Bio · Sculpt/Install · Vital-Edible-Health

Don’t Forget the Brain Is as Complex as All the World’s Digital Data

Twenty years ago, sequencing the human genome was one of the most ambitious science projects ever attempted. Today, compared to the collection of genomes of the microorganisms living in our bodies, the ocean, the soil and elsewhere, each human genome, which easily fits on a DVD, is comparatively simple. Its 3 billion DNA base pairs and about 20,000 genes seem paltry next to the roughly 100 billion bases and millions of genes that make up the microbes found in the human body.

And a host of other variables accompanies that microbial DNA, including the age and health status of the microbial host, when and where the sample was collected, and how it was collected and processed. Take the mouth, populated by hundreds of species of microbes, with as many as tens of thousands of organisms living on each tooth. Beyond the challenges of analyzing all of these, scientists need to figure out how to reliably and reproducibly characterize the environment where they collect the data.

“There are the clinical measurements that periodontists use to describe the gum pocket, chemical measurements, the composition of fluid in the pocket, immunological measures,” said David Relman, a physician and microbiologist at Stanford University who studies the human microbiome. “It gets complex really fast.”

Excerpt from an article by Emily Singer at Quanta. Continue THERE

Eco/Adaptable · Technology

Human Waste-Powered Robots May Be Future of Machines

Human waste might someday turn human urine or waste into useful electricity for radios or space robots. EcoBot-III was able to both eat and crap inside its lab environment.

Today’s robots that fly, jump or roll around must refuel or recharge as does any gadget that runs out of energy. Tomorrow’s new generation of self-sustaining robots might keep going nearly forever by grazing on dead insects, rotting plant matter or even human waste.

The vision of robots capable of plugging themselves into the natural world of living organisms has begun taking shape in several labs around the world, and even NASA has shown renewed interest in powering space robots with microbes. But one British lab has already been building on the work of robotics pioneers to create small “EcoBots” that extract energy from microbial fuel cells since 2002.

“Robots that eat biological fuels could find enough fuel almost anywhere,” said John Greenman, a microbiologist at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, a joint venture between the University of the West of England and the University of Bristol. “There is organic matter anywhere on Earth — leaves and soil in the forest, or even human waste such as urine and feces.”

Written by Jeremy Hsu, Scientific American. Continue HERE

Image: Bristol Robotics Laboratory, UK