Methanol muscles 💪 Mini heart 💓 $2 Trillion 🤑!

Technology News

Beetlebot carries heavy loads using alcohol-powered artificial muscles

One of the world’s smallest microrobots is able to carry 2.6 times its own body weight thanks to a muscular system powered by alcohol. The methanol, stored in a fuel tank that weighs 95 milligrams when full, triggers an energy-releasing chemical reaction with oxygen that warps composite wire muscles to a preprogrammed shape. That twitching of the muscles allows the microrobot to crawl like a beetle. The next step for RoBeetle is to grow wings, courtesy of funding from DARPA, the US Department of Defense’s research arm. “We want to create the first completely autonomous flying robot at beetle scale.”

Facebook gamifies data collection to boost conversational AI

Researchers describe a game that iterates between collecting data and retraining conversational models on the collected data, with a metric that evaluates and compares models using players’ continuation rates. The results suggest it was over 8 times cheaper to attain model accuracy of 80.63% with the game compared with crowdsourcing. Players generally sought “exciting” conversations involving emotional, action-packed interactions like seeking quests. It’s these more “natural” exchanges that lead to models more accurately reflecting human interaction. The researchers plan to make the training code, models, and data sets publicly available in the future.

Science News

Michigan State scientists grow the first functioning mini human heart model

Researchers have created a miniature human heart model, complete with all primary heart cell types and a functioning structure of chambers and vascular tissue. The innovation deploys a bioengineering process that uses induced pluripotent stem cells – adult cells from a patient to trigger embryonic-like heart development in a dish – generating a functional mini heart after a few weeks. The stem cells are obtained from consenting adults and therefore free of ethical concerns. Because the organoids followed the natural cardiac embryonic development process, the researchers studied, in real time, the natural growth of an actual fetal human heart.

Future mental health care may include diagnosis via brain scan and computer algorithm

The UTokyo research team says theirs is the first study to differentiate between multiple psychiatric diagnoses, including autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia. A multidisciplinary team of medical and machine learning experts trained their computer algorithm using MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) brain scans of 206 Japanese adults. The algorithm used in this study learned to associate different psychiatric diagnoses with variations in the thickness, surface area or volume of areas of the brain in MRI images. The machine’s diagnosis matched the psychiatrists’ assessments with high reliability and up to 85 percent accuracy.

Business News

Apple is now worth $2 trillion

Apple is now worth more than $2 trillion, making it the first company in the United States to reach that milestone. Shares have surged almost 60% this year, currently trading at $470 a share. The company’s stock will split four-for-one at the end of the month cutting the price of a single share to $117 making it more affordable for average investors to purchase. Investors are in love with Apple due to surging sales for subscription services and a growing excitement for the launch of the iPhone 12. Apple’s success has also vaulted CEO Tim Cook into the ranks of billionaires — one of the few CEOs to reach that level without having started the company he leads.

J&J strikes $6.5 billion deal for autoimmune disease specialist Momenta

Johnson & Johnson agreed to buy Momenta Pharmaceuticals Inc for $6.5 billion to bolster its portfolio of drugs for hard-to-treat autoimmune diseases. Treatments targeting autoimmune conditions have fetched billions of dollars in sales, including AbbVie Inc’s Humira, which is the world’s best selling drug. J&J’s will gain access to Momenta’s experimental therapy, nipocalimab, which is in late-stage testing for warm antibody hemolytic anemia. Nipocalimab is expected to win approval to treat several conditions, “many as first-in-class indications with potential for significant peak year sales, some of which could exceed $1 billion.”

Miscellaneous News

Germans must walk their dogs twice a day, new law will say

Germany’s dog owners will soon to be ordered by law to walk their pets twice a day. The country’s agriculture minister has said she is introducing the new law based on evidence that many of the nation’s 9.4 million dogs are not getting the exercise or stimuli they need. Under the new regulations, owners will not get away with a quick jog round the block, but will be required to take their dogs out for at least one hour on each occasion. Dogs may not be left alone at home all day, and a person will be required to take care of their dog “several times a day”.

Paris Hilton Drew a Cat and it Somehow Sold for $17,000 in ETH

Paris Hilton announced that she successfully auctioned a digital painting of her cat, Munchkin, for 40 ETH — worth almost $17,000. The sale was held through an Ethereum-based auction platform called Cryptograph. Money raised from the auction of the portrait will go to three charities in the United States — The LA Food Bank, Meals On Wheels, and BB4Homeless. The anonymous winner of Paris’ auction, known only as “Adirolls”, has also bought artwork made by’s founder, Roger Ver, and the Ethereum Foundation researcher, Vlad Zamfir.

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