Emerging Technologies

Emerging Technologies

Top Ten Robots

Top Ten Robots

       What can be said about robots that haven’t already been portrayed in countless science fiction movies? Will they create an unlimited supply of workers to take the load off human labor, or will we ultimately create an artificial intelligence even greater than our own, which will ultimately turn humans into robot’s slaves? I guess we will have to watch and find out. Here are some of the most interesting forays into the robotic industry.

  1. Bipedal Robot

    Japanese researchers have developed advanced robot software enabling “bipedal robots to stay on their feet no matter how much they’re pushed and kicked.”
  2. Honda ASIMO
    ASIMO is a humanoid robot created by Honda. Standing at 130 cm (4 feet 3 inches) and weighing 54 kilograms (114 pounds), the robot resembles a small astronaut wearing a backpack and can walk or run on two feet at speeds up to 6 km/h (4.3 mph), matching EMIEW. ASIMO was created at Honda’s Research & Development Wako Fundamental Technical Research Center in Japan. It is the current model in a line of twelve that began in 1986 with E0. ASIMO resembles a child in size and is the most human-like robot HONDA has made so far. The robot has 7 DOF (Degrees of freedom) in each arm, two joints of 3 DOF, shoulder and wrist, giving “Six degrees of freedom” and 1 DOF at the elbow; 6 DOF in each leg, 3 DOF at the crotch, 2 DOF at the ankle and 1 DOF at the knee; and 3 DOF in the neck joint. The hands have 2 DOF, 1 DOF in each thumb and 1 in each finger. This gives a total of 34 DOF in all joints. The name is an acronym for “Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility.” The online magazine, The Future Of Things (TFOT), states that Honda did not name the robot in reference to science fiction writer and inventor of the Three Laws of Robotics, Isaac Asimov.
    Links: Top Ten South Park Episodes, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ASIMO,
  3. REEM

    REEM-A and REEM-B are the first and second prototypes of humanoid robots created by PAL Robotics. REEM-B can recognize and grasp objects, lift heavy weights and go around by itself inside building complex, avoiding obstacles (Simultaneous localization and mapping). The robot accepts voice commands and recognize faces.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/REEM-B,
  4. HUBO

    HUBO is a walking humanoid robot, head mounted on a life-size walking bipedal frame, developed by the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and released on January 6, 2005. Hubo is short form for “humanoid robot.” Hubo has voice recognition and synthesis faculties, as well as sophisticated vision in which its two eyes move independently of one another.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HUBO,
  5. Robonaut

    Robonaut is a humanoid robotic development project run from the Dextrous Robotics Laboratory at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX. The core idea behind the Robonaut series of robots is to have a humanoid machine to work along-side astronauts. Its form factor and dexterity are designed such that Robonaut can use space tools and work in similar environments to suited astronauts. Robonaut is a different class of robot than other current space faring robots. While most current space robotic systems focus on moving large objects, similar to a crane, or rovers for exploration, Robonaut’s focus is on tasks which require more dexterity. The first series of Robonauts (R1A and R1B) had many partners including DARPA. The second Robonaut series (R2A and R2B) was a joint effort between NASA and General Motors. R2 is going to be delivered to the ISS to be tested “in-doors” on STS-133 (current stated launch date November 1).
    Links: Top Ten Astronauts, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robonaut,

    Manufactured by Kawada Industries, designed by Yutaka Izubuchi.
  7. HRP-4C

    The HRP-4C is a humanoid robot created by Japanese National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology and publicly demonstrated on March 16, 2009. It is 158cm (5 feet 2 inches) tall and weighs 43kg (95 pounds) including battery. Its shape and joints are based on the 1997–1998 Japanese body dimension database. It is capable of the recognition of ambient sounds, and also can sing by the speech synthesis Vocaloid.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HRP-4C,
  8. iCub

    iCub is a 1 meter high humanoid robot testbed for research into human cognition and artificial intelligence. It was designed by the RobotCub Consortium, of several European universities and is now supported by other projects such as ITALK. The robot is open-source, with the hardware design, software and documentation all released under the GPL license. The name is a partial acronym, cub standing for Cognitive Universal Body. Initial funding for the project was €8.5 million from Unit E5, Cognitive Systems and Robotics, of the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Program, and this ran for 5 years from 1 September 2004 until 1 September 2010. The motivation behind the strongly humanoid design is the embodied cognition hypothesis, that human-like manipulation plays a vital role in the development of human cognition. A baby learns many cognitive skills by interacting with its environment and other humans using its limbs and senses, and consequently its internal model of the world is largely determined by the form of the human body. The robot was designed to test this hypothesis by allowing cognitive learning scenarios to be acted out by an accurate reproduction of the perceptual system and articulation of a small child so that it could interact with the world in the same way that such a child does.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ICub,

    TWENDY-ONE is a domestic help robot and was developed by Waseda University.

    TOPIO (“TOSY Ping Pong Playing Robot”) is a bipedal humanoid robot designed to play table tennis against a human being. It has been developed since 2005 by TOSY, a robotics firm in Vietnam. It was publicly demonstrated at the Tokyo International Robot Exhibition (IREX) on November 28, 2007. TOPIO 3.0 (the latest version of TOPIO) stands approximately 1.88 m tall and weighs 120 kg. Every TOPIO uses an advanced artificial intelligence system to learn and continuously improve its skill level while playing.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TOPIO,
  11. Toyota Partner Robot

    The Toyota Partner Robots are a series of humanoid robots developed by Toyota to enrich and assist the lives of Japan’s aging population. They debuted at the 2005 World EXPO in Aichi, Japan where they played music on drums and trumpets at. There are 5 robots in all, most of which have different movement systems. The 5 robots are: Version 1 (bipedal robot), Version 2 (segway-like wheels), Version 3 (segway-like wheels), Version 4 (unique wire system) and the i-Foot (mountable with 2 legs). In July 2009, Toyota released a video of the running and standing skills of their partner robot. The robot reaches 7 km/hour, however walking and running can only be achieved on flat surfaces.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_Partner_Robot,
  12. Mitsubishi Wakamaru

    Wakamaru is a Japanese domestic robot made by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, primarily intended to provide companionship to elderly and disabled people. The robot is yellow, 1m tall, and weighs 30 kilograms. It has two arms and its flat, circular base has a diameter of 45 cm. The first hundred went on sale in September, 2005, for USD $14,000. Wakamaru runs a Linux operating system on multiple microprocessors. It can connect to the Internet, and has limited speech (in both male and female voices) and speech recognition abilities. Functions include reminding the user to take medicine on time, and calling for help if it suspects something is wrong.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wakamaru,
  13. Hitachi EMIEW

    EMIEW is a robot developed by Hitachi. Another version has also been made called EMIEW 2. EMIEW stands for Excellent Mobility and Interactive Existence as Workmate. Two EMIEW’s have been made, called Pal and Chum. Hitachi stated that Pal and Chum, have a vocabulary of about 100 words, and Pal exhibited these skills by telling reporters: “I want to be able to walk about in places like Shinjuku and Shibuya in the future without bumping into people and cars.” Both EMIEW’s have a top speed of 6 km/h (matching ASIMO) and can avoid obstacles.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EMIEW,
  14. Bonus: Actroid

    An Actroid is a humanoid robot and android with strong visual human-likeness developed by Osaka University and manufactured by Kokoro Company Ltd. (the animatronics division of Sanrio). It was first unveiled at the 2003 International Robot Exhibition in Tokyo, Japan. Several different versions of the product have been produced since then. In most cases, the robot’s appearance has been modeled after an average young woman of Japanese descent. The Actroid woman is a pioneer example of a real machine similar to imagined machines called by the science fiction terms android or gynoid, so far used only for fictional robots. It can mimic such lifelike functions as blinking, speaking, and breathing. The “Repliee” models are interactive robots with the ability to recognise and process speech and respond in kind.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Actroid,
  15. Bonus: Robotic Exoskeleton

