Month: November, 2018

According To The Doctors, Google Contact Lens To Monitor Diabetes Holds Promise

Google has come up with another wearable eye device, this time a lens made out of soft contact material that might help diabetes patients keep track of their glucose levels.

The company revealed a functional prototype Jan. 16 that doctors are saying has the potential to replace not only the current continuous glucose monitors implanted under the skin, but perhaps one day even the painful finger-pricking blood tests.

The so-called smart lens, a tiny wireless computer chip that contains a glucose sensor and an antenna thinner than a strand of hair, is implanted between soft contact lens material, which is worn on the surface of the eye.

The lens is powered by tapping into radio waves in the air and is designed to send data to a smart phone or other device.

Glucose levels change frequently with normal activity like exercising or eating or even sweating. Sudden spikes or precipitous drops are dangerous and not uncommon, requiring round-the-clock monitoring,” say Google [x] co-founders Brian Otis and Babak Parviz.

The gold standard for testing the presence of glucose is doing a quick blood test. But traces of glucose can also be found in bodily fluids under the skin and in the eyes.




But because changes in glucose levels can be so abrupt, there may be a lag time in detection in the eyes, according to endocrinologists.

The company said these are “early days” in its research. More would need to be known about the correlation between tear and blood glucose and what the lag time is in detection, as well as how the environment, such as heat and wind, can affect tears.

Dr. Gerald Bernstein, director of the Friedman Diabetes Institute at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City, said the idea is “terrific, if it can be done.”

The key is whether the device measures just the tears on the outside of the eye or the aqueous humor, the thin, watery fluid that fills the space between the cornea and the iris.

Aqueous fluid is “a more predictable reflection of the blood sugar,” he said. “And don’t forget, this is bodily fluid and not exactly what is in the blood.

The concept is not new, according to Bernstein. Several years ago, he consulted with an Albuquerque, N.M., company to measure glucose in the aqueous humor.

Those scientists used a low-level laser that could safely send light through the fluid in the front chamber of the eye to record the blood sugar.

It was used for patients undergoing surgery so doctors could continuously read blood sugar levels.

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The Boring Company Has Completed Digging Its First Tunnel

Elon Musk’s Boring Company reached a new milestone this week: it completed digging out its first tunnel in LA.

Musk posted a video of the breakthrough to his Twitter account, showing off the machine reaching the end point, which the company calls O’Leary Station.

The video shows a crowd assembled at the end point watching as the machine breaks through.




In October, the Boring Company Twitter account posted an image of the station, which ArsTechnica notes is named for a SpaceX/Boring Company employee who recently passed away.

Work on the 2-mile test tunnel began last year, and earlier this month, Musk posted a time-lapse video of his walk down its length, saying that the the tunnel is still expected to open to the public on December 10th.

The company has some big plans for the area: it plans to dig additional tunnels, and recently got approval to build a prototype tunnel that would allow the company to transport a car from the garage to the tunnel.

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Scientists Reveal The Mystery Behind Wombat’s Cube-Shaped Poop Droppings

The Australian marsupial can pass up to 100 deposits of poop a night and they use the piles to mark territory. The shape helps it stop rolling away.

Despite having round anuses like other mammals, wombats do not produce round pellets, tubular coils or messy piles.

Researchers revealed on Sunday the varied elasticity of the intestines help to sculpt the poop into cubes.

The first thing that drove me to this is that I have never seen anything this weird in biology. That was a mystery,” Georgia Institute of Technology’s Patricia Yang said.

After studying the digestive tracts of wombats put down after road accidents in Tasmania, a team led by Ms Yang presented its findings at the American Physical Society Division of Fluid Dynamics’ annual meeting in Atlanta.

We opened those intestines up like it was Christmas,” said co-author David Hu, also from Georgia Tech.


The team compared the wombat intestines to pig intestines by inserting a balloon into the animals’ digestive tracts to see how it stretched to fit the balloon.

In wombats, the faeces changed from a liquid-like state into a solid state in the last 25% of the intestines – but then in the final 8% a varied elasticity of the walls meant the poop would take shape as separated cubes.

This, the scientists explain, resulted in 2cm (0.8in) cube-shaped poops unique to wombats and the natural world.

The marsupial then stacks the cubes – the higher the better so as to communicate with and attract other wombats.

We currently have only two methods to manufacture cubes: We mould it, or we cut it. Now we have this third method,” Ms Yang said.

It would be a cool method to apply to the manufacturing process,” she suggested, “how to make a cube with soft tissue instead of just moulding it.

