New prototype Petri dishes let ordinary scientists in on the advanced technology.
- Acoustic tweezers allow bioparticles and cells to be precisely manipulated without touching them.
- Sound waves grab and move very tiny objects as desired.
- Previously available only in expensive and complex devices, acoustic tweezers have now been built into Petri dishes.
When a tweezer is not a tweezer<p>To understand how the "tweezers" work, it's important to know that they're tweezers only in that they grab objects so that they can be manipulated. That's the extent of their similarity to household tweezers: Acoustic tweezers are not small hand-held devices to pinch with. They're much more high-tech than that. <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acoustic_tweezers" target="_blank">Acoustic tweezers</a> use pairs of sound waves directed at the object to be manipulated. (NASA has an <a href="https://www.nasa.gov/specials/X59/science-of-sound.html" target="_blank">excellent pair of short videos</a> explaining how sound waves work.)</p><p>In an acoustic tweezer, sound waves directed toward each other push an object into the location at which the waves meet, called a "trapping node." Once the object is trapped there, the node's position can be repositioned as desired by adjusting the strength, or amplitude, of the sound waves. As the node moves, so does the object trapped within it.</p><p>Acoustic tweezers provide a touch-free, gentle and non-destructive means of holding on to and manipulating even very tiny objects — a single cell or particle, for example. Using multiple sound waves emitted from opposite each other, and above and below, objects can be moved in three dimensions. This allows scientists to mix objects together with tremendous precision and to construct two-dimensional and three-dimensional structures from trapped objects. </p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzk5MjAyOC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MDY2Mjg4Mn0.5cMqhSjZa6eo8ISWnY37j3R9UtMsEHV9qGAh2EC53i4/img.jpg?width=980" id="fb16a" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2acb472e02638d001a5e0ccdc9c8b6e8" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="graphic explaining how sound waves move objects" />
Graphic explaining how sound waves move objects
Credit: Big Think
How the prototypes work<p>The researchers present three different prototypes in their paper. They all employ small <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piezoelectricity" target="_blank">piezoelectric</a> <a href="https://blog.teufelaudio.com/transducers/" target="_blank">sound transducers</a> affixed to the edges and/or below Petri dishes. These transducers convert electrical energy into sound waves and can move objects in Petri dishes in pretty much any direction.</p><ul><li>The first prototype has four transducers arrayed around the four quadrants of a Petri dish, allowing the tweezers to move targeted objects laterally.</li><li>The second model uses a tilted sound transducer beneath the Petri dish that creates a whirlpool in its center capable of capturing, concentrating, and mixing the contents of a dish.</li><li>The third design fits two transducers beneath the dish together like a zipper, forming a holographic IDT (interdigital transducer.) This highly configurable arrangement generates high-frequency beam-like waves from below the dish. They can be programmed as 3D focused or vortex beams, for example, allowing them to perform a range of object manipulations.</li></ul><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzk5MjExOS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyODA1ODkzM30.ypFFEBKMYg0iBNvAQ3aiF07-UK8OM8nACZTQTM9unds/img.jpg?width=980" id="120f9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="dc8c535494b9830e1a1a594d8495b2c1" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Credit: Tian, et al./Scientific Advances
Moving forward<p>The primary purpose of this study was to work out how to implement already available acoustic tweezers in more compact, practical form for researchers, according to Huang.</p><p>As the paper notes: "Although previous acoustic tweezers have been demonstrated for the manipulation of cells, most of them require customized microfluidic channels/chambers, which usually require time-consuming and costly steps for fabrication and sterilization and hence are not frequently used in biological and biomedical laboratories." The authors' aim, says the paper, was to develop "acoustic tweezer devices that can directly manipulate bioparticles in the most common laboratory cell culture plate, the Petri dish."</p><p>The authors' next goal is to further catalogue the capabilities of their prototypes, in particular their configurable third design. Down the road, they hope, will be development of a device that combines all three types of functionality provided by the prototypes in a single device.</p>
Was the hamburger menu always so ubiquitous?
He's also credited by some as having coined the phrase "user-friendly."
