December 26, 2012

Disguised Electronic Circuits integrated with your skin

A team of engineers today announced a discovery that could change the world of electronics forever. Called an “epidermal electronic system” (EES), it’s basically an electronic circuit mounted on your skin, designed to stretch, flex, and twist — and to take input from the movements of your body.
EES is a leap forward for wearable technologies, and has potential applications ranging from medical diagnostics to video game control and accelerated wound-healing. Engineers John Rogers and Todd Coleman, who worked on the discovery, tell io9 it’s a huge step towards erasing the divide that separates machine and human.
Coleman and Rogers say they developed EES to forego the hard and rigid electronic “wafer” format of traditional electronics in favor of a softer, more dynamic platform.
Breakthrough: Electronic circuits that are integrated with your skin
To accomplish this, their team brought together scientists from several labs to develop “filamentary serpentine” (threadlike and squiggly) circuitry. When this circuitry is mounted on a thin, rubber substrate with elastic properties similar to skin, the result is a flexible patch that can bend and twist, or expand and contract, all without affecting electronic performance.
This video demonstrates the resilience of the EES patch, and how easily it can be applied. The patch (comprised of the circuitry and rubber substrate) is first mounted on a thin sheet of water-soluble plastic, then applied to the skin with water like a temporary tattoo.
How Will We Wear Our Second Skin? So what can an EES really do for us? The short answer is: a lot. In the paper describing their new technology, published in this week’s issue of Science, the researchers illustrated the adaptability of their concept by demonstrating functionality in a wide array of electronic components, including biometric sensors, LEDs, transistors, radio frequency capacitors, wireless antennas, and even conductive coils and solar cells for power.
Breakthrough: Electronic circuits that are integrated with your skin
We asked Rogers what he thought were the most promising applications for the new technology. He said medicine was the most compelling:
Our paper demonstrates our ability to monitor ECG (as a monitor of heart disease and metabolism), EMG (as a measure of, among other things, gait during walking) and EEG (as a measure of cognitive state and awareness).
We have also shown that these same devices can stimulate muscle tissue to induce contractions. When combined with sensing/monitoring, such modes of use could be valuable in physical rehabilitation. We also have interest in sleep monitoring (for sleep apnea), and neo-natal care (monitoring premature babies, in particular).
According to Rogers, the electronic skin has already been shown to monitor patients’ health measurements as effectively as conventional state-of-the-art electrodes that require bulky pads, straps, and irritating adhesive gels. “The fidelity of the measurement is equal to the best existing technology that is out there today, but in a very unique skin-like form,” he explained.
Breakthrough: Electronic circuits that are integrated with your skin
What’s more, the electronic skin’s unique properties allow it to do things that existing biometric sensors simply can’t touch. Todd Coleman, who co-led the project with Rogers, told io9 how an EES could be applied to a person’s throat to serve as a communication aid:
Within the realm of biomedical applications, one can imagine providing benefits to patients with muscular or neurological disorders like ALS. For example, in the Science article, our research group used the device…to control a computer strategy game with muscles in the throat by speaking the commands.
In principle, the same function could have been achieved by simply mouthing commands rather than speaking them out loud. As such, this capability could be provided to ALS patients so that they could “speak” through an epidermal electronics system that is un-noticeable to them, and invisible to other observers.
Breakthrough: Electronic circuits that are integrated with your skin
Eroding the Distinction Between Machine and Human Outside the context of biomedicine, the EES’s inconspicuous nature opens up a whole world of possibilities. The patches are already barely noticeable, but when mounted directly onto a temporary tattoo, for example, any evidence of electronic circuitry disappears. Coleman said:
[This technology] provides a huge conceptual advance in wedding the biological world to the cyber world in a manner that is very natural. In some sense, the boundary between the electronics world and the biological world is becoming increasingly amorphous. The ramifications of this are mind-blowing, to say the least.
I envision endless applications that extend beyond biomedical applications. For example, we could use the exact same technology – and specifically its discrete tattoo-like appearance – to perform covert military operations where an agent could communicate to the command station with these electric signals without ever speaking a word.
Breakthrough: Electronic circuits that are integrated with your skin
Coleman’s statement touches on what is perhaps this most important thing about today’s announcement, namely the precedent it sets for future technologies that aim to combine the organismal with the synthetic.
“The blurring of electronics and biology is really the key point here,” said Northwestern University’s Yonggang Huang, with whom Rogers and Coleman collaborated. “All established forms of electronics are hard, rigid. Biology is soft, elastic. It’s two different worlds. This is a way to truly integrate them.”
Looking to the future, Rogers echoes his colleague’s sentiments. Describing what he envisions for his research group in the coming years, he said:
We would like to expand the functionality such that the devices not only seamlessly integrate with the human body in a mechanical sense, but that they also communicate and interact with the tissue in modes that go beyond electrons and photons (the ‘currency’ of semiconductor device technologies), to the level of fluids and biomolecules (i.e. the ‘currency’ of biology). We are hoping, in this way, to blur the distinction between electronics and the human body, in ways that can advance human health.
Additional Reading Visit the Rogers Research Group at The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign Visit the Coleman Lab at UC San Diego
Rogers and Coleman’s research is published in tomorrow’s issue of Science and is also available online.
All images courtesy of John Rogers

