Chip with Brain-inspired Non-Von Neumann Architecture has 1M Neurons, 256M Synapses

August 28, 2014

synapse chip infographic_07-30-14a

San Jose, CA Scientists from IBM have unveiled the first neurosynaptic computer chip to achieve an unprecedented scale of one million programmable neurons, 256 million programmable synapses and 46 billion synaptic operations per second per watt. At 5.4 billion transistors, this fully functional and production-scale chip is currently one of the largest CMOS chips ever built, yet, while running at biological real time, it consumes a minuscule 70mW — orders of magnitude less power than a modern microprocessor. A neurosynaptic supercomputer the size of a postage stamp that runs on the energy equivalent of a hearing-aid battery, this technology could transform science, technology, business, government and society by enabling vision, audition and multi-sensory applications.

The breakthrough, published in Science in collaboration with Cornell Tech, is a significant step toward bringing cognitive computers to society.

There is a huge disparity between the human brain’s cognitive capability and ultra-low power consumption when compared to today’s computers. To bridge the divide, IBM scientists created something that didn’t previously exist — an entirely new neuroscience-inspired scalable and efficient computer architecture that breaks path with the prevailing von Neumann architecture used almost universally since 1946.

This second-generation chip is the culmination of almost a decade of research and development, including the initial single core hardware prototype in 2011 and software ecosystem with a new programming language and chip simulator in 2013.

The new cognitive chip architecture has an on-chip two-dimensional mesh network of 4096 digital, distributed neurosynaptic cores, where each core module integrates memory, computation and communication, and operates in an event-driven, parallel and fault-tolerant fashion. To enable system scaling beyond single-chip boundaries, adjacent chips, when tiled, can seamlessly connect to each other — building a foundation for future neurosynaptic supercomputers. To demonstrate scalability, IBM also revealed a 16-chip system with sixteen million programmable neurons and four billion programmable synapses.

“IBM has broken new ground in the field of brain-inspired computers, in terms of a radically new architecture, unprecedented scale, unparalleled power/area/speed efficiency, boundless scalability, and innovative design techniques. We foresee new generations of information technology systems — that complement today’s von Neumann machines — powered by an evolving ecosystem of systems, software and services,” said Dr. Dharmendra S. Modha, IBM Fellow and IBM Chief Scientist, Brain-Inspired Computing, IBM Research. “These brain-inspired chips could transform mobility, via sensory and intelligent applications that can fit in the palm of your hand but without the need for Wi-Fi. This achievement underscores IBM’s leadership role at pivotal transformational moments in the history of computing via long-term investment in organic innovation.”

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has funded the project since 2008 with approximately $53M via Phase 0, Phase 1, Phase 2, and Phase 3 of the Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics (SyNAPSE) program. Current collaborators include Cornell Tech and iniLabs.

Building the Chip

The chip was fabricated using Samsung’s 28nm process technology that has a dense on-chip memory and low-leakage transistors.

“It is an astonishing achievement to leverage a process traditionally used for commercially available, low-power mobile devices to deliver a chip that emulates the human brain by processing extreme amounts of sensory information with very little power,” said Shawn Han, vice president of Foundry Marketing, Samsung Electronics. “This is a huge architectural breakthrough that is essential as the industry moves toward the next-generation cloud and big-data processing. It’s a pleasure to be part of technical progress for next-generation through Samsung’s 28nm technology.”

The event-driven circuit elements of the chip used the asynchronous design methodology developed at Cornell Tech and refined with IBM since 2008.

“After years of collaboration with IBM, we are now a step closer to building a computer similar to our brain,” said Professor Rajit Manohar, Cornell Tech.

The combination of cutting-edge process technology, hybrid asynchronous-synchronous design methodology, and new architecture has led to a power density of 20mW/cm2 which is nearly four orders of magnitude less than today’s microprocessors.

