Friday, May 25, 2018

MIT gut sensor / smartphone app

Researchers have devised a new way to get a sneak peek into what's going on deep in your digestive system, creating a swallowable sensor that, with the help of engineered bacteria and a tiny electrical circuit, can detect the presence of molecules that might be signs of disease and then beam the results to a smartphone app. The device, which scientists validated in pigs, remains a prototype and needs to be refined before it could be used in people. But the researchers, who reported their work Thursday in the journal Science, combined innovations in synthetic biology and microelectronics to create a modular platform that could be adapted to identify a wide range of molecules. "We want to try to illuminate and provide understanding into areas that are not easily accessible," said Dr. Timothy Lu, a bioengineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and senior author of the paper.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Sony In $2.3 Billion Deal For EMI, Becomes World's Biggest Music Publisher

Sony In $2.3 Billion Deal For EMI, Becomes World's Biggest Music Publisher16

Sony said on Tuesday it would pay about $2.3 billion to gain control of EMI, becoming the world's largest music publisher in an industry that has found new life on the back of streaming services. Reuters reports:The acquisition is the biggest strategic move yet by new CEO Kenichiro Yoshida and gives Sony a catalogue of more than 2 million songs from artists such as Kanye West, Sam Smith and Sia. The deal is part of Yoshida's mission to make revenue streams more stable with rights to entertainment content -- a strategy that follows a major revamp by his predecessor which shifted Sony's focus away from low-margin consumer electronics. 

The spread of the internet led to a shrinking of the music market from around 1999 to 2014, Yoshida said, but added that has turned around with the growth of fixed-price music streaming services. The deal values EMI Music Publishing at $4.75 billion including debt, more than double the $2.2 billion value given in 2011 when a consortium led by Sony won bidding rights for the company. EMI currently commands 15 percent of the music publishing industry which combined with its Sony ATV business would make the Japanese giant the industry leader with market share of 26 percent, a company spokesman said.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Scientists Transfer Memory Between Snails

UCLA neuroscientists reported Monday that they have transferred a memory from one animal to another via injections of RNA, a startling result that challenges the widely held view of where and how memories are stored in the brain. The finding from the lab of David Glanzman hints at the potential for new RNA-based treatments to one day restore lost memories and, if correct, could shake up the field of memory and learning. The researchers extracted RNA from the nervous systems of snails that had been shocked and injected the material into unshocked snails. RNA's primary role is to serve as a messenger inside cells, carrying protein-making instructions from its cousin DNA. But when this RNA was injected, these naive snails withdrew their siphons for extended periods of time after a soft touch. Control snails that received injections of RNA from snails that had not received shocks did not withdraw their siphons for as long. 

Glanzman's group went further, showing that Aplysia sensory neurons in Petri dishes were more excitable, as they tend to be after being shocked, if they were exposed to RNA from shocked snails. Exposure to RNA from snails that had never been shocked did not cause the cells to become more excitable. The results, said Glanzman, suggest that memories may be stored within the nucleus of neurons, where RNA is synthesized and can act on DNA to turn genes on and off. He said he thought memory storage involved these epigenetic changes -- changes in the activity of genes and not in the DNA sequences that make up those genes -- that are mediated by RNA. This view challenges the widely held notion that memories are stored by enhancing synaptic connections between neurons. Rather, Glanzman sees synaptic changes that occur during memory formation as flowing from the information that the RNA is carrying.
The study has been published in the journal eNeuro.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

blockchain phone

HTC is about to unveil a flagship phone that nobody will want to buy, the U12 handset the company teased using iPhone 6 parts not too long ago. But it turns out that, on its road to what appears to be inevitable doom, HTC is trying one more thing that nobody else has: The world’s first native blockchain phone. What’s even stranger about the HTC Exodus is that the phone did not get any teasers or leaks. Instead, HTC’s Phil Chen quietly dropped the news on Medium.
HTC has been struggling for many moons now, when it comes to selling phones, and many of us thought the mobile division will soon disappear given that Google already bought most of it.
But we’re not quite there yet. And, once again, the phone maker is first at something. HTC made the first Android smartphone in the world and the first Google Nexus handset soon after that. It also created the first Facebook phone in the world, and the company had not one, but two different 4G-ready phones when 4G LTE and Wi-Max technologies debuted a few years ago. It also introduced a dual-lens camera long before it was actually cool to do it. And then it was tapped to make the first Pixel phones in the world.
So in a way, we should not be surprised to see the HTC Exodus arrive out of the blue, a first device of its kind.
Chen said on Medium that he’s returning to HTC to focus on blockchain and cryptocurrencies:
The HTC Exodus is the first native blockchain phone dedicated to bringing end consumers the best decentralized application (DApp) experiences, including a built-in secure hardware enclave, and helping underlying protocols expand their base of dedicated nodes, thus expanding the total blockchain ecosystem.
The Exodus will support various blockchain technologies, including Bitcoin, Lightning Networks, Ethereum, Dfinity, and others.
What’s interesting about the initiative is that Chen wants to seemingly reinvent the mobile experience:
I want to see a world where the end consumers can truly own their data (browsing history, identity, assets, wallets, emails, messaging, etc) without the need for central authorities. There is a lot of work ahead of us, but I believe the mobile hardware layer can contribute significantly to our new decentralized world.
In other words, this device isn’t running Android.
That’s pretty much all we know about the Exodus, for the time being, so we’ll have to wait for HTC to announce more details about this iPhone and Android competitor in the future.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Saturday, May 5, 2018


