Biomimicry is the art of technology mirroring nature as in this story about seahorse tails inspiring the next generation agile robot.
Even more impressive is this Airbus description of how the water repellant features of the Lotus leaf, the curling wings of the eagle (and their inspiration for winglets in photo), the serrated wings of the owl, the grooves on a shark’s skin and many other features found in nature have influenced aviation.
Living Proof, a line of hair products, was founded by Polaris Venture Partners, the venture capital firm behind generic drugmaker and Ironwood Pharmaceuticals, which makes a recently approved drug for irritable bowel syndrome. Polaris co-founder Jon Flint says he compared ingredients in hair products and realized “they’re basically identical.” He called Robert Langer, a chemical engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who holds about 800 patents and has helped Polaris found companies working on therapies for heart disease, respiratory infections, and cancer.
Langer found the main ingredient in most anti-frizz products is silicone. He says he designed a new lighter, more water-resistant polymer. To help hair appear thicker, Langer delved into a library of polymers his lab had already developed. Polaris then hired five scientists experienced in biotech and cancer research to formulate the actual products. “I don’t necessarily think of it just as beauty. You’re helping with hair care and skin care,” Langer says. “Really, we’re using science for something that can make people happier.”
The varied technology which brings the character to life in The Hobbit - click image twice to enlarge
Time on the progression of the motion capture craft:
Motion-capture technology is being advanced by an increasing number of
studios and directors. A significant non–Weta milestone was The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
(2008), which used motion capture to meld digitally aged versions of
Brad Pitt’s face with other actors’ bodies. Woody Schultz, who played
multiple characters in Avatar and formed a committee on
performance capture at the Screen Actors Guild, calls the technique a
“go-to” for horror and sci-fi flicks. Savvy users are pushing it into
new media too: Schultz is pitching a weekly talk show with a live
performance-capture host and cites live theater as the next frontier.
"Previous biodetection programs relied on continuous daily testing," Hultgren says. "Air filters would be collected every day by hand, and brought to a lab for analysis."
That lab analysis has now been engineered into a suitcase-sized box, and happens on site whenever the triggers detect unusual quantities of a biological agent. "We are aiming to do in 20 minutes what used to take two days," Hultgren says.
Margaret and I went to see the thriller last night. She was really keen on it. I wanted a mindless comedy at the end of the week. I was going to see the first few minutes and switch theatres but I stayed for the whole movie. Glad I did. Amazing amount of use (and abuse) of science and technology on display.
The movie revolves around “gene doping” to create “super spies”. More precisely the director, Tony Gilroy calls it “chromosomal gene doping through a synthetic virus”. So there are plenty of blue, green, yellow pills “chems” and action scenes in labs and pharma shop floors. Of course, there is also plenty of drones and sensors and rifles and passport counterfeiting technology.
One of the most fascinating sequences is when Aaron Cross (the main character) performs self-surgery to fish out a homing sensor (shaped like a pill) embedded in his abdomen, and manages to feed it to an attacking wolf in a vicious fight. The wolf then becomes the target of a drone-fired missile while Aaron buys some time with the illusion that the missile had killed him. Bourne movies stand out for their up -close action sequences. This one has plenty of those but also stunning aerial sequences, especially in the Alaskan snowy, hilly terrains, including the wolf sequence above and in the many Philippines islands.
There is plenty of jargon and science/tech talk through out the movie. In many ways, I felt like I was in the movie “Inception”. So here is a heretic suggestion. Read up on the movie before you go. Or plan to see it twice to enjoy the nuances.
One final note of satisfaction. Director Gilroy wrote (adapted from the Ludlum novels the first 3 Bourne movies). In addition to doing plenty of research for this movie, It is good to see him transition to a bigger role!
Chemists at IBM Research in Almaden, California had previously been looking for a way of performing microscopic etching on silicon wafers at a far smaller scale than was currently possible. In the course of their research, they identified materials that would produce an electrostatic charge when chained together to form a polymer.
While this polymer worked for its intended purpose, the chemists were curious as to whether it could have other applications. This resulted in the creation of what they've dubbed “ninja polymers.” When their components are introduced to the bloodstream (or water), they self-assemble into biocompatible nanostructures – the ninjas – that are electrostatically drawn to infected cells while not affecting healthy ones. Upon reaching the infected cells, they destroy the bacteria, and then subsequently biodegrade. This reportedly results in no side effects or accumulation in the body.
Tercek, 55, didn’t come to the Conservancy (from Goldman) to fight financial brush fires. With the help of his board and the input of the Conservancy’s 600 scientists, he wants to remake the face of the American and global environmental movements. He has no quarrel with the current model -- largely built on the strategies of confront, litigate, regulate. But by itself, that approach has proven inadequate. “All the things we care about - - forests, coral reefs, fish stocks, biodiversity -- we have less of instead of more of, despite everyone’s best efforts,” Tercek says.
Tercek’s biggest bet yet is the Conservancy’s five-year partnership with Dow Chemical Co. (DOW), announced a little more than a year ago. During the project, 20 Conservancy scientists are getting unprecedented access to Dow’s facilities, starting at Dow’s sprawling Freeport, Texas, plant. The idea is to help the chemical giant do an inventory of its global land and water assets as a way of allowing Dow to put a value on its “natural capital” and to determine how to best protect and enhance it.
“I know there’s a lot of skepticism about these corporate initiatives, but for Dow to agree with us philosophically that it relies on nature for business reasons and to begin to put a business value on its natural assets, that’s huge,” says Tercek.
Spurred by a ranking as the country’s fattest city, the city has invested in 3 outdoors gyms. Besides the health benefits, the innovations in equipment that can handle the local heat, humidity and sand are also noteworthy