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The Race for EVs

Recharge EVs from Under the Roadway

March 16th 2017

Traffic Jam

As more and more electric vehicles hit urban streets across the world, better battery-recharging solutions are desperately needed to improve range, keep costs low and boost user confidence.

Oren Ezer (CEO) and Hanan Rumbak (CTO) cofounded ElectRoad in 2013 to develop their unique twist on the concept of underground electric coils that recharge vehicles as they travel on the road.

In a few months, ElectRoad’s dynamic wireless electrification system is beginning a pilot project in Tel Aviv involving a short public bus route.

“The idea of electrifying vehicles from the road is trendy right now and you can see several companies trying to do a similar concept to us, but our technology is totally different, from the coils under the asphalt to the transfer of energy to the bus,” Ezer tells ISRAEL21c. Read more ..

The Edge of Physics

The Quest to Crystallize Time

March 14th 2017

Taurus Molecular Cloud

Christopher Monroe spends his life poking at atoms with light. He arranges them into rings and chains and then massages them with lasers to explore their properties and make basic quantum computers. Last year, he decided to try something seemingly impossible: to create a time crystal.

The name sounds like a prop from Doctor Who, but it has roots in actual physics. Time crystals are hypothetical structures that pulse without requiring any energy—like a ticking clock that never needs winding. The pattern repeats in time in much the same way that the atoms of a crystal repeat in space. The idea was so challenging that when Nobel prizewinning physicist Frank Wilczek proposed the provocative concept in 2012, other researchers quickly proved there was no way to create time crystals.

But there was a loophole—and researchers in a separate branch of physics found a way to exploit the gap. Monroe, a physicist at the University of Maryland in College Park, and his team used chains of atoms they had constructed for other purposes to make a version of a time crystal. “I would say it sort of fell in our laps,” says Monroe. Read more ..

The Race for Solar

Molecular 'Leaf' Harvests Sunlight Without Solar Cells

March 13th 2017


An international team of scientists have engineered a molecule that uses light or electricity to convert the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide that could replace solar cells.

The team, led by Liang-shi Li at Indiana University (Bloomington, IN) with researchers from Nanchang University and the University of Science and Technology of China, used a nanographene-rhenium complex connected via an organic compound known as bipyridine to trigger a highly efficient reaction that converts carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide.

"If you can create an efficient enough molecule for this reaction, it will produce energy that is free and storable in the form of fuels," said Li, associate professor in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences' Department of Chemistry.


The Anthropological Edge

Australia was Colonized by a Single Group 50,000 Years Ago

March 9th 2017

Neanderthal man

There are two central mysteries about human history in Australia. First, when did people arrive on the world's southernmost inhabitable continent? And second, how did they colonize it? A paper in Nature offers new answers, based on an extensive analysis of decades-old DNA.

The Edge of Nature

How Plants Evolved into Carnivores

February 7th 2017

Amazon rainforest

Any insect unlucky enough to land on the mouth-like leaves of an Australian pitcher plant will meet a grisly end. The plant's prey is drawn into a vessel-like ‘pitcher’ organ where a specialized cocktail of enzymes digests the victim.

Now, by studying the pitcher plant's genome—and comparing its insect-eating fluids to those of other carnivorous plants—researchers have found that meat-eating plants the world over have hit on the same deadly molecular recipe, even though they are separated by millions of years of evolution.

“We’re really looking at a classic case of convergent evolution,” says Victor Albert, a plant-genome scientist at the University of Buffalo, New York, who co-led the study. Read more ..

The Edge of Space

New Era of Exoplanet Discoveries In Store

January 24th 2017

New Earth Sized Planets

For astronomers seeking Earth twins around other stars, the exoplanet GJ 1132 b probably isn’t an identical sibling—but it may be the closest cousin yet found. It weighs in at just over one Earth mass, but circles its star in a warm orbit that could make it more like Venus than our own world. Moreover, its diameter is nearly 50 percent larger than that of Earth, suggesting it possesses a thick atmosphere. Now, after taking the closest-ever look at GJ 1132 b, a European collaboration has confirmed the presence of its atmosphere and found hints it might contain water and methane. The results are currently under review for publication in The Astrophysical Journal.

As mere discoveries of exoplanets become routine, efforts to learn more about them—their compositions, climates and histories—are moving to the fore, with studies of their atmospheres occupying center stage. Although astronomers detected the first exoplanet atmosphere more than 15 years ago, they have only managed to observe a handful ever since, mostly for very hot worlds as big as Jupiter or even larger. With their first glimpse of GJ 1132 b’s alien air, astronomers are now entering a new frontier as they examine the atmospheres of smaller, more Earth-like worlds.


