Gundams In Real Life—Is It Possible To Build Your Own?

Since the end of the 19th century, scientists, at that time in the United States and Russia, have been working on creating a type of mechanical exoskeleton for the sake of enhancing human movements. The goal was to advance technology for injury rehabilitation, industrial labor, space travel, and also warfare. However, it has not been until recently that the full robotic shell has become a real possibility.

From Science Fiction To Reality

Robotic humanoids have been around in science fiction for quite some time. Usually, their purposes in those fictitious roles are related to protecting and saving the world in some capacity. Think Voltron and the Jaeger Robeasts from Planet Doom. Think RX-78-2 Gundam from Yoshiyuki Tomino’s Mobile Suit Gundam anime franchise. Think Transformers.

Robotics technology has advanced exponentially in the recent past. This includes machines with remote controls that range from semi-autonomous to fully autonomous. Military drones are used in combat zones, wheeled machines explore the deep sea, and space exploration probes can travel further out than humans have been able to go, even sampling soil on other planets.

Now, we are on the verge of building our own, real-life Gundams. Humans stepping inside a giant robot, finally giving our machines legs, is a real possibility.

The Power Of Legs On A Machine

If you think about the natural world, you will be hard pressed to find a creature that rolls around on wheels. They are biologically extremely rare. In the animal kingdom, wheeled creatures do not exist, and there is a reason for that. Natural selection has chosen legs for their use in transporting us across the terrestrial world, in part because they offer a distinct advantage. Walking is the most effective way to get around in the grand scheme of things. Of course, if you’re on a flat surface, wheels serve their purpose, but not all surfaces are flat. In fact, many are not, and what is one built with wheels supposed to do in that situation?

That’s why it only makes sense to follow evolution as far as robots go, in order to allow them greater functionality. Giving our robotic machines legs means providing them more ability to traverse a wide range of environments. Robots that can fly, wheel, or swim can only go so far. The most functional robot will be able to walk on land.

The Progress In Creating Real-Life Gundams

There is a reason why robots with legs have not been fully developed yet. For a machine to move around on legs, it requires an extraordinary about of power and programming. Animals have taken nearly the entire history of our planet to evolve to be able to walk because it is a very complex movement. A Gundam with a human pilot, where a person is controlling all the movements would require immense amounts of biomimetic engineering. A robot which is semi-autonomous or fully-autonomous would not only require the ability to perform those difficult movements, but also master things like spatial awareness and dexterity, or else expect them to be constantly falling down.

Despite how difficult it is to create a real-life Gundam, it is happening both at the level of high science and even on a smaller scale, amongst sci-fi fans. Go to sci-fi conventions, and you’ll be sure to come across a few mecha suits that function reasonably well. However, that’s small potatoes compared to what Japanese engineer Masaaki Nagumo built in 2018: a life-size model of a Gundam that actually works. LW-Mononofu is 28 feet tall, 7.7 tons, and is too big to get out of the factory where it was built. Still, it’s progress where Gundams are concerned, even if it is only current use is to be rented out (for over $900 an hour) by people to try within the factory. The next step would seem to be a Gundam that can leave the factory. It might be coming sooner than we expect.

New DNA Technology Helps Police Solve Cold Cases

In criminal cases, sometimes the perpetrator gets away with their crime simply because the police had no leads on how to find them. All of that is changing now. Take the case of a woman’s skeletal remains that were found by hikers on the side of a highway near Baltimore in 2017. The police had no way to identify the body at first. It was only when a new DNA technology entered the scene that they were able to identify the victim.

With this new technology, only a small sample of DNA is needed to create an image of how a person could potentially look. Using this information, police were able to figure out who the victim was in this case, and then go on to arrest the man who killed her. He got 30 years in prison.

 

What Is The DNA Technology Exactly?

This DNA technology used to help police solve cold cases is called DNA phenotyping. All that is needed for the technology to work is a single drop of blood. The technology creates a composite image of a person’s face and even build. It can be used for much more than simply identifying crime victims; it can help to identify the criminals too.

