Abundance Insider: April 7, 2017 Edition

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In this week's Abundance Insider: Edible drones, teleporting taste, and a new brain-computer interface breakthrough.

Cheers,
Peter, Marissa, Cody, Kelley, Greg, Sydney and AJ

P.S. Pursuing anything big and bold in life is hard work. Is your brain up to the task? Abundance 360 member Dave Asprey, the creator of the Bulletproof Diet, has just released Head Strong, a revolutionary guide to the ultimate performance in body and mind. Peter’s favorite part of the book is its focus on mitochondrial health — a key to longevity. Click here to pick up your copy today.

Every Sale of this Edible Pouncer Drone Can Save 50 Lives

pouncer drone

What it is: Nigel Gifford, the engineer behind the Facebook-acquired Aquila drone, has developed a new UAV named Pouncer, which is designed to deliver food in disaster zones -- even the drone itself is edible. The drone can carry vacuum-packed foods in its 3-meter-wide hull, and the structure itself is made from consumable baked components. From every sale of Pouncer, 50 lives could be saved. Gifford's company Windhorse Aerospace plans to start production by late 2017.

Why it's important: Once used for humanitarian aid, the impact Gifford's drone technology could have on disaster relief zones is incredible. By demonetizing and dematerializing food delivery to such areas, we would be saving more lives, more money, and more time than with our current efforts. This example also reflects the power of the convergence of drones, materials science and human intelligence. Join the Discussion

Spotted by Aryadeep S. Acharya / Written by Sydney Fulkerson

Mymanu's Clik Earbuds Instantly Translate Between 37 Languages -- Even Offline

clik earbuds

What it is: Manchester-based Mymanu has released a set of wireless earbuds capable of translating between 37 different languages in real time. When paired to a smartphone, the earbuds automatically detect the language being spoken and can provide a spoken translation within a sentence or two. Importantly, the Clik's built-in chip enables offline processing, can last 6 hours on a single charge, and will also integrate with virtual assistants like Siri and Google Assistant. Mymanu is currently in preliminary talks with giants like Google to bring this to market faster.

Why it's important: As computing gets faster, and memory storage improves, we're seeing an explosion in chips that enable offline computation and analysis. From that perspective, Mymanu's feat is as much about the ability to ease communication across cultures as it is a sign of the coming "cognification" or intelligence of technology, with or without Internet connectivity. Join the Discussion

Spotted by Aryadeep S. Acharya / Written by Jason Goodwin

Graphene-Based Sieve Turns Seawater Into Drinking Water

graphene sieve

What it is: Scientists from the University of Manchester recently created a graphene-based sieve that can filter salts from seawater. Typically, the ability to manufacture graphene-based barriers at scale is quite difficult. By using the chemical derivative graphene oxide, this material can now be produced by simple oxidation in the lab -- what's more, it beats single-layered graphene in terms of scalability and cost. By removing salt from seawater, this material could potentially help millions of people without ready access to clean drinking water -- at scale.

Why it's important: As mentioned in Peter's blog Materials Science and Technology Convergence, we've been able to use graphene over the last 10 years to make new kinds of electronics, high-performance transistors, new kinds of sensors, and new kinds of composites based on its unique properties. These new materials enable breakthroughs and new capabilities that would have seemed like science fiction just a few years ago. Join the Discussion

Spotted by Khaled Salih and Rowan Duys / Written by Sydney Fulkerson

SpaceX Makes Aerospace History With Successful Launch and Landing of a Used Rocket

spacex used rocket

What it is: After two years of successfully landing rocket boosters (in itself a major breakthrough), SpaceX has made history by reusing a rocket recovered from a previous mission. The Falcon 9 rocket successfully landed on an unmanned ship after its successful second mission to space. As Musk rightfully explained, an orbital class booster is "the most expensive part of the rocket," adding, "This is going to be, ultimately, a huge revolution in space flight." The costs of future launches could drop by as much as 30%.