Advancing the SyNAPSE Ecosystem

The new chip is a component of a complete end-to-end vertically integrated ecosystem spanning a chip simulator, neuroscience data, supercomputing, neuron specification, programming paradigm, algorithms and applications, and prototype design models. The ecosystem supports all aspects of the programming cycle from design through development, debugging, and deployment.

To bring forth this fundamentally different technological capability to society, IBM has designed a novel teaching curriculum for universities, customers, partners and IBM employees.

Applications and Vision

This ecosystem signals a shift in moving computation closer to the data, taking in vastly varied kinds of sensory data, analyzing and integrating real-time information in a context-dependent way, and dealing with the ambiguity found in complex, real-world environments.

Looking to the future, IBM is working on integrating multi-sensory neurosynaptic processing into mobile devices constrained by power, volume and speed; integrating novel event-driven sensors with the chip; real-time multimedia cloud services accelerated by neurosynaptic systems; and neurosynaptic supercomputers by tiling multiple chips on a board, creating systems that would eventually scale to one hundred trillion synapses and beyond.

Building on previously demonstrated neurosynaptic cores with on-chip, online learning, IBM envisions building learning systems that adapt in real world settings. While today’s hardware is fabricated using a modern CMOS process, the underlying architecture is poised to exploit advances in future memory, 3-D integration, logic, and sensor technologies to deliver even lower power, denser package, and faster speed.

http://www.scientificcomputing.com/news/2014/08/chip-brain-inspired-non-von-neumann-architecture-has-1m-neurons-256m-synapses

Scientists grow an organ in an animal from cells created in lab

August 28, 2014

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Laboratory-grown replacement organs have moved a step closer with the completion of a new study. Scientists have grown a fully functional organ from transplanted laboratory-created cells in a living animal for the first time.

The researchers have created a thymus — an organ next to the heart that produces immune cells known as T cells that are vital for guarding against disease.

They hope that, with further research, the discovery could lead to new treatments for people with a weakened immune system.

The team from the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh took cells called fibroblasts from a mouse embryo. They turned the fibroblasts into a completely different type of cell called thymus cells, using a technique called reprogramming.

The reprogrammed cells changed shape to look like thymus cells and were also capable of supporting development of T cells in the lab — a specialised function that only thymus cells can perform.

When the researchers mixed reprogrammed cells with other key thymus cell types and transplanted them into a mouse, the cells formed a replacement organ. The new organ had the same structure, complexity and function as a healthy adult thymus.

It is the first time that scientists have made an entire living organ from cells that were created outside of the body by reprogramming.

Doctors have already shown that patients with thymus disorders can be treated with infusions of extra immune cells or transplantation of a thymus organ soon after birth. The problem is that both are limited by a lack of donors and problems matching tissue to the recipient.

With further refinement, the researchers hope that their lab-grown cells could form the basis of a thymus transplant treatment for people with a weakened immune system.

The technique may also offer a way of making patient-matched T cells in the laboratory that could be used in cell therapies.

Such treatments could benefit bone marrow transplant patients, by helping speed up the rate at which they rebuild their immune system after transplant.

The discovery offers hope to babies born with genetic conditions that prevent the thymus from developing properly. Older people could also be helped as the thymus is the first organ to deteriorate with age.

The study is published today in the journal Nature Cell Biology.

Professor Clare Blackburn from the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, who led the research, said: “Our research represents an important step towards the goal of generating a clinically useful artificial thymus in the lab.”

Dr Rob Buckle, Head of Regenerative Medicine at the MRC, said: “This is an exciting study but much more work will be needed before this process can be reproduced in a safe and tightly controlled way suitable for use in humans.”

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcc0eVoubEk


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Edinburgh. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

First-ever 3D-printed vertebra implanted in 12-year-old cancer patient’s spine

August 28, 2014

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A 12-year-old cancer patient in China underwent a first-of-its-kind operation to implant a 3D-printed vertebra into his spine, Reuters reported.

During the 5-hour procedure, surgeons at Peking University Hospital in Beijing removed a tumor from Qin Minglin’s spine before implanting the 3D-printed vertebra. The novel device was made from titanium powder and included a series of tiny pores which will allow the bone to grow and bond to the structure as it heals.

Currently, the standard procedure for this kind of operation involves removing the bone and inserting a titanium tube held in place by screws and surgical cement. However, the tube can become detached over time. For this novel procedure, doctors used a combination of scans and specialized engineering software to create a perfect replica of the piece of the patient’s spine that needed to be replaced.

“…We can use iconographic tests on patients such as a computed [tomography], or CT scans, and convert the CT data into 3D-printing data in order to produce an internal fixation with exactly the same structure as the patient’s bone structure,” Dr. Liu Zhongjun, director of orthopedics at Peking University Hospital told Reuters. “When it is implanted into a human being, it perfectly matches the patient’s own anatomical structure.”

Zhongjun added that using the specially made implant would mean a faster recovery for Qin and increased mobility after he heals.

“Using existing technology, the patient’s head needs to be framed with pins after surgery,” he explained. “But with 3D-printing technology, we can simulate the shape of the vertebra, which is much stronger and more convenient than traditional methods.”

Qin was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma after he suffered a neck injury while heading a ball in sports practice. Ewing’s sarcoma is a cancerous tumor that grows in the bones or in the tissue around bones (soft tissue)—often the legs, pelvis, ribs, arms or spine, according to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. The condition affects about 200 children and young adults a year in the United States, and when found early, can be treated successfully in up to 75 percent of cases, according to the National Cancer Institute.

“When I was told that he would be the first case of this kind, I was a little torn,” Qin’s mother, Xu Minglin told Reuters. “But in the end, I considered that 3D technology has already been applied in the medical world, and they must be confident.”

One month after surgery, Qin’s doctors say he’s on the road to recovery and his mother said he’s in good spirits knowing that his procedure may help provide new treatment options for spinal replacement surgery patients.

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/08/28/first-ever-3d-printed-vertebra-implanted-in-12-year-old-cancer-patients-spine/

 

Artificial Wombs Are Coming, but the Controversy Is Already Here

August 10, 2014

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The term ectogenesis was coined in 1924 by British scientist J.B.S. Haldane. He predicted by 2074 only 30 percent of births would be human births. Science has grown much quicker than he realized, and his take is probably much too conservative. Some futurists like myself (I’m also married to an ObGyn) think ectogenesis will be here in 20 years, and widely used in 30 years around the world.

It’s not an entirely speculative concept; scientists are actively working on developing the technology, primarily for medical reasons. In an article for Reproductive Health and Social Justice, a daily nonprofit publication providing news and analysis on sexual and reproductive health and justice issues, journalist Soraya Chemaly discussed two leading scientists in the ectogenesis field and their projects:

There are two commonly cited endeavors in progress. Focusing on finding ways to save premature babies, Japanese professor Dr. Yoshinori Kuwabara of Juntendo University, has successfully gestated goat embryos in a machine that holds amniotic fluid in tanks.

On the other end of the process focusing on helping women unable to conceive and gestate babies, is Dr. Helen Hung-Ching Liu, Director of the Reproductive Endocrine Laboratory at the Center for Reproductive Medicine and Infertility at Cornell University. Quietly, in 2003, she and her team succeeded in  growing a mouse embryo, almost to full term, by adding engineered endometrium tissue to a bio-engineered, extra-uterine “scaffold.”

More recently, she grew a human embryo, for ten days in an artificial womb. Her work is limited by legislation that imposes a 14-day limit on research projects of this nature. As complicated as it is, her goal is a functioning external womb.

