Monday, May 28, 2012

The race to $1,000 human genome sequencing

Sequencing the human genome for $1,000 was inconceivable just a few years ago, but is now a reality.
Just one decade ago, sequencing an entire human genome cost upwards of $10 million and took about three years to complete. Now, several companies are racing to provide technology that can sequence a complete human genome in one day for less than $1,000.
  The technologies in play make use of advances in nanotechnology and semiconductor sequencing technology, enabling the gene sequencing machines to shrink to the size of a benchtop unit while reading multiple strands of DNA at once.

“A genome sequence for $1,000 was a pipe dream, just a few years ago,” said Dr. Richard Gibbs, director of the Human Genome Sequencing Center at Baylor College of Medicine, in a statement provided by Life Technologies Corp., one of the companies developing gene sequencing technology. “A $1,000 genome in less than one day was not even on the radar, but will transform the clinical applications of sequencing.”

Earlier this year, Life Technologies said it was taking orders for its new benchtop Ion Proton Sequencer, which it priced at $149,000. The benchtop unit uses what the company calls the next generation of semiconductor sequencing technology, with new high-throughput chips that should enable the machine to sequence a human genome in less than one day.

The company estimates that its Ion Proton I Chip, best-suited for sequencing exomes, or regions in the DNA that code for protein, will be available in the middle of 2012. About six months later, its Ion Proton II Chip, which the company says will be ideal to sequence entire human genomes, will come on the market.

The software to analyze the DNA code the genome sequencer identifies also represents a bottleneck in human genome analysis. To combat this, Life Technologies has developed software that is designed to analyze a single genome in one day on a stand-alone server.

Oxford Nanopore Technologies Ltd. also is pushing hard to produce equipment that can decode the human genome in a day for $1,000. The company uses nanopore “strand sequencing,” which involves pushing the DNA strand through nodes embedded in a robust polymer membrane that contain proprietary array chips that can “read” the encoded genes.

This graph from the US National Human Genome Research Institute shows the recent, sharp decline in the cost of genome sequencing.
Individual strands of DNA are passed through the nanopore by a proprietary processive enzyme, and each nanopore sequences multiple strands of DNA in succession. The bases are identified through characteristic electronic signals involving disruptions in current that occur as the sequence passes through the nanopore.
  This proprietary system, known as the GridiON system, is initially designed to deliver tens of gigabytes of sequence data per 24 hour period, and the user can choose how long to run the system. The GridiON cartridges used are disposable; each cartridge initially is designed for real-time sequencing by 2,000 individual nanopores at once. However, the technology is scalable, and Oxford Nanopore says alternative configurations with more than 8,000 nanopores will become available early next year.

This setup potentially could produce human genome decoding with lightening speed: Oxford Nanopore says that a 20-node installation using an 8,000 nanopore configuration could deliver a complete human genome in 15 minutes.

Oxford Nanopore also has made the technology smaller: the MiniON is a disposable DNA sequencing device about the size of a USB memory stick that should retail at less than $900.
Multiple other companies are developing competing technologies to decode genomes. Complete Genomics, for example, has developed novel combinational probe-anchor ligation (cPAL) technology that it says allows particles of DNA that are formed into nanoballs to be read efficiently and accurately. The company offers both the gene-sequencing equipment, plus a gene-sequencing service. Illumina Inc., which uses what it calls “sequencing by synthesis” technology that enables detection of single bases as they are incorporated into growing DNA strands, also offers equipment plus services.

Of course, simply decoding the genome isn’t enough; clinicians need to be able to use that information to guide diagnostic and treatment decisions. To solve this problem, Life Technologies is working with Carnegie Mellon University to develop open-source software that it hopes will help clinicians understand and interpret the genetic data provided by its devices. In addition, the company has formed a collaborative effort with Yale Medical School to identify best practices for diagnostic development and gene discovery that can be used in a clinical setting.

There are other startups in the field. Personalis Inc., for example, is developing software to interpret genomes. Ultimately, all these companies envision a world where routine medical decisions are guided by an individual’s fully-decoded genome.

National Human Genome Research Institute. DNA Sequencing Costs: Data from the NHGRI Large-Scale Genome Sequencing Program. Accessed May 26, 2012.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Key gene found responsible for chronic inflammation, accelerated aging and cancer

Researchers at NYU School of Medicine have, for the first time, identified a single gene that simultaneously controls inflammation, accelerated aging and cancer. "This was certainly an unexpected finding," said principal investigator Robert J. Schneider, PhD, the Albert Sabin Professor of Molecular Pathogenesis, associate director for translational research and co-director of the Breast Cancer Program at NYU Langone Medical Center. "It is rather uncommon for one gene to have two very different and very significant functions that tie together control of aging and inflammation. The two, if not regulated properly, can eventually lead to cancer development. It's an exciting scientific find." 

