Toggle light / dark theme

Since artificial intelligence pioneer Marvin Minsky patented the principle of confocal microscopy in 1957, it has become the workhorse standard in life science laboratories worldwide, due to its superior contrast over traditional wide-field microscopy. Yet confocal microscopes aren’t perfect. They boost resolution by imaging just one, single, in-focus point at a time, so it can take quite a while to scan an entire, delicate biological sample, exposing it light dosages that can be toxic.

To push confocal imaging to an unprecedented level of performance, a collaboration at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) has invented a “kitchen sink” confocal platform that borrows solutions from other high-powered imaging systems, adds a unifying thread of “Deep Learning” artificial intelligence algorithms, and successfully improves the confocal’s volumetric resolution by more than 10-fold while simultaneously reducing phototoxicity. Their report on the technology, called “Multiview Confocal Super-Resolution Microscopy,” is published online this week in Nature.

“Many labs have confocals, and if they can eke more performance out of them using these artificial intelligence algorithms, then they don’t have to invest in a whole new microscope. To me, that’s one of the best and most exciting reasons to adopt these AI methods,” said senior author and MBL Fellow Hari Shroff of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.

Happy birthday, ISS.

The first components of the International Space Station (ISS) were launched on November 20, 1998, roughly 12 years after the first Soviet MIR-2 module was launched and a full 25 years after Skylab.

The ISS took 10 years and more than 30 missions to assemble. It is the result of unprecedented scientific and engineering collaboration among five space agencies representing 21 countries: NASA (United States of America), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), CSA (Canada), and ESA (16 EU countries and the UK).

With fully-equipped laboratories and advanced life support systems powered by solar arrays, the ISS has space for up to seven crew members to live and work, conducting many kinds of research in low Earth orbit.

Let’s explore (and celebrate) one of the most impressive pieces of engineering ever created.

Full Story:

Professor Norikazu Ichihashi and his colleagues at the University of Tokyo have successfully induced gene expression from a DNA, characteristic of all life, and evolution through continuous replication extracellularly using cell-free materials alone, such as nucleic acids and proteins for the first time.

The ability to proliferate and evolve is one of the defining characteristics of living organisms. However, no artificial materials with these characteristics have been created. In order to develop an artificial molecular system that can multiply and evolve, the information (genes) coded in DNA must be translated into RNA, proteins must be expressed, and the cycle of DNA replication with those proteins must continue over a long period in the system. To date, it has been impossible to create a reaction system in which the genes necessary for DNA replication are expressed while those genes simultaneously carry out their function.

The group succeeded in translating the genes into proteins and replicating the original circular DNA with the translated proteins by using a circular DNA carrying two genes necessary for DNA replication (artificial genomic DNA) and a cell-free transcription-translation system. Furthermore, they also successfully improved the DNA to evolve to a DNA with a 10-fold increase in replication efficiency by continuing this DNA replication cycle for about 60 days.

By adding the genes necessary for transcription and translation to the artificial genomic DNA developed by the group, it could be possible to develop artificial cells that can grow autonomously simply by feeding them low-molecular-weight compounds such as amino acids and nucleotides, in the future. If such artificial cells can be created, we can expect that useful substances currently produced using living organisms (such as substances for drug development and food production) will become more stable and easier to control.

This research has been led by Professor Norikazu Ichihashi, a research director of the project “Development of a self-regenerative artificial genome replication-transcription-translation system” in the research area “Large-scale genome synthesis and cell programming” under the JST’s Strategic Basic Research Programs CREST (Team type). In this research area, JST aims to elucidate basic principles in relation to the structure and function of genomes for the creation of a platform technology for the use of cells.

Dr. Yuval Noah Harari, macro-historian, Professor, best-selling author of “Sapiens” and “Homo Deus,” and one of the world’s most innovative and exciting thinkers, has a few hypotheses of his own on the future of humanity.

He examines what might happen to the world when old myths are coupled with new godlike technologies, such as artificial intelligence and genetic engineering.

Harari tackles into today’s most urgent issues as we move into the uncharted territory of the future.

According to Harari, we are probably one of the last generation of homo sapiens. Within a century earth will be dominated from entities that are not even human, intelligent species that are barely biological. Harari suggests the possibility that humans are algorithms, and as such Homo sapiens may not be dominant in a universe where big data becomes a paradigm.
Robots and AI will most likely replace us in our jobs once they become intelligent enough.

Although he is hopeful that AI might help us solve many problems, such as healthcare, climate change, poverty, overpopulation etc, he cautions about the possibility of an AI arms race.

Furthermore Dr. Yuval Noah Harari suggests this technology will also allow us to upgrade our brains and nervous systems. For example, humans will be able to connect their minds directly to the internet via brain implants.

CRISPR Gene editing therapy is used for the first time in living humans with amazing results.

— About ColdFusion –
ColdFusion is an Australian based online media company independently run by Dagogo Altraide since 2009. Topics cover anything in science, technology, history and business in a calm and relaxed environment.

ColdFusion Discord:


ColdFusion Music Channel:

ColdFusion Merch:

Studying The Atoms Of Perception, Memory, Behavior and Consciousness — Dr. Christof Koch, Ph.D. — Chief Scientist, MindScope Program, Allen Institute.

Dr. Christof Koch, Ph.D. ( is Chief Scientist of the MindScope Program at the Allen Institute for Brain Science, originally funded by a donation of more than $500 million from Microsoft founder and philanthropist Paul G. Allen.

With his B.S. and M.S. in physics from the University of Tübingen in Germany and his Ph.D. from the Max-Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Dr. Koch spent four years as a postdoctoral fellow in the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and the Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department at MIT, and from 1987 until 2,013 was a professor at Caltech, from his initial appointment as Assistant Professor, Division of Biology and Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences, to his final position as Lois and Victor Troendle Professor of Cognitive & Behavioral Biology.

Dr. Koch joined the Allen Institute for Brain Science as Chief Scientific Officer in 2011 and became it’s President in 2015.

Dr. Koch’s passion are neurons, or what he refers to as the atoms of perception, memory, behavior and consciousness, including their diverse shapes, electrical behaviors, and their computational function within the mammalian brain, in particular in neocortex, and he leads the Allen Institute for Brain Science effort to identify all the different types of neurons in the brains of mice and humans – known as their cell census effort.

Dr. Koch’s writings and interests integrate theoretical, computational and experimental neuroscience with philosophy and contemporary trends, in particular artificial intelligence, and he has authored more than 300 scientific papers and multiple books including, The Feeling of Life Itself – Why Consciousness is Everywhere But Can’t be Computed, Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist, The Quest for Consciousness: A Neurobiological Approach, Biophysics of Computation: Information Processing in Single Neurons, and Methods in Neuronal Modeling: From Ions to Networks. He has also served as editor for several books on neural modeling and information processing.

Professor Stefan Lorenz Sorgner talks about his new book, ‘We Have Always Been Cyborgs’. Find out more about the book:

“With an encyclopaedic knowledge of transhumanism and a deep philosophical grounding, especially in Nietzschean thought, Stefan Sorgner tackles some of the most challenging ethical issues currently discussed, including gene editing, digital data collection, and life extension, with uncommon good sense and incisive conclusions. This study is one of the most detailed and comprehensive analyses available today. Highly recommended for anyone interested in transhumanist/posthumanist ideas and in these issues generally.” N. Katherine Hayles, University of California, Los Angeles.

“An eye-opening, wide-ranging and all-inclusive study of transhumanism. Sorgner’s account avoids both the utopian trap and the bogeyman spectre. He makes a compelling case for placing ourselves on the transhuman spectrum. How we continue to use technologies is in our hands. Sorgner’s book is both a comprehensive introduction to transhumanist thought and a clear-sighted vision for its future realisation.” Julian Savulescu, University of Oxford.

For people with motor impairments or physical disabilities, completing daily tasks and house chores can be incredibly challenging. Recent advancements in robotics, such as brain-controlled robotic limbs, have the potential to significantly improve their quality of life.

Researchers at Hebei University of Technology and other institutes in China have developed an innovative system for controlling robotic arms that is based on augmented reality (AR) and a . This system, presented in a paper published in the Journal of Neural Engineering, could enable the development of bionic or prosthetic arms that are easier for users to control.

“In recent years, with the development of robotic arms, brain science and information decoding technology, brain-controlled robotic arms have attained increasing achievements,” Zhiguo Luo, one of the researchers who carried out the study, told TechXplore. “However, disadvantages like poor flexibility restrict their widespread application. We aim to promote the lightweight and practicality of brain-controlled robotic arms.”

Evolutionary genomics approach identifies genes that enable plants to live in the Atacama Desert, offering clues for engineering more resilient crops to face climate change.

An international team of researchers has identified genes associated with plant survival in one of the harshest environments on Earth: the Atacama Desert in Chile. Their findings, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), may help scientists breed resilient crops that can thrive in increasingly drier climates.

“In an era of accelerated climate change, it is critical to uncover the genetic basis to improve crop production and resilience under dry and nutrient-poor conditions,” said Gloria Coruzzi, Carroll & Milton Petrie Professor in the New York University (NYU) Department of Biology and Center for Genomics and Systems Biology, who co-led the study with Rodrigo Gutiérrez.