The ectogenesis technology itself is highly complicated, though somewhat simple looking. Basically, it appears as an amniotic fluid-filled aquarium with a bunch of feeding tubes and monitoring cables attached to a live, developing organism. Those tubes bring the nutrients, oxygen, etc needed to grow an organism and help it survive; the cables monitor everything going on inside the tank. There’s certainly a Matrix feel to it all.

While much of the technology for starting to experiment with artificially growing a human fetus already exists, bona fide human trials are likely at least a decade off, largely due to the murky legal and ethical implications of the controversial concept.

No doubt, propagating the species without the need for the human body sounds insanely far-fetched. And even if it’s achievable, there’s the question of whether people would be comfortable using it. I would argue yes, and the reasons are simple: Besides being painful, laborious, and time consuming, giving birth is still medically dangerous to mothers.

Furthermore, the advent of ectogenesis would mean females would no longer have to solely bear the responsibility of childbirth, or ponder the stressful questions often faced while carrying a child in one’s body for nine months: Is there lead in the house water I drink, potentially affecting my child’s neurological development? Will the flu virus I caught at work damage my baby’s forming body? Did the half glass of wine I drank the other night lower my kid’s potential IQ?

But perhaps an even more important reason has to do with the health of the babies themselves. Natural birth is filled with perils, and ectogenesis could potentially offer a safe alternative. The theory is that every heartbeat, kick, and moment of a fetus’s life could be carefully monitored, from zygote to the moment the baby takes its first breath of air. Every nutrient the fetus gets would be measured, every movement it makes would be filmed, every heartbeat would be analyzed for proper timing.

As with all new technology, traditional biological and social customs could give way to newer practices promising safety, efficiency, and practicality. However, if ectogenesis seems like a slam dunk, it’s not. It’s rife with both philosophical and political concerns.

The most frequent philosophical issue brought up about ectogenesis is how it might change the way society views women. Will the feminine mystique be lost by such an artificial process replacing what’s been long a mainstay of the female domain? My short answer is no; rather, ectogenesis could further unchain women from the home, spare them and extend the age at which women can have children.

Still, some feminists view ectogenesis with skepticism, saying it will hand over women’s sacred birthing ability to science. In an essay in the book Feminist Perspectives in Medical Ethics, Julien S. Murphy, chair of the philosophy department and professor of philosophy at University of Southern Maine, wrote that ectogenesis has sparked “disagreement among feminists.”

The politics are just as complicated; after all, reproductive rights and procreation are some of the most divisive and loaded topics in Washington right now. It’s likely people with conservative social views or certain religious concerns would rally hard against the technology, which threatens to disrupt the symbiotic bond that the sexes have in traditional society.

Some have also suggested an artificial womb leaves a growing fetus without the immediate intimacy its mother’s body provides. Professor and journalist John Nassivera writes in America, The National Catholic Review, “I can tell you that this deprivation is a very serious thing.”

Meanwhile, the pro-ectogenesis argument is that artificial wombs could make life easier and safer for mothers and fetuses, not to mention allow women who have damaged or medically dysfunctional uteruses to bear children. Similarly, some bioethicists have suggested ectogenesis could also free up homosexual couples and single men from having to use surrogate mothers to bear their children.

Regardless what happens in the future, ectogenesis is destined to become one of hottest topics of the transhumanist future, providing a gateway for how our tech-imbued species views itself, and the way our children will enter the sphere of life.

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/artificial-wombs-are-coming-and-the-controversys-already-here

Video

What is so special about the human brain?

August 6, 2014

The human brain is puzzling — it is curiously large given the size of our bodies, uses a tremendous amount of energy for its weight and has a bizarrely dense cerebral cortex. But: why? Neuroscientist Suzana Herculano-Houzel puts on her detective’s cap and leads us through this mystery. By making “brain soup,” she arrives at a startling conclusion.