The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, appears online ahead of print May 24 in Molecular Cell and is scheduled for the July 13 print issue.

For decades, the scientific community has known that inflammation, accelerated aging and cancer are somehow intertwined, but the connection between them has remained largely a mystery, Dr. Schneider said. What was known, due in part to past studies by Schneider and his team, was that a gene called AUF1 controls inflammation by turning off the inflammatory response to stop the onset of septic shock. 

But this finding, while significant, did not explain a connection to accelerated aging and cancer.

When the researchers deleted the AUF1 gene, accelerated aging occurred, so they continued to focus their research efforts on the gene. Now, more than a decade in the making, the mystery surrounding the connection between inflammation, advanced aging and cancer is finally being unraveled.

The current study reveals that AUF1, a family of four related genes, not only controls the inflammatory response, but also maintains the integrity of chromosomes by activating the enzyme telomerase to repair the ends of chromosomes, thereby simultaneously reducing inflammation, preventing rapid aging and the development of cancer, Dr. Schneider explained.

"AUF1 is a medical and scientific trinity," Dr. Schneider said. "Nature has designed a way to simultaneously turn off harmful inflammation and repair our chromosomes, thereby suppressing aging at the cellular level and in the whole animal."

With this new information, Dr. Schneider and colleagues are examining human populations for specific types of genetic alterations in the AUF1 gene that are associated with the co-development of certain immune diseases, increased rates of aging and higher cancer incidence in individuals to determine exactly how the alterations manifest and present themselves clinically.

Source: NYU Langone Medical Center

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Russia To Establish Bases On the Moon

Russia, Japan aim for the Moon

It was a rare confluence — the heads of the space agencies for Europe, Canada and Russia, along with senior representatives from the space agencies of India and Japan — all up on the dais together at a hotel in Washington DC, where they were on hand on 22 May to talk about the benefits of international collaboration at the Global Space Exploration Conference.

Interestingly, the leader of the space agency whose headquarters is just a few blocks away was not on the stage. That’s because NASA administrator Charles Bolden was in Florida, watching the attempt by SpaceX to send its Dragon capsule to the International Space Station.

But perhaps it was somewhat appropriate for NASA to be absent. Increasingly, the agency has had a hard time consummating its joint ventures, and Europe in particular has had to turn elsewhere for partners.

NASA has also shifted its exploration goals relative to other nations. While NASA now intends to pursue manned missions to asteroids, representatives of several other space agencies reiterated that the Moon was still squarely in their sights.

Vladimir Popovkin, the head of Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, said that Russia will pursue extensive, long-lived operations at the Moon’s surface. “We’re not talking about repeating what mankind achieved 40 years ago,” Popovkin said, through a translator.  “We’re talking about establishing permanent bases.” Similarly, JAXA, the Japanese Space Agency, issued a clear pronouncement about targeting the Moon.  “We are looking at the moon as our next target for human exploraiton,” said Yuichi Yamaura, an associate executive director at JAXA.

China was another conspicuously absent member of the  aerospace club as represented on stage. Those present were asked whether they should be doing more to collaborate with China.  “We’re all for it,” says Popovkin. “We have to talk to China.” Steve MacLean, the president of the Canadian Space Agency, described how impressed he was by China’s space operations after a recent visit. He says it would be “prudent” to explore more collaboration.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Leap: Gesture control bubble, high resolution, $70

The Leap: Gesture control like Kinect, but cheaper and much higher resolution

Leap Motion

It seems Minority Report-style computer interfaces might arrive a whole lot sooner than we expected: A new USB device, called The Leap, creates an 8-cubic-feet bubble of “interaction space,” which detects your hand gestures down to an accuracy of 0.01 millimeters — about 200 times more accurate than “existing touch-free products and technologies,” such as your smartphone’s touchscreen… or Microsoft Kinect.

Before you read any further, watch the video below. It’s really rather awesome — and apparently the video is footage of a real The Leap unit, rather than a computer rendering (you know a device is serious when the The is part of the product name). You will also notice that it doesn’t only detect hand movements and gestures — you can use objects, such as a pen or chopsticks, or, assuming software support, your favorite pet.

