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TrueNorth, Neural Implants to Help Studying

Submitted by eriklee on Tue, 03/28/2017 - 00:35

Ever think about using a brain chip to skip long ours reading and studying? This always comes up when I pull an all-nighter. Why can’t I just install this reading in my mind and search for it during an exam. I’m certainly going to forget about this information after it’s over. And nine times out of ten, if you ask me about what I learned in last week’s geography midterm….

It seems that IBM, the world’s leader in computer technology, have explored this idea. Research five IBM research labs, in college campuses across the country, have designed a processing chip called TrueNorth. This chip is praised for its advanced image and sound processing ability. More specifically, TrueNorth excels in image and voice recognition. Like conventional computer processing chips, TrueNorth is physically comprised of billions of metal transistors. However, its arrangement is what allows it to process images and sounds more like a human brain and less like a computer. The transitions are arranged in a neural net array similar to neurons of the brain. TrueNorth’s design consists of, “1 million digital ‘neurons’ that talk to one another via 256 million ‘synapses.’” This makes sense as a brain can process complex information almost instantaneously. If computers were to achieve such power, they should be designed the same way.

The article is linked below for more reading. There isn’t much more about the details of TrueNorth. But this chip seems to be the first step on the road to developing neural implants. The first step of the process is the make brain chips work like a brain, before adding them to the human body.

Link: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/345/6197/614.full

Saving Labrador Retrivers Persuasive

Submitted by eriklee on Fri, 03/24/2017 - 15:21

The dog breed to save with the retrovirus vaccine are labrador retrievers. They have large litter size and long lives. They provide several services for humans, such as therapy, hunting, guiding. More importantly, labradors have great temperament and personality. They are very friendly to adults, kids, and strangers. Their personalities consist of loyalty, compassion, intelligence.

Brain Implants and Guitar Hero

Submitted by eriklee on Fri, 03/24/2017 - 12:56

Researchers at Ohio State University Wexner Medical have connected a patient’s brain to a gel sleeve to stimulate muscles. The patient is paralyzed from the shoulder down, but retains minor range of motion in the arms. The electrodes, connected to the brain, are able to conduct the signals from the brain to the muscles in the arm to perform functions. So far, the tests have allowed to patient to grasp, pour, swipe a credit card, and play Guitar Hero.

The goals of the experiment is to create a direct path between the brain and muscles, lost from injury. However, there a drawbacks from the use of the sleeve. The stimulated muscle is only as strong as someone with a lesser injury. Further, stimulation of the muscle needs to get past the skin. This reduces the response when it reaches the muscle and causes the contractions to be fairly weak. A good amount of voltage must be applied to get close to the same amount of tensile strength as in a regular muscle contraction. Other studies have used invasive surgeries to install electrodes at the motor neurons and muscles. This has the benefit of bypassing invasive surgery and using a wearable glove to stimulate the arm.

Link: http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/04/brain-implant-helps-quadriplegic-...

PP: Natural Tri-pod vs. Robotic Bi-pod Gait in Insect Movement

Submitted by eriklee on Fri, 03/24/2017 - 00:07

Robots have been modeling the motion of multi-pedal insects. Researchers and engineers have been testing how robotic insects run naturally. Typically, insects such as spiders, cockroaches, and flies use the tripod gait, which refers to maintaining three legs on the ground at all times as the insect moves. The alternative version, which humans and other bipedal organism use is known as the bipod gait. A team of researchers compared the speed of tripod gait versus bipod gait on a six-legged robotic spider. They concluded that, on level ground, the bipod gait is 25% faster. 

Natural Tri-pod vs. Robotic Bi-pod Gait in Insect Movement

Submitted by eriklee on Fri, 03/24/2017 - 00:06

Robots have been modeling the motion of multi-pedal insects. Researchers and engineers have been testing how robotic insects run naturally. Typically, insects such as spiders, cockroaches, and flies use the tripod gait, which refers to maintaining three legs on the ground at all times as the insect moves. The alternative version, which humans and other bipedal organism use is known as the bipod gait. A team of researchers compared the speed of tripod gait versus bipod gait on a six-legged robotic spider. They concluded that, on level ground, the bipod gait is 25% faster.

