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Robotic Hand with Bones, Ligaments and Tendons Created for First Time Using 3D Printing

in Technology 46 views

Using new innovations in 3D printing, scientists at ETH Zurich have succeeded for the first time in printing a robotic hand with bones, ligaments, and tendons—all made of different polymers in one go.

The various polymers can be fine-tuned to replicate the elasticity or rigidity of a human hand, representing a major advancement over existing 3D-printed prosthetics.

While 3D printing technology was previously limited to fast-curing plastics, researchers have now made it suitable for slow-curing plastics as well.

They say these materials have “decisive” advantages as they have enhanced elastic properties and are more durable and robust.

The use of such polymers is made possible by new technology developed by researchers at ETH Zurich in Switzerland and a US startup from Mass. Institute of Technology which can be used to create delicate structures and parts with cavities as desired. InkBit from MIT now offers the technology and prints complex objects on customer request.

The technology also makes it easy to combine soft, elastic, and rigid materials.

“We wouldn’t have been able to make this hand with the fast-curing polyacrylates we’ve been using in 3D printing so far,” said Thomas Buchner, a doctoral student from ETH Zurich who led the authorship of the paper published on their work.

“We’re now using slow-curing thiolene polymers. These have very good elastic properties and return to their original state much faster after bending than polyacrylates,” he said, adding this makes them ideal for making complex prosthetics.

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First Advanced Parkinson’s Patient to Walk Again with New Spinal Implant, ‘It’s Incredible’

in Health/Technology 23 views

A Frenchman who received a new spinal implant has regained significant motor functions including the ability to walk unaided for miles after losing all such faculties to advanced-stage Parkinson’s Disease.

In the latter stages of the moto-neuron disorder, patients lose the ability to correctly use their muscles, and at some points movement can shut off entirely and they can crumple to the floor.

63-year-old Marc from Bordeaux, France was diagnosed with the condition 20 years ago, and it got so bad that there had to be someone holding his arms at all times in case his walking gait just froze.

He was the subject of the experimental spinal implant technology developed through a collaboration between the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne and the Lausanne University Hospital that has also restored some mobility to a man with a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed.

When you see images of people with spinal cord injuries walking again with the help of implants, there’s normally a computer attached to their back, or they’re in a laboratory setting.

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New Pacemaker Developed that Uses the Heartbeat to Recharge its Battery

in Health/Technology 395 views

By generating electrical energy from the heartbeat, a new pacemaker developed by scientists in Seattle was able to partially recharge itself.

Although the beat only generated 10% of the energy needed for the next heartbeat, the researchers hope that their breakthrough will become the standard, since changing a battery in a wireless pacemaker requires heart surgery, convincing most people to just implant a second one.

The new device is much smaller than a traditional pacemaker due to its wireless nature, measuring about one-third the size of a AAA battery and residing entirely in the heart’s right ventricle.

“We hope to prolong battery life further and expand access of this product to younger patients, who would hopefully require fewer implants over their lifetime,” said Dr. Babak Nazer of the University of Washington in Seattle, who led the paper demonstrating his team’s new invention.

“When we can improve upon our 10 percent harvesting efficiency, we hope to partner with one of the major pacemaker companies to incorporate our design and housing into an existing leadless pacemaker,” he added.

By converting mechanical energy into electrical energy, the experimental wireless pacemaker housing is able to partially recharge its battery—the same technology used in some experimental electricity-generating roads.

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Google Launches Flood Predicting Tool–Already Helped Early Evacutations in Chile

in Technology 250 views

Google doesn’t just use satellite data and machine learning to help you find Vietnamese food in the city you’re visiting, it’s actively protecting developing countries from flooding.

This August, the Chilean areas of Constitucion and Maule witnessed devastating floods that left thousands homeless, but many were able to gather critical belongings and evacuate because Google sent out warnings 2 days in advance of the flooding through their Flood Hub modeling tool.

Riverine floods, when heavy rains cause rivers to overflow their banks, happen all over the world all the time, and are a little like the unsung villain of natural disasters.

