Can we sense invisible magnetic fields?


Animals are known to be able to navigate by taking advantage of the Earth’s magnetic fields. But do humans possess the same ability? And do we do so without even knowing?

In 2006, an Arizona body-hacker named Steve Haworth sliced open Quinn Norton’s ring finger, slipped a small rare-earth magnet into the incision, and then sewed her up.

“If I pick up a cord or I ran my hand over my laptop, certain parts of it would just make my finger tingle,” she said in aninterview with NPR’s All Things Considered (she originally wrote about it for Wired.)

“I’d reach over towards something and I’d have this very sudden tingling in my finger from a live phone cord. Phone cords aren’t particularly high voltage but they’re also not very shielded. So I could really feel them,” she said.

 (Credit: Alamy)

Norton’s purpose wasn’t to invoke some superheroic ability to move objects like Magneto from Marvel’s X-Men comics. The idea was that the implanted magnet might allow her to detect the presence of magnetic fields.

Here’s how it works: our fingertips are packed to the brim with sensory receptors, the nerve endings that inform your brain about whatever it is you’re touching. When exposed to a magnetic field, that implanted magnet might move or vibrate just enough to activate those nerve endings.

We’re all of course continuously bathed in a swirling soup of magnetic fields: from the Earth, the Sun, our refrigerators, light bulbs, smartphones and television remotes. Because electricity and magnetism are inextricably linked, anything that produces an electrical current also creates a magnetic field, and vice versa.

Scientists have known since the late 1960s that some birds navigate by taking advantage of the Earth’s magnetic fields

The sort of bodyhacking that Haworth and Norton involved themselves with a decade ago was not meant to pick up on all those magnetic fields. As Norton explained in the radio interview, she usually had to make physical contact with an object to detect the magnetic fields radiating from it.

Animals don’t have to try so hard. Scientists have known since the late 1960s that some birds navigate by taking advantage of the Earth’s magnetic fields. For them, it’s thanks to biology and evolution, rather than minor surgery. Robins, for example, have molecules in their eyes called cryptochrome which, when stimulated by magnetic fields, can overlay magnetic information onto the birds’ perception of the world by making some parts of its visual field brighter and other parts darker.

They’re not the only ones. Pigeons have neurons that are sensitive to magnetic fields, and loggerhead sea turtles use magnetic fields to migrate. Foxes seem able to rely on the small magnetic fields that betray the presence of hidden prey. Dogs apparently prefer to do their business with their bodies aligned on a north-south axis, and zoologists can’t quite agreeon whether or not herds of cows and deer prefer to orient themselves along the Earth’s magnetic field lines.

Given how broadly distributed magnetoreception (the ability to perceive magnetic fields) is throughout the animal kingdom, it’s reasonable to ask whether humans possess any such skills. Surely we’d know if refrigerator magnets stuck to our skin, but it’s at least possible that magnetic fields influence us in subtler ways, perhaps even outside of our conscious awareness.

In 1980, a British zoologist named Robin Baker published what would come to be known as the Manchester Experiments. “A wide range of animals are able to orient toward home when subjected to displacement-release experiments,” he wrote in the journal Science. “When comparable experiments are performed on blindfolded humans, a similar ability emerges.” He was confident that this ability could not have been due to the creation of a mental map or anything else. Homo sapiens, he thought, had the ability to perceive Earth’s magnetic fields.

While the Manchester Experiments didn’t conclusively prove that humans could sense magnetic fields, they were certainly provocative

He loaded up minivans with groups of between five and 11 students from Manchester University. Once in the van, all were blindfolded and driven along a “tortuous route” to a release point somewhere between six and 52 kilometres away. Each student was led out of the van and before they were allowed to remove their blindfolds, they had to indicate the direction of the campus from their current location by saying something like “north” or “southeast.” Baker repeated this 10 times with 10 different groups of students, and on average they were indeed more likely to accurately point towards their starting point, or close enough at least, than in the opposite direction.

