The Exciting Breakthroughs Thread

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The Exciting Breakthroughs Thread

Post by BarrileteCosmico on Tue Dec 03, 2013 3:59 pm

A thread to post the very cool next generation developments that will make a difference to the world.

I'll start things off with some #ArgentinaRepresent

A "potentially revolutionary" device to help women during difficult births has come from an unlikely source - a car mechanic from Argentina, who based the idea on a party trick.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-25137800

Apart from having five children of his own, Jorge Odon had no connection with the world of obstetrics. He did however have a talent for invention.

"It comes naturally - for instance if I have a problem in my workplace I will go to bed and my head will think it through and I will wake up in the middle of the night with a solution," he says.

But until 2005, all his patents - eight in total - were in the field of mechanics, stabilisation bars, car suspensions and the like.

All this changed after Odon's staff at the garage showed him a YouTube video revealing how to extract a loose cork from inside an empty bottle. It's remarkably simple. You tilt the bottle, stuff a plastic bag down the neck and blow into the opening. The bag balloons inside the bottle, wrapping itself tightly around the cork. Then you just pull it out.
Continue reading the main story
“Start Quote

   Two men in the toilet, with my daughters' toys, taking them out of a jar, with Vaseline - our colleagues thought we were mad”

Jorge Odon

Odon immediately challenged a friend, Carlos Modena, to a bet over dinner. He placed a bottle containing a cork on the dinner table, and laid out several objects, including a bread bag. Thoroughly puzzled, Modena insisted the only way of getting the cork out would be to smash the bottle. So Odon showed him his trick, and won the bet.

But that night, as he slept next to his wife, Odon had a lightbulb moment - what if he used the same principle to help women give birth? At 04:00 he tried to wake her up. "Marcela, this cork trick could make labour easier!" he said. His wife mumbled, "That's nice," turned over and went back to sleep.

In the days that followed, Odon kept mulling it over, but found it difficult to get people to listen to him. Most thought the idea was crazy. Eventually he persuaded Modena to introduce him to his family's obstetrician.
Odon demonstrates his device on a state-of-the-art mannequin Jorge Odon demonstrates the device on a dummy at Des Moines University

"We went to a hospital and sat - in our suits - in a room full of expectant mothers," Odon says. "My friend was still sceptical, so when we went to see the doctor, at first he sat quite far away from me. But once he saw that the doctor was interested in this idea and quite impressed, he moved his chair closer and started saying 'we' have invented this!"
Continue reading the main story
“Start Quote

   For many years, almost centuries, there has been no innovation in this area of work”

Mario Merialdi WHO

Encouraged, Odon registered a patent and set about building a prototype. He and Modena took his daughter's dolls and some jam jars, and began experimenting in his workshop. "Two men in the toilet, with my daughters' toys, taking them out of a jar, with Vaseline. Our colleagues could see us and obviously they thought we were a little bit mad," he says.

Once he had a working model, Odon approached Dr Javier Schvartzman at the Centre for Medical Education and Clinical Research in Buenos Aires. When Odon got out his bottle and cork, Schvartzman wondered if he was being secretly filmed for a hidden-camera show.

"When he showed me the trick I thought it was crazy - crazy but interesting," he says. But he agreed to work with Odon to develop the device.

The first prototype was a glass uterus, into which two large bags were introduced. When Schvartzman explained that thrusting a bag all the way into the uterus might perforate its lining, Odon adapted the model so that the bag was only applied over the head.
glass womb holding baby doll to demonstrate device

By 2008, the project had come to the attention of the World Health Organization. On a visit to Buenos Aires, its chief co-ordinator for improving maternal and perinatal health, Dr Mario Merialdi, asked for a demonstration. The meeting, planned to last 10 minutes, stretched to two hours.

"I was intrigued, but also sceptical because for many years, almost centuries, there has been no innovation in this area of work," Merialdi says.

Birthing instruments are used in about one in 10 births, usually forceps, or the ventouse - where a suction cap attached to the head helps to pull the baby out. Both have downsides. Forceps may damage vaginal tissues and can fracture the baby's skull, as there is no limit to how much force you can apply. A ventouse delivery is less traumatic for the mother, but may still damage the baby's scalp.
Bruising from forceps and scabs from ventouse Bruising from forceps and scabs from ventouse

Forceps were first developed in the 16th Century by the Chamberlen family, Huguenot surgeons who fled to London from France, and kept their invention under wraps. Once their secret got out, other surgeons copied them. "The Victorian era saw some monstrous modifications such as attaching the handles of the forceps to a winch, while the mother was tied down, in order to improve the traction," says Damian Eustace from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. However, the forceps in use today haven't changed much since the late 1800s - the more complicated they become, the harder they are to use and the more expensive to sterilise.

