Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience
 

Seahorses are those almost comical looking creatures that inhabit shallow tropical waters in temperate climates.  They are really cool to look at and are a particular favorite of children.  Watching one “swim” can inspire wonder…how DO they do that anyway?  (Since I never made it much past the dog-paddle stage myself, observing a seahorse in motion is quite fascinating for me!)

But there’s more to the structure of a seahorse than meets the eye – and their specific skeleton and musculature may lead the way to improved technology and less stiffness when we move forward on invention of the next generation of robots!  Traditionally, our attempts to make robots have had some problems when it comes to mobility.  Further, the exoskeletal properties of the seahorse could lead to improvements in body armor or protective materials.  A study was led by Michael Porter, an assistant mechanical engineering professor at Clemson University in South Carolina that has been published online in the Journal Science.  His findings are quite amazing!

Read about it here:

Seahorse’s Amazing Tail

 

Could Inspire Better Robots

 

seahorse

The seahorse Hippocampus abdominalis at the Seattle Aquarium.
Credit: Dominique Adriaens

 

The piece linked below has some really interesting stuff about these little guys, too.  Give it a look-see…

Secret of the Sea Horse:How Creature Got its Curve

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Ponder the flatworm.  Yes, I’m serious.

If you’re not familiar with this lifeform, their resilience may astound you.  Particularly one such flatworm known as the Planarian.  This fairly unheralded and simple organism has the capacity to regenerate its body parts.  Yup – cut it in half and it will split itself and regrow into two separate worms.  But, the why and how behind this regeneration being possible has been elusive.

Although flatworms are a parasite that can cause great damage to the internal workings of the human body, this power of ‘self-replicating’ may hold the key to medical advances that we’ve been seeking.  And it’s all due to Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) and an ongoing study at Tufts University.

It would allow doctors…who help patients who have suffered scarring and traumatic injuries, to regrow body parts from the patient’s own cells.

 

Read the article posted in wired.co.uk here to learn about the computer breakthrough:

Computer independently solves

120-year-old biological mystery

 

Flatworm

And a shorter piece in news.discovery.com: Computer A.I. Solves 120-Year-Old Biological Mystery

NOTE:  Press releases and other material on the work of the researchers named in the articles above can be found by typing “flatworm” into the search box on the Tufts University website – check out their A.I. work with the worms and other cool stuff they are doing with worms and electricity!!

What other ‘mysteries of life’ might A.I. solve for us?  Take up the challenge and make history for yourself!

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McMaster University has developed a process whereby ordinary inkjet printers can be given a special cartridge containing DNA-based bio-ink that produces paper sensors patterned after the codenames of pathogens.

Sensors that identify infectious disease and food contaminants may soon be printed on paper using ordinary office inkjet printers. Researchers at McMaster University have developed a prototype that could lead to a commercial product in the next few years which helps doctors and scientists in the field quickly detect certain types of cancer or bacterial and respiratory infections or monitor toxin levels in water.

blog pathogens“In the published paper, we detect ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is a marker of bacterial contamination, and PDGF (platelet derived growth factor), which is a marker for cancer,” Brennan explained. “We can print the letter ‘A’ for ATP and ‘P’ for PDGF, so that the letter encodes the compound detected. This allows us to do something we call multiplexing, where we can use any combination of letters or symbols to allow detection of many different targets on a single test strip.”

Just think of the applications for this product, they are far reaching and would save many lives in developing world countries.

Do you have the expertise to save lives by developing advanced detection tools for the medical field?

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When solar panels first began cropping up on rooftops and in large fields, a number of people were ‘offended’ by what they considered an ‘unsightly blight’ on the landscape.  This rather fun story tells the tale of how a film director’s sense of humor can turn things around…

 

James Cameron’s

 

Open Source

 

Sun Flower

 sunflower

And a second article on this happy topic from Spirit Science

Perhaps the most exciting dimension of this flora is that it’s expected to be OPEN SOURCE!  That means you and I can make our own “garden”!

A little sunshine & laughter can go a long way to making the formerly unpalatable more appealing & acceptable – and who doesn’t smile at the sight of sunflowers?!

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The Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL) at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has become the first building to obtain the world’s four highest sustainable building standards, according to Phipps.

blog phipps

The Phipps Center for Sustainable Landscapes has recently received full Living Building Challenge certification (Photo: Denmarsh Photography)

The Living Building Challenge is said to be the most stringent measure of building sustainability. It considers projects based on criteria in the seven categories of place, water, energy, health & happiness, materials, equity and beauty. For full certification, buildings must be shown to have net-zero energy and water usage over the course of one year.

The Center for Sustainable Landscapes design is based on what Phipps calls an “outside-in, passive-first” approach. The building is orientated to maximize its exposure to the sun, with a variety of heating and cooling methods employed. These include the use of thermal massing, high-performance glazing, brise-soleil screens and solar shading.

See how this living building took shape:

YouTube Preview Image

It inspires me to take a trip to Pittsburgh, PA to see this wonderful achievement!

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