Then, apparently for the benefit of a TV film crew, he repeated the experiment. Only this time, half of the participants had a magnet strapped to the backs of their heads. The other half was instead given a piece of non-magnetic brass, though everyone was told they were being given magnets in an effort to avoid biasing the results. Those wearing the brass bars tended to accurately indicate the direction home, replicating the first experiment, while those wearing magnets did not, suggesting that the ability could be easily disrupted.

While the Manchester Experiments didn’t conclusively prove that humans could sense magnetic fields, they were certainly provocative, and they set off dozens of replication attempts around the globe. But the initial findings may have been too good to be true.

Biologists James L Gould and Kenneth P Able, for example, found that they were unable, in eight different attempts, to replicate the effect. “We believe that our consistent failures indicate that the phenomenon is neither as simple nor as robust as we had been inclined to hope,” they wrote in Science. That’s even after they invited Baker to New Jersey to assist in the administration of the experiments. But in a 1987 metanalysis, Baker claimed that when all the replication attempts conducted in the UK, USA, and Australia were combined into a larger dataset, his original findings indeed held up.

Even now, the Manchester Experiments remain controversial, but discoveries of a mineral called magnetite in our brains andbones and of cryptochrome in our eyes have continued to push researchers to search for evidence that we’re able, somehow, to sense magnetic fields. It’s safe to say at least that if we do have that ability, however slight, it’s not been easy to prove. For now, the best way to demonstrate the ability might just be to surgically implant magnets into your fingertips… which is probably best avoided.

Positive memories may prove effective in treating mental health problems.


Using positive memories can prove to be an effective method for boosting mood amongst individuals with specific mental health problems such as anxiety or depression.

Savouring positive memories and images is likely to generate positive emotions in the human mind and can prove to be effective in treating individuals with anxiety or depression, reveals a new research.

A team of researchers from University of Liverpool investigated individuals’ emotional reactions using a social technique called social broad-minded affective coping (BMAC) technique — an intervention that aims to elicit positive affect or emotion through the use of mental imagery of a positive memory.

 “The findings suggest that the BMAC has the potential to be a practical and effective method for boosting mood amongst individuals with specific mental health problems such as anxiety or depression,” said lead researcher Peter Taylor from University of Liverpool in Britain.

The findings showed that following the social BMAC, the participants showed an increase in feelings of social safeness, warm positive affect and relaxed positive affect, whilst the negativity decreased. The results, which provide preliminary support for the effectiveness of the social BMAC in activating specific types of emotion, have been detailed in the journal Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice. As part of the study 123 participants, recruited online, completed self-report measures of self-attacking (thinking mean, diminishing, insulting, and shaming thoughts about oneself), social safeness (feelings of warmth and connectedness) and pleasure.

The participants were encouraged to engage all the senses, think about the meaning of the memory to them, savour the positive feelings they experienced, and consider the positive feelings in the mind of another before reflecting upon the feelings they experience as well as what this means to them. Participants completed state measures of positive and negative affect and social safeness/pleasure before and after the intervention.

Signs You Are In The Right Relationship.


Signs You are in the Right Relationship

Looking for signs you are in the right relationship? You are the best person to realize what makes you happy and what feels right and that is true for your relationships as well. However, generally there have been many factors that have contributed to the longevity of a relationship. Are you wondering whether yours will last? Well that only time can tell but the fact is there are certain signs or predictors that the relationship you are in is the right one for you and should last for a long long time, unless something unpredictable happens.

A few days ago I published a post called, signs you are in the wrong relationship. So it makes sense that I should now write about “signs you are  in the right relationship.” I did not title this post “Signs of being in a perfect relationship because no relationship is perfect. We have to find happiness in the imperfections. But generally if the two of you are compatible on most of the things, the signs are right. So let’s begin with tell tale signs of the right kind of relationship that ideally has a much greater chance of lasting in the long run.

 

Signs You Are In The Right Relationship: Sign 1) You don’t keep secrets from each other, at least not about things that matter.

