diseñan y construyen conozcan todas las características del medio donde estas se desenvolverán”, añade en un comunicado publicado por la Universidad Eafit.

Martínez explica que usan diferentes códigos de transporte para llevar a cabo las simulaciones de las reacciones nucleares. Se simulan las partículas atómicas (electrones, protones y iones) o rayos-X (rayos gamma) que provienen del Sol o de la galaxia.

De esa forma logran describir la forma como un electrón con mucha energía cinética interactuará con, por ejemplo, un microchip.

Su grupo trabaja en la fase de prediseño de las misiones y naves espaciales, y hace parte de la Oficina de Seguridad y Éxito de las Misiones, es decir, el área encargada de calidad y control.

Para Martínez, formar parte de Nasa es un sueño hecho realidad: “No ha sido fácil llegar y aún me queda muchísimo por aprender. Pero es una satisfacción ir a trabajar cada día. Las labores no son rutinarias; cada jornada es diferente y supone un nuevo logro por alcanzar”, concluye. Martínez llegó a la Nasa este año.


19 de febrero de 2015

Research Priorities for Robust and Beneficial Artificial Intelligence: an Open Letter

Artificial intelligence (AI) research has explored a variety of problems and approaches since its inception, but for the last 20 years or so has been focused on the problems surrounding the construction of intelligent agents - systems that perceive and act in some environment. In this context, "intelligence" is related to statistical and economic notions of rationality - colloquially, the ability to make good decisions, plans, or inferences. The adoption of probabilistic and decision-theoretic representations and statistical learning methods has led to a large degree of integration and cross-fertilization among  
  • AI, 
  • machine learning, 
  • statistics, 
  • control theory, 
  • neuroscience, and 
  • other fields
The establishment of shared theoretical frameworks, combined with the availability of data and processing power, has yielded remarkable successes in various component tasks such as 
  • speech recognition, 
  • image classification, 
  • autonomous vehicles, 
  • machine translation, 
  • legged locomotion, and 
  • question-answering systems.
As capabilities in these areas and others cross the threshold from laboratory research to economically valuable technologies, a virtuous cycle takes hold whereby even small improvements in performance are worth large sums of money, prompting greater investments in research. There is now a broad consensus that AI research is progressing steadily, and that its impact on society is likely to increase. The potential benefits are huge, since everything that civilization has to offer is a product of human intelligence; we cannot predict what we might achieve when this intelligence is magnified by the tools AI may provide, but the eradication of disease and poverty are not unfathomable. Because of the great potential of AI, it is important to research how to reap its benefits while avoiding potential pitfalls.

The progress in AI research makes it timely to focus research not only on making AI more capable, but also on maximizing the societal benefit of AI. Such considerations motivated the AAAI 2008-09 Presidential Panel on Long-Term AI Futures and other projects on AI impacts, and constitute a significant expansion of the field of AI itself, which up to now has focused largely on techniques that are neutral with respect to purpose.
Attendees at Asilomar, Pacific Grove, February 21–22, 2009 (left to right): Michael Wellman, Eric Horvitz, David Parkes, Milind Tambe, David Waltz, Thomas Dietterich, Edwina Rissland (front), Sebastian Thrun, David McAllester, Magaret Boden, Sheila McIlraith, Tom Dean, Greg Cooper, Bart Selman, Manuela Veloso, Craig Boutilier, Diana Spears (front), Tom Mitchell, Andrew Ng.
We recommend expanded research aimed at ensuring that increasingly capable AI systems are robust and beneficial: our AI systems must do what we want them to do. The attached research priorities document gives many examples of such research directions that can help maximize the societal benefit of AI. This research is by necessity interdisciplinary, because it involves both society and AI. It ranges from
  • economics, 
  • law and 
  • philosophy to 
  • computer security, 
  • formal methods and, of course, 
  • various branches of AI itself.

In summary, we believe that research on how to make AI systems robust and beneficial is both important and timely, and that there are concrete research directions that can be pursued today.

List of signatories

ORIGINAL: Future Of Life Institute

Limpet teeth found to be strongest natural material

Scientists say structure of teeth could be reproduced in high-performance engineering to make Formula One cars, boats and planes

Limpets have a tongue or ‘radula’ covered in tiny teeth that scrape away at the rock surface. Photograph: University of Portsmouth

Scientists believe they may have found the strongest natural material known to man – the teeth of the humble limpet, which could be copied to make the cars, boats and planes of the future.

Researchers at the University of Portsmouth examined the mechanics of limpet teeth by pulling them apart all the way down to the level of the atom.

They found that the teeth of the snail-like creatures, common to shorelines and rock pools around the world, are potentially stronger than what was previously thought to be the strongest biological material – spider silk.

Scientists believe the structure could be reproduced in high-performance engineering, such as in racing cars and boat hulls.

Prof Asa Barber, who led the study, said: “Nature is a wonderful source of inspiration for structures that have excellent mechanical properties. All the things we observe around us, such as trees, the shells of sea creatures and the limpet teeth studied in this work, have evolved to be effective at what they do.

Until now, we thought that spider silk was the strongest biological material because of its super-strength and potential applications in everything from bulletproof vests to computer electronics, but now we have discovered that limpet teeth exhibit a strength that is potentially higher.

The study, published on Wednesday in the Royal Society’s scientific journal Interface, found the teeth contain a hard material known as goethite, which forms in the limpet as it grows.

Limpets need the high-strength teeth to rasp over rock surfaces and remove algae for feeding when the tide is in.

Barber said: “We discovered that the fibres of goethite are just the right size to make up a resilient composite structure. This discovery means that the fibrous structures found in limpet teeth could be mimicked and used in high-performance engineering applications such as Formula One racing cars, the hulls of boats and aircraft structures.

