Micro muscles 🦾 Essential oils 🪔 Tiffany rings 💍!

Technology News

Micro muscles inspired by DNA supercoiling

Researchers have mimicked the supercoiling properties of DNA to develop a new type of artificial muscles. “We were able to create DNA-like unwinding by swelling twisted fibres. Supercoiling occurred when the fibre ends were blocked against rotation.” The research team optimised the fibres through modelling to maximise stroke and work output, and downsized the fibres to decrease their response time. The smallest fibres had diameters of around 0.1 mm which is about the same as human hair. They then successfully trialled the new muscles on some possible applications, including micro-scissors and micro-tweezers with arms only 7 mm long.

Smart sensor measures how itchy you are by how much you scratch

Researchers have created a waterproof sensor that sticks to the back of a person’s dominant hand, measuring the motion of their scratching as well as picking up sound waves generated by nails on skin. It uses a machine learning algorithm to determine when people are scratching. They compared the performance of the trained algorithm with recordings from infrared cameras which captured the participants scratching at night while wearing the sensors, and found the assessments of itching matched 99 per cent of the time. The device might also be used to track the success of treatments and test the effectiveness of medications during drug design.

Science News

Scientists find new evidence linking essential oils to seizures

A group of Indian neurologists have found evidence suggesting their use may not be as safe as we previously assumed. Patients who experienced a seizure were evaluated for their use of camphor and eucalyptus essential oils. Analyzing 350 seizure cases that spanned a four-year period, the researchers determined that 15.7%, or the seizures of 55 patients, may have been induced by the inhalation, ingestion or topical use of essential oils. After advising the patients to discontinue their use of the oils, they found that the vast majority of those patients did not experience another seizure during a follow-up period.

Move over CRISPR, the retrons are coming

Researchers have created a new gene editing tool called Retron Library Recombineering (RLR). RLR generates millions of mutations simultaneously, and “barcodes” mutant cells so that the entire pool can be screened at once, enabling massive amounts of data to be easily generated and analyzed. This could enable the study of how multiple mutations interact with each other, and the large number of data points could enable the use of machine learning to predict further mutational effects. RLR could also be combined with CRISPR to improve its editing performance, or could be used as an alternative in the many systems in which CRISPR is toxic.

Business News

Tiffany is selling men’s engagement rings for the first time

Tiffany & Co. announced the debut of its first-ever men’s engagement ring, as it looks to tap into a new market for its high-end jewelry amid a rise in same-sex marriages globally and gender-fluid fashion trends. The retailer has named the new line after the company’s founder, Charles Lewis Tiffany. The rings feature round-brilliant and emerald-cut diamonds that measure up to 5 carats. Tiffany said its aspiration for the men’s engagement line was to offer products in support of love and inclusivity, while “paving the way for new traditions to celebrate our unique love stories and honor our most cherished commitments to one another.”

Amazon’s profits more than tripled in the first three months of 2021

Amazon’s profit in the first three months of 2021 came in at $8.1bn – more than triple what it was in the same period last year. Since the pandemic began, the business has posted four consecutive record quarterly profits, attracted more than 200 million Prime loyalty subscribers, and recruited more than 500,000 employees to keep up with the demand. Revenue was up 44% to $108.5bn, making Amazon one of just four US companies to have reported quarterly revenue above $100bn. Sales at Amazon’s ad business were up 77% and its cloud-computing business – which helps power the online operations of Netflix, McDonald’s and others – grew by 32%.

Miscellaneous News

Solar Mountain Is a Permanent Art Installation That Would Produce 300 MWH of Renewable Energy at Burning Man

Mumbai architecture firm NUDES has designed Solar Mountain, one of 10 shortlisted proposals for LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch. Solar Mountain is not just an interesting solar park to create renewable energy – it doubles as an interactive installation and community center for the participants of Burning Man. “The narrative behind the design is divided into three parts: grow energy, interact, and play.” The design features an array of solar panels fanning out from a central spine. NUDES believed that this dynamic curving form would fit in as another feature in the diverse landscape of wetlands, geysers, and hot and cold springs.

World’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge opens in Portugal

The world’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge has been completed in northern Portugal. Hidden between rock-strewn mountains covered with lush greenery and yellow flowers inside the Unesco-recognised Arouca Geopark, the 516 metres (1,700 feet) bridge hangs 175 metres above the fast-flowing River Paiva. The bridge, which took around two years to build, is a “fundamental attraction” for the region. “It is a breath of fresh air for our land because it will attract more investment, more people.” The region’s population has been rapidly ageing as many young people moved to big cities. “It will bring a new dynamic to Arouca.”

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