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Could We Clone Ourselves?

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Human cloning has been a hot topic since the first mammal, Dolly the sheep, was cloned in 1996. And while no human clones have been made – that we know of – the research into cloning is saving lives through stem cell therapy.

My Brain Thinks I’m Dead

On Nov. 5, 2013, Esmé Weijun Wang came to the remarkable conclusion that she was dead.

In the weeks prior to this, she had begun to feel increasingly fractured — like being scatterbrained, but to such an extreme that she felt her sense of reality was fraying at the edges.

She had started to lose her grip on who she was and on the world around her. Desperate to fend off what appeared to be early signs of psychosis, Wang went into a soul-searching and organizational frenzy.

She read a self-help book that was supposed to help people discover their core beliefs and desires; she ordered and scribbled in five 2014 datebook planners, reorganized her work space and found herself questioning her role as a writer.

Then one morning, Wang woke her husband before sunrise with an incredible sense of wonder and tears of joy to tell him it all made sense to her now: She had actually died a month before, although at the time she had been told she merely fainted.

I was convinced that I had died on that flight, and I was in the afterlife and hadn’t realized it until that moment,” said Wang, now 32, who was convinced her husband and their dog Daphne were dead as well.

“That was the beginning of when I was convinced that I was dead. But I wasn’t upset about it, because I thought that I could do things [in my life] over and do them better.




 

Her husband assured her that she — and he — were very much alive, an assertion she dismissed. But as the days passed, her bliss turned into total despair.

She lost all desire to work, talk or eat — because what’s the point when you’re already dead?

For almost two months, Wang suffered from Cotard’s syndrome, in which patients think they are dead or somehow nonexistent.

Any attempts to point out evidence to the contrary — they are talking, walking around, using the bathroom — are explained away.

French neurologist Jules Cotard first described the syndrome in the 1800s as a type of depression characterized by anxious melancholia and delusions about one’s own body.

In a case report published in 1880, Cotard wrote of a 43-year-old woman who “affirms she has no brain, no nerves, no chest, no stomach, no intestines . . . only skin and bones of a decomposing body.”

Although the condition is not classified as a separate disorder in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, there have been plenty of anecdotal accounts of what has been sensationalized as “walking corpse syndrome” and “life as a zombie.

Doctors who treat the condition say Cotard’s syndrome is a real illness, with patients believing they are dead and, like Wang, feeling extremely depressed, anxious and suicidal.

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Samsung Foldable Phone: Everything We Know So Far

Think the Samsung Edge display was cool? Something cooler is on the way.

We’ve been hearing about foldable displays for a number of years, and Samsung finally gave us an idea of what a phone with this technology will look like at its annual Samsung Developer Conference.

Information about the phone, which has been rumored to be called the Galaxy X or Galaxy F (not to be confused with the Galaxy S10 that we also anticipate), has slowly been trickling out over the last year or two.

We’ll be referring to it as Samsung’s foldable phone to keep things simple until an official name is revealed. Here’s everything we think we know about it so far.




Release and price

We expect the new device to be out at some point in the first half of 2019. It may make an appearance at CES in January, or Samsung may wait until Mobile World Congress, which is in February.

The latest rumor, courtesy of the South Korean Yonhap News Agency, states the phone will be announced at Mobile World Congress in February 2019 and released the following month.

When it comes to price, however, things are even more unknown — all we really have right now is speculation. Expect to pay a high price for the phone.

Kim Jang-yeol, head of research at Golden Bridge Investment, says the phone could cost as much as 2 million won at release, Korea Times reports. In the U.S., that converts to about $1,850.

This is similar to the Royole Flexpai, a folding smartphone with a small production run.

Specifications

While Samsung did discuss the display at the Samsung Developer Conference, it did not go into the specs under the hood. To date, there’s only one rumor about specs for the upcoming Samsung foldable phone.

The prolific (and usually accurate) Samsung leaker Ice Universe said the upcoming phone will feature a 7nm processor.

Design

Unfortunately, Samsung didn’t reveal too much about the design of the phone, beyond the display and what it can do, but we do know that you’ll be able to use the phone when it’s folded up as well, and it will act like a traditional smartphone in this mode.

Samsung also announced it’s working with Google to develop a new user interface for Android on its smartphone — dubbed OneUI — and it will allow for features specific to foldable phones.

All of these announcements were made at Samsung’s developer conference, meaning the company still needs third-party developers to bring foldable phone support to their apps.