The earliest known vacuum extractor - the Air Tractor - was produced in 1838 by James Young Simpson in Edinburgh. But it only really became a practical alternative to the forceps in the 1950s with the development of the Malmstrom extractor, named after Swedish professor Tage Malmstrom. "Modifications of his original design are still in use on labour wards today," Eustace says, but new materials (plastics and siliconised rubber) have radically improved the apparatus and, at least in the UK, it is now used more commonly than forceps.
Continue reading the main story
History of birthing instruments
The Chamberlen forceps
A selection of ventouse devices

   Chamberlen forceps (top) date back to the 16th Century
   The ventouse (above) has been widely used since the 1950s, when a metal cap was designed in Sweden by Professor Tage Malmstrom

The Odon device imitates the bottle trick. A double layer of plastic is inserted via the birth canal to surround the baby's head. Some air is then pumped into the bag, inflating a plastic chamber that gently grips the head around the chin (there is no obstruction to the baby's breathing because it does not breathe through the nose until birth). Then the baby can be pulled out through the birth canal, without causing damage or bleeding.

In 2008, Odon took his creation to Des Moines University in Iowa for extensive testing in a state-of-the-art birth simulator, with WHO experts observing closely. This was a turning point for Odon.

"I couldn't believe that they would believe in me. It was a special moment," he says.

The experts could see the potential for this cheap and simple device in developing countries, where prolonged or obstructed births are often fatal.

Animation showing how the Odon device works

Worldwide, about 5.6 million babies are stillborn or die soon after birth every year. Some 260,000 mothers die as well - 99% of all maternal deaths occur in developing countries. Mothers may bleed to death or die from infection, whereas newborns are in danger of suffocating. Where the mother survives, she may suffer serious complications such as fistula, where tearing links the vagina with the rectum or bladder.

Schvartzman says the most important thing is that the Odon device is easy to use - it could potentially be used by a midwife without a doctor present. It also reduces the risk of transmission from mother to baby of infections such as HIV. And, in developed countries, it could help bring down soaring rates of Caesarean births.

"These features combined make it a potentially revolutionary development in obstetrics," says Merialdi.

The next phase was to test the device in real-life situations.

"The first time I saw it used I promised that if it worked, I would shave off my moustache," Odon says. The moustache had to go.

"I am not sure I would be very comfortable letting my wife, the mother of my children, use some device that has never been tested," Odon says. "But all the women who have volunteered for these trials, they do it for the progress of science, which is something truly beautiful."

Mariana Macchiarola, a 35-year-old singing teacher, was one of 30 women who agreed to pioneer the device. Like the others, she had given birth before.

"To give birth to my first son was a good experience, but quite painful," she says. "I was very frightened and they ended up having to help me by giving me an episiotomy (a cut to the perineum). I suffered a little - it's labour, right?"

In the initial trials the bag was inserted using a spatula, but it wasn't easy. So Odon went home to work on the problem. By the fifth birth, he had invented an inserter, "a very ingenious instrument that permits us to introduce the bag in a very easy way," Schvartzman says.

Macchiarola was the first patient to benefit from the inserter, which was finished the night before she gave birth, in an unusually busy hospital ward.

"Jorge was there, as well as several midwives and obstetricians. There were people filming. It was something truly spectacular," she says. "I had no pain whatsoever. It was very quick and I got to enjoy watching the birth of my son. The first time, I hadn't managed to see it, given my desperation! This time around, I could enjoy it. And it wasn't necessary to get an episiotomy."
Mariana Macchiarola with her baby Leon and husband Pablo Salinas in the hospital Patient No 5 - the inserter was invented the night before baby Leon was born

The inserter evolved still further, with Odon submitting three more patents over the course of 30 trial deliveries. Trials are now continuing on 100 healthy women in Argentina. The next phase of the study will see it tested in problem births in Africa, Asia and Europe.