Now, having watched the video, you probably have a few questions. First of all, no, we don’t know what hardware is hidden within the The Leap. Leap Motion (the company behind The Leap) has said absolutely nothing about the tech, other than it’s “unlike anything that currently exists on the market or in academia.” Realistically, the device probably uses some kind of infrared LIDAR (radar, but with light) — or perhaps it’s like a high-definition version of Kinect (which only uses a 640×480 camera, meaning it can’t come close to Leap’s 0.01mm accuracy). On the software side, there’s undoubtedly some magic at work, but again we don’t have any details beyond the fact that it uses “a patented mathematical approach.”
The Leap, from Leap MotionTechnical details aside, The Leap is available to pre-order now for $70, and is expected to ship early next year. For now, Leap Motion is actually giving away free units and an SDK to developers — though I suspect there’s a limit on how many Leaps are up for grabs. Once the device gets into the hands of developers, we should have a much better idea of how the technology works.
What Leap users will look like (any similarity to mythical warrior heroes is merely coincidental)In practice, I have some doubts about the actual usability of Leap. Personally, I don’t want to hold my arm out in front of me for 8+ hours every day — and I really doubt that interacting with Leap is somehow faster or more productive than a mouse and keyboard. If you want gesture control on a PC, or stylus input, get some kind of Wacom tablet or the Apple Magic Trackpad.

While the video is entirely desktop-oriented, perhaps a more compelling use for Leap could be in the mobile space. With 0.01mm accuracy, it would be easy enough to develop a virtual, gesture-based keyboard. On the other hand, for $70 (cheaper than Kinect!), maybe it’s worth having The Leap on your desk just in case you want to do some lean-back surfing, or other things that don’t require you to be hunched over your mouse and keyboard — or the Leap tech could just be built into the keyboard itself. Anyway, holding your arm out for eight hours might be tiring at first, but it would get easier over time. I can just see it now: The humans of the future will all have massive biceps and pecs.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

India's proposal for government control of Internet to be discussed in Geneva

by Shalini Singh
The raging controversy over possible excessive state regulation of the internet based on the IT Rules 2011 is now likely to be dwarfed by discussions in Geneva later this week over India's proposal to the United Nations General Assembly, for government control of the Internet.

Led by the Commission on Science and Technology for Development, the Geneva meet is a multi-stakeholder discussion platform on Internet governance structures.

In its proposal submitted to the General Assembly in New York on October 26, 2011, India has argued for a radical shift from the present model of multi-stakeholder led decision-making, to a purely government-run multilateral body that would relegate civil society, private sector, international organisations as well as technical and academic groups to the fringes in an advisory role. The proposal has been floated sans any public consultation, despite the move impacting the country's 800 million mobile and 100 million Internet users.

India is pushing for the creation of a forum called ‘Committee for Internet Related Policies' (CIRP) to develop internet policies, oversee all internet standards bodies and policy organizations, negotiate internet-related treaties and sit in judgment when internet-related disputes come up. The catch is that India's formal proposal is for CIRP to be funded by the U.N., run by staff from the U.N.'s Conference on Trade and Development arm and report directly to the U.N. General Assembly, which means it will be entirely controlled by the U.N.'s member states.

At present, the Internet is governed by a voluntary, multi-stakeholder group called ICANN or Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which keeps the Internet free and, for the most part, decentralized. ICANN already has a Government Advisory Council (GAC), which invites participation from governments across the world, including India. ICANN is headquartered in California, essentially because the Internet was born in the US. Control by the US government over its governance was eventually handed over to non-profits during President Clinton's tenure.

India's proposal could prove controversial for multi-stakeholder communities within the country and across the world, since it entails moving away from the prevailing democratic ‘equal say' process for internet governance to one in which governments would be front and centre, receiving advice from stakeholders and deciding the way forward.

Ironically, India's move to establish government control over the internet came within months of Anna Hazare's success in gathering large crowds at the Ram Lila grounds in August 2011 – a part of which was fuelled by the internet and social media. By early October, Mr. Hazare powered up his campaign further by blogging, tweeting and launching a Facebook profile to connect with his supporters.

The government of India's statement is amusingly defensive, going into some detail to clarify that its proposals ‘should not be viewed as an attempt by governments to take over and regulate and circumscribe the Internet'. It also naively declares that the move addresses the need for ‘quick footed and timely global solutions and policies'. How a 50-member inter-governmental process lodged within the UN bureaucracy, which will meet once every year for two working weeks in Geneva, can respond to decisions that need to be made quickly is unclear.

