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Bioscience

Ant Farm Revolution contains an LED lamp, which allows users to project images of the ants...

Ah, the ant farm. It's somehow nice to know that in the age of apps and iPods, kids still like to watch colonies of ants fastidiously going about their daily business. The humble ant farm hasn't remained unchanged by technology, however. For some time now, instead of dirt or sand, commercially-available kits have instead come with a clear green gel. The ants are not only able to tunnel through this goop, but it also serves as their source of food and water. Educational toy company Uncle Milton is now taking the concept a step farther, with its Ant Farm Revolution. It's a cylindrical gel ant farm, with a built-in LED lamp that casts giant silhouettes of its ants on the user's ceiling ... or presumably onto the outside wall of a neighbor's house.  Read More

VISCERAL consists of exhibits such as The Vision Splendid, a 'living relic' made from dona...

Should you find yourself in Dublin, pondering the social and ethical ramifications of advances in bioscience, you really ought to check out VISCERAL: THE LIVING ART EXPERIMENT at Trinity College’s Science Gallery. The show was put together by the University of Western Australia’s SymboticA art-science residency program, and features 15 works of art (or are they works of science?) that incorporate living tissue, created by SymboticA researchers from several countries. It’s intended to be an exploration of the boundaries between art and science, and of “our changing understandings and perceptions of life in the light of rapid developments in the life sciences and their applied technologies.” It’s also a chance to see books grown out of human skin cells.  Read More

A half sphere of polymer cubes built by researchers at the MIT-Harvard Division of Health ...

Earlier this year we looked at a technique to grow 3D cell cultures using magnetic forces to levitate cells while they divided and grew, forming tissues that more closely resemble those inside the human body. Now researchers at the MIT-Harvard Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST) have devised a new way to achieve the same goal by using "biological Legos".  Read More

A 3D cell culture grown with magnetic levitation (Image: G. Souza/N3D Biosciences)

3D is the big news in the world of TV this year and now even cell cultures are getting in on the act. A team of scientists has taken aim at a biological icon - the two-dimensional petri dish – and unveiled a new technique for growing 3D cell cultures. The new process uses magnetic forces to levitate cells while they divide and grow to form tissues that more closely resemble those inside the human body. This represents a technological leap from the flat petri dish and could save millions of dollars in drug-testing costs.  Read More

The SmartHand and its first human subject, Robin af Ekenstam

Scientists have successfully wired a state-of-the-art artificial hand to existing nerve endings in the stump of a severed arm. Its creators say the device, called “SmartHand,” resembles a real hand in function, sensitivity and appearance. In order to develop such an intelligent artificial prosthetic hand with all the basic features displayed by a real one, the SmartHand team integrated recent advances in nanobioscience, cognitive neuroscience and information technologies.  Read More

Inherited outlook – can our feelings effect our children?

Now here's a frightening thought! Brain chemicals such as endorphins, and drugs, such as marijuana and heroin are known to have significant effects on sperm and eggs, altering the patterns of genes that are active in them. In an article published in the latest issue of the journal Bioscience Hypotheses, Dr Alberto Halabe Bucay of Research Center Halabe and Darwich, Mexico, suggested that the hormones and chemicals resulting from happiness, depression and other mental states can affect our eggs and sperm, resulting in lasting changes in our children at the time of their conception. Bucay suggests that a wide range of chemicals that our brain generates when we are in different moods could affect ‘germ cells’ (eggs and sperm), the cells that ultimately produce the next generation. Such natural chemicals could affect the way that specific genes are expressed in the germ cells, and hence how a child develops.  Read More

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