If the trials go well, Merialdi predicts the device could be in clinical use in two or three years' time. The US company that will manufacture the device, Becton Dickinson and Company, says it will sell it cheaply to developing countries. This is very important to Odon.

"The important thing is that it's affordable so that it can reach everywhere," he says. "More than the economic side of this I have always wanted to save lives, to help people."

Schvartzman puts the success of the project down to two factors: "The genius of Jorge Odon - and the fact that we paid attention.
Continue reading the main story
“Start Quote

   Delivery is a mechanical process so it's not surprising a mechanic solved this problem”

Dr Mario Merialdi WHO

   BBC Health: Pregnancy calendar

"Maybe another doctor would have said goodbye, but we didn't, and that's what has led to this fantastic device," he says. "Doctors are very structured in their thinking and Jorge is a free mind, he can think of new things."

Merialdi agrees that it took an outsider to think of a new approach.

"Albert Einstein used to say that sometimes imagination is more important than knowledge and this is actually the case, because Jorge didn't have any knowledge of obstetrics," he says.

"It's also true that although delivery is a biological function, it's also a mechanical process and so it's not surprising that a mechanic found a way to solve the problem of protracted or obstructed labour. I doubt an obstetrician like me would have thought of a plastic bag with an air chamber in it."

Odon's life has changed completely since he developed his device, and he has handed over the running of the garage to his son.

"In the beginning I used to work in my mechanic workshop so every time there was a birth I had to change my clothes very quickly and go to the hospital, so it was quite crazy. Now I am just working 24/7 on this, otherwise my health would have deteriorated."

But he still can't quite believe that his dream is about to become reality.

"I woke up one night with this idea, it almost felt magical. What I cannot understand is how I came up with a solution to help babies be born. I'm moved by the potential of this invention and I'm especially grateful to the doctors who first believed in me."


Last edited by BarrileteCosmico on Tue Dec 03, 2013 6:08 pm; edited 2 times in total

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Re: The Exciting Breakthroughs Thread

Post by free_cat on Tue Dec 03, 2013 4:32 pm

Nice development, although it really isn't a science advance, it's an engineering one, and a very good one it seems.

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Re: The Exciting Breakthroughs Thread

Post by RedOranje on Tue Dec 03, 2013 4:45 pm

While the thread idea itself is good, this article probably belongs more in the "Medical Breakthroughs" thread than here...

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Re: The Exciting Breakthroughs Thread

Post by BarrileteCosmico on Sun Dec 08, 2013 4:36 am

Killing cancer like the common cold

(CNN) -- Nick Wilkins was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 4 years old, and when the cancer kept bouncing back, impervious to all the different treatments the doctors tried, his father sat him down for a talk.

John Wilkins explained to Nick, who was by then 14, that doctors had tried chemotherapy, radiation, even a bone marrow transplant from his sister.

"I explained to him that we're running out of options," Wilkins remembers telling his son.

There was one possible treatment they could try: an experimental therapy at the University of Pennsylvania.

He asked his son if he understood what it would mean if this treatment didn't work.

"He understood he could die," Wilkins says. "He was very stoic."

A few months later, Nick traveled from his home in Virginia to Philadelphia to become a part of the experiment.

This new therapy was decidedly different from the treatments he'd received before: Instead of attacking his cancer with poisons like chemotherapy and radiation, the Philadelphia doctors taught Nick's own immune cells to become more adept at killing the cancer.

Two months later, he emerged cancer-free. It's been six months since Nick, now 15, received the personalized cell therapy, and doctors still can find no trace of leukemia in his system.

Read full article: http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/07/health/cohen-cancer-study/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

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Re: The Exciting Breakthroughs Thread

Post by RealGunner on Sun Dec 08, 2013 2:40 pm

Shocked

If that can work with more patients

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Re: The Exciting Breakthroughs Thread

Post by BarrileteCosmico on Wed Dec 11, 2013 11:15 pm

Mars Curiosity rover finds life-supporting chemicals

(CNN) -- Curious about life on Mars? NASA's rover Curiosity has now given scientists the strongest evidence to date that the environment on the Red Planet could have supported life billions of years ago.