In response to a detailed questionnaire sent by The Hindu, the Ministry of External Affairs, directing the queries to the Department of Information Technology (DIT) said, “The Indian position on global Internet governance is determined and guided by the DIT. The Department's instructions for India's position at the upcoming meeting in Geneva are still awaited”. This lack of clarity is despite the fact that the global discussion is scheduled for May 18, just three days away. The DIT did not respond to The Hindu's queries despite repeated reminders.

India's move could be guided by apprehensions over Western governments' proximity to ICANN. While experts say this must be addressed, it certainly must not be at the cost of making the Internet a hostage to 50-odd governments.

Russia and China, along with Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan have already declared extreme positions for government control over the Internet. Last year, Vladimir Putin, who was Russian Prime Minister at the time, stated his goal, to impose ‘international control over the Internet' through the International Telecom Union, a treaty-based organisation under the auspices of the U.N.. Echoing this view, Houlin Zhao, Director of the ITU's Telecommunications Standardization Bureau and a former Chinese government official said, “The whole world is looking to a better solution to internet governance, unwilling to maintain the current situation.” Before this, China, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan had introduced a UN General Assembly resolution proposing a ‘code of conduct' for the global information society.

Though less extreme, India's proposal appears to be a definite shift towards state control rather than a participative model.

India's proposal may also garner support in Geneva from South Africa and Brazil as part of ‘enhanced cooperation'. With governments around the world spooked by the power of social media and the Internet, which led to the Arab Spring, a wave of demonstrations and protests in the Arab world that toppled decades of dictatorship in countries like Egypt and Libya, it is even possible that India may find passive backing of many governments under the garb of ‘fighting cyber crime and unrest'.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

First Gene Therapy Successful Against Aging-Associated Decline: Mouse Lifespan Extended Up to 24% With a Single Treatment

ScienceDaily (May 14, 2012) — A new study consisting of inducing cells to express telomerase, the enzyme which -- metaphorically -- slows down the biological clock -- was successful. The research provides a "proof-of-principle" that this "feasible and safe" approach can effectively "improve health span."

A number of studies have shown that it is possible to lengthen the average life of individuals of many species, including mammals, by acting on specific genes. To date, however, this has meant altering the animals' genes permanently from the embryonic stage -- an approach impracticable in humans.

Researchers at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO), led by its director María Blasco, have demonstrated that the mouse lifespan can be extended by the application in adult life of a single treatment acting directly on the animal's genes. And they have done so using gene therapy, a strategy never before employed to combat aging. The therapy has been found to be safe and effective in mice.

The results were recently published in the journal EMBO Molecular Medicine. The CNIO team, in collaboration with Eduard Ayuso and Fátima Bosch of the Centre of Animal Biotechnology and Gene Therapy at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), treated adult (one-­‐year-­‐old) and aged (two-­‐year-­‐old) mice, with the gene therapy delivering a "rejuvenating" effect in both cases, according to the authors.

Mice treated at the age of one lived longer by 24% on average, and those treated at the age of two, by 13%. The therapy, furthermore, produced an appreciable improvement in the animals' health, delaying the onset of age-­‐related diseases -- like osteoporosis and insulin resistance -- and achieving improved readings on aging indicators like neuromuscular coordination.

The gene therapy consisted of treating the animals with a DNA-­modified virus, the viral genes having been replaced by those of the telomerase enzyme, with a key role in aging. Telomerase repairs the extreme ends or tips of chromosomes, known as telomeres, and in doing so slows the cell's and therefore the body's biological clock. When the animal is infected, the virus acts as a vehicle depositing the telomerase gene in the cells.

This study "shows that it is possible to develop a telomerase-­based anti-­aging gene therapy without increasing the incidence of cancer," the authors affirm. "Aged organisms accumulate damage in their DNA due to telomere shortening, [this study] finds that a gene therapy based on telomerase production can repair or delay this kind of damage," they add.

'Resetting' the biological clock
Telomeres are the caps that protect the end of chromosomes, but they cannot do so indefinitely: each time the cell divides the telomeres get shorter, until they are so short that they lose all functionality. The cell, as a result, stops dividing and ages or dies. Telomerase gets around this by preventing telomeres from shortening or even rebuilding them. What it does, in essence, is stop or reset the cell's biological clock.