  16. Bonus: Honda E-Series

    The E-series was a collection of successive humanoid robots created by the Honda Motor Company between the years of 1986 and 1993. These robots were only experimental, but later evolved into the Honda P series, with Honda eventually amassing the knowledge and experience necessary to create Honda’s advanced humanoid robot: ASIMO. The fact that Honda had been developing the robots was kept secret from the public until the announcement of the Honda P2 in 1996. E0, developed in 1986, was the very first robot. It walked in a straight line on two feet, in a manner resembling human locomotion, taking around 5 seconds to complete a single step. Quickly engineers realized that in order to walk up slopes, the robot would need to travel faster. The model has 6 degrees of freedom: 1 in each groin, 1 in each knee and 1 in each ankle.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honda_E0,
  17. Bonus: P-Series

    The P-series is a chronological progression of prototype humanoid robots as developed by Honda. The research conducted allowed the eventual creation of ASIMO.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honda_P_series,
  18. Links: Top Ten Science Fiction Films, Top Ten Futurama Episodes,

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Top Ten Personal Aircrafts/Watercraft

Top Ten Personal Aircrafts/Watercraft


  1. Rocket Belt

  2. Martin Jetpack

    The Martin Jetpack is a personal helicopter. Its tradename calls it a “jet pack,” but is not jet- or rocket-powered. It has been developed by the Martin Aircraft Company of New Zealand, and was unveiled on July 29, 2008 at the Experimental Aircraft Association’s 2008 AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA. It is classified by the Federal Aviation Administration as an experimental ultralight airplane. Unlike earlier devices called “jetpacks,” the Martin Jetpack is the first to be considered a practical device. It has been under development for over 27 years and uses a gasoline (premium) engine with two ducted fans to provide lift. Theoretically it can reach a speed of 60 miles per hour, an altitude of 8,000 feet, and fly for about 30 minutes on a full fuel tank. It costs $86,000. Martin Aircraft plans to deliver the first jetpacks to ten customers in early 2010.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Jetpack,
  3. Manned Maneuvering Unit

    The Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU) is a propulsion backpack which was used by NASA astronauts on three space shuttle missions in 1984. The MMU allowed the astronauts to perform untethered EVA spacewalks at a distance from the shuttle. The MMU was used in practice to retrieve a pair of faulty communications satellites, Westar VI and Palapa B2. Following the third mission the unit was retired from use. A smaller successor, the Simplified Aid for EVA Rescue (SAFER), was first flown in 1994, and is intended for emergency use only.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manned_Maneuvering_Unit,
  4. Hoverbike

    Links: Top Ten Motorcycles,
  5. Prosthetic Gills

    Artificial gills are a device to let a human take in oxygen from surrounding water. This technology does not exist yet or is in early stage of being developed.
    Links: Top 100 GadgetsTop Ten Emerging Transportation Technologies, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_gills_(human),
  6. Links: Top Ten Emerging Technologies, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_air_vehicle, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_personal_aircraft,

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Top Ten Emerging Transportation Technologies

Top Ten Emerging Transportation Technologies


  1. Teleportation/Jumprooms/Portals
    Teleportation is the transfer of matter from one point to another without traversing the physical space between them. According to some researchers of government projects, the CIA allegedly has a jumproom from a location in Southern California to a destination on Mars.
    Links: Top Ten Chrononauts,
  2. Antigravity Spacecraft

    In physical cosmology, astronomy and celestial mechanics, anti-gravity is the idea of creating a place or object that is free from the force of gravity. It does not refer to the lack of weight under gravity experienced in free fall or orbit, nor to balancing the force of gravity with some other force, such as electromagnetism or aerodynamic lift. Instead, anti-gravity requires that the fundamental causes of the force of gravity be made either not present or not applicable to the place or object through some kind of technological intervention. Anti-gravity is a recurring concept in science fiction, particularly in the context of spacecraft propulsion. The concept was first introduced formally as “Cavorite” in H. G. Wells’ The First Men in the Moon, and has been a favorite item of imaginary technology since that day. In the first mathematically accurate description of gravity, Newton’s law of universal gravitation, gravity was an external force transmitted by unknown means. However in the early part of the 20th century Newton’s model was replaced by the more general and complete description known as general relativity. In general relativity, gravity is not a force in the traditional sense of the word, but the result of the geometry of space itself. These geometrical solutions always cause attractive “forces.” Under general relativity, anti-gravity is highly unlikely, except under contrived circumstances that are regarded as unlikely or impossible. The term “anti-gravity” is also sometimes used to refer to hypothetical reactionless propulsion drives based on certain solutions to general relativity, although these do not oppose gravity as such. There are numerous newer theories that add onto general relativity or replace it outright, and some of these appear to allow anti-gravity-like solutions. Lifters, which fly in the air due to electromagnetic fields, are an example of these “antigravity craft.”
    Links: Top Ten Military Aircraft/Spacecraft, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antigravity,
  3. Pre-Cooled Jet Engines

           A pre-cooled jet engine is a concept for high speed jet engines that features a cryogenic fuel-cooled heat exchanger immediately after the air intake, to pre-cool the air entering the engine. After gaining heat and vaporizing in the heat exchanger system, the fuel (e.g. H2) is burnt in the combustor. Pre-cooled jet engines have never flown, but are predicted to have much higher thrust and efficiency at speeds up to Mach 5.5. Pre-cooled jet engines were described by Robert P. Carmichael in 1955. Unlike Liquid Air Cycle Engines (LACE), pre-cooled engines simply cool, but do not liquefy the air. A potential application for a pre-cooled turbojet is as part of the power plant for a space launcher vehicle, or for a very long range, very high speed aircraft.
    Links: Top Ten Aircraft, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Precooled_jet_engine,
  4. Scramjet

    A scramjet (supersonic combustion ramjet) is a variant of a ramjet air breathing combustion jet engine in which the combustion process takes place in supersonic airflow. As in ramjets, a scramjet relies on high vehicle speed to forcefully compress and decelerate the incoming air before combustion (hence ramjet), but whereas a ramjet decelerates the air to subsonic velocities before combustion, airflow in a scramjet is supersonic throughout the entire engine. This allows the scramjet to efficiently operate at extremely high speeds: theoretical projections place the top speed of a scramjet between Mach 12 and Mach 24, which is near orbital velocity. For comparison, the fastest manned air breathing aircraft, the SR-71 Blackbird, has a maximum speed of Mach 3.2. The scramjet is composed of three basic components: a converging inlet, where incoming air is compressed and decelerated; a combustor, where gaseous fuel is burned with atmospheric oxygen to produce heat; and a diverging nozzle, where the heated air is accelerated to produce thrust. Unlike a typical jet engine, such as a turbojet or turbofan engine, a scramjet does not use rotating, fan-like components to compress the air; rather, the incredible speed of the aircraft moving through the atmosphere causes the air to compress within the nozzle. As such, very few moving parts are needed in a scramjet, which greatly simplifies both the design and operation of the engine. In comparison, typical turbojet engines require inlet fans, multiple stages of rotating compressor fans, and multiple rotating turbine stages, all of which add weight, complexity, and a greater number of failure points to the engine. It is this simplicity that allows scramjets to operate at such high velocities, as the conditions encountered in hypersonic flight severely hamper the operation of conventional turbomachinery. Due to the nature of their design, scramjet operation is limited to near-hypersonic velocities. As they lack mechanical compressors, scramjets require the high kinetic energy of a hypersonic flow to compress the incoming air to operational conditions. Thus, a scramjet-powered vehicle must be accelerated to the required velocity by some other means of propulsion, such as turbojet or rocket engines. In the flight of the experimental scramjet-powered Boeing X-51A, the test craft was lifted to flight altitude by a turbofan powered B-52 before being released and accelerated by a detachable rocket to near Mach 4.5. While scramjets are conceptually simple, actual implementation is limited by extreme technical challenges. Hypersonic flight within the atmosphere generates immense drag, and temperatures found on the aircraft and within the engine can be nearly six-times greater than that of the surrounding air. Maintaining combustion in the supersonic flow presents additional challenges, as the fuel must be injected, mixed, ignited, and burned within milliseconds. While scramjet technology has been under development since the 1950’s, only very recently have scramjets successfully achieved powered flight.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scramjet,
  5. Non-Rocket Spacelaunch