The Edge of Science

Scientific Breakthroughs in 2017 May "Blow Your Mind"

January 11th 2017

Research and Development Chemistry

The Pentagon’s research and development division, DARPA—the creative force behind the internet and GPS—retooled itself three years ago to create a new office dedicated to unraveling biology’s engineering secrets. The new Biological Technologies Office (BTO) has a mission to “harness the power of biological systems” and design new defense technology. Over the past year, with a budget of about $296 million, it has been exploring challenges including memory improvement, human–machine symbiosis and speeding up disease detection and response.

DARPA, or the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is hoping for some big returns. The director of its BTO, neuroprosthetic researcher Justin Sanchez, recently spoke with Scientific American about what to expect from his office in 2017, including work on neural implants to aid healthy people in their everyday lives and other advances that he says will “change the game” in medicine. Read more ..

The Edge of Space

NASA Should Build a Superhighway in Space

January 5th 2017

Mars & Earth, Christopher Leather U Chicago

Donald Trump will take power any minute now, and we need to take advantage of the change in the White House to change NASA's focus.

Why? NASA needs to get out of the rocket business and shift its attention to a permanent space transport infrastructure, an Eisenhower-style highway in the sky. An infrastructure with:

  • Gas stations (propellant depots),
  • Rest stops and permanent housing—roomy human habitats with windows and vegetable gardens,
  • Truck stops and freight yards—logistics bases with cargo-handling equipment,
  • Trucks, SUVs, and dune buggies—Moon-and-Mars ground vehicles; plus tugs to haul loads around in space,
  • Fuel production equipment—units to turn the water of the Moon and Mars into rocket fuel, breathable oxygen, and drinkable water,
  • Units to turn the carbon dioxide in Mars' atmosphere into plastics, graphene, and carbon fiber with which 3-d printers can build more habitats, tools, and rovers—more trucks, SUVs and dune buggies.
  • Units to turn the rusty rocks lying around on the Martian surface into high strength steel for habitats. 

Why move NASA into space highway construction? Because no one else will do it. And our future in space depends on it. Our future share in a space economy that United Launch Alliance (a joint venture rocket company from Boeing and Lockheed Martin) estimates will be worth $2.7 trillion in thirty years.


The Edeg of Nature

Do Dogs Know Other Dogs Are Dogs?

January 2nd 2017


Do you see dogs everywhere?

My ears perk up to the jingle jangle of metal-on-metal, hopeful that it predicts a dog and his collar, disappointed when it turns out to be keys on a belt (boring).

A person walking down the street with their arm outstretched holds the promise of a leash with a dog on the other end (sometimes it’s a stroller holding a kid. Oh well).

From a distance, my eyes play a cruel trick on me, where shopping bags are dogs and dogs are shopping bags until I get close enough and one wins out (obviously I'm rooting for the dog).

But catch any part of a tail, and I know I'm in. You could say my motto is, “dog, until proven otherwise.”

How about dogs?

Does a dog know, merely by sight, that an approaching being is a fellow dog? Before you answer, remember this: Canis familiaris is the least uniform species on the planet. Members of this species come in a wide range of body shapes and sizes from itty bitty teeny weeny to absolutely ginormos. Adult members of this species appear as tight little packages, huge weightlifters, lean ballerinas, elongated hotdogs and everything in between.


The Edge of the Universe

Hunting Dark Matter between the Ticks of an Atomic Clock

December 21st 2016

Massive black hole disrupting star formation

Dark matter is thought to make up some five sixths of all matter in the universe. Yet incredibly sophisticated projects ranging from the most powerful atom smasher ever built to vats of chilly liquid xenon have failed to find a trace of it. But now some scientists are hoping atomic clocks, the most precise timekeepers ever made, could be used to help explain this elusive phenomenon.

Many physicists believe dark matter is an invisible substance whose predicted gravitational effects on known matter would help explain a variety of cosmic mysteries, such as why galaxies can spin as fast as they do without flying apart. Despite its apparently colossal importance to the very structure of the universe, however, no one knows anything for certain about what it might be composed of or where it came from.


The Edge of Health

New Diagnosis for Parkinsons Advanes the Cause

December 15th 2016


Doctors diagnose as many as 60,000 new cases of Parkinson’s disease (PD) every year in the United States. Yet diagnosing PD with certainty can take years — long after early signs and symptoms have appeared.

