Future Tech: Plus…smart windows & tree-planting drones.
This device ‘injects’ genetic code into damaged cells
A new device can begin repairing damaged organs in seconds, heralding a major breakthrough for life-saving medicine. Developed at Ohio State University, the technology known as tissue nanotransfection (TNT) uses a small coin-sized silicon chip that "injects" genetic code into skin cells, converting them from one type to another.
During the initial testing phase, researchers were able to reprogram skin cells into vascular cells on a mouse that had a badly injured leg with no blood flow. Within one week, active blood vessels appeared around the leg, and within two weeks the leg had been completely restored. A mouse that had suffered a stroke was also saved, suggesting this technology can be applied to organs and nerve cells, as well as tissue. It's the first time cells have been reprogrammed in a live body.
The technology weighs less than 100 grams and has a long shelf life. It's completely non-invasive — the genetic code is delivered by zapping the device with a small electrical charge that's barely felt by the patient — and the procedure can be carried out without access to a lab or hospital. This means it will have a significant impact on the lives of those involved in medical emergencies where time is a crucial factor, such as car crash victims and soldiers injured in the field.
Smart windows that darken in minutes
From Popular Science:
In a world where even mundane devices like water bottles and toothbrushes have become smart and connected, it’s easy to scoff at yet another attempt at smartifying practical gadgets. But new technology for smart windows, described today in the journal Joule, might actually be an intelligent idea.
That’s thanks to their energy-saving potential. Dynamic windows that darken when the sun is shining on them could help reduce cooling costs in the summer, just like putting down the blinds does. And with the help of an Internet connection and an intelligent schedule, these could be automatic, so you wouldn’t have to remember when to turn them on and off.
Windows that tint on demand already exist — one prominent class of them is known as electrochromic windows. But a group of researchers at Stanford are aiming for a better, more dynamic one. Their prototype goes from transparent to opaque in less than three minutes. And it does it using an innovative approach. …
By applying a negative electrical voltage, the window becomes dark because the ions form elemental, solid metal, which is opaque. A positive voltage causes the metal to dissolve back into ion form, allowing the light to come through.
Can these drones plant one billion trees?
From Popular Mechanics:
It takes years for a tree to grow and only moments to chop it down. BioCarbon Engineering, a company out of Oxford, England, wants to speed up the process by getting drones to plant trees faster than any human could. A billion of them.
The company is going to start testing its plan in September, when its partnership with the Worldview International Foundation (WIF) will begin in Myanmar, also known as Burma. WIF has spent years working with locals to plant over 2.7 million mangrove trees in the delta of Irrawday River, a central river in the country and crucial to many industries and communities.
Planting 2.7 million trees in 5 years, as WIF and its local partners have done, is impressive. BioCarbon says its drones can plant 100,000 trees in a single day. WIF and its local partners have planted trees in around 750 hectares in the delta, which works out to a little more than 1,850 acres. BioCarbon is going to take 250 additional hectares and plant a million trees there.
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