'Living' Micro-Robot Will Detect Human Disease
A robot designed to mimic the biology of a lamprey may soon be swimming through your body, with the capacity to detect the presence of diseases better than your immune system.
What's the Latest Development?
British and American scientists are working to build a tiny robot that mimics the biology of a sea lamprey, found mainly in the Atlantic Ocean. Dubbed 'Cyberplasm', scientist want the machine to "have an electronic nervous system and 'eye' and 'nose' sensors derived from mammalian cells, as well as artificial muscles that use glucose as an energy source to propel it." Initially, the size of the robot will be less than 1cm in length but scientists want to reduce the size to less than 1mm, perhaps making it nano-sized as technology advances.
What's the Big Idea?
Biomimicry, though complex, would produce machines as well suited to their environment as animals—no small achievement when it comes to understanding our world. "Nothing matches a living creature’s natural ability to see and smell its environment and therefore to collect data on what’s going on around it," said bioengineer Dr. Daniel Frankel of Newcastle University, who is leading the UK-based work. Applications for the technology include swimming through the body to detect disease or advancing prostheses by developing artificial muscle tissue which responds realistically to its environment.
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Good science is sometimes trumped by the craving for a "big splash."
- Scientists strive to earn credit from their peers, for grants from federal agencies, and so a lot of the decisions that they make are strategic in nature. They're encouraged to publish exciting new findings that demonstrate some new phenomenon that we have never seen before.
- This professional pressure can affect their decision-making — to get acclaim they may actually make science worse. That is, a scientist might commit fraud if he thinks he can get away with it or a scientist might rush a result out of the door even though it hasn't been completely verified in order to beat the competition.
- On top of the acclaim of their peers, scientists — with the increasing popularity of science journalism — are starting to be rewarded for doing things that the public is interested in. The good side of this is that the research is more likely to have a public impact, rather than be esoteric. The bad side? To make a "big splash" a scientist may push a study or article that doesn't exemplify good science.
Moans, groans, and gripes release stress hormones in the brain.
Could you give up complaining for a whole month? That's the crux of this interesting piece by Jessica Hullinger over at Fast Company. Hullinger explores the reasons why humans are so predisposed to griping and why, despite these predispositions, we should all try to complain less. As for no complaining for a month, that was the goal for people enrolled in the Complaint Restraint project.
Participants sought to go the entirety of February without so much as a moan, groan, or bellyache.
Two space agencies plan missions to deflect an asteroid.
- NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are working together on missions to a binary asteroid system.
- The DART and Hera missions will attempt to deflect and study the asteroid Didymoon.
- A planetary defense system is important in preventing large-scale catastrophes.
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