There are some secrets we want to keep to ourselves and that is perfectly fine. You don’t have to share EVERYTHING about your life but and your partner should share things that matter directly to the relationship. Whether it is your past or details about your present, if you two are sharing it happily then building trust becomes that much more easier.

This is going to be controversial and some people may not agree with it but I think when you get to a stage that you two become extremely serious about a relationship and start planning a future, passwords should be shared.

A password is there to protect privacy and yes you have a right to your privacy but in a relationship you need to be as open about things that matter and the conversations you are having is one of them. People say trust is important, however trust needs to be built, it does not come on its own. If you trust someone without them proving time and again that they are trustworthy, you will be taken for a ride. The same is true for them.

If you are not comfortable sharing passwords or are scared about misuse then at least be willing to open your accounts in front of them when they ask you to. If you have nothing to hide then you and they can surely do that. Unless there is something to hide…

Signs You Are In The Right Relationship: Sign 2) No one person tries to excessively control the other against their wishes.

Some people want control and some people want to be controlled. If you are in a relationship where one is excessively dominating but the other person is happy with that, no issues, but generally speaking a healthy happy relationship depends on both people’s desires and being met. Even the person who is generally submissive would surely want something their way and if that is not agreed to, resentment starts building in. Resentment is toxic.

No matter what your roles, if you two are generally respecting others wishes and don’t try to excessively control the other unless they are happy being controlled, you will be building a relationship based on mutual respect instead of resentment. And relationships based on mutual respect will always last longer.

 

Signs You Are In The Right Relationship: Sign 3) Even after Fights you respect each others wishes.

We all fight in a relationship. In fact if you don’t fight there is something wrong because it means you two are not being honest with each other about the problems that you are having or the space between you two is so much that you would rather do other things than be with each other.

But what is important is the kind of things you two do during the fight. If the first thing you two is hurt each other where it hurts the most then that’s not a good sign. Even in the worst of fights, you should not forget that you love the other person and hurting what is really close to them will make matters worse, not better. So you refrain from stuff they are sensitive about.

Secondly even during fights you should not forget that the other person has certain expectations from you. They may not want you to do certain things like talk to certain people or do things you previously mutually agreed not to do. If you can respect those wishes even during fights, that shows how strong you two really are.

Signs You Are In The Right Relationship: Sign 4) There is No Ego

No one is always right, not you not them. Those who always insist on being right will bring great trouble upon themselves and their relationship. Sometimes you are right and sometimes they maybe so. People in a truly loving relationship do not have an ego with each other, even if they otherwise have an ego with the rest of the world. They admit when they are wrong, they say sorry and they work to rectify their faults because their partner matters much more than their ego so with them the ego becomes non existent or at least shrinks tremendously. If you have such a person, don’t let them go.

 

Signs You Are In The Right Relationship: Sign 5) There is No Competition

This is an extension of having no ego within a relationship. You can and should compete with the world but you and your partner are a team, don’t have an attitude of competition towards them. It may seem like most couples are like that but they are really not. Many partners especially men get extremely jealous when they see their female partner outperform them in various areas of life. There is nothing wrong with trying to make more money than your partner, but do it to make your life together better not to prove yourself better.

 

Signs You Are In The Right Relationship: Sign 6) You don’t try to impress each other with money.

A lot of people somehow think that love can be bought. It cannot. You can get someone to have a physical relationship by impressing them with money but you cannot get them to have an emotional relationship with you. If you are in a relationship where you need to keep buying expensive gifts for the other person in order for them to keep loving you, then it is not going to last, unless you are a millionaire and even then you will never have true love from them.

There is nothing wrong with gifting each other things, but don’t do it to impress them. When you really find the right partner, these things will not matter much for them. Your companionship will be more important to them.

Signs You Are In The Right Relationship: Sign 7) You support each other’s passions and life goals. It does not matter whether or not you too are passionate about your significant other’s dreams and ambitions, what matters is whether or not you care about them enough to support them in their goals and see them truly happy and succeed. If you two are constantly each others pillar of support and constantly motivating each other to achieve your dreams, no matter how painful or difficult the process is, then you really are in a relationship that is worth it.

