Apr 18, 2014

Six nerd culture stereotypes that are way older than you think

posted by Laura Domela

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Because TV and film-based creations like the Enterprise and the Death Star have prompted us to pore over every little detail of fictional universes at the expense of a social life, it's easy to assume that unsettling pop culture obsessions are a relatively new phenomenon. But unless your concept of a "nerd" is a Depression-era newsie shooting pre-YouTube fan trailers, you might be surprised to learn that nerd culture has existed for way, way, way longer than you think. 
via Cracked

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Apr 18, 2014

Scientists are 3D printing whole cancer tumors from scratch

posted by Larra Morris

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We've seen 3D-printed cells, organs, and even body parts over the last few years. But in Philadelphia, a team of scientists is printing cancerous tumors—modeling the very things that are threatening to kill patients in order to understand how to quell them.

It's becoming more and more common to use 3D printers to print "sheets" of cells in the lab, including cancerous ones. These 2D panels can be used to test new therapies, but they aren't perfect: A tumor is a whole other animal, with its own architecture and peculiarities, which can make it tough to predict how the real thing will react to treatment.
via Gizmodo

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Image: xrender 

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Apr 18, 2014

Cyborg glasses save users the need to control emotions

posted by Larra Morris

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Rather than focus on what the owner sees, Prof Hirotaka Osawa's kit shows computer-generated eye animations in place of the wearer's real ones.

Special lenses let the user see out or take a secret nap if they prefer.

The professor said the glasses could be used to simulate emotional reactions when users are distracted or busy.

He added that the idea of creating an "emotional cyborg" was inspired by the work of an American sociologist who had coined the phrase "emotional labour" to refer to the use of facial expressions and body movements to show feelings.

This, Prof Osawa noted, could be a requirement for nurses, waitresses, teachers, therapists and others working in interaction-intensive professions.
via BBC News

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Image: University of Tsukuba 

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Apr 18, 2014

3D printed cryptex

posted by Larra Morris

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[pjensen] used Autodesk Inventor to sculpt the shapes, staring with the cryptex’s individual rings. After embossing the alphabet across each ring, [pjensen] adds slots into the inner loops for pins to slide through. An outer chamber holds the rings in place and prohibits access to the interior chamber, which is held in place on both sides by an end cap.

Lining up the rings to spell the correct word allows the inner chamber to slide free of the whole assembly, revealing whatever goodies may lie inside. You can follow [pjensen's] step-by-step guide to build your own cryptex, or just download his model and start printing.
via Hack a Day

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Apr 17, 2014

First Earth-size planet that may hold water confirmed

posted by Laura Domela

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Just as real-estate prices in parts of North America have started to get expensive again, NASA says it has confirmed for the first time the existence of an Earth-like planet that may hold liquid water.

The planet is Kepler-186f and was discovered with NASA's Kepler telescope, originally launched in 2009 and recently crippled, but not before gathering enough data that researchers are still analyzing it and making discoveries like this.

Yes, this is kind of a big deal, as it's the "first validated Earth-size planet in the habitable zone of another star," as Elisa Quintana of the SETI Institute at NASA's Ames Research Center explained in a press conference Thursday.

"Some people call these habitable planets, which of course we have no idea if they are," San Francisco State University astronomer Stephen Kane, a member of the discovery team, said in a release. "We simply know that they are in the habitable zone, and that is the best place to start looking for habitable planets."
via cnet

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Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle

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Apr 17, 2014

Artificial blood 'will be manufactured in factories'

posted by Laura Domela

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It is the stuff of gothic science fiction: men in white coats in factories of blood and bones.

But the production of blood on an industrial scale could become a reality once a trial is conducted in which artificial blood made from human stem cells is tested in patients for the first time.

It is the latest breakthrough in scientists’ efforts to re-engineer the body, which have already resulted in the likes of 3d-printed bones and bionic limbs.

Marc Turner, the principal researcher in the £5 million programme funded by the Wellcome Trust, told The Telegraph that his team had made red blood cells fit for clinical transfusion.

Prof Turner has devised a technique to culture red blood cells from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells – cells that have been taken from humans and ‘rewound’ into stem cells. Biochemical conditions similar to those in the human body are then recreated to induce the iPS cells to mature into red blood cells – of the rare universal blood type O.
via The Telegraph

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Image: Production of blood on an industrial scale could become a reality  Photo: Alamy

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Apr 17, 2014

Digital mirror reveals what lies under your skin

posted by Laura Domela

Several months ago, at the Museum of Arts and Crafts in Paris, a couple wandered in front of a set of dark screens. Staring back at them was an image of themselves – but with the skin stripped away, revealing organs, bones and muscle. Surprised, the woman gasped and covered her breasts, trying to shield herself from view.

She was looking into a "digital mirror", a 3D installation that recreates what your body might look like on the inside.

Here's how it works: an individual undergoes a PET scan, X-ray and MRI scan to capture high-resolution images of their bones and organs. Altogether, it takes about three-and-a-half hours to collect this data. Then when you step in front of the mirror, a Microsoft Kinect's motion-capture camera tracks the movement of two dozen different joints, including the knees, elbows and wrists. That means the medical images can be animated with the help of graphical processing units so you can see your body inside out in real time. The mirror will go on show later this month at the Computer-Human Interaction conference in Toronto, Canada.
via New Scientist

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Apr 17, 2014

The Trio Fantastique: A robot band from the 1950s

posted by Larra Morris

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Once upon the 1950s there was a robot band who rocked the rivets off the competition for only a nickel a song, a band called the Trio Fantastique who were created and managed by a mad scientist engineer named Zenon Specht (no relation).

The Trio Fantastique consisted of Wink on guitar, Blink on drums, and Nod who rocked the saxophone, and they were the house band for Antwerp’s Robot Club, also making appearances in various fairs and departments stores around France between 1954 and 1959.

They were made of shiny metal, they played songs via piano roll technology, and they could Bebop with the best of 'em because they actually played their instruments!
via Neatorama

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Apr 17, 2014

A patient’s bizarre hallucination points to how the brain identifies places

posted by Larra Morris

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Dr. Pierre Mégevand was in the middle of a somewhat-routine epilepsy test when his patient, a 22-year old man, said Mégevand and his medical team looked like they had transformed into Italians working at a pizzeria — aprons and all. It wasn’t long, the patient said, before the doctors morphed back into their exam room and business-casual attire. But that fleeting hallucination — accompanied by earlier visions of houses, a familiar train station and the street where the patient grew up — helped verify that a certain spot, in a certain fold in the brain, is a crucial node in the brain’s process of recognizing places.
via Wired

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Image: Mégevand et.al.

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Apr 17, 2014

3D printing drastically reduces development costs of blood recycling machine

posted by Larra Morris

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During surgery, patients' blood is often "spilt." Such blood can be returned to the body, so long as it has been properly processed to ensure that it is not tainted. The Brightwave Hemosep autotransfusion machine can do this – and its prototyping costs have been cut by 96 percent via 3D printing.
via Gizmag

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Image: Stratasys

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