The Crawling Eye: Cells as Lenses

first_imgCertain bacteria can respond to light be turning their whole bodies into eyeballs.The cells are round anyway; why not focus light? Scientists have wondered why certain cyanobacteria in “pond slime” are able to move toward light, a process given the name phototaxis (“light order”). A new study published in eLife suggests that the whole cell becomes a lens. The BBC News comments:Despite being just three micrometres (0.003mm) in diameter, the bacteria in the study use the same physical principles as the eye of a camera or a human.This makes them “probably the world’s smallest and oldest example” of such a lens, the researchers write in the journal eLife.Scientists had noticed photo taxis for a long time. Reporter Jonathan Webb writes, “After more than three centuries of scientists eyeballing bugs under microscopes, Prof Mullineaux said it was remarkable that nobody had picked up on this before.” A press release from the University of Freiberg sheds some light on that:All previous attempts to explain bacterial phototaxis, the process by which bacteria move toward light, have failed because these organisms, which measure only a few lengths of a light wave, were thought to be too small to perceive differences in light between the front and back side of the cell. Since the entire bacterium functions like a lens, however, the organisms can concentrate light, creating a pronounced light gradient within the cell.It’s not that different from the way the human eyeball focuses light, Live Science says. “A cyanobacterium, however, is 500 million times smaller than the human eye, and the algae likely view only the blurry outlines of objects that the human eye could see clearly, the researchers said.” In response to the light, a cyanobacterium grows tiny tentacles called pili that move the cell toward the light source.What’s also remarkable is that none of the articles or the journal paper itself talked about evolution.Think about what a cell needs to use this information. It has to know how to shape itself into a lens. There have to be receptors at the focal point. Those receptors have to send signals to the nucleus, where genes must be transcribed to turn the information into action. The cell has to grow pili at the right place, and move them in directions that push the whole cell toward the light.If any one of those processes is missing (and each involves complex molecular machinery), phototaxis wouldn’t work. That’s design, not evolution. That this takes place in a “simple, primitive” life form like a bacterium should give Charlie more cold shudders. (Visited 18 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Focus on African resources at Mining Indaba