    Non-rocket spacelaunch (NRS) is the idea of reaching outer space specifically from the Earth’s surface predominately without the use of conventional chemical rockets, which today is the only method in use. Transportation to orbit is one factor in the expense of space endeavors; if it can be made more efficient the total cost of space flight can be reduced. Present-day launch costs are very high, $10,000 to $25,000 per kilogram from Earth to low Earth orbit, though some countries subsidize launches to prices nearer $4,000. To settle space, space exploration and space colonization, much cheaper launch methods are required, as well as a way to avoid serious damage to the atmosphere from the thousands, perhaps millions, of launches required. Another benefit may be increased safety and reliability of launches, which, in addition to lower cost, would avail for space disposal of radioactive waste. Once having overcome the Earth gravity barrier, vehicles may instead use other, non-rocket-based methods of propulsion, e.g. ion thrusters, which have a higher propellant efficiency (specific impulse) and potential maximum velocity than conventional rockets, but are not suitable for space launch. Several alternatives to conventional chemical rockets have been proposed. In some systems a rocket is involved, but it ignites after reaching space in another manner. Some technologies for alternative ways to get to space besides the traditional spacelaunch include launch loop, lightcraft, mass driver, space gun, space elevator and the Space fountain.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-rocket_spacelaunch,
  6. Personal Aircraft

    A personal aerial vehicle, personal air vehicle or PAV is a class of light general aviation aircraft which meets design and performance goals intended to make flying as commonplace as driving. NASA, in 2005, refined the definition of a PAV in the fifth Centennial Challenge initiative, which it funds in conjunction with the CAFE Foundation.
    Links: Top Ten Personal Aircrafts/Watercraft, Top Ten Hannah Barbara Cartoons, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_air_vehicle,
  7. Jet Pack

    The Martin Jetpack is a personal helicopter. Its tradename calls it a “jet pack,” but is not jet- or rocket-powered. It has been developed by the Martin Aircraft Company of New Zealand, and was unveiled on July 29, 2008 at the Experimental Aircraft Association’s 2008 AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA. It is classified by the Federal Aviation Administration as an experimental ultralight airplane. Unlike earlier devices called “jetpacks,” the Martin Jetpack is the first to be considered a practical device. It has been under development for over 27 years and uses a gasoline (premium) engine with two ducted fans to provide lift. Theoretically it can reach a speed of 60 miles per hour, an altitude of 8,000 feet, and fly for about 30 minutes on a full fuel tank. It costs $86,000. Martin Aircraft plans to deliver the first jetpacks to ten customers in early 2010.
    Links: Top Ten Personal Aircrafts/Watercraft, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Jetpack,
  8. Hover Bike

    Links: Top Ten Personal Aircrafts/Watercraft,
  9. Electric Cars

    An electric car is a plug-in battery powered automobile which is propelled by electric motor(s). Although electric cars often give good acceleration and have generally acceptable top speed, the lower specific energy of production batteries available in 2010 compared with fossil fuels means that electric cars have relatively low range between charges, and recharging can take significant lengths of time. For shorter range commuter type journeys, rather than long journeys, electric cars are practical forms of transportation and can be inexpensively recharged overnight. Longer range journey options are currently being pursued by installing battery swapping station infrastructure throughout several pilot cities such as Tokyo. Electric cars have the potential of significantly reducing city pollution by having zero tail pipe emissions. Vehicle greenhouse gas savings depend on how the electricity is generated. With the current U.S. energy mix, using an electric car would result in a 30% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. Given the current energy mixes in other countries, it has been predicted that such emissions would decrease by 40% in the UK, 19% in China and as little as 1% in Germany. Electric cars are expected to have a major impact in the auto industry given advantages in city pollution, less dependence on oil and expected rise in gasoline prices.
    Links: Top 100 Cars, Top Ten Electric Cars, Top Ten Thomas Edison Inventionshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_cars,
  10. Prosthetic Gills

    Artificial gills are a device to let a human take in oxygen from surrounding water. This technology does not exist yet or is in early stage of being developed.
    Links: Top 100 GadgetsTop Ten Personal Aircraft/Watercraft Technologies, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_gills_(human),
  11. Personal Rapid Transit / High Speed Rail

    Personal rapid transit (PRT), also called personal automated transport (PAT) or podcar, is a public transportation system comprising small (typically envisaged as around four seats), automated vehicles on a network of specially-built guide ways. PRT systems are a subset of automated guideway transit (AGT) systems, which also includes larger vehicles all the way to small subway systems. A key feature of PRT systems is that they do not stop at every station. Instead, they are designed to make a nonstop journey to the destination individual users have selected, and bypass intermediate stations, which are on separate tracks, running parallel to the main track and accessed via switches. In theory, therefore, PRT can offer faster end-to-end journey times than other forms of transit, though this depends on running speed and the nature of the network. The point-to-point service has been compared to a taxi (early documents referred to the concept as “dial-a-taxi,” coined in an era when computerized touch tone services were being introduced) and a horizontal lift. AGT systems with intermediate stops are sometimes known as “group rapid transit” (GRT) when discussing PRT systems. PRTs were a major area of study in the 1960’s and 1970’s, promoted as the best solution to the widespread urban decay being seen in the US. Urban planners noted that cities with well developed mass transit systems did not suffer these effects to the same degree, and suggested that similar systems would slow the problem in suburbs and small cities, in which light rail was uneconomical to provide. In this period only one fully operational system was built, the Morgantown PRT which was opened in 1975. This suffered significant cost overruns and attracted criticism from users, possibly discouraging other cities to take up what had been a promising technology. In the 2000’s, several proposals had begun to be put forward, showing a renewed interest in the concept. In October 2008, construction of the guideway of a pilot project at London Heathrow Airport, United Kingdom based on ULTra was completed. With completion of the guideway, fit out of the stations and track could begin. As of August 2010, however, the system is not yet open to the public.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_rapid_transit,
  12. Links: Emerging Technologies, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_emerging_technologies

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Top Ten Emerging Robotics and Applied Mechanics Technologies

Top Ten Emerging Robotics and Applied Mechanics Technologies

  1. Molecular Nanotechnology / Nanorobotics

    Molecular nanotechnology (MNT) means engineering functional mechanical systems at the molecular scale. An equivalent definition would be “machines at the molecular scale designed and built atom-by-atom.” This is distinct from nanoscale materials. Based on Richard Feynman’s vision of miniature factories using nanomachines to build complex products (including additional nanomachines), this advanced form of nanotechnology (or molecular manufacturing) would make use of positionally-controlled mechanosynthesis guided by molecular machine systems. MNT would involve combining physical principles demonstrated by chemistry, other nanotechnologies, and the molecular machinery of life with the systems engineering principles found in modern macroscale factories.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molecular_nanotechnology, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanorobotics,
  2. Swarm Robotics