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Scientist Have Discovered A Massive Crater Hides Beneath Greenland’s Ice

There’s something big lurking beneath Greenland’s ice. Using airborne ice-penetrating radar, scientists have discovered a 31-kilometer-wide crater — larger than the city of Paris — buried under as much as 930 meters of ice in northwest Greenland.

The meteorite that slammed into Earth and formed the pit would have been about 1.5 kilometers across, researchers say.

That’s large enough to have caused significant environmental damage across the Northern Hemisphere, a team led by glaciologist Kurt Kjær of the University of Copenhagen reports November 14 in Science Advances.

Although the crater has not been dated, data from glacial debris as well as ice-flow simulations suggest that the impact may have happened during the Pleistocene Epoch, between 2.6 million and 11,700 years ago.

The discovery could breathe new life into a controversial hypothesis that suggests that an impact about 13,000 years ago triggered a mysterious 1,000-year cold snap known as the Younger Dryas.




Members of the research team first spotted a curiously rounded shape at the edge of Hiawatha Glacier in northwest Greenland in 2015, during a scan of the region by NASA’s Operation IceBridge.

The mission uses airborne radar to map the thickness of ice at Earth’s poles. The researchers immediately suspected that the rounded shape represented the edge of a crater, Kjær says.

For a more detailed look, the team hired an aircraft from Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute that was equipped with ultra-wideband radar, which can send pulses of energy toward the ice at a large number of frequencies.

Using data collected from 1997 to 2014 from Operation Icebridge and NASA’s Program for Arctic Regional Climate Assessment, as well as 1,600 kilometers’ worth of data collected in 2016 using the ultra-wideband radar, the team mapped out the inner and outer contours of their target.

The object is almost certainly an impact crater, the researchers say. “It became clear that our idea had been right from the beginning,” Kjær says.

What’s more, it is not only the first crater found in Greenland but also one of the 25 or so largest craters yet spotted on Earth. And it has held its shape beautifully, from its elevated rim to its bowl-shaped depression.

Those data clearly suggest that the impact is at least 11,700 years old, Kjær says.

And the rim of the crater appears to cut through a preexisting ancient river channel that must have flowed across the land before Greenland became covered with ice about 2.6 million years ago.

That time span — essentially, the entire Pleistocene Epoch — is a large range.

The team is working on further narrowing the possible date range, with more sediment samples, simulations of the rate of ice flow and possibly cores collected from within the crater.

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Walmart Agrees To Work With Ford On Self-Driving Grocery Deliveries

Ford is working with Postmates and Walmart on a pilot program for self-driving grocery deliveries, the companies announced on Wednesday.

We are exploring how self-driving vehicles can deliver many everyday goods such as groceries, diapers, pet food and personal care items,” Ford said in a press release.

The grocery delivery pilot experiment will be based in Miami, where Ford’s self-driving car company, Argo, is already testing self-driving vehicles. Ford had been testing self-driving deliveries with Postmates prior to this announcement.

Like most car companies, Ford is racing to develop fully autonomous vehicle technology. But Ford has been more proactive than most of its competitors in exploring the non-technical aspects of a self-driving car service.

Last year, I got to sit in the seat suit of a fake self-driving car Ford was using to test pedestrian reactions to self-driving car technology.

Ford also experimented with delivering pizzas with mock-driverless vehicles in a partnership with Dominos.




Ford’s collaboration with Postmates over the last few months has been focused on figuring out the best way for customers to interact with a delivery vehicle.

Driverless cars won’t have a driver to carry deliveries to the customer’s door, so self-driving vehicles will need some kind of locker that customers can open to remove their merchandise.

Ford has been experimenting with multi-locker delivery vans, allowing its cars to serve multiple customers on a single trip—without worrying about one customer swiping another’s deliveries.

Ford also announced last month that Washington, DC would be the second city where Argo will be preparing to launch a commercial service in 2021 (in addition to Miami).

Ford has worked hard to cultivate relationships with local government officials, with Mayor Muriel Bowser attending last month’s announcement on DC’s waterfront.

Ford is betting that all of these preparations will help the company scale up quickly once its self-driving technology is ready.

That’s important because Ford appears to be significantly behind the market leaders: Waymo (which is aiming to launch a commercial service this year) and GM’s Cruise (aiming to launch in 2019).

But it’s also a risky strategy because if Argo’s technology isn’t ready on time, then all of Ford’s careful planning could turn out to be wasted effort.

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The Most Inbred People Of All Time | Random Thursday

From the most powerful royalty in history to an uncontacted village in New York State, we’re talking about some of the most inbred people of all time.

