None of us are getting any younger, but now a pill that reverses ageing could be on the shelves as soon as 2020 as researchers make a ‘revolutionary’ step forward in anti-ageing technology.
The revolutionary drug has caught the attention of NASA as they hope to defend Mars-bound astronauts against the effects of radiation.
After successfully being used on mice the researchers believe it could be tested on humans within six months.
ll cells in the human body have an innate capability to repair DNA damage, but this ability to do so declines as we age, meaning we become more susceptible to dangerous mutations that cause disease.
But the team at the University of New South Wales has identified a critical step in the molecular process and a key metabolite, NAD+, which has a central role as a regulator in protein-to-protein interactions that control repair to our DNA.
Treating mice with a NAD+ booster called NMN improved their cell’s ability to repair DNA damage caused by radiation exposure or old age in just one week of treatment.
Lead scientist Professor David Sinclair said: “This is the closest we are to a safe and effective anti-ageing drug that’s perhaps only three to five years away from being on the market if the trials go well.
“The cells of the old mice were indistinguishable from the young mice, after just one week of treatment.”
NASA are interested in this development because of it’s potential in protecting astronauts against radiation. Even on short missions, astronauts experience accelerated ageing from cosmic radiation, suffering from muscle weakness, memory loss and other symptoms when they return.
On a trip to Mars, the situation would be far worse, as 5% of the astronauts’ cells would die and their chances of cancer would approach 100%.
Cosmic radiation is not only an issue for astronauts. We’re all exposed to it when we fly. It is estimated that a London-Singapore-Melbourne flight has roughly the radiation equivalent to a chest X-ray.
By: Huffpost Tech, UK
Scientists have solved fundamental problems that were holding back cures for rare hereditary disorders. Next we’ll see if the same approach can take on cancer, heart disease, and other common illnesses.
When Kala Looks gave birth to fraternal twin boys in January 2015, she and her husband, Philip, had no idea that one of them was harboring a deadly mutation in his genes.
At three months old, their son Levi was diagnosed with severe combined immune deficiency, or SCID, which renders the body defenseless against infections. Levi’s blood had only a few immune cells essential to fighting disease. Soon he would lose them and have no immune system at all.
Kala and Philip frantically began sanitizing their home to keep Levi alive. They got rid of the family cat, sprayed every surface with Lysol, and boiled the twins’ toys in hot water. Philip would strap on a surgical mask when he came home from work.
At first, Kala and Philip thought their only option was to get Levi a bone marrow transplant, but they couldn’t find a match for him. Then they learned about an experimental gene therapy at Boston Children’s Hospital. It was attempting to treat children like Levi by replacing the gene responsible for destroying his immune system.
“I thought, this isn’t real,” Kala says. “There’s no way this could work.”
Nonetheless, the Lookses flew from their home in Michigan to Boston in May 2015. Days later, Levi got an infusion of the therapy into his veins. He has been a normal boy ever since—and he has even grown larger than his twin brother. Babies born with SCID typically didn’t survive past two years old. Now, a one-time treatment offers a cure for patients like Levi Looks.
Researchers have been chasing the dream of gene therapy for decades. The idea is elegant: use an engineered virus to deliver healthy copies of a gene into patients with defective versions. But until recently it had produced more disappointments than successes. The entire field was slowed in 1999 when an 18-year-old patient with a liver disease, Jesse Gelsinger, died in a gene-therapy experiment.
Gene-Therapy Time Line
But now, crucial puzzles have been solved and gene therapies are on the verge of curing devastating genetic disorders. Two gene therapies for inherited diseases—Strimvelis for a form of SCID and Glybera for a disorder that makes fat build up in the bloodstream—have won regulatory approval in Europe. In the United States, Spark Therapeutics could be the first to market; it has a treatment for a progressive form of blindness. Other gene therapies in development point to a cure for hemophilia and relief from an incapacitating skin disorder called epidermolysis bullosa.
Fixing rare diseases, impressive in its own right, could be just the start. Researchers are studying gene therapy in clinical trials for about 40 to 50 different diseases, says Maria-Grazia Roncarolo, a pediatrician and scientist at Stanford University who led early gene-therapy experiments in Italy that laid the foundation for Strimvelis. That’s up from just a few conditions 10 years ago. And in addition to treating disorders caused by malfunctions in single genes, researchers are looking to engineer these therapies for more common diseases, like Alzheimer’s, diabetes, heart failure, and cancer. Harvard geneticist George Church has said that someday, everyone may be able to take gene therapy to combat the effects of aging.