 

Signs You Are In The Right Relationship: Sign 8) You both continue putting effort in, long after the wooing days other. In the initial days we put in a lot of effort to impress our prospective partners but over a period of time we let ourselves go and start taking them for granted, thinking that now they belong to us completely. A real relationship is where you can start being the real you as quickly as possible and your partner still loves but that doesn’t mean you take everything for granted or stop showing them you love them or stop taking care of them or stop taking care of your body to keep yourself attractive to them. It takes two to make a great relationship and when one or both the partners stop trying to focus on things that make the other person happy and are only focused on selfish pursuits, it is no longer a relationship. If you are still sensitive enough to care about most of the things that your partner desires and the same is true for them, things are going to be great for you.

 

Signs You Are In The Right Relationship: Sign 9) You have common Life Goals This is incredibly important. It is possible for two good people to be wrong together. If you two have diverging paths and have completely different dreams and aspirations in life you will have to either split up or be in a relationship of resentment. But if you two have a common vision of the future, where you are both happy with each other and can make minor compromises for each other and still have no resentment, then the chances of that kind of relationship working out are much greater. A lot of young people think this does not matter, in the initial days they think somehow everything will miraculously work out and love will solve all their problems. The problem is that as you get older and face the realities of life, if you two are living the life that you never wanted, you will secretly hate each other even if the relationship keeps on going. So if you have a common vision of the future and want the same things, you are lucky.

Signs You Are In The Right Relationship: Sign 10) You two are Genuinely Happy. Happiness is the indirect objective of almost everything want or desire in life and the same is true for relationships. The point of a relationship is to make you feel happy and complete. You should be with someone who makes you happy much more often than you feel they hurt you. The same is true for your partner, if you are not making them happy then it is simply pointless being together. Now it’s not like we will always be happy in a relationship, there will be great times and there will be horrible times but in a relationship that is worth it, most of the times you will be in joy much much more than you will ever be in pain. If your relationship used to make you happy but does not any more, it is best to talk to your partner and help them understand your concerns, If they really love you things will be smooth again.

 

Signs You Are In The Right Relationship: Sign 11) You two REALLY love each other. The word love gets thrown around a lot. But the truth there is not much love in a lot of relationships. It begins with lust and then slowly when that plateaus and the real version of their partner comes out then they often start getting sick of each other. I am not going to sit here and define love because love means different things to different people and everyone’s interpretation of love is subjective, but unless you genuinely really really care about the other person, irrespective of how they look or how much money they make or maybe even the actions they do, and they feel the same for you, then you probably don’t love each other that much. If you two are in a relationship where you genuinely care for each other and will do everything in your capacity to make it work even if it means compromising on things extremely important to you, only then that relationship has a chance of working out in the long run.

 

Signs You Are In The Right Relationship: Sign 12) You two are extremely loyal to each other Here is the deal, you two can be a YES on everything on the list above and still screw it up if you don’t follow this last point. Infidelity breaks up weak relationships but it has also broken up the amazing ones where it seemed that couple were a match made in heaven. Infidelity is a huge betrayal that can shatter every thing that your partner thought about you or vice versa. If you are in a relationship, where you two are extremely compatible, the signs of a future are certain, you two have common goals and are generally extremely happy together, the worst thing you or your partner can do is cheat. It is going to destroy everything that you two built together and was almost certain to work. If you have found your match made in heaven, at least do your part and always stay fiercely loyal. The worst thing that could happen would be to lose your soul mate because of one tiny error that costed you the one person that meant everything to you in life.

 

Meditation enhances focus in media multitaskers.


A study has revealed that through mindfulness meditation, heavy media multitaskers may adapt a more focused attention.

Meditation, multitasking, lifestyle tips, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Lifestyle

Many people who text while watching TV or listen to music while reading cannot hold their attention to one task. However, a new study has revealed that through mindfulness meditation, heavy media multitaskers may adapt a more focused attention. Researchers at University of Wisconsin-Madison found that heavy media multitaskers made greater strides than their low multitasker counterparts after meditation.

“In general, people perform better after this mindfulness task,” said Thomas Gorman, first author of the study. “But we found a significant difference for heavy media multitaskers. They improved even more on tests of their attention,” Gorman added in the paper published in the journal Scientific Reports. Previous studies have shown that people who most often let several types of media overlap can be distracted in the moment, but also score poorly on tests that assess attention even when the media sources are absent. “Most of us who study media multitasking think that monitoring lots of sources constantly — instead of devoting yourself to one thing — induces a more distributed attentional state,” stated C Shawn Green, stated senior author. The participants — comprising people who reported frequent media multitasking and those who rarely combine media — spent parts of two days taking standard tests that measure their attention. On one day, the attention tests were interspersed with Web browsing. On the other, each test was preceded by 10 minutes of the breath-counting exercise. “It’s deep focus on a single thing, and that single thing is not actually very demanding of your attention,” Greens stated. The results revealed that heavy media multitaskers scored worse than light media multitaskers all around and both groups posted better attention scores right after counting breaths. Heavy media multitaskers benefited from a short meditation exercise in which they sat quietly counting their breaths and for them sharpening their focus may be as simple as breathing. “However, one thing the presence of the short-term effects suggests is that the attentional system in heavy media multi-taskers isn’t intractably affected. It is possible for heavy media multitaskers to adopt a more focused attentional state,” the authors stated. – See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/life-style/meditation-enhances-focus-in-media-multi-taskers-2762476/#sthash.wk7W7IIR.dpuf

 

3 tips for protecting your smartphone from hackers


Woman and Man Texting

Phones are becoming a prime target for hackers.

From 2013 to 2015, new mobile vulnerabilities increased from 127 to 528, or about 214%, according to Symantec’s 2016 Internet Security Threat Report.

And some of the vulnerabilities are downright terrifying.

A recent 60 Minutes report recently highlighted one particular  exploit that gives hackers access to your phone call and messages by just having your phone number.

So how can you protect yourself?

We asked Dr. Anup Ghosh, CEO of the security firm Invincea, for some tips on how consumers can keep their smartphones safe from cyber criminals.

Ghosh, who is also a former DARPA scientist, told Tech Insider there are three simple things you can do to help protect your smartphone from hackers.

Use encrypted messaging services for communications

iMessage.JPG

As the 60 Minutes report pointed out, there is a vulnerability in a network protocol called SS7 that makes it possible for hackers to listen to your phone calls, read your messages, and even track your location.

While this kind of attack is rare, it’s harder to protect yourself from because the security flaw exists in the network, which is outside of your control.

However, you can use encrypted messaging systems like Apple’s iMessage, Facebook Messenger, or Wickr Me to help keep your information away from prying eyes.

“There are also apps for secure voice, but they typically require the person you are calling to be on the same app. They will encrypt the data/phone calls making it difficult to capture and analyze,” Ghosh said.

Some of these services include Silent Circle and Open Whisper Systems.

Even if your phone is new, make sure the OS is updated

Android phones

You should always keep your phone’s operating system updated so hackers can’t take advantage of any vulnerabilities in old software.

But you should also check to make sure software on any new mobile device, especially those that have an Android operating system, are up-to-date, as well.

“You see this a lot more on Android than on Apple, the Android operating system that you get from your carrier on your phone tends to be out of date on day one, sometimes by years,” Ghosh said.

“So that means that adversaries could take advantage of those vulnerabilities on those devices to be able to exploit them. Making sure your device OS whether iOS or Android is updated to the most recently supported version could help close some of those known vulnerabilities.”

Be careful what apps you download

App Store icon

Apps you download can collect all kinds of information about you, so it’s important that you are only downloading apps from reputable sources, Ghosh said.