Since Curiosity made its rock star landing more than a year ago at Gale Crater, the focal point of its mission, the roving laboratory has collected evidence that gives new insights into Mars' past environment.
MAVEN to study Mars from above

NASA scientists announced in March that Mars could have once hosted life -- at least, in the distant past, based on the chemical analysis of powder collected from Curiosity's drill. An area of the crater known as Yellowknife Bay once hosted "slightly salty liquid water," Michael Meyer, lead scientist for the Mars Exploration Program at NASA headquarters in Washington, said earlier this year.

Six new studies released Monday by the journal Science add more insights about these formerly habitable conditions and provide other new knowledge that increase our understanding of the Red Planet. The results were also presented at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.

Curiosity found evidence of clay formations, or "mudstone," in Yellowstone Bay, scientists said Monday. Martian mud is a big deal because this clay may have held the key ingredients for life billions of years ago. It means a lake must have existed in this area.

Read full text: http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/10/tech/mars-curiosity-rover/index.html?sr=fb121013curiosity5p

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Re: The Exciting Breakthroughs Thread

Post by Sri on Thu Dec 12, 2013 1:04 pm

Wow!

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Re: The Exciting Breakthroughs Thread

Post by Raptorgunner on Thu Dec 12, 2013 3:37 pm

@BarrileteCosmico wrote:Mars Curiosity rover finds life-supporting chemicals

(CNN) -- Curious about life on Mars? NASA's rover Curiosity has now given scientists the strongest evidence to date that the environment on the Red Planet could have supported life billions of years ago.

Since Curiosity made its rock star landing more than a year ago at Gale Crater, the focal point of its mission, the roving laboratory has collected evidence that gives new insights into Mars' past environment.
MAVEN to study Mars from above

NASA scientists announced in March that Mars could have once hosted life -- at least, in the distant past, based on the chemical analysis of powder collected from Curiosity's drill. An area of the crater known as Yellowknife Bay once hosted "slightly salty liquid water," Michael Meyer, lead scientist for the Mars Exploration Program at NASA headquarters in Washington, said earlier this year.

Six new studies released Monday by the journal Science add more insights about these formerly habitable conditions and provide other new knowledge that increase our understanding of the Red Planet. The results were also presented at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.

Curiosity found evidence of clay formations, or "mudstone," in Yellowstone Bay, scientists said Monday. Martian mud is a big deal because this clay may have held the key ingredients for life billions of years ago. It means a lake must have existed in this area.

Read full text: http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/10/tech/mars-curiosity-rover/index.html?sr=fb121013curiosity5p

Interesting.

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Re: The Exciting Breakthroughs Thread

Post by BarrileteCosmico on Tue Feb 04, 2014 2:57 pm

How A Simple New Invention Seals A Gunshot Wound In 15 Seconds

http://www.popsci.com/article/technology/how-simple-new-invention-seals-gunshot-wound-15-seconds

When a soldier is shot on the battlefield, the emergency treatment can seem as brutal as the injury itself. A medic must pack gauze directly into the wound cavity, sometimes as deep as 5 inches into the body, to stop bleeding from an artery. It’s an agonizing process that doesn't always work--if bleeding hasn't stopped after three minutes of applying direct pressure, the medic must pull out all the gauze and start over again. It’s so painful, “you take the guy’s gun away first,” says former U.S. Army Special Operations medic John Steinbaugh.

Even with this emergency treatment, many soldiers still bleed to death; hemorrhage is a leading cause of death on the battlefield. "Gauze bandages just don't work for anything serious," says Steinbaugh, who tended to injured soldiers during more than a dozen deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. When Steinbaugh retired in April 2012 after a head injury, he joined an Oregon-based startup called RevMedx, a small group of veterans, scientists, and engineers who were working on a better way to stop bleeding.

XStat, before and after
RevMedx

RevMedx recently asked the FDA to approve a pocket-size invention: a modified syringe that injects specially coated sponges into wounds. Called XStat, the device could boost survival and spare injured soldiers from additional pain by plugging wounds faster and more efficiently than gauze.

The team’s early efforts were inspired by Fix-a-Flat foam for repairing tires. “That’s what we pictured as the perfect solution: something you could spray in, it would expand, and bleeding stops,” says Steinbaugh. “But we found that blood pressure is so high, blood would wash the foam right out.”

So the team tried a new idea: sponges. They bought some ordinary sponges from a hardware store and cut them into 1-centimeter circles, a size and shape they chose on a whim but later would discover were ideal for filling wounds. Then, they injected the bits of sponge into an animal injury. “The bleeding stopped,” says Steinbaugh. “Our eyes lit up. We knew we were onto something.” After seeing early prototypes, the U.S. Army gave the team $5 million to develop a finished product.