    Swarm robotics (this sounds like trouble, just kidding, but seriously) is a new approach to the coordination of multirobot systems which consist of large numbers of mostly simple physical robots. It is supposed that a desired collective behavior emerges from the interactions between the robots and interactions of robots with the environment. This approach emerged on the field of artificial swarm intelligence, as well as the biological studies of insects, ants and other fields in nature, where swarm behavior occurs.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swarm_robotics,
  3. Powered Exoskeleton

    A powered exoskeleton is a powered mobile machine consisting primarily of an exoskeleton-like framework worn by a person and a power supply that supplies at least part of the activation-energy for limb movement. Powered exoskeletons are designed to assist and protect the wearer. They may be designed, for example, to assist and protect soldiers and construction workers, or to aid the survival of people in other dangerous environments. A wide medical market exists in the future of prosthetics to provide mobility assistance for aged and infirm people. Other possibilities include rescue work, such as in collapsed buildings, in which the device might allow a rescue worker to lift heavy debris, while simultaneously protecting the worker from falling rubble. The first exoskeleton was co-developed by General Electric and the United States military in the 1960’s, named Hardiman, which made lifting 250 pounds (110 kg) feel like lifting 10 pounds (4.5 kg). It was impractical due to its 1,500 pounds (680 kg) weight. The project was not successful. Any attempt to use the full exoskeleton resulted in a violent uncontrolled motion, and as a result it was never tested with a human inside. Further research concentrated on one arm. Although it could lift its specified load of 750 pounds (340kg), it weighed three quarters of a ton, just over twice the liftable load. Without getting all the components to work together the practical uses for the Hardiman project were limited. Working examples of powered exoskeletons have been constructed but are not currently widely deployed. Various problems remain to be solved, including suitable power-supply. Many variations of exoskeletons can be found in science fiction and gaming. It was first popularized in Robert A. Heinlein’s 1959 novel Starship Troopers where powered armor was used by the Mobile Infantry. Powered armor technology grew to serve as the centerpiece for bestselling novels such as Armor by John Steakley and Dominant Species by Michael E. Marks. While a realistic visual depiction of powered armor had long been a challenge for practical (live actor in a suit) filming, advances in computer animation have opened the door for several powered armor-centric movies including the film Iron Man, its sequel, and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Science fiction role playing games such as Crysis and science fiction wargames such as Warhammer 40,000 focus on elaborate representations of powered armor. Several cartoons and japanese animation have also depicted similar concepts for powered exoskeletons such as ground troops in Exosquad(American series) and Appleseed(Japanese series) While these technologies are clearly over the horizon in terms of current machine and material science, DARPA is actively pursuing a multi-million dollar program “Concepts of Operations for Exoskeletons for Human Performance Augmentation (EHPA)” to develop them.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Powered_exoskeleton,
  4. Hi MEMS

  5. Robotics

    Can someone tell Japan to stop kicking the robots; they’re going to remember that someday. I can already see it, an army of robots led by the Einstein robot. What can be said about robots that haven’t already been portrayed in countless science fiction movies? Will they create an unlimited supply of workers to take the load off human labor, or will we ultimately create an artificial intelligence even greater than our own, which will ultimately turn humans into robot’s slaves? I guess we will have to watch and find out.
    Links: Top Ten Robots,
  6. Links: Emerging Technologies, Top Ten Robots, 

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Top Ten Emerging Material Sciences Technologies

Top Ten Emerging Material Sciences Technologies

  1. Nanomaterials / Carbon Nanotubes

    Nanomaterials is a field that takes a materials science-based approach to nanotechnology. It studies materials with morphological features on the nanoscale, and especially those that have special properties stemming from their nanoscale dimensions. Nanoscale is usually defined as smaller than a one tenth of a micrometer in at least one dimension, though this term is sometimes also used for materials smaller than one micrometer. Carbon nanotubes (CNTs; also known as buckytubes) are allotropes of carbon with a cylindrical nanostructure. Nanotubes have been constructed with length-to-diameter ratio of up to 132,000,000:1, which is significantly larger than any other material. These cylindrical carbon molecules have novel properties that make them potentially useful in many applications in nanotechnology, electronics, optics and other fields of materials science, as well as potential uses in architectural fields. They exhibit extraordinary strength and unique electrical properties, and are efficient thermal conductors. Nanotubes are members of the fullerene structural family, which also includes the spherical buckyballs. The ends of a nanotube might be capped with a hemisphere of the buckyball structure. Their name is derived from their size, since the diameter of a nanotube is on the order of a few nanometers (approximately 1/50,000th of the width of a human hair), while they can be up to 18 centimeters in length (as of 2010). Nanotubes are categorized as single-walled nanotubes (SWNTs) and multi-walled nanotubes (MWNTs). The nature of the bonding of a nanotube is described by applied quantum chemistry, specifically, orbital hybridization. The chemical bonding of nanotubes is composed entirely of sp2 bonds, similar to those of graphite. This bonding structure, which is stronger than the sp3 bonds found in diamonds, provides the molecules with their unique strength. Nanotubes naturally align themselves into “ropes” held together by Van der Waals forces.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanomaterials, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_nanotubes,
  2. Metamaterials

    Metamaterials are artificial materials engineered to provide properties which may not be readily available in nature. These materials usually gain their properties from structure rather than composition, using the inclusion of small inhomogeneities to enact effective macroscopic behavior. The primary research in metamaterials investigates materials with negative refractive index. Negative refractive index materials appear to permit the creation of superlenses which can have a spatial resolution below that of the wavelength. In other work, a form of ‘invisibility’ has been demonstrated at least over a narrow wave band with gradient-index materials. Although the first metamaterials were electromagnetic, acoustic and seismic metamaterials are also areas of active research. Potential applications of metamaterials are diverse and include remote aerospace applications, sensor detection and infrastructure monitoring, smart solar power management, public safety, radomes, high-frequency battlefield communication and lenses for high-gain antennas, improving ultrasonic sensors, and even shielding structures from earthquakes. The research in metamaterials is interdisciplinary and involves such fields as electrical engineering, electromagnetics, solid state physics, microwave and antennae engineering, optoelectronics, classic optics, material sciences, semiconductor engineering, nanoscience and others.
    Links: Top 100 Gadgets, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metamaterial,
  3. Programmable Matter

    Programmable matter refers to matter which has the ability to change its physical properties (shape, density, moduli, optical properties, etc.) in a programmable fashion, based upon user input or autonomous sensing. Programmable matter is thus linked to the concept of a material which inherently has the ability to perform information processing.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Programmable_matter,
  4. Self-Healing Materials

    Self-healing materials are a class of smart materials that have the structurally incorporated ability to repair damage caused by mechanical usage over time. The inspiration comes from biological systems, which have the ability to heal after being wounded. Initiation of cracks and other types of damage on a microscopic level has been shown to change thermal, electrical, and acoustical properties, and eventually lead to whole scale failure of the material. Usually, cracks are mended by hand, which is difficult because cracks are often hard to detect. A material (polymers, ceramics, etc.) that can intrinsically correct damage caused by normal usage could lower production costs of a number of different industrial processes through longer part lifetime, reduction of inefficiency over time caused by degradation, as well as prevent costs incurred by material failure.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-healing_material,
  5. High-Temperature Superfluidity