“If you look at how do these devices get compromised in the first place, it’s almost always untrusted content that you are putting on it,” Ghosh said.  “Some apps collect your movements, like your GPS, others mine your contacts for information, and then others might actually do malicious things to your device itself. So I would say the number one thing you can do as an individual is make sure you’re only downloading apps from an app store where the app has been vetted.”

In fact, Symantec analyzed 10.8 million apps in 2015 and found that 3.3 million of those apps classified as malicious.

Because Apple has a closed ecosystem and vets all of the apps before allowing them into its App Store, apps for iPhones tend to be more secure, he said. So Android users need to be especially aware of where they are getting their apps and they should always make sure the maker is a trusted company.

8 Anti-Aging Foods to Turn Back the Clock and Feel Younger


Everyone wants smooth, radiant skin. What you eat can bring you closer to that goal. While there is no magic food that whisks the wrinkles away, the basics are simple. Add years to your life with these 8 anti-aging foods for healthy aging!

Avocado

Avocado are a tasty way to give your body the things it needs in order to function at its best and fight the aging process. They are filled with a healthy type of fat, monounsaturated fat, which helps your skin stay hydrated.

Berries

Berries

When looking for healthy recipes for older adults, one of the best anti-aging foods to include is berries. All berries contain phytochemicals known as flavonoids-powerful antioxidants which help to protect the body against damage caused by free radicals and aging.

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.Broccoli

Broccoli

Broccoli has a powerful antioxidant called. It is a natural anti-inflammatory agent as well, fighting the No. 2 cause of aging.

.Cucumbers

Cucumbers

Cucumbers are very hydrating vegetables. And it cannot get any better that this! Staying hydrated is the best way to stay looking and feeling young, with plenty of energy.

 

#.Oranges

Oranges

Just one orange a day can help you feel younger! It is a delicious fruit packed with vitamin C. It also boasts skin-firming collagen.

#.Pecans

Pecans

Pecans are an incredible source of antioxidants. They are an excellent source of vitamin A and vitamin E. These play an important role in maintaining good skin.

 

#.Pomegranates

Pomegranates

This fruit is packed with vitamin C, which helps guard against the wrinkling effects of sun damage. It slows down the natural oxidation of DNA. Pomegranates are also linked to the prevention of heart disease and stress relief.

 

#.Pumpkin

Pumpkin

Pumpkins contain a long list of anti-ageing ingredients. Getting enough fresh pumpkin in your diet is an excellent way to boost your vitamin A levels. Vitamin A stimulates new skin cell growth and repairs your existing skin damage.

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Chemists create battery technology with off-the-charts charging capacity


chemists create battery technology with off-the-charts charging capacity
UCI chemist Reginald Penner (shown) and doctoral candidate Mya Le Thai have developed a nanowire-based technology that allows lithium-ion batteries to be recharged hundreds of thousands of times.

University of California, Irvine researchers have invented nanowire-based battery material that can be recharged hundreds of thousands of times, moving us closer to a battery that would never require replacement. The breakthrough work could lead to commercial batteries with greatly lengthened lifespans for computers, smartphones, appliances, cars and spacecraft.

Scientists have long sought to use nanowires in batteries. Thousands of times thinner than a human hair, they’re highly conductive and feature a for the storage and transfer of electrons. However, these filaments are extremely fragile and don’t hold up well to repeated discharging and recharging, or cycling. In a typical , they expand and grow brittle, which leads to cracking.

UCI researchers have solved this problem by coating a gold nanowire in a manganese dioxide shell and encasing the assembly in an electrolyte made of a Plexiglas-like gel. The combination is reliable and resistant to failure.

The study leader, UCI doctoral candidate Mya Le Thai, cycled the testing electrode up to 200,000 times over three months without detecting any loss of capacity or power and without fracturing any nanowires. The findings were published today in the American Chemical Society’s Energy Letters.

Hard work combined with serendipity paid off in this case, according to senior author Reginald Penner.

“Mya was playing around, and she coated this whole thing with a very thin gel layer and started to cycle it,” said Penner, chair of UCI’s chemistry department. “She discovered that just by using this gel, she could cycle it hundreds of thousands of times without losing any capacity.”

