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[January 17th, 2019] Sci-Tech News Megapack

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    [January 17th, 2019] Sci-Tech News Megapack

    Yay! Enough interesting stories have happened for me to do one of these again! First time in 1.5 months!

    Also, this is the first S-T Megapack of 2019.

    Without further ado, here are the stories!

    Engineered probiotic strain of Escherichia coli bacteria can reverse dangerously high levels of blood ammonia

    Synlogic, Inc., a clinical stage company applying synthetic biology to beneficial microbes to develop novel, living medicines, today announced the publication in Science Translational Medicine of clinical data from its Phase 1 clinical study in healthy volunteers and supporting preclinical data from its investigational Synthetic Biotic candidate, SYNB1020. The data support the continued development of SYNB1020 which is currently being evaluated in a Phase 1b/2a clinical trial in patients with cirrhosis and elevated blood ammonia.

    "These data demonstrate that we can engineer bacteria to carry out a specific function, deliver them to humans and that they perform as designed," said Paul Miller, Ph.D., Synlogic's chief scientific officer. "Ongoing manufacturing and formulation development work at Synlogic gives us confidence we will be able to scale and formulate our Synthetic biotic medicines to meet multiple needs in the marketplace for living medicines. The compelling data in this publication encouraged us to advance SYNB1020 into additional clinical studies and we look forward to presenting data from our trial, designed to evaluate the potential of SYNB1020 to lower ammonia in patients with cirrhosis, in mid-2019."
    So yeah, GM bacteria as a treatment.


    Of course if that doesn't make you feel like the future is here, then this next one definitely will:

    CEO of TAE Technologies Says They Will Begin Commercialization of Fusion by 2023 – NextBigFuture.com

    TAE Technologies will bring a fusion-reactor technology to commercialization in the next five years, its CEO Michl Binderbauer announced recently at the University of California, Irvine.

    TAE Technologies next fusion device will be called Copernicus and it is designed to demonstrate an energy gain. It will involve deuterium-tritium fusion. Binderbauer expects to pass the D-T fusion milestone over the next two years.

    “What we’re really going to see in the next couple years is actually the ability to actually make net energy, and that’s going to happen in the machine we call Copernicus,” he said in a “fireside chat” at UC Irvine.

    TAE plans to go to higher temperatures for safer hydrogen-boron reactions.

    Just as well considering that 2030 carbon deadline humanity has. Speaking of which...

    Applying physics to energy-efficient building design | MIT News

    Developing a perfectly energy-efficient building is relatively easy to do — if you don’t give the building’s occupants any control over their environment. Since nobody wants that kind of building, Professor Christoph Reinhart has focused his career on finding ways to make buildings more energy-efficient while keeping user needs in mind.

    “At this point in designing buildings, the biggest uncertainty comes from user behavior,” says Reinhart, who heads the Sustainable Design Lab in MIT’s Department of Architecture. “Once you understand heat flow, it’s a very exact science to see how much heat to add or take from a space.”

    Trained in physics, Reinhart made the move to architecture because he wanted to apply the scientific concepts he’d learned to make buildings more comfortable and energy-efficient. Today, he is internationally known for his work in what architects call “daylighting” — the use of natural light to illuminate building interiors — and urban-level environmental building performance analysis. The design tools that emerged from his lab are used by architects and urban planners in more than 90 countries.

    Finally:

    Hail the Perovskite Transistors - IEEE Spectrum

    Transistors, and the conductive traces that connect them, are routinely created by the billions on the surface of silicon wafers, which are later cut into the individual “chips” that power our computers, phones, watches, and countless other electronic gadgets. But few people think much about how those silicon wafers are made in the first place. It’s quite tricky.

    Very pure sand (silicon dioxide) has to be melted, at which point a seed crystal of elemental silicon is brought in contact with the melt, which slowly deposits silicon atoms on the seed, ones that extend the seed’s crystalline lattice. Masses of pure silicon are slowly grown this way, with an entire ingot, which might measure 30 centimeters or more in diameter, being one big well-oriented crystal. Such silicon ingots are then sliced thinly into wafers and polished, providing a substrate on which to build circuits made up of huge numbers of transistors, diodes, and other electronic devices.

    No wonder electrical engineers have long sought easier ways to create the substrate on which to form their creations. Since the early 2000s, they've been able to produce transistors and similar devices using thin films of silicon and other semiconducting materials applied to insulating substrates. But that, too, requires rather complicated manufacturing techniques, often involving a high vacuum.

    Another approach that has shown great promise in recent years is solution-processing of semiconductors. This is possible, for example with a class of hybrid organic-inorganic materials that have crystal structures matching that of the mineral perovskite. Such perovskite semiconductors can be formed simply by coating, say, a piece of glass with the proper chemical solution and letting it dry.
    That's it for this one, here's hoping the next one comes sooner than 1.5 months!
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