    Superfluidity is a phase of matter in which viscosity of a fluid vanishes, while heat capacity becomes infinite. These unusual effects are observed when liquids, typically of helium-4 or helium-3, overcome friction in surface interaction at a stage (known as the “lambda point,” which is temperature and pressure, for helium-4) at which the liquid’s viscosity becomes zero. Also known as a major facet in the study of quantum hydrodynamics, it was discovered by Pyotr Kapitsa, John F. Allen, and Don Misener in 1937 and has been described through phenomenological and microscopic theories. In the 1950’s Hall and Vinen performed experiments establishing the existence of quantized vortex lines. In the 1960’s, Rayfield and Reif established the existence of quantized vortex rings. Packard has observed the intersection of vortex lines with the free surface of the fluid, and Avenel and Varoquaux have studied the Josephson effect in superfluid 4He.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superfluidity,
  6. High-Temperature Superconductivity

    High-temperature superconductors (abbreviated high-Tc or HTS) are materials that have a superconducting transition temperature (Tc) above 30 K. From 1960 to 1980, 30 K was thought to be the highest theoretically possible Tc. The first high-Tc superconductor was discovered in 1986 by IBM Researchers Karl Müller and Johannes Bednorz, for which they were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1987. Until Fe-based superconductors were discovered in 2008, the term high-temperature superconductor was used interchangeably with cuprate superconductor for compounds such as bismuth strontium calcium copper oxide (BSCCO) and yttrium barium copper oxide (YBCO). “High-temperature” has three common definitions in the context of superconductivity: 1. Above the temperature of 30 K that had historically been taken as the upper limit allowed by BCS theory. This is also above the 1973 record of 23 K that had lasted until copper-oxide materials were discovered in 1986. 2. Having a transition temperature that is a larger fraction of the Fermi temperature than for conventional superconductors such as elemental mercury or lead. This definition encompasses a wider variety of unconventional superconductors and is used in the context of theoretical models. 3. Greater than the boiling point of liquid nitrogen (77 K or −196 °C). This is significant for technological applications of superconductivity because liquid nitrogen is a relatively inexpensive and easily handled coolant. Technological applications benefit from both the higher critical temperature being above the boiling point of liquid nitrogen and also the higher critical magnetic field (and critical current density) at which superconductivity is destroyed. In magnet applications the high critical magnetic field may be more valuable than the high Tc itself. Some cuprates have an upper critical field around 100 teslas. However, cuprate materials are brittle ceramics which are expensive to manufacture and not easily turned into wires or other useful shapes. Two decades of intense experimental and theoretical research, with over 100,000 published papers on the subject, have discovered many common features in the properties of high-temperature superconductors, but as of 2009, there is no widely accepted theory to explain their properties. Cuprate superconductors (and other unconventional superconductors) differ in many important ways from conventional superconductors, such as elemental mercury or lead, which are adequately explained by the BCS theory. There also has been much debate as to high-temperature superconductivity coexisting with magnetic ordering in YBCO, iron-based superconductors, several ruthenocuprates and other exotic superconductors, and the search continues for other families of materials. HTS are Type-II superconductors, which allow magnetic fields to penetrate their interior in quantized units of flux, meaning that much higher magnetic fields are required to suppress superconductivity. The layered structure also gives a directional dependence to the magnetic field response.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-temperature_superconductivity,
  7. Quantum Dots

    A quantum dot is a semiconductor whose excitons are confined in all three spatial dimensions. As a result, they have properties that are between those of bulk semiconductors and those of discrete molecules. They were discovered at the beginning of the 1980’s by Alexei Ekimov in a glass matrix and by Louis E. Brus in colloidal solutions. The term “Quantum Dot” was coined by Mark Reed. Researchers have studied quantum dots in transistors, solar cells, LEDs, and diode lasers. They have also investigated quantum dots as agents for medical imaging and hope to use them as qubits. In layman’s terms, quantum dots are semiconductors whose conducting characteristics are closely related to the size and shape of the individual crystal. Generally, the smaller the size of the crystal, the larger the band gap, the greater the difference in energy between the highest valence band and the lowest conduction band becomes, therefore more energy is needed to excite the dot, and concurrently, more energy is released when the crystal returns to its resting state. For example, in fluorescent dye applications, this equates to higher frequencies of light emitted after excitation of the dot as the crystal size grows smaller, resulting in a color shift from red to blue in the light emitted. The main advantages in using quantum dots is that because of the high level of control possible over the size of the crystals produced, it is possible to have very precise control over the conductive properties of the material.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_dots,
  8. Links: Emerging Technologies, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_emerging_technologies

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Top Ten Emerging Entertainment Technologies

Top Ten Emerging Entertainment Technologies

  1. Immersive Virtual Reality

           Immersion is the state of consciousness where an immersant’s awareness of physical self is diminished or lost by being surrounded in an engrossing total environment; often artificial. This mental state is frequently accompanied with spatial excess, intense focus, a distorted sense of time and effortless action. The term is widely used for describing immersive virtual reality, installation art and video games, but it is not clear if people are using the same word consistently. The sensation of total immersion in virtual reality (VR) can be described as implied complete presence within an insinuated space of a virtual surrounding where everything within that sphere relates necessarily to the proposed “reality” of that world’s cyberspace and where the immersant is seemingly altogether disconnected from exterior physical space.
    Links: Top Ten Virtual Reality Video Games, Top Ten Virtual Boy Video Games, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immersive_virtual_reality,
  2. Holography

           Holography is a technique that allows the light scattered from an object to be recorded and later reconstructed so that it appears as if the object is in the same position relative to the recording medium as it was when recorded. The image changes as the position and orientation of the viewing system changes in exactly the same way as if the object were still present, thus making the recorded image (hologram) appear three dimensional. The technique of holography can also be used to optically store, retrieve, and process information. While holography is commonly used to display static 3-D pictures, it is not yet possible to generate arbitrary scenes by a holographic volumetric display.
    Links: Top Ten Holograms, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holography,
  3. 3D displays
    A 3D display is any display device capable of conveying three-dimensional images to the viewer. The optical principles of multiview auto-stereoscopy have been known for over 60 years. Practical displays with a high resolution have recently become available at much lower prices. As a result, the commercialization of 3D displays for entertainment is receiving increasing funding.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3D_display,
  4. Links: Emerging Technologies,

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Top Ten Emerging Energy Technologies

Top Ten Emerging Energy Technologies

  1. Zero Point Energy

    Zero-point energy is the lowest possible energy that a quantum mechanical physical system may have; it is the energy of its ground state. All quantum mechanical systems undergo fluctuations even in their ground state and have an associated zero-point energy, a consequence of their wave-like interaction. Because of the uncertainty principle, every physical system (even at absolute zero temperature) has a zero-point energy that is greater than the minimum of its potential well. Liquid helium-4 (4He) remains liquid, it does not freeze, under atmospheric pressure no matter how low its temperature is, because of its zero-point energy. The concept of zero-point energy was developed in Germany by Albert Einstein and Otto Stern in 1913, using a formula developed by Max Planck in 1900. The term zero-point energy originates from the German Nullpunktsenergie. The German name is also spelled Nullpunktenergie. Vacuum energy is the zero-point energy of all the fields in space, which in the Standard Model includes the electromagnetic field, other gauge fields, fermionic fields and the Higgs field. It is the energy of the vacuum, which in quantum field theory is defined not as empty space but as the ground state of the fields. In cosmology, the vacuum energy is one possible explanation for the cosmological constant. A related term is zero-point field, which is the lowest energy state of a particular field.
    Links: Top Ten Nikola Tesla Inventionshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero-point_energy,
  2. Matter-Antimatter Engine

    A matter-antimatter engine would be the most efficient engine ever to be created because it turns 100% of the matter and antimatter and turns it into energy by colliding matter and antimatter. The energy released by their annihilation releases about 10 billion times the energy that chemical energy in a combustion engine. Matter-antimatter reactions are 1,000 times more powerful than nuclear fission and it is 300 times more powerful than nuclear fusion energy. This means if a space shuttle was built with a matter-antimatter engine then it could travel farther and faster in space because not only do you need less fuel with a matter-antimatter engine but also the engine produces more energy than a combustion engine would thus giving you more power and speed.
    Links: http://blogs.lib.ncsu.edu/roller/societyandtech/
  3. Nuclear Fission