Early gene therapies failed in part because of the delivery mechanism. In 1990, a four-year-old girl with a form of SCID was treated by scientists at the National Institutes of Health, who extracted white blood cells from her, inserted normal copies of her faulty gene into them, then injected her with the corrected cells. But patients later treated for a different type of SCID went on to develop leukemia. The new genetic material and the virus used to carry it into cells were delivered to the wrong part of the genome, which switched on cancer-causing genes in some patients. In Gelsinger’s case, the virus used to transport functioning genes into his cells made his immune system go into overdrive, leading to multiple organ failure and brain death.
Gene-therapy researchers have surmounted many of those early problems by using viruses that are more efficient at transporting new genetic material into cells.
But several challenges remain. While gene therapies have been developed for several relatively rare diseases, creating such treatments for more common diseases that have complex genetic causes will be far more difficult. In diseases like SCID and hemophilia, scientists know the precise genetic mutation that is to blame. But diseases like Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and heart failure involve multiple genes—and the same ones aren’t all involved in all people with those conditions.
Nonetheless, for Kala and Philip Looks, the success of gene therapy is already real. A treatment they had never heard of rid their child of a horrific disease.
By: MIT Technology Review, USA
Source: www.technologyreview.comRead More
In a breakthrough, scientists have used the humble soybean to make the world’s strongest material graphene commercially more viable.
Graphene is a carbon material that is one atom thick. Its thin composition and high conductivity means it is used in applications ranging from miniaturised electronics to biomedical devices.
These properties also enable thinner wire connections; providing extensive benefits for computers, solar panels, batteries, sensors and other devices.
Until now, the high cost of graphene production has been the major roadblock in its commercialisation. Previously, graphene was grown in a highly-controlled environment with explosive compressed gases, requiring long hours of operation at high temperatures and extensive vacuum processing.
Scientists at Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia have developed a novel “GraphAir” technology which eliminates the need for such a highly-controlled environment.
“This ambient-air process for graphene fabrication is fast, simple, safe, potentially scalable, and integration friendly”, CSIRO scientist Zhao Jun Han, said. “Our unique technology is expected to reduce the cost of graphene production and improve the uptake in new applications,” Han said.
GraphAir transforms soybean oil – a renewable, natural material – into graphene films in a single step.
“Our GraphAir technology results in good and transformable graphene properties, comparable to graphene made by conventional methods,” CSIRO scientist Dong Han Seo said.
With heat, soybean oil breaks down into a range of carbon building units that are essential for the synthesis of graphene. The team also transformed other types of renewable and even waste oil, such as those leftover from barbecues or cooking, into graphene films.
The potential applications of graphene include water filtration and purification, renewable energy, sensors, personalised healthcare and medicine, to name a few. Graphene has excellent electronic, mechanical, thermal and optical properties as well. Its uses range from improving battery performance in energy devices, to cheaper solar panels.
The research was published in the journal Nature Communications.
By: Gadgets360, India
Source: gadgets.ndtv.comRead More
Google’s Project Loon may sound loony on paper, but it’s seeming less and less loony as time goes by. In fact, the latest update from the project’s team suggest that Project Loon could become a reality much sooner than anyone expects.
Project Loon intends to bring internet connectivity to internet-less areas via hot air balloons in the sky. The idea is that clusters of these balloons will hover over an area that needs internet and beam it down.
In practice, this was turning out to be difficult. Keeping the balloons in one place, for example, was proving to be very hard. Primarily as a result of this, Project Loon’s engineers determined that they’d need 200-300 balloons to cover a particular area. Their latest breakthrough, however, brings that number down to 20 or 30. This say the engineers, will result in a 100x reduction in the number of balloons needed.
As Google explains, the earlier model relied on balloons floating in the jet stream in the atmosphere. This consists of winds moving in different directions at varying speeds depending on altitude. The original design would use these winds to move balloons around and to put them in a specific spot. The updated system used AI and machine learning techniques to figure out how to command clusters of balloons.
Now, engineers will be able to send an entire cluster of balloons to a particular region and provide internet access, and all of this autonomously.
This clustering technique is what reduces the number of balloons as it concentrates the numbers at a given location. Fewer balloons will need to remain in transit.
An artificial intelligence (AI) system manages navigation and helps set routes for the balloons.
By: Tech2, India
Source: tech.firstpost.comRead More
What if our photographs and social media updates could be turned into memories we – or our children – could later access just by asking a virtual assistant, like Amazon’s Alexa? That’s the premise behind a new startup called Mylestone, which is experimenting with turning our digital footprints into narratives that help us recall highlights from our lives, as well as those of our family members and other loved ones.