DNA phenotyping has already been used to this end, to find a man who brutally assaulted a 17-year-old girl from New Mexico. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison. It was also used to identify a man as the suspect of murdering of a 25-year-old Texas woman. He is now awaiting trial. Without DNA phenotyping, this man was not even a suspect. Several companies can now provide this service, which costs around $3,000 for each composite image, and it has already helped police in more than 40 cases.

Police Were Skeptical At First

The DNA in just one drop of blood has instructions for how a person looks physically. That small sample weeds through tens of thousands of genetic options to make a very educated guess about how someone looks. Police were initially skeptical of the technology, which seemed too good to be true, so they found a way to test it.

One group of officers sent a sample of DNA from a volunteer in the office for the DNA phenotypes to predict what that volunteer looked like. What they came up with convinced them, and since then, police have been confident in using the technology to solve cases. The composite image is an estimation, so police keep that in mind when looking for a suspect.

Better Than Traditional DNA Profiling

Traditionally in crime forensics, DNA is analyzed against suspects that have already been identified or against a database. The problem is when police do not find a match. With DNA phenotyping, the DNA at the crime scene is enough to generate leads all on its own; there is no need for it to match up to anything.

The technology can predict things like eye and hair color, for example. It also uses geneology information for public databases like Ancestry.com. The composite image it predicts contains high-confidence-level traits and low-confidence-level traits, which police pay attention to in investigations. They use the image as a starting point, which can be combined with details a witness might remember, like a name. Where a name on its own would not have been much help, together with the composite image, many more crimes can be solved.

Self-Healing Polymers in Engineering Materials Are Nearing Industrial Production

The human body is a wondrous instrument. The ability of our body to break and heal itself is common amongst other biological life forms. What about inanimate objects made of plastics, rubbers, films, microfibres, and paints? Applying the self-healing trait to base materials used in everyday life would revolutionize production.

Scientists have reached an extraordinary milestone of applying this ability to engineering materials such as plastics and composites. And they believe they are only a few steps away from full-scale production.

Producing Polymers

Self-healing engineering materials, such as plastics and resins, are difficult to produce. Many of these materials are made up of polymers. Polymers are substances made up of similar units bonded together. Some polymers have been known to display self-healing qualities. Most polymers require unique monomers, or units that can be bonded with polymers, to activate this feature.

Plastics are produced by making bonding polymers together during the production phase. Self-healing plastics have been made before. Most of them require more complex bonding processes to reconnect the molecules after damage or break. Others need an added reactants to play a part to stimulate this repair. A natural and more simplistic method has been a major goal of scientists for years.

The Van Der Waals Forces

Researchers at Clemson University have discovered this method. Their process utilizes the natural intermolecular forces between polymers to make them stronger. The process increases the chances of the polymers to reunite when separated. When the polymers are placed correctly, the forces bringing them together are known as the van der Waals forces.

“When you pull them out, they come back together. It becomes self-healable at that point,” says research author Professor Marek Urban. “As simple as this may sound, these studies also revealed that ubiquitous and typically weak van der Waals interactions in plastics, when oriented, will result in self-healing. This discovery will impact the development of sustainable materials using weak bonding which becomes collectively very strong when oriented.”

Three-Step Response To Healing

Self-healing polymers follow a three-step process, similar to a biological response. First, triggering or actuation happens almost immediately after damage is done. Second, materials are transported to the affected area. And the third step involves the chemical repair.

Implementing Into Current Systems

This discovery may revolutionize the production of self-healing materials. However, the implementation of new processes may not be so difficult. Creating polymer-based material would not necessitate the re-engineering of production facilities. Most existing factories could easily implement new processes with their current facilities. The research team believes production will come sooner rather than later. They estimate polymer production could reach hundreds of gallons within 6 months to a year.

Anyone could produce these new self-healing materials. It requires the design of a synthetic process and be scaled up. “The key is that the scale-up process would have to be precisely controlled,” states Professor Urban. “There is a huge difference between making something in the lab and scaling it up. We know the technology is available for them.”