The Israeli startup BioShai has a game-changing product on the horizon: PDx, the world’s first simple blood test for the early diagnosis of PD.

The test results can be combined with clinical data, providing a more accurate diagnosis to help physicians decide on the best course of treatment at a much earlier stage.

More than 10 million people worldwide are living with this chronic and progressive movement disorder caused by the malfunction and death of neurons that produce dopamine, a chemical that coordinates the brain’s control of movement and coordination.

“Having a diagnosis at an earlier stage can lead to a more precise treatment and a higher quality of life for the patient,” says BioShai CEO Jennifer Yarden, who has a PhD in medical science and formerly was responsible for clinical and commercial development of diagnostic assays and kits at Glycominds. Yarden is also CEO and cofounder of Curewize Health.

“Offering a simple and inexpensive test for the diagnosis of Parkinson’s is considered essential for the development of neuroprotective therapy,” she explains, “because by the time a patient has the many movement symptoms associated with Parkinson’s, a majority of the dopamine-producing neurons are lost or become impaired by the disease.”


Environment on Edge

Tuna’s Declining Mercury Contamination Linked to U.S. Shift Away from Coal

November 30th 2016

School of tuna

Levels of highly toxic mercury contamination in Atlantic bluefin tuna are rapidly declining, according to a new study. That trend does not affect recommended limits on consumption of canned tuna, which comes mainly from other tuna species. Nor does it reflect trends in other ocean basins. But it does represent a major break in the long-standing, scary connection between tuna and mercury, a source of public concern since 1970, when a chemistry professor in New York City found excess levels of mercury in a can of tuna and spurred a nationwide recall. Tuna consumption continues to be the source of about 40 percent of the mercury contamination in the American diet. And mercury exposure from all sources remains an important issue, because it causes cognitive impairment in an estimated 300,000 to 600,000 babies born in this country each year.


The Edge of Medicine

World’s First Blood Test To Aid Diagnosis Of Parkinson’s

November 25th 2016


Doctors diagnose as many as 60,000 new cases of Parkinson’s disease (PD) every year in the United States. Yet diagnosing PD with certainty can take years — long after early signs and symptoms have appeared.

The Israeli startup BioShai has a game-changing product on the horizon: PDx, the world’s first simple blood test for the early diagnosis of PD.

The test results can be combined with clinical data, providing a more accurate diagnosis to help physicians decide on the best course of treatment at a much earlier stage.

More than 10 million people worldwide are living with this chronic and progressive movement disorder caused by the malfunction and death of neurons that produce dopamine, a chemical that coordinates the brain’s control of movement and coordination.

“Having a diagnosis at an earlier stage can lead to a more precise treatment and a higher quality of life for the patient,” says BioShai CEO Jennifer Yarden, who has a PhD in medical science and formerly was responsible for clinical and commercial development of diagnostic assays and kits at Glycominds. Yarden is also CEO and cofounder of Curewize Health.


The Weapon's Edge

The Stealthy Gallium War

November 23rd 2016


War is going on over special integrated circuits based on a material called Gallium Nitrite. Winning this war will effect not only the United States national security, but also its ability to protect key global partners in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.
Unfortunately the battle for Gallium Nitrite is very complicated, because the material has extensive commercial as well as military application.

But perhaps the single most important use for Gallium Nitrite is for detecting stealth aircraft and defeating long range weapons including so-called Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missiles launched from aircraft.

The United States is totally committed to stealth as the game changing technology of the present and future.  So deeply is the United States committed, that the only air superiority multi-mission aircraft being produced today is the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).  The JSF is hugely costly and less stealthy than its big brother the F-22, but the F-22 was sacrificed so the JSF program could be financed, so mostly everything going forward hangs on this single airplane.

The Defense Edge

Plants Can Now Be Used to Detect Explosives

November 3rd 2016


Scientists at MIT have successfully bioengineered spinach to wilt if explosive material is detected in groundwater, according to a paper put out in the prestigious Journal of Nature Materials.

The research paper is titled “Nitroaromatic detection and infrared communication from wild-type plants using plant nanobionics.”

Here, we demonstrate that living spinach plants (Spinacia oleracea) can be engineered to serve as self-powered pre-concentrators and autosamplers of analytes in ambient groundwater and as infrared communication platforms that can send information to a smartphone,” the paper’s authors said their introduction.

