Science Round-Ups!

I can't believe it's already July... Time is flying, but at least the year has brought some interesting developments and great scientific breakthroughs. As such, I thought it might be fun to round-up some of the latest science news I've stumbled across on them there internets and share here. So, here goes!

  • ReWalk was recently cleared for approval by the FDA, allowing those with spinal cord injuries across the US to wear this robotic exoskeleton to help them walk, sit, and stand. Check out their press release! Named one of TIME Magazine's best 25 inventions of 2013, this exciting breakthrough has so many tremendous benefits for the wearers, both physically and psychologically. Very exciting stuff. Couple this with the recent breakthroughs at The Ohio State University and their Neurobridge project, and you've got a few truly exciting breakthroughs to assist the disabled.

  • As part of their water issue, Popular Science reported on the SeaOrbiter, a proposal by French architect Jacques Rougerie. Think of it as the Star Trek of the sea. It has a hefty price-tag ($48 million), but the research capabilities are pretty amazing, and it's a damn fine looking ship to boot. I have no idea how feasible this really is, but given the cost, I suspect it is not very, unfortunately. Still, it is an amazing bit of speculation and forward thinking on oceanic research, and I'd love to see it come to fruition. Check out PopSci's full water issue here, and read some of their other pieces on the blue revolution.
  • How would you like your internet beamed into your home by a balloon? Google's got you covered with Project Loon. So, what is it? Well, according to Google:

Many of us think of the Internet as a global community. But two-thirds of the world’s population does not yet have Internet access. Project Loon is a network of balloons traveling on the edge of space, designed to connect people in rural and remote areas, help fill coverage gaps, and bring people back online after disasters.

  • And of particular interest to me, and my DRMR stories, UC San Diego has confirmed what has been long suspected regarding cellular memory formation in the hippocampus. Scientists there  also recently released their finding regarding the selective erasure and restoration of memories in rats genetically engineering to have light sensitivity.
  • Over on the electric vehicle front, Tesla opened its patents to the world last month. Hopefully this will be a clarion call to the Big 3 to really make some breakthroughs in electric vehicle tech and help reduce our dependency on fossil fuels, and make a more concerted effort to offer consumers a decent range of choices in their future vehicle options. However, it's worth noting that other automakers have significantly more patents under their belt in similar research areas, so who knows how much attention they'll actually pay to Tesla's efforts. The key will be getting auto companies to recognize and commit to a sustainable future in the same way Elon Musk has, which is probably easier said than done. Maybe Harley-Davidson will be the one to lead the charge? Recently unveiled was the LiveWire, their first electric motorcycle. Sadly, it's not a huge breakthrough on the electric vehicle front, only getting about fifty miles per charge. Though, I expect LiveWire will draw a lot of attention next summer under the helm of Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow in Avengers: Age of Ulton.
  • On a side note - not really groundbreaking scientific work, but an interesting question nonetheless - comes this BBC Future article questioning what our descendants will deplore about us. It's worth a read, and well-worth considering. As a speculative fiction writer, I try to forecast a bit about where technology and society are heading, and how the two will interact to wreak havoc. Off-page, though, we have been through a lot as a society, from 9/11 and the changing winds of politics and security, problems of scarcity on a global scale in our present day and age and how consumption feeds into climate change and dependency, to the civil rights campaigns in America for blacks, homosexuals, and women. This question of what's deplorable is at the forefront of my mind as I'm still reeling from yesterday's Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case that puts religious liberty of privately owned corporations squarely above and beyond the individual rights and welfare of women. So, go read what Tom Chatfield and some our current big-brains think about what our future kin will hate about us, and continue the conversation below if you wish.

That's it for now, but check back for more links in the future. I'm hoping to make round-ups like this a more regular (or semi-regular) feature of the site. What are your thoughts on this? And, feel free to share any science news that's of interest to you down below.


Michael Patrick Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.

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