facility:north carolina state university

  • United Nations considers a test ban on evolution-warping gene drives - MIT Technology Review
    https://www.technologyreview.com/s/612415/united-nations-considers-a-test-ban-on-evolution-warping-gene-driv

    he billionaire Bill Gates wants to end malaria, and so he’s particularly “energized” about gene drives, a technology that could wipe out the mosquitoes that spread the disease.
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    Gates calls the new approach a “breakthrough,” but some environmental groups say gene drives are too dangerous to ever use.

    Now the sides are headed for a showdown.

    In a letter circulated today, scientists funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and others are raising the alarm over what they say is an attempt to use a United Nations biodiversity meeting this week in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, to introduce a global ban on field tests of the technology.

    At issue is a draft resolution by diplomats updating the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, which—if adopted—would call on governments to “refrain from” any release of organisms containing engineered gene drives, even as part of experiments.

    The proposal for a global gene-drive moratorium has been pushed by environmental groups that are also opposed to genetically modified soybeans and corn. They have likened the gene-drive technique to the atom bomb.

    In response, the Gates Foundation, based in Seattle, has been funding a counter-campaign, hiring public relations agencies to preempt restrictive legislation and to distribute today’s letter. Many of its signatories are directly funded by the foundation.

    “This is a lobbying game on both sides, to put it bluntly,” says Todd Kuiken, who studies gene-drive policy at North Carolina State University. (He says he was asked to sign the Gates letter but declined because he is a technical advisor to the UN.)

    It’s the ability of a gene drive to spread on its own in the wild that accounts for both the technology’s promise and its peril. Scientists already take elaborate precautions against accidental release of gene-drive mosquitoes from their labs.

    Burt says for now the biggest unknown is whether the technology will work at all. “The risk we are trying to deal with is that it doesn’t work, that it falls over when we release it, or resistance develops very quickly,” he says.

    That means both opponents and supporters of gene drives may be overestimating how soon one could be ready.

    “The member states are hearing and thinking that these are sitting in the lab ready to be released, and that is not the case,” says Kuiken. “Nothing I have seen suggested these things are literally ready to go out the door tomorrow. We could have better decisions if everyone knew they could take a breath.”

    #Gene_drive #Hubris #Bill_Gates #Malaria


  • Cyborg cockroach or biobots motion-controlled via direct neural stimulation, at North Carolina State University

    http://news.ncsu.edu/2014/11/bozkurt-roach-biobot-2014

    Advances in neural engineering have enabled direct control of insect locomotion. Insect biobots, with a natural ability to crawl through small spaces, offer unique advantages over traditional synthetic robots. A cyberphysical network of such biobots could prove useful for search and rescue applications in uncertain disaster environments. Our previous work has demonstrated control of Madagascar hissing cockroaches using a Kinect-based computer vision platform. We now demonstrate lowpower insect-mounted acoustic sensors for future use in both environmental mapping and localization of trapped survivors. Our experimentation has shown the capability of an insect mounted array of microphones to localize a sound source.

    The goal is to use the biobots with high-resolution microphones to differentiate between sounds that matter – like people calling for help – from sounds that don’t matter – like a leaking pipe,” Bozkurt says. “Once we’ve identified sounds that matter, we can use the biobots equipped with microphone arrays to zero in on where those sounds are coming from.

    Article in The Atlantic about it:
    http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/11/this-cyborg-cockroach-could-save-your-life-someday/382539

    Previous research with Kinect movion-steering of cockroaches
    http://news.ncsu.edu/2013/06/wms-bozkurt-roach-autopilot

    #biobot
    #cockroach


  • If We Gave Men the Same Rape Advice We Give Women, Here’s How Absurd It Would Sound
    http://www.filmsforaction.org/articles/if-we-gave-men-the-same-rape-advice-we-give-women-heres-how-absurd-i

    Earlier this week, a group of male students at North Carolina State University introduced Undercover Colors, a new line of nail polish designed to change color when it comes into contact with date...


  • By 2060, the American South Could Be Three Times as Urbanized - CityLab
    http://www.citylab.com/housing/2014/07/by-2060-the-american-south-could-be-three-times-as-urbanized/375017

    Southern city planners and conservationists, look alive: New predictions map the future spread of urban sprawl in Dixie, and it is immense. Basing their model on past growth patterns and locations of existing road networks, researchers at North Carolina State University projected the region’s expansion decades into the future. According to their forecast, the Southern urban footprint is expected to grow 101 percent to 192 percent.The South’s explosive population growth over the past 60 years can only be expected to continue, the researchers report. And more likely than not, so will its typical development pattern of sprawling, automobile-dependent suburbs. Planners and city leaders should start acting now to managing infrastructure and natural resources in the area.


  • The Future of Libraries: Short on Books, Long on Tech
    http://www.scoop.it/t/biblioteche-2-0/p/4003642688/the-future-of-libraries-short-on-books-long-on-tech

    This isn’t your childhood library. The Hunt Library at North Carolina State University is beautiful. The main floor looks more like a sleek Apple showroom than a stuffy library.See it on Scoop.it, via Biblioteche 2.0


  • Comment le cafard a déjoué les pièges au glucose…

    Scientists uncover a secret to cockroaches’ adaptability - latimes.com
    http://www.latimes.com/news/science/la-sci-cockroaches-sugar-20130524,0,4273705.story

    Now researchers have discovered how some roaches have eluded humans’ once-infallible traps: They have evolved so that glucose-sweetened bait tastes bitter.

    The discovery, published in Friday’s edition of the journal Science, solves a 20-year mystery and sheds light on the cockroach’s powerful ability to adapt.

    “These roaches are unbelievable,” said Walter Leal, a chemical ecologist at UC Davis who was not involved in the study. “There’s an arms race here.”
    (…)
    Silverman revisited the question two decades later, after he had joined the faculty of North Carolina State University in Raleigh. Using a network of cockroach collectors around the world who picked up samples from infested homes on the U.S. mainland and in Puerto Rico and Russia, he and his colleagues gathered 19 different populations of German cockroaches and tested the bugs for the anti-sweet-tooth.

    This was easy enough: Normal cockroaches will gladly dig into a batch of sweet, sticky jelly, while glucose-averse roaches will jump back, as if repulsed.

    Sure enough, the glucose-haters cropped up in seven of the populations studied, said Coby Schal, an entomologist at North Carolina State and senior author of the Science study.

    “It’s really interesting how they jump away from it,” he said. “It’s like an electric shock almost.”

    The cockroach’s taste system is much more decentralized than that of humans, Schal said. They have taste buds on several facial appendages, and even on their feet.

    The researchers focused on the paraglossae, which sit closest to the cockroach mouth and allow the critters to taste objects before eating them. The paraglossae are lined with hairlike sensilla, just a few micrometers long, that contain taste receptor neurons.

    The researchers stuck tiny glass electrodes onto these sensilla and then had the cockroaches taste a variety of sweet and bitter compounds, including fructose (the sugar found in fruit) and caffeine (whose bitterness is used by plants to deter predators). Then they watched the electrical signals the neurons sent to the brain. Signals for “sweet” had a very different shape than those for “bitter,” Schal said. That gave the scientists a fingerprint of each taste.

    Next they fed the cockroaches a glucose-laced solution and watched the electrical signals. For normal cockroaches, glucose triggered a “sweet” signal. But in the glucose-averse cockroaches, the solution triggered both “sweet” and “bitter” signals.

    Mystery solved: The warning was coming straight from the tips of their taste bud