Could we be close to man-made cow’s milk?

Posted by Cheryl Perkins on July 26, 2014

The food sciences industry has made a startling advance this week as reported by the Washington Post. Apparently making a synthetic version of cow’s milk can be surprisingly easy:

Biohackers Ryan Pandya and Perumal Gandhi are working on crafting a plant-based concoction that’s nearly identical in makeup to what’s found in grocery milk.

To achieve this, they’ve gone so far as modifying sunflower oil so that it can take on a structural composition similar to milk fats, substituted lactose with galactose, a nearly indistinguishable sugar, and culturing yeast to release casein, a natural animal milk protein. If successful, the process they’ve developed could someday be used to churn out a wide range of dairy products, such as cheese, butter and yogurt.

The duo, both with bioengineering backgrounds, are the co-founders of Muufri, a San Francisco-based start-up that hopes to fashion the idea of lab-brewed milk as a more humane alternative for consumers. Funded by Singularity University’s Synthetic Biology Accelerator program, they’ve spent the last few months in a lab at University College Cork in Ireland, where they’re closing in on a prototype batch that’s 100 percent animal-free.

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Are slums the model for sustainable living?

Posted by Cheryl Perkins on July 25, 2014

There is a fascinating climate change article over at International Business News this week, detailing how sustainability designers are looking to slums as a “proving ground” for experiments in innovation and new methods of local transit–particularly via cable car or gondola.

In the past decade or so, cable car transit systems have become increasingly popular in Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela, especially in hillside slums where the only other way down is by narrow, zigzagging walkways and corridors. The soaring lifts carry commuters over the rooftops of the shanties, making the trek considerably easier and connecting residents with hospitals, train stations and commercial centers below.

In Rio de Janeiro, a six-station gondola lift that runs above the city’s Complexo do Alemão favela has turned a 1 1/2-hour hike to a nearby commuter rail station into a 16-minute aerial hop. In addition to a cable car system of its own, Medellín, Colombia, has an impressive, 1,200-foot covered escalator that slices through the sloped, densely populated community of Comuna Trece.

Read more here:

Up close, nature is incredibly innovative!

Posted by Cheryl Perkins on July 22, 2014

I came across an amazing collection of up-close images taken via a high-powered microscope the other day. I found it over at Washington Post, and it shows what we can’t see with our naked human eyes.  From toe hairs on a gecko to bubonic plague bacteria, nature is full of beautiful surprises. What can we learn from these?
See the slide show here:

Ice cream for 3-D Printed treats

Posted by Cheryl Perkins on July 21, 2014

Did you know you can make tasty desserts via 3-D printing?  Yes, you can whip up a pizza, a burger and now even ice cream. Students at MIT did this recently with their “Solidoodle printer,” which they designed to be able to customize ice cream treats. But the real challenge with ice cream is the temperature, reports Digital Trends:

The 3D printer was placed inside a small freezer, while the printed mixture itself was sprayed with a liquid nitrogen solution. After several less-than-impressive early runs, the setup eventually printed a star-shaped dessert that might one day appear on a restaurant menu.

“We were inspired to design this printer because we wanted to make something fun with this up-and-coming technology in a way that we could grab the attention of kids,” Kristine Bunker told TechCrunch. “We felt that it was just as important to come up with a new technology as it was to interest the younger generation in pursuing science and technology so we can continue pushing the limits of what is possible.”

The MIT students had to modify their $499 Solidoodle printer to move the base of the device outside its original enclosure to leave room for the liquid nitrogen cooler. The challenge then was to create a mechanism that meant all the parts of the design were cooled in equal measure.

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A safety check…

Posted by Cheryl Perkins on July 19, 2014

Date rape is a global problem, and drug-laced drinks are often tied to trafficking of women. I wish we didn’t need to think about the need for innovations like this one. Fortunately, there are companies that do think about safety at a time when there are some who will take advantage of women in this way.

It’s called “Pd.id” (short for Personal Drink ID), and it is a small battery-operated kit the size of a stick of gum. When dipped into a soda or cocktail, it can detect even the smallest traces of drugs like Rohypnol, zolpidem, and other benzodiazepines.
Digital Trends reports this:

According to founder J. David Wilson, the hardware uses the same technology that the US DEA has employed for years, just shrunk down to a smaller size. Once dunked into your drink, the pd.id collects a small sample, analyzing its density, resistance and temperature to determine if a foreign agent, like rohypnol, has been introduced. And as you’d expect from any modern gadget, the pd.id can also pair and function in tandem with your smart phone, accessing an extensive database of drink profiles and alerting you with a text or call that your drink has been tampered with.

The company behind the device has already ironed out most of the wrinkles in the technology and produced a number of working prototypes, so now it’s turning to Indiegogo to raise funds for large-scale production. If it can raise $100,000 over the next 40 days, the team aims to have pd.id on sale within six months. If/when it officially launches, the device will sell for around $130, but if you back the project now you can snag one up for just $75.

Have you heard of “Fog harvesting?”

Posted by Cheryl Perkins on July 15, 2014

MIT students are learning how to take the moisture from the atmosphere to nourish some of the driest places on the planet, thanks to new technology and innovative thinking.  The fog harvesting equipment is especially useful in central Chile, where a series of mesh-patterned nets are trapping and and condensing tiny droplets of moisture from the dense coastal fog. As the water accumulates, it drips into containers that can then be used to deliver much-needed potable water in arid areas where it is needed.

It looks like this:

Read about it here:

Innovation from Title Town

Posted by Cheryl Perkins on July 10, 2014

It’s getting closer to pre-season, football fans! So to kick things off (sorry!), I thought I’d share how the Green Bay Packer’s new 21,500 square-foot pro shop has redesigned it’s layout and merchandise in a cool way to attract fans

The 15 month project is a complete remodel of the northern and eastern faces of Lambeau Field and much of the Atrium’s interior public areas:

Check out the story here:

Tank-like wheelchair is a labor of love

Posted by Cheryl Perkins on July 5, 2014

Check out this amazing all-terrain wheelchair that is built much like a military tank:

Even more incredible is this man’s story behind the invention: Brad Soden is an army vet, a plumber, a volunteer firefighter and husband to his wife, Liz, who is paralyzed from the waist down after a car accident.

Soden has invented these custom-built wheelchairs at a cost of about $15,000.
Read more here:

Graphene will transform your gadgets and your life

Posted by Cheryl Perkins on June 30, 2014

300px-GraphenGraphene is an amazing material that will soon transform our gadgets to be thinner, more durable, and help us surf online 100 times faster.

Imagine something so thin – a million times thinner than paper, according to the American Physical Society.
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Graphene is really pushing the frontiers of what could be – make that what WILL be!

Juno Power your smartphone to jumpstart your car

Posted by Cheryl Perkins on June 28, 2014

Imagine jump-starting your dead car battery – with your smartphone! JUNOJUMPR is one smartphone accessory in the form of a portable charger, that can also be used to jumpstart a car in the case of a breakdown.  It costs about  $70. Here’s more via the Auto Blog:

Image via Junopower

Image via Junopower

Since we carry and deal with more and more items that need batteries, we have to figure out better and mobile ways of charging those batteries – at least until John Galt arrives and shows us how to harness electricity from the air. In the meantime, the Jumpr from Juno Power is one of those chargers trying to make our lives easier by being able to both charge your small portable electronic devices as well as your car battery.

There’s a 6,000 mAh battery in that sky blue case, which Juno Power says is also good for a 12-volt boost at 300 amps. The company says it’s robust enough “to jumpstart almost all four-cylinder and six-cylinder engines,” but in case you’re wondering how 300 amps can run safely through those tender cables in the image above, it’s possible that Juno Power is playing casual with the meaning of “jumpstart;” elsewhere on the product page we’re told that the Jumpr ” is capable of jumping a completely dead car battery in minutes.” So it sounds like this is less of a jump for your car and more of a series of quick, restorative hops of electricity – or, in other words, something we call “charging.”   SOURCE