But kitchen sponges aren’t exactly safe to inject into the body. The final material would need to be sterile, biocompatible, and fast-expanding. The team settled on a sponge made from wood pulp and coated with chitosan, a blood-clotting, antimicrobial substance that comes from shrimp shells. To ensure that no sponges would be left inside the body accidentally, they added X-shaped markers that make each sponge visible on an x-ray image.

The sponges work fast: In just 15 seconds, they expand to fill the entire wound cavity, creating enough pressure to stop heavy bleeding. And because the sponges cling to moist surfaces, they aren’t pushed back out of the body by gushing blood. “By the time you even put a bandage over the wound, the bleeding has already stopped,” Steinbaugh says.

Getting the sponges into a wound, however, proved to be tricky. On the battlefield, medics must carry all their gear with them, along with heavy body armor. RevMedx needed a lightweight, compact way to get the sponges deep into an injury. The team designed a 30 millimeter-diameter, polycarbonate syringe that stores with the handle inside to save space. To use the applicator, a medic pulls out the handle, inserts the cylinder into the wound, and then pushes the plunger back down to inject the sponges as close to the artery as possible.

Three single-use XStat applicators would replace five bulky rolls of gauze in a medic’s kit. RevMedx also designed a smaller version of the applicator, with a diameter of 12 millimeters, for narrower injuries. Each XStat will likely cost about $100, Steinbaugh says, but the price may go down as RevMedx boosts manufacturing.

If the FDA approves XStat, it will be the first battlefield dressing created specifically for deep, narrow wounds. Gauze, the standard treatment for gunshot and shrapnel injuries, is only approved by the FDA for external use, but “everyone knows that if you get shot, you have to pack gauze into the wound,” says Steinbaugh. When RevMedx submitted its application to the FDA, the U.S. Army attached a cover letter requesting expedited approval. According to Steinbaugh, RevMedx and the military are now in final discussions with the FDA.

Last summer, RevMedx and Oregon Health and Science University won a seed grant, sponsored by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to develop a version of XStat to stop postpartum bleeding. In the future, RevMedx hopes to create biodegradable sponges that don’t have to be removed from the body. To cover large injuries, like those caused by land mines, the team is working on an expanding gauze made of the same material as XStat sponges.

“I spent the whole war on terror in the Middle East, so I know what a medic needs when someone has been shot, ” Steinbaugh says. “I’ve treated lots of guys who would have benefitted from this product. That’s what drives me.”

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Re: The Exciting Breakthroughs Thread

Post by The Black Sheep on Tue Feb 04, 2014 4:09 pm

I wasn't sure where to post this, however I think some of you might enjoy this.

The film is an hour and a half long, but it is quite intriguing.

The Black Whole - Nassim Haramein:

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Re: The Exciting Breakthroughs Thread

Post by EarlyPrototype on Tue Feb 11, 2014 10:49 am

I'd say more controversial than exciting, but nonetheless, genetically modified babies:

Reports reveal that the first genetically engineered babies have been ‘created’. 30 so-far healthy babies born as a result of a genetic alteration experiment represent a unique disturbance of natural human genetic information. The researchers were led by fertility pioneer Professor Jacques Cohen.

http://themindunleashed.org/2014/02/worlds-first-genetically-modified-babies-born.html

Crazy.

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Re: The Exciting Breakthroughs Thread

Post by BarrileteCosmico on Tue Feb 11, 2014 10:43 pm

Shocked

GATTACA here we come...

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Re: The Exciting Breakthroughs Thread

Post by ES on Tue Feb 11, 2014 11:45 pm

Les Enfants Terribles hmm

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Re: The Exciting Breakthroughs Thread

Post by EarlyPrototype on Tue Feb 11, 2014 11:54 pm

@BarrileteCosmico wrote:Shocked

GATTACA here we come...

El Shaarawy wrote:Les Enfants Terribles hmm


It's things like this that weaken my faith. Or it's just signs that the end of the world is near lol.