December 23, 2012

Top 10 Fictional Transhumanism Books

My current top ten list of fictional books with transhuman related topics and characters. Some are newer and have become instant favorites while others have been around for more than 10 years and still love to this day. There is a mixture of hard and soft sci-fi.(Hard-lots of techie talk, Soft-non techie talk). So I hope you enjoy my list. If you have an favorites of your own let me know.

-I first found this book while getting my degree in molecular biology in university. Strange as it seemed it was
a favorite among my classmates like star trek. We like our sci-fi very close to the way science really works otherwise it just seems ridiculous. The Culture trilogy is definitely hands-down my favorite.
54 reviews give it an avg rating of 4.2 of 5 at amazon
You can buy "Consider Phlebas (Culture)" at Amazon now

The second book by Iain M Banks.  The Culture - a human/machine symbiotic society - has thrown up many
 great Game Players, and one of the greatest is Gurgeh. Jernau Morat Gurgeh. The Player of Games. Master of every board, computer and strategy. Bored with success, Gurgeh travels to the Empire of Azad, cruel and incredibly wealthy, to try their fabulous game...a game so complex, so like life itself, that the winner becomes emperor
 117 reviews give it an 4.5 of 5 at amazon
 You can buy "The Player of Games (Culture)" at Amazon now

It is the first in a planned trilogy. Just recently came out in 2010. Definitely one
of the most complex sci-fi books I've read in a while. This one you will have to pay  lots of attention to. There are so many inventive original ideas it may take you a while to fully grasp the ideas within.
114 reviews on amazon gave it a 3.5?
 You can buy "The Quantum Thief" at Amazon now

4)ECLIPSE PHASEThe best sci-fi RPG ever as far as I am concerned  
You can buy Eclipse Phaseat Amazon now

The final book in the takeshi kovacs trilogy. The cyberpunk series is still my favorite to date although the Quantum thief trilogy may give it a run for its money
83 reviews on amazon gave it a 4 of 5 stars

You can buy Woken Furies here at Amazon now

Sometime in the mid 21st century an artificial intelligence arises out of Earth's computer networks. This intelligence scatters the land with strange structures, causes nine tenths of the population to disappear and issues three commandments. Flash forward a few centuries, the missing nine tenths of earth's population were transmitted via wormholes to star systems up to 3000 light years away, travelling one year back in the past for every light year travelled. Earth has recovered from the events of this singularity and is now a sort of central clearing house for trade and information under a reconstituted United Nations.
92 reviews on amazon gave it a 3.5 of 5 stars
Buy "Singularity Sky" at Amazon now

The second book in this series with the featuring the character Rachel Mansour dives right in the story line and focusing much less on setting the background and assumes you have had experience reading the first volume. It's a little more complex read with multiple story lines which eventually lead back to the main plot. Rachel Mansour is an interesting heroine
Buy "Iron Sunrise" at Amazon now

My favorite (comic book)graphic novel series. The is the first in the series by Warren Ellis who has a futuristic,dark,funny sense of humor in the writing.Essentially its about a journalist similar to hunter thompson all drugged out that has to return to a crazy futuristic city to gain inspiration to finish writing some books he owes to a publisher. He finds his inspiration from a group of halfhuman/half alien transients that want to start a rebellion.
Buy "Transmetropolitan, Vol. 1: Back on the Street" at Amazon now

Another great outing from Charles Stross. The censorship wars"during which the Curious Yellow virus devastated the network of wormhole gates connecting humanity across the cosmos"are finally over at the start of Hugo-winner Stross's brilliant new novel, set in the same far-future universe as 2005's Accelerando. Robin is one of millions who have had a mind wipe, to forget wartime memories that are too painful"or too dangerously inconvenient for someone else. To evade the enemies who don't think his mind wipe was enough, Robin volunteers to live in the experimental Glasshouse, a former prison for deranged war criminals that will recreate Earth's "dark ages" 
Buy Glasshouse at Amazon now

interesting and sometimes very funny book from an editor at "boing boing" blog. Interesting in that the main location of the story taking place is in the Disney land and that he is being murdered over an amusement park ride.
Avg rating 3.5 of 5 at amazon
Buy "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom" at Amazon now

