Boston Dynamics has recently revealed the latest member of its evolving line of robot creations in a brand-new video of a new Atlas robot. At 1.75m in height, the latest Atlas is much shorter than its previous version, however it is a far more capable machine. Not only is the new Atlas able to operate under its own steam, but it can also operate well both indoors and outside due to its significantly enhanced balancing systems. Compared with its older sibling the new Atlas has new sensors in its body and legs to assist it in balancing, along with LIDAR and stereo-sensing units which make sure that the robot does not bump into any obstacles along the way. The company’s latest video clip reveals the brand-new Atlas walking about confidently inside as well as outside even in rugged snowy terrain. It does stumble about a bit especially on unstable ground but managed to stay upright remarkably well even after completely losing its balance. The new robot also demonstrated its the ability to pick up heavy objects off the ground and place them on adjacent shelving while moving around in an incredibly human way. However, some of the most inspiring scenes centred around how the new Atlas deals with humans making life for it more difficult. In the video, a human is seen using a ice-hockey stick to dislodge a package from the bot's hands, and then forcing the package away so the Atlas has to go after it. Needless to say the robot performs flawlessly and patiently even with all their annoying human antics!
It’s challenging enough for the bird flu virus to move to humans to make the emergence of new strains of the human influenza relatively rare. However, once the virus has managed to cross the species barrier, it is often able to do significant damage, with many strains causing a high mortality rate. Recently, researchers have zeroed in on what turns out to be a very limited route through which avian influenza is able to cross from birds to man, a discovery that might one day prevent the species-crossing altogether. The research study conducted by scientists at Imperial College London looked into just what changes to the virus mediate their ability to infiltrate mammalian cells, with the aim of pinpointing a new pharmaceutical target that could potentially prevent the influenza infection from replicating in humans. The study involved the insertion of various fragments of chicken DNA into mammalian hamster cells to try and discover exactly where as well as how the infection was able to replicate. By observing in which cells the virus was able to take hold, the team were eventually able to identify the ANP32A protein as a potential candidate. ANP32A is a protein that also exists in a slightly different form in mammals including people. What the researchers discovered was that only when the bird influenza viral ANP32A-binding protein changed its molecular structure to a form that can also bind to mammalian form of ANP32A was the virus able to replicate within mammalian cells. This provides an important new target for the pharmaceutical industry to go after to combat the emergence of new strains of avian influenza and might also one day prevent the spread of the more common human influenzas that infect 800 million humans each year.
The well-known padlock company, Master Lock, has recently jumped onto the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) bandwagon with its Bluetooth-enabled smart padlock range. The company says that its smart locks can improve safety and security, streamline sharing amongst several users, and even dispatch intruder notifications to the owner. Unlike other competitors in market space, Master Locks’ padlocks can also be put to use right out of the box and can even be used like a traditional padlock by tapping in 7-digit code on a clever keypad of 4 ‘directional’ keys. But downloading the iOS or Android app lets your phone be the passkey for the locks and really allows the padlocks to work to their full potential. Once set up, your phone can be can easily used to open the padlocks by touching the padlock itself, or via a swipe within the app depending upon your preference. Sharing access is also where the Master Lock Smart Padlocks truly come into their own allowing one to send digital ‘passkeys’ to anyone with a smart mobile device and give them either complete access or access at certain times of the day. It also allows one to withdraw access at any time, and importantly keeps track of padlock access history by keeping detailed records of whenever it is opened and also by whom. Unlike its less-intelligent brethren, the smart locks also records foiled attempts to open them. So if you’ve already jumped onto the IoT bandwagon then Master Lock’s new smart padlocks might be one more necessary tool to add to your ‘smart gadget’ armoury.
Researchers are more and more relying on nanotechnology to develop new strategies in the fight against cancer, but one such technique under experimentation at North Carolina State University (NCSU) takes its cue directly from Hollywood. The NCSU scientists have produced “Nano-Terminators” which are liquid metal particles that specifically attack tumour cells. The procedure starts with gallium indium alloy, a liquid metal the group have previously shown capable of changing its shape through changes in its surface tension. In this study, the team combined the metal alloy with 2 kinds of ligand molecules and used ultrasound to split the liquid metal into small 100nm beads which then bound to the two types of ligands. An oxidised layer of metal formed around the liquid metal beads preventing them from binding back together again. Following this, doxorubicin, a drug used in cancer therapy, was then blended into the mixture. One of the ligand molecule types attached to the cancer medicine, while the other ligand was responsible for pinpointing the tumour cells so that its toxic contents can be delivered to the intended target. Using mice that develop cancer, the group demonstrated that the Nano-Terminators were taken in by their malignant tumours cells and were disrupted by the acidity inside the cells. This resulted in the discharge of the doxorubicin, killing the malignant tumours cells with little or no collateral toxicity. Arnold would be so proud!
The X-Carve CNC machine is one of a number of CNC devices to hit the maker space in recent months. It is created by Chicago-based company, Inventables, which has had the brilliant idea of making it configurable, unlike its competitors. Inventables previously created a small CNC machine developed for the desktop which was called Carvey and which was a crowdfunding success. The X-Carve is Inventables’ latest desktop CNC machine and can produce accurate parts from a plethora of materials including plastic, cork, foam, wax, metal, timber, paper, cardboard, and many others. Developed for the home or work studio, the X-Carve is both expandable and customisable, meaning that if a maker currently owns an Inventables machine, they can simply update their current device by incorporating fresh parts to make the bigger machine. The X-Carve is supplied in two sizes, standard and large, both of which are reliable at precision-milling parts down to a resolution of 0.075mm. The Standard X-Carve has a work area of approximately 30cm x 30cm x 7cm, and for its larger brother, parts as big as 80cm x 80cm x 7cm can be precision crafted. But what makes X-Carve really special is that it can be configured into any size or shape the buyer wishes and with each one of the machine’s components available individually, creators can just buy only what they need. Go Inventables!
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