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Re: The Exciting Breakthroughs Thread

Post by Dutti on Thu Feb 13, 2014 12:43 pm

A Tiny New Chip Promises Internet 400 Times Faster Than Google Fiber


Fast internet is fast. Google Fiber's gigabit connections? That's like driving a sports car compared to the go-cart-speed connection that's probably in your house. But new technology from IBM opens the door for connections that are beyond fast. Comparatively, it's like flying a fighter jet.

IBM researchers in Switzerland just unveiled the prototype for an energy efficient analog-to-digital converter (ADC) that enables connections as fast as 400 gigabits per second. That's 400 times faster than Google Fiber and about 5,000 times faster than the average U.S. connection. That's fast enough to download a two-hour-long, 4K ultra high definition movie in mere seconds. In short, that's incomprehensibly fast.

The ADC chip itself was actually built for loftier purposes than downloading episodes of Planet Earth, though. It's actually bound for the Square Kilometer Array in Australia and South Africa to help us peer hundreds of millions of light years into space, hopefully to give us a better idea of what the universe was like around the time of the Big Bang. This massive radio telescope will devour data, too. It's expected to gather over an exabyte every day when it's finished in 2024. That's over 100 billion gigabytes.

Believe it or not, 400 gigabit isn't even the fastest connection the world has seen. For that you'll have to go to the United Kingdom where researchers recently developed 1.4 terabit internet using commercial-grade hardware. That's warp speed. [ZDNet]

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Re: The Exciting Breakthroughs Thread

Post by RealGunner on Tue Mar 18, 2014 12:26 am

Cosmic inflation: 'Spectacular' discovery hailed

Scientists say they have extraordinary new evidence to support a Big Bang Theory for the origin of the Universe.

Researchers believe they have found the signal left in the sky by the super-rapid expansion of space that must have occurred just fractions of a second after everything came into being.

It takes the form of a distinctive twist in the oldest light detectable with telescopes.

The work will be scrutinised carefully, but already there is talk of a Nobel.

"This is spectacular," commented Prof Marc Kamionkowski, from Johns Hopkins University.

"I've seen the research; the arguments are persuasive, and the scientists involved are among the most careful and conservative people I know," he told BBC News.

The breakthrough was announced by an American team working on a project known as BICEP2.

This has been using a telescope at the South Pole to make detailed observations of a small patch of sky.

The aim has been to try to find a residual marker for "inflation" - the idea that the cosmos experienced an exponential growth spurt in its first trillionth, of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second.

http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/73634000/jpg/_73634672_73634671.jpg

Theory holds that this would have taken the infant Universe from something unimaginably small to something about the size of a marble. Space has continued to expand for the nearly 14 billion years since.

Inflation was first proposed in the early 1980s to explain some aspects of Big Bang Theory that appeared to not quite add up, such as why deep space looks broadly the same on all sides of the sky. The contention was that a very rapid expansion early on could have smoothed out any unevenness.

But inflation came with a very specific prediction - that it would be associated with waves of gravitational energy, and that these ripples in the fabric of space would leave an indelible mark on the oldest light in the sky - the famous Cosmic Microwave Background.

The BICEP2 team says it has now identified that signal. Scientists call it B-mode polarisation. It is a characteristic twist in the directional properties of the CMB. Only the gravitational waves moving through the Universe in its inflationary phase could have produced such a marker. It is a true "smoking gun".

Speaking at the press conference to announce the results, Prof John Kovac of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and a leader of the BICEP2 collaboration, said: "This is opening a window on what we believe to be a new regime of physics - the physics of what happened in the first unbelievably tiny fraction of a second in the Universe."

Completely astounded

The signal is reported to be quite a bit stronger than many scientists had dared hope. This simplifies matters, say experts. It means the more exotic models for how inflation worked are no longer tenable.

The results also constrain the energies involved - at 10,000 trillion gigaelectronvolts. This is consistent with ideas for what is termed Grand Unified Theory, the realm where particle physicists believe three of the four fundamental forces in nature can be tied together.

But by associating gravitational waves with an epoch when quantum effects were so dominant, scientists are improving their prospects of one day pulling the fourth force - gravity itself - into a Theory of Everything.

The sensational nature of the discovery means the BICEP2 data will be subjected to intense peer review.

It is possible for the interaction of CMB light with dust in our galaxy to produce a similar effect, but the BICEP2 group says it has carefully checked its data over the past three years to rule out such a possibility.

Other experiments will now race to try to replicate the findings. If they can, a Nobel Prize seems assured for this field of research.