Ok so there is an eleventh entry here, so sue me. Its hard to condense things you love into a top 10 list. I listed an Older book by charles stross that has tons of original ideas about how technology will impact our future. The book gets a little weirder as it goes on. Stross (Singularity Sky) explores humanity's inability to cope with molecular nanotechnology run amok in this teeming near-future SF stand-alone. In part one, "Slow Takeoff," "free enterprise broker" Manfred Macx and his soon-to-be-estranged wife/dominatrix, Pamela, lay the foundation for the next decade's transhumans. In "Point of Inflection," Amber, their punky maladjusted teenage daughter, and Sadeq Khurasani, a Muslim judge, engineer and scholar, try to escape the social chaos that antiaging treatments have wreaked on Earth by riding a tin can–sized starship via nanocomputerization to a brown dwarf star called Hyundai. The Wunch, trade-delegation aliens evolved from uploaded lobster mentalities, and Macx's grandson, Sirhan, roister through "Singularity," in which people become cybernetic constructs. Stross's three-generation experiment in stream-of-artificial-consciousness impresses, but his flat characters and inchoate rapid-fire explosions of often muzzily related ideas, theories, opinions and nightmares too often resemble intellectual pyrotechnics—breathtakingly gaudy but too brief, leaving connections lost somewhere in outer/inner/cyber space.
119 reviews on amazon gave it a rating of 4.5 of 5
 Buy "Accelerando" at Amazon now

Article by J5un for Emerging Tech Trends for Transhumanism

December 15, 2012

A techies dream home

Ever since I was a kid and I watched the Jetsons I've waited to have my own futuristic house with automation. I just found this video with current technologies for home automation

 The house in this video below shows technology for:

1)A kitchen that a

(a)automates home grocery list making and getting your groceries for you

(b)build in LCD tv

(c)touchscreen control panel allows you to pay your bills

(d)sets the mood with ambient colored lighting and music

(e)home security system with cameras around house

2)A bathroom has

(a)a mirror that doubles as a touchscreen that controls music,lighting,tv in the mirror

(b)towel hangers that dries the towel as well

3) A bedroom that

(a)has a push button to turn the shower on from the bed4

4)A living room with

(a)automated shades that retract and go down when you want them to

This article by J5un for Emerging Tech Trends for Transhumanism

December 1, 2012

Transhuman Movement Newsletter

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Guest blogging is coming in 2013 to the Transhuman Movement.

November 26, 2012

November 20, 2012

Neurosky's PuzzleBox Orbit

Puzzlebox Orbit: A brain-controlled helicopter blending science, education, and open source
The Product:
The Puzzlebox Orbit is operated via a NeuroSky EEG headset plus either a mobile device or the dedicated Puzzlebox Pyramid remote. Users can fly the Orbit through focused concentration or by maintaining a state of mental relaxation. What makes the Puzzlebox Orbit truly unique however is the open release of all source code, hardware schematics, 3D models, and step-by-step building instructions which are published freely online.
Puzzlebox Orbit features a unique spherical design that protects helicopter blades from unintended impact with objects such as walls and ceilings, while lending a pleasantly technical aesthetic. 

The Kickstarter:
After two years of development and a Guinness World Record (in collaboration with NeuroSky), Puzzlebox has completed funding on its first consumer hardware product via Kickstarter.
Puzzlebox is building and selling a MindWave and MindWave Mobile compatible helicopter. They will sell finished, working, brain-controlled helicopters AND release guides and software for taking them apart to rebuild or customize. Puzzlebox publishes lessons on how mind-controlled devices actually work and how infrared signals steer the aircraft. The hypothesis is that this form of cooperation can succeed commercially while aiding the pursuit of science and education.

Puzzlebox and NeuroSky's overall goal with this project is to explore an Open  approach to Brain-Computer Interface (BCI ) technology. Advances at the cutting edge are waiting to find their way to the public and this project is our latest contribution.

November 13, 2012

Modeling pulmonary edema in a lung-on-a-chip

The Wyss Institute’s human breathing lung-on-a-chip, made using human lung and blood vessel cells, acts much like a lung in a human body. A vacuum re-creates the way the lungs physically expand and contract during breathing. In the current study, when researchers applied the cancer drug IL-2, fluid from the bottom of the chip entered the air channel on the top, and the blood clotted — mimicking what happens when humans get pulmonary edema. Further, when they turned on the vacuum to simulate breathing, the fluid leakage was much worse — adding new insight to what scientists understand about this life-threatening condition. (Credit: Donald Ingber et al./Wyss Institute)

Researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University have mimicked pulmonary edema in a microchip lined by living human cells. They used this “lung-on-a-chip” to study drug toxicity and identify potential new therapies to prevent this life-threatening condition.