Engineers are always interested in making these structures stronger to improve their performance or lighter so they use less material.

Limpets’ teeth were also found to be the same strength, no matter what their size.

Barber added: “Generally, a big structure has lots of flaws and can break more easily than a smaller structure, which has fewer flaws and is stronger.

The problem is that most structures have to be fairly big, so they’re weaker than we would like. Limpet teeth break this rule as their strength is the same no matter what the size.

Examining effective designs in nature and then making structures based on these designs is known as bio-inspiration.

Barber said: “Biology is a great source of inspiration when designing new structures, but with so many biological structures to consider, it can take time to discover which may be useful.

ORIGINAL: The Guardian
18 February 2015

Scripps Florida Scientists Announce Anti-HIV Agent So Powerful It Can Work in a Vaccine

JUPITER, FL – February 18, 2015 – In a remarkable new advance against the virus that causes AIDS, scientists from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have announced the creation of a novel drug candidate that is so potent and universally effective, it might work as part of an unconventional vaccine.

The research, which involved scientists from more than a dozen research institutions, was published February 18 online ahead of print by the prestigious journal Nature.

Michael Farzan. Michael Farzan Biosketch
The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI)
The study shows that the new drug candidate blocks every strain of HIV-1, HIV-2 and SIV (simian immunodeficiency virus) that has been isolated from humans or rhesus macaques, including the hardest-to-stop variants. It also protects against much-higher doses of virus than occur in most human transmission and does so for at least eight months after injection.

Our compound is the broadest and most potent entry inhibitor described so far,” said Michael Farzan, a professor on TSRI's Florida campus who led the effort. “Unlike antibodies, which fail to neutralize a large fraction of HIV-1 strains, our protein has been effective against all strains tested, raising the possibility it could offer an effective HIV vaccine alternative.

Blocking a Second Site
When HIV infects a cell, it targets the CD4 lymphocyte, an integral part of the body’s immune system. HIV fuses with the cell and inserts its own genetic material—in this case, single-stranded RNA—and transforms the host cell into a HIV manufacturing site.

The new study builds on previous discoveries by the Farzan laboratory, which show that a co-receptor called CCR5 contains unusual modifications in its critical HIV-binding region, and that proteins based on this region can be used to prevent infection.

With this knowledge, Farzan and his team developed the new drug candidate so that it binds to two sites on the surface of the virus simultaneously, preventing entry of HIV into the host cell. “When antibodies try to mimic the receptor, they touch a lot of other parts of the viral envelope that HIV can change with ease,” said TSRI Research Associate Matthew Gardner, the first author of the study with Lisa M. Kattenhorn of Harvard Medical School. “We’ve developed a direct mimic of the receptors without providing many avenues that the virus can use to escape, so we catch every virus thus far.

The team also leveraged preexisting technology in designing a delivery vehicle—an engineered adeno-associated virus, a small, relatively innocuous virus that causes no disease. Once injected into muscle tissue, like HIV itself, the vehicle turns those cells into “factories” that could produce enough of the new protective protein to last for years, perhaps decades, Farzan said.

Data from the new study showed the drug candidate binds to the envelope of HIV-1 more potently than the best broadly neutralizing antibodies against the virus. Also, when macaque models were inoculated with the drug candidate, they were protected from multiple challenges by SIV.

This is the culmination of more than a decade’s worth of work on the biochemistry of how HIV enters cells,” Farzan said. “When we did our original work on CCR5, people thought it was interesting, but no one saw the therapeutic potential. That potential is starting to be realized.

In addition to Farzan, Gardner and Kattenhorn, authors of the study, “AAV-expressed eCD4-Ig provides durable protection from multiple SHIV challenges,” include Hema R. Kondur, Tatyana Dorfman, Charles C. Bailey, Christoph H. Fellinger, Vinita R. Josh and Brian D. Quinlanand of TSRI; Dennis R. Burton of TSRI, the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) and Ragon Institute; Pascal Poignard of IAVI’s Neutralizing Antibody Center at TSRI; Jessica J. Chiang, Michael D. Alpert, Annie Y. Yao and Ronald C. Desrosiers of Harvard Medical School; Kevin G. Haworth and Paula M. Cannon of the University of Southern California; Julie M. Decker and Beatrice H. Hahn of the University of Pennsylvania; Sebastian P. Fuchs and Jose M. Martinez-Navio of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine; Hugo Mouquet and Michel C. Nussenzweig of The Rockefeller University; Jason Gorman, Baoshan Zhang and Peter D. Kwong of the National Institutes of Health; Michael Piatak Jr. and Jeffrey D. Lifson of the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research; Guangping Gao of the University of Massachusetts Medical School; David T. Evans of the University of Wisconsin; and Michael S. Seaman of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

The work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grants R01 AI091476, R01 AI080324, P01 AI100263, RR000168 and R01AI058715).

About The Scripps Research Institute The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) is one of the world's largest independent, not-for-profit organizations focusing on research in the biomedical sciences. TSRI is internationally recognized for its contributions to science and health, including its role in laying the foundation for new treatments for cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, hemophilia, and other diseases. An institution that evolved from the Scripps Metabolic Clinic founded by philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps in 1924, the institute now employs about 3,000 people on its campuses in La Jolla, CA, and Jupiter, FL, where its renowned scientists—including two Nobel laureates—work toward their next discoveries. The institute's graduate program, which awards PhD degrees in biology and chemistry, ranks among the top ten of its kind in the nation. For more information, see

# # #

For information:
Office of Communications
Tel: 858-784-2666
Fax: 858-784-8136

ORIGNAL: Scripps

Honey on Tap: A New Beehive that Automatically Extracts Honey without Disturbing Bees

The Flow Hive is a new beehive invention that promises to eliminate the more laborious aspects of collecting honey from a beehive with a novel spigot system that taps into specially designed honeycomb frames. Invented over the last decade by father and son beekeepers Stuart and Cedar Anderson, the system eliminates the traditional process of honey extraction where frames are removed from beehives, opened with hot knives, and loaded into a machine that uses centrifugal force to get the honey out. Here is how the Andersons explain their design:

The Flow frame consists of already partly formed honeycomb cells. The bees complete the comb with their wax, fill the cells with honey and cap the cells as usual. When you turn the tool, a bit like a tap, the cells split vertically inside the comb forming channels allowing the honey to flow down to a sealed trough at the base of the frame and out of the hive while the bees are practically undisturbed on the comb surface.