Robotic exoskeletons give dock workers superhuman lifting abilities

August 6, 2014

daewoo-robot-exoskeleton

We talk a lot about robotic exoskeletons that give people almost supernatural lifting skills, but these tend to be confined to labs or science fiction. Not in South Korea, though. Daewoo has been testing suits that let shipyard workers carry objects as heavy as 66 pounds like they’re nothing. The key is support for task-specific frames that put virtually all the load on the machine, giving you full dexterity — whether it’s an engine part or a piece of the hull, you can easily put it into place.

The hardware isn’t ready to enter full service just yet. It doesn’t currently cope well with slippery floors or twisting movements, and its 3-hour battery life isn’t enough to cover someone’s entire shift. Daewoo says that the trial has been going well, however, and it ultimately hopes that the exoskeleton will shoulder up to 220 pounds. If everything pans out, shipbuilding could take considerably less time — and put much less strain on the people involved.

http://www.engadget.com/2014/08/04/daewoo-robotic-exoskeletons/

‘Rewired’ mice show signs of longer lives with fewer age-related illnesses

August 3, 2014

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While developing a new cancer drug, researchers at The Wistar Institute discovered that mice lacking a specific protein live longer lives with fewer age-related illnesses. The mice, which lack the TRAP-1 protein, demonstrated less age-related tissue degeneration, obesity, and spontaneous tumor formation when compared to normal mice. Their findings could change how scientists view the metabolic networks within cells.

In healthy cells, TRAP-1 is an important regulator of metabolism and has been shown to regulate energy production in mitochondria, organelles that generate chemically useful energy for the cell. In the mitochondria of cancer cells, TRAP-1 is universally overproduced.

The Wistar team’s report, which appears in the journal Cell Reports, shows how “knockout” mice bred to lack the TRAP-1 protein compensate for this loss by switching to alternative cellular mechanisms for making energy.

“We see this astounding change in TRAP-1 knockout mice, where they show fewer signs of aging and are less likely to develop cancers,” said Dario C. Altieri. M.D., Robert and Penny Fox Distinguished Professor and director of The Wistar Institute’s National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center. “Our findings provide an unexpected explanation for how TRAP-1 and related proteins regulate metabolism within our cells.”

“We usually link the reprogramming of metabolic pathways with human diseases, such as cancer,” Altieri said. “What we didn’t expect to see were healthier mice with fewer tumors.”

Altieri and his colleagues created the TRAP-1 knockout mice as part of their ongoing investigation into their novel drug, Gamitrinib, which targets the protein in the mitochondria of tumor cells. TRAP-1 is a member of the heat shock protein 90 (HSP90) family, which are “chaperone” proteins that guide the physical formation of other proteins and serve a regulatory function within mitochondria. Tumors use HSP90 proteins, like TRAP-1, to help survive therapeutic attack.

“In tumors, the loss of TRAP-1 is devastating, triggering a host of catastrophic defects, including metabolic problems that ultimately result in the death of the tumor cells,” Altieri said. “Mice that lack TRAP-1 from the start, however, have three weeks in the womb to compensate for the loss of the protein.”

The researchers found that in their knockout mice, the loss of TRAP-1 causes mitochondrial proteins to misfold, which then triggers a compensatory response that causes cells to consume more oxygen and metabolize more sugar. This causes mitochondria in knockout mice to produce deregulated levels of ATP, the chemical used as an energy source to power all the everyday molecular reactions that allow a cell to function.

This increased mitochondrial activity actually creates a moderate boost in oxidative stress (“free radical damage”) and the associated DNA damage. While DNA damage may seem counterproductive to longevity and good health, the low level of DNA damage actually reduces cell proliferation — slowing growth down to allow the cell’s natural repair mechanisms to take effect.

According to Altieri, their observations provide a mechanistic foundation for the role of chaperone molecules, like HSP90, in the regulation of bioenergetics in mitochondria — how cells produce and use the chemical energy they need to survive and grow. Their results explain some contradictory findings in the scientific literature regarding the regulation of bioenergetics and dramatically show how compensatory mechanisms can arise when these chaperone molecules are taken out of the equation.

