Brazil To Start Cloning Endangered Species Of Animals

Endangered animals are a drag, you know, because they are going extinct and all. But Brazil is actually doing something about it. They just recently started a program who’s main purpose is program to clone animals that are currently at risk of going extinct. The animals that they currently have in mind include the Tamarins, Maned Wolves, Jaguars, and the Black Lions.

Over the past few years, the Brazilian researchers have been collecting genetic samples from hundreds of local, yet, endangered species of animals. Now that they have a good number in their hands, they want to start cloning them to preserve the animals currently in captivity. Their main goal is to maintain the healthy living animals in zoos and other protected areas without having to go into the wild animal’s natural habitat to extract them from there. Basically, we’ll have animals stored away and we’ll let the ones in the wild run their course… which means that other animals – mainly us – will exterminate them the way we’ve been doing lately.

The first animal to be cloned, the Maned Wolf, it should happen in the next quarter of the year. The researchers are not planning on using clones to increase population of animals, but they hope that IF a species of animal is about to be 100% exterminated, they will be able to create enough animals to maintain balance to the bio-system.

I wonder if Peta will have anything to say about this? I guess we’ll find out when we start cloning Maned Wolf fur coats – IPS News, via io9

Japanese Robot to Take College Entrace Exams

Japanese scientists from Fujitsu and Japan’s National Institute of Informatics are working together on developing a robot to undertake the entrance exams at Japan’s top university, Tokyo University. This remarkable escapade is in response to the challenge ‘Can a Robot Pass the Todai Entrance Exam’? Entrance exams in Japan are reknowned for being extremely difficult and stressful for high school students who attend specialist ‘cram schools’ to aid in their revision for these tests.  Many Japanese students are left bitterly disappointed by their failed results every year, but will the ‘Todai robot’ be able to make the grade?

The Tokyo University entrance exam, or Todai, consists of a general university entrance exam administered by the National Centre for University Entrance Examinations and its own specialised test. The scores are combined to determine the successful candidates. Todai covers a breadth of areas such as mathematics, chemistry, history, social studies and foreign languages that the researchers are hoping the robot would excel at with its high intellectual capacity. A major focus by the researchers will be the robot’s mathematics skills as this is a core subject for the examinations regardless of the department a student is applying for.

The artificial brain of the robot would analyse and process a mixture of words, numbers and equations before providing the (hopefully) correct answer. Hideno Iwane from Fujitsu Laboratories explains what the scientists are working on: “NII and Fujitsu Laboratories jointly aim to develop the technologies needed for human-centric IT. These include formula recognition methods to recognize and interpret problem texts and put it into a data format that a computer can understand; natural language processing to generate a formula representation that the formula solver can understand; and formula-processing technology that can solve the composed formula quickly and accurately.”

Fujitsu Laboratories claimed that their goal was not merely for their robot to excel at the examinations. It is, in fact, to “enable anyone to easily use sophisticated mathematical analysis tools, which will lead to solutions for a wide range of real-world problems”. For example, a Fujitsu spokesperson said that the robot may be able to provide assistance to developers in cost cutting options. It stands to reason that it could even provide a friendly interface for resolving complicated technical IT support problems – “Robot, figure out why my computer is crashing so frequently!”

However, for the moment, the robot is only able to solve 60% of the mathematics problems in the Todai which is obviously not sufficient to ‘make the grade’ as so to speak. The project conditions are to manufacture a robot to undertake the Japan’s natonwide university entrance exams by 2016, and then be able to score high marks for the more complicated Todai, by 2021. The scientists have about 9 years to reach their ultimate goal, will that be enough time for the robot to move from the equivalent of a D grade student to an all time genius? Only time will tell!

Cyborg Tissue Created by Harvard Scientists

Terminator may actually be coming to a theatre near you real life! Well not quite, but perhaps the idea of an Arnie-type android walking around with human flesh isn’t as far off as you might think. For the first time, Harvard Scientists have managed to create a 3D Hybrid of living tissue and electronics. They have integrated neurons, muscle cells and blood vessels with nanowires and transistors, essentially creating cyborg tissue!

Although you may be wondering about their ultimate motivations (cyborg uprising?), this marks a significant milestone along the road to creating technology that can integrate with your body. Before the discovery, doctors were only able to read signals of surface tissue from a flat flexible device encased in organs – a considerable hindrance. According to the New Scientist, the introduction of cyborg tissue now allows researchers to read signals within the cell from electronically active biological materials. Furthermore, Harvard Scientists have managed to integrate nano wires within blood vessels to reliably monitor influences on pH levels within the blood. Team leader Charles Liber, a professor of chemistry at Harvard University, explained his reasons for manufacturing cyborg tissue to the Harvard Gazette:

“The current methods we have for monitoring or interacting with living systems are limited. We can use electrodes to measure activity in cells or tissue, but that damages them. With this technology, for the first time, we can work at the same scale as the unit of biological system without interrupting it. Ultimately, this is about merging tissue with electronics in a way that it becomes difficult to determine where the tissue ends and the electronics begin.”

Prof Lieber further commented that a short-term outlook would be to utilise cyborg tissue for monitoring activities such as drug therapy or to monitor ongoing conditions. For example, testing drugs on cyborg skin instead of a few layers of cultured cells could provide more meaningful results.

The electronics in the cyborg tissue cannot be manipulated to control the cells at this point in time, but the future is looking optimistic for researchers. The cyborg tissue has been used to produce a three-dimensional scaffolding that eventually could be integrated directly with living tissues such as prosthetic limbs, which would then be able to communicate with the nervous system. For example, this technology would be able to review signals within the body and provide adequate responses to injury or illness by release of a drug or through electrical stimulation.

Thankfully, there is no mention of the warfare potential for this technology, though knowing the many billions of dollars that gets allocated to military research spending each your, it’s surely only a matter of time until we see soldiers outfitted with such technology. If and when true Artificial Intelligence emerges and gets combined with this cyborg tissue technology, it may indeed be time for me to quite my day job in IT support and start building that underground bunker!

If you would like to read more about this scientific breakthrough, the Harvard Scientists findings are published in the August 26 issue of the journal Nature Materials.

DARPA Developed One of The Fastest Robots Around – The Cheetah

According to Business Week the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is funding Boston Dynamics’ development of a prototype robot called the Cheetah. The robot managed to set a new land speed record at 18 mph for legged robots on March 5.

Marc Raiberts, the head of Boston Dynamics, believes the cat robot should be able to clock speeds up to 40mph after “key design and technical features are further refined.” Raibert also believes this kind of technology can be beneficial in a battlefield to operate as a “scout.” The company also believes that it can be useful during civilian disasters although no such time frame has been released for when this sort of technology could be used.

Right now the Cheetah runs while “tethered to a hydraulic pump for power and relied on a boom-like device to help maintain power.” Raibert referred to this set up as “training wheels.” He also said that later this year the company would start testing a free-running robot that will have a gas-powered engine and software capable of running 3D movements.

The main problem for getting this type of robot working on the ground is the battery. There is very little room for a battery on this machine, so the battery must not only be small but has to be strong enough to power it.

Raibert told Time, “Our approach is to get the basic concept and scientific solution working in the lab in a simplified setting then do the system integration needed to get the machine outdoors.”

The Hutlzer Banana Slicer – How to Chop Bananas For Dummies

If you’re a mom, a cook, or just a person in hurry, any utensil in the kitchen that saves you time – regardless of how insignificant the savings may be – can really make your life better.

At our home, we’re always in a hurry, sometimes it feels like we don’t have enough seconds in a minute. When we get up were usually trying to make breakfast and get out the door before 7:00 am, and sometimes something as easy as splitting a banana, or splitting an apple, can really screw up our routine.

How hard can it be right? You peel off half of the banana, you grab a butter knife, and then you start to cut the banana in small segments. It takes 60 seconds, max. Then you put the chunks in your cereal and have your cereal while you read the newspaper.

But if you feel like the 60 seconds can be the difference between having a healthy cereal or just getting cereal bar on the way out the door, the Hutzler Banana Slicer can really speed up your cereal making process. Simply peel, place on board, and cut. You’re looking at 10 seconds max to get the banana on your plate. Combine this with the Quirky container and you’re set – with seconds to spare.

Trust me, those extra seconds begin to add up. As human beings, we’re always looking for ways to simplify our life. That’s why people who find solutions to everyday annoyances find a plethora of customers lining up waiting to get the new “faster” thing to hit the market.

These products don’t make us lazier, I think they actually make us better and help us achieve more things in a day. This tool can also help you find ways to bring fun into the kitchen for your children. If you’re a parent and your children want to help you cook, you can always hand them a tool that’s safe and easy to use, they wont get hurt with blades or knifes, and at the same time you can rest assure that the job will get done the way it needs to.

Is Farming Chickens Matrix Style To Keep Them From Suffering Ethical?