When the honey has finished draining you turn the tap again in the upper slot resets the comb into the original position and allows the bees to chew the wax capping away, and fill it with honey again.

It’s difficult to say how this might scale up for commercial operations, but for urban or backyard beekeeping it seems like a whole lot of fun. It wouldn’t be hard to imagine these on the roof of a restaurant where honey could be extracted daily, or for use by kids or others who might be more squeamish around live bees. You can see more on their website and over on Facebook.

ORIGINAL: Colossal
February 19, 2015

Editorial: Cerebros espantados

Es inexplicable que 'Es tiempo de volver' resultara truncado por causa de vericuetos burocráticos.

El conocimiento es uno de los más grandes haberes y valores de un país. Por eso hay que respaldar la iniciativa ‘Es tiempo de volver’, mediante la cual el Estado colombiano busca recuperar a los cerebros fugados, con raíces de formación universitaria en el país y que han completado su educación en instituciones de alto nivel académico, como universidades de la talla de Harvard, Stanford, Lille y Toulouse.

El aporte de estos colombianos, que hoy investigan, hacen ciencia e innovan en otras latitudes, sería invaluable para el desarrollo y el crecimiento del país. No en vano se dice que el progreso de una nación está fundado, esencialmente, en su capital humano formado.

Por eso resulta inexplicable y vergonzoso que una buena idea como esta, de cuya ejecución está a cargo el Departamento Administrativo de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación (Colciencias), se ponga en riesgo, incluso antes de llevarse por completo a la práctica, por causa de vericuetos burocráticos y, lo que es peor, de la personal interpretación de algunos funcionarios de mando medio.

De los 140 doctores y posdoctores que creyeron en ‘Es tiempo de volver’, y que se postularon hace meses, cerca de la mitad se han estrellado contra una pared de evasivas, demoras y cambios en las condiciones, que ha obligado a algunos a desertar y tiene a muchos otros a punto de hacerlo. Lo más grave es que todos ellos han desistido de las carreras, proyectos y trabajos que tenían por fuera, seducidos por la idea de venir a hacer ciencia en Colombia.

También es reprochable la actitud irrespetuosa que funcionarios de Colciencias asumieron ante las inquietudes planteadas por los beneficiarios de este programa respecto a cambios en los salarios, el acompañamiento en la repatriación y los beneficios tributarios que inicialmente les ofrecieron.

Nadie dice que merezcan un tratamiento especialísimo por su condición académica, pero sí decente. Que un empleado de Colciencias justifique la falta de claridad y las dilaciones del programa con un “no están en Disneylandia, tienen que adaptarse a la realidad de Colombia” es inadmisible, sobre todo en un país donde la ciencia nativa prácticamente no existe.

Al revisar en detalle los ofrecimientos de la iniciativa, queda claro que las condiciones planteadas al comienzo no eran exageradas ni ponían en riesgo el situado fiscal del país; era lo mínimo para sostenerse en Colombia. A cambio, ellos aceptan la misión de compartir el bagaje y el conocimiento adquiridos. Sumados los de todos, valga decirlo, eso se traduce en años de experiencia vitales para la formación de los anhelados semilleros de ciencia en el país.

Con todos estos argumentos, no hay excusa para que Colciencias no agilice estos procesos ni se comprometa con la ejecución exitosa de este ambicioso programa, lanzado con gran entusiasmo en marzo del año pasado y al que se destinaron 17.000 millones de pesos.

Ni la ciencia ni sus gestores brotan de la tierra, sino que son fruto del esfuerzo consciente de los Estados por cultivarlos. El peor camino es optar por esperar a que de vez en cuando aparezca un investigador cuyo esfuerzo individual le sirva al país para sacar pecho, y ocultar lo que no se ha hecho en este campo.


17 de febrero de 2015

Nobel Laureate’s stem cell company Cell Therapy Limited sets new crowdfunding record raising £691,000 on Crowdcube

UK biotech company Cell Therapy Limited (Cell Therapy) has raised over £691,000 on Crowdcube to fund its breakthrough stem cell medicine, Heartcel™, which regenerates heart muscle to treat heart failure.

Cell Therapy founder and Nobel Laureate Prof. Sir Martin Evans has been appointed President with Lord Digby Jones appointed Chairman, and Mark L W Hughes, BSc, MBA and FCA, as Chief Financial Officer.

The Crowdcube funding was raised from more than 300 investors, and is 277% of the company’s original target. The sum was achieved in just 10 days, generating an imputed valuation of £75m, a UK record for crowdfunding and a world record for biotech crowdfunding.

Heartcel™ – which is administered as a simple injection by a cardiac surgeon – successfully completed clinical trials in 2014, and is scheduled to launch commercially in 2016.

Cell Therapy was co-founded in 2009 by Professor Sir Martin Evans, winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology for his pioneering work in discovering stem cells, and CEO Ajan Reginald, former Global Head of Emerging Technologies at Roche Pharma. Sir Martin as President and Chief Scientific Officer leads the team of scientists who discovered and developed the medicine.

