Skip to main content
The Vanguard

5 Coolest Things On Earth This Week

Tomas Kellner
March 24, 2017
Scientists in San Diego are printing body parts, their peers in England are manufacturing blood, and a team in Wisconsin came up with eye gear that could give humans super color vision. Who needs rose-tinted glasses with results like these!

A New Kind Of Blue Gives Humans Super Color Vision

 width= Top and above: New “transmission filters” that enable users to perceive different parts of the color spectrum with each eye. Illustrations credit: Getty Images

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have found a way to bring more color into our lives. They developed “transmission filters” that enable users to perceive different parts of the color spectrum with each eye, rather than both eyes seeing the same colors. Humans have color vision because of three types of photoreceptors cells in the retina called cones. They are most sensitive to the red, green and blue colors. One of the filters the team developed enabled each eye to detect a different kind of blue, effectively providing users with a fourth cone. “We present an approach that can enhance human color vision by breaking the inherent redundancy in binocular vision, providing different spectral content to each eye,” the team wrote in a paper published in the online journal arXiv. “This technique represents a significant enhancement of the spectral perception of typical humans, and may have applications ranging from camouflage detection and anti-counterfeiting to art and data visualization.”


Everybody, Print Your Body Parts

 width= Nanoengineering professor Shaochen Chen 3D prints a biomimetic blood vessel network. Image credit: Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications

Engineers at the University of California, San Diego have built bespoke 3D printers and biological printing techniques that enabled them to print artificial blood vessels “that can safely combine with a host network to circulate blood,” according to the university. “The blood vessels branch out into many series of smaller vessels, similar to the blood vessel structures found in the body,” the university said. “Almost all tissues and organs need blood vessels to survive and work properly,” said nano-engineering professor Shaochen Chen, who led the research. “This is a big bottleneck in making organ transplants, which are in high demand but in short supply. 3D bioprinting organs can help bridge this gap, and our lab has taken a big step toward that goal.” The university reported that “Chen’s lab team has used this technology in the past to create liver tissue and microscopic fish that can swim in the body to detect and remove toxins.”


Gloves That Can Talk To Your Phone

 width= “Stress-enduring” inks can print biosensors on the surface of polymer gloves. Image credit: Getty Images

Another team from UCSD has been working with Australia’s CSIRO research agency to develop a “lab-on-a-glove” by using “stress-enduring” inks to print biosensors on its surface. The sensors can transmit data wirelessly to a smartphone. The disposable glove made from a stretchable polymer could help meet “growing demands for developing wearable sensor platforms for monitoring hazardous chemicals for diverse security and environmental applications,” the team wrote in American Chemistry Society’s ACS Sensors journal.


This Is Bloody Amazing!

 width= Researchers are getting better at manufacturing red blood cells. Image credit: Getty Images

Scientists at the University of Bristol and the NHS Blood and Transplant authority in the U.K. have developed a special “immortalized” cell line from stem cells to “manufacture red blood cells in a more efficient scale than was previously possible,” the university said. It added that “if successfully tested in clinical trials, [the results could] eventually lead to a safe source of transfusions for people with rare blood types, and in areas of the world where blood supplies are inadequate or unsafe.” The research was published in the journal Nature Communications.


Living Ink

 width= Bacteria could allow engineers 3D print high-resolution patterns. Image credit: Getty Images

Engineers at Delft University of Technology in Holland have found a way to use gel-like inks containing bacteria to 3D print new materials and patterns. They tested the approach on a modified commercial 3D printer. “Our newly developed 3D printer can deposit bacteria cells in specific three-dimensional patterns for the ultimate goal of materials production,” the team wrote in the journal ACS Synthetic Biology. “The combination of our straightforward technique to print 3D microbial structures with the material-modifying properties of bacteria will result in high-resolution deposition of bacteria and the fabrication of spatially patterned materials.”