Interactive paper 📝 Microscopic factories 🔬 Lego boost 📈!

Technology News

Engineers Have Figured Out How to Make Interactive Paper

Engineers have created a printing process by which you can coat paper or cardboard with “highly fluorinated molecules.” This then makes the coated paper dust, oil, and water-repellent, meaning you can then print multiple circuit layers onto the paper without smudging the ink. These “triboelectric areas” are then capable of “self-powered Bluetooth wireless communication” which means this doesn’t require external batteries as it generates electricity from contact with a user’s finger. Because it works on paper and cardboard, it would be relatively inexpensive, flexible, and quick to make. That makes it a good candidate for things like smart packaging.

These ‘anti-procrastination’ smart glasses use AI to monitor what you look at all day

Startup Auctify has launched Specs; smart glasses that use AI to monitor what you’re looking at and nudge you to pay attention. A camera built into the frame uses machine learning to identify what you’re looking at, whether that’s a laptop, book, or a fellow human being. It records this data and sends it to a connected app where Specs can alert you when you’re looking at the wrong thing using visual and audio cues. A built-in blood oximeter, accelerometer, and gyroscope will allow the glasses to function as a fitness-tracking device, while bone conduction speakers will let you listen to music and even take calls using Specs.

Science News

Stanford engineers reprogram yeast cells to become microscopic drug factories

Engineers are recreating ancient remedies in a thoroughly modern way by genetically reprogramming the cellular machinery of a special strain of yeast, effectively transforming them into microscopic factories that convert sugars and amino acids into folkloric drugs. The team spent three years making 34 genetic modifications to the yeast’s DNA to control every step in the unseen chemical assembly process of tropane alkaloids. Humans have used these compounds for millennia for everything from relieving toothaches and bellyaches to conducting religious rituals and poisoning rivals.

Researchers Discover a Specific Brain Circuit Damaged by Social Isolation During Childhood

A research team has identified specific sub-populations of brain cells in the prefrontal cortex that are required for normal sociability in adulthood, and are profoundly vulnerable to juvenile social isolation in mice. Using two techniques to selectively stimulate the prefrontal projections to paraventricular thalamus; optogenetics which enabled researchers to stimulate particular neurons with pulses of light and chemogenetics which allows non-invasive chemical control over cell populations, the researchers were able to increase social interaction in these mice once light pulses or drugs were administered to them.

Business News

Lego reports sales jump after Covid crisis kept families at home

Lego has received a lockdown boost to sales after families around the world were forced to spend more time at home during the coronavirus pandemic. Total sales rose by 14% in the first half of 2020 and sales were up by more than 10% in its largest markets – including the Americas, western Europe, Asia Pacific and China – despite the closure of toy shops for months in some countries. The most successful products included themed playsets from Harry Potter, Disney princesses and Star Wars. Lego has spent heavily on direct-to-consumer sales, which are generally more profitable and have also proven resilient when families were locked at home.

Australia in first recession for nearly 30 years

Australia’s economy has plunged into its first recession in nearly 30 years. Gross domestic product (GDP) shrank 7% in the April-to-June quarter compared to the previous three months. This is the biggest fall since records began back in 1959 and comes after a fall of 0.3% in the first quarter. When the bushfires ravaged through more than 12 million hectares, tourism was bashed and thousands of small business lost months of essential seasonal revenue. Then the coronavirus became a global pandemic and Australia closed down its borders and imposed strict social distancing rules. Nearly 1 million people lost their jobs as a result.

Miscellaneous News

Music mogul Akon going ahead with futuristic ‘Akon City’ in Senegal

The US-Senegalese music mogul Akon has said he is pressing ahead with lofty plans to create a futuristic Pan-African smart city in Senegal next year, built in the mould of Wakanda – the fictional, technologically advanced African nation depicted in the Marvel blockbuster Black Panther. The plans depict gleaming skyscrapers, shopping malls, music studios and eco-friendly tourist resorts. They envisage that “Akoin”, a cryptocurrency founded by the R&B star, would be the central currency. Plans are being considered to franchise the project to other countries in Africa.

David Blaine successfully flies over the Arizona desert holding onto helium balloons

David Blaine has successfully floated over the Arizona desert by holding onto about 50 helium balloons. The latest stunt, titled “Ascension,” is his most ambitious feat yet. Though his initial goal was to reach an altitude of about 18,000 feet, he ended up floating 24,900 feet before skydiving and parachuting back to the ground. “Every single stunt that I’ve ever done is about endurance and pushing past what I thought would be possible, I can’t imagine that many people would dream of doing it.”

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