“That was crazy,” he added, “because these things typically die in dramatic fashion after 5,000 or 6,000 or 7,000 cycles at most.”

The researchers think the goo plasticizes the metal oxide in the battery and gives it flexibility, preventing cracking.

“The coated electrode holds its shape much better, making it a more reliable option,” Thai said. “This research proves that a nanowire-based electrode can have a long lifetime and that we can make these kinds of batteries a reality.”

Cellphone principles help microfluidic chip digitize information on living cells


Cellphone principles help microfluidic chip digitize information on living cells
Fatih Sarioglu, an assistant professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, holds a hybrid microfluidic chip that uses a simple circuit pattern to assign a unique seven-bit digital identification number to each cell passing through the channels.

Phone calls and text messages reach you wherever you are because your phone has a unique identifying number that sets you apart from everybody else on the network. Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology are using a similar principle to track cells being sorted on microfluidic chips.

he technique uses a simple circuit pattern with just three electrodes to assign a unique seven-bit digital identification number to each cell passing through the channels on the microfluidic chip. The also captures information about the sizes of the cells, and how fast they are moving. That identification and information could allow automated counting and analysis of the cells being sorted.

The research, reported in the journal Lab on a Chip, could provide the electronic intelligence that might one day allow inexpensive labs on a chip to conduct sophisticated medical testing outside the confines of hospitals and clinics. The technology can track cells with better than 90 percent accuracy in a four-channel chip.

“We are digitizing information about the sorting done on a microfluidic chip,” explained Fatih Sarioglu, an assistant professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “By combining microfluidics, electronics and telecommunications principles, we believe this will help address a significant challenge on the output side of lab-on-a-chip technology.”

Microfluidic chips use the unique biophysical or biochemical properties of cells and viruses to separate them. For instance, antigens can be used to select bacteria or cancer cells and route them into separate channels. But to obtain information about the results of the sorting, those cells must now be counted using optical methods.

Phone calls and text messages reach you wherever you are because your phone has a unique identifying number that sets you apart from everybody else on the network. Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology are using a similar principle to track cells being sorted on microfluidic chips. Credit: Georgia Tech

The new technique, dubbed microfluidic CODES, adds a grid of micron-scale electrical circuitry beneath the microfluidic chip. Current flowing through the circuitry creates an electrical field in the above the grid. When a cell passes through one of the microfluidic channels, it creates an impedance change in the circuitry that signals the cell’s passage and provides information about the cell’s location, size and the speed at which it is moving through the channel.

This impedance change has been used for many years to detect the presence of cells in a fluid, and is the basis for the Coulter Counter which allowed blood counts to be done quickly and reliably. But the microfluidic CODES technique goes beyond counting.

The positive and negative charges from the intermingled electrical circuits create a unique identifying digital signal as each cell passes by, and that sequence of ones and zeroes is attached to information about the impedance change. The unique identifying signals from multiple cells can be separated and read by a computer, allowing scientists to track not only the properties of the cells, but also how many cells have passed through each channel.

“By judiciously aligning the grid pattern, we can generate the codes at the locations we choose when the cells pass by,” Sarioglu explained. “By measuring the current conduction in the whole system, we can identify when a cell passes by each location.”

Because the cells sorted into each channel of a microfluidic chip have certain characteristics in common, the technique would allow the automated detection of cancer cells, bacteria or even viruses in a fluid sample. Sarioglu and his students have demonstrated that they can track more than a thousand ovarian with an accuracy rate of better than 90 percent.

Cellphone principles help microfluidic chip digitize information on living cells
Close-up image shows a hybrid microfluidic chip that uses a simple circuit pattern to assign a unique seven-bit digital identification number to each cell passing through the channels. 

