Monthly Archives: August 2007

Super Muscular Mice Through Genetic Engineering

‘Mighty mice’ made mightier

The Johns Hopkins scientist who first showed that the absence of the protein myostatin leads to oversized muscles in mice and men has now found a second protein, follistatin, whose overproduction in mice lacking myostatin doubles the muscle-building effect.Results of Se-Jin Lee’s new study, appearing on August 29 in the online, open-access journal PLoS ONE, show that while mice that lack the gene that makes myostatin have roughly twice the amount of body muscle as normal, mice without myostatin that also overproduce follistatin have about four times as much muscle as normal mice.

Lee, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of molecular biology and genetics, says that this added muscle increase could significantly boost research efforts to “beef up” livestock or promote muscle growth in patients with muscular dystrophy and other wasting diseases.

“To my surprise and delight, there was an additive effect,” said Lee, who notes these muscular mice averaged a 117 percent increase in muscle fiber size and a 73 percent increase in total muscle fibers compared to normal mice.

Mechanical Heart Removed After Organ Heals Itself

Mechanical heart removed after organ heals self

A 15-year-old Camrose, Alta. girl has become one of the few patients to be taken off an artificial heart device because her own diseased heart healed itself.“It’s changed everything,” Melissa Mills told CTV’s Canada AM. “I have such a respect for life now.”

Mills was sent to Edmonton’s Stollery Children’s Hospital last year after a sudden illness affected her heart and a transplant was urgently needed.

Her parents were told to prepare for the possibility that their daughter might not survive.

Doctors at the hospital implanted a Berlin Heart, a mechanical device worn outside the body that keeps blood pumping in a person with a damaged heart. The Stollery is one of a few facilities in Canada to work with the Berlin Hearts, which are the world’s first mechanical hearts designed for children.

Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, Montreal’s McGill University Health Centre and Sainte-Justine Hospital also work with the artificial heart device.

With that done, Mills then waited for a heart to become available for a transplant. At one point, she was at the top of the North American transplant list.

But over the next few months, her condition improved dramatically. Her own heart regained strength and after 146 days on the Berlin Heart, Melissa underwent surgery to have the device removed.

“For sure it’s a miracle,” Dr. Holger Buchholz, a heart specialist, said Tuesday.

Levitation Figured Out By Scientists

Physicists have ‘solved’ mystery of levitation

Levitation has been elevated from being pure science fiction to science fact, according to a study reported today by physicists.In earlier work the same team of theoretical physicists showed that invisibility cloaks are feasible.

Now, in another report that sounds like it comes out of the pages of a Harry Potter book, the University of St Andrews team has created an ‘incredible levitation effects’ by engineering the force of nature which normally causes objects to stick together.

Professor Ulf Leonhardt and Dr Thomas Philbin, from the University of St Andrews in Scotland, have worked out a way of reversing this pheneomenon, known as the Casimir force, so that it repels instead of attracts.

Their discovery could ultimately lead to frictionless micro-machines with moving parts that levitate But they say that, in principle at least, the same effect could be used to levitate bigger objects too, even a person.

Implanting Microchips In Soldier’s Brains

Pentagon to implant microchips in soldiers’ brains

The Department of Defense is planning to implant microchips in soldiers’ brains for monitoring their health information, and has already awarded a $1.6 million contract to the Center for Bioelectronics, Biosensors and Biochips at Clemson University for the development of an implantable “biochip”.Soldiers fear that the biochip, about the size of a grain of rice, which measures and relays information on soldiers vital signs 24 hours a day, can be used to put them under surveillance even when they are off duty.

But Anthony Guiseppi-Elie, C3B director and Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Bioengineering claims the that the invivo biosensors will save lives as first responders to the trauma scene could inject the biochip into the wounded victim and gather data almost immediately.

He believes that the device has other long-term potential applications, such as monitoring astronauts’ vital signs during long-duration space flights and reading blood-sugar levels for diabetics.

Life Extension Pill Tested In Humans

Longevity Pill Tested in Humans

Sirtris Pharmaceuticals announces that its souped-up version of resveratrol has passed early tests in humans.What if I told you there was a pill that slows aging and allows you to live a healthy life to age 100?

Such a pill may exist right now. It’s being tested in people in very early-stage human clinical trials. Today, the company making the pill, Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, announced its findings from preclinical testing in cells and animals, and also from tests conducted on 85 male volunteers this summer.

The verdict: so far, the pill works, although it will be years before we know how well it works, or if it can actually extend the life span of people in the same way that it has bumped up the life span of mice.