The study offers further proof-of-concept that human “organs-on-chips” hold tremendous potential to replace traditional approaches to drug discovery and development, according to the researchers.
“Major pharmaceutical companies spend a lot of time and a huge amount of money on cell cultures and animal testing to develop new drugs,” says Donald Ingber, M.D., Ph.D., founding director of the Wyss Institute and senior author of the study, “but these methods often fail to predict the effects of these agents when they reach humans.”

The lung-on-a-chip device, which the team first described only two years ago, is a crystal-clear, flexible polymer about the size of a memory stick that contains hollow channels fabricated using computer microchip manufacturing techniques.

Two of the channels are separated by a thin, flexible, porous membrane that on one side is lined with human lung cells from the air sac and exposed to air; human capillary blood cells are placed on the other side with medium flowing over their surface. A vacuum applied to side channels deforms this tissue-tissue interface to re-create the way human lung tissues physically expand and retract when breathing.

Wyss Technology Development Fellow Dongeun Huh, Ph.D., who also holds appointments at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, studied a cancer chemotherapy drug called interleukin-2 — or IL-2 for short — in the lung-on-a-chip. A major toxic side effect of IL-2 is pulmonary edema, which is a deadly condition in which the lungs fill with fluid and blood clots.

When IL-2 was injected into the blood channel of the lung-on-a-chip, fluid leaked across the membrane and two tissue layers, reducing the volume of air in the other channel and compromising oxygen transport — just as it does in lungs of human patients when it is administered at the equivalent doses and over the same time course. Blood plasma proteins also crossed into the air channel, leading to the formation of blood clots in the air space, as they do in humans treated with IL-2.

But one result came as a surprise.

It turns out the physical act of breathing greatly enhances the effects of IL-2 in pulmonary edema — “something that clinicians and scientists never suspected before,” Ingber says. When the team turned on the vacuum attached to the chip to simulate breathing, it increased fluid leakage more than three-fold when treated with the clinically relevant IL-2 dose, and the Wyss team confirmed that the same response occurs in an animal model of pulmonary edema

This result could suggest that doctors treating patients on a respirator with IL-2 should reduce the tidal volume of air being pushed into the lungs, for example, in order to minimize the negative side effects of this drug.

Most exciting for the future of drug testing was the Wyss team’s finding that “this on-chip model of human pulmonary edema can be used to identify new potential therapeutic agents in vitro,” Ingber says. The pulmonary edema symptoms in the lung-on-a-chip disease model could be prevented by treating the tissues with a new class of drug, a transient receptor potential vanilloid 4 (TRPV4) channel blocker, under development by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). In a separate study published by the GSK team in the same issue of Science Translation Medicine, the beneficial effects of TRPV4 inhibition in reducing pulmonary edema were independently validated using animal models of pulmonary edema caused by heart failure.
“In just a little more than two years, we’ve gone from unveiling the initial design of the lung-on-a-chip to demonstrating its potential to model a complex human disease, which we believe provides a glimpse of what drug discovery and development might look like in the future,” Ingber says.

“Organs-on-a-chip represents a new approach to model the structure, biology, and function of human organs, as evidenced by the complex breathing action of this engineered lung. This breathing action was key to providing new insight into the etiology of pulmonary edema,” said Dr. James M. Anderson, M.D., Ph.D., director of the NIH Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives that provided partial support for this research through the Common Fund’s Regulatory Science program. “These results provide support for the broader use of such microsystems in studying disease pathology and hopefully for identifying new therapeutic targets.”

The work was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University.

original article by

October 2, 2012

Ray Kurzweil new book: How to Create a Mind

 On November 13 the bold futurist and bestselling author explores the limitless potential of reverse-engineering the human brain

The bold futurist and author of The New York Times bestseller The Singularity Is Near explores the limitless potential of reverse-engineering the human brain.

Ray Kurzweil is arguably today’s most influential—and often controversial—futurist. In How to Create a Mind, Kurzweil presents a provocative exploration of the most important project in human-machine civilization—reverse engineering the brain to understand precisely how it works and using that knowledge to create even more intelligent machines.

Kurzweil discusses how the brain functions, how the mind emerges from the brain, and the implications of vastly increasing the powers of our intelligence in addressing the world’s problems. He thoughtfully examines emotional and moral intelligence and the origins of consciousness and envisions the radical possibilities of our merging with the intelligent technology we are creating.