Lord Digby Jones, former UK Minister of Trade and Industry, joined the company as an investor and adviser in 2014. Lord Jones is also Chairman of Triumph Motorcycles, and serves as a senior adviser to BP, JCB and Jaguar Land Rover.

Mark L W Hughes, Chief Financial Officer, has over 20 years’ experience of financial leadership of AIM and main market listed technology companies. Most recently, Hughes worked for Mediawatch plc, an AIM listed international biotechnology and diagnostics company. Previous roles include CFO and senior finance roles of main market companies.

Ajan Reginald, CEO of Cell Therapy, commented on the crowdfunding: “Regenerative medicines like Heartcel have the potential to revolutionise medicine for everyone, so crowdfunding was the perfect way to offer the widest possible access to invest in Cell Therapy.

We are delighted with the appointments of Digby as Chairman and Mark as Chief Financial Officer – their experience complements Cell Therapy’s world-class scientific and pharmaceutical leadership team and enables us to accelerate the company’s development.

Heart failure affects 20 million people in the US, Europe and Asia, and the pharmaceutical market for treatments is worth US$10bn. The investment raised by Cell Therapy through Crowdcube will be used for the development and manufacture of Heartcel™.

Luke Lang, co-founder of Crowdcube, said: “It’s exciting to see crowdfunding investors backing a sophisticated British Biotech company like Cell Therapy. The appetite to invest in businesses that address highly complex problems is increasing across alternative finance platforms.

Heartcel™ is unique in its ability to regenerate damaged heart tissue. When scarring of the heart muscle caused by heart attack or heart failure is not treated, the heart deteriorates further, often resulting in death within 10 years and in severe heart failure often within 2 years. Heartcel™ encompasses a new stem cell therapy that regenerates the heart – potentially reducing scarring to improve heart function and quality of life and, ultimately, reducing mortality rates.

ORIGINAL: Drug Target Review
9 February 2015 • 
Source: Cell Therapy Ltd

martes, 17 de febrero de 2015

A DNA hard drive has been built that can store data for 1 MILLION years

Scientists have found a way to preserve the world's data for millions of years, by storing it on a tiny strand of DNA preserved in glass.
When you think of humanity’s legacy, the most powerful message for us to leave behind for future civilisations would surely be our billions of terabytes of data. But right now the hard drives and discs that we use to store all this information are frustratingly vulnerable, and unlikely to survive more than a couple of hundred years.

Fortunately scientists have built a DNA time capsule that's capable of safely preserving all of our data for more than a million years. And we’re kind of freaking out over how huge the implications are.

Researchers already knew that DNA was ideal for data storage. In theory, just 1 gram of DNA is capable of holding 455 exabytes, which is the equivalent of one billion gigabytes, and more than enough space to store all of Google, Facebook and pretty much everyone else's data.

Storing information on DNA is also surprisingly simple - researchers just need to program the A and C base pairs of DNA as a binary '0', and the T and G as a '1'. But the researchers, led by Robert Grass from ETH Zürich in Switzerland, wanted to find out just how long this data would last.

DNA can definitely be durable - in 2013 scientists managed to sequence genetic code from 700,000-year-old horse bones - but it has to be preserved in pretty specific conditions, otherwise it can change and break down as it's exposed to the environment. So Glass's team decided to try to replicate a fossil, to see if it would help them create a long-lasting DNA hard drive.

"Similar to these bones, we wanted to protect the information-bearing DNA with a synthetic 'fossil' shell," explained Grass in a press release.

In order to do that, the team encoded Switzerland’s Federal Charter of 1921 and The Methods of Mechanical Theorems by Archimedes onto a DNA strand - a total of 83 kilobytes of data. They then encapsulated the DNA into tiny glass spheres, which were around 150 nanometres in diameter.

The researchers compared these glass spheres against other packaging methods by exposing them to temperatures of between 60 and 70 degrees Celsius - conditions that replicated the chemical degradation that would usually occur over hundreds of years, all crammed into a few destructive weeks.

They found that even after this sped-up degradation process, the DNA inside the glass spheres could easily be extracted using a fluoride solution, and the data on it could still be read. In fact, these glass casings seem to work much like fossilised bones.

Based on their results, which have been published in Angewandte Chemie, the team predicts that data stored on DNA could survive over a million years if it was stored in temperatures below -18 degrees Celsius, for example, in a facility like the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which is also known as the ‘Doomsday Vault’. They say it could last 2,000 years if stored somewhere less secure at 10 degrees Celsius - a similar average temperature to central Europe.

The tricky part of this whole process is that the data stored in DNA needs to be read properly in order for future civilisations to be able to access it. And despite advances in sequencing technology, errors still arise from DNA sequencing.

The team overcame this by embedding a method for correcting any errors within the glass spheres, based on the Reed-Solomon Codes, which help researchers transmit data over long distances. Basically, additional information is attached to the actual data, to help people read it on the other end.

This worked so well that even after the test DNA had been kept in scorching and degrading conditions for a month, the team could still read Switzerland’s Federal Charter and Archimedes’ wise words at the end of the study.

The other major problem, which is not so easy to overcome, is the fact that storing information on DNA is still extremely expensive - it cost around US$1,500 just to encode the 83 kilobytes of data used in this study. Hopefully this cost will go down as we get better at writing information onto DNA. Researchers out there are already storing books onto DNA, and the band OK Go are also writing their new album into genetic information.

The question is, what would Grass store, now that he’s developed this mind-blowing time capsule? The documents in Unesco’s Memory of the World Programme, and… Wikipedia, he says.

Many entries are described in detail, others less so. This probably provides a good overview of what our society knows, what occupies it and to what extent,” said Grass in the release.