The idea seems a little far out there, but it’s an area where a number of companies today are competing – whether that’s bots that will remember the minutia of our day-to-day lives, or even tools to augment our human intelligence with computing power.
Mylestone approaches this space a bit differently. Instead of focusing on more utilitarian functions, the startup is developing a highly personal service for capturing and recalling memories.
To use the Alexa app it has created, you first upload a series of photos, videos or audio files to the service. These are then analyzed by a combination of data science – meaning A.I. and machine learning – along with people who help the process along.
So, for example, if you upload a photo of your parents on a vacation, Mylestone’s system can extract certain data automatically. Using metadata from the photo, it can determine things like the date, time or location where the photo was taken. It can also identify certain things in the photo – like a recognizable landmark (think: the Eiffel Tower, e.g.) to make other determinations about what’s in the photograph.
On the human-assisted side of things, people can help connect the other dots to make the sort of leaps that computers cannot (yet). A photo of two elderly people might be your grandparents, for example, the people working with your digital collection could guess. Or maybe the photo is of a restaurant menu – and since other metadata indicates the city where it was shot – people could search until they found the restaurant in question, then manually confirm the related details.
In other words, people can do the sort of advanced cyber stalking you does on ahead of your Tinder dates, but for the purpose of saving life’s precious memories, not digging up dirt.
A future version of the service will also be able to scan your Facebook profile, Instagram, and other social media accounts in order to automatically create these memories for you, without the manual uploads. While that would give Mylestone more access to your personal data, it wouldn’t require any of it to then reside on its servers, as with the file uploads supported today.
“Our intent is to create narratives for you, not to host your content,” explains Mylestone founder and CEO Dave Balter.
Balter previously founded BzzAgent, acquired by Tesco in 2011, and Smarterer, acquired by Pluralsight in 2014. Mylestone’s team includes Head of Engineering Jim Myers who worked with Balter at Smarterer, and Head of Advocacy Jon O’Toole, who co-founded BzzAgent.
A serial entrepreneur and frequent traveler, Balter began thinking about memorials after seeing an empty cemetery when looking out the window of his flight to Laguardia.
After 20 or so trips where he would glance down the graveyard and always find it vacant, a question began to tickle in his mind. Why don’t people go to graveyards anymore?
“But what started becoming obvious was that there was something bigger happening. Social [media] had transformed the way we talk about deceased loved ones…it’s fully acceptable to talk about death,” says Balter, noting how we tend to just post on Facebook. “We have other ways to memorialize,” he adds.
But Facebook may not be the best way to do this. And with the rise of voice-based computing, Balter began to think of different ways we could use computers to recall memories. Maybe we could just ask Alexa, he thought.
The Alexa skill lets you say things like: “tell me a story about mom,” or “have grandma say the prayer,” for example. It’s a way of remembering loved ones in a very real, interactive way.
The startup already has its tendrils in tools for memory collection. It acquired the photo-scanning app Heirloom in April, 2016, for example. And it’s working on other ways to make it easier for families to collect their histories – like tools for collecting grandpa’s war stories, for example – instead of relying only on file uploads.
I tried the service for myself, and found it intriguing. I uploaded a handful of scanned photos from a vacation I took as a child, and Alexa told me a story about my summer on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, visiting the historic and tiny Salvo Post Office, splashing in the ocean, and picking flowers for mom. (Nah, I picked them for me.)
But as a proof-of-concept, it’s not bad. With more data pouring in from Facebook and your social media accounts, and flashing up related imagery on your TV through Alexa’s Fire TV connection (well…one day), Mylestone could be even better.
“This is one of those swing-for-the-fences type of ideas,” said David Frankel, Partner at Founder Collective. “Mylestone is tapping into the mainstreaming of voice activated assistants to put tech-enabled human connection and memory at the center of consumer experience.”
The startup has time to experiment, thanks to a new $2.5 million round of funding led by True Ventures, a prior investor in Smarterer. Also participating are Founder Collective, Boston Seed Capital, Converge Ventures, and Mergelane. To date, Mylestone has raised $4.5 million.
You can try it for yourself here.
By: TechCrunch, USA
Source: techcrunch.comRead More
The technology, patented by CSIC, is also being applied in the early detection of some types of cancer
In addition, the total test time is 4 hours, 45 minutes, meaning clinical results could be obtained on the same day. The research is published today in the journal PLOS ONE.
The biosensor combines micromechanical silicon structures with gold nanoparticles, both functionalised with p24-specific antibodies. At the end of the immunoassay procedure, p24 is sandwiched between the gold nanoparticles and the micromechanical silicon structures. The gold nanoparticles have optical resonances known as plasmons. These are capable of scattering light very efficiently and have become one of the structures to attract most interest in the field of optics over the last decade. Micromechanical structures are excellent mechanical sensors capable of detecting interactions as small as intermolecular forces. The combination of these two structures produces both mechanical and optical signals which amplify one another, producing remarkable sensitivity, to detect the p24.
The technology, which has been patented by CSIC, is also being applied in the early detection of certain types of cancer.
“The chip itself, the physical part, is identical for HIV tests and for cancer biomarker tests. What changes is the chemical part- the solution we apply- so that it reacts accordingly to what we are looking for. That’s why our fundamental work is focused on developing applications for this new technology”, points out CSIC researcher Javier Tamayo, who works at the Institute of Microelectronics in Madrid.
“The biosensor uses structures which are manufactured using well-established microelectronics technology, thus making large scale, low cost production possible. This, combined with its simplicity, could make it a great choice for use in developing countries”, notes Tamayo.
How the biosensor works
The experiment begins by incubating one millilitre of human serum on the sensor for one hour at 37 °C to allow binding of any existing HIV-1 p24 antigens to the capture antibodies located on the sensor’s surface. Next, it is re-incubated at 37 °C, though in this case with gold nanoparticles, for 15 minutes so the captured p24 proteins can be marked.
Finally, the resulting material is rinsed to remove any unbound particles. “The test takes a total of 4 hours 45 minutes, which is really rapid. In fact, to confirm the diagnosis you could even repeat the test and the clinical results could be back on the same day as the medical examination. The results are statistically significant and could be adapted to medical requirements”, explains the CSIC researcher.
HIV detection systems
Acute human immunodeficiency virus infection is defined as the time from virus acquisition to seroconversion, i.e. the onset of detectable antibodies to HIV in the blood.Today there are two ways to detect HIV in the blood. Firstly, infection can be diagnosed by detecting viral RNA in the blood using nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT), and secondly by detecting p24 protein with fourth generation immunoassays.
The first method, based on detecting viral RNA in the blood, has a detection limit of 20 to 35 copies of RNA per millilitre, i.e. a concentration typically occurring two weeks after HIV acquisition. In the second method, during the fourth generation immunoassays, a detection threshold of p24 in 10 picograms per millilitre is reached. This occurs approximately three to four weeks after infection.
“This new technology is capable of detecting p24 at concentrations up to 100,000 times lower than the previous generation of approved immunoassays methods and 100 times lower than methods for detecting viral RNA in blood. This reduces the undetectable phase after infection to just one week”, says CSIC researcher Priscila Kosaka from Madrid’s Institute of Microelectronics.
Detecting HIV in blood
The period between infection and seroconversion is approximately four weeks. The early detection of HIV is crucial to improving a person’s health. Progressive changes occur after HIV acquisition, such as irreversible depletion of gut CD4 lymphocytes, replication in the central nervous system, and the establishment of latent HIV reservoirs.
“The potential for HIV infectivity in the first stage of infection is much higher than in the later stages. Therefore, initiating antiretroviral therapy prior to seroconversion improves immune control and has been associated with benefits in CD4 cell count, a reduction in systemic inflammation, the preservation of cognitive function, and a reduction of the latent reservoir. Logically, its detection is critical to the prevention of HIV transmission”, explains Kosaka.
Patented by CSIC, this technology has been licensed to the Mecwins company (a CSIC spin-off) created in 2008 by Javier Tamayo and Montserrat Calleja, and current owner of three patents which represent the fruit of the CSIC researchers’ labour. This recent research has received funding from the Spanish Cancer Association.
Priscila M. Kosaka, Valerio Pini, Montserrat Calleja and Javier Tamayo. Ultrasensitive detection of HIV-1 p24 antigen by a hybrid nanomechanical-optoplasmonic platform with potential for detecting HIV-1 at first week after infection. PLOS ONE.
Kosaka, P. M.; Pini, V.; Ruz, J.; Da Silva, R.; González, M.; Ramos, D.; Calleja, M.; Tamayo, J., Detection of cancer biomarkers in serum using a hybrid mechanical and optoplasmonic nanosensor. Nature Nanotechnology 2014, 9 (12), 1047-1053.
Patente ES2553027 A1. Tamayo de Miguel, Francisco Javier; Monteiro Kosaka, Priscila; Pini, Valerio; Calleja, Montserrat ; Ruz Martínez, José Jaime ; Ramos Vega, Daniel ; González Sagardoy, María Ujué. System for biodetection applications.
