An ?800,000 research project aims to artificially replicate the process of photosynthesis in a bid to harness the sun’s energy more efficiently.
Computer files stored accurately on DNA in new breakthrough Scientists have recorded data including Shakespearean sonnets and an MP3 file on strands of DNA, in a breakthrough which could see millions of records stored on a handful of molecules rather than computer drives.
By translating computerised files into DNA similar to that found in plants and animals, the researchers claim it is possible to store a billion books’ worth of data for thousands of years in just a small test tube. Although the method is expensive, it could still be much more efficient than hard drives or magnetic tape for long-term storage of large sets of data such as government records, the scientists said. Within a decade, they expect the technique to have become cheap enough that DNA storage could become cost-efficient for the public to store lifelong keepsakes like wedding videos. Dr Nick Goldman of the European Bioinformatics Institute, who led the study, said: “We already know that DNA is a robust way to store information because we can extract it from bones of woolly mammoths, which date back tens of thousands of years, and make sense of it. “It’s also incredibly small, dense and does not need any power for storage, so shipping and keeping it is easy.” (via Computer files stored accurately on DNA in new breakthrough - Telegraph)
Artificial muscles at MIT
MIT researchers at the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research have developed a new material that changes its shape after absorbing water vapor.
This material is made from an interlocking network of two different polymers. One forms a hard but flexible matrix that provides structural support while the other is a soft gel that swells when it absorbs water. Together these polymers create a material that converts water vapor to energy without the use of an external energy source.
When the 20-micrometer-thick film is exposed to moisture the bottom layer absorbs the evaporated water, forcing the film to curl away from the surface. Once the bottom of the film is exposed to the air, it quickly releases the moisture causing it to somersault forward and start to curl up once more. Researchers were surprised to discover not only does it need a very small amount of vapor, but it also demonstrated a large amount of strength. Using only water vapor as an energy source, the film can lift a load of silver wires 10 times its own weight.
“The presence of quantum effects in photosynthesis surprised both physicists and biologists, and left them wondering how a fragile quantum state could survive in a living organism.” (Proteins boost quantum coherence in bacteria - physicsworld.com)