It’s ridiculously cool to think that even if we do wipe ourselves off the face of the Earth, our civilisation might still live on for millennia to come in the form of Wikipedia pages and Facebook updates.

We really are (almost) infinite.

Source: New Scientist

ORIGINAL: Science Alert
17 FEB 2015

lunes, 16 de febrero de 2015

Microsoft's Bill Gates insists AI is a threat

By Kevin Rawlinson BBC News
29 January 2015

Bill Gates said he could not understand why people were not concerned by AI

Humans should be worried about the threat posed by artificial Intelligence, Bill Gates has said.

The Microsoft founder said he didn't understand people who were not troubled by the possibility that AI could grow too strong for people to control.

Mr Gates contradicted one of Microsoft Research's chiefs, Eric Horvitz, who has said he "fundamentally" did not see AI as a threat.

Mr Horvitz has said about a quarter of his team's resources are focused on AI.

During an "ask me anything" question and answer session on Reddit, Mr Gates wrote: "I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence. First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well.

"A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don't understand why some people are not concerned."

Watch: Stephen Hawking has warned of the threat AI poses

His view was backed up by the likes of Mr Musk and Professor Stephen Hawking, who have both warned about the possibility that AI could evolve to the point that it was beyond human control. Prof Hawking said he felt that machines with AI could "spell the end of the human race".

Mr Horvitz has said: "There have been concerns about the long-term prospect that we lose control of certain kinds of intelligences. I fundamentally don't think that's going to happen."

He was giving an interview marking his acceptance of the AAAI Feigenbaum Prize for "outstanding advances" in AI research.

Ex Machina explores the relationship between humans and AI robots

"I think that we will be very proactive in terms of how we field AI systems, and that in the end we'll be able to get incredible benefits from machine intelligence in all realms of life, from science to education to economics to daily life."

Mr Horvitz runs Microsoft Research's lab at the parent company's Redmond headquarters. His division's work has already helped introduce Cortana, Microsoft's virtual assistant.

Despite his own reservations, Mr Gates wrote on Reddit that, had Microsoft not worked out, he would probably be a researcher on AI.

"When I started Microsoft I was worried I would miss the chance to do basic work in that field," he said.

Marvel's latest Avengers film features an AI character named Ultron

He added that he believed the firm he founded would see "more progress... than ever" over the next three decades.

"Even in the next 10 [years,] problems like vision and speech understanding and translation will be very good."

He predicted that, in that time, robots would perform tasks such as picking fruit or moving hospital patients. "Once computers/robots get to a level of capability where seeing and moving is easy for them then they will be used very extensively."

He said he was working on a project with Microsoft called "Personal Agent", which he said would "remember everything and help you go back and find things and help you pick what things to pay attention to".

He wrote: "The idea that you have to find applications and pick them and they each are trying to tell you what is new is just not the efficient model - the agent will help solve this. It will work across all your devices."

Forthcoming film CHAPPiE will feature an AI robot that needs to find its place in the world

But he admitted that he felt "pretty stupid" because he cannot speak any language other than English.

"I took Latin and Greek in High School and got As and I guess it helps my vocabulary but I wish I knew French or Arabic or Chinese.

"I keep hoping to get time to study one of these - probably French because it is the easiest... Mark Zuckerberg amazingly learned Mandarin and did a Q&A with Chinese students - incredible," he wrote.

More on This Story

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From other news sites
By Kevin Rawlinson BBC News
29 January 2015

Max Planck abrirá su primera sede del país en Medellín y Bogotá

Las universidades de Antioquia, Nacional y Colciencias firmaron acuerdo con este instituto alemán.

Foto: Archivo/EL TIEMPO

Durante el convenio entre Max Planck, Colciencias y las universidades de Antioquia y Nacional se invertirán 100.000 millones de pesos.

La Sociedad Max Planck (MP), pionera en investigación en Alemania y una de las más prestigiosas del mundo, abrió convocatoria internacional con el objetivo de encontrar un director para la sede que tendrán en Colombia a partir del próximo año.

En un hecho calificado por académicos como histórico para la ciencia nacional, las universidades de Antioquia y la Nacional, de la mano de Colciencias, firmaron un convenio con esta Sociedad, compuesta por 82 institutos ubicados en todos los continentes.

Con el apoyo de Max Planck Colombia
  • la Unal, sede Bogotá, dirigirá estudios sobre la biodiversidad del país
  • la U. de A. abordará, también con sus propios grupos de investigación, el área de la medicina y las enfermedades tropicales, campos en los que ya tiene trayectoria.

Según Alberto Uribe Correa, rector de la U. de A., este convenio es por cinco año y es la segunda sede que la Sociedad abre en Latinoamérica, después de la de Buenos Aires (Argentina).

En marzo del próximo año directores de varios institutos Max visitarán ambas sedes universitarias con el objetivo de reconfirmar las condiciones necesarias para dar apertura a los centros que ellos administrarán en Bogotá y Medellín. Colombia entra en las grandes ligas de la investigación mundial”, dijo Uribe.

El Gobierno nacional aportará 10.000 millones de pesos por año y cada universidad 5.000 millones, para un total de 100.000 millones de pesos. Por su parte la Sociedad se encargará de las estrategias y métodos de investigación que ya han sido exitosos en otros países, de la administración del convenio, de la logística y aportará también investigadores.

“Estos cinco años serán diferentes en la manera como se investiga. Se seguirán los cánones internacionales de una entidad de primer orden mundial. En esta asociación ganan ellos y el país. Conservando la autonomía universitaria habrá libertad para que los grupos de la Universidad se asocien con MP para que desarrollen sus investigaciones”, agregó Uribe.