Andre Ford is an Architecture Student that is proposing an idea that seems to come straight out of the Matrix, raising chickens to be used for meat in vertical racks after severing their frontal cortexes, rendering them brain dead. He claims that having chickens on top of each other in the vertical racks is far more efficient, and he’s probably right about that, but do you think this is going to go well with animal activists groups? Probably not.

The images in the bottom show you exactly what he wants to have on his futuristic farms. The chickens are suspended from their heads, they are no longer able to move, their bodies and their feet have been removed. The holding “cranes” have tubes that feed the chickens water and nutrients, then the other end of the crane has tubs that carry the “nutrients” out of their bodies. As far as their brain being able to feel any pain that’s out of the picture as well. The chickens are not tortured at all, the scientist completely remove all the unnecessary parts of the brain and leave only the parts needed to run basic functions like breathing, keeping a heart beating, and most importantly process nutrients. At this stage, the chicken is no longer an animal that can feel pain or even suffer… so does this make it ethical?

It all depends on how you look at it, it would be the equivalent of removing the brain from the chicken and keeping them alive to lay eggs. I feel like today’s standards in chicken production are not bad, this however pushes the boundary. Imagine keeping a brain dead woman alive and using her body to create babies?

Sure, having this kind of system is great if you want to reduce the amount of space needed to farm chickens, it’s also cheaper to maintain, it’s cleaner, and it’s better for the chickens since they can’t really feel. The advantages of this for the chicken are great, unlike the current factory farming where the chickens are packed up in cages with other chickens, at least in this set up the chicken is no longer aware of what’s going on around him.

Now, keep in mind this is an art project and is not something that is currently in place ANYWHERE not even in a lab, but the question needs to be asked, if you remove the ability to feel pain and emotion from an animal… is it more ethical than the current farming standards?

Nike+ Training Shoes Will Deliver Unrivaled Athletic Analytics to the Palm of your Hand!

When I ran in Triathlons, one of the biggest pains was the lack of not having an accurate way to measure performance while running. That was 4 years ago. The closest thing we had was a pedometer, and a timer. But Nike just came up with the next big thing for runners. They developed a technology that offers even more data analysis for workout fiends everywhere.

The Nike+ Training Shoes have sensors inside the soles that transmit data tracking your performance in real time. By using the shoes, you will receive important data about your run – including steps, lunges and even your vertical leap. The data is then transferred to your smart phone where you can analyze and modify your workout routine. They even have a basketball-focused version of the shoe – Hyperdunk+, see what they did there?

The information that is delivered to your app can be uploaded to their network. Additionally, you will be given the option to compete against your friends by keeping track of everything you do while you’re wearing your shoes. Every step you take, every jump, every lounge, and every mile you complete. This level of interaction is supposed to make you want to work out more in order to beat your friends in a “fit race.” I thought they were already building an app for that? an app where you’re supposed to run away from other zombies?

If everything goes according to plan, the shoes will be on the market sometime this summer. In the meantime, you can enjoy the video and see what this shoe promises it will do for you! Via: Tested

New P2P Sharing to End TV

Bram Cohen, the author of peer to peer sharing protocol, announced his newest creation yesterday at SF Music Tech Summit.  This would be BitTorrent Live, and it lets anyone with content they would like to publish do so at very little cost and to millions of people.

This new peer sharing network is being destined to become the future of viewing video and make television the way we know it obsolete.  Users can put anything that they wish on BitTorrent Live including:  news, events, TV shows, movies, sports, and anything else that can be recorded.

Cohen told Tech Crunch at the event, “My goal is to kill off television.”  He realizes that TV the way it is, is headed for an out anyway.  People want to watch the content, but they want it available online.  Above all they want it to be affordable.

This level of P2P will allow anyone with content they want to broadcast to be able to do so and be very affordable to do so in the process.  Even those that already stream such as Netflix and Hulu will be able to reduce their prices with this type of technology.  It will start to diminish the greedy entertainment industry that has greatly been showing its colors as of late.

This idea works a lot like normal torrent downloads in that an individual is capable of finding other individuals to stream the video from and not from a central source.  Those that upload videos and do not want to profit will be able to use BitTorrent Live at no cost.  Those who do want to profit will be charged a small fee.  This is still largely different than the millions that are devoted to advertisement now.

“It fits the DNA of what BitTorrent is about because it is open and free,” said Cohen.

The main problem with this technology at the moment is cost.  To stream the way television does requires the bandwidth that cable companies have already paid to have, not to mention satellites to provide better streaming.  In the meantime the beta is available for people to try out, and the only requirement is a one time download.  It will run straight out of the user’s browser after that.