Highlights from the 2015 Geneva Motor Show

Muscle

Ghost is a prototype vibrating armband, designed to help athletes with muscle memory

“Muscle memory” is the process in which a certain motor task is repeated to such an extent that it can eventually be performed without conscious effort. It comes in handy for all sorts of activities, but is particularly important to athletes – a tennis player can hardly concentrate on the game, for instance, if they’re constantly thinking about how to move their arm every time they return the ball. Now, engineers from Imperial College London have created an armband device known as Ghost, designed to assist athletes in forming optimum muscle memories.  Read More

Muscle cell undergoing light activation (Image: MIT)

In Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s 1972 novel Rendezvous with Rama, the explorers of a seemingly deserted alien spaceship passing through our Solar System encounter a strange three-legged creature that turns out to be an organic robot. In the ‘70s, this seemed so incredible that it could only be the product of an alien civilization thousands of years ahead of us. In 2012, scientists at MIT and the University of Pennsylvania are proving otherwise by starting work on organic robots here on Earth. Using genetically engineered muscle tissue that responds to light, they are blurring the line between animal and machine at the cellular level.  Read More

The FastStitch is a prototype device, designed to facilitate the closure of surgical incis...

Just about every major operation on the chest or abdomen requires surgeons to cut through the fascia, which is a layer of muscle located immediately beneath the skin. Closing these wounds can be very difficult – sewing up an incision in the fascial layer has been likened to trying to push a needle through shoe leather. If proper care isn’t taken, however, potentially lethal complications can result. Now, a team of undergraduate students from Johns Hopkins University have created a device that should make the procedure easier and safer.  Read More

Wake Forest's muscle-implant-stretching machine

We all know that you need to exercise if you want to develop your muscles. As it turns out, however, exercise also makes lab-grown muscle implants more effective when introduced to the body. Scientists from North Carolina’s Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have discovered that after being gently expanded and contracted, implants placed in lab animals were better able to stimulate new muscle growth than implants that were left “unexercised.”  Read More

An illustration depicting one of the lattice-like electrodes, over top of one of the elast...

A lot of devices, such as shock absorbers, currently use elastomers to help minimize vibrations. While the malleable, yielding qualities of these materials do indeed allow them to absorb energy that would otherwise take the form of rattles and jolts, they are nonetheless passive – basically, they just sit there. Researchers from Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Structural Durability and System Reliability, however, are developing a new system in which elastomers actually “fight back” against vibrations.  Read More

We can change our DNA in a matter of minutes by simply exercising (Photo: SuperFantastic)

While our DNA is determined at conception, researchers reporting in the March issue of Cell Metabolism, say that we can beneficially alter our DNA molecules in a matter of minutes, simply by exercising. Furthermore, caffeine may also offer similar effects.  Read More

New technology is able to capture 3D images of muscle contractions in less time and more d...

Current medical imaging technology misses important data regarding muscle contraction, including the ways in which a muscle’s shape changes when it contracts, how the muscle bulges, and how its internal fibers become more curved ... or at least, so Simon Fraser University (SFU)’s associate professor James Wakeling tells us. In order to remedy that situation, he has developed a new method of imaging contracting muscles, that he claims should allow researchers to observe never-before-seen details of muscle activation.  Read More

Pumped-up muscle tissue (in blue) in a high performing 'mighty mouse'

He can't fly just yet, but a team of scientists have made a big step towards creating a real-life Mighty Mouse. Researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, along with two Swiss institutions, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) and the University of Lausanne, created a batch of super-strong mice and worms by tweaking a gene that normally inhibits muscle growth.  Read More

Scientists have created a tiny artificial muscle, that could be used in motors to propel n...

We've been hearing a lot lately about the possibility of treating medical conditions using nanobots - tiny robots that would be injected into a patient's bloodstream, where they would proceed to travel to their targets, not unlike the microscopic submarine in the movie Fantastic Voyage ... except nanobots wouldn't be crewed by tiny shrunken-down humans. One challenge that still needs to be met, however, is figuring out a way of propelling the devices. Well, we may now be closer to a solution. Yesterday, development of a new type of nanoscale artificial muscle was announced, which works like the muscles in an elephant's trunk. These could conceivably be used in nanobots, to whip them along using a rotating flagellum - a tiny sperm-like tail, in other words.  Read More

A scanning electron microscope image of the nanowire-alginate composite scaffolds, showing...

Around the world, scientists have been working on ways of replacing the heart tissue that dies when a heart attack occurs. These efforts have resulted in heart "patches" that are made from actual cardiomyocytes (heart muscle cells), or that encourage surrounding heart cells to grow into them. One problem with some such patches, however, lies in the fact that that they consist of cardiomyocytes set within a scaffolding of poorly-conductive materials. This means that they are insulated from the electrical signals sent out by the heart, so they don't expand and contract as the heart beats. Scientists at MIT, however, may be on the way to a solution.  Read More

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