Detecting off-target effects of CRISPR gene-editing

In amidst all the hyperbole about CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats), the gene editing technology, you will sometimes find a mild cautionary note. It seems that CRISPR is not as precise as you might think. Some months ago there was a story about research into detecting possible unanticipated (off target) effects from using CRISPR, from an April 19, 2019 news item on ScienceDaily, Since the CRISPR genome editing technology was invented in 2012,…

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Colo(u)r-changing building surfaces thanks to gold nanoparticles

Gold, at the nanoscale, has different properties than it has at the macroscale and research at the University of Cambridge has found a new way to exploit gold’s unique properties at the nanoscale according to a May 13, 2019 news item item on ScienceDaily, The smallest pixels yet created — a million times smaller than those in smartphones, made by trapping particles of light under tiny rocks of gold — could be used for new…

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Electronics begone! Enter: the light-based brainlike computing chip

At this point, it’s possible I’m wrong but I think this is the first ‘memristor’ type device (also called a neuromorphic chip) based on light rather than electronics that I’ve featured here on this blog. In other words, it’s not, technically speaking, a memristor but it does have the same properties so it is a neuromorphic chip. Caption: The optical microchips that the researchers are working on developing are about the size of a one-cent…

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Congratulations Nic

Congratulations to Nic Durish, MSc Computer Science student, who was recently announced as the recipient of the 2018/2019 School of Computer Science Teaching Assistant Award. Nic was nominated for his continued contributions to teaching, learning, and leadership in the School. I have had the pleasure of working with Nic for many years now – bothContinue reading "Congratulations Nic"

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Bad battery, good synapse from Stanford University

A May 4, 2019 news item on ScienceDaily announces the latest advance made by Stanford University and Sandia National Laboratories in the field of neuromorphic (brainlike) computing, The brain’s capacity for simultaneously learning and memorizing large amounts of information while requiring little energy has inspired an entire field to pursue brain-like — or neuromorphic — computers. Researchers at Stanford University and Sandia National Laboratories previously developed one portion of such a computer: a device that…

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Automated science writing?

It seems that automated science writing is not ready—yet. Still, an April 18, 2019 news item on ScienceDaily suggests that progress is being made, The work of a science writer, including this one, includes reading journal papers filled with specialized technical terminology, and figuring out how to explain their contents in language that readers without a scientific background can understand.Now, a team of scientists at MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology] and elsewhere has developed a…

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Elements of biological computation & stochastic thermodynamics of life

This week, I was visiting the Santa Fe Institute for a workshop organized by Albert Kao, Jessica Flack, and David Wolpert on “What is biological computation?” (11 – 13 September 2019). It was an ambitious question and I don’t think that we were able to answer it in just three days of discussion, but I think that we all certainly learnt a lot. At least, I know that I learned a lot of new things.…

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Dessert or computer screen?

Scientists at Japan’s University of Osaka have a technique for creating higher resolution computer and smart phone screens from the main ingredient for a dessert, nata de coco. From the nata de coco Wikipedia entry (Note: Links have been removed), Nata de coco (also marketed as “coconut gel”) is a chewy, translucent, jelly-like food produced by the fermentation of coconut water,[1] which gels through the production of microbial cellulose by ‘Komagataeibacter xylinus’. Originating in the…

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Brainlike computing with spintronic devices

Adding to the body of ‘memristor’ research I have here, there’s an April 17, 2019 news item on Nanowerk announcing the development of ‘memristor’ hardware by Japanese researchers (Note: A link has been removed), A research group from Tohoku University has developed spintronics devices which are promising for future energy-efficient and adoptive computing systems, as they behave like neurons and synapses in the human brain (Advanced Materials, “Artificial Neuron and Synapse Realized in an Antiferromagnet/Ferromagnet…

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Needle-free tattoos, smart and otherwise

Before getting to the research news from the University of Twente (Netherlands), there’s this related event which took place on April 18, 2019 (from the Future Under Our Skin webpage (on the University of Twente website) Note: I have made some formatting changes, Why this event? Our skin can give information about our health, mood and surroundings. Medical and recreational tattoos have decorated humans for centuries. But we can inject other materials besides ink, such…

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