3D Printing With Sound: New Tech Opens Doors for Biological Printing

A group of researchers from Harvard University has done the unthinkable. They have found a way to print objects using sound. This process is called “acoustophoretic printing” and according to a press release, “this method could enable the manufacture of many new biopharmaceuticals, cosmetics, food, and expand the possibilities of optical and conductive materials.” 3D printing, in general, is a worldwide industry and continues to grow day after day. It already encompasses different forms of technology and materials. 3D printing has been divided into metal, fabrics, bio, and many other industries. It has become an important part of our society because of the inkjet printing process and thanks to this research, it has made an even bigger jump forward.

The Process Of 3D Printing And Viscosity

The entire process of basic 3D printing begins with a model on your computer. That digital design is usually a Computer Aided Design (CAD) file and the final model is created either from data generated with a 3D scanner or from the ground up 3D modeling software which is the most common method. 3D printing has started to become more popular especially in education. It enables students to materialize their ideas in a fast and somewhat affordable way. Inkjet 3D printing utilizes fluid liquid droplets of microliter-to-nanoliter volume to form solids. However, 3D printing is limited to low viscosity inks that are about 10 to 100 times higher than the viscosity of water.

Viscosity is a scientific term that describes the resistance to a flow of a fluid. The fluid used can be anything from a liquid to a gas, but it is more often liquid. An example of viscosity in everyday life can be seen in pushing a spoon through a jar of honey. It takes more force and effort to move the spoon through the honey rather than in a jar of water because the honey is more resistant to the flowing around the spoon. This kind of resistance is due to the friction produced by the honey’s molecules and it affects both the extent to which the honey will oppose the spoon’s movement through it and the pressure required to make the honey move through a tube or pipe, similar to a printer.

 

Temperature has a large impact on viscosity which is why the measurements of viscosity for fluids always includes a temperature. In liquids, for example, it decreases with higher temperature. This is due to the fact that the molecules are moving about more, meaning that they spend less time in contact with each other.

Printing With Sound Waves

The team at Harvard created a process with the creation of sound fields that can pull substances, such as liquid metal, honey and even living cells, from the nozzle of a printer. Their process depends on the concept of gravity. After all, gravity is what causes the water from your faucet to drip. The liquid’s viscosity is what determines how fast and how often it drips. However, the more viscous a material is, the more difficult it is to use for printing. Daniele Foresti, a research associate in materials science and mechanical engineering at Harvard, stated that the team’s “goal was to take viscosity out of the picture by developing a printing system that is independent of the material properties of the fluid.”

So, the team turned to the idea of using sound as their substance. They started experimenting with how sound waves affect liquids to give gravity a little help. They used one of their own instruments, a “subwavelength acoustic resonator” to produce tightly controlled acoustic fields that ultimately increased the relative gravity near the printing nozzle. This entire process was able to create pulling forces that were “100 times the normal gravitation forces (1G) of the printer nozzle,” according to the news release. Those pulling forces were four times the gravity of the sun. Based on the team’s notes, the size of the droplet was determined by the amplitude of the soundwave. In other words, the higher the amplitude, the smaller the drop.

Foresti also believes that the viscosity of the fluid no longer matters when sound waves are present. This will ensure that temperature won’t have as much impact on the size of droplet produced. “The idea is to generate an acoustic field that literally detaches tiny droplets from the nozzle, like picking apples from a tree.”

A Huge Step For The Future

This study not only proved that it is possible to print using sound waves but also that it can be used with living cells. The researchers from Harvard discovered during their testing that the sound waves do not travel through the droplet, so this method is safe to use with sensitive biological cargo like living cells or proteins. It could be a huge help for medical teams in the future if they can figure out how to use this safely in procedures as well as in orthopedic surgery. As early as the early two-thousands, 3D printing technology has been studied and observed by the biotech firms for possible use in tissue engineering applications where organs and body parts are built using inkjet. Bio-printing will have the brightest future with help from the Harvard team’s research because it involves layers of living cells that are deposited onto a gel medium and are slowly built up to form three dimensional structures. Their research will ensure that the living cells are not damaged during the printing process.

3D printing has also been used in education, rapid manufacturing, automotive industries, rapid prototyping, aviation, aerospace, construction, architecture, consumer products, and other industries. Jennifer Lewis is the senior author and the Hansjorg Wyss Professor of Biologically Inspired Engineering at SEAS and she has a lot of hope for their technology. “Our technology should have an immediate impact on the pharmaceutical industry. However, we believe that this will become an important platform for multiple industries.” The process of acoustophoretic printing may be another step closer to making a replicator for food or other biological substances. The possibilities with this kind of discovery are endless.