Artificial Robot Brain For Natural Movement

EU project builds artificial brain for robots

Scientists in Spain have achieved a giant leap for robotkind by building the first artificial cerebellum to help them interact with humans. The cerebellum is the portion of the brain that controls motor functions.The project will now implant the man-made cerebellum into a robot so as to make its movements and interaction with humans more natural. The overall goal is to incorporate the cerebellum into a robot designed by the German Aerospace Centre in two year’s time. The researchers hope that their work will also result in clues on how to treat cognitive diseases such as Parkinson’s.

The scientists at the University of Granada are focusing on the design of microchips that incorporate a full neuronal system, emulating the way the cerebellum interacts with the human nervous system.

Implanting the man-made cerebellum in a robot will allow it to manipulate and interact with other objects with far greater effectiveness than previously managed.

Solar Power Will Hit Mainstream In Only A Few Years

Forecast for solar power: Sunny

…The outlook for solar, though, is getting much brighter. A few dozen companies say advances in technology will let them halve the price of solar-panel installations in as little as three years. By 2014, solar-system prices will be competitive with conventional electricity when energy savings are figured in, Deutsche Bank says. And that’s without government incentives.

Like wind power, solar energy is spotty, working at full capacity an average 20% to 30% of the time. Solar’s big advantage is that it supplies the most electricity midday, when demand peaks. And it can be located at homes and businesses, reducing the need to build pollution-belching power plants and unsightly transmission lines.

In states such as California, with high electricity prices and government incentives, solar is already a bargain for some customers. Wal-Mart recently said it’s putting solar panels on more than 20 of its stores in California and Hawaii. Google is blanketing its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters with 9,212 solar panels, enough to light 1,000 homes.

The solar industry is expected to triple in the next three years, from about $13 billion to $40 billion in revenue, says analyst Jesse Pichel of Piper Jaffray.

Mind Controlled Bionic Arm Can Play Piano

Engineers develop a mind-controlled prosthetic arm dexterous enough to play piano

This summer the team hit a critical milestone when it finished Proto 2, a thought-controlled mechanical arm—complete with hand and articulated fingers—that can perform 25 joint motions. This dexterity approaches that of a native arm, which can make 30 motions, and trumps the previously most agile bionic arm, the Proto 1, which could bend at the elbow, rotate its wrist and shoulder, and open and close its fingers. A person wearing a Proto 2 could conceivably play the piano.




How long before we voluntarily have our limbs amputated to replace them with superior technology?

Also see The Future Of Mind Control.

Do You Want To Live Forever?

Below a documentary of Aubrey de Grey, the man who’s going to make humans immortal.

Not everybody can mentally ‘take’ the idea of living forever.

That’s why Aubrey has opponents.

(mainly old people who won’t live long enough to see it)

They attack him with meaningful and well thought-out arguments that really address the actual content of Aubrey’s ideas, such as:

  • Aubrey is an angry individual
  • Aubrey has only 3 laboratories doing his research
  • Aubrey is very naïve and can’t possibly contribute to biology because he’s originally a computer scientist
  • Aubrey doesn’t have any children so he wants to attain immortality himself through science

You think I’m making this shit up?

Enjoy the video.

Brain Cell Regeneration Milestone Achieved

Milestone in the regeneration of brain cells

The majority of cells in the human brain are not nerve cells but star-shaped glia cells, the so called “astroglia”. “Glia means “glue”, explains Götz. “As befits their name, until now these cells have been regarded merely as a kind of “putty” keeping the nerve cells together.A couple of years ago, the research group had been already able to prove that these glia cells function as stem cells during development. This means that they are able to differentiate into functional nerve cells. However, this ability gets lost in later phases of development, so that even after an injury to the adult brain glial cells are unable to generate any more nerve cells.

In order to be able to reverse this development, the team studied what molecular switches are essential for the creation of nerve cells from glial cells during development. These regulator proteins are introduced into glial cells from the postnatal brain, which indeed respond by switching on the expression of neuronal proteins.

In his current work, Dr. Benedikt Berninger, was now able to show that single regulator proteins are quite sufficient to generate new functional nerve cells from glia cells. The transition from glia-to-neuron could be followed live at a time-lapse microscope. It was shown that glia cells need some days for the reprogramming until they take the normal shape of a nerve cell. “These new nerve cells then have also the typical electrical properties of normal nerve cells”, emphasises Berninger. “We could show this by means of electrical recordings”.