first_imgDelegates at the 20th annual African Mining Indaba at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Monday 3 February. (Image: African Mining Indaba)The Investing in African Mining Indaba got off to an energetic start in Cape Town on Monday 3 February, with a number of parallel sessions and a busy exhibition hall.Now in its 20th year, the Mining Indaba is hosting 7 800 delegates at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, representing 110 countries across six continents, with the majority – 61% – from Africa.With #MiningIndaba trending on Twitter, the morning was given over to workshops and discussions focused was on transparency in the extractive industry, and on the scramble for Africa’s resources – the continent accounts for 30% of global resources, much of it untapped.Experts at the indaba agreed it had been a challenging year for mining, with a commodity demand stabilising and prices dropping. But they forecast an uptick globally. There was plenty of growth potential, they said, particularly in China. The message out of the Securities Exchange Panel, for instance, was that a month into 2014 things were “unquestionably getting better” for mining financial markets.Red Door Research’s managing director, Jim Lennon, said in the next five years, “expect recovery in non-Chinese demand. China provides ground to get bullish again about commodities.” China represented almost 50% of the global commodity demand, though there was “no question” we were in a much slower growth period in China, but growth would remain strong in volume terms.China represented close to 50% of demand for commodities, but, he asked: Would the next 50 years be Africa’s period? “Possibly, if challenges are overcome.”David Cox, from analysts SNL Metal Economics Group, had a gloomier outlook, predicting a 15% to 20% decrease for exploration in Africa in 2014. At present, Canada drew 14% of world mineral exploration spending; South Africa only 1%. Spending on exploration was at $2-85-billion, although Africa was still lagging behind Latin America, while Canada continued to lose ground.Worldwide exploration in 2013 was led by Latin America at 26.7%; the rest of world took 16.5%; Africa took 16.5%. Adding copper shifted Africa to second place, however.Some good news came from Professor Magnus Ericsson, executive director at research group IntierraRMG, who said iron ore prices were expected to remain steady well into 2030, hovering around $120. And MoneyGold’s James Turk put the case for a return to gold as money in the 21st century. It retained its purchasing power over a long period, he pointed out.Social compact in miningThe Mining Ministerial Forum, running alongside the indaba, was opened by Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu, who focused on the need for a social compact between companies and communities. Africa had high exploration potential, requiring local and international partners and investment to unearth.She called for responsible investment on the continent, “not based on exploitative principles centred solely on expectations for unrealistic rates of returns that are disguised on the principle of high risk – high return. As you know, mining is a long term investment and not about quick wins. Those who balance Africa’s mineral development with growth will ultimately receive the greatest reward in the long term.”Enduring partnerships, community development, nurturing human capacity growth and development, as well as institutional collaboration on joint technology development and deployment were strong themes in her remarks.“We also have to be cognisant of the fact that in order to effectively and comprehensively address the plight of the African continent, a gigantic shift and transformation in traditional mining jurisdictions is required,” the minister said. “This should entail a shift from exporting of largely raw materials to ensuring that minerals serve as a catalyst for accelerated industrialisation through mineral value-addition. This will also require development corridors that are a subject of multi-purpose infrastructure development.”Such investment required partners to agree on a creative win-win formula for financing of infrastructure that would deliver “Africa’s promise” and enable the emergence of a resilient African continent. The outlook for growth in the medium to long term was extremely positive, but Africa must speak with a single voice. “The African Mining Vision is indeed that voice. However, it is important that the Mining Vision be driven and led by Africans, who must ensure that Africa’s mineral resources are exploited in an equitable and optimal manner that underpins a broad-based sustainable inclusive growth and socio-economic development.”‘Make the most of what we’ve got’In his keynote address at the main indaba, Phil Newman, the chief executive of consultancy CRU Strategies, said he was optimistic. “I think we are due another game change.” He was speaking about the changing face of world mineral supply. His key point was that changing mineral supply was not new, and was something that would always change. It was important, however, not to miss it, and to remember that necessity was the mother of invention. “We can all learn from the ability of China to make the most of what we’ve got.”Mineral supply was affected by a number of drivers, two of which were technology and political will, or interference. Technology was going to become more and more important to mining, and innovation was key. He would not make any political predictions, but concluded by saying: “I believe technology will surprise us this decade – if only I knew how.”last_img read more

Cadillac ATS Delivers American Automotive Innovation

first_imgCognitive Automation is the Immediate Future of… Related Posts Massive Non-Desk Workforce is an Opportunity fo… michael tchong Living In AmericaThat producing a product as complex as a car with its myriad of alloys and steel and hundreds of technology features is not a trivial procedure is underscored by this Esquire article, How to Build an American Car, which breathtakingly describes the production process.So would Apple benefit from building the iPhone in America? There are two trends to consider here. First, it’s increasingly likely that volatility in the oil business will cause fuel prices to double in the not-too-distant future. That will make shipping even a high-value iPhone from China via FedEx a less attractive proposition.Another is that increasingly the added value in any consumer product is software. And in this area, America still out-shines the rest of the world although domestic educational obstacles and the ascent of India may diminish that advantage.Still though, I’m happy to see that once-considered-dead General Motors can not only match global competitors in engineering but also reinvent an area where automobiles will increasingly have to shine – the human-machine interface. Don’t believe me? I have just one word to say, iDrive.Happy motoring America, and please contribute software innovations for the automobile and computer revolution to our Spigit innovation crowdsourcing engine. IT + Project Management: A Love Affair Tags:#Digital Lifestyle#enterprise#Internet of Things#NYT#Trends In January, The New York Times wondered aloud why Apple did not make the iPhone in America. The story heaped a torrent of commentary and scrutiny on Silicon Valley’s most valuable company. Whether you think manufacturing in the U.S. is right or not for Apple, Cadillac is proving that American-made technology can compete with the best.The new Cadillac ATS was designed to be a luxury car world-beater – a tall order that required catching up to the likes of BMW’s 3-series and Mercedes’ C-class. But the folks at General Motors took a unique approach to the job and the ATS definitely arrives at the head of its class.What Cadillac did is often overlooked in Silicon Valley. To help design the Cadillac User Experience (CUE), the company assembled a team of designers, engineers and software developers to shadow drivers while observing them in their natural habitat.This “contextual design” technique required team members to accompany actual consumers, an eye-opening experience. The shadow team was able to identify several different driving styles, which were categorized under a pseudonym. One type of driver, dubbed “Spencer,” always needed to check text messages immediately, while ‘‘Emily” liked listening to music, whether on her phone, iPod or flash drive.Cadillac spokesperson David Caldwell tells me, “We took a hard look at what carmakers call ‘infotainment.’ Everyone’s doing that, that’s sort of par for the course. We took a bit of a riskier approach: Is there something we can do that says ‘hey these guys are doing something different?’”Enter A New GUIWhat became clear quickly is that most drivers are distracted by a myriad of bells, beeps and whistles emitted by our digital lifestyle tools. So Cadillac engineers set out to develop a less invasive type of user interface, one that communicates via seat vibrations.You might call it “BUI,” but GM prefers the less colloquial Cadillac Safety Alert Seat. The Alert Seat is able to tell a driver whether an object is nearby on the left by triggering a pulse on the left side of the seat.Cadillac also joins another innovative force in technology: the open source movement. The CUE system runs on a triple-core ARM 11 processor and uses a Linux platform so developers can help keep the architecture fresh with new extensions.CUE powers both an 8-inch capacitive touch screen, reportedly the first non-resistive display in an automobile, and a second, 12.3-inch fully configurable instrument cluster mounted behind the steering wheel.Another automotive engineering feat was the addition of haptic feedback. There’s a proximity sensor, which brightens the display when a driver’s hand approaches the system’s user interface and a touch screen that provides both pulse feedback and the ability to swipe and pinch. 3 Areas of Your Business that Need Tech Nowlast_img read more

Gilas getting better chemistry, but lack of tune-up games cause for concern

first_imgAlab, which is bannered by Puerto Rican reinforcements Renaldo Balkman and PJ Ramos, would’ve been the perfect opponent to test Gilas before they head for Doha to kickoff their campaign in the last window of the Fiba World Cup Asian qualifiers.“I’m very concerned because can you imagine the only time you’ll see them compete is in the game itself so that’s a big concern but we couldn’t find any other solution to that problem,” said Guiao.Blatche had just rejoined Gilas on Monday for the first time since the infamous game against Australia last July but he won’t be here for long as he is set to return to China and be back with his mother ballclub the Tianjin Gold Lions are still playing in the Chinese Basketball Association.Guiao said Blatche’s last practice with Gilas before he leaves will most likely be on Thursday.“So tomorrow (Wednesday) he will practice with NLEX just running the plays again and then, on Thursday, that could be his last practice with the team because again there will be PBA games on Friday, Saturday, Sunday so we just to work with those limitations.”ADVERTISEMENT That, however, still won’t alleviate some of his worries with the lack of preparation time and possibly not being able to play any tune-up games before the national team’s do-or-die away games against Qatar on February 21 and Kazakhstan three days later.“We’re getting there. We’re getting better chemistry. Andray’s getting more familiar with the plays. I think he’s very comfortable with the plays now,” Guiao told reporters after wrapping up practice for the second straight night at Meralco Gym.”FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSUrgent reply from Philippine ‍football chiefSPORTSPalace wants Cayetano’s PHISGOC Foundation probed over corruption charges“Again, we’re trying to keep everything simple. His time is really limited here and the players’ time is limited as well because they still have to contend with the PBA scheduling,” he said.Gilas was supposed to play Alab Pilipinas in a scrimmage Tuesday night but the exhibition was canceled the night before after Alab backed out to give their players much-needed rest after playing a game in Cebu on Sunday. Gilas Pilipinas head coach Yeng Guiao is liking what he’s seeing from his team especially the progress of Andray Blatche’s reintegration into the squad.ADVERTISEMENT Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting LATEST STORIES PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games PLAY LIST 02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss PDEA chief backs Robredo in revealing ‘discoveries’ on drug war ‘We are too hospitable,’ says Sotto amid SEA Games woes Grace Poe files bill to protect govt teachers from malicious accusationscenter_img Oil plant explodes in Pampanga town Mike Conley, Justin Holiday help Grizzlies beat Timberwolves ‘We are too hospitable,’ says Sotto amid SEA Games woes SEA Games hosting troubles anger Duterte US judge bars Trump’s health insurance rule for immigrants Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. MOST READ View commentslast_img read more