Jennifer French is the 2012 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, a silver medalist in sailing, and a quadriplegic. She is the first woman to receive the implanted Stand and Transfer system, an experimental device that uses implanted electrodes and an external control device. French injured her spinal cord when snowboarding in 1998, but has since become an advocate for access to neurotechnological therapies, devices, and treatments. She is a co-founder and executive director of Neurotech Network, a non-profit organization focused on education and advocacy. French told her story in her book, On My Feet Again: My Journey Out of the Wheelchair Using Neurotechnology.
One Type of Fusion Accounts For Nearly All Of Sun’s Power, Detector Finds
by Michael Keller
The cool instrument above is what you get to work with if you are on the hunt for neutrinos, the tiny subatomic particles with barely any mass that rarely interact with other matter. Theses pictures all show the Borexino Collaboration particle physics experiment, which is designed to detect a type of neutrino predicted to fly out of the sun due to nuclear fusion of proton atoms at its core.
The group announced today that their instrument, which is buried nearly 3,200 feet under a mountain to minimize interference from other particles, has detected the so-called pp neutrino. This variety of particle is the result of energy-generating nuclear reactions caused by the fusing of two protons. The team’s results indicate that 99 percent of the sun’s power comes from this type of fusion at its core.
African personalities are breaking stereotypical and geographical boundaries to make their mark. From Lupita Nyong’o, Kenyan Oscar winner; to 17 year old Congolese Rachel Mwanza, once a street child, today the first African recipient of the Berlin Film Festival Best Actress award; to multi-platinum award winning South African singer Lira; or a range of African young literary champions like Ondjaki, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie or NoViolet Bulawayo.
African contemporary artists are also generating a stir. Just last year, London’s Tate Modern Gallery displayed the works of Benin’s Meschac Gaba and Sudan’s Ibrahim el-Salahi; for the first time the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale for best national pavilion went to an African country, Angola.
These examples only scratch the surface of the enormity and variety of the creative talent that Africa has to offer. Africa’s informal sector breeds tens of thousands of individuals and communities making a daily living from creativity. The contribution of this sector remains unknown for lack of reliable data; but it is significant.
All this talent is a key ingredient of the creative economy, a term that encompasses visual arts, crafts, cultural festivals, paintings, sculptures, photography, publishing, music, dance, film, radio, fashion, and video games to architecture. It is not just about providing entertainment. It also captures self-expression, innovation, and education to improve lives and build social cohesion. It is serious business, one of the most rapidly growing sectors globally.
In 2012, the entertainment and media industry alone injected around $2.2 trillion in the world economy, while world’s trade in creative goods and services, generated US$624 billion in revenues. In the UK, Sweden, the Netherlands and Australia, creative industries account for about 5-8% of total income and employment , or 2 to 4% of the GDP in countries such as Argentina, China, Colombia, Malaysia, Poland, Romania Singapore and South Africa.
Nigeria’s recent national accounts rebasing show that motion pictures, sound recording and music production alone, account for 1.42% of its GDP.
Reaping the benefits (read the complete article on Africa’s creative economic potential)
If you have ever seen a picture or a video of a hagfish, it’s probably been on some roundup of the ocean’s most horrifying creatures. But the DNA within that very creature, often known as a “slime eel,” just might be the key to creating sustainable, biodegradable plastic and lighter bulletproof clothing.
The hagfish has a skull but no vertebrae or spinal chord, so scientists aren’t totally sure whether to classify it as a vertebrate or not. It hasn’t really changed in roughly 300 million years, which makes it a “living fossil.” But this primitive sort of design is a boon for researchers who see potential in the hagfish’s trademark, and arguably grossest, trait.
You see, when a hagfish is threatened, it often slimes predators—and within that slime are tiny filaments that are 100 times thinner than a human hair, yet stronger than nylon and kevlar.
Its filaments have many of the same properties as spider silk, but, genetically, it’s much simpler. That made it that much easier for a synthetic biology startup in Ireland to bioengineer e. coli into making the filaments within the slime, no hagfish required.
"It’s 300 million years old and hasn’t really changed its design since—we think it stopped evolving, and that’s why we think it’s easier to get a bacteria to make it than it is to get a bacteria to make spider silk," Russel Banta, founder of the company, called Benthic Labs, told me. “I proposed trying to synthesize spider silk, but it’s just too complex to do in a cell right now and mass produce it.”
"We found a company that synthesized the DNA for us from a genome sequence that was online, made some modifications to it so the bacteria could read it better, and put it into the e. coli,” Banta told me.
The bacteria are now synthesizing two separate parts of the threads made within the slime, while Banta and his team are looking at ways to put them together, either outside the cell or within the cell itself. He says he hopes to have a breakthrough within the next week or two. From there, it’s a matter of scaling it up and mass producing it.
"The gene is so simple that we can take it, put it in the bacteria 100 more times and just make the bacteria make more of it," he said. "If you can make enough of it, the things you can use it for are really endless."