Why it's important: Exciting times for space enthusiasts. While a 30% reduction in costs won't create mass space tourism and exploration overnight, this is effectively a proof of concept, and it took SpaceX just four months to inspect and refurbish the booster for relaunch. These improvements will continue and accelerate with future breakthroughs in materials science, energy, and other exponentially growing technologies. Join the Discussion

Spotted by Gaetan Soltesz / Written by Jason Goodwin

Scientists Turn Mammalian Cells Into Complex Biocomputers

mammalian cells biocomputers

What it is: Wilson Wong, a synthetic biologist at Boston University, has led a team in creating circuits within mammalian cells. Synthetic biologists have previously been able to create simple and more complex circuits in E. coli and other bacteria -- for example, lighting up in the presence of oxygen -- but larger mammalian cells have posed a challenge. In bacteria, transcription factors have been used to manipulate gene expression, but these all behave slightly differently in mammalian cells, leading inconsistent results. Here, the team took a different approach, modifying the DNA to perform an action (such as lighting up), but added another sequence in front of it, effectively a switch that splices out the new DNA sequence in the presence of a drug. In this way, the team was not only successful with simple circuits, but also created another 113 different circuits with a 96.5% success rate, one of which was a modified version of a Boolean logic table.

Why it's important: In the short term, and as noted by Wong, biologists are thinking about using this concept to create medical therapies, such as engineering T cells to clear tumors in the presence of certain biomarkers, or changing the way stem cells differentiate and develop (potentially into new tissues, like insulin-producing beta cells or new cartilage). Zooming out, this type of manipulation will create more personalized therapies for cancer and life extension -- and drive mainstream acceptance of biology as an information science. Join the Discussion

Spotted by Gaetan Soltesz / Written by Jason Goodwin

Eve "Vision Car" Opens New Door on Autonomous Car Design

eve nio autonomous car

What it is: Automotive startup NIO announced its vision for Eve, its autonomous electric vehicle, which is anticipated to hit U.S. roads by 2020. The vision for the car includes large, forward-sliding doors that provide access to both the front and rear seats; the design requires the driver and front passenger to enter through the rear. The interior has a fold-out table, six seats, recliners, wraparound headrest and a retractable steering wheel in a rectangular shape. This futuristic autonomous car also has a digital glass canopy that can display basic information, augmented reality content, entertainment and more.

Why it's important: Today cars aren't just machines; they are mobile computers -- and NIO's vision is proof we're rapidly entering an era where autonomous vehicles can be customized for specialized activities like holding meetings, taking naps and enjoying entertainment. Join the Discussion

Spotted by Aryadeep S. Acharya / Written by Sydney Fulkerson

Virtual Lemonade Teleports Taste Into Plain Old Water

virtual lemonade teleporting taste

What it is: Researchers from the National University of Singapore recently developed a way to digitally transmit the flavor of a beverage and reproduce it using electrodes. This process essentially uses the electrodes to trick the tongue in ways that mimic basic taste types, including sweet, sour, salty and bitter. In this experiment, researchers tricked the tongue into tasting sour lemonade when one was really drinking plain water. The team "teleported taste" by placing a sensor into the real lemonade to measure the acidity of the drink, and an RGB sensor to capture its color. Using Bluetooth, this data went to the "Lemonade Simulator," which uses an LED at the bottom to replicate the color and electrodes around the rim of the tumbler to send controlled electrical pulses to evoke a sour taste.

Why it's important: This proof of concept could eventually enable us to share virtual beverages or "flavor experiences" around the world. Imagine the health benefits when we can use plain water and this technology to create healthier beverage options than soft drinks or artificially flavored water. Join the Discussion

Spotted by Aryadeep S. Acharya / Written by Sydney Fulkerson

Paralyzed Man Moves Arm Using Power of Thought in World First

paralyzed man moves arm power of thought

What it is: Researchers at Case Western University in Ohio have, for the first time ever, given a man paralyzed from the neck down the ability to move his hand and arm with only thought. By surgically implanting a chip in his motor cortex, training the chip by watching the man think about moving an arm in VR, and attaching 36 muscle-stimulating electrodes, the 53-year-old man was able to feed himself and drink from a cup. In the future, scientists are looking to make the response time faster, wireless, and install the electrodes subcutaneously.

Why it's important: This revolutionizes how we treat paralysis and gives life back to victims of horrific accidents. Looking at the various technologies that led to the success, it's also a sign of large improvements in machine learning to detect and decode brainwaves, using virtual reality to solve real-world problems, and the miniaturization of sensors to even consider implanting such a powerful chip in the brain. Join the Discussion

Spotted by Jason Goodwin / Written by Jason Goodwin

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P.S. Pursuing anything big and bold in life is hard work. Is your brain up to the task? Abundance 360 member Dave Asprey, the creator of the Bulletproof Diet, has just released Head Strong, a revolutionary guide to the ultimate performance in body and mind. Peter’s favorite part of the book is its focus on mitochondrial health — a key to longevity. Click here to pick up your copy today.

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