La mayor parte de los recursos con los que trabaja esta Sociedad provienen del gobierno alemán. En el caso local se trata de un esfuerzo grande que hacen las universidades para internacionalizar la investigación.

Este año la Universidad de Antioquia realizó otros convenios importantes de cooperación académica. El primero con la Universidad de Purdue (Indiana, Estados Unidos) y el segundo con la Universidad de Groningen (Países Bajos).

En ambas universidad reconocen que será todo un reto albergar a MP, pues implica condiciones exigentes en el campo técnico y físico. El éxito de esta organización, se lee en su página web, radica en que definen sus objetos de investigación, trabajan en las mejores condiciones y con un personal adecuado.

La Sociedad se creó en 1948, un año después de la muerte del físico alemán Max Karl Ernest Ludwig Planck, fundador de la teoría cuántica. En 1918 obtuvo el Premio Nobel de Física.

Una Sociedad con 66 años de historia

Max Planck no es un instituto sino un conjunto de organizaciones dedicadas a la investigación en Medicina, Biología, Física, Química, Tecnología, Humanidades y Ciencias Sociales. Su sede principal está ubicada en Alemania, De sus grupos científicos han salido 18 premios Nobel. Cada año publica más de 15.000 artículos en revistas científicas. Muchos de estos textos son los más citados en cada campo. Tienen 4.487 jóvenes científicos en sus grupos.

El Tiempo

What Forms of Creativity Turn You On?

It’s no secret: creativity is sexy. People all over the world rank creativity as a highly desirable quality in a partner, and people who are creative across a variety of fields report more sexual partners (similar results have been found in specific fields such as visual art, music, and humor).

But are all forms of creativity equally attractive?

According to evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller, creative displays in humans are analogous to the peacock’s tail: they serve the function of attracting mates by serving as indicators of mental fitness (cognitive functioning and personality).

Extending this argument, personality psychologist Gregory Feist made a key distinction between applied/technological displays of creativity (seen in modern domains of technology, science, and engineering), and ornamental/aesthetic displays of creativity (seen in modern domains of art, music, and other aesthetic domains). According to Feist, ornamental/aesthetic forms of creativity– which play on our evolved perceptual functions and evoke strong emotions in the perceiver– were shaped primarily by sexual selection pressures and are therefore more likely to receive a sexual response than applied/technological forms of creativity.

Such displays are also more likely to be passed on to future generations and become part of the cultural record. As Daniel Nettle points out in his terrific book Strong Imagination: Madness, Creativity and Human Nature:

You remember Beethoven and Brahms, but can you name a single innovator in the field of sewer construction and sewage treatment?

You probably can’t, even though the latter has probably saved more lives than the former. After all, why is it that American Idol finalists get a townwide parade in their home towns, whereas PhD candidates in psychology, for instance, get a parade attended only by their parents and grandparents?

But hold up, you say. To each his or her own. What is one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, right?

Well, maybe. These are the sort of questions that motivated a study I conducted with Gregory Feist and my colleagues Aaron Kozbelt, Paul Silvia, James Kaufman, and Sheela Ramesh, and which we report in a new paper called Who Finds Bill Gates Sexy? Creative Mate Preferences as Function of Cognitive Ability, Personality, and Creative Achievement.

First we created the “Creative Behavior Mating Preferences Checklist”, in which people are asked to rank 43 creative behaviors according to how much they find each behavior “sexually attractive in a potential mate.” Then we investigated the best cognitive, personality, and creative achievement predictors of the various items on the scale.

For all the nuance, I highly recommend downloading the paper. But here are a few highlights:
For both males and females on average, ornamental/aesthetic forms of creativity were considered more sexually attractive than applied/technological forms of creativity. These findings are consistent with Feist’s theory about human creative mate preferences at a species-typical level.

On average, here are the top 10 sexiest creative behaviors:
  1. Playing sports
  2. Taking a date on a spontaneous road trip 
  3. Recording music 
  4. Making a clever remark
  5. Writing music
  6. Performing in a band
  7. The taking of artistic photographs
  8. Performing in comedy 
  9. Dressing in a unique style
  10. Writing poetry
On average, here are the top 10 least sexy creative behaviors:
  1. Making ad campaigns
  2. Interior decorating
  3. Writing an original computer program
  4. Making websites
  5. Growing and gardening
  6. Presenting scientific or mathematical papers
  7. Exterior decorating
  8. Applying math in an original way to solve a practical problem
  9. The development of scientific experimental designs
  10. Participating in drama production
BUT… We also found substantial differences in reported mate preferences among people, and these differences could be predicted based on personality. People who scored higher in intellectual curiosity, enjoyment of cognitively complex reasoning, and who reported more creative achievements in the sciences tended to find applied/technological forms of creativity incredibly sexy in a potential partner. In contrast, the best predictor of a preference for ornamental/aesthetic forms of creativity among both males and females was openness to experience: a preference for engagement with sensory, aesthetic, fantasy, and emotional information. Interestingly, among males, higher levels of intellectual curiosity actually were associated with less of a preference for ornamental/aesthetic displays of creativity in a potential mate. Not sure what to make of that finding though.

Taken together, these results suggest that even though creative displays that evoke perceptual, aesthetic, and emotional qualities in the perceiver are considered most sexually attractive by most humans, assortative mating (“like attracts likes”) very much operates within the creativity domain. So for all those out there who get turned on by creative behaviors such as “Writing an original computer program”, or “Presenting scientific or mathematical papers at a conference”, know that you aren’t alone, and there’s some programmer out there who will find your own creative behaviors intoxicatingly attractive!

photo credit: istockphoto

ORIGINAL: Beautiful Minds Blog. Scientific American
By Scott Barry Kaufman.
December 16, 2014
The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.
© 2014 Scott Barry Kaufman, All Rights Reserved 

miércoles, 4 de febrero de 2015

BrainCard, pattern recognition for ALL

BrainCard, pattern recognition for ALL Patern Recognition, Brain Card, Image Recognition, AI, Sound Recognition, Biosensors, speech recognition, Intel Edison, Neuromorphic Computing, General Vision, NeuroMem CM1K,

Embedded recognition for images, speech, sound, biosensors or any signal with zero programming.

