Computer that operates on water droplets developed

A computer that operates using the unique physics of moving water droplets has been developed by an Indian-origin scientist and his team.

The computer incubated from an idea that struck Manu Prakash, an assistant professor of bioengineering at Stanford University, when he was a graduate student. The work combines his expertise in manipulating droplet fluid dynamics with a fundamental element of computer science – an operating clock.

Prakash and his team decided to build a rotating magnetic field that could act as clock to synchronise all the droplets. Then they carefully injected into the mix individual water droplets that had been infused with tiny magnetic nanoparticles.

Next, they turned on the magnetic field. Every time the field flips, the polarity of the bars reverses, drawing the magnetised droplets in a new, predetermined direction.

A camera records the interactions between individual droplets, allowing observation of computation as it occurs in real time.

The presence or absence of a droplet represents the 1s and 0s of binary code, and the clock ensures that all the droplets move in perfect synchrony, and thus the system can run virtually forever without any errors.

The most immediate application might involve turning the computer into a high-throughput chemistry and biology laboratory. Instead of running reactions in bulk test tubes, each droplet can carry some chemicals and become its own test tube, and the droplet computer offers unprecedented control over these interactions.

The droplet computer can theoretically perform any operation that a conventional electronic computer can crunch, although at significantly slower rates.


World’s Most Precise Quantum Thermometer

A group of scientists from University of Notingham, Washington has come up with the most accurate thermometer ever invented. The details of their study can be found in “Physical Review Letters”. This state-of-the-art invention boasts of its ability to detect the littlest change in temperature.

These minute fluctuations may not yet be named or even defined by the inventors, yet they can surely help in obtaining accurate data, especially in the field of research.

Also, what’s great about this new technology is, aside from the precision, these thermometers can also work in extreme temperatures, making them very useful in places with extremely hot or cold environments. This new development will surely help the science of meteorology and all other studies in their goal in minimizing errors in every research that has something to do with controlling the temperatures and comparing them.

Human-dominated epoch started in 1610

Scientists at University College London have concluded that humans have become a geological power and suggest that human actions have produced a new geological epoch. The human-dominated geological epoch known as the Anthropocene probably began around the year 1610, with an unusual drop in atmospheric carbon dioxide, scientists say. (Anthropocene is a proposed geologic chronological term for an epoch that begins when human activities have had a significant global impact on the Earth’s ecosystems.)

Previous epochs began and ended due to factors including meteorite strikes, sustained volcanic eruptions and the shifting of the continents.

Defining an epoch requires two main criteria to be met. Long-lasting changes to the Earth must be documented. Scientists must also pinpoint and date a global environmental change that has been captured in natural material, such as rocks, ancient ice or sediment from the ocean floor.

Such a marker – like the chemical signature left by the meteorite strike that wiped out the dinosaurs – is called a golden spike.

The study authors systematically compared the major environmental impacts of human activity over the past 50,000 years against these two formal requirements.

Just two dates met the criteria: 1610, when the collision of the New and Old Worlds a century earlier was first felt globally; and 1964, associated with the fallout from nuclear weapons tests. The researchers concluded that 1610 is the stronger candidate.

The scientists said the 1492 arrival of Europeans in the Americas, and subsequent global trade, moved species to new continents and oceans, resulting in a global re-ordering of life on Earth. They argued that the joining of the two hemispheres is an unambiguous event after which the impacts of human activity became global and set Earth on a new trajectory.

The first fossil pollen of maize, a Latin American species, appears in marine sediment in Europe in 1600, becoming common over subsequent centuries. This irreversible exchange of species satisfies the first criteria for dating an epoch – long-term changes to Earth.

The researchers found a golden spike that can be dated to the same time: a pronounced dip in atmospheric carbon dioxide centred on 1610 and captured in Antarctic ice-core records. The drop occurred as a direct result of the arrival of Europeans in the Americas. Colonisation of the New World led to the deaths of about 50 million indigenous people, most within a few decades of the 16th century due to smallpox.

The abrupt near-cessation of farming across the continent and the subsequent re-growth of Latin American forests and other vegetation removed enough carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to produce a drop in CO2.

Thus, the second requirement of a golden spike marker is met, researchers said.

Wireless Implant Eliminates Bacteria, Then Dissolves

Researchers at the University of Tufts and University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana successfully delivered an antibiotic treatment to mice with a bacterial infection with what’s considered to be the first resolvable wireless electronic implant.

The wireless implant, made of silk and magnesium, delivered heat to infected tissue in the mice by a remote wireless signal. After the wireless treatment, the device harmlessly dissolved in the mice. This breakthrough research was recently published online the week of November 24-28, 2014 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Nanobodies to help out in boosting immunity

Targeting difficult-to-reach areas affected by disease could become a lot easier as researchers have developed a new system to make nanobodies, the efficient tiny cousins of antibodies, the defensive proteins deployed by the immune system, more accessible.

Nanobodies could be much more efficient than antibodies in attacking diseased cells, but scientist have so far lacked an efficient way of identifying the nanobodies, which are more closely tuned to their targets.

The researchers determined partial sequences of the amino acids that made up the protein of the nanobodies with a technique known as mass spectrometry.

Using a computer algorithm called “llama magic“, the researchers matched the composition of the highest affinity nanobody with the original genetic sequence.

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via  The Times of India.