Another study, conducted by researchers published on Nature Communications, tested the advantage of tripod gait. The team found supported the finding that bipod gait has a speed advantage on level surface. However, fruit flies and cockroaches use tripod gait. This provides the advantage of traversing over three-dimensional terrain with ease. They concluded that the minimal ground contact from the bipod makes it difficult to traverse terrain. 

Review Article: http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/02/special-gait-helps-six-legged-rob...

Research Article: http://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms14494

Journal #9: Lake Atitlan Pt. 2

Submitted by eriklee on Fri, 03/10/2017 - 12:15

Speaking of global issues, there is a clear influence of modern culture and technology on the citizens of San Pedro. Imported clothes sold on thrift trucks threaten the business of the local textile industry. Christina Maria Gonzalez, the local natural pharmacist, mentioned that antibiotics and modern medicine are preferred over natural remedies for their speed. Even Feliciano, the former mayor, talks about the Iraq War and Bin Laden. Additionally, the ancient Mayan religion has been mixed or completely replaced with Catholicism. With modernization of “Western” culture, comes with it “Western” problems. These are seen in the form of political corruption, poverty, and environmental issues. Further, there is a danger in the younger generation of cultural homogenization. It is likely, and this can be seen in first generation children in the U.S., that the old culture and traditions are replaced with modern trends and technology. This could result in the loss of thousands of years of knowledge and practice of the Mayan civilization. Even so, the people of San Pedro are described as resilient and adaptive to modern change. They use technology as a means to improve their current lives, not replace them.

            In San Pedro, a mixture of old and new cultures with long held traditions still active. Natural medicine is still practiced and the knowledge is passed down to the next generation, such as the case with Christina Maria Gonzalez and her pharmacy. Locals also consult healers and priests such as Doctor Pizza, who demonstrated butter and sulfur make a good remedy for hemorrhoids. In addition to medicine, Mayan religion is still followed and, in some cases, mixed with Catholicism. People celebrate Mayan gods, such as Maximon, and festivals, such as the Winter Solstice, to bring good fortune. The importance of keeping these practices is to improve the lives of the people and preserve thousands of years of indigenous knowledge. The Scorpion Hunter, Vinny, mentioned that rituals are just as natural for people as singing, dancing, and walking. Values, such as honoring the dead, and skills, such textile weaving, is knowledge that have helped the people of Lake Atitlan thrive since the Mayans. Overall, this culture is what makes up the identity of Lake Atitlan, and is its most valuable resource. 

Journal #8: Cyanobacteria in Lake Atitlan

Submitted by eriklee on Fri, 03/10/2017 - 03:32

“Without water there is no life,” by Vinny Stanzione, the Scorpion Hunter. At the center of the film, San Pedro a Laguna, Guatemala is a culturally rich town at the intersection of ancient Mayan and modern culture. It consists of the vibrant people, city, and Lake Atitlan. However, the citizens of San Pedro cannot escape the environmental crisis that is coupled with modernization and industrialization. Locals are conscious that Lake Atitlan is becoming increasingly populated, and there is a need to clean up the Lake in order for the people and cities to survive. Residents depend on the water to bathe, clean, and drink. Further, the beauty of the Lake Atitlan attracts tourists and supports the local economy. So it’s clear this areas infrastructure is built on the sustainability and health of Lake Atitlan.