Petaluma, California, United States Technology

Text and Numbers
Pattern & image recognition module with neuromorphic learning for all your maker projects.
Robotics fans, drone pilots, hackers & data-miners - rejoice!

The BrainCard is an open source hardware platform featuring the worlds only fully functional and field-tested Neuromorphic Chip containing 1024 silicon neurons. It is able to learn and recognize patterns within any dataset generated by any source, from the physical (sensors), to the virtual (data).  

Offered here, for the first time, to makers in a format compatible with nearly all other popular electronics platforms — from Raspberry Pi to Arduino and Intel Edison —  we aim to help you add cognitive perception to any electronics project.

Add a brain to: Robots, toys or an old GoPro. Give them the ability to recognize and recall almost anything... You can also add a brain to any digital cameras including dash cams. Vision not your thing? The same technology can recognize patterns in data like that packet of code you're looking for in a sea of C++, a phrase in an eBook (regardless of the books length), even real time data: Build your own biosensors!  Make any appliance you like “smart”, like a coffee pot that recognizes you and starts making your coffee the way you like best.
Simply put; make it think.

The BrainCard is an open source hardware platform featuring the worlds only fully functional and field-tested Neuromorphic Chip containing 1024 silicon neurons. It is able to learn and recognize patterns within any dataset generated by any source, from the physical (sensors), to the virtual (data). Offered here, for the first time, to makers in a format compatible with nearly all other popular electronics platforms — from Raspberry Pi to Arduino and Intel Edison —  we aim to help you add cognitive perception to any electronics project.

Add a brain to: Robots, toys or an old GoPro. Give them the ability to recognize and recall almost anything... You can also add a brain to any digital cameras including dash cams. Vision not your thing? The same technology can recognize patterns in data like that packet of code you're looking for in a sea of C++, a phrase in an eBook (regardless of the books length), even real time data: Build your own biosensors!  Make any appliance you like “smart”, like a coffee pot that recognizes you and starts making your coffee the way you like best.
Simply put; make it think.

Cannot wait for technical details?
Before we carry on, for those of you that are quick studies and/or already know everything, we thought you might like to skip straight to the specs so here you go:

BrainCard Specifications (Hardware and API)

For everyone else - please read on...

Unfamiliar with Neural Networks or Neuromorphic Chips? Watch this:

(If you want some more background info, click here)

Now back to you project...
The BrainCard™ is a small electronics board with a NeuroMem® CM1K device plus a FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) chip to connect to platform buses and sensor inputs. There is even an optional image sensor featured on the BrainCard 1KIS (Image Sensor) version. It can be connected to almost any popular electronics platform including Arduino/Raspberry Pi/Intel Edison and enables users to massively boost any devices capability by creating a brain-like system architecture – hence the name.

The CM1K chip(s) on the BrainCard essentially acts as a right-brain hemisphere ready to learn, recognize and recall patterns/images/sounds/inputs from any incoming data stream. This allows the accompanying MPU device to concentrate on what it’s good at — left-brain functions such as logic, procedural computing and as a communications and I/O interface.

The BrainCard is an open source hardware platform featuring the world's only fully functional and field-tested Neuromorphic Chip containing 1024 silicon neurons. It is able to learn and recognize patterns within any dataset generated by any source, from the physical (sensors), to the virtual (data). Offered here, for the first time, to makers in a format compatible with nearly all other popular electronics platforms — from Raspberry Pi to Arduino and Intel Edison —  we aim to help you add cognitive perception to any electronics project.

Add a brain to: Robots, toys or an old GoPro. Give them the ability to recognize and recall almost anything... You can also add a brain to any digital cameras including dash cams. Vision not your thing? The same technology can recognize patterns in data like that packet of code you're looking for in a sea of C++, a phrase in an eBook (regardless of the books length), even real time data: Build your own biosensors!  Make any appliance you like “smart”, like a coffee pot that recognizes you and starts making your coffee the way you like best.
Simply put; make it think.

The key to success is teaching BrainCard as you would a child: Teach it too conservatively and it will not generalize enough; too moderately and it could get confused. It is not like traditional programming and we have found that part of the fun in building projects with the BrainCard is in this new learning parameter.
It’s really quite simple: Show the BrainCard what it must recognize and assign the example a category. So: This face is John, that voice is Emma, this vibration is made by your cat purring and so on.
Getting started:
The BrainCard is delivered with a default configuration which can communicate with either one of the proposed controllers (Arduino, Raspberry PI or Edison) through a same communication protocol over their SPI lines.  Access to generic pattern learning and recognition functions using the CM1K chip are made through a simple API delivered for the different IDE (Arduino and Eclipse). More specific function libraries will be released shortly after and we hope to start a repository of your libraries too! 
  1. Install and connect the BrainCard to the MPU/Device of your choice. View the hardware datasheet
  2. Install the API in the IDE of your choice (Arduino, Eclipse). View the BrainCard API preliminary datasheet
  3. Now, you can program to teach the BrainCard using examples previously collected and saved to disk (waveforms, images, movies). Or you can program some GPIOs to trigger teaching (bush buttons, keyboard inputs and even voice control! As illustrated in the following video, teaching amounts to selecting examples and sending one of more signatures of this example to the neurons of the BrainCard. The neurons will decide if the example is worth learning based on what they already know. If applicable, some neurons will autonomosuly correct themselfves if they contradict the teacher and never repeat this mistake again.
  4. Recognition is the same as learning except that this time, your program monitors the response of the neurons to the incoming signatures instead of sending them learning commands. Your program can then act based on what is recognized using the wealth of GPIOs available through Arduino Shields, as well as  DeviceToDevice or DeviceToCloud communications, and more. 