MORE: Twelve groundbreaking scientific innovations from 2018 that will change the world.

12 Groundbreaking Science Discoveries from 2018

This year saw tremendous gains in science ranging from evolutionary discoveries to space exploration. Every year science makes more advancements and innovations in technology, medicine, and the origins of our universe, so we rounded up some of the biggest advancements in science this year:

China opens the floodgates for Genetic Engineering

In search of creating ‘the perfect human,’ scientist He Jiankui, claimed that he had successfully altered the genes of an embryo. Using Crispr, a gene-editing tool, Jiankui claims he was able to make two twin girls HIV resistant by altering their genetic makeup. His claims are yet to be verified by an authoritative body, but nonetheless, such a claim carries vast ramifications both for the scientific community and the Chinese government. Genetic engineering could have a multitude of possibilities and may be key to curing some diseases.

Cloning monkeys

Also in China, a highly controversial experiment took place year when scientists, using the same technology that cloned Dolly the lamb, successfully cloned a monkey. Going forward, the intent of the technology will be geared toward medical research into brain disorders. Others, however, fear it will lead to human test experiments.

Water found on Mars

This summer the Mars Express orbiter discovered a large lake underneath the surface of the red planet. What made this discovery special, unlike other small samples of water previously found is that it’s not apparent that water exists on Mars not as a few drops here and there but as a part of a vast body of water. The other major implication of this finding suggests that Mars may be suitable for life.

Robo-sperm can carry medicine

This year UK scientists began developing robotic drones to carry lifesaving drugs into parts of the body. Modeled after sperm, the developers behind the technology hope to one day make it so that the ‘swimmers’ will be able to direct drugs to the right area of the body moving through blood vessels. This innovation could radically transform the way medicine is distributed.

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InSight Lander Touches Down on Mars, Gets to Work

If just getting to Mars was fun, imagine the discovery the InSight lander has yet ahead.

The $814 million two-year NASA mission, after traveling through space for more than six months and crossing 300 million miles, survived its soft landing on the red planet on Nov. 26. The robotic probe was traveling at 13,200 mph through Mars’ thin atmosphere in its final dramatic moments before touchdown.

NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA has already had seven successful Mars landings, but only 40 percent of missions to the planet have succeeded. So to say just making the journey there takes planning, precision and, yes, hope is an understatement.

“Our accuracy is comparable to shooting a basketball from Staples Center in downtown L.A. and hitting nothing but net in a basketball hoop in New York City that is moving about two feet per second and is spinning on its access,” Fernando Abilleira, navigator in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said during the NASA live stream on touchdown day Nov. 26. He added that the target location for landing – some 300 million miles at the end of its journey after launching in May 2018 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California – was about seven-and-a-half miles in size.

The Atlas V rocket which carried the InSight lander to Mars is seen at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California before launch on May 15, 2018

Now that InSight is on the surface, the next mission’s next phase – and fun – begins.

InSight will map out the deep structure of Mars, including its core, crust, and mantle. Whereas previous missions have studied the planet’s surface, InSight is going into the interior.

“We know a lot about the surface of Mars; we know a lot about its atmosphere and even about its ionosphere. But we don’t know very much about what goes on a mile below the surface much less 2,000 miles below the surface down to the center,” Bruce Banerdt, InSight Principal Investigator, explained from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

NASA/JPL-Caltech

After burrowing an instrument five meters into the Mars ground, InSight will measure the planet’s temperature. Another experiment will eventually determine how Mars wobbles on its axis.

The mission will provide new answers into the structure of Mars to reveal why among other things the planet is uninhabitable. Seismic probes aboard InSight will examine ‘marsquakes’ beneath the planet’s surface in much the same way scientists measure earthquakes back home.

NASA/JPL-Caltech

Previous missions to the red planet have literally only scratched the surface on Martian knowledge – and its history. InSight will go beneath the surface for the first time, with the knowledge gained leading to better understandings of Earth, Venus, Mercury, our own Moon, as well as exoplanets around other stars.