            Mentioned in brief in the video, the central issue with Lake Atitlan’s pollution is the absence of a sewage plant. The previous plant was destroyed in by Hurricane Stan in 2005. Now, the locals spend much of their time cleaning sewage and bacteria from the lake. Yet, Lake Atitlan remains polluted from the local rivers and sewage pipes of the cities. And with the speed of pollution overtaking the speed of cleanup, the sewage and cyanobacteria will only build up and worsen. The most obvious solution is to have the local municipal government rebuild the sewage plant. However, any sort of top-down bureaucracy is guaranteed to be slow and ineffective. Their last mayor of San Pedro, Feliciano, was more concerned with embezzlement than saving Lake Atitlan. Luckily, the current mayor, Mariano, cares more about the people and is capable of rebuilding a sewage plant. Ultimately, it comes down to the citizens expressing enough concern to public officials to make cleaning of the lake a top priority. For now, the city is at the first stage of change, where people are aware of the problem and have begun to take action. It would be even more helpful if the local media and education system informed people about the necessity to clean Lake Atitlan. This seems very possible as the region is concerned with local issues than global issues.

PP5: Robots for Science and Science for Robots

Submitted by eriklee on Wed, 03/08/2017 - 23:42

One focus of the article is the use of bioreactors for tissue construction. A bioreactor is a device that controls the environment conditions of cells to live outside the body. Additionally, bioreactors can stimulate cell and tissue differentiation. However, current bioreactors provide limited mechanical stress to cells, which does not prepare them for proper use after grafting. This research hopes to improve bioreactor technology to advance tissue potential and capabilities. Sensors will be added to monitor and detect any changes in the tissue environment. The goal is to combine the bioreactor tissue with the musculoskeletal humanoid to achieve durable tissue for better skin grafting.

Journal Entry #8: Science for Robots and Robots for Science

Submitted by eriklee on Wed, 03/08/2017 - 23:39

            Humanoid robots are currently being used to improve grafting of tissues. Currently, robots have been designed to mimic the movements and flexibility of the human musculoskeletal system accurately. The next application is the use of these robot to test artificial tissues, such as muscle, tendons, and bones. The purpose is to develop environmental conditions sustainable for living cells and tissues, and to advance grafting technology to meet the stress normal cells encounter. In doing so, these tissues can be clinically used to regenerate damaged or underdeveloped tissues.

            One focus of the article is the use of bioreactors for tissue construction. A bioreactor is a device that controls the environment conditions of cells to live outside the body. Additionally, bioreactors can stimulate cell and tissue differentiation. However, current bioreactors provide limited mechanical stress to cells, which does not prepare them for proper use after grafting. This research hopes to improve bioreactor technology to advance tissue potential and capabilities. Sensors will be added to monitor and detect any changes in the tissue environment. The goal is to combine the bioreactor tissue with the musculoskeletal humanoid to achieve durable tissue for better skin grafting.

 

Diagram of a bioreactor of a bioreactor:

Article Link: http://robotics.sciencemag.org/content/2/4/eaam5666.full

Picture Link: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Godwin_Nmegbu/publication/264038265/figure/fig1/AS:296457719566340@1447692436615/Figure-1-Cross-section-of-a-typical-bioreactor-showing-the-units-of-continuous.png

Journal #7: Sweet Leaf Moss Experiment

Submitted by eriklee on Fri, 03/03/2017 - 01:41

It was difficult finding a peer-reviewed article on moss experiment. A lot of the experiments used moss as a control or variable condition. Below is a study of Stevia Rebaudiana, the sweet leaf. It is grown in normal soil and peat moss soil to see how different visible light wavelengths affect its germination times. Although moss is not at the center of the study, the experiment is pretty easy to replicate.

The methods require incubating seeds in two different chambers. One chamber has red light and the other has white light. The peat moss is used as a control condition and kept without light to track the growth. The methods used 200 seeds in different groups of pot to collect data. Each chamber had 25 seeds. The light was supplied by fluorescent bulbs and the temperature for all chambers was kept at 24 degrees Celsius. They used statistical analysis to find the mean time in days which each group germinated.

CSE Citation:

Abdullateef RA, Osman M. Effects of Visible Light Wavelengths on Seed Germinability in Stevia Rebaudiana Bertoni . International Journal of Biology . 2011 [accessed 2017 Mar 3];3(4). http://www.ccsenet.org/journal/index.php/ijb/article/viewFile/11244/8703

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