So what can it do?
This is a great question, as even we have not fully explored the full range of the BrainCard/CM1K’s capabilities. Almost every day we are coming up with new applications for the technology, which is one of our quandaries, and is where YOU come in. It’s also why we are choosing to announce ourselves to the world via Indiegogo.

A simple list of known capabilities 

Object recognition
Using the KIS vesion or an off-the-shelf image sensor of your own and teach your BrainCard to recognize shapes, colors, objects, signs, people and animals.

Stereoscopic vision
With two image sensors attached, along with a CPU, your project can work in stereoscopic vision! The processor can triangulate distance and the CM1K can recognize what it’s looking at. Add some motors to the image sensors and it can track things too.

Audio RecognitionAttach a microphone and teach the BrainCard to recognize a noise, a voice, YOUR voice or other audio signals like a bird song or a dog.

Vibration and motionAttach a MEMS (Micro Electrical Mechanical Systems) device and teach the BrainCard to recognize vibrations or physical motion.

Bio signals
BrainCard can recognize data from any Bio-signal source – such as:

Electroencephalogram (EEG), Electrocardiogram (ECG), Electromyogram (EMG), Mechanomyogram (MMG), Electrooculography (EOG), Galvanic skin response (GSR), Magnetoencephalogram (MEG).

Text and Numbers
You can run your data through the BrainCard in any form — from text to binary to DNA sequences — and teach it to recognize patterns, which will allow it to detect anomalies, identify clusters and make predictions.

There are MANY MORE applications we just haven't tried yet...

If you go crazy while teaching and fill all 1024 neurons on a chip, don’t panic. BrainCard provides an expansion bus to stack more CM1K chips in boards of two, thereby increasing the number of modules (subject to availability) you can teach by increments of 2048 (1x CM1K equals 1,024 neurons). This expansion can be done at any time to its maximum of 8,192 (plus the original 1024 on the BrainCard), and will not impact your teaching allowing you to experiment to your heart’s content.

The NeuroMem CM1K technology has already found many applications in industry and has been working in the real world since 2007 – so we know everything we’re claiming above is 100% true, because most of these applications have been built somewhere.

What we need, and what you getThis Indiegogo campaign has been launched with one aim: To generate the volume and revenue we need to manufacture the maker version of the CM1K technology — the BrainCard.

By supporting this Indiegogo project you will be a part of the first chapter of a much bigger story: We aim to change the way the world computes with neural network technology. We're looking to raise at least $200k to start manufacturing in volume, which will make the BrainCard as cheap as possible.

We're beginning with 1000 chips that we already have in inventory which were originally ordered by an industrial client. After that, we will aim to start manufacturing on a mass production line, and this will take approximately six months. So, those first 1000 purchasers will be the only ones able to experience the unique capabilities of the BrainCard until mid-2015.

The first 1000 BrainCard's will cost $199 and are what we call IWIN (I Want It Now), or $219 for a version including an image sensor (the IS version) - so 500 of each version.

If we don't reach the goal, all the money raised will be aimed at manufacturing as many BrainCards as we can, so that it can be more affordable for the masses.

This is why we're turning to the maker community — we'd like to crowdsource our research and development through YOU!
The impact Neural networks should be everywhere by now, in your phone, in wearable technology. The NeuroMem technology is mature and the market needs exist. This project has the ability to propel neuromorphic technology into the mainstream consciousness by showing electronics manufacturers what can be done with it.

This is why we're turning to the maker community — we'd like to crowdsource our research and development through YOU!

Risks and challengesThe core of the NeuroMem/NeuromorThings team has been in place for 16 years and has plenty of research and industrial customers already using the CM1K chip, so this is not a typical “prototype” project.

We have a full supply chain already in place for both the board and for mounting the chips. We also have a wealth of knowledge in developing board-level and semiconductor technologies — all of which makes the risks to you a bare minimum.

We just need your support to complete prototyping/testing and to begin volume manufacturing. The first 1000 IWIN BrainCards will have exclusive access to the technology for the three months it takes us to make the new batch of chips.

Once we begin mass manufacturing the BrainCard, we will begin our long development roadmap on its successors and other neuromorthings.

After the first run of IWIN devices, the rest of the time will be dedicated to mounting the chips to the boards and testing them. With enough support we can get production runs up to very large numbers per month very quickly.

Shipping a technology product is fraught with issues like export restrictions. We've tried to make it as simple as possible and built shipping as a perk.

In the US, Mexico and Canada? included

Rest of World? $30 Shipping & Packing

Due to the technical nature of the BrainCard it can be liable to Export Restrictions in certain countries under United States Law. If you are unsure if you are effected - please contact us at: and put "Export" in the subject line and we'll do everything we can to help.

Other Ways You Can HelpCan't buy a BrainCard? How about giving us a High $5? High 5'ers will all feature on the website and be written into NeuromorThings lore... it's a program for those interested in the technology and who want to help but who can't spring for their own BrainCard.

Got no cash at all? No problem - simply SPREAD THE WORD! Tell everyone you know about us and help us that way instead, on Facebook, on Twitter - wherever.

Every little bit helps!

Export regulations:
It might occurs, in certain rare cases that your country is under export embargo and we cannot ship because of the nature of the technology included in the BrainCard.If this exceptional situation occurs your money will be fully refunded.
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