1. 14 ‘Functionally Cured’ – speculative optimism beginning to bubble up
Piggy backing on what I wrote about last week this news furthers the development of a “functional cure” for HIV, this time in 14 patients. Doctors and scientists have observed 14 test cases in which patients show no sign of viral activity years after ending their initial run of medications. At this point the science community is responding with their typical constrained optimism and warns that these cases may only represent a small subsection of all infected, 15% or so. Even still, news coming out these last few months shows that the once-thought-unconquerable HIV virus may be on the run, at least in countries wealthy enough to properly cope with it.
2. Gecko Feet are going to replace all of your mounting devices
Researchers at the University of Massachusetts have created a synthetic fabric that uses the concept behind how a gecko’s feet work to create one of the strongest adhesives known to man, and it’s non-sticky. Known as “Geckskin,” the material is capable of holding up to 700 pounds on a flat surface using little more than a section the size of an index card. Functional morphologist (which is the current coolest title ever) Duncan Irschick, who was on the team of scientists that developed “Geckskin,” has studied geckos for 20 years and has found that the little creature is equally at home on flat, vertical, slanted and even backward-tilting surfaces. The new material uses the interplay of tendon, bone, and skin patterned after the gecko foot. The real breakthrough is in the process of taking a soft pad and weaving it into a hard fabric which allows the material to be both “drapable” and strong. The final pad is more tendon than tape and shows an immense amount of promise for any number of personal and commercial uses.
3. NASA cuts education programs
You can sequester my Medicare, sequester my Social Security and sequester my military but when you start sequestering my space program you’re asking for a fight (Well, debate actually. I don’t know if the subject of NASA has ever been grounds for a fist fight). In the first round of MAJOR budget cutbacks one of the least expensive and most amazing organizations that this or any other society has ever been involved in is ending its non-mission-essential education programs. That means that the first blow of budget negotiations is literally going to make an entire generation dumber. NASA’s budget comprises less than 1% of the entire national budget. When its funding was slashed even further, the organization cut the one chord they could that wouldn’t send someone or something spinning out into space. It is this author’s feeling that NASA and space exploration in general is one of the keys to the future of humanity and taking the one organization that pursues this future without care for personal agendas or politics and hide it away from the literal future of humanity (i.e., children) is a Dark Ages-style regression.
4. Flatter, stretchier, more reliable Memory
WHO WANTS TO TALK ABOUT MICROPROCESSORS!?!? Who doesn’t, am I right? You want to get somewhere with a lady or gentleman at a bar then just stroll right up, plop down beside them and regale them with the wonderful mystery of graphene-enhanced memory components. That’s right, graphene, the thing you probably haven’t heard of until today and even then probably are confusing with graphite, is being added to the next generation of microprocessors to give the chips an added boost of durability and electron conduction. Graphene is a single-atom (ONE, ONE FREAKING ATOM) thick sheet of carbon that when combined with more traditional materials can create flash memory that is both super thin, highly efficient and capable of storing multiple bits of information, a practice that is currently used in larger chips. The importance here? Graphene shrinks the overall thickness of the memory chip without sacrificing performance. In fact, in many cases it enhances the performances. Research has shown that its decay is very slow, losing only 30% of its charge over a 10 year period if left inactive. See, you all want to give me your phone numbers right now, don’t you?
5. Here’s a video I like