Who this would go to is difficult to say, but leading figures on the BICEP2 project and the people who first formulated inflationary theory would be in the running.

One of those pioneers, Prof Alan Guth from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told the BBC: "I have been completely astounded. I never believed when we started that anybody would ever measure the non-uniformities of the CMB, let alone the polarisation, which is now what we are seeing.

"I think it is absolutely amazing that it can be measured and also absolutely amazing that it can agree so well with inflation and also the simplest models of inflation - nature did not have to be so kind and the theory didn't have to be right."

British scientist Dr Jo Dunkley, who has been searching through data from the European Planck space telescope for a B-mode signal, commented: "I can't tell you how exciting this is. Inflation sounds like a crazy idea, but everything that is important, everything we see today - the galaxies, the stars, the planets - was imprinted at that moment, in less than a trillionth of a second. If this is confirmed, it's huge."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-26605974

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Re: The Exciting Breakthroughs Thread

Post by BarrileteCosmico on Tue Mar 18, 2014 10:07 pm

:bow:

This seems like a big deal, although I don't really understand the implications Laughing

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Re: The Exciting Breakthroughs Thread

Post by RealGunner on Tue Mar 18, 2014 10:15 pm

I understand how important this is and what it means for future of cosmology but I myself need some education of Cosmic inflation which I will do whenever i have free time in the next few weeks

RO, babun, Dutti might explain it much better.

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Re: The Exciting Breakthroughs Thread

Post by El Chelsea Fuerte on Tue Mar 18, 2014 10:16 pm

@RealGunner wrote:I understand how important this is and what it means for future of cosmology but I myself need some education of Cosmic inflation which I will do whenever i have free time in the next few weeks

You do this stuff at your free time? :bow:

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Re: The Exciting Breakthroughs Thread

Post by RedOranje on Wed Mar 19, 2014 3:55 am

A couple of things posted in here are worth discussion: http://www.goallegacy.net/t27681p90-red-s-random-reports#1158173

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Re: The Exciting Breakthroughs Thread

Post by RealGunner on Thu Mar 20, 2014 3:52 pm

Economist explains Cosmic Inflation in easy terms. This should be helpful for anyone interested

__________________________________

MENTION inflation and most people will think of something that erodes the value of their bank balances. A cosmologist, however, may think instead of the beginning of all things­—for, though no one knows how the universe started, they do know, or believe they know, what happened a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second later. And on March 17th the first actual evidence of this belief, which is known as inflation, was announced, thus backing up the theory, promulgated three decades ago by Alan Guth and Andre Linde.

The amount of inflation Dr Guth and Dr Linde predict is extraordinary. They suggest the universe became 10 billion billion billion times bigger almost instantly. Their theory’s purpose is to iron out, almost literally, two cosmological difficulties. These are that observations have shown that space is flat (think Euclid, and parallel lines never meeting), and that matter, on a cosmic scale, is evenly distributed. Both, though true, are unlikely. There is only one way to be flat, but an infinite number to be curved. And there are likewise many more ways to be randomly than evenly distributed. Inflation on the scale described by Dr Guth and Dr Linde would stretch any curvature in space so far that, to all intents and purposes it was flat, and similarly smooth out the distribution of matter.

The discovery which suggests all this is real was made using a special telescope at the South Pole. This detected faint irregularities in the microwave radiation left over from the universe’s beginning—irregularities which match those the theory predicts would have been created by the gravitational waves generated by inflation. Dr Guth and Dr Linde are understandably pleased.

There is, though, a big potential consequence. Gravitational waves are described by the general theory of relativity. Those created by inflation, however, were also quantum effects because the universe was so small when inflation began that it was a quantum phenomenon. General relativity and quantum theory, though both true as far as any experiment yet done can show, do not connect mathematically. Primordial gravitational waves from the cosmic inflation are the first empirical connection between them, and may thus point the way, at last, to a unified theory of physics. And that really is a big deal.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2014/03/economist-explains-18?fsrc=scn/tw/te/bl/ee/cosmicinflation

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Re: The Exciting Breakthroughs Thread

Post by RealGunner on Thu Mar 27, 2014 8:38 pm

Rise of the synthetic gene as artificial yeast chromosome is made

Scientists have made the first artificial chromosome which is both complete and functional in a milestone development in synthetic biology, which promises to revolutionise medical and industrial biotechnology in the coming century.