Certain to be one of the most widely discussed and debated science books of the year, How to Create a Mind is sure to take its place alongside Kurzweil’s previous classics.

Get your copy of "How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed"

August 18, 2012

The '2045 Initiative' Says Immortality Will Come Via Brain Computers And Hologram Bodies In 30 Years

Want to be immortal? A Russian group called the 2045 Initiative has a plan, and they hope to make it a reality during our lifetimes. From their website:

"The main objectives of the Initiative are: the creation of a new vision of human development that meets global challenges humanity faces today, realization of the possibility of a radical extension of human life by means of cybernetic technology, as well as the formation of a new culture associated with these technologies."

These "cybernetic technologies" take many forms. In the end the group, founded by Dmitry Itskov in February of 2011, think humans can attain immortality not by outsmarting disease and pathogens, but by harnessing nanotechnology, robots and brain-computer interfaces to create hologram bodies with artificial brains that can be programmed with your own personality.

Oh, by the way, this not only requires intense investigation in pretty much every area of science, but also involves a complete overhaul of our social, ethical and pretty much every other part of our human lives. Yeah. That will happen by 2045. Good job setting attainable goals, guys.
Here's the plan for holographic immortality if you want to get on board:

2012-2013. The global economic and social crises are exacerbated. The debates on the global paradigm of future development intensifies.

New transhumanist movements and parties emerge. Russia 2045 transforms into World 2045.

Simultaneously, the international social network for open innovation is expanding. Here anyone interested may propose a project, take part in working on it, or fund it, or both. In the network, there are scientists, scholars, researchers, financiers and managers.

2013-2014. New centers working on cybernetic technologies for the development of radical life extension rise. The 'race for immortality' starts.

2015-2020. The Avatar is created — A robotic human copy controlled by thought via 'brain-computer' interface. It becomes as popular as a car.

2020. In Russia and in the world appear — in testing mode — several breakthrough projects:
Android robots replace people in manufacturing tasks; android robot servants for every home; thought-controlled Avatars to provide telepresence in any place of the world and abolish the need business trips; flying cars; thought driven mobile communications built into the body or sprayed onto the skin.

2020-2025. An autonomous system providing life support for the brain and allowing it interaction with the environment is created. The brain is transplanted into an Avatar B. With Avatar B man receives new, expanded life.

2025. The new generation of Avatars provides complete transmission of sensations from all five sensory robot organs to the operator.

2030-2035. ReBrain — The colossal project of brain reverse engineering is implemented. World science comes very close to understanding the principles of consciousness.

2035. The first successful attempt to transfer one's personality to an alternative carrier. The epoch of cybernetic immortality begins.

2040-2050. Bodies made of nanorobots that can take any shape arise alongside hologram bodies.

2045-2050. Drastic changes in social structure, and in scientific and technological development. All the
for space expansion are established.
For the man of the future, war and violence are unacceptable. The main priority of his development is spiritual self-improvement.

A new era dawns: The era of neohumanity.

See the video below if you want your brains scrambled. It seriously looks and sounds like something from a science fiction movie. Anyone know if this is a hoax? Or a publicity stunt for some movie? I really can't get my brain around it. I don't know what world they are living on, but it's definitely not the same one we are.

Learn more about or participate in the 2045 project  

Original post by business insider

July 6, 2012

Cryogenics Humans

If you are interested in Cryogenics like me then I found a great video. Its a short documentary about 18mins long on the process of Cryogenics and Cryonics.

"Dying for Immortality"

June 23, 2012

Aging is recorded in our genes

Researchers at the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute in Barcelona, Spain have found a significantly higher amount of cytosine methylation in the newborn than in the centenarian: 80.5% of all cytosine nucleotides, compared with 73%.

Recent research suggests that changes in DNA methylation patterns as a person gets older may contribute to human diseases for which risk increases with age, including cancer.


DNA is made up of four basic building blocks — adenine, thymine, guanine, and cytosine—and the sequence of these nucleotides within a gene determines what protein it makes. Genes can be switched on and off as needed, and the regulation of genes often involves what are called epigenetic mechanisms in which chemical alterations are made to the DNA. One of the most common of these epigenetic changes involves a methyl group — one carbon atom and three hydrogen atoms — binding to a nucleotide, usually cytosine. In general, this binding, called methylation, turns off the gene in question.

The researchers looked at two extreme cases: A newborn male baby and a man aged 103 years.

The team extracted DNA from white blood cells taken from the blood of the elderly man and from the umbilical cord blood of the baby and determined its methylation pattern using a fairly new technique called whole-genome bisulfite sequencing (WGBS).

