First living robots created from frog stem cells


XenobotDouglas Blackiston

Researchers in the US have created the first living machines by assembling cells from African clawed frogs into tiny robots that move around under their own steam…

These are entirely new lifeforms. They have never before existed on Earth,” said Michael Levin, the director of the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. “They are living, programmable organisms.”…

Roboticists tend to favour metal and plastic for their strength and durability, but Levin and his colleagues see benefits in making robots from biological tissues. When damaged, living robots can heal their wounds, and once their task is done they fall apart, just as natural organisms decay when they die.

Their unique features mean that future versions of the robots might be deployed to clean up microplastic pollution in the oceans, locate and digest toxic materials, deliver drugs in the body or remove plaque from artery walls…

Wow! A dramatic start to an entirely new genre of bio-engineering.

Yes, there’s a chunk of space at the end of the article dedicated to ethical considerations – which may be relevant in a few decades. I’ll leave the navel-gazing to academics. They’ll have enough to deal with – certainly, in the GOUSA, with religious nutters.

If you knit or sew, you can help out animal victims of wildfires in Oz

The bushfires affecting Australia in recent weeks have sparked a global crafting effort, as thousands of volunteers unite to knit, crochet and sew shelters for animals affected by the crisis…

Young marsupials including possums, koalas and wombats require pouches to grow. Without their mothers they rely on hand-stitched products from donors. Other animals such as flying foxes also require pouches to help their recovery…

The Australia-based Animal Rescue Craft Guild put out a call for these products on its Facebook group, which amassed more than 120,000 members in the subsequent weeks…

The Rescue Collective, based in Queensland, has partnered with the Animal Rescue Craft Guild to distribute donated items to independent animal carers across the country…

They already have an abundance of mittens for koalas. Your best bet for doing something timely and useful is to go to the Animal Rescue Craft Guild‘s facebook site [I know, I know] and click on their top-of-the-page link to get timely info.

Big Pharma does love our money

Leading drug makers rang in the new year by once again raising list prices of their drugs—this time on more than 250 of them, according to an analysis reported by Reuters…

The larger price tags applied to a range of medications, from blood thinners to cancer therapies and treatments for respiratory conditions, HIV, arthritis, and multiple sclerosis.

Nearly all of the increases were below 10 percent, according to the 3 Axis analysis. So far, the median price increase is around 5 percent, though additional price increases could still be announced.

Don’t worry. They’re not doing themselves any harm. As of November, the 2019 inflation rate was 2.1 percent.

42 ways to fry an egg


ELLA QUITTNER

I fried 42 eggs in nine different cooking fats and five pan types, to try to arrive at the truth: What is the absolute best way to fry an egg?

Ella Quittner for FOOD52.com

Great read. I have an egg for breakfast 4-5 mornings/week. Soft-boiled, precisely 3-minute egg. With a piece of toast from the loaf I bake every Monday morning mostly just to accompany that egg. The toast is buttered with cultured butter from Belgium. Salted butter; so, no salt added to the egg. Tiny grind of Talicherry black peppercorn.

After reading this article, I might go with fried for a few mornings.

Lego’s anti-Lego Pain slippers

” You all know the favorite assembling toy that every child and as well as an adult enjoys, the Lego blocks. You must have them at home and when your child plays with them some of them must be scattered all around the room. The most dreadful part about these blocks is when you stumble on one that makes your feet hurt you like crazy. Well, the LEGO Company has come to an inventive solution, the creation of anti-LEGO slippers. Once you have them in your home, your child can play as much as he or she wants because when you stumble on one it will not harm your feet.

Available soon!

Thanks, UrsaRodinia

Juul e-cigarettes deliberately addictive profile matches Marlboros – minus the bad smell


Ronen Zvulun/Reuters

” The nicotine formula used by controversial e-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc is nearly identical to the flavour and addictive profile of Altria Group Inc’s highly successful Marlboro cigarette brand, new research suggests…

The formulation of Juul’s nicotine aerosol was designed to make it far easier for users to inhale larger quantities of nicotine without gagging, gasping or coughing – or even noticing.

” “It becomes obvious why novice users, people who’ve never smoked before, find it easy to try Juul,” said David Peyton, a professor of chemistry at Portland State University who worked on the study, published in the journal Tobacco Control. “And once you try it, you’re getting dosed with a high concentration of nicotine…”

” By adding organic acids to liquid nicotine, San Francisco-based Juul was able to reduce the amount of “freebase nicotine” in the aerosol that users inhale.

Freebase nicotine, common in e-cigarette liquid prior to Juul’s arrival in 2015, is harsh and difficult to inhale at high concentrations. Juul virtually eliminated the harsh side effects.

” Juul Labs did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the new study’s findings.

Pretty standard non-response from criminal fraudsters. That’s what the lawyers on retainer are for.

How much of the world’s porn traffic is directed to the GOUSA?

So, all the protestations of piety from our politicians, blathering self-congratulation [or is it self-gratification?] from priests and pundits, seems to come to naught. Just maybe it’s because most Americans don’t consider porn a big deal in their lives.

They’re wrong, of course. Especially since it seems to be about 99% constructed to service male supremacy. Though, I also think that’s another expression of the lameness of individual feelings of power and voice in this society. Frankly, not the highest priority for economic analysis on my horizon.

Anyway – here’s the link to Pornhub’s Annual Report to the congregation. Some of it is worth a chuckle.

Thanks, Barry Ritholtz