By: EurekAlert!, USA
Source: www.eurekalert.orgRead More
Mattar Al Tayer, Director General and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), said: “The Autonomous Mobility had become a fait accompli, and a continuously evolving. This technology has been tested in several countries including Dubai, Singapore, the United States and Britain.
“The Government of Dubai is leading the transition to driverless mobility in Dubai and is planning to take a leading position worldwide in Autonomous Mobility by 2030, whereas in other cities and countries, it is the private sector that leads the process.
“His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has launched the Dubai Smart Autonomous Mobility Strategy where 25 per cent of all journeys in Dubai would be transformed into driverless journeys by 2030.
“We anticipate that the percentage of journeys that would be made by the driverless Dubai Metro to reach 12.2 per cent by 2030 compared with 8.8 per cent in 2016. We anticipate that the percentage of journeys made by autonomous buses to reach 6.4 per cent by 2030.”
Al Tayer delivered a speech to this effect entitled “Autonomous Mobility – Global Challenges and future Prospects” at the World Government Summit 2017.
During his speech, Al Tayer played a film about the Autonomous Aerial Vehicle (AAV), which RTA is currently testing in cooperation with EHANG Company of China, the first ever-manned vehicle worldwide. “The AAV on display at the World Government Summit is not just a model but it has really flown in Dubai skies. RTA will spare no effort to launch the AAV in July 2017.”
During his speech, Al Tayer reviewed the current Autonomous Mobility, particularly from the governments’ prospective, as well as the expected benefits, saying: “Researches and studies related to Autonomous Mobility started some decades ago, highlighted by fitting some vehicles with limited driverless features. These researches and techniques had evolved and have now reached to advanced levels.”
Software companies entered the Autonomous Mobility field over the last 10 years including Apple Company, which invested $10 billion in iCAR, in addition to many car manufacturers such as Daimler, Volvo and Tesla, which conducted several successful test runs in this regard.
According to the Classification of the American Society of Automotive Engineers, the Autonomous Mobility includes five levels for driverless mobility where Level 1 is limited to the vehicle’s self-stopping when approaching a hindrance; Level 5 is about the vehicle’s ability to travel anywhere under any circumstances without any human intervention.
The commercially available technologies now fall within Level 3 approximately where a driverless vehicle is available for limited periods in normal circumstances and requires the driver’s intervention under certain conditions.
The current researches and studies fall between Level 4 and Level 5, where some companies are currently testing driverless vehicles on pre-defined or non-defined routes.
Governments around the world have spent more than US$600 million to support researches related to driverless vehicles.
This amount does not include the amounts disbursed by private companies.
Some of these investments have been allocated to establish test & research centers in several parts of the world including Singapore, California, Michigan, Taiwan and Sweden.
In Michigan, an integrated city has been established and dedicated to Autonomous Mobility researches called ‘M City.’
This city is fitted with full infrastructure including intersections, traffic lights and buildings, and spans an area of 130,000 square meters.
This city, along with other similar ones, allow for conducting test runs in various scenarios including weather conditions and interaction with other vehicles and means of transportation.
In addition, labs have been established to ensure the viability of this technology to achieve traffic safety and security standards.”
“Dubai was able to carve out a nifty niche for itself among the world’s countries within a few years thanks to the vision of our wise leaders who set a clear-cut target of transforming 25 per cent of all journeys in Dubai into driverless journeys by 2030. Dubai’s Metro is the world’s longest driverless metro which lifts more than 600,000 riders a day, in addition to Dubai Tram which is also fitted with some driverless features and Phase II will witness the operation of fully driverless trams,” added Al Tayer.
“Dubai has also started the test run of driverless mini-buses, vehicles and boats, besides considering the options of deploying driverless express shuttle buses, and taxicabs from some leading companies.”
Al Tayer also referred to the Last Mile Trip initiatives in collaboration with the private sector including the Hourly Rental System E-Kar & U-Drive by first providing the infrastructure for the electric and environment-friendly vehicles, which may be transformed into driverless vehicles in the future.
“Dubai aspires to take a leading position by 2030 basing on its Smart Autonomous Mobility Strategy, besides clear-cut targets, enacting & enforcing the required legislations and forging partnerships with specialized universities and research centers.”
Al Tayer then spotlighted the four key global and local challenges facing the Autonomous Mobility, namely: infrastructure, which includes high resolution & regular update of maps; road markings, traffic lights and clear directional signs; and Right of Way-oriented design.
The second challenge is related to laws and legislations, which include the technical inspection specifications & licensing, insurance mechanisms, identifying responsible parties in case of accidents, terms and places where these vehicles are operated. Al Tayer referred to Dubai’s legislative system, which is known for its flexibility and keeping up-to-date with the new developments and changes.