But in most cells the telomerase gene is only active before birth; the cells of an adult organism, with few exceptions, have no telomerase. The exceptions in question are adult stem cells and cancer cells, which divide limitlessly and are therefore immortal -- in fact several studies have shown that telomerase expression is the key to the immortality of tumour cells.

It is precisely this risk of promoting tumour development that has set back the investigation of telomerase-­‐based anti-­‐aging therapies.

In 2007, Blasco's group demonstrated that it was feasible to prolong the lives of transgenic mice, whose genome had been permanently altered at the embryonic stage, by causing their cells to express telomerase and, also, extra copies of cancer-­‐resistant genes. These animals live 40% longer than is normal and do not develop cancer.

The mice subjected to the gene therapy now under test are likewise free of cancer. Researchers believe this is because the therapy begins when the animals are adult so do not have time to accumulate sufficient number of aberrant divisions for tumours to appear.

Also important is the kind of virus employed to carry the telomerase gene to the cells. The authors selected demonstrably safe viruses that have been successfully used in gene therapy treatment of hemophilia and eye disease. Specifically, they are non-­‐replicating viruses derived from others that are non-­‐pathogenic in humans.

This study is viewed primarily as "a proof-­‐of-­‐principle that telomerase gene therapy is a feasible and generally safe approach to improve healthspan and treat disorders associated with short telomeres," state Virginia Boccardi (Second University of Naples) and Utz Herbig (New Jersey Medical School-­‐University Hospital Cancer Centre) in a commentary published in the same journal.
Although this therapy may not find application as an anti-­‐aging treatment in humans, in the short term at least, it could open up a new treatment option for ailments linked with the presence in tissue of abnormally short telomeres, as in some cases of human pulmonary fibrosis.

More healthy years
As Blasco says, "aging is not currently regarded as a disease, but researchers tend increasingly to view it as the common origin of conditions like insulin resistance or cardiovascular disease, whose incidence rises with age. In treating cell aging, we could prevent these diseases."
With regard to the therapy under testing, Bosch explains: "Because the vector we use expresses the target gene (telomerase) over a long period, we were able to apply a single treatment. This might be the only practical solution for an anti-­‐aging therapy, since other strategies would require the drug to be administered over the patient's lifetime, multiplying the risk of adverse effects."

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Icons that don't make sense anymore

What happens when all the things we based our icons on don't exist anymore? Do they just become, ahem, iconic glyphs whose origins are shrouded in mystery?

Floppy Disk - Save

Save? Save where? You know, down there. Adding the Arrow to the 3.5" floppy makes me smile. Is it pointing to under my desk? What's a floppy? Why not a USB key? Maybe a cloud icon? That will be easy since there is only One Cloud Icon in the world.
Floppy Disks of Various Sizes, 3.5  disksave

Radio Buttons - Mutually Exclusive Choices

Why are they called Radio Buttons? Because my car radio used to have buttons where only one could be pressed at any time.  I miss my 8-track.
AM Radio from Gina Hogan Edwards' Blog  The Shutdown Windows Dialog


Seriously, short of a doctor's office or the DMV when are we coming in contact with clipboards? And why is the clipboard the icon for Paste? Why not Copy? Or "fill out form?
The Paste Icon with a Clipboard


We used to use smaller flat dead trees to keep our place in between the dead trees we would read from so that we didn't lose our page. No, books didn't "keep our place when we turned them off."
A bookmark in a book

Address Books and Calendars

We would write down all our addresses and phone numbers in a dead tree and carry it around with us. Sometimes we'd manage our calendar that way also. Everything was bound together with metal spiral loops. Let me check my Filofax.
An address book with a spiral binderA calendar with a spiral binder


I assume that the Voicemail icon is supposed to be evocative of reel to reel tapes but it always look like a container of 110 Film. I suspect my voicemail is no longer stored on spooled magnetic tape. No, you've never seen either of these before, young person. #getoffmylawn
iPhone Voicemail IconReel to Reel Tape110 Camera Film

Manila Folder

I suppose the kids use Pee Chees still these days? I use folders because I use the 43 Folders organizational system but I don't see any reason that we couldn't be storing our files in abstract squares rather than folders in the sky.
Manilla Folders in the CloudsManila Folders are where you put thingsManila Folders

Handset Phone Icon

The world's most advanced phones include an icon that looks like a phone handset that you haven't touched in 20 years, unless you've used a pay phone recently. (What's that?)

iPhone Phone IconAnd old phone handset plugged into an old cell phone

Magnifying Glass and Binoculars

At some time in the past the magnifying glass became the "search everywhere" icon, but for some reason binoculars are for searching within a document. This makes no sense as magnifying glasses are for searching things that are near and binoculars imply breadth of search and distance. These two commands should have had their icons reversed!
The Find icon from Word
A magnifiying glass  A black and white icon of binoculars


Soon the envelope itself will go away and the next generation will wonder what this rectangle means and what it has to do with email. We'll still put other arrows and icons on top of these icons to mean reply, forward, delete, and other things. "Daddy, what's a 'stamp'?"