As the plant absorbs water from the ground it will also absorb the explosive material. Thanks to deliberately created adaptations in the plant’s leaves, the plant will wilt in response to the presence of the explosive compounds.

Fixed sensors nearby will monitor the spinach using infrared technology and will pick up on the change in the plant.  

The project was funded by DARPA, the body of the U.S. military in charge of research and development. It has an annual budget of nearly $3 billion and funds a vast array of different technologies that either have or could potentially have military application. Read more ..

The Digital Edge

IoT Growing Faster Than the Ability to Defend It

November 2nd 2016

Google Glass

With this year’s approaching holiday gift season the rapidly growing “Internet of Things” or IoT—which was exploited to help shut down parts of the Web this past Friday—is about to get a lot bigger, and fast. Christmas and Hanukkah wish lists are sure to be filled with smartwatches, fitness trackers, home-monitoring cameras and other wi-fi–connected gadgets that connect to the internet to upload photos, videos and workout details to the cloud. Unfortunately these devices are also vulnerable to viruses and other malicious software (malware) that can be used to turn them into virtual weapons without their owners’ consent or knowledge.

The recent distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks—in which tens of millions of hacked devices were exploited to jam and take down internet computer servers—is an ominous sign for the Internet of Things. A DDoS is a cyber attack in which large numbers of devices are programmed to request access to the same Web site at the same time, creating data traffic bottlenecks that cut off access to the site. In this case the still-unknown attackers used malware known as “Mirai” to hack into devices whose passwords they could guess, because the owners either could not or did not change the devices’ default passwords. Read more ..

The Edge of Health

The Next Zikas

October 13th 2016

mosquito biting

Disease detectives are on the lookout for obscure viruses that can be spread among people by traveling insects, and quickly become a widespread problem. Scientific papers are filled with illnesses to watch. Four particular viruses now stand out to virologists and epidemiologists, although it is not certain any of the ailments will become the next Zika or West Nile virus. But researchers give several reasons to keep a close eye on this quartet:



“For 10 years now I’ve been thinking that Mayaro is right on the cusp of being able to amplify in humans and being transmitted efficiently by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes,” says Scott Weaver, a virologist  at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. Mayaro causes a disease that is clinically indistinguishable from the mosquito-borne chikungunya virus: fever, chills, rash and the characteristic joint pain that can last longer than a year. It does matter, though, which of these viruses circulates in your body. Once there are vaccines against Mayaro and chikungunya, and drugs to treat them (so far there are none), they will likely be virus-specific.


The Digital Edge

Vehicle-To-Infrastructure Successfully Tested Over 4G Networks

October 11th 2016

Traffic Jam

The Australian telecommunications provider Telstra and telematics group Cohda Wireless have successfully tested a range of Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) applications over 4G networks. V2I, and more general, V2X is regarded as an enabling technology for intelligent connected road transport systems that will in turn open the path to better traffic management with less congestions, coordinated autonomous vehicle operation and more efficient use of the road infrastructure.

During their trials, the partners tested applications involving vehicles talking to infrastructure (such as traffic lights), vehicles communicating with other vehicles, and vehicles talking to vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians. In detail, the applications included alerting a driver to roadworks ahead, giving green light priority to high priority vehicles, and testing optimal green light timing where the vehicle is informed of the optimal speed to approach a traffic light so that that they get a green light when they arrive, therefore allowing a more continuous flow of traffic.


The Edge of Nature

How Israel is Saving the Honeybees

September 28th 2016


Honeybees across the world are in a sticky situation. Their numbers are dwindling dramatically due to colony collapse disorder (CCD) for reasons that are not fully understood. Yet the honeybee population in Israel is holding steady.

That’s great news at this time of year, when sweet Jewish New Year dishes push honey demand to its peak. And most importantly, bees play a crucial role in agriculture by pollinating vegetables and fruits.

Israel takes measures to ensure that its bee population declines no more than 10 percent each year, compared to 30%-50% in the United States, where the problem is so severe that Häagen-Dazs ice cream has donated $1 million to honeybee research since 2008, and President Obama initiated a national strategy to promote bee health.

“We try all kinds of things,” Israeli Honey Board CEO Hertzel Avidor tells ISRAEL21c, such as supporting Israeli research into all the biological and botanical angles on CCD, from boosting bees’ immune systems to developing nectar-rich plants.The council helps Israel’s 500 beekeepers implement innovative tactics to support a collective 110,000 hives.