Larry Tesler invented cut and paste, and coined the phrase "user-friendly".
Is there a way for more human-centered algorithms to prevent potentially triggering interactions on social media?
- According to a 2017 study, 71% of people reported feeling better (rediscovery of self and positive emotions) about 11 weeks after a breakup. But social media complicates this healing process.
- Even if you "unfriend", block, or unfollow, social media algorithms can create upsetting encounters with your ex-partner or reminders of the relationship that once was.
- Researchers at University of Colorado Boulder suggest that a "human-centered approach" to creating algorithms can help the system better understand the complex social interactions we have with people online and prevent potentially upsetting encounters.
Social media complicates the natural healing process of breakups<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjc3OTI0Mi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNzI4Mzc5M30.aS0-M-SZaYr3GshuBjVNAmdwHav3sNt5b8uDKHro8IM/img.jpg?width=980" id="be08b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="30223e7cdfd80485d777b4f8f51f6976" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="sad woman looking at phone concept break up online dating" />
Social media complicates the difficult process of healing with a break up.
Photo by Antonio Guillem on Shutterstock<p>According to a 2017 study (which you can find in the <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17439760601069234#.VLaIm3uzniB" target="_blank">Journal of Positive Psychology</a>), most people are able to heal from a breakup within a span of three months after the relationship has ended.</p><p>This study examined 155 participants who had gone through breakups in the past six months - these were people who had been in relationships of various durations and consisted of people who had been broken up with as well as people who had been the one to end the relationship. </p><p>71% of people in this study described feeling better (reporting rediscovery of self and more positive emotions) around 11 weeks after the relationship had ended. </p><p><em>"Offline, breakups can range from awkward to awful, inspiring a gamut of emotions for former partners and people in their networks. Typically these feelings fade with time and distance as ex-partners grow apart emotionally and physically..." </em></p><p>Social media complicates this process, <a href="https://sci-hub.tw/10.1145/3359172" target="_blank">according to a 2019 study</a> conducted by a team in the Department of Information Science division at the University of Colorado Boulder.</p><p>While it's obvious that social media can make grieving the end of a relationship even more difficult, many people unfriend, unfollow and even block their ex-partners to gain some sense of control and erase any reminder of their lost love.</p><p>However, according the study mentioned above, even if you unfollow, unfriend and block your ex-partner, social media platforms are very likely to serve you reminders of your relationship due to their algorithms.</p>
Even if you “unfollow” and block, social media algorithms can make breaking up even more painful<a href="https://sci-hub.tw/10.1145/3359172" ><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjc3OTIzNi9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0OTc4NTc0M30.lKUM6WtOiuFPId-PsMMhsHNNQ_2IcO9HS8iOBz-x9QY/img.png?width=1245&coordinates=509%2C0%2C86%2C0&height=700" id="6a679" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="d361fcea28d9ca8441abd0af6510366c" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="explanation of facebook mutual friends algorithm" /></a>
Even when you "unfriend" or block your ex-partner, social media algorithms make it possible to see reminders of them.