Envelope Various Envelopes with arrows superimposed on them

Wrenches and Gears - Setup/Settings

Want to indicate Settings or Setup to a twenty something? Show them a tool they've never used in their lives.
iPhone Settings is a set of gearsScrewdriver and Wrench crossed


If you don't know who Johnny Carson is, how could you know that this is a old-style microphone?
Old timey microphone
The Siri icon is an old time radio microphone


No one under 30 has seen a Polaroid in years but we keep using them for icons. Instagram sold for $1B with an icon whose subtlety was lost on its target audience. "Shake it like a Polaroid picture."

Instagram IconStack of Polaroids


Does your TV have "rabbit ears?"
A bunch of TVs with CRTs and

Carbon Copies and Blueprints

I'll "cc" you on that email. Last time I made a carbon copy I was using a mimeograph to do it.
Carbon CopyBlueprints and Carbon Copies

What other icons do we use while the original inspiration fades into obscurity?
Note: If one of these icons is yours let me know and I'll link to your site. I found all these and haven't been able to attribute all of them.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Engineer Thinks We Could Build a Real Starship Enterprise in 20 Years

Diagram of a proposed current generation of a Starship Enterprise. Credit:

In Star Trek lore, the first Starship Enterprise will be built by the year 2245. But today, an engineer has proposed — and outlined in meticulous detail – building a full-sized, ion-powered version of the Enterprise complete with 1G of gravity on board, and says it could be done with current technology, within 20 years. “We have the technological reach to build the first generation of the spaceship known as the USS Enterprise – so let’s do it,” writes the curator of the Build The Enterprise website, who goes by the name of BTE Dan.

This “Gen1” Enterprise could get to Mars in ninety days, to the Moon in three, and “could hop from planet to planet dropping off robotic probes of all sorts en masse – rovers, special-built planes, and satellites.”

Size comparisons of buildings to the proposed USS Enterprise. Credit:

Complete with conceptual designs, ship specs, a funding schedule, and almost every other imaginable detail, the BTE website was launched just this week and covers almost every aspect of how the project could be done. This Enterprise would be built entirely in space, have a rotating gravity section inside of the saucer, and be similar in size with the same look as the USS Enterprise that we know from Star Trek.

“It ends up that this ship configuration is quite functional,” writes BTE Dan, even though his design moves a few parts around for better performance with today’s technology. This version of the Enterprise would be three things in one: a spaceship, a space station, and a spaceport. A thousand people can be on board at once – either as crew members or as adventurous visitors.

While the ship will not travel at warp speed, with an ion propulsion engine powered by a 1.5GW nuclear reactor, it can travel at a constant acceleration so that the ship can easily get to key points of interest in our solar system. Three additional nuclear reactors would create all of the electricity needed for operation of the ship.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Berkeley Automated Dorm Room



May 02, 2012 | by Rachel Cericola

We’ve seen plenty of DIYers hook up home theaters, backyards, and even pool areas. Very few, however, are out there hooking up dorm rooms. 

Freshman Derek Low rigged up his Berkeley dorm room with something he calls B.R.A.D., which is short for “Berkeley Ridiculously Automated Dorm.” According to The Daily Californian, Derek started the install on February 4 and finished just a few days ago. He then uploaded a 6-minute YouTube video (see below) to show off his completed project—and of course, people are taking notice.

That’s probably because Derek has one of the few dorm rooms with automated lighting, drapes, music, motion detection, and more. He can control everything through voice recognition, but a wireless remote, his iPhone and his iPad are also in on the control party.

Speaking of which, he also has a “Emergency Party Button,” which provides music, strobe lights, a trippy laser show, a rotating disco ball and a fog machine, all at the touch of a button. In contrast, there’s also a Romantic Mode. Hello, ladies!

Working with a budget of just a few hundred dollars, Derek created most of the magic using X10 software and the ActiveHome Computer Interface (CM15A). For a closer peek at Derek’s project, click through our slideshow. He also has a complete list of materials and other details about the dorm listed on his website.