The third challenge is related to safety and public acceptance of driverless vehicles. Ordinary users may not be satisfied, particularly when the driverless vehicles share the same routes as ordinary ones.
The governments must play a key role here in providing effective awareness to the public on the new technologies to the public in a way that promotes confidence.
Al Tayer referred to the procedure taken by the RTA during the opening of the Dubai Driverless Metro, where a person was deployed to pose as a driver for a period of about six months just to reassure passengers and encourage them to use the metro.
“The fourth challenge is related to technological requirements and the efficiency of sensors and cameras in various circumstances, as well as electronic piracy protection procedures.
The manufacturers of driverless vehicles have to cope with numerous technological challenges including the difficulty to handle sudden changes during the journey including a sudden stop of another vehicle in front of the driverless vehicle; the difficulty to take the appropriate decisions when another vehicle approaches fast to the rear of the driverless vehicle; and the possibility of overlapping scanners of driverless vehicles, especially if many of them are running on a congested road.
Besides these global challenges, there are other challenges facing Dubai including Harsh weather conditions (high temperatures, humidity) and their impact on driverless transportation technological systems, and the multi-nationalities and cultures in Dubai, being a world tourism and business hub (more than 190 nationalities).
This may increase people’s reluctance to embrace modern technology.
There is a need to provide suitable means of transport to drop passengers to their final destinations under the prevailing weather conditions.
He added: “To cope with these challenges, we have prepared Dubai Smart Autonomous Mobility Strategy which, compared to other global strategies, is characterised by the leading role of the Government of Dubai in the transition to driverless mobility, while in other cities and countries, it is the private sector that leads the process.
Moreover, Dubai’s vision incorporates all mass transit modes such as trains, buses, marine transit modes and taxis, as well as private vehicles, while many countries focus on a limited number of transit modes.
Our strategy also includes a global competition to attract advanced companies in the field of smart mobility, which we will announce later.
Al Tayer stated that to beat those challenges, eight enablers have been identified and will be implemented in a parallel manner.
These enablers are: enacting legislations and rules, enhancing community attitude and aptitude for technology, setting out conditions and regulations of issuing vehicle licenses, revising insurance regulations, fulfilling the requirements of infrastructure, combating electronic piracy, establishing communication between vehicles, and the constructing of high-definition maps.
He noted that the implementation of the Autonomous mobility has multiple benefits, and we have started in Dubai to reap some of these benefits through the driverless Dubai Metro including the improved punctuality to timetables by 6.4 per cent compared with ordinary rail systems, and the reduced operational cost by 7%.
We expect Dubai Autonomous Mobility Strategy to generate economic dividends to the worth of 22 billion dirham per annum, reduce the mobility expenditure by 44 per cent, curb demand for parking by 50 per cent, reduce carbon emissions by 12 per cent, limit traffic accidents and associated losses by 12 per cent, and enhance the happiness rating of residents by offering new mobility options.
The success of the Dubai Autonomous Mobility Strategy is based on a number of factors including the comprehensiveness and accuracy of information as well as their effective exchanging. To achieve this, we are currently constructing a unified center for merging all information of various transit means.
The center will be opened shortly. We will also build effective partnerships with excellent businesses and universities. In this regard, the RTA has recently signed agreements with international firms such as Next Future Transport, Daimler and Hyperloop One.
The RTA is also undertaking field tests with Easy Mile Company, and forging consortiums with international universities, research centers to carry out researches in the field of autonomous transport technologies in a way that befits the needs of Dubai Emirate.
Concluding his speech, Al Tayer was upbeat about the promising future of autonomous vehicles, saying, “The journey on an autonomous vehicle will soon be like boarding a lift. All of us trust the closed box that lifts us to different levels as we know it is secure, ready and tested.
“This is what the RTA is seeking to achieve through autonomous mobility strategy and associated initiatives.”
By: Emirates24|7, UAE
Source: www.emirates247.comRead More
Scientists have for the first time determined the molecular structure of a new antibiotic which could hold the key to tackling drug resistant bacteria.
The team at the University of Lincoln, UK, previously produced two synthetic derivatives of teixobactin – which has been hailed as a ‘game-changer’ in the fight against antimicrobial resistance – and the researchers have now become the first in the world to document the molecular make-up of the antibiotic.
This development is an important next step in understanding how different derivatives of teixobactin function, and which building blocks are needed for it to successfully destroy drug resistant bacteria.
Teixobactin, which kills pathogens without any detectable resistance, was first discovered in 2015 by scientists in the USA. It was isolated from microorganisms (which do not grow under laboratory conditions) found in soil – the natural source of nearly all antibiotics developed since the 1940s. Scientists around the world then began exploring ways of creating versions of the antibiotic via chemical synthesis, in order for it to be developed as a potential drug treatment.
At the University of Lincoln, Dr Ishwar Singh from the School of Pharmacy led a team which synthetically produced different derivatives of teixobactin. These derivatives were biologically tested by Dr Edward Taylor, from Lincoln’s School of Life Sciences. The researchers have now published new findings on the relationship between the antibiotic’s molecular structure and its biological activity.
The study is published in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal, Chemical Communications.
Dr Singh said: “The increasing level of antimicrobial resistance represents a major global health challenge. The discovery of the highly potent antibiotic teixobactin to cope with this growing problem has provided a much-needed impetus to antibiotic research around the world. Although teixobactin does not mitigate all problems related to antimicrobial resistance, it is a definite step in the right direction, and our research continues to work towards this vital end goal.”
The University of Lincoln team discovered that the molecular structure of teixobactin directly relates to its antimicrobial activity and its effectiveness at destroying pathogens. The researchers found that being relatively unstructured is essential to the biological activity of teixobactin, with more structured variants of the antibiotic proving to be inactive. They also identified a way of maintaining this ‘disorder’ when synthesising different derivatives.
“We successfully defined the molecular structure of seven teixobactin analogues”, Dr Singh explained. “This enabled us to understand the importance of the individual amino acids within the antibiotic, and to understand the contribution they each make to the molecular structures of teixobactin. We found that one particular amino acid (D?Gln4) is essential and another (D?Ile5) is important for maintaining the disordered structure of teixobactin, which is imperative for its biological activity.”
Dr Taylor said: “By exploring the structures of different versions of teixobactin we are, for the first time, able to begin to understand how this molecule works. This knowledge will enable us to produce different forms of teixobactin more easily and on a larger scale with potentially better pharmaceutical properties.”
This work represents a significant step towards the development of teixobactin as a drug, as scientists will now have a much clearer understanding of which building blocks are central to ensuring it works effectively and which are not.
By: EurekAlert!, USA
Source: www.eurekalert.orgRead More
Jobs in poor countries may be especially vulnerable to automation
BILL BURR, an American entertainer, was dismayed when he first came across an automated checkout. “I thought I was a comedian; evidently I also work in a grocery store,” he complained. “I can’t believe I forgot my apron.” Those whose jobs are at risk of being displaced by machines are no less grumpy. A study published in 2013 by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne of Oxford University stoked anxieties when it found that 47% of jobs in America were vulnerable to automation. Machines are mastering ever more intricate tasks, such as translating texts or diagnosing illnesses. Robots are also becoming capable of manual labour that hitherto could be carried out only by dexterous humans.
Yet America is the high ground when it comes to automation, according to a new report* from the same pair along with other authors. The proportion of threatened jobs is much greater in poorer countries: 69% in India, 77% in China and as high as 85% in Ethiopia. There are two reasons. First, jobs in such places are generally less skilled. Second, there is less capital tied up in old ways of doing things. Driverless taxis might take off more quickly in a new city in China, for instance, than in an old one in Europe.
Attracting investment in labour-intensive manufacturing has been a route to riches for many developing countries, including China. But having a surplus of cheap labour is becoming less of a lure to manufacturers. An investment in industrial robots can be repaid in less than two years. This is a particular worry for the poor and underemployed in Africa and India, where industrialisation has stalled at low levels of income—a phenomenon dubbed “premature deindustrialisation” by Dani Rodrik of Harvard University.
Rich countries have more of the sorts of jobs that are harder for machines to replicate—those that require original ideas (creating advertising), or complex social interactions (arguing a case in court), or a blend of analysis and dexterity (open-heart surgery). But poorer countries are not powerless. Just because a job is deemed at risk from automation, it does not necessarily mean it will be replaced soon, notes Mr Frey.
The cheapness of labour in relation to capital affects the rate of automation. Passing laws that make it less costly to hire and fire workers is likely to slow its advance. Scale also matters: farms in many poor countries are often too small to benefit from machines that have been around for decades. Consumer preferences are a third barrier. Mr Burr is hardly alone in hating automated checkouts, which explains why 3m cashiers are still employed in America.
By: The Economist, UK
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Constant motion without energy.
For months now, there’s been speculation that researchers might have finally created time crystals – strange crystals that have an atomic structure that repeats not just in space, but in time, putting them in constant oscillation without energy.
Now it’s official – researchers have just reported in detail how to make and measure these bizarre crystals. And two independent teams of scientists claim they’ve actually created time crystals in the lab based off this blueprint, confirming the existence of an entirely new phase of matter.
