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Showing posts with the label Future

Future deafness treatments will be genetic in nature

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As per estimates released in 2015, Deafness or hearing loss affects 1.1 billion people globally. There are many causes of deafness ranging from trauma to the ear to severe infections, developmental issues as well as exposure to noise. However, 80% of deafness cases are non-syndromic i.e. do not show any other symptoms such as ear malformations and are also genetic in nature. 
Cochlear implants have met a lot of success in recent years but come with its own set of benefits and risks and are definitely not a permanent cure. Like with any other genetic condition, deafness, too, has been known to be non-curable. But recently published research puts hope on the horizon for patients with deafness that gene editing technology could one day become mainstream and allow treatment for genetic deafness. 
Gene Editing technologies have taken the scientific world by storm in the recent years. Among these, CRISPR - Cas 9 system has gained quite a reputation for itself. What was published as general…

Life without Air conditioners - even in summers! [Coffee-byte]

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While a good part of the Western hemisphere spends tons of gas in heating their homes, the Eastern hemisphere is quickly becoming a major consumer of electricity for purposes of cooling their homes and offices. As temperatures soared over the last summer often crossing the 40oC mark in India, millions of Indians turned to their air conditioners remotes to cool themselves and their surroundings. But can developing economies with polluted atmospheres continue to burn coal and other fossil fuels to keep themselves cool? The natural alternate would be use solar or tidal sources of energies or simply rethink our designs and try to cool the individual rather than his surrounding. This is the line of thinking that the Department of Material Sciences and Engineering followed at the University of Stanford under the aegis of Prof. Yi Cui. 
Perspiration is our body's natural mechanism to cool itself. When temperatures soar, the body starts perspiring to maintain its temperature around the nor…

5 things driverless cars will do to change our future?

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The race for building the world’s first commercially available driverless car is on. Google seems to be leading the pack and in its own charismatic style has been very open about it. Elon Musk’s Tesla is considered the second best with their cars having almost automated the driving process. Tech favourites, Apple also seem to be in the race but everything is under wraps, as of now, and there is not even a hint of what Apple is planning to make, the car, the software or simply make the car accessible with your Apple ID.
Once part of science fiction, driverless cars will soon be a part of our lives and with major automobile manufacturers such as General Motors, Toyota, Ford investing in the technology, prototypes of driverless cars will soon be seen on the roads. Before we get there, a quick review.
The Driverless car
The concept of automated driving has been around for close to a century but progress was slow due to unavailability of technology. For a car to be autonomous, it needs to kno…

A Wall-E Future?

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Set in the year 2805, WALL-E sent the world in a wave of "aweee"s as movie goers came out of the theatres overwhelmed with gestures of the cute little bot. While WALL-E (short for Waste Allocation Load Lifter -Earth class) was conceptualized to sort out wastes on planet Earth while its irresponsible future inhabitants cruised around the world, little are we realising that slowly and surely, we are moving towards a future, quite alike the movie, WALL-E. 
It is likely that our readers are thinking on the lines of how we are polluting our Earth and the rampant deforestation that accompanies the "development" of our civilization, but today we would like to talk about automation instead and how we are moving towards a future that includes having robots in our daily lives. 
Smartness is a quality no longer limited to phones and television sets but something that has moved further to devices. As we become used to the Internet of Things as it is developing around us, it is a…

How Jackie Chan helped make solar cells better?

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Supercop (Photo credit: Wikipedia)As the world warms up to using solar panels and harnessing the immense energy that is reflected back from the Earth everyday, there are still some major hurdles that we need to overcome before we can rely on this technology for all our energy needs.
Cost of solar panels has been a major point of debate but as governments around the world are encouraging consumers to adopt this technology, there are considerable grants pouring in to reduce the cost of installing solar panels and that is welcome relief.
The efficiency of the solar panel itself has been questioned on many occasions. General estimates of efficiency of solar panels has been put at 10-15%, which basically means that
these expensive panels are only capable of converting 10-15% of light incident on them into electricity.  Unarguably, this does sound quite low.  And has been picked up by detractors of renewable energy to ridicule. 
But did you know that the efficiency of gasoline powered engines st…

Fish on Wheels

For all those who pet lovers, who would love their pet fish to be with them at all times, Studio Diip, a Netherlands based startup lets you buy a unique aquarium that will let your fish steer in any direction it wants.

By using advanced computer vision technology, entrepreneurs at Studio Diip, were able to design an aquarium with wheels which moves in the same direction as the fish moves in the tank.

