Category Archives: News

Hidden Computational Power Found in the Arms of Neurons

The dendritic arms of some human neurons can perform logic operations that once seemed to require whole neural networks.

Thin dendrites resembling a plant’s roots radiate in all directions from the cell body of this cortical neuron. Individual dendrites may process the signals they receive from adjacent neurons before passing them along as inputs to the cell’s overall response.

he information-processing capabilities of the brain are often reported to reside in the trillions of connections that wire its neurons together. But over the past few decades, mounting research has quietly shifted some of the attention to individual neurons, which seem to shoulder much more computational responsibility than once seemed imaginable.

The latest in a long line of evidence comes from scientists’ discovery of a new type of electrical signal in the upper layers of the human cortex. Laboratory and modeling studies have already shown that tiny compartments in the dendritic arms of cortical neurons can each perform complicated operations in mathematical logic. But now it seems that individual dendritic compartments can also perform a particular computation — “exclusive OR” — that mathematical theorists had previously categorized as unsolvable by single-neuron systems.

“I believe that we’re just scratching the surface of what these neurons are really doing,” said Albert Gidon, a postdoctoral fellow at Humboldt University of Berlin and the first author of the paper that presented these findings in Science earlier this month.

The discovery marks a growing need for studies of the nervous system to consider the implications of individual neurons as extensive information processors. “Brains may be far more complicated than we think,” said Konrad Kording, a computational neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania, who did not participate in the recent work. It may also prompt some computer scientists to reappraise strategies for artificial neural networks, which have traditionally been built based on a view of neurons as simple, unintelligent switches.

ead the full article at QuantaMagazine 

Stem Cells From Frogs To Build First Living Robots

Researchers foresee myriad benefits for humanity, but also acknowledge ethical issues

 First ‘living robots’ designed on supercomputer – video

Be warned. If the rise of the robots comes to pass, the apocalypse may be a more squelchy affair than science fiction writers have prepared us for.

Researchers in the US have created the first living machines by assembling cells from African clawed frogs into tiny robots that move around under their own steam.

One of the most successful creations has two stumpy legs that propel it along on its “chest”. Another has a hole in the middle that researchers turned into a pouch so it could shimmy around with miniature payloads.

“These are entirely new lifeforms. They have never before existed on Earth,” said Michael Levin, the director of the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. “They are living, programmable organisms.”

Roboticists tend to favour metal and plastic for their strength and durability, but Levin and his colleagues see benefits in making robots from biological tissues. When damaged, living robots can heal their wounds, and once their task is done they fall apart, just as natural organisms decay when they die.

Their unique features mean that future versions of the robots might be deployed to clean up microplastic pollution in the oceans, locate and digest toxic materials, deliver drugs in the body or remove plaque from artery walls, the scientists say.

“It’s impossible to know what the applications will be for any new technology, so we can really only guess,” said Joshua Bongard, a senior researcher on the team at the University of Vermont.

The robots, which are less than 1mm long, are designed by an “evolutionary algorithm” that runs on a supercomputer. The program starts by generating random 3D configurations of 500 to 1,000 skin and heart cells. Each design is then tested in a virtual environment, to see, for example, how far it moves when the heart cells are set beating. The best performers are used to spawn more designs, which themselves are then put through their paces.

Because heart cells spontaneously contract and relax, they behave like miniature engines that drive the robots along until their energy reserves run out. The cells have enough fuel inside them for the robots to survive for a week to 10 days before keeling over.

The scientists waited for the computer to churn out 100 generations before picking a handful of designs to build in the lab. They used tweezers and cauterising tools to sculpt early-stage skin and heart cells scraped from the embryos of African clawed frogs, Xenopus laevis. The source of the cells led the scientists to call their creations “xenobots”.

A xenobot with four limbs
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 A xenobot with four ‘limbs’. Photograph: Douglas Blackiston

Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers describe how they set the robots loose in dishes of water to keep the frog cells alive. Some crept along in straight lines, while others looped around in circles or teamed up with others as they moved around.

“These are very small, but ultimately the plan is to make them to scale,” said Levin. Xenobots might be built with blood vessels, nervous systems and sensory cells, to form rudimentary eyes. By building them out of mammalian cells, they could live on dry land.

Sam Kriegman, a PhD student on the team at the University of Vermont, acknowledged that the work raised ethical issues, particularly given that future variants could have nervous systems and be selected for cognitive capability, making them more active participants in the world. “What’s important to me is that this is public, so we can have a discussion as a society and policymakers can decide what is the best course of action.”

Traces left by xenobots as they move through a field of particulate matter
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 Traces left by xenobots as they move through a field of particulate matter. Photograph: Douglas Blackiston

He was less concerned about xenobots posing any threat to humankind. “If you watch the video, it’s hard to fear that these things are taking over any time soon,” he said.

But the work aims to achieve more than just the creation of squidgy robots. “The aim is to understand the software of life,” Levin said. “If you think about birth defects, cancer, age-related diseases, all of these things could be solved if we knew how to make biological structures, to have ultimate control over growth and form.”

The research is funded by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s lifelong learning machines programme, which aims to recreate biological learning processes in machines.

Thomas Douglas, a senior research fellow at the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, said: “There are interesting ethical questions about the moral status of these xenobots. At what point would they become beings with interests that ought to be protected? I think they’d acquire moral significance only if they included neural tissue that enabled some kind of mental life, such as the ability to experience pain.

“But some are more liberal about moral status. They think that all living creatures have interests that should be given some moral consideration. For these people, difficult questions could arise about whether these xenobots should be classified as living creatures or machines.”

Source – TheGuardian 

Daily Focus 051

Feeling real zen after todays yoga session. A light overview of a very deep bunny animation Watership Down. I wasnt expecting the intensity that this series delivers. The bunny world can be a cold carrot in a warm place if you know what I mean. Story time, I share the time I almost caused myself to be Kidnapped and the first time they put me in handcuffs. I had to make up for the instrumental I added yesterday, it was a quick whip up so today I put a little more effort into a new one. Hopefully it makes a difference, Enjoy

 

Quotes Of The Day 

The chakata fruit on the ground belongs to all, but the one on the tree is for she who can climb

She who sows joy harvest pleasure

not to know is bad not to wish to know is worst

Chicago Mayor Plans to Level Cannabis Market Playing Field

The move is motivated by complaints that new cannabis laws do not provide paths for Black and brown people to thrive in what appears to be a billion dollar industry

On Monday, Lightfoot said up to $15 million that is generated by tax-increment financing could serve as seed money for Black and brown Chicago residents to learn the business and “buy into” a city plan to open a “cooperative cultivation center,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Most importantly, the money could help minorities overcome their largest hurdle to getting involved in the industry: capital

READ MORE: Cannabis sales in Illinois hit nearly $3.2 million on first day of legalization

Currently, “the vast majority” of people who cultivate and run legalized marijuana businesses are white men, the mayor said.

“This is a very, very expensive business to get involved with. The basics to be a cultivator requires about a $13 million to $15 million investment. There are not a lot of people that have that, particularly in a market that a lot of banks and traditional lenders won’t touch,” Lightfoot said, according to the Sun-Times. “I think the only way to really crack this nut is for the city to invest its own resources to get engaged, get diverse entrepreneurs involved in the most lucrative part of the business, which is cultivation.”

“First of all, we’ve got to jump through the regulatory hoops. … Hopefully, we will get those roadblocks cleared. But I’m very serious about it,” the mayor added.

In December, Lightfoot first mentioned the concept of a city-owned cultivation center, in response to a threat from Jason Ervin, the City Council’s Black Caucus chairman, to delay the Jan. 1 start date for selling recreational weed in Chicago to July 1 due to lack of minority representation.

Ervin continues to be angry because Black people have paid the highest price in the war on drugs yet have “zero representation” among the owners of 11 medical marijuana dispensaries up and running on New Year’s Day.

Lightfoot believes if the city gets involved in the recreational marijuana business, it could open the doors to minority participation. “One of the things that every entrepreneur that’s a small businessperson faces is access to capital. There are some things that we can do using existing city resources to help facilitate that,” she explained, reported the Sun-Times.

READ MORE: Illinois city plans reparations fund for Black residents using cannabis revenue

“I’ve made no secret of the fact that I would like to have the opportunity for the city to create a cooperative cultivation center so we can bring a professional in, let the professionals run it. But then, people will buy into the cooperative — either with modest cash investment or sweat equity — and eventually, after they learn the business from top-to-bottom, turn that over to them,” Lightfoot added.

Source – TheGrio

Harley Davidson E – Bike

For the ultimate combination of style, performance and innovative design, look no further than the new line of electric bikes from Harley Davidson.

It’s not all about the premium branding that comes with the 116-year old motorcycle manufacturing legacy.

The highly anticipated set of bikes comes with impressive features that any biking lover would relish.

Slated for release in 2019, the LiveWire is first on the line, with the capacity to go from 0 to 60 mph in a mere 3.5 seconds.

For motorcycle lovers who delight in that unique rumble of speed, it comes with a new signature sound during acceleration. That’s an outstanding feature in as far as electric bikes go.

Another first for the new model is its cellular connection, which the company claims is not available on any other mass market motorcycle.

It’s telematics system displays all the necessary data about operations via a connected app. On a single charge, the bike can go for up to 110 miles.

Details are still scanty for their other all-electric concept bikes, but judging from their style, they hold promise of great things to come.

Source – awesomestuff365

12 Hour Flight Time | Methanol Powered Drones

  • Developers of FY-36 say they overcame ‘tons of problems’ to create alcohol-fuelled battery that allows 15kg (33lb)6 drone to fly for up to 12 hours
  • With 15 test flights under their belt, Chinese team achieve methanol-powered flight before German company
Scientists working on a drone development programme created a “game-changing” methanol-powered fuel system that kept their UAV in the air for 12 hours.

It took them more than two years to get the FY-36 unmanned aerial vehicle to the flying prototype stage, said Zhang Wenyu, general manager of Feye UAV Technology, a Tianjin-based drone manufacturer that collaborated with the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics, under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in northeastern Liaoning province.

At 15 kilograms (33 pounds), the low-noise FY-36 can be lifted by an adult or transported in a pickup truck, and designers said its hybrid aerodynamic shape – with four vertical propellers – can allow it to cruise at speeds as high as 90km/h, or 56mph.

With a payload of up to three kilograms, the FY-36 was designed to perform tasks such as power line inspection, search and rescue missions, geological mapping and military intelligence gathering, but its power source is what stands out.

Developers say the FY-36 has been flight-tested 15 times. Photo: Handout
Developers say the FY-36 has been flight-tested 15 times. Photo: Handout

Its methanol fuel cell was designed to generate enough electricity for a flight time of up to 12 hours per charge. By comparison, a low-cost lithium-powered Chinese DJI Spark “selfie drone” can stay in the air for 15 minutes, while the professional-grade DJI Inspire 2 can barely top half an hour using a lithium-ion battery pack.

“There were tons of problems which had to be solved on the ground” before the FY-36 took its maiden flight in November, Zhang – who described the technology as a “game-changer” – said on Monday.

Daily Focus 050

As promised I go over the most recent book knocked off the list Writing Down The Bones by Natalie Goldberg. Two quick  entheogenic stories and the lessons that come with it. Flying planes on Mushrooms and The pendulum of emotions. Tune in and listen close.

 

Quotes Of The Day

The tongue carries that which is light

Over discipline makes a child stunted

Too Long Honest, Too Long Poor

Hell itself holds dishonor in horror

 

Health Benefits of Beets

Beetroots, commonly known as beets, are a popular root vegetable used in many cuisines around the world.

Beets are packed with essential vitamins, minerals and plant compounds, some of which have medicinal properties.

What’s more, they are delicious and easy to add to your diet.

This article lists 9 health benefits of beets

1. Many Nutrients in Few Calories

Beets boast an impressive nutritional profile.

They are low in calories, yet high in valuable vitamins and minerals. In fact, they contain a bit of almost all the vitamins and minerals that you need (1).

Here is an overview of the nutrients found in a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of cooked beetroot (1):

• Calories: 44

• Protein: 1.7 grams

• Fat: 0.2 grams

• Fiber: 2 grams

• Vitamin C: 6% of the RDI

• Folate: 20% of the RDI

• Vitamin B6: 3% of the RDI

• Magnesium: 6% of the RDI

• Potassium: 9% of the RDI

• Phosphorous: 4% of the RDI

• Manganese: 16% of the RDI

• Iron: 4% of the RDI

Beets also contain inorganic nitrates and pigments, both of which are plant compounds that have a number of health benefits.

SUMMARY:

Beets are loaded with vitamins and minerals and low in calories and fat. They also contain inorganic nitrates and pigments, both of which have a number of health benefits.

2. Help Keep Blood Pressure in Check

Heart disease, including heart attacks, heart failure and stroke, is one of the leading causes of death worldwide.

And high blood pressure is one of the leading risk factors for the development of these conditions.

Studies have shown that beets can significantly lower blood pressure by up to 4–10 mmHg over a period of only a few hours

The effect appears to be greater for systolic blood pressure, or pressure when your heart contracts, rather than diastolic blood pressure, or pressure when your heart is relaxed. The effect may also be stronger for raw beets than cooked beets

These blood pressure-lowering effects are likely due to the high concentration of nitrates in beets. In your body, dietary nitrates are converted into nitric oxide, a molecule that dilates blood vessels, causing blood pressure to drop

Blood nitrate levels remain elevated for about six hours after eating dietary nitrate. Therefore, beets only have a temporary effect on blood pressure, and regular consumption is required to experience long-term reductions in blood pressure (10

SUMMARY:

Beets contain a high concentration of nitrates, which have a blood pressure-lowering effect. This may lead to a reduced risk of heart attacks, heart failure

3. Can Improve Athletic Performance

Several studies suggest that dietary nitrates may enhance athletic performance.

For this reason, beets are often used by athletes.

Nitrates appear to affect physical performance by improving the efficiency of mitochondria, which are responsible for producing energy in your cells

In two studies including seven and eight men, consuming 17 ounces (500 ml) of beet juice daily for six days extended time to exhaustion during high-intensity exercise by 15–25%, which is a 1–2% improvement in overall performance

Eating beets may also improve cycling and athletic performance and increase oxygen use by up to 20%

One small study of nine competitive cyclists looked at the effect of 17 ounces (500 ml) of beetroot juice on cycling time trial performance over 2.5 and 10 miles (4 and 16.1 km).

Drinking beetroot juice improved performance by 2.8% over the 2.5-mile (4-km) time trial and 2.7% over the 10-mile (16.1-km) trial

It’s important to note that blood nitrate levels peak within 2–3 hours. Therefore, to maximize their potential, it’s best to consume beets 2–3 hours before training or competing

SUMMARY:

Eating beets may enhance athletic performance by improving oxygen use and time to exhaustion. To maximize their effects, beets should be consumed 2–3 hours prior to training or competing.

4. May Help Fight Inflammation

Chronic inflammation is associated with a number of diseases, such as obesity, heart disease, liver disease and cancer

Beets contain pigments called betalains, which may potentially possess a number of anti-inflammatory properties

However, most of the research in this area has been conducted in rats.

Beetroot juice and beetroot extract have been shown to reduce kidney inflammation in rats injected with toxic chemicals known to induce serious injury

One study in humans with osteoarthritis showed that betalain capsules made with beetroot extract reduced pain and discomfort associated with the condition

While these studies suggest that beets have an anti-inflammatory effect, human studies are needed to determine whether beets could be used to reduce inflammation.

SUMMARY:

Beets may have a number of anti-inflammatory effects. However, further research in humans is required to confirm this theory.

5. May Improve Digestive Health

Dietary fiber is an important component of a healthy diet.

It has been linked to many health benefits, including improved digestion.

One cup of beetroot contains 3.4 grams of fiber, making beets a good fiber source (1).

Fiber bypasses digestion and heads down to the colon, where it either feeds the friendly gut bacteria or adds bulk to stool.

This can promote digestive health, keep you regular and prevent digestive conditions like constipation, inflammatory bowel disease and diverticulitis (24

Moreover, fiber has been linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases including colon cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes

SUMMARY:

Beets are a good source of fiber, which is beneficial for digestive health, as well as reducing the risk of a number of chronic health conditions.

Source – HealthLine

Origins of India

“…The darkest man is here the most highly esteemed and considered better than the others who are not so dark. Let me add that in very truth these people portray and depict their gods and their idols black and their devils white as snow. For they say that God and all the saints are black and the devils are all white. That is why they portray them as I have described.” – Marco Polo,after visiting the Pandyan Kingdom in 1288

More than a thousand years before the foundations of Greece and Rome, proud and industrious Black men and women known as the Dravidian erected a powerful civilization in the Indus Valley. From those origins, African Kings in India drove the region’s commerce, culture, and belief systems.

4 African Kings Who Ruled India That Have Been Erased From History

Dr. Clyde Winters, author of Afrocentrism: Myth or Science? writes:

“Ethiopians have had very intimate relations with Indians. In fact, in antiquity the Ethiopians ruled much of India. These Ethiopians were called the Naga. It was the Naga who created Sanskrit. A reading of ancient Dravidian literature which dates back to 500 BC, gives us considerable information on the Naga. In Indian tradition the Naga won central India from the Villavar (bowmen) and Minavar (fishermen).”

He goes on to say “The Naga were great seamen who ruled much of India, Sri Lanka and Burma. To the Aryans they described as half man and snake. The Tamil knew them as warlike people who used the bow and noose. The earliest mention of the Naga, appear in the Ramayana , they are also mentioned in the Mahabharata. In the Mahabharata we discover that the Naga had the capital city in the Dekkan, and other cities spread between the Jumna and Ganges as early as 1300 BC. The Dravidian classic, the Chilappathikaram made it clear that the first great kingdom of India was Naganadu. 

The Naga probably came from Kush-Punt/Ethiopia since the Puntites were the greatest sailors of the ancient world, and in the Kemetic inscriptions there is mention of the Puntite ports of Outculit, Hamesu and Tekaru, which corresponds to Adulis, Hamasen and Tigre.”

Even the legends of India revere the Black race that laid the foundation of their civilization, and the holiest books of India also affirm that enlightenment came from Ethiopia ((The first God of India was a dreadlocked black man called Shiva.)

Read the full article at Panalliance