It was long thought impossible to predict these foods because of the number of factors beyond simple weather reports and forecasts, such as soil composition, topography, potential infrastructure failings, and so on.

“This was really kind of a moonshot, in a way,” said Yossi Matias, vice president of engineering and research at Google. “Can we use machine learning and other technologies in order to try to predict floods at some level of accuracy that would be valuable?”

The answer is, since Flood Hub was launched in 2018 in India, yes, you can—very well in fact.

The baseline unit of analysis in the tool is thousands of detailed satellite images of waterways that can build a topographical understanding of the river’s course and gather scientific information on flooding rates, soil composition, history of erosion, and so on. This is then treated to a deep-learning program that creates flooding models based on the addition of weather forecasts and rainfall data.

The result is what they call their global hydrologic model, and has been in use across dozens of countries for the last five years, and was recently introduced in the US and Canada. This monsoon season in India and Bangladesh, Flood Hub sent out 45 million alerts.

“It allowed us to provide flood forecasting information even in places where the historical data is quite scarce,” Matias told Adele Peters of Fast Company Magazine, reporting on the tool.

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Europe’s First-Ever Private Rocket Blasts Off to Space Thanks to Spanish Company PLD

in Technology 266 views

When was the last time American headlines read positive about the Spanish economy? Well now, thanks to the successful test flight of a Spanish reusable space rocket, let the presses ring out that Spanish innovation is alive and well.

Private astronautics company PLD has successfully proved the Miura-1 reusable rocket is capable of space flight, and that Spain is now the 10th country on Earth with direct access to space.

The rocket, named after a type of fighting bull from which an old Lamborghini model also took its name, flew 28.6 miles (46 kilometers) into suborbital space on a flight lasting 306 seconds.

Designed as a lighter, cheaper way for governments and companies to put satellites into orbit, the Miura has a payload of 220 pounds (100 kg).

“This launch is the result of more than 12 years of hard work, but it is only the beginning of what is to come,” PLD founder and Launch Director Raul Torres said in a statement.

“Thanks to this experimental flight, we will be able to extract a large volume of information that will allow us to validate a large part of the design and technology that will serve as the basis for developing our orbital launcher, MIURA 5.”

The mission ended with a splash in the Atlantic Ocean, with the company saying they were ready to retrieve it hours after the test launch concluded.

Even though the hopes for the test flight were for an 80-kilometer journey and 12 minutes in microgravity, the success in other fields for the Miura-1 comes at an interesting time when the premier launching vehicle for European space entrepreneurs and agencies, the Ariane 5, is now unavailable as the Ariane 6 comes into the final stages of development.

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Ultrasound Scanners Inside of a Bra Could Detect Breast Cancer Earlier, and Between Screenings

in Health 248 views

A miniature ultrasound device, fitted to a flexible polymer strap, can be slipped into a bra and detect breast cancer tumors among those most at risk of developing one.

The invention is significant for several reasons, and if perfected and developed, could save hundreds of lives.

The first reason it could be a major medical advancement is that developing breast cancer tumors in their earliest stages leads to a nearly 100% survival rate. The second is that developing a tumor even in the space between mammograms does happen, and not at a small rate. Depending on the country, 20-30% of all tumors are found in people who were in between routine screenings.

The device was developed at MIT, and once worn, it allows the user to move an ultrasound tracker across the bra and check for tumors.

“We changed the form factor of the ultrasound technology so that it can be used in your home. It’s portable and easy to use, and provides real-time, user-friendly monitoring of breast tissue,” says Canan Dagdeviren, an associate professor in MIT’s Media Lab, senior author of the study demonstrating its functionality, and inventor of the device.

Dagdeviren drew inspiration for the device from her aunt, Fatma Caliskanoglu, who died after developing aggressive breast cancer tumors between routine screenings after just six months. Sitting by her bedside, Dagdeviren sketched out her idea for the wearable ultrasound bra insert.