    Fusion power is the power generated by nuclear fusion reactions. In this kind of reaction, two light atomic nuclei fuse together to form a heavier nucleus and in doing so, release a large amount of energy. In a more general sense, the term can also refer to the production of net usable power from a fusion source, similar to the usage of the term “steam power.” Most design studies for fusion power plants involve using the fusion reactions to create heat, which is then used to operate a steam turbine, which drives generators to produce electricity. Except for the use of a thermonuclear heat source, this is similar to most coal, oil, and gas-fired power stations as well as fission-driven nuclear power stations. As of July 2010, the largest experiment was the Joint European Torus (JET). In 1997, JET produced a peak of 16.1 megawatts (21,600 hp) of fusion power (65% of input power), with fusion power of over 10 MW (13,000 hp) sustained for over 0.5 sec. In June 2005, the construction of the experimental reactor ITER, designed to produce several times more fusion power than the power put into the plasma over many minutes, was announced. Project partners were preparing the site in 2008. The production of net electrical power from fusion is planned for DEMO, the next generation experiment after ITER. Additionally, the High Power laser Energy Research facility (HiPER) is undergoing preliminary design for possible construction in the European Union starting around 2010.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fusion_power,
  4. Wireless Energy Transfer

    Wireless energy transfer or wireless power transmission is the process that takes place in any system where electrical energy is transmitted from a power source to an electrical load without interconnecting wires. Wireless transmission is useful in cases where instantaneous or continuous energy transfer is needed but interconnecting wires are inconvenient, hazardous, or impossible. Wireless energy transfer is different from wireless transmission of information, such as radio, where the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) or the percentage of power received becomes critical only if it is too low to adequately recover the signal. With wireless power transmission, efficiency is the more important parameter. The most common form of wireless power transmission is carried out using induction, followed by electrodynamic induction. Other present-day technologies for wireless power include those based upon microwaves and lasers.
    Links: Top Ten Nikola Tesla Inventions, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wireless_energy_transfer,
  5. Force Field

    A force field, sometimes known as an energy shield, force shield, or deflector shield is a barrier, typically made of energy or charged particles that protect a person, area or object from attacks or intrusions. A University of Washington group in Seattle has been experimenting with using a bubble of charged plasma to surround a spacecraft, contained by a fine mesh of superconducting wire. This would protect the spacecraft from interstellar radiation and some particles without needing physical shielding. Likewise, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory is attempting to design an actual test satellite, which should orbit Earth with a charged plasma field around it. Plasma windows have some similarities to force fields, being difficult for matter to pass through. Workers at a 3M factory in South Carolina in August 1980 encountered an “invisible electrostatic wall” in an area under a fast-moving sheet of polypropelene film that had become electrically charged to a voltage that “had to be in the Megavolt range.” This phenomenon was a result of Coulomb’s law.
    Links: Top Ten Armorhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Force_field,
  6. Hydrogen Fuel Cells

    One of the main offerings of a hydrogen economy is that the fuel can replace the fossil fuel burned in internal combustion engines and turbines as the primary way to convert chemical energy into kinetic or electrical energy; hereby eliminating greenhouse gas emissions and pollution from that engine. Although hydrogen can be used in conventional internal combustion engines, fuel cells, being electrochemical, have a theoretical efficiency advantage over heat engines. Fuel cells are more expensive to produce than common internal combustion engines, but are becoming cheaper as new technologies and production systems develop. Some types of fuel cells work with hydrocarbon fuels, while all can be operated on pure hydrogen. In the event that fuel cells become price-competitive with internal combustion engines and turbines, large gas-fired power plants could adopt this technology. Hydrogen gas must be distinguished as “technical-grade” (five nines pure), which is suitable for applications such as fuel cells, and “commercial-grade,” which has carbon and sulfur containing impurities, but which can be produced by the much cheaper steam-reformation process. Fuel cells require high purity hydrogen because the impurities would quickly degrade the life of the fuel cell stack. Much of the interest in the hydrogen economy concept is focused on the use of fuel cells to power electric cars. Current Hydrogen fuel cells suffer from a low power-to-weight ratio , although they store more energy than other electrochemical batteries. Fuel cells are much more efficient than internal combustion engines, and produce no harmful emissions. If a practical method of hydrogen storage is introduced, and fuel cells become cheaper, they can be economically viable to power hybrid fuel cell/battery vehicles, or purely fuel cell-driven ones. The economic viability of fuel cell powered vehicles will improve as the hydrocarbon fuels used in internal combustion engines become more expensive, because of the depletion of easily accessible reserves or economic accounting of environmental impact through such measures as carbon taxes. Currently it takes 2½ times as much energy to make a hydrogen fuel cell than is obtained from it during its service life. Other fuel cell technologies based on the exchange of metal ions (i.e. zinc-air fuel cells) are typically more efficient at energy conversion than hydrogen fuel cells, but the widespread use of any electrical energy → chemical energy → electrical energy systems would necessitate the production of electricity.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_economy#Fuel_cells_as_alternative_to_internal_combustion, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_cell,
  7. Nanowire Battery

    A nanowire battery is a lithium-ion battery invented by a team led by Dr. Yi Cui at Stanford University in 2007. The team’s invention consists of a stainless steel anode covered in silicon nanowires, to replace the traditional graphite anode. Silicon, which stores ten times more lithium than graphite, allows a far greater energy density on the anode, thus reducing the mass of the battery. The high surface area further allows for fast charging and discharging.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanowire_battery,
  8. Ultracapacitor

    An Electric double-layer capacitor, also known as supercapacitor, supercondenser, pseudocapacitor, electrochemical double layer capacitor (EDLC), or ultracapacitor, is an electrochemical capacitor that has an unusually high energy density when compared to common capacitors, typically on the order of thousands of times greater than a high capacity electrolytic capacitor. For instance, a typical D-cell sized electrolytic capacitor will have a capacitance in the range of tens of millifarads. The same size electric double-layer capacitor would have a capacitance of several farads, an improvement of about two or three orders of magnitude in capacitance, but usually at a lower working voltage. Larger double-layer capacitors have capacities up to 5,000 farads as of 2010. The highest energy density in production is 30 Wh/kg, below rapid-charging Lithium-titanate batteries. EDLC’s have a variety of commercial applications, notably in “energy smoothing” and momentary-load devices. They have applications as energy-storage devices used in vehicles and for smaller applications like home solar systems where extremely fast charging is a valuable feature.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_double-layer_capacitor,
  9. Biofuels

    Biofuels are a wide range of fuels which are in some way derived from biomass. The term covers solid biomass, liquid fuels and various biogases. Biofuels are gaining increased public and scientific attention, driven by factors such as oil price spikes, the need for increased energy security, and concern over greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels. Bioethanol is an alcohol made by fermenting the sugar components of plant materials and it is made mostly from sugar and starch crops. With advanced technology being developed, cellulosic biomass, such as trees and grasses, are also used as feed stocks for ethanol production. Ethanol can be used as a fuel for vehicles in its pure form, but it is usually used as a gasoline additive to increase octane and improve vehicle emissions. Bioethanol is widely used in the USA and in Brazil. Biodiesel is made from vegetable oils, animal fats or recycled greases. Biodiesel can be used as a fuel for vehicles in its pure form, but it is usually used as a diesel additive to reduce levels of particulates, carbon monoxide, and hydrocarbons from diesel-powered vehicles. Biodiesel is produced from oils or fats using transesterification and is the most common biofuel in Europe. Biofuels provided 1.8% of the world’s transport fuel in 2008. Investment into biofuels production capacity exceeded $4 billion worldwide in 2007 and is growing.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biofuel,
  10. Links: Emerging Technologies, Top 100 Scientists, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_emerging_technologies,