Here is the video of how the technology works!




Unfortunately, the company could not find enough investors for this crazy idea and the project has been stalled for a while. But in case you have deep pockets and the zeal to let your fish drive around the house, do contact the team at Studio Diip to get this project started once again!

5 reasons why 'Three Person IVF' is not really worth the trouble?

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The introduction of 'In vitro fertilization' technique in the field of reproductive medicine came as a boon for thousands of couples who, until then, were left helpless by their inability to conceive. The hard work of Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards in developing this technique bore fruit in 1977, when Lousie Brown, the world's first 'test-tube baby' was born in Manchester.
This moment in history was glorified recently in the year 2010, when Edwards was given the Nobel Prize in Medicine. By now, the technique had helped thousands of families all over the globe and become simply known as IVF to one and all. But within a few years from this glorious moment, we are looking at yet another breakthrough in reproductive medicine, which goes much further than what IVF achieved. Instead of just fertilizing the eggs in a petri-dish, a 'The 'Three Person IVF' allows for fertilization of an egg, using DNA from three people, the father, the mother and a donor. The…

Familial traits, disease risks and now, Faces!

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How very often do we see forensic experts on TV, nab the killer using trace amounts of DNA that were found on the carpet or victim’s clothing? While these actors convincingly make the process seem very simple and quick, it is only the people who work in the area of forensics know how difficult and tedious the entire process is. The trick is not only in getting that little amount of blood/ saliva/ skin sample from the crime scene but also having a sturdy database of DNA markers such as CODIS to compare the results against. Without a database (which, not to forget, takes years of data gathering to make), even with bucket loads of DNA to test, a forensic expert would not be able to link the the suspect to the crime scene.
But what if we told you that one could now simply get a 3D sketch of the person whose DNA was found at the crime scene. Wouldn’t that make the job of forensic experts and the cops much easier. Well, recent study published under the guidance of Dr. Mark Shriver of the Pe…

Oh Mighty Chondria, who art thou?

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Mitochondria are organelles surrounded by membranes, distributed in the cytosol of most eukaryotic cells. Its main function is the conversion of potential energy of pyruvate molecules into ATP. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) The term 'mitochondria' is not alien to many. School level science introduced us to it, where we were told that these thread-granules (literal translation from Greek) were the power houses of the cell. They make energy in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), something that the cells can use and that was all we ever needed to know. But these organelles have their own history and their own secrets that are so grave, that they would even put a Dan Brown novel to shame. Well, let us begin with some history.
Background (we have been outsourcing since the begining of time!!- it seems)
Although, we are very comfortable with the concept of mitochondria supplying power to the cell, many are surprised, when they get to know that the mitochondria were not originally a…

Lightning charges Nokia Lumia!

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Although it sounds like an advertisement for the mobile company, it is the work of the researchers at the University of Southampton that is creditable. Prompted by the phone company, the researchers attempted to charge a mobile phone using lightning as the source of energy.
Lightning strikes the Earth around 40-50 times per second and each lightning bolt carries anywhere between 1000 - 5000 joules of energy, enough to send a tennis ball at 23,000 km per hour.  While we are aware of the energy potential of lightning, we have never managed to harness this energy because we do not know how to control it (much like Fire was for a man of Stone Age).  Through these efforts, Nokia and The University of Southampton are looking for ways to harness this energy and also charge phones wirelessly. (You can read more about it in our previous post, about wireless charging).
While we might be decades away from harnessing this energy successfully for everyday use, it does make for an interesting vide…

Is Sci-Fi turning into reality? The Story of Suspended Animation

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From sleeping beauty to dragons; grizzly bears and squirrels to viruses and bacteria, hibernation seems like nature’s best way to keep tough times at bay. Come to think of it, the idea of putting the protagonist in sci-fi movies, in a state of suspended animation in order to transport him to far off planets or reemerge when the time is right is not something unimaginable. This hyper sleep that the characters are put through is something that happens quite a lot in nature!
If you are getting a little confused with the whole concept, let me put it simply- hibernation (or hyper sleep) is when an organism’s metabolic activity is reduced to the minimum (almost zero), where by it enters a state of suspended animation. In mammals there is a drop in temperature (almost 2-4 degree C), oxygen consumption drops down to 2% and there is a serious fall in the heart rate as well. And how does it help, you may ask, well imagine you are waiting your turn to get a table in a fancy restaurant on a Saturd…