Connect with us

Science

world’s first living, self-healing robots

Published

on

Named xenobots after the African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis) from which they take their stem cells, the machines are less than a millimeter (0.04 inches) wide — small enough to travel inside human bodies. They can walk and swim, survive for weeks without food, and work together in groups.
These are “entirely new life-forms,” said the University of Vermont, which conducted the research with Tufts University.
Stem cells are unspecialized cells that have the ability to develop into different cell types. The researchers scraped living stem cells from frog embryos, and left them to incubate. Then, the cells were cut and reshaped into specific “body forms” designed by a supercomputer — forms “never seen in nature,” according to a news release from the University of Vermont.
A xenobot with large hind limbs and smaller forelimbs, layered with red heart muscle.
The cells then began to work on their own — skin cells bonded to form structure, while pulsing heart muscle cells allowed the robot to move on its own. Xenobots even have self-healing capabilities; when the scientists sliced into one robot, it healed by itself and kept moving.
“These are novel living machines,” said Joshua Bongard, one of the lead researchers at the University of Vermont, in the news release. “They’re neither a traditional robot nor a known species of animal. It’s a new class of artifact: a living, programmable organism.”
Xenobots don’t look like traditional robots — they have no shiny gears or robotic arms. Instead, they look more like a tiny blob of moving pink flesh. The researchers say this is deliberate — this “biological machine” can achieve things typical robots of steel and plastic cannot.
Some xenobots had holes in their center -- which could potentially be used to transport drugs or medicines.Some xenobots had holes in their center -- which could potentially be used to transport drugs or medicines.
Traditional robots “degrade over time and can produce harmful ecological and health side effects,” researchers said in the study, which was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. As biological machines, xenobots are more environmentally friendly and safer for human health, the study said.
The xenobots could potentially be used toward a host of tasks, according to the study, which was partially funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, a federal agency that oversees the development of technology for military use.
Xenobots could be used to clean up radioactive waste, collect microplastics in the oceans, carry medicine inside human bodies, or even travel into our arteries to scrape out plaque. The xenobots can survive in aqueous environments without additional nutrients for days or weeks — making them suitable for internal drug delivery.
Aside from these immediate practical tasks, the xenobots could also help researchers to learn more about cell biology — opening the doors to future advancement in human health and longevity.
“If we could make 3D biological form on demand, we could repair birth defects, reprogram tumors into normal tissue, regenerate after traumatic injury or degenerative disease, and defeat aging,” said the researchers’ website. This research could have “a massive impact on regenerative medicine (building body parts and inducing regeneration.)”
It may all sound like something from a dystopian sci-fi movie, but the researchers say there is no need for alarm.
The organisms come pre-loaded with their own food source of lipid and protein deposits, allowing them to live for a little over a week — but they can’t reproduce or evolve. However, their lifespan can increase to several weeks in nutrient-rich environments.
And although the supercomputer — a powerful piece of artificial intelligence — plays a big role in building these robots, it’s “unlikely” that the AI could have evil intentions.
“At the moment though it is difficult to see how an AI could create harmful organisms any easier than a talented biologist with bad intentions could,” said the researchers’ website.

Source link

Continue Reading

Science

Weather: Richmond expects a mix of sun and clouds this week – Richmond News

Published

on


Richmond will see sunshine and higher temperatures early this week with some showers and cloud leading into the weekend.

According to Environment Canada, Sunday will see a mixture of sun and clouds with a 40 per cent chance of showers in the early afternoon. Skies are expected to clear up later in the day with temperatures as high as 20 C. Few clouds will roll in in the evening with a low of 11 C.

article continues below

Monday through Wednesday will expect sunshine all day with a high of 22 C and a low of 12 C.

There is a 60 per cent chance of showers from Wednesday evening until Thursday evening.

Clouds will make reappear again on Friday and Saturday with a high of 21 C and a low of 15 C.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Science

Vancouver weather: Expect some sun this week, capped by rain – Vancouver Sun

Published

on


Article content

VANCOUVER, B.C.: July 12, 2020 – Sunday’s weather is a mixed bag but the middle of this week will be marked by sunny skies and high temperatures.