“InSight is a mission to Mars, but it’s much, much more than a Mars mission,” Banerdt said. “In some senses, it’s like a time machine. It’s measuring the structure of Mars that was put in place four-and-a-half billion years ago.”

The lander itself is almost 20 feet long, about five feet wide, and weighs nearly 800 pounds. Two solar panels will provide its electrical power, and science instruments on board include a seismometer, heat probe and a radio science experiment.

NASA/JPL-Caltech

“InSight, short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport … (will) give the Red Planet its first thorough checkup since it formed 4.5 billion years ago,” NASA states.

In other words, now that engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory have successfully sweated out this week’s touchdown, they’ll wait next for scientific results to start pouring in as the mission continues.

“In comparison to the other terrestrial planets, Mars is neither too big nor too small. This means that it preserves the record of its formation and can give us insight into how the terrestrial planets formed,” NASA notes. “It is the perfect laboratory from which to study the formation and evolution of rocky planets. Scientists know that Mars has low levels of geological activity. But a lander like InSight can also reveal just how active Mars really is.”

More on Mars: NASA is investigating ways to put future space travelers into cryosleep for the months-long journey to the Red Planet 

Scientists Developing Artificial Futuristic Burgers

We all know that burgers come from cows, bacon comes from pigs, and chicken strips come from chickens, but what if they didn’t? Scientists are trying to produce ‘futuristic’ meat that generates only the parts of the meat desired, sparing the life of the animal. Looking to the future, one day we may be able to produce beef without using cows and chicken without using chickens.

Early Efforts

The idea rests on the ability to create cow or chicken cells in a lab artificially. In 2013, scientist Mark Post, one of the early innovators of this concept, did precisely that. Post called his synthetic processed meat, “cultured beef.” Unfortunately, at the time of production, the meat was listed for $300,000, far too expensive to market to the public.

While regular beef is pulled from muscle tissue extracted from slaughtered animals, Post developed a way to grow that same kind of tissue in a Petri dish.

Further research is still needed as it took 20,000 cells to make one patty, even with the cells conditioned to multiply rapidly.

Nutrition scientist Hani Rützler tested Post’s burger patty and said that while it tasted “close” to beef, it was not juicy enough to be a viable substitute for our current beef in the arena of taste.

Other Methods

One possible method scientists are exploring is generating the meat from plants. Different from ‘veggie burgers,’ which only look like regular burgers while tasting vastly different, these plant-based burgers would taste and feel like actual meat from animals.

Scientists, to produce this meat, would need to isolate the proteins, nutrients, and other molecules found in meat that give meats such as beef its texture and taste. From there they would search for those molecules in other non-animal sources and extract them to ‘create’ meat.

One of the leading scientists in this effort is Patrick O. Brown. According to Brown, the fact that we get meat today from animals is the result of becoming complacent in our technology.

“We stuck with that same technology. And it’s incredibly inefficient by any measure,” said Brown.

Environmental Advantages

Concerning environmental effects, animal agriculture is currently the second largest contributor to human-made greenhouse gasses. According to Climate Nexus, “In order to accommodate the 70 billion animals raised annually for human consumption, a third of the planet’s ice-free land surface, as well as nearly sixteen percent of global freshwater, is devoted to growing livestock.” For that reason, there is an environmental incentive to produce this ‘new-meat.’

While further work is required on this innovative initiative, there likely won’t be a marketable product any time soon. Still, this could potentially have fruitful results regarding animal treatment, health effects, and greenhouse gas emissions.

The Extreme Countdown to Driving 1,000 mph is On

If going 760 miles per hour on land just isn’t fast enough, read on.

First, let’s go back to 1997.

Designed by Richard Noble, Jeremy Bliss, Ron Ayres, and Glynne Bowsher, and driven by Royal Air Force fighter pilot and Squadron Leader Andy Green, the Thrust SSC still holds the record for fastest land speed ever recorded. The Thrust SSC streaked its way to 763 mph on October 15, 1997, in the Black Rock Desert, the isolated patch of Nevada where Burning Man takes place. In doing so, the supersonic car became the first land vehicle to break the sound barrier officially, according to the Coventry Transport Museum in England, where the beast is on display in retirement. At 54 feet long, 12 feet wide, weighing more than ten tons, and able to burn close to 18 liters of fuel per second, it’s also impossibly cool.