The Race for IoT

Smart Buildings and IoT

September 15th 2016

Minneapolis skyline

Even though the smart buildings market still suffers from a fragmented ecosystem as proprietary building automation systems continue dominate, ABI Research expects that smart buildings global facility services revenue will grow from $625 million in 2015 to more than $8 billion in 2021.

The bulk of the revenue will stem from North America and Western Europe, as large buildings in these regions implement cloud-based smart building platforms or integrate existing building management systems to smart building platforms.


The Digital Age

Hacking a Car via the Driver's Smartphone

September 6th 2016


In a recently published paper "A Security Analysis of an In Vehicle Infotainment and App Platform", researchers from New York University and George Mason University unveiled the vulnerabilities posed by MirroLink, an industry standard for connecting smartphones to in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) systems.

It is commonplace for car makers to allow the integration of trusted third-party apps with the IVI systems via smartphones, typically through a pair of apps, one that executes on the smartphone and one that executes on the IVI itself connected to the vehicle’s CAN bus.

"To what extent are these apps, protocols and underlining IVI implementations vulnerable to an attacker who might gain control of a driver’s smartphone?" Asked themselves the researchers led by Damon McCoy, an assistant professor of computer science and engineering at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering.


The Edge of Space

Mysterious Signal Prompts SETI Hopes

August 30th 2016

Solar System Birth

A powerful signal has been spotted coming from the vicinity of a sunlike star, and now astronomers are trying to figure out what it means.

In May 2015, researchers using a radio telescope in Russia detected a candidate SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) signal that seems to originate from HD 164595, a star system that lies about 94 light-years from Earth, the website Centauri Dreams reported over the weekend.

The astronomers have not yet published a study about the detection; they plan to discuss it next month at the 67th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Guadalajara, Mexico, according to Centauri Dreams' Paul Gilster, who wrote that one of the team members forwarded him the IAC presentation. [13 Ways to Hunt Intelligent Alien Life]


The Edge of Space

Earth-like and Nearby

August 26th 2016

New Earth Sized Planets

It was just over 20 years ago—a blink of a cosmic eye—that astronomers found the first planets orbiting stars other than our sun. All these new worlds were gas-shrouded giants like Jupiter or Saturn and utterly inhospitable to life as we know it. But for years each discovery was dutifully reported as front-page news, while scientists and the public alike dreamed of a day when we would find a habitable world. An Earth-like place with plentiful surface water, neither frozen nor vaporized but in the liquid state so essential to life. Back then the safe bet was to guess that the discovery of such a planet would only come after many decades, and that when a promising new world’s misty shores materialized on the other side of our telescopes, it would prove too faraway and faint to study in any detail.

Evidently the safe bet was wrong. On Wednesday astronomers made the kind of announcement that can only occur once in human history: the discovery of the nearest potentially habitable world beyond our solar system. This world may be rocky like ours and whirls in a temperate orbit around the sun’s closest stellar neighbor, the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri just over four light-years away. Their findings are reported in a study in Nature. Read more ..

The Race for Smart Cars

Radar-Based Sensor Network Helps Drivers Finding A Parking Spot:

August 19th 2016

car door

Searching for a parking spot can be quite annoying. In particular in urban areas, motorists waste lots of time and fuel on the search for a place where they can leave their vehicle - for a couple of minutes or overnight. A test project in Munich currently puts a radar-based sensor network through its paces that could help drivers to find a parking spot faster and easier.

Motorists in places like Paris, London or Rome are familiar the situation: To find a free parking spot, drivers have to go for miles; at average it takes 4.5 kilometres. According to a recent study from Apcoa, up to 30 percent of the traffic in cities today are accounted to searching for parking lots. A network of radar sensors mounted on lamp post now is the basis for a smart parking management solution currently tested in Munich.


The Race for Connected Cars

Connected Car: Dramatic growth ahead

August 9th 2016

Dashboard for electric car

Already in a few years, the number of connected cars out on the roads will reach a quarter billion. Market research and IT consultant firm Gartner predicts a dramatic growth - and many new business opportunities for hardware and software vendors.

The IoT is currently the big thing in technology, and the automotive version of the IoT is the Connected Car. No wonder the growth is similarly astronomic - and now Gartner came up with figures. By 2015 (that is, during the current year), the number of connected things will reach 4,9 billion units - up 30 percent from 2014. By 2020, this figure will quintuple to 25 billion units, believes Gartner. In this picture, connected cars are a major element. "The connected car is already a reality", said Gartner research director James F. Hines. "and in-vehicle wireless connectivity is rapidly expanding from luxury models and premium brands to high-volume mid-market models."