The underlying principle for the cell identification is called code division multiple access (CDMA), and it’s essential for helping cellular networks separate the signals from each user. The microfluidic channels are fabricated from a plastic material using soft lithographic techniques. The electrical pattern is fabricated separately on a glass substrate, then aligned with the plastic chip

“We have created an electronic sensor without any active components,” Sarioglu said. “It’s just a layer of metal, cleverly patterned. The cells and the metallic layer work together to generate digital signals in the same way that cellular telephone networks keep track of each caller’s identity. We are creating the equivalent of a cellphone network on a microfluidic chip.”

The next step in the research will be to combine the electronic sensor with a microfluidic chip able to actively sort cells. Beyond cancer , bacteria and viruses, such a system could also sort and analyze inorganic particles.

The computing requirements of the system would be minimal, requiring no more than the processor power of smartphones that already handle decoding of CDMA signals. The proof-of-principle device contains just four channels, but Sarioglu believes the design could easily be scaled up to include many more channels.

“This is like putting a USB port on a microfluidic chip,” he explained. “Our technique could turn all of the microfluidic manipulations that are happening on the chip into quantitative data related to diagnostic measurements.

Ultimately, the researchers hope to create inexpensive chips that could be used for sophisticated diagnostic testing in physician offices or remote locations. Chips might be contained on cartridges that would automate the testing process.

“It will be very exciting to scale this up, and I think that will open up the possibility for many different assays to become accessible electronically,” Sarioglu said. “Decentralizing health care is an important trend, and our technology might one day allow many kinds of diagnostic tests to be done beyond hospitals and large medical facilities.”

Team builds first quantum cascade laser on silicon


Team builds first quantum cascade laser on silicon
3-D artistic depiction of multiple Quantum Cascade Lasers integrated above silicon waveguides. 

A team of researchers from across the country, led by Alexander Spott, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA, have built the first quantum cascade laser on silicon. The advance may have applications that span from chemical bond spectroscopy and gas sensing, to astronomy and free-space communications.

Integrating lasers directly on chips is challenging, but it is much more efficient and compact than coupling external light to the chips. The indirect bandgap of silicon makes it difficult to build a laser out of silicon, but diode lasers can be built with III-V materials such as InP or GaAs. By directly bonding an III-V layer on top of the silicon wafer and then using the III-V layers to generate gain for the laser, this same group has integrated a multiple quantum well laser on silicon that operates at 2 µm. Limitations in diode lasers prevent going to longer wavelengths where there are many more applications, so the group turned their attention to using quantum cascade lasers instead.

Building a on silicon was a challenging task made more difficult by the fact that becomes heavily absorptive at longer wavelengths in the mid-infrared.

“This meant that not only did we have to build a different type of laser on silicon, we had to build a different silicon waveguide too,” Spott explained. “We built a type of waveguide called a SONOI waveguide [silicon-on-nitride-on-insulator], which uses a layer of [SiN] underneath the silicon waveguide, rather than just SiO2.”

The breakthrough could lead to several applications, Spott explained. Traditionally, silicon photonic devices operate at near-infrared wavelengths, with applications in data transmission and telecommunications. However, there is emerging research interest in building these silicon photonic devices for longer mid-infrared wavelengths, for a range of sensing and detection applications, such as chemical bond spectroscopy, gas sensing, astronomy, oceanographic sensing, thermal imaging, explosive detection, and free-space communications.

The next step for the team is to improve the heat dissipation to improve the performance of these QCLs and to allow them to make continuous-wave QCLs on silicon. “We generally hope to improve the design to get higher powers and efficiency,” Spott said. “This brings us closer to building fully integrated mid-infrared devices on a silicon chip, such as spectrometers or gas sensors. Silicon is inexpensive, the fabrication can be scaled up to significantly reduce the cost of individual chips, and many small devices can be built on the same silicon chip for example multiple different types of sensors operating at different mid-infrared wavelengths.”

5 Foods That Will Boost Your Mood.


Feel better fast with these healthy pick-me-up foods, plus learn which foods will get you down.

http://besthealthus.com/diet-weight/healthy-eating/mood-boosting-foods/?trkid=FBPAGE_RD_20160420_BestHealth_Wellness_Slideshow