Pilot Andy Green (Image: Bloodhound SSC)

But, that is so 1997.

By 2007, plans were already underway to leave that speed record in a new vehicle’s rearview mirror, and who better to chase the dream than Noble.

Just that fast, the Bloodhound SSC project was born.

The mission’s stated objectives are straightforward enough in four key goals, including getting students involved in the “iconic project,” as Noble called it in 2008.

One objective, however, really stands out: “To achieve the first 1,000 mph record on land,” Noble wrote that year.

Image: Bloodhound SSC

The Bloodhound SSC is, to say the least, unique. It will be capable of acceleration to 1,000 mph in 55 seconds, Noble says on his official website. The wheels will rotate 170 times a second, and the car will cover a mile in 3.6 seconds.

Consider these fast facts when the vehicle eventually reaches its peak:

  • Four and a half soccer fields in 1 second
  • Faster than a bullet fired from a Magnum 357
  • Its own car length in less than three-hundredths of a second

Ironically, the journey to the speed record has been slow.

Noble describes how financial resources dictate much of the progress, as well as design cycles themselves. Each design costs around $195,000, he reported, and the team had to go through 10 design cycles until a viable solution was reached. Sometimes there could be months in between designs.

Not that the project hasn’t had help! The team reported that by 2010 there were 3,800 United Kingdom schools with the program. And when a test site was located in the flat mud and salt pan of Hakskeen in the Kalahari Desert of South Africa, “in an amazing program of biblical proportions,” Noble stated, “the Northern Cape Government set about removing both road and stones with three years of effort from 310 local people who cleared over 10,000 tons of stones by hand.”

The flats at Hakskeen Pan in South Africa will be the location used in the attempt to break the 1,000 mph barrier.

The goal of having a completed car by 2012 came and went, and a new finish line of 2015 was set. In the meantime, public details were scant.

“It would be highly embarrassing to all if the project were announced and then canceled with an admission of technical defeat and public waste of money,” Noble wrote. “Better to keep it all a secret during the research phase and then announce it when we know we can do it. So over the 18 months of the research, well in excess of 1,000 people signed the project confidentiality agreements!”

Not only would progress on the speed need become public soon enough, but it would also achieve a worldwide following. With 101,000 UK students and schoolchildren making Bloodhound education the largest science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) program in the UK, according to the team, new desert know-how enabled Bloodhound to deliver all car data live to 20 million followers in 230 countries.

Image: Bloodhound SSC

By 2017, a test saw the car reach speeds of 200 mph, and a goal was set to run Bloodhound in South Africa in October 2018; however, the project went into administration to focus on further fundraising. The educational programs which reach thousands of UK students continue to push the importance of STEM education.

And that’s just the beginning.

“We would also have to kick off the rocket motor program with our friends at Nammo in Norway if we are to run the car to 800 mph in 2019,” Noble wrote in a 2018 update, “and 1,000 mph in 2020.”

At Hakskeen Pan in 2019, the team will push on to 500 mph and gauge the car’s high-speed aerodynamic performance and handling, in what will also be the first chance to use Bloodhound’s desert wheels and braking parachutes.

By then, the world will be watching. Blink, and you’ll miss it.

If traveling thousands of miles per hour into space is more your speed, check out four companies that are making space tourism a reality.

Robotic Sperm Could Carry Life Saving Drugs

UK scientists are currently developing new technology that they hope can revolutionize the way we deliver medicine. Inspired by sperm, researchers have been working on designing tiny robotic drones to enter the body and carry medication to a specific location.

The sperm design includes a magnetic head accompanied with an elastic tail that is guided by electromagnetic currents that will be controlled externally by scientists. In a paper published last month, Feodor Ogrin, the lead researcher said that “the speed of the swimmer can be controlled by manipulating the strength and frequency of the external magnetic field.” Thus, the elastic tails would function as the robot’s flagellum and with scientists controlling their path, would be able to enter points of the body to deliver medicine.

