In a promising development for diabetes treatment, researchers have developed a network of nanoscale particles that can be injected into the body and release insulin when blood-sugar levels rise, maintaining normal blood sugar levels for more than a week in animal-based laboratory tests. The work was done by researchers at North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Children’s Hospital Boston.
“We’ve created a ‘smart’ system that is injected into the body and responds to changes in blood sugar by releasing insulin, effectively controlling blood-sugar levels,” says Dr. Zhen Gu, lead author of a paper describing the work and an assistant professor in the joint biomedical engineering program at NC State and UNC Chapel Hill. “We’ve tested the technology in mice, and one injection was able to maintain blood sugar levels in the normal range for up to 10 days.”
When a patient has type 1 diabetes, his or her body does not produce sufficient insulin, a hormone that transports glucose - or blood sugar - from the bloodstream into the body’s cells. This can cause a host of health effects. Currently, diabetes patients must take frequent blood samples to monitor their blood-sugar levels and inject insulin as needed to ensure their blood sugar levels are in the “normal” range. However, these injections can be painful, and it can be difficult to determine the accurate dose level of insulin. Administering too much or too little insulin poses its own health risks.
The new, injectable nano-network is composed of a mixture containing nanoparticles with a solid core of insulin, modified dextran and glucose oxidase enzymes. When the enzymes are exposed to high glucose levels they effectively convert glucose into gluconic acid, which breaks down the modified dextran and releases the insulin. The insulin then brings the glucose levels under control. The gluconic acid and dextran are fully biocompatible and dissolve in the body.
IDG News Service - Many tech companies have called for Congress to ease restrictions on high-skill immigration because they can’t find qualified tech workers to fill open positions. Yet, many veteran IT tech workers say they can’t find jobs.
More than a dozen veteran IT workers, contacted through the Programmers Guild and high-skill immigration critic Norm Matloff, computer science professor at the University of California at Davis, say they can’t find jobs, with many pointing to a glut of cheap workers available through the H-1B visa program.
Fifty-year-old Robert Wade, who has been in the tech and engineering fields for 27 years, has worked 10 months out of the last 40, he said. It’s been eight months since his last paycheck, even though he has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a master’s in industrial engineering, with an emphasis in human/computer interaction and user interface design.
A recent study from left-leaning think tank, the Economic Policy Institute, seems to back up claims by Wade and other veteran IT workers. The U.S. has plenty of workers in the science and technology fields, the EPI study said. Only half of U.S. students who graduate in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, however, gets a job in those fields, the study said.
The Information Technology Industry Council, a tech trade group, said the EPI study was “replete with faulty data, exaggerated claims, and plain wrong facts.” The study relies on 2009 data when the U.S. was still recovering from a recession, Robert Hoffman, ITI’s senior vice president for government relations, wrote in a blog post.
Wade, from Indianapolis, said he’s willing to move for work and has looked in Texas, Florida, Tennessee and other states. “The stories are usually that they have tons of locally unemployed tech workers to choose from so why would they want to pay for me to move there?” he said in an email. “I’ve even offered to pay the move myself, and still nothing.”
Wade has drawn the line at getting additional training, however. “I’ll take whatever training a company wants me to take, but I’m not spending my savings to get yet more degrees and more certs just hoping that some company will then hire me,” he said. “That’s all a crap shoot.”
10 years ago most IT departments contained at least 50% or more H1B workers from India and the far East. The IT department where I work now is about 98% White American Male.
I had practically given up ever finding another job but the auto industry bailout saved my career. I’m also getting calls from recruiters.
I see from the article that the disgruntled IT worker did not want to expand his skill set. Well, there are very few jobs available now for FORTRAN programmers. The technology is constantly changing and it’s important to stay current.
Barracuda Engineers build 3D printer
Russian Internet mogul Dmitry Itskov is looking for backers for the world’s first immortality research center.
Startups devise some fairly clever tactics to sell investors on their business models, but Russian tech entrepreneur Dmitry Itskov’s newest venture sells itself: Invest in his new research and development interest and the payoff could be immortality. A new corporate entity that the Russian multi-millionaire will formally announce at an event in June will allow investors to bankroll research into neuroscience and human consciousness with the ultimate goal of transferring human minds into robots, extending human life indefinitely. Early investors will be first in line for the technology when it matures, something Itskov believes will happen in the 2040s.
Over lunch with reporters last week, 32-year-old Itskov outlined a rough roadmap for the future of his 2045 Initiative, a multi-decade research and development push to understand human consciousness and ultimately how to transfer it from human bodies into robotic avatars. When Itskov first became serious about selling off his Russian Internet concerns to pursue what he calls “the next evolutionary step for humanity” a few years ago, he had hoped to do so in a non-profit manner. But now, he says, he realizes that a business case is the best case for moving the project forward.