The researchers built the artificial chromosome from scratch by stitching synthetic strands of DNA together in a sequence based on the known genome of brewer’s yeast. They predict that a completely synthetic yeast genome comprised of its entire complement of 16 chromosomes could be made within four years.

“Our research moves the needle in synthetic biology from theory to reality. This work represents the biggest step yet in an international effort to construct the full genome of synthetic yeast,” said Jef Boeke of the New York University School of Medicine, a lead author of the study published in the journal Science.

“It is the most extensively altered chromosome ever built. But the milestone that really counts is integrating it into a living yeast cell. We have shown that yeast cells carrying this synthetic chromosome are remarkably normal,” Dr Boeke said.

“They behave almost identically to wild yeast cells, only they now possess new capabilities and can do things that wild yeast cannot [do],” he said.

“Not only can we make designer changes on a computer, but we can make hundreds of changes through a chromosome and we can put that chromosome into yeast and have a yeast that looks, smells and behaves like a regular yeast, but this yeast is endowed with special properties that normal yeasts don’t have,” he explained.

The synthetic yeast chromosome was based on chromosome number 3, but scientists deleted large parts of it that were considered redundant and introduced further subtle changes to its sequence – yet the chromosome still functioned normally and replicated itself in living yeast cells, they said.

“We took tiny snippets of synthetic DNA and fused them together in a complex series of steps to build an essentially computer-designed chromosome 3, one of the 16 chromosomes of yeast. We call it ‘synIII’ because it’s a completely synthetic derivative that has been engineered in a variety of interesting ways to make it different from the normal chromosome,” Dr Boeke said.

The achievement was compared to climbing Mount Everest in its labour-intensive complexity, as it involved stitching together 273,871 individual building blocks of DNA – the nucleotide bases of the yeast’s genes – in the right order, and removing about 50,000 repeating sequences of the chromosome that were considered redundant.

“When you change the genome you’re gambling. One wrong change can kill the cell. We have made over 50,000 changes to the DNA code in the chromosome and our yeast still lived. That is remarkable, it shows that our synthetic chromosome is hardy, and it endows the yeast with new properties,” Dr Boeke said.

Britain is one of several countries involved in the international effort to synthesise all 16 yeast chromosomes. Last year, the Government announced that it will spend £1 million on the yeast project out of a total budget of £60 million it has dedicated to synthetic biology.

Paul Freemont of Imperial College London said that the first complete and functional synthetic yeast chromosome is “a big deal” and significant step forward from the work by DNA scientist Craig Venter, who synthesised the much simpler genome of a bacterium in 2010.

“It opens up a whole new way of thinking about chromosome and genome engineering as it provides a proof of concept that complicated chromosomes can be redesigned, synthesised and made to work in a living cell,” Dr Freemont said.

Artificial chromosomes designed by computer will be vital for the synthetic life-forms that scientists hope to design for a range of applications, such as the breakdown of persistent pollutants in the environment or the industrial manufacture of new kinds of drugs and vaccines for human and animal medicine.

“It could have a lot of practical applications because yeast is used in the biotechnology industry to produce everything from alcohol, which has been produced for centuries, to biofuels and speciality chemicals to nutrients,” Dr Boeke said.

“Yeast is a really interesting microorganism to work on because it has an ancient industrial relationship with man. We’ve domesticated it since the days of the Fertile Crescent and we’ve had this fantastic collaboration to make wine, break and beer,” he said.

“That relationship persists today in a wide range of products that are made with yeast such as vaccines, fuels and specialty chemicals and it’s only going to be growing. Yeast is one of the few microbes that packages its genetic material in a nucleus just like human cells. So it serves as a better model for how human cells work in health and disease,” Dr Boeke added.

Synthetic microbes: Possible uses

Medicines

Being able to make synthetic chromosomes for yeast cells would allow scientists to speed up the rate of yeast evolution in order to produce strains specifically tailored for making certain difficult medicines.

Biofuels

Designing new kinds of yeast chromosomes could improve the efficiency of producing alcohol-based biofuels through fermentation.

Pollutants

Natural microbes already have an ability to degrade environmental toxins, but creating synthetic-biology versions could improve the speed at which they work.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/rise-of-the-synthetic-gene-as-artificial-yeast-chromosome-is-made-9219644.html

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