Ogrin, describing the ultimate goal of the project stated, “the swimmers could one day be used to direct drugs to the right area of the body by swimming through blood vessels.” While other scientists have already attempted to create similar technology, Ogrin believes that his team has produced the most viable model to date. The robots’ tails are made from 3D-printed molds, and the team believes they’ve created the perfect head to tail ratio to begin going forward.

Size Matters

Thus far the models produced a range in size from 0.15in to 0.04 in and 0.05in. Currently, researchers acknowledge that the most straightforward model to control is the 0.15in. That model, however, will not be small enough for some more advanced procedures. The researchers note that while that model will have no trouble navigating through one’s aorta, to comfortably travel through any capillaries, which are 3,000 times smaller than an aorta, much further research and development will be required.

Previous Research

As noted, this is not the first attempt to hone in on this technology and produce microscopic robots for medicine delivery. In 2017, VICE reported on similar robots that were in testing to delivery treatments for cervical cancer. In that experiment, researchers from the Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research, “transformed bovine sperm into tiny torpedos and set them loose on a tumor-like mass in a petri dish.” During one of the experiments, once the robot-sperm that was carrying the treatment medicine collided with the tumor, 87% of the cancer cells were destroyed.

While far from being finalized, this is a huge step forward in what could end up dramatically changing how medicine gets delivered.

Cell Phone Radiation Linked to Adverse Health Effects

Parent’s worrying about their kids’ non-stop cell phone usage is nothing new, but now there may be more cause for concern. Beyond simply fearing that people aren’t spending enough time outdoors or getting as much face-to-face interaction anymore, a recent study shows potentially harmful side effects of cell phone radiation on memory.

Epidemiologist Milena Foerster surveyed 700 Swiss teenagers on both figural and verbal memory. Figural memory is what enables us to retain and recall abstract symbols, shapes, and patterns. What Foerster and her colleagues conducting the study were testing to see was how cell phone radiation affects memory, if at all.

Cell phone and cell towers give off what is called radiofrequency electromagnetic fields, or RF-EMF. That radiation energy can then subsequently travel into people’s bodies and be absorbed by their body. As such, researchers have speculated to what extent that energy absorption might do to people.

To test for this variable, the researchers gathered participant phone records from their phone companies to see how long they were on the phone. The memory tests were administered twice, separated from each other by a year. The results were, for the most part, unchanged from one year to the next. However, the study did find that teenagers who placed their phone by their right ear scored worse on the figural memory test the second time around. There was no statistically significant change in the verbal scores. Foerster believes this may be due to the location of the memory center in question. Memory for shapes is housed in the right side of the brain, coincidentally, right by the ear. That may suggest that RF-EMF can negatively impact one’s health.

Cell Phone Links to Cancer

This is not the first time that cell phones have been associated with poor health side-effects. In 2016, a study on rats found links between exposure to cell phone radiation and cancer. According to the study, “in very large doses this radiation will heat the body and cause tissue damage.” In the study, scientists exposed rats to cell phone radiation levels proportional to what humans are typically exposed to, in order to observe their reaction. The findings showed that the kinds of cancer that emerged within the rats were similar to those observed in humans as a result of radiation exposure. For example, a brain tumor that appeared in some of the rats is quite uncommon for rats. However, that type has turned up in humans in studies on cell phone users.

Risks During Pregnancies

Previous generations did not have to worry about radiation absorption from cell phones during pregnancies. Now, as nearly everyone carries their cell phone on their person throughout the day, it’s more of a concern. Another study from 2012 found that pregnant mice who were exposed to an active cell phone for the entirety of their pregnancy demonstrated “long-lasting behavioral and brain abnormalities.” The study highlighted the risks during pregnancies associated with fetuses being exposed to active phones giving off radiation. The reaction from the mice experiment should give one pause.

While neither of these studies are definitive and though all the research teams concede there is much more research to be done before any definitive conclusions can be drawn, the findings are important to note. These are just three studies which report back that there are adverse effects associated with cell phone radiation including; memory deterioration, cancer, and problems during pregnancies. While it’s important to understand the risks observed are low, these are also not the only studies, and numerous other studies have turned up similar results.

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