With WGBS, DNA is exposed to the chemical sodium bisulfite, which has no effect on cytosines with methyl groups bound to them but turns nonmethylated cytosines into another nucleotide called uracil. The result is an epigenetic map that shows exactly which DNA sites are methylated and which are not.

To look at an intermediate case, the team also performed WGBS on the DNA of a 26-year-old male subject; the methylation level was also intermediate, about 78%.

Differences between newborn and centenarian

They then took a closer look at the differences between the DNA of the newborn and of the centenarian, but restricted the comparison to regions of the genome where the DNA nucleotide sequences were identical so that only the epigenetic differences would stand out.

The team identified nearly 18,000 “differentially methylated regions” (DMRs) of the genome, covering many types of genes. More than a third of the DMRs occurred in genes that have already been linked with cancer risk. Moreover, in the centenarian, 87% of the DMRs involved the loss of the methyl group, while only 13% involved the gain of one.

Finally, to expand the study, the team looked at the methylation patterns of 19 newborns and 19 people aged between 89 and 100 years old. This analysis confirmed that older people have a lower amount of cytosine methylation than newborns.

Increased risk of infection and diabetes

The authors conclude that the degree of methylation decreases in a cumulative fashion over time. Moreover, in the centenarian, the loss of methyl groups, which turns genes back on, often occurred in genes that increase the risk of infection and diabetes when they are turned on during adulthood. In contrast, the small number of genes in the centenarian that had greater methylation levels were often those that needed to be kept turned on to protect against cancer.

The new work is the first to compare the complete, genome-wide DNA methylation patterns of these two diverse age groups, says Martin Widschwendter, an oncologist at University College London in the United Kingdom who has studied the link between methylation and cancer.

Widschwendter, who likens the DNA sequence to the genome’s “hardware” and epigenetic changes to its “software,” says that the team’s study supports earlier research suggesting that “as a function of age and environmental exposure, this software accumulates defects” that can cause “age-related cancer and degenerative diseases.”

Ref.: Holger Heyn et al., Distinct DNA methylomes of newborns and centenarians, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2012, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1120658109 (open access)

[ Science Now ]

June 18, 2012

New energy source for future medical implants: brain glucose

The Matrix was right: humans will act as batteries

-CAPTION TO THE RIGHT: Brain power: harvesting power from the cerebrospinal fluid within the subarachnoid space. Inset at right: a micrograph of a prototype, showing the metal layers of the anode (central electrode) and cathode contact (outer ring) patterned on a silicon wafer. (Credit: Karolinska Institutet/Stanford University))--

MIT engineers have developed a fuel cell that runs on glucose for powering highly efficient brain implants of the future that can help paralyzed patients move their arms and legs again — batteries included.

The fuel cell strips electrons from glucose molecules to create a small electric current.

The researchers, led by Rahul Sarpeshkar, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, fabricated the fuel cell on a silicon chip, allowing it to be integrated with other circuits that would be needed for a brain implant.

In the 1970s, scientists showed they could power a pacemaker with a glucose fuel cell, but the idea was abandoned in favor of lithium-ion batteries, which could provide significantly more power per unit area than glucose fuel cells.

These glucose fuel cells also used enzymes that proved to be impractical for long-term implantation in the body, since they eventually ceased to function efficiently.

How to generate hundreds of microwatts from sugar

A silicon wafer with glucose fuel cells of varying sizes; the largest is 64 by 64 mm. (credit: Sarpeshkar Lab)

The new fuel cell is fabricated from silicon, using the same technology used to make semiconductor electronic chips, with no biological components.

A platinum catalyst strips electrons from glucose, mimicking the activity of cellular enzymes that break down glucose to generate ATP, the cell’s energy currency. (Platinum has a proven record of long-term biocompatibility within the body.)

So far, the fuel cell can generate up to hundreds of microwatts — enough to power an ultra-low-power and clinically useful neural implant.

Benjamin Rapoport, a former graduate student in the Sarpeshkar lab and the first author on the new MIT study, calculated that in theory, the glucose fuel cell could get all the sugar it needs from the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that bathes the brain and protects it from banging into the skull.

There are very few cells in the CSF, so it’s highly unlikely that an implant located there would provoke an immune response, the researchers say.

Structure of the glucose fuel cell and the oxygen and glucose concentration gradients crucially associated with its cathode and anode half-cell reactions (credit: Benjamin I. Rapoport, Jakub T. Kedzierski, Rahul Sarpeshkar/PLoS One)

There is also significant glucose in the CSF, which does not generally get used by the body. Since only a small fraction of the available power is utilized by the glucose fuel cell, the impact on the brain’s function would likely be small.

Implantable medical devices

“It will be a few more years into the future before you see people with spinal-cord injuries receive such implantable systems in the context of standard medical care, but those are the sorts of devices you could envision powering from a glucose-based fuel cell,” says Rapoport.

Karim Oweiss, an associate professor of electrical engineering, computer science and neuroscience at Michigan State University, says the work is a good step toward developing implantable medical devices that don’t require external power sources.

“It’s a proof of concept that they can generate enough power to meet the requirements,” says Oweiss, adding that the next step will be to demonstrate that it can work in a living animal.

A team of researchers at Brown University, Massachusetts General Hospital and other institutions recently demonstrated that paralyzed patients could use a brain-machine interface to move a robotic arm; those implants have to be plugged into a wall outlet.

Ultra-low-power bioelectronics

Sarpeshkar’s group is a leader in the field of ultra-low-power electronics, having pioneered such designs for cochlear implants and brain implants. “The glucose fuel cell, when combined with such ultra-low-power electronics, can enable brain implants or other implants to be completely self-powered,” says Sarpeshkar, author of the book Ultra Low Power Bioelectronics.

The book discusses how the combination of ultra-low-power and energy-harvesting design can enable self-powered devices for medical, bio-inspired and portable applications.

Sarpeshkar’s group has worked on all aspects of implantable brain-machine interfaces and neural prosthetics, including recording from nerves, stimulating nerves, decoding nerve signals and communicating wirelessly with implants.

One such neural prosthetic is designed to record electrical activity from hundreds of neurons in the brain’s motor cortex, which is responsible for controlling movement. That data is amplified and converted into a digital signal so that computers — or in the Sarpeshkar team’s work, brain-implanted microchips — can analyze it and determine which patterns of brain activity produce movement.

The fabrication of the glucose fuel cell was done in collaboration with Jakub Kedzierski at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory. “This collaboration with Lincoln Lab helped make a long-term goal of mine — to create glucose-powered bioelectronics — a reality,” Sarpeshkar says.

Although he has begun working on bringing ultra-low-power and medical technology to market, he cautions that glucose-powered implantable medical devices are still many years away.

Ref.: Benjamin I. Rapoport, Jakub T. Kedzierski, Rahul Sarpeshkar, A Glucose Fuel Cell for Implantable Brain-Machine Interfaces, PLoS ONE, 2012, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0038436 (open access)

June 1, 2012

Research shows cue-giving robots help students learn

The well-known fact is that humans can teach robots, but the newer turn in educational circles is all about how robots can teach humans. The stepped-up robots are “animated” and "adaptive" agents that communicate effectively with humans by using subtle, human-like cues to engage their listeners. Two researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison have demonstrated that such robots can improve how much students remember from their lessons.

The researchers believe that “embodied agents hold great promise as educational assistants, exercise coaches, and team members in collaborative work. These roles require agents to closely monitor the behavioral, emotional, and mental states of their users and provide appropriate, effective responses.”

Bilge Mutlu and Dan Szafir of the Department of Computer Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison worked up a robotic teacher that could tell when students were losing focus and helped them re-engage with the lesson. They programmed a Wakamaru humanoid robot to tell students a story and then tested the students to see how much of the story they retained. Engagement levels were monitored using measurements from electroencephalography (EEG) to monitor learning and concentration.

Human teachers have strategies for “reviving” students’ waning focus by changing tone of voice or gesturing. When a significant decrease in certain brain signals indicated that the student's attention level had fallen, the system sent a signal to the robot to trigger such human-like cues.

During the reading of a long Japanese folk tale, “My Lord Bag of Rice,” the robot similarly raised its voice or used arm gestures, pointed at itself or toward the listeners and used its robot arms to indicate a high mountain.

Students who were given cues by the robot when their attention span was fading were better at recalling the story than the other groups. The more successful group answered an average of nine out of 14 questions correctly; those who sat with a robot giving no human-like cues got 6.3 right.

The researchers are on to a line of investigation considered important as education expands to incorporate digital learning within live classrooms as well as online courses. “Virtual” teachers can be modeled toward human-like interactions with students through such nonverbal cues, which may support a better learning experience and results. That kind of focus has "significant implications for the field of education," according to Andrew Ng, director of Stanford University's Artificial Intelligence Lab. "The vision of automatically measuring student engagement so as to build a more interactive teacher is very exciting."

Earlier this month, Mutlu and Szafir presented a paper on the design of “adaptive agents” at the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Austin, Texas. Their paper was titled “Pay Attention! Designing Adaptive Agents that Monitor and Improve User Engagement.

