Technology

When "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart announced he was leaving the program, corporate journalism declared that Millennials without faux news would have no news at all. In reality, Millennials barely watched it, the steady viewers were older and wanted to seem like Millennials, but journalists couldn't figure out where else they might be getting news. Unless they were just passive and uninterested in civic issues - newsless.

Last week, prominent tech site Gigaom ceased operations with the terse note “Gigaom recently became unable to pay its creditors in full at this time”.

Started in 2006 by Om Malik, the site had raised about $40 million over that period to create a technology news site, an IT analysis business and another business running IT events. None of them could make enough money to cover the $400,000 a month needed to keep the business going.

Two things that have caught my attention recently.

The first concerns trapping solar energy.  One way to do this is to convert it directly into electricity with a solar panel, but one with much wider application would be to split water into oxygen and hydrogen, which can then be stored and transported.
A new app for finding and mapping chromosomal loci uses multicolored versions of CRISPR/Cas9. The labeling system, developed by  the University of Massachusetts Medical School, could be a key to understanding the spatial and temporal regulation of gene expression by allowing researchers to measure the precise linear distance between two known points on different chromosomes or two locations on the same chromosome in live human cells. 
A new system called BASIC could give synthetic biology a boost by creating artificial DNA that is faster, more accurate and more flexible than existing methods. 

To engineer new organisms, scientists build artificial genes from individual molecules and then put these together to create larger genetic constructs which, when inserted into a cell, will create the required product. Various attempts have been made to standardisz the design and assembly process but, until now, none have been completely successful. 
Apple has found a new use for their iPhone - medicine. People had already created lots of apps, of course, but ResearchKit, due out next month, is the first Apple framework to make it easier. 

The framework allows new ways to create apps to track movement, take measurements, and record data and has three active modules: surveys, informed consent, and active tasks. Active tasks is the only one not intuitive - it means they can ask you to perform activities while the sensors are monitoring.

Amid all the dire warnings that machines run by artificial intelligence (AI) will one day take over from humans we need to think more about how we program them in the first place.

The technology may be too far off to seriously entertain these worries – for now – but much of the distrust surrounding AI arises from misunderstandings in what it means to say a machine is “thinking”.

One of the current aims of AI research is to design machines, algorithms, input/output processes or mathematical functions that can mimic human thinking as much as possible.

A new test that uses combinations of cells from a single donor’s blood can predict whether a new drug will cause a severe immune reaction in humans.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to walk a mile (or 1.6 kilometers) in somebody else’s shoes?

Or have you ever tried to send a telepathic message to a partner in transit to “pick up milk on your way home”?

Recent advances in brain-computer interfaces are turning the science fantasy of transmitting thoughts directly from one brain to another into reality.

Drug testing is most commonly performed using urine samples and its accuracy has made it the gold standard, but collecting samples is inconvenient so a group of researchers from the Department of Laboratory Medicine at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden have been working on developing an alternative to urine testing that focuses on exhaled breath.

Professor Olof Beck, lead researcher of the study, and his team have developed the first fully validated and robust screening method for the routine measurement of drugs of abuse in exhaled breath. The procedure involves a simple method of sample collection and preparation, which is followed by a highly sensitive analytical technique known as LC-MS (Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry).