A Brooklyn startup built a 3D printing plant operated by a robot, the U.S. Navy says that the singularity could arrive “as soon as 2035” and mathematicians in England proved that you will never be absolutely cool. (But hey — we think you’re cool enough if you read our column!)
A Brooklyn-based startup called Voodoo Manufacturing built a “demo” of the first 3D printing factory, which includes 160 printers operated by a robot. “Our goal is to make manufacturing more like software, and make it accessible to anyone who wants to make a physical part or product,” says Voodoo’s Jonathan Schwartz.
Researchers at the Italian Institute of Technology have built a retinal prosthesis that restored vision in rats afflicted with degenerative blindness. “The degeneration of photoreceptors in the retina is one of the major causes of adult blindness in humans,” the team writes in the journal Nature Materials. “Unfortunately, no effective clinical treatments exist for the majority of retinal degenerative disorders.” Their solution uses “a thin layer of conductive polymer, placed on a silk-based substrate and covered with a semiconducting polymer,” according to ScienceAlert. “The semiconducting polymer acts as a photovoltaic material, absorbing photons when light enters the lens of the eye. When this happens, electricity stimulates retinal neurons, filling in the gap left by the eye’s natural but damaged photoreceptors.” The results, the team wrote in Nature Materials, “highlight the possibility of developing a new generation of fully organic, highly biocompatible and functionally autonomous photovoltaic prostheses for subretinal implants to treat degenerative blindness.”
Researchers working at the University College London mathematically proved that it would take infinitely long to cool anything to absolute zero, i.e., 0 Kelvin or minus-273 Celsius. The work confirms a key component of the third law of thermodynamics — the unattainability principle — a century after it was proposed by physicist Walther Nernst. The “unattainability principle … states that any process cannot reach absolute zero temperature in a finite number of steps and within a finite time,” UCL’s Lluís Masanes and Jonathan Oppenheim write in the journal Nature Communications. “We show that you can’t actually cool a system to absolute zero with a finite amount of resources, and we went a step further,” Masanes told IFLScience. “We then conclude that it is impossible to cool a system to absolute zero in a finite time and we established a relation between time and the lowest possible temperature. It’s the speed of cooling.” The team told IFLScience that the finding has important theoretical implications by setting the speed limit for cooling. So there you have it: Even if you could be as fast as light — the fastest speed achievable — you’ll never be absolutely cool.
Chinese scientists have developed a simple bedside blood test that uses a strip of special paper to determine blood type in as little as 30 seconds. “Conventional tests to determine blood type take anywhere between 10 and 20 minutes,” according to STAT. “Other, newer technologies have cut that time down to under five minutes. But until now, researchers hadn’t been able to consolidate the two-step process of typing blood into one quick, simple action.” In 3,550 tests, the team says, the “system demonstrated an accuracy of 99.9 percent.” The findings, which were reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine, could come in handy during transfusions, transplants and other medical procedures.
The U.S Navy is calling on gamers to help the service prepare for a “post-singularity world,” which could arrive “as soon as 2035.” In late March, the Navy will hold a “massive multiplayer online war game leveraging the Internet” (MMOWGLI) to gain insights into the singularity, “the convergence of forces so profound and transformational it creates an event horizon which we lack understanding beyond. On Earth, this represents the emergence of greater-than-human intelligence from technological means.” “What we can’t see is what lies over that horizon,” said Garth Jensen, director for innovation at Naval Surface Warfare Center. You can sign up here.