The Race for Autonomous Cars

Car Hacking Remains a Viable Threat

August 4th 2016

new cars close up

In last year’s hack, which led to Chrysler’s recall for 1.4 million vehicles, Miller and Valasek focused on pulling off “wireless attack” on the Jeep.

The two at that time exploited a Harman “head unit,” which offers a Wi-Fi hot spot — in a 2014 Jeep Cherokee — to get into the vehicle’s network. Later the hackers invaded the car through its cellular connection, via Sprint’s wireless network.

This year, the security experts turned their attention to injecting rogue messages into a vehicle’s CAN bus, which resulted in a full-speed attack on the Jeep’s steering and acceleration.

Instead of getting into the guts of a car wirelessly, Miller and Valasek this year used a laptop directly plugged into the Jeep’s CAN network through a port under its dashboard. They confirmed that they used the patched Jeep for this hacking. Read more ..

The Race for E-Bikes

Battery Technology Drives E-Bike Boom

July 14th 2016


Improvements in lithium ion battery technology are driving a boom in electric bicycle shipments around the world says a new report from market researchers Navigant Research.

Increasing urbanization and a desire to move away from cars for motorized transportation are creating more opportunities for alternative mobility devices such as e-bikes which will be the highest selling electric vehicle globally with nearly 35 million units sold this year. Navigant predicts the market will grow from $15.7 bn this year to $24.3 billion by 2025.

“Rising levels of population density and traffic congestion are driving interest in different modes of transportation,” says Ryan Citron, research analyst at Navigant Research. “E-bikes are uniquely positioned to be a primary benefactor of this trend since they are low in cost relative to cars, do not require licenses to operate, and can take advantage of existing bicycling infrastructure.”


The Edge of the Solar System

Juno Arrives at Jupiter

July 8th 2016


NASA's Juno spacecraft has successfully entered orbit around Jupiter. At 8:53 P.M. Pacific time, ground controllers received a telemetry tone of 2,327 hertz -- equivalent to the highest D note on a piano keyboard—indicating that Juno's 35-minute engine burn had slowed the spacecraft enough to slip into the giant planet’s gravitational embrace. Launched in 2011 on a nearly five-year interplanetary voyage, Juno is only the second spacecraft to ever orbit Jupiter, after the Galileo mission that explored the giant planet from 1995 to 2003. During its capture into orbit Juno passed just 4,490 kilometers above the Jovian cloud tops, so close that the planet filled half its sky. Even so, Jupiter is so immense that an astronaut riding along would have seen only about 5 percent of the planet’s cloud-shrouded face.

At 9:50 P.M., the maneuver was officially complete as the spacecraft turned its solar arrays back toward the sun. “I won't exhale until we’re sun-pointed again,” Juno's principal investigator Scott Bolton had said at a press conference earlier in the day.

The spacecraft plummeted in from interplanetary space over Jupiter's north pole at about 7:30 P.M., falling ever faster as it plunged deeper into the planet’s gravitational field. Just two days ago its speed relative to Jupiter was nine kilometers per second; midday yesterday, 12 kilometers per second; and by the rocket burn, 54 kilometers per second. The burn reduced its speed by just 1 percent, but that was enough. (Theoretically, the spacecraft was captured by the planet at 8:38 P.M., about halfway through the burn, but confirmation did not come until later.) After skimming so close to Jupiter's upper atmosphere, the spacecraft soared back up from the planet’s cloud tops at about 9:30 P.M. into a looping, elongated orbit out to 8.1 million kilometers.


Inside Education

Kudos For Kettering University Professor And Community Vitality Projects

May 30th 2016

Test Tubes

Kettering University has long been known as an adjunct of the automobile and other manufacturing industries. And it has faculty members who are looking squarely into the future and how to put Kettering on the best footing for the way forward. Among them are Dr. Matthew Sanders of the Industrial Engineering department, who is fully engaged in advancing Kettering’s Community Vitality portion of Pillars of Success commitments.
According to a press release, Sanders has been nominated for this year’s Faculty Distinguished Citizenship Award at Kettering in recognition of his work at the university and the surrounding community of Flint. Besides his involvement in many projects involving innovative industrial processes and computer applications, over the last few years, his engagement with community projects has served students, as well as the people of the city of Flint and Genesee County.

The Edge of Medicine

Fast-tracking Innovation for Spinal Correction

May 12th 2016

medicine and money

ApiFix, a Treadlines company, was awarded Best Start-Up 2012 by Israel's Office of the Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Economy for a less invasive, less painful, and less costly option for spine curvature correction. Apifix is developing a truly breakthrough minimally invasive deformity correction system for patients with Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS).