When I was eight years old, I moved from coastal Georgia to the suburbs of Atlanta. My parents divorced and I divided my living between Fulton and Gwinnett counties. I finished college at the University of Georgia, where I unwittingly remained in exile for nineteen years until returning to the Greater Atlanta area in the summer of 2013 at the age of forty-one.

For my first year, it was Dunwoody. And I had the distinguished privilege of saying I lived in the monied city of Dunwoody, as opposed to the bus-lined thoroughfare of Sandy Springs. But apparently not good enough, according to some who clued me in to being at a disadvantage, living 'OTP'. Right on the cusp, a great location, but still, OTP. Outside the Perimeter, meaning I-285, the magic circle that has apparently come to signify the inner sanctum of Atlanta.

A year later, I moved to Buckhead, specifically, Lenox area - literally on the Brookhaven/Buckhead borderline. Ten minutes from mid-town, and yes, ITP. I moved to be closer to my new job, which spared me the forty-five-minute afternoon commute back to Sandy Springs. I mean, Dunwoody.

I'll admit, living in Buckhead affords the convenience of easily reaching any destination in or outside the city, and proximity to city life. Although there are distinctions and various tiers, criteria, and echelons within the Perimeter, I am now an 'ITP' denizen.

Having grown up in the suburbs and then living over an hour away for nineteen years in a small college town, I was struck by the snobbery, the elitism - that grown adults would so project their status, and socially exclude - based on relative polarity to the magic circle.

I recall a conversation with my hipster sister's neighbors - two sibling in their eighties who had lived in Decatur most of their lives. Decatur is the core of Atlanta, and the brother recalled a time when men and women would dress in their best attire to go downtown. He described the neighborhood's history of socioeconomic waxing and waning in concentric cycles of time - 'there goes the neighborhood'. My sister and her husband had moved in at low tide somewhere around 2000, when Oakhurst was scattered with (more) crackheads and unsavory characters, who eventually washed back out to sea as gentrification slowly drove up property tax. Within a few years, their value doubled and they upgraded to a much larger home a block up the street. Only an occasional break-in, though the crime map still lights up with sex offenders.

Another friend planted his flag just walking distance to Little Five Points, an industrious bachelor who didn't mind contending with the regular pop of gunshots, he eventually found himself married and surrounded by craftsman-style homes of other young couples. Not sure about any deviation on the frequency of gunshots.

As a DINK (Dude with Income, No Kids) living in an apartment in Buckhead across the street from my would-be office that I rarely set foot inside, I'm watching and waiting for real estate inventory to replenish, both inside and outside the Perimeter. Seeking out the right amount of space, quality materials, and a price that leaves a ceiling for savings, along with reasonable commute to work, some consideration for proximity to the city and higher regard for where I ride my bike.

I continue encountering those proud ITP'ers, but finally I overheard a transplant from the midwest raving about living ITP, characterizing their location as 'between Sandy Springs and Brookhaven' (I don't think they knew to say 'Dunwoody'), and I immediately recognized 'Ah, they're talking about Chamblee'. Rather than just saying 'I live in Chamblee', they led by extoling 'ITP' followed by complete socioeconomic camouflage.

Chamblee is a good location, near downtown, and a more affordable alternative to neighboring Brookhaven (ITP), and next door to the more established Dunwoody/Sandy Springs (OTP). A swath of reluctant gentrification, previously gang-ridden, still heavily occupied by poor multinationals, Buford Highway lined with Latin and Asian merchants and food, while Peachtree Industrial is recently crowned by the jewel of Whole Foods, surrounded by new lofts and old strip malls. Chamblee promises future development, happening in slow progression. Its lovely neighbor, Doraville, is home of the Oasis Gentleman's club, just minutes from any ITPer's untouchable, the dreaded lepper colony of Gwinnett county.

So, for those like myself, who are in the market for a place near town but not necessarily in town, it might not be too late, the climate too sketchy, nor the price too great, to stake your claim in that fuzzy strip that lies between the glorious, expanding and contracting sphincter of downtown (or maybe it's a pillar), and its demarkation at the perimeter that hugs against the cheeks (or is it the sack) of the suburbs. Just look for the sign, "Welcome to Chamblee: The Taint of Atlanta".