3-D Food Printing

Think back to your favourite science fiction movie and you will be immediately reminded of the automatic food manufacturing unit in the futuristic home. A machine in the wall, or on the kitchen counter where you simply punch in a couple of buttons and piping hot food of your choice is assembled and served to you almost immediately.

Now guess what? Scientists at the Columbia University are  working on a project which will involve producing edible items using a 3-D printer. While the experimental science project is no where near ready to replace conventional cooking for the human household, it is getting interesting to see just how this concept will develop in the future.

Hod Lipson who is working on this project said that the food printers will not solve all our nutritional needs nor cook everything we should eat, but they will produce an infinite variety of customized, fresh, nutritional foods on demand, transforming digital recipes and basic ingredients supplied in frozen cartridges into healthy dishes that can supplement our daily intake.

Now does that sound like the scene in the sci fi movie coming true in real life? Sure does to me. Wonder what the 3-D printed food will actually taste like?! I can just see a speciality restaurant taking shape.

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Remote Pet Play

Looking after the welfare of a pet is a huge responsibility. It’s like taking care of a human baby. A puppy or a kitten is like a family member who never grows up. The pet is going to be dependent on you all of it’s short life. Of course the sheer joy that a pet brings into your life is more than enough reason to get one.

What happens when you have to leave the house for long periods of time for work each day? There is a good chance that you pet got bored and was hyperactive and ended up damaging something at home. From chewed up hair brushes to crashing television screens, pets have been known to cause all kinds of trouble when their owners are not at home.

Now wouldn’t it be great if you could keep your pet busy even when you are physically not present? That’s what the PlayDate allows you to do. It’s a ball for your pet to play with which has a inbuilt camera, speaker and microphone. It logs on to the WiFi and can be controlled by your smart phone via an app. This nifty little science project allows you to play remotely with your pet anytime during the day.

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Noise Cancelling Dentist Drill

One of the worst things about having to visit the dentist is the sound of the high speed drill that comes right into your mouth and causes your ears immense distress. The mere thought of the shrill sound is enough to give brave hearts nightmares. So it is indeed good news when a new invention can help cancel out that noise and make your visit to the dentist a little bit more peaceful.

Researchers at King’s College London, Brunel University and London South Bank University came together to work on this science project which was the brain child of Professor Brian Millar of King’s Dental Institute. The dentist was well aware of the psychological trauma that the noisy drill caused and was wondering if the principle of noise cancelling could help.

The sounds of the dental consulting room are converted into a digital signature, which is processed by a chip to monitor the sounds of the drill as recorded by a mike. Then the inverted sound is created to cancel the noise and thereby reduce the sound of the drill. The patient is still able to hear the voice of the dentist and not all noises disappear. It does however even have the option of playing an mp3 track to soothe patient.

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Robots in Walmart

While the world will eventually see AI robots serving people in supermarkets in the future, there is a single task that they are already quite proficient in performing. Shelf Stacking is a routine and monotonous job which can be adequately performed by robots. While it will take away low paying jobs at the supermarket from humans, it will also make it much easier and faster for the store to maintain it’s inventory.

4D Retail Technology is a Canadian firm that has come up with a Segway mounted robot that can inventory an entire supermarket in about an hour. The robot called the Space Genius uses AI to roll through the aisles, while digital cameras take pictures and run them through an object recognition software.

This allows the robot to determine exactly what all is available on the shelves and in what quantity. It then lets the stackers know what needs to be replaced, making it possible for the customer to always find what they need on the shelves of the supermarket when they visit. Now that is a science project which need a fair bit of fine tuning, but will become a major asset to the retail industry.

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World’s Most Advanced Prosthetic Hand

The primary reason why robotic arms were not as good as human hands was the ability of humans to pick up and manipulate very small objects with ease. An ease with which robots were unable to function till the team of researchers at Yale University and the University of Washington went ahead and developed this latest prosthetic hand.

Led by professor Zhe Hu, the team had 3D printed replicas of the bones found in a normal human hand. These pieces were then joined together by Spectra, a polyethene fibre. The contours of regular muscles found in a human hand were made up of sheets of rubber which were laser cut for precision.

Now that they have succeeded in producing amazing manual dexterity in the prosthetic hand, the team is now working on covering this framework with actual human skin tissue. Should they succeed to make the human tissue grow on the frame of this prosthetic hand, it will be a very life like prosthetic for people who have lost a hand.

In addition this science project has the additional benefit of being used as a remotely operated hand which can be asked to carry out sensitive tasks in a hostile environment. Think sending the hand out  instead of the full astronaut or maybe operating parts of a nuclear power plant.

