A New Skin. Will You Wear It?

The army deployed Susan thousands of miles from home. Her three-year-old son misses her. On their once-a-week video call, he cries when he hears her voice. She rubs his back and calms him. How did she do that? Biotechnology. A new skin. Will you wear it? The First Attempts For years, scientists, technology experts, and DIYers have tried to create wearable haptic devices. Haptic means relating to or based on the sense of touch. Early devices required huge batteries for power sources. That made them too heavy to wear or limited by wires to and from the batteries. Many were so bulky so they hung loose and so failed to convey the touch. You are probably familiar with one device that uses haptics. Your cell phone. It vibrates or doesn’t vibrate. But that vibration tells you by touch that you have a call or a message.  Haptic Skin The new skin is a flexible artificial skin developed by researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) . Their very thin haptic skin, made of silicone and electrodes, will stretch and shape to any limb or body part. It transmits vibrations or pressure to the user. In other words, it creates a […]

A Cool Blend of Science and Technology

Almost 9,000 years ago, ancient Chinese fermented rice, honey, and fruit. Ancient Egyptians dared to use yeast for leavened bread in 1000 BC. On the other side of the world, Aztecs made cakes with Spirulina algae. What do these foods and beverages have in common? It’s doubtful that any of these ancient peoples understood the science. Yet, they each performed an early bit of biotechnology. Biotechnology has grown from its humble origins into a cool blend of science and technology. What is Biotechnology? Hungarian engineer, Karl Ereky, coined the term in 1919. He invented the term to describe the creation of products from raw materials with the aid of living organisms. While the term is relatively new, humans have always manipulated raw materials hoping to make our life better.  Don’t quite understand what biotech is yet? According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary biotechnology is the manipulation (as through genetic engineering) of living organisms or their components to produce useful products. The dictionary includes that these are usually commercial products (such as pest resistant crops, new bacterial strains, or pharmaceuticals). The History of Biotechnology You may recognize many names in the history of Biotechnology. Names like Darwin, Mendel, Miescher, Boveri, Morgan, Levene, Chargraff, Avery, and many […]

You Wanna See a Great Big Driverless Convoy?

When I was a kid, my family took a lot of road trips. During long-distance, boring rides, my siblings and I enjoyed pumping our fists in the air when we passed semi-trailer trucks. The drivers would thrill us with a blast of their horns. Sometimes the trucks traveled like a wagon train. Three or more trucks, one right after the other. For us, it became a contest to see how many in the convoy would honk. You wanna see a great big driverless convoy? Self Driving Trucks are on the road Long-Haul Trucks According to World Economic Forum, trucking is an $800 billion industry in the US. Trucks carry nearly everything we buy. That’s a lot of driving hours. John Hopkins estimates there are 3.5 million long-haul drivers in the U.S. The article discusses the huge physical and psychological toll of long-distance truck driving. Life-altering wrecks are only a part of the dangers. The job isn’t for everyone. And truck drivers, like everyone else, are aging. And few young people choose that occupation. Since at least 2017, there has been a shortage of truck drivers. The shortage and the high cost of vehicles, maintenance, fuel, and drivers, leave companies struggling […]