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Top Ten Emerging Biotech and Bioinformatics Technologies

Top Ten Emerging Biotech and Bioinformatics Technologies


  1. Genetic Engineering

    Genetic engineering, also called genetic modification, is the human manipulation of organisms’ genetic material in a way that does not occur under natural conditions. It involves the use of recombinant DNA techniques, but does not include traditional animal and plant breeding or mutagenesis. Any organism that is generated using these techniques is considered to be a genetically modified organism. The first organisms genetically engineered were bacteria in 1973 and then mice in 1974. Insulin producing bacteria were commercialized in 1982 and genetically modified food has been sold since 1994. Producing genetically modified organisms is a multi-step process. It first involves the isolating and copying the genetic material of interest. A construct is built containing all the genetic elements for correct expression. This construct is then inserted into the host organism, either by using a vector or directly through injection, in a process called transformation. Successfully transformed organisms are then grown and the presence of the new genetic material is tested for. Genetic engineering techniques have been applied to various industries, with some success. Medicines such as insulin and human growth hormone are now produced in bacteria, experimental mice such as the oncomouse and the knockout mouse are being used for research purposes and insect resistant and/or herbicide tolerant crops have been commercialized. Plants that contain drugs and vaccines, animals with beneficial proteins in their milk and stress tolerant crops are currently being developed.
    Links: Top Ten Clones, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_engineering,
  2. Regenerative Medicine

    Regenerative Medicine is the process of creating living, functional tissues to repair or replace tissue or organ function lost due to age, disease, damage or congenital defects. This field holds the promise of regenerating damaged tissues and organs in the body by stimulating previously irreparable organs to heal themselves. Regenerative medicine also empowers scientists to grow tissues and organs in the laboratory and safely implant them when the body cannot heal itself. Importantly, regenerative medicine has the potential to solve the problem of the shortage of organs available for donation compared to the number of patients that require life-saving organ transplantation, as well as solve the problem of organ transplant rejection, since the organ’s cells will match that of the patient. Widely attributed (incorrectly as it turns out) to having first been coined by William Haseltine (founder of Human Genome Sciences). From the work of Michael Lysaght (Brown University), his team “first found the term in a 1992 article on hospital administration by Leland Kaiser. Kaiser’s paper closes with a series of short paragraphs on future technologies that will impact hospitals. One such paragraph had “Regenerative Medicine” as a bold print title and went on to state, “A new branch of medicine will develop that attempts to change the course of chronic disease and in many instances will regenerate tired and failing organ systems.” It refers to a group of biomedical approaches to clinical therapies that may involve the use of stem cells. Examples include; the injection of stem cells or progenitor cells (cell therapies); another the induction of regeneration by biologically active molecules; and a third is transplantation of in vitro grown organs and tissues (Tissue engineering).
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regenerative_Medicine,
  3. Anti-Aging Drugs: Resveratrol / SRT1720

           Resveratrol (3,5,4’-trihydroxy-trans-stilbene) is a phytoalexin produced naturally by several plants when under attack by pathogens such as bacteria or fungi. Resveratrol is currently a topic of numerous animal and human studies into its effects. The effects of resveratrol on the lifespan of many model organisms remain controversial, with uncertain effects in fruit flies, nematode worms and short-lived fish. In mouse and rat experiments, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, blood-sugar-lowering and other beneficial cardiovascular effects of resveratrol have been reported. Most of these results have yet to be replicated in humans. In the only positive human trial, extremely high doses (3–5 g) of resveratrol in a proprietary formulation have been necessary to significantly lower blood sugar. Despite mainstream press alleging resveratrol’s anti-aging effects, there is little present scientific basis for the application of these claims to mammals. Resveratrol is found in the skin of red grapes and is a constituent of red wine, but apparently not in sufficient amounts to explain the French Paradox. Resveratrol has also been produced by chemical synthesis and is sold as a nutritional supplement derived primarily from Japanese knotweed. Another drug in development hoping to cure the aging issue is SRT-1720 made by Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, it is intended as a small-molecule activator of the sirtuin subtype SIRT1. It has similar activity in the body to the known SIRT1 activator resveratrol, but is 1,000 times more potent. In animal studies it was found to improve insulin sensitivity and lower plasma glucose levels in fat, muscle and liver tissue, and increased mitochondrial and metabolic function. It is currently being investigated as a potential treatment for obesity and diabetes. However, the claim that SRT-1720 is a SIRT1 activator has been questioned and further defended.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resveratrol, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SRT1720,
  4. Synthetic Biology / Synthetic Genomics

           Synthetic biology is a new area of biological research that combines science and engineering. Synthetic biology encompasses a variety of different approaches, methodologies and disciplines, and many different definitions exist. What they all have in common, however, is that they see synthetic biology as the design and construction of new biological functions and systems not found in nature. Synthetic genomics is a nascent field of synthetic biology that uses aspects of genetic modification on pre-existing life forms with the intent of producing some product or desired behavior on the part of the life form so created. Synthetic genomics is unlike genetic modification in the sense that it does not use naturally occurring genes in its life forms. It may make use of custom designed base pair series, though in a more expanded and presently unrealized sense synthetic genomics could utilize genetic codes that are not composed of the four base pairs of DNA that are currently used by life. The development of synthetic genomics is related to certain recent technical abilities and technologies in the field of genetics. The ability to construct long base pair chains cheaply and accurately on a large scale has allowed researchers to perform experiments on genomes that do not exist in nature. Coupled with the developments in protein folding models and decreasing computational costs the field synthetic genomics is beginning to enter a productive stage of vitality. The J. Craig Venter Institute has assembled a synthetic Mycoplasma genitalium yeast genome by recombination of 25 overlapping fragments in a single step. “The use of yeast recombination greatly simplifies the assembly of large DNA molecules from both synthetic and natural fragments.” Other companies, such as Synthetic Genomics, have already been formed to take advantage of the many commercial uses of custom designed genomes.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synthetic_biology, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synthetic_genomics,
  5. Stem Cell Treatments

           Stem cell treatments are a type of intervention strategy that introduces new cells into damaged tissue in order to treat disease or injury. Many medical researchers believe that stem cell treatments have the potential to change the face of human disease and alleviate suffering. The ability of stem cells to self-renew and give rise to subsequent generations with variable degrees of differentiation capacities, offers significant potential for generation of tissues that can potentially replace diseased and damaged areas in the body, with minimal risk of rejection and side effects. A number of stem cell therapeutics exist, but most are at experimental stages and/or costly, with the notable exception of bone marrow transplantation. Medical researchers anticipate that adult and embryonic stem cells will soon be able to treat cancer, Type 1 diabetes mellitus, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Celiac Disease, cardiac failure, muscle damage and neurological disorders, and many others. Nevertheless, before stem cell therapeutics can be applied in the clinical setting, more research is necessary to understand stem cell behavior upon transplantation as well as the mechanisms of stem cell interaction with the diseased/injured microenvironment.
    Links: Top Ten South Park Episodes, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stem_cell_treatments,
  6. Hibernation or Suspended Animation