The Blue Fugates of Kentucky were an isolated group of settlers who, through a rare recessive gene, developed blue skin. Due to their blue skin and their isolated location, they began to inbreed, eventually becoming something of a local legend – the blue hillbillies that live in the woods – until they reappeared in the 1960s.

Allentown, New York, is a village in New York State that was cut off from the rest of society after a dam flooded the valley where they lived. They call their community The Hollow, but outsiders call it Allentown because almost everybody there is from the same family.

The Habsburgs of Europe were one of the most powerful families in history, ruling over the Holy Roman Empire in Eastern Europe until the early 20th century. But one segment of the Habsburgs in Spain, known as the Spanish Habsburgs, participated in incest and inbreeding for so long that they developed The Habsburg Jaw – a genetic deformity that got so bad that many could barely speak. It was Charles II of Spain that finally put an end to this practice because he was so inbred that he couldn’t reproduce.

And the Egyptian royal family of ancient Egypt practiced inbreeding for over a thousand years because they believed that the only person who could mate with a pharaoh was someone else from their family – they were living gods after all. By the time King Tutankhamen was born, their lineage was so ruined that he had multiple genetic deformities and died at only 18.

A Frozen Super-Earth Is Close But You Won’t Want To Visit It

Night by night, star by star, astronomers are edging ever closer to learning just how crowded our universe really is—or at least our galaxy, anyway.

A quarter century after the first exoplanets were found orbiting other stars, statistics from the thousands now known have revealed that, on average, each and every stellar denizen of the Milky Way must be accompanied by at least one world.

Look long and hard enough for a planet around any given star in our galaxy and you are practically guaranteed to find something sooner or later.

But even a crowded universe can be a lonely place. Our planet-rich Milky Way may prove to be life-poor. Of all the galaxy’s known worlds, only a figurative handful resemble Earth in size and orbit.

Each occupying a nebulous “Goldilocks” region of just-rightness—a fairy-tale-simple ideal in which a world is neither too big nor too small, neither too hot nor too cold, to sustain liquid water and life on its surface.

Instead, most of the Milky Way’s planets are worlds theorists failed to predict and have yet to fit comfortably in any conception of habitability: “super-Earths” bigger than our familiar planet but smaller than Neptune.

No super-Earths twirl around our sun for solar system–bound scientists to directly study, making it that much harder to know whether any elsewhere are Goldilocks worlds—or, for that matter, whether any one-size-fits-all metric of habitability is hopelessly naive.




A Frozen Super-Earth?

If you live in a city of millions of people, you are not interested in meeting every one of them—but maybe you want to meet your immediate neighbors,” says lead author Ignasi Ribas, an astronomer at the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia in Spain.

“This is what we are doing for the planetary systems of the stars that surround us. Otherwise we cannot answer the big questions. How does our solar system and our Earth fit in with the rest of the galaxy?

“Are there other habitable or inhabited planets? Barnard’s Star b is not giving us those answers just yet, but it is telling us part of the story we need to know.”

Located in the constellation of Ophiuchus, Barnard’s Star is so dim in visible light that it cannot be seen with unaided eyes.

Yet it has been a favorite of astronomers since 1916, when measurements revealed its apparent motion across the sky was greater than that of any other star relative to our sun.

A sign of its extremely close cosmic proximity. The star’s nearness to us is only temporary—within tens of thousands of years, its trajectory will have swept it out of our solar system’s list of top five closest stars.

According to Ribas and his colleagues, the candidate planet is at least three times heavier than our own, and circles its star in a 233-day orbit.

That would put it in the torrid orbital vicinity of Venus around our yellow sun, but Barnard’s Star is a comparatively pint-size and dim red dwarf star.

This means its newfound companion is near the “snow line,” the boundary beyond which water almost exclusively exists as frozen ice—a region around other stars thought to be chock-full of planets, but that astronomers have only just begun to probe for small worlds.

Alternatively, the planet might be covered by a thick, insulating blanket of hydrogen leftover from its birth in a spinning disk of gas and dust around its star.

Although hydrogen on smaller, hotter worlds would dissipate into space, super-Earths in frigid orbits might manage to hang on to enough of the gas to build up a massive planet-warming greenhouse effect—a possibility that throws Earth-centric Goldilocks ideas into tumult.

If this mechanism operates on Barnard’s Star b or other cold super-Earths, “our dreams that every star may have a habitable planet could well come true,” says Sara Seager, a planet-hunting astrophysicist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was not involved with Ribas’s study.

“There are some crazy worlds out there.”

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