In the study, the researchers tested the device on a 71-year-old woman with a history of breast cysts. They confirmed that it could detect the cysts, which were only 0.3 centimeters long, or around the size of an early-stage tumor. They also confirmed that it provided a depth of vision comparable to traditional ultrasound machines used to look for tumors in a hospital or cancer center.

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Sci-Tech Center opens temporary home in Thompson Park zoo

in Uncategorized 242 views

Six months after it was closed by a flooded basement, the Sci-Tech Center has a temporary place to call home.

On Thursday, the Sci-Tech Center opened a display in the Conservation Center at Zoo New York in Thompson Park.

“We’re keeping our programs going as we continue to work on getting back open,” Sci-Tech executive director Stephen A. Karon said.

The displays teach science through each of the five senses, he said.

Lawrence Sorel, Zoo New York executive director, said he is happy to help out a fellow science community organization.

Work continues on making repairs to reopen the Sci-Tech Center at 154 Stone St. after a broken pipe left 3 feet of water in its basement on Jan. 5, Karon said.

Recently, the center got its electrical power back, but it will be a while before all the repairs can be made.

Work on fixing the heating, communication, water and mechanical systems are now underway.

Karon does not know when the center can welcome guests once again.

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For New Rover, NASA is Swapping Buggy Shape for a Giant Snake in Hopes it Can Explore Icy Moon of Saturn

in Technology 1,015 views

NASA is testing an all-terrain slithering robot to explore tunnels, glaciers, and snowdrifts on Saturn’s icy moon of Enceladus.

The 13-foot-long (4 meter) machine is called EELS, or the Exobiology Extant Life Surveyor, owing to theories that the icy-covered world of Enceladus may have a subsurface ocean of liquid water—one of the solar system’s best places to look for signs of extraterrestrial life.

For nearly 30 years, robotic rovers have retained the same buggy-shape and design, from the original Pathfinder Rover in 1996 to Perseverence in 2021.

But these have been designed to travese deserts like the Moon and Mars—covered in a loose mixture of sand and crushed rock known as regolith. Enceladus presents an entirely different set of challenges.

“It has the capability to go to locations where other robots can’t go. Though some robots are better at one particular type of terrain or other, the idea for EELS is the ability to do it all,” Matthew Robinson, EELS project manager, says in the statement.

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Hannaford Community Bag program supports Sci-Tech

in Technology 139 views

Store leadership at Hannaford’s Watertown location has selected the Sci-Tech Center to receive a $1 donation from every purchase of the $2.50 Hannaford Community Bag.

The fundraiser runs through May. More than $1.2 million has been donated by Hannaford to more than 5,000 local nonprofits since the program began in 2015.

“The selection of Sci-Tech for this program is another indication of how our community has come together to support Sci-Tech since the devastating flood on January 5th, forced our building to temporarily close,” Sci-Tech executive director Steve Karon said in a news release. “As we continue necessary repairs to our building, Hannaford’s support will be of immense help.”

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New AI-Powered Farming Robot Trundles About Inspecting 50 Acres of Crops per Day for Pests and Disease

in Enviroment/Technology 152 views

Most people imagine robots at work in a factory, but there’s no less innovation going on at the farm—take this spoke-wheeled robot plant nurse who can inspect 50 acres of row crops for disease, pests, or other issues.

Trundling through fields a little like a tumbleweed, the SentiV scouting robot is currently just a prototype, but its designers hope that the high unit cost can be offset with savings on pesticides and fertilizer, as the SentiV can determine exactly which plants need what.

Planting is a seriously stressful time for farmers, as all the input costs stack up while profit lies far away in the distant months. Furthermore, many things can go wrong between planting and harvest time, whether that’s a sudden outbreak of disease, pests moving into the area, or a proliferation of weeds.

Manually inspecting crops can take hours while airborne drones can’t see under the leaves.

That’s why a 33-pound robot that moves about on spokes rather than wheels or treads which crush plants could be ideal for farmers looking to reduce labor costs and hours.

Placing the GPS coordinates of the field’s boundaries, the SentiV then uses these boundaries as a guide to map the whole field—up to 50 acres in a day, scanning both the underside and topside of plants with a pair of cameras.

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