Tag Archives: Brian Mastroianni

Scientists implant tiny robots inside live mice

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File photo. (Reuters)

Can robots travel inside living animals? It sounds like science fiction, but scientists have just made it a reality by implanting tiny nano-robots inside living mice. Researchers from the Department of Nanoengineering at the University of California, San Diego, published their report on the first successful tests of implanting micro robots designed to disperse drugs within a body, reports SmithsonianMag.com.

As the research report states, these kinds of robots have been tested “in vitro,” or outside the body, in the past, while this is the first time that this technology has been studied “in vivo,” or inside the body. The zinc-based robots — only the width of a strand of human hair — were ingested orally by the mice. The zinc reacted with the animal’s stomach acid, producing hydrogen bubbles that propelled the robots into the stomach lining. As soon as the robots attached to the stomach, they dissolved, delivering the medicine into the stomach tissue, i09 reports.

For the researchers, this work could pave the way for implanting similar robots in humans. This could be an effective way of delivering drugs to the stomach in order to treat something like a peptic ulcer, the BBC reports.

“While additional ‘in vivo’ characterizations are warranted to further evaluate the performance and functionalities of various man-made micromotors in living organisms, this study represents the very first steps toward such a goal,” reads the research report. According to the researchers, this work moves toward “expanding the horizon of man-made nanomachines in medicine.”

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Mummy mask papyrus may reveal oldest-known gospel

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File photo. (REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

A team of researchers made a surprising find when examining a papyrus-wrapped mummy mask — they found what they believe to be the oldest-known copy of a gospel in existence. The researchers found a fragment of the Gospel of Mark that dates back to about 90 A.D., Live Science reports. Previously, the oldest surviving copies of Biblical gospel texts date back to 101 to 200 A.D.

The text was written on a papyrus sheet that was later reused for the mummy mask. While the stereotypical image of ancient mummies involves bejeweled golden masks, that level of finery was only reserved for the wealthy. The mummy mask for the average person would have been made out of recycled material like papyrus, according to SmithsonianMag.com.

In order to retrieve the text without damaging it, the research team applied a method of ungluing the papyrus without obscuring the paper’s ink. About three-dozen researchers are using this technique to analyze hundreds of texts from mummy masks.

“We’re recovering ancient documents from the first, second and third centuries,” Craig Evans, a professor of New Testament studies at Acadia Divinity College in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, told Live Science.

Evans is part of a large team of researchers working on the project, which is based in Oklahoma City. “The scholars involved are from all over the world,” he told FoxNews.com.

The academic said that the team has uncovered documents from a range of eras. These include not just Christian texts, but classical Greek texts like copies of stories by Homer and even personal letters.

Some of the personal documents and business papers found within the masks have dates on them, Evans said. This particular gospel was dated partly by looking at the other documents found within the same mask.

This technique is not without controversy. The ancient masks are destroyed in order to retrieve the documents. However, Evans asserted that “we’re not talking about the destruction of any museum-quality piece.”

Roberta Mazza, lecturer in classics and ancient history at the University of Manchester, wrote a blog post critical of the work of Evans and his research team. In reference to a speech Evans made about the gospel text discovery, Mazza wrote that “the audience who attend their talks are told fantasy stories on the retrieval of papyrus fragments and their date … apologists’ speeches are not only misinformed, but can even encourage more people to buy mummy masks on the antiquities market and dissolve them in Palmolive soap.”

Last year Mazza found a 1,500-year old piece of papyrus in the university’s John Rylands library that contains some of the earliest documented references to the Last Supper and ‘manna from heaven.’

For the researchers examining the mummy mask, the text’s discovery marks a significant achievement. Evans said that the text could offer clues about how the Gospel of Mark might have changed over time.

A first volume of the various texts found on the mummies will be published by the researchers later this year.

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Jules Verne was Right Again!

Jumbo squid attack submarine

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Screen shot from a Vine video. (Greenpeace USA)

It is like a scene from an old wives’ tale about the giant, tentacled kraken dragging shipping vessels to their doom — two Humboldt squid, flashing an angry red, attack a Dual Deep Worker submersible containing two Greenpeace USA divers on an expedition in the Bering Sea. In a Vine video shot by one of the divers, the two large cephalopods, also commonly referred to as “jumbo squid” or “red devils,” rush at the submersible while spewing vision-obscuring clouds of ink.

The video feeds the perception that the large mollusks – smaller than the elusive giant squid, but still weighing up to 100 pounds and measuring as long as 6.2 feet — are aggressively violent and dangerous to humans. The creatures typically range from 660 to 2,300 feet below the surface of the water, and roam off the coasts of British Columbia all the way down to Chile. In fact, its name is derived from the Humboldt Current off the western coast of South America.

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Much feared by fishermen and divers alike, the animals are said to be more aggressive than many of their calmer mollusk brethren like the octopus. The color-producing chromatophores in their skin generate a brilliant color display – switching from white to blood red — and many scientists believe the changes in hue are how the squid communicate with one another. Adding to their fearsome image, the animals possess over 100 suckers on their tentacles, each lined with sharp “teeth” used to dig into their prey.

The creatures have long inspired writers and explorers alike. In a 2006 article for Outside Magazine, Tim Zimmermann describes an underwater encounter with the squid.

To watch the video:

https://v.cdn.vine.co/r/videos/C06A9455921132360196870787072_238cb91db02.5.1.9942513653753261824.mp4?versionId=dSSVIK7ZPjbl0809eIMwlUCucSX5xa1m

“I see a jig rising past me, and the hooked squid is flashing red and white like a neon sign. It’s a stunning display, and another extraordinary aspect of Humboldt squid behavior,” Zimmermann writes of a just-caught squid. “You can almost feel the squid’s emotion being transmitted through the water. In this case, it appears to be fear – or at least a vain plea for mercy,”

As with Zimmerman’s description of the ocean dwellers, many scientists believe that the animals are not necessarily aggressive until provoked. The squids’ response in the video might have been instigated by the submarine’s bright lights. While Greenpeace has not released any more information on the encounter, the video has been making the rounds on social media. On Twitter, some users reveal their fear of the animals like @logan607 who writes, “this is why I never leave #Manhattan,” while others share their fascination with the creatures, with @crave even tweeting that the squid are “pretty cute actually.”

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