“Our findings strengthen the case for targeting HSP90 in tumor cells, but they also open up a fascinating array of questions that may have implications for metabolism and longevity,” Altieri said. “I predict that the TRAP-1 knockout mouse will be a valuable tool for answering these questions.”

This work was supported by grants to Altieri from the National Institutes of Health (P01 CA140043, R01 CA78810) and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs through the Prostate Cancer Research Program (W81XWH-13-1-0193). Additional support was provided through the National Cancer Institute Cancer Center Support Grant (CA010815) to The Wistar Institute.

Co-authors from the Altieri lab include Sofia Lisanti, Michele Tavecchio, Ph.D., and Young Chan Chae, Ph.D., Wistar co-authors also include Qin Liu, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor in Wistar Cancer Center’s Molecular and Cellular Oncogenesis program. Co-authors from outside Wistar include Angela K. Brice, D.V.M., Ph.D., from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, and Madhukar L. Thakur, Ph.D., and Lucia R. Languino, Ph.D., from Thomas Jefferson University.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by The Wistar Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Sofia Lisanti, Michele Tavecchio, Young Chan Chae, Qin Liu, Angela K. Brice, Madhukar L. Thakur, Lucia R. Languino, Dario C. Altieri. Deletion of the Mitochondrial Chaperone TRAP-1 Uncovers Global Reprogramming of Metabolic Networks. Cell Reports, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2014.06.061

C. difficile vaccine proves safe, 100 percent effective in animal models

August 3, 2014

Universal-Flu-Vaccine1

An experimental vaccine protected 100 percent of animal models against the highly infectious and virulent bacterium, Clostridium difficile, which causes an intestinal disease that kills approximately 30,000 Americans annually. The research is published ahead of print in Infection and Immunity.

In the study, the vaccine protected the mice and non-human primates against the purified toxins produced by C. difficile, as well as from an orogastric spore infection, a laboratory model that mimics the human disease, after only two immunizations.

“Animals that received two immunizations did not get sick or show signs of C. difficile-associated disease,” says corresponding author Michele Kutzler, of Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia.

“While our research was conducted in animal models, the results are very translatable to the clinic,” says Kutzler. “In some cases, patients who acquire C. difficile can develop serious complications including severe diarrhea, toxic megacolon, bowel perforation, multi-organ failure, and death. Once fully developed, our DNA vaccine could prevent the deadly effects of C. difficile infection when administered to hospital patients at risk of acquiring C. difficile.”

The protection following just two immunizations is especially important since the time window in humans between colonization with C. difficile and the onset of disease symptoms can be a mere 10-14 days, says Kutzler.

The vaccine protects against the bacterial toxins by mustering anti-toxin neutralizing antibodies, says Kutzler.

The cost of fighting the half million C. difficile infections that occur annually in the US is estimated to be nearly $10 billion, most of which could be saved by a successful preventive vaccine, says Kutzler. Morbidity and mortality have risen over the last decade, likely due to increased prevalence of relapsing disease, and hypervirulent strains, she adds.

Treating the disease is especially difficult, as the bacterial spores persist in the hospital environment, where most infections occur. There is no standard, effective treatment for recurrent disease, but a small number of experimental fecal transplants for C. difficile have had a very high success rate, with no adverse reactions.

“Since our vaccine was safe, effective after only two immunizations, and performed exceptionally well, we feel that this success warrants further studies using human patients,” says Kutzler.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Society for Microbiology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Chemists create nanofibers using unprecedented new method, reminiscent of fibers found in living cells

August 3, 2014

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Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University have developed a novel method for creating self-assembled protein/polymer nanostructures that are reminiscent of fibers found in living cells. The work offers a promising new way to fabricate materials for drug delivery and tissue engineering applications. The findings were published in the July 28 issue of Angewandte Chemie International Edition.

