News from around the ‘Net! Step up, get your steaming fresh news, right out the broadband! It doesn’t get fresher than this…okay, maybe it does, but wow is this stuff exciting.
What Do You Mean I Have A Dead Guy’s Windpipe?
The BBC broke the news Friday of a ten-year-old British boy who a week ago became the world’s first child recipient of a stem cell transplant. According to the report, the boy had been born with a windpipe only 0.039 inches wide and had been unable to breathe on his own; a surgery that installed a metal scaffold implant proved successful for a year before it ripped through a major artery and nearly killed the unidentified child. Now the windpipe of a deceased donor has been impregnated with the boy’s own marrow stem cells and transplanted into the child – this brings the risk of rejection to nearly null.
The procedure was developed in 2008 by a team of doctors out of Italy and Spain, presumably in an attempt to artificially inflate the patient’s ability to deep-throat. Regardless, this is, as head of translational regenerative medicine at University College London Professor Martin Birchall indicates, “…a real milestone.” This procedure is proof of concept, certainly, but it’s still decades away from being applied as a standard practice. Still ahead are many clinical trials, but combine this sort of treatment along with p21 deactivation and kids of the future may as well be Wolverine. I can imagine it now: “When I was your age, we had to grow back our own missing limbs!” “Put a cork in it Grandpa and pass me the laser hatchet.”
Microscopic electricity generating wires and suspended animation a reality, after the jump.
Microscopic Wires Generate Hella Power (That’s a Scientific Term)
In another development that my grandchildren will take for granted, researchers out of MIT have engineered a new way to produce electricity, a phenomenon referred to as “thermopower waves,” R&D Magazine reported earlier this month. The process involves carbon nanotubes, which have already been used to turn paper into batteries, lined up to create microscopic wires coated with a highly combustible fuel; thereafter, a laser or a spark is sent through the tubes, igniting the fuel. The fuel burns and sends a charge of electricity propelling ahead of it, a shocking amount of energy, equivalent, by weight, to 100X the charge held in a typical lithium-ion battery.
Scientists aren’t quite sure how this reaction occurs, considering the process is produced by the Seebeck Effect and carbon is shitty catalyst for this. As Michael Strano, the Charles and Hilda Roddey Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, of MIT said in the interview, “There’s something else happening here. We call it electron entrainment since part of the current appears to scale with wave velocity.” Do you know what that means? It means that the farther the current travels down the tube, the more electricity it generates. That’s like a runner picking up speed the further along the marathon he runs; that’s like Steel’s hammer hitting harder the farther it goes! This is the stuff of science fiction man – except it may be closer to science friction! Too corny? Okay, back to the story at hand.
Because this technology is in such an infant state, it’s difficult to say, specifically, what this tech’s application is. Strano suggests this tech may be used to power devices the size of a grain of rice, or allow modern technologies, like your cell phone (which works on direct current), to operate on alternating current, like God and Nikola Tesla (same thing) intended. Furthermore, this system will allow batteries to hold their charges indefinitely until usage, unlike modern batteries that gradually ebb away by just sitting there. The future just called – they say our technology sucks.
Mr. Freeze Ain’t Got Nothing on Mark Roth
“I believe we’re on the path to understanding metabolic flexibility in a fundamental way.” – Mark Roth
You want to talk about science fiction? Try this on for size. Researchers out of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington discovered a method for using hydrogen sulfide to put mice into suspended animation, reported Popular Science on Friday. Popular Science is known to get things wrong sometimes, which is why you should click the link over there and watch the TED video (or watch it below) – this shit’s realer than real.
The mice were subjected to massive heart-attacks, severe blood loss, and a battery of other ridiculous tests, and thanks to carefully measured doses of the toxin (which we actually produce ourselves, primarily in our brain) and a reduction in core temperature, SURVIVED. This was back in 2005. In 2008 the company founded on these principles, Ikaria (pronounced I-care-e-uh), began doing clinical studies on humans and have received Phase One clearance. Not the inducing infarctions, draining blood thing – just regulated doses of hydrogen sulfide to induce suspended animation. That’s right, Mark Roth, the researcher who headed these studies, can make humans hibernate better than bears can. Why is this important, you ask?
Imagine you have a massive heart attack. The ambulance arrives, the EMT gives you a shot in the arm and packs your chest in ice. You go beddy-bye. A day later you wake up in the hospital, have had a heart transplant injected with your own stem cells, a pacemaker powered by a microscopic battery, and one of your genes has been turned off to help promote your recovery. Someone’s waving a discharge form in your face, trying to get you to sign it so you can empty out the bed for someone who really needs it, like the guy whose arms and legs were cut off in a tragic laser hatchet accident. You pick up your time-phone and call a blogger in the distant past and tell him how much the advanced technology of his time-period sucks, sign the form and get on with your awesome life. Ain’t the future grand?