The discovery might sound pretty abstract, but it heralds in a whole new era in physics – for decades we’ve been studying matter that’s defined as being ‘in equilibrium’, such as metals and insulators.
But it’s been predicted that there are many more strange types of matter out there in the Universe that aren’t in equilibrium that we haven’t even begun to look into, including time crystals. And now we know they’re real.
The fact that we now have the first example of non-equilibrium matter could lead to breakthroughs in our understanding of the world around us, as well as new technology such as quantum computing.
“This is a new phase of matter, period, but it is also really cool because it is one of the first examples of non-equilibrium matter,” said lead researcher Norman Yao from the University of California, Berkeley.
“For the last half-century, we have been exploring equilibrium matter, like metals and insulators. We are just now starting to explore a whole new landscape of non-equilibrium matter.”
Let’s take a step back for a second, because the concept of time crystals has been floating around for a few years now.
First predicted by Nobel-Prize winning theoretical physicist Frank Wilczek back in 2012, time crystals are structures that appear to have movement even at their lowest energy state, known as a ground state.
Usually when a material is in ground state, also known as the zero-point energy of a system, it means movement should theoretically be impossible, because that would require it to expend energy.
But Wilczek predicted that this might not actually be the case for time crystals.
Normal crystals have an atomic structure that repeats in space – just like the carbon lattice of a diamond. But, just like a ruby or a diamond, they’re motionless because they’re in equilibrium in their ground state.
But time crystals have a structure that repeats in time, not just in space. And it keep oscillating in its ground state.
Imagine it like jelly – when you tap it, it repeatedly jiggles. The same thing happens in time crystals, but the big difference here is that the motion occurs without any energy.
A time crystal is like constantly oscillating jelly in its natural, ground state, and that’s what makes it a whole new phase of matter – non-equilibrium matter. It’s incapable of sitting still.
But it’s one thing to predict these time crystals exist, it’s another entirely to make them, which is where the new study comes in.
Yao and his team have now come up with a detailed blueprint that describes exactly how to make and measure the properties of a time crystal, and even predict what the various phases surrounding the time crystals should be – which means they’ve mapped out the equivalent of the solid, liquid, and gas phases for the new phase of matter.
And it’s not just speculation, either. Based on Yao’s blueprint, two independent teams – one from the University of Maryland and one from Harvard – have now followed the instructions to create their own time crystals.
Both of these developments were announced at the end of last year on the pre-print site arXiv.org (here and here), and have been submitted for publication in peer-reviewed journals. Yao is a co-author on both articles.
While we’re waiting for the papers to be published, we need to be skeptical about the two claims. But the fact that two separate teams have used the same blueprint to make time crystals out of vastly different systems is promising.
The University of Maryland’s time crystals were created by taking a conga line of 10 ytterbium ions, all with entangled electron spins.
The key to turning that set-up into a time crystal was to keep the ions out of equilibrium, and to do that the researchers alternately hit them with two lasers. One laser created a magnetic field and the second laser partially flipped the spins of the atoms.
Because the spins of all the atoms were entangled, the atoms settled into a stable, repetitive pattern of spin flipping that defines a crystal.
That was normal enough, but to become a time crystal, the system had to break time symmetry. And observing the ytterbium atom conga line, the researchers noticed it was doing something odd.
The two lasers that were periodically nudging the ytterbium atoms were producing a repetition in the system at twice the period of the nudges, something that couldn’t occur in a normal system.
“Wouldn’t it be super weird if you jiggled the Jell-O and found that somehow it responded at a different period?” said Yao.
“But that is the essence of the time crystal. You have some periodic driver that has a period ‘T’, but the system somehow synchronises so that you observe the system oscillating with a period that is larger than ‘T’.”
Under different magnetic fields and laser pulsing, the time crystal would then change phase, just like an ice cube melting.
The Harvard time crystal was different. The researchers set it up using densely packed nitrogen vacancy centres in diamonds, but with the same result.
“Such similar results achieved in two wildly disparate systems underscore that time crystals are a broad new phase of matter, not simply a curiosity relegated to small or narrowly specific systems,” explained Phil Richerme from Indiana University, who wasn’t involved in the study, in a perspective piece accompanying the paper.
“Observation of the discrete time crystal… confirms that symmetry breaking can occur in essentially all natural realms, and clears the way to several new avenues of research.”
Update 31 January 2017: We had previously compared the constant oscillation of the time crystals as being in perpetual motion at ground state, which isn’t accurate. We’ve now corrected this explanation.
By: ScienceAlert, Australia
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