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Curating the Internet: Science and technology micro-summaries for October 21, 2019


7 months ago6 min read

hoping to improve cancer treatment with nanoparticles; HTC smartphone can run a full bitcoin node; An conversation about moral motivation and neurophilosophy; Neurons might store memories as shapes in the noise; and saildrones deployed to study weather and climate in the Pacific Ocean

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Links and micro-summaries from my 1000+ daily headlines. I filter them so you don't have to.


pixabay license: source.

  1. How nanoparticles could change the way we treat cancer - In this TED talk, nanotechnologist, Joy Wolfram discusses changes on the horizon in cancer treatment. She says that more than 99% of cancer drugs never make it to the tumor, because they lack the necessary infrastructure to deliver them to the targeted cells. She also says that nanoparticles, one four hundredth of the diameter of a human hair, can change this, and make sure that cancer drugs arrive at the location where they're needed. Without nanoparticles, she says, most cancer drugs are so small that they are quickly washed out of the body by the kidneys. By encapsulating the drugs in nanoparitcles, she says that the drugs would have more time in the blood stream to get to the targeted cells. In order to prevent the drugs from being deactivated in the liver, she also notes that her team found a 70 year old malaria drug, that can temporarily pause the liver's immune system and buy the drugs even more time in the blood stream so they can arrive at the tumor. Her lab has also developed a technique to efficiently harvest nanoparticles from the body for use in this drug delivery method, but the protocol is still waiting for necessary government approvals. The talk was from October, 2018, and it just came across the TED RSS feed. Related: A 2017 TED talk by Elizabeth Wayne discusses a similar concept that makes use of immune cells, instead of nanoparticles.

  2. HTC’s Latest Blockchain Phone Can Run a Full Bitcoin Node - Unveiled Saturday, at the Lightning Conference in Berlin, HTC's Exodus 1s is said to be the first smartphone with the capability to run a full bitcoin node. Although the service can be used on the go, the company recommends that users connect to a power source and use wifi when the bitcoin node is running. The current size of the full BTC ledger is 250GB, and the new smartphone is compatible with an SD card up to 400GB. It runs the Android Oreo 8.1 operating system.

  3. The Nature of Moral Motivation - An conversation with Patricia S. Churchland - In this talk, Churchland says that she is interested in the topic of moral motivation, and wonders where it comes from and whether it is unique to humans. She goes on to say that she thinks it's more complicated in humans simply because our brains are more complicated. She goes on to say that the moral platform is very important for society, and it is shaped by the reward system. She goes on to describe the concept of neurophilosophy as the intersection of philosophy and neuroscience. Philosophy, she says, needs to be rethought in a way that is consistent with neurological experiments. Giving the example of unity, which philosophers have thought is essential for consciousness. Instead, however, neuroscience showed that you can split the mind by splitting the brain. In contrast, neuroscience has demonstrated that half of the brain can know or desire something that the other half of the brain doesn't know or desire. Overall, her main theses are that we cannot understand consciousness until such time as we understand the details of how the brain works, and that consciousness and the brain can both be understood at some time in the future.

  4. Neurons hide their memories in their imaginary fluctuations - In this article, physicist Chris Lee discusses Stable memory with unstable synapses, a paper in the September 30 edition of Nature. He notes that natural phenomenon are divided into things that are stable, unstable, and totally unpredictable. Building on that observation, he says that the neuron in the brain is a weird combination of stable and unpredictable, and that information is stored in the unpredictable aspect of the neuron, which is the relationship between itself and its neighbors. Scientists have built models with this knowledge, and in those models memory is not stored in a fixed location, but it's in a geometric shape that persists over time. In the 2-d model, it is a shape on a plane, but in a brain, the shape could be far more complicated. In conclusion, Lee observes that this is a testable idea, but that it will be a long time before we have the capability for testing it.

  5. STEEM Salidrones.- Water drones that measure climate changes - In this post, @junior182 offers a brief introduction to the saildrones that are currently being deployed in the San Francisco Bay in order to help with weather and climate predictions. The solar powered drones, launched under a collaboration between NOAA and saildrone, are beginning a six month trip to the equator and back.

    The post also has this video embedded:

    (A 10% beneficiary setting has been applied to this post for @junior182)

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