More information: Pay Attention! Designing Adaptive Agents that Monitor and Improve User Engagement - Paper

Embodied agents hold great promise as educational assistants, exercise coaches, and team members in collaborative work. These roles require agents to closely monitor the behavioral, emotional, and mental states of their users and provide appropriate, effective responses. EdNewscientistucational agents, for example, will have to monitor student attention and seek to improve it when student engagement decreases. In this paper, we draw on techniques from brain-computer interfaces (BCI) and knowledge from educational psychology to design adaptive agents that monitor student attention in real time using measurements from electroencephalography (EEG) and recapture diminishing attention levels using verbal and nonverbal cues. An experimental evaluation of our approach showed that an adaptive robotic agent employing behavioral techniques to regain attention during drops in engagement improved student recall abilities 43% over the baseline regardless of student gender and significantly improved female motivation and rapport. Our findings offer guidelines for developing effective adaptive agents, particularly for educational settings.

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original article by Newscientist

April 22, 2012

Project Reason: spreading science and secular values

Project Reason is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation devoted to spreading scientific knowledge and secular values in society. The foundation draws on the talents of prominent and creative thinkers in a wide range of disciplines to encourage critical thinking and erode the influence of dogmatism, superstition, and bigotry in our world.

Project Reason

April 11, 2012

Interview with Professor Piotr J. Durka About the BCI Appliance Developed at University of Warsaw

At CeBIT 2012 University of Warsaw presented a wireless brain-computer interface (BCI) system, called BCI Appliance. The device is a tablet-sized box with just one button, running entirely on Open Source software. could ask some questions via email about the BCI Appliance to the leader of the project. Welcome to an exclusive interview with Piotr J. Durka, professor of the University of Warsaw, Department of Physics.

Read the rest of the article at Brain Machine Interfacing

April 3, 2012

Build a better brain?

Artificial brains are on the rise, powered by huge investment, exponential growth in computer power, and new insights in everything from statistics to biochemistry.

In Seattle, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen pledged US$300-million last week for a series of “brain observatories” that will model the visual parts of mice brains, and allow researchers to “capture fundamental aspects of higher brain function: from perception to conscious awareness, decision-making and action.”

In Toronto, a team at Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute is about to release a working model of its Virtual Brain, which aims to recreate the structure and function of grey matter, including its “plasticity,” or the capacity to reorganize after damage.

Read the rest of article here by the National Post

March 20, 2012

Peter Diamandis- "Abundance: Why The Future Is Better Than You Think."

Peter Diamandis, chairman and CEO of the X Prize Foundation—a nonprofit group focused on driving innovation through large, incentive competitions. In 2004, the foundation awarded the Ansari X PRIZE, a $10 million award for the first private group to build and launch a reusable, manned spacecraft. If that isn't enough Peter has started 15 companies, is friends with the guys who started Google, is an actual rocket scientist (really), and is also a business genius.He also co-founder "The Singularity University" with Ray Kurzweil.

Peter has just released his new book "Abundance: Why The Future Is Better Than You Think.".Now a New York Times Best Seller! 

If you are thinking of ordering it then use the link below and I'll give you some great bonuses which include:

1.) 2 pdfs with strategies on how to innovate. One of them by Peter Drucker
2.) 5 download links to free Ray Kurzweil books

(Kindle Vesion) Abundance
(Audiobook) Abundance

Just take a screen shot with your computer of your receipt or email the receipt to

March 12, 2012

NeuroSky to develop iOS assistive technology apps

NeuroSky, which specializes in mass-market brain-computer interface technology (BCI), says it's bringing its user interface with the brain to the next level with a new wave of "killer mobile apps" for patients with severely limited communication conditions, including Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Cerebral Palsy (CP), Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and others.

These conditions relegate people with otherwise healthy minds to be trapped in their bodies unable to communicate. NeuroSky is launching a campaign on the crowdfunding site IndieGogo, to raise US$50,000. Proceeds will pay "top-tier, disruptive thinking" developers to create a new type of user interface for assistive technology applications on mobile devices.

Crowdfunding is a new investment platform that appeals to the general public to invest in projects they believe in or products they would like to see made. As the assistive technology applications are completed, they will be made available free of charge on the iTunes store,, and other locations.

NeuroSky's MindWave Mobile (pictured) will cost $129 and be compatible with mobile (iOS and Android) devices. By combining the brainwave input (such as blink, attention, meditation, and RAW EEG) with standard mobile device features such as geo location, accelerometers, video, etc. developers can provide new and unique capabilities for Android and iOS devices, according to Head of Communication Tansy Brook