Today’s gold standard for correcting spinal deformities involves fusing an average of 10 motion levels using a large number of screws in a surgical procedure that lasts an average of six hours and costs upward of $100,000. 

As opposed to the current procedure, ApiFix uses only two screws to support its ratchet-based, small expandable rod inserted through a small incision in the patient’s back. In addition to the smaller incision, a shortened surgery time (1 hour vs. 4-6 hours) and reduced hospitalization stay.

I interviewed Uri Arnin, Founder and CEO and chief innovator of ApiFix Ltd. about the success of his company and the distinctive characteristics of the Israeli biotech cluster. “We have close communication between companies of the same field and willingness to assist each other. The same subcontractors and advisers support similar companies and help to share the experience,” Arnin said. “We have a fast turnaround of production cycles, due to personal relationship with suppliers.”   Read more ..

IBM on Edge

Millions in IBM Endicott Pollution Claims Paid

January 15th 2016

Computer chips

IBM has paid several million dollars to hundreds of people who have been seeking compensation for claims related to chemical contamination at the company’s Endicott microelectronics facility. The company and many of the plaintiffs who had taken IBM to court last year agreed to a settlement of the lawsuit filed nearly a decade ago. Endicott Mayor John Bertoni told WNBF News he has heard that compensation checks have been received in recent days. Although IBM reportedly had agreed to pay settlements totaling several million dollars to several hundred plaintiffs, it’s not known how much money is now being paid out. Business owners in the lawsuit received more than owners of residential property near the North Street manufacturing complex.

Two law firms – Levene Gouldin and Thompson of Vestal and Faraci Lange of Rochester – mailed out settlement checks in late December. Some plaintiffs had alleged spills of the chemical TCE may have resulted in illnesses and deaths. The lawsuit also contended property values dropped and nearby businesses were harmed because of the contamination. IBM was founded more than a century ago in Endicott. The company now is based in Westchester County. Read more ..

The Refugee Crisis

It is Possible to Vet Syrian Refugees

January 4th 2016

Syrian Refugees

With the flood of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa overwhelming Europe, and with the Obama administration allowing large numbers to come to the United States, there is a justifiable fear that embedded in the ranks of the refugees are trained terrorists.
Until now, identifying embedded terrorists has been nearly an impossible challenge.  People have called for better "vetting," but to "vet" means to look back at people's history based on their documentation. For most people, certainly for most Syrians, there is no "back" - even a legitimate passport can't be verified with Passport Control in Damascus. With whom would one check local police, employment or education records? Read more ..

The Edge of Medicine

Choose Life: How Israeli Medicine and Biotechnology Will Help Save The World

December 17th 2015

human ovum and sperm

“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live”
Deuteronomy 30:19

On my many trips to Israel as the national chairman of the Jewish National Fund’s Doctors for Israel, I have observed the amazing life-saving and life-enhancing advances of Israeli medicine and discussed the future of medicine and science with many leading scientists.

I visited the makers of Rewalk robotic exoskeleton (featured on the hit TV show “Glee”) that enables paraplegic runners in London and Tel Aviv to complete marathons and spent time at Given Imaging’s PillCam capsule endoscopy company. Among other Israeli medical leaders are Itamar Medical’s fingertip monitors for sleep disorders and cardiac issues, IceCure Medical’s IceSense3 and Surpass Medical’s NeuroEndoGraft.  Read more ..

The Digital Edge

Facebook Unveils Solar-Powered Internet-Beaming Drone

August 3rd 2015

Random Radio Telescope Array

Social networking giant Facebook (Cambridge, MA) has unveiled a full-scale version of its solar-powered drone designed to provide Internet connectivity to remote regions of the world.

Code-named Aquila, and with a wingspan of a Boeing 737, the connected drone is designed to fly for three months at a time - above weather systems and other aircraft - and create about a 30-mile (50-km) communications radius. It will use free-space laser communication technology to send and receive data to other drones and base stations at up to tens of gigabits per second.

According to the company, the drone will fly at a varying altitude of between 60,000 and 90,000 feet (18 to 27 km). During the day it will operate at its maximum height to capture as much of the sun's energy as possible, while at night, when not receiving solar energy, it will descend to its lower altitude to conserve energy. Read more ..