Come Thursday though, prepare to buckle down again for more rain and a weekend of grey clouds.


Weather: Vancouver, B.C.

Today: Mainly cloudy with 40 percent chance of showers. Clearing this afternoon. High 20. UV index 6 or high.

Tonight: A few clouds. Low 11.

Tomorrow: A mix of sun and cloud. Clearing late in the morning. High 21. UV index 8 or very high.

Source: Environment Canada


Air Quality: Vancouver


Traffic: Vancouver

Zoom in and out to find incidents of note or to peek at a traffic camera.


Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Science

NASA wants a return to the moon in 2024. New human spaceflight chief makes no guarantees. – Space.com

Published

on


Putting astronauts back on the moon by 2024 will be no small feat, and NASA’s new human spaceflight chief Kathy Lueders has been careful not to make any promises she may not be able to keep.

“I don’t have a crystal ball,” Lueders said in a teleconference with reporters on June 18, when asked about the feasibility of a 2024 moon landing. “I wish I knew that answer. That’d make my job a lot easier. We’re going to try,” she said. 

Lueders, who recently became the associate administrator for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate after Doug Loverro‘s abrupt resignation, was a bit more pragmatic about the timeline of NASA’s Artemis program than her predecessor. While Lueders seems cautiously optimistic about getting astronauts to the moon by 2024, Loverro was confident and unwavering in his assertion that NASA would make the deadline. At a NASA town hall in December, Loverro even said that “it is going to be easy to make this happen.” 

Related: Putting astronauts on the moon in 2024 is a tall order, NASA says 

Before Lueders became the head of human spaceflight at NASA, she served as the manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, where she oversaw the first flights of a private crew-carrying spacecraft to the International Space Station. 

After a successful uncrewed test flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft in March 2019 — and Boeing’s unsuccessful first attempt at doing the same with its Starliner spacecraft nine months later — the first commercial crew mission, SpaceX’s Demo-2, successfully delivered NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the space station in May. (Meanwhile, Boeing is preparing for a second attempt at the uncrewed test flight before astronauts can start flying on Starliner.) 

Those missions have faced years of delays and other challenges. When NASA created its Commercial Crew Program in 2010, the agency planned to have its astronauts regularly riding private vessels to and from the space station by 2015. Now, five years later, the first commercial crew mission has only just arrived at the orbiting lab.  

Related: NASA completes investigation on flawed Boeing Starliner capsule test flight 

Kathy Lueders, who was the manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program when SpaceX’s Demo-2 mission launched, is pictured  in firing room four of the Launch Control Center at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida after the opening of the hatch between SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft with NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken onboard and the International Space Station, on May 31, 2020. (Image credit: Joel Kowsky/NASA)

“It’s very important to have an aggressive goal,” Lueders said in the June 18 teleconference. “We had an aggressive goal in commercial crew, and I think that aggressive goal ensured that we were able to accomplish things as quickly as we could.” 

“But I also think what’s important is when you come across technical challenges … you’re focused on making sure you’re achieving your aggressive goal in the right manner,” Lueders added. “Yes, it’s taken us a little bit longer to be able to get Bob and Doug up there. But I do think we’ve done it carefully, and doing it right is better than doing it faster.”

While ensuring the safety of its astronauts is NASA’s No. 1 priority when it comes to human spaceflight missions, the agency must also take extra precautions now to protect its workforce on Earth from the coronavirus pandemic. Due to the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, NASA has already faced delays in the testing of its new Space Launch System (SLS) megarocket and Orion crew capsule, which the agency plans to use for its Artemis moon missions. 

Related:  NASA suspends work on SLS megarocket and Orion capsule due to coronavirus outbreak 

“I just went through a mission where the last two months of it, we were in COVID,” Lueders said, referring to the SpaceX Demo-2 mission. “It is tough to work during this period of time, but we have a strong team. And I know that they’re happy to have a goal and they’re happy to be moving towards the goal. And it’s a pretty great goal for us to be working towards.”

“If things come up along the way, where technically it takes us longer… then we’ll go figure it out. But right now the team’s trying. It is tough,” Lueders added.

Email Hanneke Weitering at hweitering@space.com or follow her @hannekescience. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending