July 23, 2016

Manufacturer of explosives trace detection acquiring Flyboard Air creator which has envisions many flying platforms

The Zapata technology platform is the safest, easiest, lightest, most maneuverable, and least expensive personal aviation system ever created.

Capable of being operated with only 20 hours of flight training, or in fully autonomous mode with GPS guidance, ZAPATA's proprietary balance methodology and algorithms are truly disruptive.

ZAPATA's technology and innovative products will unlock hundreds of applications across multiple industry sectors, from military and rescue to entertainment and recreation.

Implant Sciences Corporation (OTCQB: IMSC), a leading manufacturer of explosives trace detection (ETD) solutions for Department of Homeland Security (DHS) applications, is acquiring Zapata Industries SAS of Marseilles, France. Zapata is a profitable and debt-free company with commercial, defense, and homeland security technology applications.

Zapata Industries (www.zapata-industries.com) is the undisputed leader in developing and manufacturing single user hydro-and jet-powered technologies and products. Zapata’s proprietary methodology, algorithms, and patented designs are currently commercialized and in development within recreation, entertainment, military, medical, and industrial sectors.

Researchers reverse menopause and enable ovaries to release fertile eggs

A team claims to have found a way to rejuvenate post-menopausal ovaries, enabling them to release fertile eggs.

The team says its technique has restarted periods in menopausal women, including one who had not menstruated in five years. If the results hold up to wider scrutiny, the technique may boost declining fertility in older women, allow women with early menopause to get pregnant, and help stave off the detrimental health effects of menopause.

“It offers a window of hope that menopausal women will be able to get pregnant using their own genetic material,” says Konstantinos Sfakianoudis, a gynaecologist at the Greek fertility clinic Genesis Athens.

“It is potentially quite exciting,” says Roger Sturmey at Hull York Medical School in the UK. “But it also opens up ethical questions over what the upper age limit of mothers should be.”

Fifties could be the new forties for older women giving birth with rejuvenated ovaries

Women are thought to be born with all their eggs. Between puberty and the menopause, this number steadily dwindles, with fertility thought to peak in the early 20s. Around the age of 50, which is when menopause normally occurs, the ovaries stop releasing eggs – but most women are already largely infertile by this point, as ovulation becomes more infrequent in the run-up. The menopause comes all-too-soon for many women, says Sfakianoudis

China will expand to eight vertical and eight horizontal high speed rail lines by 2025

China will expand its railway network to 150,000 km (93,200 miles) by 2020, including 30,000 km of high-speed rail, the country's top economic planner said on Wednesday.

The plan will mean a 24 percent increase in the length of China's railway network from 2015 and a 58 percent expansion in high-speed rail.

The government will encourage state-owned China Railway Corp to expand bond issuance to finance its investment, Fei Zhirong, an official at the National Development and Reform Commission, told a new conference.

China aims to invest 800 billion yuan ($119.71 billion) in fixed assets in 2016 as part of the effort to expand the railway network.

China Railway invested 823.8 billion yuan in 2015, building 9,531 km (5,922 miles) of new lines which included 3,306 km of high-speed rail, according to state media.

By 2025, NDRC expects the network to total 175 000 route-km, of which 38 000 km of high speed rail.

NDRC says the rail network should be expanded to serve all cities with a population of more than 2 million, while all those above 5 million would be on the PDL network. The aim is to offer journey times of 1 h to 4 h between the principal conurbations, while trips across major urban areas should be possible in 2 h or less. NDRC also expects all principal ports and bulk commodity production areas to be served by rail.

The plan builds on the previous strategy of developing ‘four horizontal and four vertical’ axes by expanding these to eight in each direction. Most of the initial corridors are now nearing completion, and on some sections additional capacity is already required.

The eight ‘verticals’ (north - south trunk routes) are:

coastal PDL connecting Dalian and Dandong to Tianjin, Shanghai, Fuzhou, Shenzhen and Beihai;
capacity enhancements to the Beijing – Shanghai high speed corridor;
Beijing – Hong Kong PDL and connecting routes to serve intermediate population centres;
Harbin – Hong Kong PDL;
Hohhot – Nanning PDL via Datong, Taiyuan, Zhengzhou, Changde, Yongzhou and Guilin;
Beijing – Kunming PDL via Taiyuan, Xi'an and Chengdu/Chongqing;
Baotou/Yinchuan – Haikou via Yanan, Chongqing and Nanning;
Lanzhou/Xining – Guangzhou via Chengdu/Chongqing and Guiyang.

The eight east–west ‘horizontal’ axes are:

Suifenhe – Manzhouli via Harbin;
Beijing – Lanzhou via Hohhot and Yinchuan;
Qingdao – Yinchuan via Jinan and Taiyuan;
Lianyungang – Urumqi via Xuzhou, Zhengzhou and Xining;
Shanghai – Chengdu via Nanjing, Anqing, Wuhan, Yichang and Chongqing;
Shanghai – Kunming via Nanchang, Changsha and Guiyang;
Xiamen – Chongqing via Longyan, Changsha and Zhangjiajie;
Guangzhou – Kunming via Nanning.
In addition, NDRC has set out plans for construction of a network of new inter-regional corridors to cater for rising demand for short- and medium-distance trips. There is also a focus on using railway development as a tool for regeneration in the poorest regions, with around 12 new lines to be built for this purpose. Emphasising the role of intermodality in both the freight and passenger markets, it envisages a number of new passenger hubs and logistics centres.

The plan calls for expansion of the conventional network by around 20 000 km by 2025, with a focus on linking the Beijing/Tianjin region with the northeast, the Yangtse and Pearl river deltas and the northwest and southwest. Other enhancements would focus on improving links across the country over very long distances.

Finally, NDRC has reiterated the government’s commitment to enhancing international rail links through its ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative. This confirms Chinese investment on various corridors through Central Asia and on enhancing rail links to Vietnam and other southeast Asian countries. Also envisaged is a rail tunnel linking the Chinese mainland to Taiwan.

SOURCES - Railway Gazette, Reuters

New 7 Tesla MRI coil offers higher resolution, shorter scan time

Researchers have developed a high-temperature superconducting coil that allows magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners to produce higher resolution images or acquire images in a shorter time than when using conventional coils.

Wosik, a principal investigator at the Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH, said test results show the new technology can reveal brain structures that aren't easily visualized with conventional MRI coils. He also is a research professor in the UH Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

The cryo-coil works by boosting the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) -- a measure of the strength of signals carrying useful information -- by a factor of two to three, compared with conventional coils. SNR is critical to the successful implementation of high resolution and fast imaging.

Results from preliminary testing of the 7 Tesla MRI Cryo-probe were presented at the International Symposium of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine annual meeting in May. The coil can be optimized for experiments on living animals or brain tissue samples, and researchers said they demonstrated an isotropic resolution of 34 micron in rat brain imaging. In addition to its use in MRI coils, superconductivity lies at the heart of MRI scanning systems, as most high-field magnets are based on superconducting wire

Regulators know how bad human driving is and will push ahead with imperfect automated driving

On Friday, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Mark Rosekind told an audience in Detroit, Michigan that car makers “cannot wait for perfect” when it comes to developing and deploying self-driving car technology. The Wall Street Journal reported that Rosekind said automation would “save people’s lives” in a time when auto fatalities have been up 8 percent since 2014.

Despite Tesla's most recent crash, regulators seem enthusiastic about getting more autonomous vehicles on the road in the near future. Earlier this week, Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told an audience in San Francisco that “autonomous doesn't mean perfect,” but that “we need industry to take the safety aspects of this very seriously.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Foxx said new safety guidelines, including “pre-market approval steps,” would help to “clear lines of responsibility between industry, government, and consumers.”

The Times added that Foxx addressed concerns about regulation stunting autonomous vehicle development. He “promised that the approach would be flexible, with a lot of input from businesses, drivers, and technology experts.”

Tricking machine vision and image recognition

Machines now outperform humans in face recognition and object recognition and are in the process of revolutionizing numerous vision-based tasks such as driving, security monitoring, and so on. Machine vision is now superhuman.

These modified pictures are called adversarial images, and they are a significant threat. “An adversarial example for the face recognition domain might consist of very subtle markings applied to a person’s face, so that a human observer would recognize their identity correctly, but a machine learning system would recognize them as being a different person,” say Alexey Kurakin and Samy Bengio at Google Brain and Ian Goodfellow from OpenAI, a nonprofit AI research company.

Because machine vision systems are so new, little is known about adversarial images. Nobody understands how best to create them, how they fool machine vision systems, or how to protect against this kind of attack.

Today, that starts to change thanks to the work of Kurakin and co, who have begun to study adversarial images systematically for the first time. Their work shows just how vulnerable machine vision systems are to this kind of attack.

Office of Naval research develops from test tubes to launch tubes

The Office of Naval research (ONR) gets $2.1 billion per year in funding. This is about two thirds of the DARPA budget. The ONR is trying to develop combat lasers, railguns, quantum computing, nanotechnology, synthetic biology and other areas

Engineered bacteria deliver an anti cancer tumor toxin in mice before self-destructing

A synthetic genetic circuit programmed into an attenuated Salmonella enterica subspecies can be used to systemically deliver an anti-tumor toxin into mice with cancer. The circuit allows the bacterial cells inside a tumor to synchronously self-destruct by lysis, releasing the toxin directly in the tumor

Researchers at the University of California San Diego and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have come up with a strategy for using synthetic biology in therapeutics. The approach enables continual production and release of drugs at disease sites in mice while simultaneously limiting the size, over time, of the populations of bacteria engineered to produce the drugs

“This impressive study represents a big step towards one of the great dreams of synthetic biology: rationally programming cells, in this case bacteria, to exhibit complex, dynamic, and beneficial behaviors in a host organism,” Michael Elowitz, whose Caltech lab builds synthetic genetic circuits and who was not involved in the work, wrote in an email to The Scientist.

Bert Vogelstein, a cancer geneticist at the Johns Hopkins’ Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center in Baltimore who also was not involved in the work, agreed. “This paper describes a highly innovative strategy employing synthetic biology to weaponize bacteria and shows that these bacteria can be used to slow the growth of tumors growing in mice,” he wrote in an email to The Scientist.

Schematic of the microfluidic device used to co-culture engineered bacteria and cancer cells (top). Live co-culture of engineered bacteria and cancer cells immediately before and after the synchronized lysis event, showing cancer cell death (bottom left, right, respectively).

Nature - Synchronized cycles of bacterial lysis for in vivo delivery

July 22, 2016

Nextbigfuture predicted near term transhuman scenario is nearing with IVF booming in China, embryo selection based on cellular characteristics and China's first human CRISPR gene editing

In 2014, I gave a talk at Transhuman Visions in 2014 where I said older Tiger Moms would be the driver of early adoption of genetic intelligence enhancement after the lifting of the One child policy in China.

China's One child policy was lifted just as embryo selection based upon intelligence for invitro fertilized (IVF) babies becomes possible and we are on the cusp of genetic engineering. Women in China who are now older were banned from having babies but now will be allowed to have children. Many will not be able to conceive naturally and will use IVF. I see IVF going from 400,000 per year worldwide to 2-8 million per year over the next 10 years. IVF babies are more easily embryo selected and accessible for genetic modification. This would provide an economic boost to China in 20-30 years and the beginnings of a significant societal shift.

* Older women use IVF more than younger women
* Societal shifts that cause more older women to use IVF to have children means more opportunity for embryo selection and genetic intelligence enhancement.
* Countries that permit embyro selection and genetic intelligence enhancement provide the opportunity for IVF to be used for enhancement
* Medical tourism to permissive countries is another means for older women to use IVF in combination with embryo selection or genetic enhancement.

IVF up over 50% in China since one child policy change

By December, 2015 there has been a 50 per cent jump in IVF consultations since the one-child policy announcement.

China is set to be the biggest IVF market in the world, probably within the next couple of years. Chinese couples who have the financial means often go abroad to the United States, Australia, Thailand and Vietnam for IVF. Rising Chinese demand for fertility treatments is also increasing IVF demand overseas clinics such as Australia-based Monash IVF Group and Virtus Health or Superior A.R.T. in Thailand, where 30-40 per cent of patients come from China.

Patient numbers are still climbing too. There were nearly half a million treatment "cycles" in 2013 at 356 approved clinics, compared with just under 200,000 cycles that year in the higher-value US market. Those levels were before the lifting of the one child policy.

Older women going for IVF

A 61-year-old woman has became what is believed to be China’s second oldest mother, according to media reports, in a growing trend of older births among desperate couples who have been left childless by Beijing’s draconian one-child policy.

The baby was born six days after media reported that another Chinese woman, 54-year-old Liu Hongmei, gave birth to a boy through IVF following the loss of her son in a traffic accident two years ago.

China reformed its strict family planning laws last October, but there are an estimated million Chinese families who have lost the only child they were ever allowed to have – including 335,000 mothers over 49.

Genetic screening embryos

A chinese woman gave birth to baby girl using an embryo frozen 18 years ago

Until recently fertility experts were only been able to judge the health of an embryo by its appearance.

A new test called Comprehensive Chromosomal Screening (CCS) is allowing fertility specialists to determine with much greater accuracy which embryos in IVF have the normal number of chromosomes and are the most likely to result in a successful pregnancy.

Studies have shown that IVF with CCS can achieve

• Pregnancy rates as high as 70%
• Miscarriage rate as low as 10%.
• A very low risk of chromosomal problems such as Down's syndrome (diagnostic accuracy of CCS is about 99%)

To further improve on the results of CCS, Olive Fertility is pioneering another technique for screening embryos with mitochondrial DNA quantification.

It appears that around a third of embryos with the correct number of chromosomes still fail to lead to a successful pregnancy. Recent studies have shown that embryos with a higher concentration of mitochondrial DNA have a reduced chance of implantation. Mitochondria are the energy producing engines within our cells, but surprisingly, an abundance of mitochondria appears to be associated with lower implantation potential.

The engineering is intended to switch on the immune response to attack cancer. In the pharmaceutical industry, antibody drugs directly blocking the PD-1 protein including Merck & Co.’s Keytruda and Opdivo sold by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. have become new growth engines for the companies.

A study from the University of Oxford, which was recently presented at the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Helsinki, suggested that screening embryos for their levels of mitochondrial DNA could help doctors select those that are most likely to result in a healthy pregnancy.

With CCS, an egg is fertilized in the laboratory and the embryo is grown for 5 days at which point 5-10 cells are taken from the part of the embryo that will form the placenta (thus leaving the cells that are destined to become the fetus untouched).

The embryo is then frozen and the biopsied cells are sent to a specialized laboratory for testing. The results usually return in 10-14 days identifying which embryos are chromosomally normal. A healthy embryo can be transferred in the next menstrual cycle.

Illumina offering pre-implantation next generation sequencing

Preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) determines the chromosomal status of an embryo by screening all 23 chromosome pairs prior to transfer in an IVF cycle. PGS enables the selection of embryos for transfer that are most likely to be free of chromosomal problems.

PGS is described in 8 pages and details how it is compatible with WHOLE GENOME sequencing and screening

Gene editing on humans

Chinese scientists are embarking on what appear to be the first human trials with the Crispr gene editing tool, the latest effort by the country’s researchers to master a technology that might someday be a potent tool in developing therapies worldwide.

Nature - Chinese scientists to pioneer first human CRISPR trial

Chinese scientists are on the verge of being first in the world to inject people with cells modified using the CRISPR–Cas9 gene-editing technique.

A team led by Lu You, an oncologist at Sichuan University’s West China Hospital in Chengdu, plans to start testing such cells in people with lung cancer next month. The clinical trial received ethical approval from the hospital's review board on 6 July.

The fast, stunning rise of China's supercomputer ecosystem which can translate into innovation leads in aircraft, cars, medicine, energy and military systems

China's supercomputer accomplishment is far more significant than one computer coming in first. Other countries have done it in the past with what’s called “stunt” machines ― fast and powerful, but unable to apply it to anything. The stunning news here is that China created a High Performance Computing (HPC) “ecosystem” in an amazingly short period of time.

Another important part of the Sunway TaihuLight announcement is that for the first time, the Chinese – built a 100 percent indigenous supercomputer. In an ironic twist, our scientists are trying to learn the recipe of the secret-sauce to the Chinese processor. China’s ecosystem also created the hardware and the middleware required to operate the computer.

Maintaining leadership in high performance computing is a national and economic security imperative. As history has shown, HPC translates into innovations in aircraft, automobiles, oil and gas, biomedical, nuclear energy and military systems.

Russia's air force and precision guided weapons make a military that is geopolitical useful and effective

The United States military had problems in the Vietnam war but introduced precision guided weapons in the first Gulf war.

Russia's air force cannot match the United States in terms of the number of 5th generation planes. This primarily matters in terms of a WW3 or pre-WW3 showdown.

However, Russia's nuclear weapons and conventional capability are sufficient to prevent bullying from Washington when the US has not indicated 100% commitment. The situations where the US is fully committed is defending North America and Western Europe.

However Russia has established its military capability to the US first Gulf war level. This is geopolitically important because other than all out war between either NATO and Russia or Russia and China, Russia can use its military power to bully any other military with near certainty of being able achieve objectives.

The USSR did not have this capability when they fought in Afghanistan.

The Russian Air Force is receiving highly-capable new aircraft like the Su-30SM, Su-35S and Su-34, it is not receiving huge numbers of those new aircraft at once. The Russians are taking delivery of tens of these new aircraft over a number of years to replace the hundreds of Soviet-era jets that are currently in service. the Russian Air Force is receiving new aircraft with good radars (most of the new jets have a PESA but active electronically scanned array (AESA) are in the pipeline onboard the MiG-35, for example) and excellent electronic warfare suites, the Russian Air Force still lacks good electro-optical/infrared targeting pods comparable to the U.S. Air Force’s Sniper or U.S. Navy ATFLIR pod. Moreover, precision guided weapons comparable to the Joint Direct Attack Munition are still comparatively rare in the Russian arsenal as the Syrian experience has demonstrated. But the Russians are aware of these deficiencies and are working on correcting the problem. Indeed, new targeting pods are nearing production.

Russia will license-produce the Thales Damocles reconnaissance and target designation pod for its air force strike aircraft, following successful tests of the system with Malaysia's Sukhoi Su-30MKM multirole fighter. Comparative trials involving Damocles and the Ural Optical and Mechanical Plant (UOMZ)-produced Sapsan and Solux targeting pods went in favor of the French design

New cancer gene-drug combinations ripe for precision medicine

In an effort to expand the number of cancer gene mutations that can be specifically targeted with personalized therapies, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine and Moores Cancer Center looked for combinations of mutated genes and drugs that together kill cancer cells. Such combinations are expected to kill cancer cells, which have mutations, but not healthy cells, which do not. The study, published July 21 in Molecular Cell, uncovered 172 new combinations that could form the basis for future cancer therapies.

Representation of synthetic lethal wiring of a cancer call with previously unknown interactions

Molecular Interactions - A Network of Conserved Synthetic Lethal Interactions for Exploration of Precision Cancer Therapy

First flight for full scale Facebook internet drone

Google is working to expand the Internet with its own flying drones and high-altitude balloons, Facebook is fashioning all sorts of contraptions to spread online access far and wide, including new wireless antennas, lasers, and satellites. In the process, both companies are furthering their own ends. If they expand the Internet’s reach, they expand the reach of Google and Facebook.

By Facebook’s estimates, about 1.6 billion people live in areas that don’t offer mobile broadband.

Aquila is the flying drone Zuckerberg and company are designing to provide Internet access in remote parts of the world. It’s made of carbon fiber, and it tops the wingspan of a 737.

Facebook’s Aquila airplanes will communicate via space optics—aka lasers. FACEBOOK

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