The Edge of Science

Bioengineers Invent Engine Powered By Water Vapor and Artificial Muscles

June 17th 2015

Caribbean Sea Shore

Bioengineers have invented the world’s first engine that runs on energy created from the process of natural water evaporation at room temperature, by utilizing cleverly engineered artificial muscles.

The small device, created by researchers at Columbia University, is a fully functional engine which can generate 1.8 microwatts of energy – enough to power LED lights or even a tiny car – all for the cost of $5. It works by drawing power from a process never considered to be a potential energy source before.

“Engineered systems rarely, if ever, use evaporation as sources of energy, despite myriad examples of such adaptations in the biological world,” a paper published in Nature by a team of authors, including researchers Xi Chen, Ozgur Sahin and others, claimed.


The Aviation Edge

3-D Printed Aircraft Parts Will Save Weight, Fuel Says Study

June 5th 2015

United Airlines jet liner

The team, led by Eric Masanet who heads the Energy and Resource Systems Analysis Laboratory at Northwestern, used aircraft industry data to study the life-cycle environmental effects of using 3-D printing - or 'additive manufacturing' - for building select metal aircraft parts. While 3-D printing has begun to be adopted by the airline industry, the study concluded that widespread adoption of the technique to print lighter and higher-performance aircraft parts could significantly reduce manufacturing waste and the weight of the airplane, resulting in fuel and cost saving as well as a reduction in carbon emissions.

"We have suboptimal designs because we're limited by conventional manufacturing,” Masanet says. “When you can make something in layer-by-layer fashion, those constraints diminish." Read more ..

The Healthy Edge

Cancer Drugs May Prevent Down Syndrome and Fragile X

May 26th 2015

A class of FDA-approved cancer drugs may be able to prevent problems with brain cell development associated with disorders including Down syndrome and Fragile X syndrome, researchers at the University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute have found.

The researchers' proof-of-concept study using fruit fly models of brain dysfunction was published today in the journal eLife. They show that giving the leukemia drugs nilotinib or bafetinib to fly larvae with the equivalent of Fragile X prevented the wild overgrowth of neuron endings associated with the disorder. Meanwhile, the drugs—both tyrosine-kinase inhibitors—did not adversely affect the development or neuronal growth in healthy flies. Read more ..

The Race for Biogas

Backyard Unit Eats Trash to make Biofuel

May 21st 2015

Arab Vendor

When UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visited the sukkah of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin during the Jewish harvest holiday last October, he was treated to a demo of a machine the government has given to Bedouin families to convert organic waste into clean biogas for cooking, heating and lighting, as well as organic liquid crop fertilizer.

"He got very excited and told us, 'Millions of women and children die each year due to indoor smoke from open fires. This is just the thing they need. The UN should be purchasing these units!' recalls Ami Amir of HomeBioGas, which develops and manufactures a new class of anaerobic biodigesters to convert organic waste to clean renewable energy. He asked us to be in touch with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization to see where and when our systems could be deployed.” Read more ..

Technology and Health

Saving Babies' Lives with 3-D Printing Technology

May 15th 2015

Kaiba was just a newborn when he turned blue because his little lungs weren’t getting the oxygen they needed. Garrett spent the first year of his life in hospital beds tethered to a ventilator, being fed through his veins because his body was too sick to absorb food. Baby Ian’s heart stopped before he was even six months old.

Three babies all had the same life-threatening condition: a terminal form of tracheobronchomalacia, which causes the windpipe to periodically collapse and prevents normal breathing. There was no cure and life-expectancies were grim.

The three boys became the first in the world to benefit from groundbreaking 3D printed devices that helped keep their airways open, restored their breathing and saved their lives at the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. Researchers have closely followed their cases to see how well the bioresorable splints implanted in all three patients have worked, publishing the promising results in today’s issue of Science Translational Medicine. Read more ..

The Digital Edge

How about Password-Protected Paper Mail?

May 13th 2015

Paper Stack

In this age of encrypted messaging and secure email services, researchers from the Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT) have demonstrated password-protected paper envelopes that could inform the sender in real-time if the mail has been received by its intended recipient or if it has been opened by a third party. This password-protected envelope is one of three demonstrators developed during the four-year ROPAS (ROll-to-roll PAper Sensors) European project involving 11 partners from research and industry.

Other demonstrators included a security tag to be used for sending physical goods through traditional mail and enabling recipients to check that the box was not opened during transport and that the good is in its genuine package, and a smart label able to measure and record environmental parameters such as humidity and temperature during transport to display them on a display at the push of a button. Read more ..

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