“We have demonstrated that, by adding flexible linkers to protein molecules, we can form completely new types of aggregates. These aggregates can act as a structural material to which you can attach different payloads, such as drugs. In nature, this protein isn’t close to being a structural material,” said Tomasz Kowalewski, professor of chemistry in Carnegie Mellon’s Mellon College of Science.

The building blocks of the fibers are a few modified green fluorescent protein (GFP) molecules linked together using a process called click chemistry. An ordinary GFP molecule does not normally bind with other GFP molecules to form fibers. But when Carnegie Mellon graduate student Saadyah Averick, working under the guidance of Krzysztof Matyjaszewski, the J.C. Warner Professor of Natural Sciences and University Professor of Chemistry in CMU’s Mellon College of Science, modified the GFP molecules and attached PEO-dialkyne linkers to them, they noticed something strange — the GFP molecules appeared to self-assemble into long fibers. Importantly, the fibers disassembled after being exposed to sound waves, and then reassembled within a few days. Systems that exhibit this type of reversible fibrous self-assembly have been long sought by scientists for use in applications such as tissue engineering, drug delivery, nanoreactors and imaging.

“This was purely curiosity-driven and serendipity-driven work,” Kowalewski said. “But where controlled polymerization and organic chemistry meet biology, interesting things can happen.”

The research team observed the fibers using confocal light microscopy, confirmed their assembly using dynamic light scattering and studied their morphology using atomic force microscopy (AFM). They also observed that the fibers were fluorescent, indicating that the GFP molecules retained their 3-D structure while linked together.

To determine what processes were driving the self-assembly, Matyjaszewski and Kowalewski turned to Anna Balazs, Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering and the Robert v. d. Luft Professor at the University of Pittsburgh. A leading expert in modeling the dynamics and mechanical properties of mesoscale systems, Balazs ran a computer simulation of the GFP molecules’ self-assembly process using a technique called dissipative particle dynamics, a type of coarse-grained molecular dynamics method. The simulation confirmed the modified GFP’s tendency to form fibers and revealed that the self-assembly process was driven by the interaction of hydrophobic patches on the surfaces of individual GFP molecules. In addition, Balazs’s simulated fibers closely corresponded with what Kowalewski observed using AFM imaging.

“Our protein-polymer system gives us an atomically precise, very well-defined nanoscale building object onto which we can attach different handles in very precisely defined positions. It can be used in a way that wasn’t ever intended by biology,” Kowalewski said.

In addition to Averick, Balazs, Kowalewski and Matyjaszewski, co-authors of the study include Carnegie Mellon’s Orsolya Karacsony and Jacob Mohin, University of Pittsburgh’s Xin Yong and Nicholas M. Moellers, Oregon State University’s Bradley F. Woodman and Ryan A. Mehl, and Zhejiang University’s Weipu Zhu. The research was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, Carnegie Mellon’s CRP Consortium and Oregon State University.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Carnegie Mellon University. The original article was written by Jocelyn Duffy. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

The Law of Accelerating Returns

August 3, 2014

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An analysis of the history of technology shows that technological change is exponential, contrary to the common-sense “intuitive linear” view. So we won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century — it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate). The “returns,” such as chip speed and cost-effectiveness, also increase exponentially. There’s even exponential growth in the rate of exponential growth. Within a few decades, machine intelligence will surpass human intelligence, leading to The Singularity — technological change so rapid and profound it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history. The implications include the merger of biological and nonbiological intelligence, immortal software-based humans, and ultra-high levels of intelligence that expand outward in the universe at the speed of light.

You will get $40 trillion just by reading this essay and understanding what it says. For complete details, see below. (It’s true that authors will do just about anything to keep your attention, but I’m serious about this statement. Until I return to a further explanation, however, do read the first sentence of this paragraph carefully.)

More:
http://www.kurzweilai.net/the-law-of-accelerating-returns