           Suspended animation is the slowing of life processes by external means without termination. Breathing, heartbeat and other involuntary functions may still occur, but they can only be detected by artificial means. Extreme cold can be used to precipitate the slowing of an individual’s functions; use of this process has led to the developing science of cryonics. Cryonics is another method of life preservation but it cryopreserves organisms using liquid nitrogen that will preserve the organism until reanimation. Laina Beasley was kept in suspended animation as a two-celled embryo for 13 years. Placing astronauts in suspended animation has been proposed as one way for an individual to reach the end of an interstellar or intergalactic journey, avoiding the necessity for a gigantic generation ship; occasionally the two concepts have been combined, with generations of “caretakers” supervising a large population of frozen passengers. Since the 1970’s, induced hypothermia has been performed for some open-heart surgeries as an alternative to heart-lung machines. Hypothermia, however, only provides a limited amount of time in which to operate and there is a risk of tissue and brain damage for prolonged periods.
    Links: Top Ten Mike Myers Films, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suspended_Animation,
  7. Vitrification or Cryoprotectant

           A cryoprotectant is a substance that is used to protect biological tissue from freezing damage. Arctic and Antarctic insects, fish, amphibians and reptiles create cryoprotectants (antifreeze compounds and antifreeze proteins) in their bodies to minimize freezing damage during cold winter periods. Insects most often use sugars or polyols as cryoprotectants. Arctic frogs use glucose, but Arctic salamanders create glycerol in their livers for use as cryoprotectant. Conventional cryoprotectants are glycols (alcohols containing at least two hydroxyl groups), such as ethylene glycol, propylene glycol and glycerol. Ethylene glycol is commonly used as automobile antifreeze and propylene glycol has been used to reduce ice formation in ice cream. Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) is also regarded as a conventional cryoprotectant. Glycerol and DMSO have been used for decades by cryobiologists to reduce ice formation in sperm and embryos that are cold-preserved in liquid nitrogen. Mixtures of cryoprotectants have less toxicity and are more effective than single-agent cryoprotectants. A mixture of formamide with DMSO, propylene glycol and a colloid was for many years the most effective of all artificially created cryoprotectants. Cryoprotectant mixtures have been used for vitrification, i.e. solidification without any crystal ice formation. Vitrification has important application in preserving embryos, biological tissues and organs for transplant. Vitrification is also used in cryonics in an effort to eliminate freezing damage. Some cryoprotectants function by lowering a solution’s or a material’s glass transition temperature. In this way, the cryprotectants prevent actual freezing, and the solution maintains some flexibility in a glassy phase. Many cryoprotectants also function by forming hydrogen bonds with biological molecules as water molecules are displaced. Hydrogen bonding in aqueous solutions is important for proper protein and DNA function. Thus, as the cryoprotectant replaces the water molecules, the biological material retains its native physiological structure (and function), although they are no longer immersed in an aqueous environment. This preservation strategy is most often observed in anhydrobiosis. Cryoprotectants are also used to preserve foods. These compounds are typically sugars that are inexpensive and do not pose any toxicity concerns. For example, many (raw) frozen chicken products contain a “solution” of water, sucrose and sodium phosphates.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryoprotectant,
  8. Body Implants and Prosthetics

           An implant is a medical device manufactured to replace a missing biological structure, support a damaged biological structure, or enhance an existing biological structure. Medical implants are man-made devices, in contrast to a transplant, which is a transplanted biomedical tissue. The surface of implants that contact the body might be made of a biomedical material such as titanium, silicone or apatite depending on what is the most functional. In some cases implants contain electronics e.g. artificial pacemaker and cochlear implants. Some implants are bioactive, such as subcutaneous drug delivery devices in the form of implantable pills or drug-eluting stents. An artificial limb is a type of prosthesis that replaces a missing extremity, such as arms or legs. The type of artificial limb used is determined largely by the extent of an amputation or loss and location of the missing extremity. Artificial limbs may be needed for a variety of reasons where a body part is either missing from the body or is too damaged to be repaired, including disease, accidents, and congenital defects. A congenital defect can create the need for an artificial limb when a person is born with a missing or damaged limb. Prosthetics are however not needed in the event of an accident where only the nerves were damaged and not the extremities. In this case, Functional Electrical Stimulators (FES) are used. Industrial, vehicular, and war related accidents are the leading cause of amputations in developing areas, such as large portions of Africa. In more developed areas, such as North America and Europe, disease is the leading cause of amputations. Cancer, infection and circulatory disease are the leading diseases that may lead to amputation.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Implant_(medicine), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosthetics,
  9. Personalized Medicine

    Personalized medicine is a medical model emphasizing the systematic use of information about an individual patient to select or optimize that patient’s preventative and therapeutic care. Personalized medicine can broadly be defined as products and services that leverage the science of genomics and proteomics (directly or indirectly) and capitalize on the trends toward wellness and consumerism to enable tailored approaches to prevention and care. Over the past century, medical care has centered on standards of care based on epidemiological studies of large cohorts. However, large cohort studies do not take into account the genetic variability of individuals within a population. Personalized medicine seeks to provide an objective basis for consideration of such individual differences. Traditionally, personalized medicine has been limited to the consideration of a patient’s family history, social circumstances, environment and behaviors in tailoring individual care. Advances in a number of molecular profiling technologies, including proteomic profiling, metabolomic analysis, and genetic testing, may allow for a greater degree of personalized medicine than is currently available. Information about a patient’s proteinaceous, genetic and metabolic profile could be used to tailor medical care to that individual’s needs. A key attribute of this medical model is the development of companion diagnostics, whereby molecular assays that measure levels of proteins, genes or specific mutations are used to provide a specific therapy for an individual’s condition by stratifying disease status, selecting the proper medication and tailoring dosages to that patient’s specific needs. Examples of successful personalized treatments exist in the field of oncology. Measurements of erbB2 and EGFR proteins in breast, lung and colorectal cancer patients are taken before selecting proper treatments. As the personalized medicine field advances, tissue-derived molecular information will be combined with an individual’s personal medical history, family history, and data from imaging, and other laboratory tests to develop more effective treatments for a wider variety of conditions.
    Links: Top Ten Superfoods, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personalized_medicine,
  10. Artificial Photosynthesis

           Artificial photosynthesis is a research field that attempts to replicate the natural process of photosynthesis, converting sunlight, water and carbon dioxide into carbohydrates and oxygen. Sometimes, splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen by using sunlight energy is also referred to as artificial photosynthesis. The actual process that allows half of the overall photosynthetic reaction to take place is photo-oxidation. This half-reaction is essential in separating water molecules because it releases hydrogen and oxygen ions. These ions are needed to reduce carbon dioxide into a fuel. However, the only known way this is possible is through an external catalyst, one that can react quickly as well as constantly absorb the sun’s photons. The general basis behind this theory is the creation of an “artificial plant” type fuel source.
    Links: Top 100 Plants, Top 100 Flowers, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_photosynthesis,
  11. In Vitro Meat

    In vitro meat, also known as cultured meat, is animal flesh that has never been part of a complete, living animal. (May turn out to be tasty, but something about this seems wrong). Several current research projects are growing in vitro meat experimentally, although no meat has yet been produced for public consumption. The first generation products will most likely be minced meat, and a long-term goal is to grow fully developed muscle tissue. Potentially, any animal’s muscle tissue could be grown through the in vitro process. A few scientists claim that this technology is ready for commercial use and simply needs a company to back it. Cultured meat is currently prohibitively expensive, but it is anticipated that the cost could be reduced to about twice as expensive as conventionally produced chicken. In vitro meat should not be confused with imitation meat, which is vegetarian food product produced from vegetable protein, usually from soy or gluten. The terms “synthetic meat” and “artificial meat” may refer to either. In vitro meat has also been described, somewhat derisively, as “laboratory-grown” meat.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_vitro_meat,
  12. Links: Emerging Technologies, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_emerging_technologies,

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