Figure 1 from 2019 study on Facebook algorithms<p>This study investigated the unexpected encounters people face with social media content (relating to an ex romantic partner or relationship that has ended) as a direct result of that platform's curation algorithm.</p><p>Through 3 sets of interviews conducted with 19 adult Facebook account holders (within the United States), the team characterized the kinds of social media encounters participants in the study had experienced and how that experience affected their ability to heal from the breakup. </p><p><strong>The participants of this study varied in age and sexual orientation, and the length of their romantic relationships also varied (this data can be found in Table 1 <a href="https://sci-hub.tw/10.1145/3359172" target="_blank">of this document</a>):</strong> </p><ul><li>Participants ranged in age from 18-46 (with a median age of 30.56)</li><li>Participants included 12 females and 7 males </li><li>Relationship duration varied from 2 months to 15 years </li><li>Relationship statuses (while together) varied from dating to cohabitating to married</li><li>Sexual orientations of the participants varied from straight to bisexual to lesbian</li></ul><p>The "time since encounter" (of the unexpected social media encounters) ranged from ongoing to over 2 years ago. Each participant of this study self-identified as having experienced an unexpected and upsetting experience with content about an ex-partner on Facebook. </p><p><strong>According to this study, there are three places on Facebook where "upsetting algorithmic encounters" frequently happen: </strong></p><ul><li><u>News Feed</u> - which, according to Facebook, shows you "stories that matter most to you" through metrics based on the type of content you post and interactions you have with posts you come into contact with. </li><li><u>"On this Day" or "Memories" </u>- a place where pictures or interactions with posts are shown to you as happening "a year ago today" or "five years ago today." </li><li><u>Shared Spaces and Friend Suggestions </u>- where upsetting encounters can happen by seeing mutual friend posts where you can see a blocked person's response to a post by a friend of yours.</li></ul><p><strong>Who is at fault for these upsetting encounters?</strong></p><p>In one instance, person 15 (as they are labeled in the study) indicated she had blocked her ex-husband and mutual friends they shared, as well as his family. Even so, she still encountered an upsetting "friend suggestion" on the sidebar of her Facebook screen. </p><p><em>"Around the time of the divorce, I was getting 'people you may know' suggestions of his [new] girlfriend's relatives, which was bizarre…" </em></p><p>Not only was person 15 upset with these friend recommendations, but she was also very confused: she assumed unfriending her ex-partner, as well as any mutual friends they had, would create enough "virtual distance" between her and her ex-partner that the system would no longer recommend overlapping connections between the two of them.</p><p>Across the range of these interviews, some of the participants did blame themselves for not changing their privacy settings or maintaining their social media to help avoid these encounters. </p><p>A minority of people in the study held others accountable: giving examples of "not deleting photos with the two of us in it" as blame being on their ex-partner. </p><p>However, most of the participants held the social media platform accountable. </p><p><em>"I clicked the Facebook app and at the top, the very top item of my News Feed is "so and so is in a relationship with someone else" and I'm like, "why are you putting that at the top of my feed?" - </em>a quote from person 9 in the study. </p>
The problem is clear...is the solution also clear?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjc3OTI1MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNTQzNzg2MH0.mNIDcXnFmovh8uJUok0jzidSKMYNTFP4NsUoPewtXqk/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C18%2C0%2C19&height=700" id="bf267" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="0d34eb7bfffa12e6f97739a9b4e890ac" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="concept of social media connection friend requests facebook algorithm" />
Is there a solution that can allow social media algorithms to better understand complex social interactions online?
Image by Sergey Nivens on Shutterstock<p>The real problem with the algorithms on social media platforms, according to the study, is that these systems do not understand the (at times, quite complex) social context of the data they are processing.</p><p>The unpredictable outcomes of these algorithms can cause extremely upsetting experiences for social media users. </p><p>Going beyond the scope of breakups for a moment, we can imagine how traumatic the experience of seeing your deceased daughter in Facebook's "Year in Review" video was for Eric Meyer, who explains his experience in <a href="https://meyerweb.com/eric/thoughts/2014/12/24/inadvertent-algorithmic-cruelty/" target="_blank">this article about inadvertent algorithmic cruelty:</a> <em>"I didn't go looking for grief this afternoon, but it found me anyway, and I have designers and programmers to thank for that." </em></p><p><em>"Yes, my year looked like that" </em>explained Meyer in his emotional article, <em>"true enough. My year looked like the now-absent face of my little girl. It was still unkind to remind me so forcefully." </em></p><p>This is just one instance of potentially devastating effects of social media algorithms that don't take more into account than how many "likes" a photo received or how you are connected to this person through a friend of a friend. </p><p><strong>The solution: human-centered algorithms</strong></p><p>The algorithm is made to simply show you "a friend of a friend" in the "mutual friends" section - not knowing that this "friend of a friend" just happens to be your ex-boyfriend or girlfriend's new partner. Or in the case of Eric Meyer, the algorithm showed his most "liked" photo, which happened to be of his daughter before her passing earlier that year.</p><p>This can create a very triggering response, as you can imagine. But is there a solution to this? The research team suggests that "human-centered approaches" to algorithms could help. </p><p>While approaching this problem in a simplistic way might prevent people from having online interactions they do value, the study suggests there are things social media algorithms can take into account that could potentially detect upsetting triggers and redesign how these encounters occur.</p><p>An example given in the study is a Facebook event where both you and your partner are attending, the algorithm could choose how (and when) to make your ex-partner's interactions with that event visible to you. </p><p><em><strong>"As the work of content curation on social media continues to shift from people to algorithms, understanding how people experience what those algorithms make visible is critical to the design of human-centered systems, especially when the results are upsetting or harmful."</strong> </em></p>
As the American loneliness epidemic reaches alarming new heights, one artist theorizes on what connection might look like in the future.
- The Compression Carpet is a machine created by Los Angeles-based artist Lucy McRae that simulates a hug to a person craving intimacy.
- Research indicates that nearly half of Americans lack daily meaningful interpersonal interactions with a friend or family member. This loneliness epidemic is accompanied by a touch crisis.
- McRae's art and neuroscience suggest that it is affectionate touch that we are deprived of in our increasingly touch-phobic society. New sensory technology seeks to solve this problem.
Technological Antidotes For Touch<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjAyNzEyMy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNDM4Mzc2MH0.439jBB0EiizONdHK4-Cibc92IfL1F38QUm7-kEuzHtk/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C577%2C209%2C1034&height=700" id="a47d3" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="65c82d4c18538f1112f0a2105d4b65ff" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Photography: Scottie Cameron<p>The Compression Carpet is a machine created by Los Angeles-based artist Lucy McRae that simulates a hug to a person craving intimacy. </p><p>It works like this: A person is sandwiched horizontally between a pair of cushions which offer a full-body embrace. The cushions are colored peach and brown, providing the aesthetic of warm skin tones in order to enhance the illusion of being cradled by human flesh. To use the machine you would lie down inside the cushions while another person cranks the handle to squeeze the machine around you. He or she determines the firmness of the machine's hug. </p><p>The machine was unveiled at the San Francisco exhibition <a href="https://www.festivaloftheimpossible.com/" target="_blank">Festival of the Impossible</a>, which explored the future intimacy between humans and machines. Participants were able to try out the Compression Carpet, with many leaving with "a glazed look in their eyes" after being squeezed <a href="https://www.dezeen.com/2019/10/19/lucy-mcrae-compression-carpet-hugging-machine/" target="_blank">McRae told <em>Dezeen</em></a>. </p><p><a href="https://www.lucymcrae.net/about" target="_blank">McRae</a>, a science fiction artist and body architect, uses her art to examine a statement she makes on her website claiming, "We are going to have a revolution of what it means to be human." </p><p>As we move toward a touch crisis in which we're inundated with technology to the detriment of our mental well-being, McRae says that the Compression Carpet and its sister creation, the <a href="https://www.lucymcrae.net/compression-cradle" target="_blank">Compression Cradle</a>, question whether technology will vie for our affection because of our obsession with the digital. </p><p>It might already be happening. Like it or not, smartphones wrapped in synthetic flesh might soon be a thing. </p><p>Researchers have developed a skin prototype called <a href="https://marcteyssier.com/projects/skin-on/" target="_blank">Skin-On Interfaces</a>, sensitive skin-like cases that can be put over mobile phones, watches, or laptop touchpads to simulate skin-on-skin touch. The fake flesh intelligently registers nuances of touch and associates them with various human emotions. For example, anger is associated with hard pressure, while stroking is understood as comfort. The next step is adding anthropomorphic bells and whistles to make the smartskin more realistic, such as temperature features and, uh, embedded hair.</p><p>Because skin is what we use as an interface when interacting with other humans, the idea behind Skin-On was to add this human-like interface to our communicative mediation devices., explained Marc Teyssier, a developer of the synthetic sleeve, to <a href="https://hypebeast.com/2019/10/skin-on-interfaces-smart-artificial-skin-augmented-device-phone-case" target="_blank"><em>Hypebeas</em><em>t</em></a>.</p>