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Last Leg for Solar Impulse 2

On a mission to circumnavigate the world on purely solar power, the world’s largest solar powered aircraft, Solar Impulse 2, has now reached the last leg of it’s circular journey. The round the world tour will end with it’s final flight from Cairo in Egypt to the starting point in Abu Dhabi.

The journey which began in March 2015 is finally going to culminate. This is the 17th flight of the aircraft in it’s monumental journey. Pilots Piccard and Andre have been sharing the flying duties on this remarkable trip. The two are best friends and business partners in this extraordinary venture.

The Solar Impulse 2 has covered around 30,000 km in its quest to become the first plane to circle the world using  just solar energy. Needless to say this trip has place of honour in not just the record books, but also in history!

 The final segment which will take about 48 hours of flying time will bring the grand adventure to it’s final conclusion. The Solar Impulse 2 will be a sure pioneer in terms of aviation driven by solar power in the years to come. This is one science project that is going to stay popular long after it is finally completed.

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Fighting Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotics have become an important tool in the arsenal of any health care practitioner. However the frequent use of a particular antibiotic also ends up reducing it’s effectiveness for a patient if the patient develops antibiotic resistance. Bacterial infections that are drug resistant have caused thousands of deaths each year.

At the University of California, Los Angeles, researchers are working on a new method of drug administration which is likely to overcome the problem generated by antibiotic resistance. A research team has been experimenting on fighting bacterial infections with a combination of three different antibiotics.

The scientific study which is a combination of biology and mathematics which helps determine what would be the best combination of antibiotics to heal the patient. Three drug combinations can be really beneficial as the researchers conducting the study are beginning to find out.

So far 364 three drug combinations have been tested and in 94 cases the bacteria has been eliminated 100%. Needless to say a whole lot more study needs to be done for the information to be passed into regular practice, but yes there is now hope for healing the patients suffering from drug resistant bacterial infections.

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A Million Volunteers

One of the most difficult things to procure when you need running experiments on human beings is actual volunteers. The need for a larger sample pack can just about cripple an experiment even before it takes off. So when the US Government comes up with a genetic and lifestyle study which will need a million volunteers, you can imagine the state of affairs.

President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative led the National Institutes of Health to lead the study which currently involves collection of more statistical data before any medicines can be actually manufactured. The laboratory work includes collection of medical histories as well as actual blood samples from which DNA will later be extracted for study.

The sheer logistics of the science project are admirable. Imagine trying to convince a million volunteers to give up information about themselves for a 10 year project. Things like age, race, income, education, sexual orientation, and gender identity are just the tip of the iceberg that is being studied.

Lifestyle information of the study subject will delve into information such as a person’s regular diet, exercise habits, sleep patterns, drinking and smoking addictions and a whole lot more. Needless to say signing up a million people before the end of the year when the project is due to begin, is going to be a major exercise in itself.

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Measuring Climate Change

For us to know that the climate has changed we need to find records of what the climate was in a place before. Not every area has the distinction of having had it’s local climate recorded by previous generations, but Henry David Thoreau did Concord, Massachusetts that favour by recording his observations of first flowering times from 1852 to 1858.

Boston University based biologist Richard Primack has now decided to set up a comparative study using the data available from Thoreau’s book called Walden. The book has records for more than 300 types of fauna’s flowering in spring. It also speaks of when the ice melts on the Walden Pond, and when migratory birds came back to the local fields and forests.

Since 2004 Primack has begun a study in to the first flowering times in the area, which is nearly 160 years after the original handwritten data was collected. They have been seeking early blooms in areas of human disturbances. While Thoreau found his flowers along railroad tracks, Primack is finding them near parking lots.

Once the data has been studied it is obvious from the science project that many plants are blooming nearly two weeks earlier than they used to. Also the migratory birds arrive at roughly the same time and the ice breaks up earlier than before.

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Pix @ Speed of Light

Scientists at the Washington University have come up with camera technology that surpasses every known camera in terms of speedy clicks. The new camera technology developed by a team led by Lihong V Wang is reported to take pictures a hundred times faster than regular cameras today. Now that is literally taking pictures faster than the speed of light.

Compressed Ultrafast Photography or CUP allows the camera to capture a record 100 billion frames per second. What’s more the speed does not affect the quality of the pictures taken, if anything the resolution of the images is better than the ones clicked by ordinary cameras. It is being called the world’s fastest receive only camera. That means it can use available light for imaging and does not need additional light. Say goodbye to the irritating flash pops.

The high speed of the camera makes this technology useful for studying ultra fast processes such as neurons firing, fuel burning, chemicals exploding, and a whole lot more if combined with a microscope. Needless to say the new camera technology exposed by this science project is likely to prove incredibly popular amongst the scientific community for future studies.

 

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