Futurism:
this week

Ghana launches its first satellite into space

Ghana's first satellite, called GhanaSat-1, has been confirmed as fully operational by its project manager Richard Damoah, a Ghanaian professor and assistant research scientist at NASA. Damoah has predicted that the satellite's success will help attract support for future Ghanaian space projects.

Source: Tech Crunch

Passengers don't want to fly on pilotless planes

More than half of the 8,000 people surveyed for a new report by Swiss bank UBS said they would be unwilling to travel in a pilotless plane, even if it meant cheaper fares. The research claimed that pilotless planes could save airlines over $30 billion a year in costs, with savings being passed onto consumers as a result.

Source: The Verge

Nanochip reprograms cells to fix damaged body tissue

Researchers have developed a nanochip contact patch that can reprogram nearby cells, to help repair damaged or aging organs, blood vessels, or nerve cells. "With this technology, we can convert skin cells into elements of any organ with just one touch," said co-author of the paper Dr Chandan Sen.

Source: The Register

Researchers infect computer with malicious code written into DNA

Researchers have encoded malware in a strand of DNA and used it to exploit a computer that analysed the genetic material. “As molecular and electronic worlds get closer, there are potential interactions that we haven’t really had to contemplate before,” said Luis Ceze, one co-author of the study.

Source: Tech Crunch

3D printed skull bone inserted into man's head

Scientists have inserted a 3D printed skull implant into a patient who suffered an injury to his frontal lobe that resulted in life-threatening brain swelling. After emergency surgery relieved the swelling, doctors decided a 3D printed skull implant was the best solution to replace the missing skull bone.

Source: USA Today

Elon Musk is building a hyperloop

Four years after encouraging people to try and make his crazy hyperloop idea work, Elon Musk has decided that he is the best person to do the job. "At the Boring Company, we plan to build low-cost, tunnels that will house new high-speed transportation systems," said a spokesperson for Musk's The Boring Company.

Source: Wired

Steve “Woz” Wozniak to advise hologram emoji company that he calls “groundbreaking”

Apple’s co-founder Steve “Woz” Wozniak has found himself a new gig; Woz has joined the hologram emoji company, Mojiit, as an adviser.

In his role as advisor to Mojiit, the legendary entrepreneur and engineer will help assemble a world-class engineering team in addition to bringing investors and partnerships to the newly launched startup. Wozniak will also serve as mentor to Mojiit founder, Jeremy Greene.

“I’m thrilled to join Mojiit as an advisor,” said Wozniak. “Jeremy is a natural leader, the company is groundbreaking, it’s going to change the ecommerce space, and it’s a lot of fun.”

Created in 2017, Mojiit is the latest startup technology venture from Greene. The company’s tech essentially enables users to project and share 3D hologram emojis via smartphones.

The platform turns users into emojis by scanning their face, which can then be sent to loved ones and friends. Once a Mojiit message is received, it will map the area where it is received and place the Mojiit hologram there in real time, so it works in a similar way to Pokemon Go.

“Steve is one of the best and brilliant engineers in the entire world. But outside of that, he’s a wonderful man,” said Greene. “There isn’t anyone I’d want to be in business with more than this guy. He’s a legend. Who better to learn from than the guy who created the computer?”

Image courtesy of Nichollas Harrison. Featured image courtesy of Mojiit

In addition to consumer use, businesses of all kinds can tap into hologram emojis with Mojiit’s technology.

Mojiit investors already  include NFL alum Ed Reed, and the company was able to raise a total of $1 million in its seed round of funding.

Alongside the appointment of Woz, Entourage and Ballers producer Rob Weiss recently joined the company as a creative director.

“It’s exciting to expand beyond television and film to digital platforms,” said Weiss. “Hologram technology brings incredible opportunity to entertainment and media. I’m thrilled to be leading creative at Mojiit.”

Nanoengineers send antibiotic-delivering micromotors into the body to treat cancer-causing infection

Nanoengineers have demonstrated for the first time how “micromotors” that measure half the width of a human hair can be used to transport antibiotics through the body.

Nanoengineers at the University of California San Diego tested the micromotors in mice with Helicobacter pylori infections, which can also be found in about two-thirds of the world’s population and while many people will never notice any signs of its presence it can cause peptic ulcers and stomach cancer.

The mice received the micromotors – packed with a clinical dose of the antibiotic clarithromycin – orally once a day for five consecutive days.

Afterwards, nanoengineers evaluated the bacterial count in each mouse stomach and found that treatment with the micromotors was slightly more effective than when the same dose of antibiotic was given in combination with proton pump inhibitors, which also suppress gastric acid production.

Micromotors administered to the mice swam rapidly throughout the stomach while neutralising gastric acid, which can be destructive to orally administered drugs such as antibiotics and protein-based pharmaceuticals.

Because gastric acid is so destructive to traditional antibiotics drugs used to treat bacterial infections, ulcers and other diseases in the stomach are normally taken with additional substances, called proton pump inhibitors.

But when taken over longer periods or in high doses, proton pump inhibitors can cause adverse side effects including headaches, diarrhea and fatigue. In more serious cases, they can cause anxiety or depression.

The micromotors, however, have a built-in mechanism that neutralises gastric acid and effectively deliver their drug payloads in the stomach without requiring the use of proton pump inhibitors.

“It’s a one-step treatment with these micromotors, combining acid neutralisation with therapeutic action,” said Berta Esteban-Fernández de Ávila, a postdoctoral scholar in Wang’s research group at UC San Diego and a co-first author of the paper.

The nanoengineers say that while the present results are promising, this work is still at an early stage.

To test their work, the team is planning future studies to into the therapeutic performance of the micromotors in animals and humans, and will compare it with other standard therapies used to combat stomach diseases.

UC San Diego nanoengineers also plan to test different drug combinations with the micromotors to treat multiple diseases in the stomach or in different sections of the gastrointestinal tract.

Overall, the researchers say that this work opens the door to the use of synthetic motors as active delivery platforms in the treatment of diseases.

Image and video courtesy of the Laboratory for Nanobioelectronics at UC San Diego.