“In the beginning I thought once we raised this question it would be obvious to people that this is possible and everyone would be interested,” Itskov says. “It was naive thinking, I have to be honest. I understand now that I shouldn’t neglect those business aspects that I tried to avoid when I started thinking about this idea. We have to create business opportunities in this process or nobody will be interested over the next ten or twenty years, especially the entrepreneurs that could potentially afford to do this.”
For months, Henry Markram and his team had been feeding data into a supercomputer, four vending-machine-size black boxes whirring quietly in the basement of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne.
The boxes housed thousands of microchips, each programmed to act like a brain cell. Cables carried signals from microchip to microchip, just as cells do in a real brain.
In 2006, Dr. Markram flipped the switch. Blue Brain, a tangled web of nearly 10,000 virtual neurons, crackled to life. As millions of signals raced along the cables, electrical activity resembling real brain waves emerged.The Blue Brain computer has 10,000 virtual neurons. The colors represent the neurons’ electric voltage at a specific moment.
“That was an incredible moment,” he said, comparing the simulation to what goes on in real brain tissue. “It didn’t match perfectly, but it was pretty good. As a biologist, I was amazed.”
Deciding then that simulating the entire brain on a supercomputer would be possible within his lifetime, Dr. Markram, now 50, set out to prove it.
There’s an enormous amount of important information in this latest Pew report for anyone who considers staying well-informed an essential civic duty.
The excerpts below are from the “Overview”, which itself is quite long. I haven’t had a chance to read through the entire report as it would likely take days, however what I have read is both compelling and disquieting.
For those who have neither the time nor the inclination to slog through the entire report—or who need something “tweetable” & eye-catching—there’s an excellent Overview Infographic here (it’s huge, but very well done).
Please be sure to visit the source page as there are several links there to other reports and surveys that I didn’t include due to time constraints. Added emphasis is mine.
In 2012, a continued erosion of news reporting resources converged with growing opportunities for those in politics, government agencies, companies and others to take their messages directly to the public.
This adds up to a news industry that is more undermanned and unprepared to uncover stories, dig deep into emerging ones or to question information put into its hands.Signs of the shrinking reporting power are documented throughout this year’s report. Estimates for newspaper newsroom cutbacks in 2012 put the industry down 30% since its peak in 2000 and below 40,000 full-time professional employees for the first time since 1978….A growing list of media outlets, such as Forbes magazine, use technology by a company called Narrative Science to produce content by way of algorithm, no human reporting necessary. And some of the newer nonprofit entrants into the industry, such as the Chicago News Cooperative, have, after launching with much fanfare, shut their doors.
This adds up to a news industry that is more undermanned and unprepared to uncover stories, dig deep into emerging ones or to question information put into its hands. And findings from our new public opinion survey released in this report reveal that the public is taking notice. Nearly one-third of the respondents (31%) have deserted a news outlet because it no longer provides the news and information they had grown accustomed to.
At the same time, newsmakers and others with information they want to put into the public arena have become more adept at using digital technology and social media to do so on their own, without any filter by the traditional media. They are also seeing more success in getting their message into the traditional media narrative.
So far, this trend has emerged most clearly in the political sphere, particularly with the biggest story of 2012—the presidential election. A Pew Research Center analysis revealed that campaign reporters were acting primarily as megaphones, rather than as investigators, of the assertions put forward by the candidates and other political partisans. That meant more direct relaying of assertions made by the campaigns and less reporting by journalists to interpret and contextualize them. This is summarized in our special video report on our Election Research, only about a quarter of statements in the media about the character and records of the presidential candidates originated with journalists in the 2012 race, while twice that many came from political partisans. That is a reversal from a dozen years earlier when half the statements originated with journalists and a third came from partisans. The campaigns also found more ways than ever to connect directly with citizens.
“Journalists get lots of pitches…these days, which is partly a reflection of how the number of journalists has shriveled while the number of publicists has grown.” —Journalist David CayThere are signs of this trend that carry beyond the political realm, as more and more entities seek, by various means, to fill the void left by overstretched editorial resources. Business leaders in Detroit, MI, for example, have created an organization to serve as a kind of tour guide to journalists with the goal of injecting more favorable portrayals of the city into media coverage. The government of Malaysia was recently discovered to have bankrolled propaganda that appeared in several major U.S. outlets under columnists’ bylines. A number of news organizations, including The Associated Press, recently carried a fake press release about Google that came from a PR distribution site that promises clients it will reach “top media outlets.” And recently, journalist David Cay Johnston in writing about a pitch from one corporate marketer that included a “vacation reward” for running his stories, remarked, “Journalists get lots of pitches like this these days, which is partly a reflection of how the number of journalists has shriveled while the number of publicists has grown.” Indeed, an analysis of Census Bureau data by Robert McChesney and John Nichols found the ratio of public relations workers to journalists grew from 1.2 to 1 in 1980 to 3.6 to 1 in 2008—and the gap has likely only widened since.
Efforts by political and corporate entities to get their messages into news coverage are nothing new. What is different now—adding up the data and industry developments—is that news organizations are less equipped to question what is coming to them or to uncover the stories themselves, and interest groups are better equipped and have more technological tools than ever.
For news organizations, distinguishing between high-quality information of public value and agenda-driven news has become an increasingly complicated task, made no easier in an era of economic churn.
The end of the “Overview” page identifies six major trends of the year (detailed descriptions of each are available at the link above):
- The effects of a decade of newsroom cutbacks are real – and the public is taking notice.
- The news industry continues to lose out on the bulk of new digital advertising.
- The long-dormant sponsorship ad category is seeing sharp growth.
- The growth of paid digital content experiments may have a significant impact on both news revenue and content.
- While the first and hardest-hit industry, newspapers, remains in the spotlight, local TV finds itself newly vulnerable.
- Hearing about things in the news from friends and family, whether via social media or actual word of mouth, leads to deeper news consumption.
In a strange move, The Pirate Bay announced today that it will filter part of its operations through North Korea.
“Today we can reveal that we have been invited by the leader of the republic of Korea, to fight our battles from their network,” The Pirate Bay said in a blog post.
Given that North Korea severely restricts its citizens’ access to technology, including cell phones and the Internet, the thought of an organization that promotes Internet freedom setting up shop there seems bizarre. When The Pirate Bay posted the news to its Facebook page, many of those who commented questioned whether the site was trolling them.
But TorrentFreak reported this afternoon that traceroutes suggest that The Pirate Bay is indeed being routed through North Korea.
The Obama administration is planning a decade-long scientific effort to examine the workings of the human brain and build a comprehensive map of its activity, seeking to do for the brain what the Human Genome Project did for genetics.
The project, which the administration has been looking to unveil as early as March, will include federal agencies, private foundations and teams of neuroscientists and nanoscientists in a concerted effort to advance the knowledge of the brain’s billions of neurons and gain greater insights into perception, actions and, ultimately, consciousness.
Scientists with the highest hopes for the project also see it as a way to develop the technology essential to understanding diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, as well as to find new therapies for a variety of mental illnesses.
Moreover, the project holds the potential of paving the way for advances in artificial intelligence.
The project, which could ultimately cost billions of dollars, is expected to be part of the president’s budget proposal next month. And, four scientists and representatives of research institutions said they had participated in planning for what is being called the Brain Activity Map project.
Injection-free vaccination technique could address global vaccine challenge for diseases such as HIV and malaria
Scientists at King’s College London have demonstrated the ability to deliver a dried live vaccine to the skin without a traditional needle, and shown for the first time that this technique is powerful enough to enable specialised immune cells in the skin to kick-start the immunising properties of the vaccine.
Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers say although it is an early study this important technical advance offers a potential solution to the challenges of delivering live vaccines in resource-limited countries globally, without the need for refrigeration. A cheaper alternative to hypodermic needles, it would also remove safety risks from needle contamination and the pain-free administration could lead to more people taking up a vaccination. The researchers add that it could have an impact beyond infectious disease vaccination programmes, for example managing autoimmune and inflammatory conditions such as diabetes.
HIV, malaria and TB represent major global health challenges. Although promising research is underway to develop vaccines for these diseases, considerable stumbling blocks remain for countries where transporting and storing live vaccines in a continuously cold environment (around 2°C to 8°C or below) would not be possible. If a cold chain cannot be maintained for a live vaccine there is a high risk it could become unsafe and lose effectiveness.
In the not too distant future people will have to assume that they are on someone’s camera most of the time whenever they step outside their home. Neighbors and business’ will have security cameras operating either wired or wireless to pop up who’s at the door. Traffic cameras will become ubiquitous, and the day of the drones is upon us as well.
What laws and regulations do we need to protect privacy? Where can drones fly, are you subject to peeping tom provisions if your front door camera can also see through the windows across the street? What are expectations of privacy if you are in your yard? There’s a lot to weed through in the coming years.
Drones are relatively rare in U.S. airspace, but that could soon change.Last year, Congress mandated that the Federal Aviation Administration create a plan for the safe integration of unmanned aerial vehicles into the national airspace. Those regulations should be complete by 2015, and the agency expects a commercial boom — as many as 30,000 drones airborne in the U.S. by 2020. But public fears about police spying could stall the technologically advanced industry eager to be unleashed.
Experts say that before the tiny aircraft — outfitted with technology to surreptitiously track, sense and explore — are launched to do the work of science and industry, the government must make sure there are privacy safeguards in
The University of Colorado at Boulder in 2010 was part of Vortex2, with more than 100 scientists studying tornadoes. An armada of unmanned craft carrying observation gear surrounded supercell thunderstorms and the tornadoes they spawned. (Courtesy of the University of Colorado)
“If we don’t fix the privacy problems for civil liberties, we’ll never realize the benefits from drones,” said Ryan Calo, a law professor at the University of Washington who specializes in robotics and privacy. “Folks will be afraid and object.”
Some Colorado police departments are already using the technology to aid in their work, but top brass in Denver say they’ll stay away until privacy issues are resolved.