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STAR TREK – Back To The Future Medicines

STAR TREK – Back To The Future Medicines 98
Many fiction movies today are inspired by science and technological advancements around them. But is this always the case? Not if you consider how a number of fiction movies, specifically Sci-Fi, have inspired the world of science and encouraged our capacity for innovation.

Sci-Fi movies have predicted and shaped our lives more than you could imagine. Yet, one series seemed to have stood out just by the sheer number of ways it keeps inspiring our innovations even today – that series is Star Trek.

A lot of things predicted in this movie have been created, with many more underway.

Perhaps the most outstanding of these predictions have to do with the world of medicines and how we treat illnesses.

When the original series of Star Trek began in September 1966, a whole lot of people were marveled by the bold predictions. Many were inspired and many more found the ideas preposterous.

Just as was announced in its voice-over introduction, it was clear that this series would challenge man “to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

Now, humans have taken giant leaps within the last few decades to bring us the technological advancements that we now enjoy freely today.

To understand how ridiculous these ideas sounded when the original series was produced, remember that its first episode was aired in 1966.

The story was set somewhere in the Milky Way Galaxy towards the close of the 23rd century. A group of scientists in a spaceship went out to explore the galaxy and discover more about things around them.

A lot of technologies displayed in the series were simply stunning for the average mind. Even the high-class literate people such as doctors and professors were wowed by these technologies.

Star Trek would go on to become the most inspiring series in the world of medicine and would herald the birth of remarkable advancements today.

Tricorder

STAR TREK – Back To The Future Medicines 99
Tricorder

For example, in Star Trek, one of the most controversial devices featured was the Tricorder.

The Tricorder, an abbreviation of “TRI-function reCORDER”, is a device with a sensor scanner which helps in scanning, analyzing and recording data. It comes in three major variants, even though there are a few others for special use.

There is the standard, general-purpose tricorder that is used for scouting areas that are unfamiliar, examining living things and recording technical data.

There is also the engineering tricorder that is used specifically for engineering tasks within the starship.

The medical tricorder is the one that stunned a lot of people. The medical tricorder helps the doctors in diagnosing diseases and collecting information about the patient’s body, all through the sensor, thereby requiring little professional help.

No cuts, no lacerations – just advanced technology packaged into a portable, hand-held device!

Imagine a device available to everyday consumers, with which you can perform self-diagnosis of a number of medical seconds and even take a few basic vital measurements, all within seconds.

That was the marvel that Star Trek displayed to the world. While it seemed really impossible then, we are getting closer to this actualization by the day.

STAR TREK – Back To The Future Medicines 100
In 1966, NBC released an iconic but short-lived series that would inspire generations of inventors to bring about changes in our daily live.

Already we now have CT scans, MRIs and ultrasounds. These are non-invasive technologies that help discover things going on in the body without having to cut the organs open.

These would have sounded like fantasy back when Star Trek was released.

But we didn’t stop there. Note that there have been many scanners in the past which usually focused on diagnosing one condition or take specific health measurements.

But, just like the medical tricorder, this was expected to cover more grounds.

With the help of Qualcomm, a global competition known as X Prize was launched in 2012 with the singular aim to create a device that looks as much like the medical tricorder as possible.

The inducement prize was $10,000,000! As you would expect, hundreds of companies from 30 countries took on the challenge.

The device that was to be built should be lightweight, portable, handheld, non-invasive and able to diagnose up to 13 medical conditions, ranging from sore throat to colon cancer.

Then, the final product would be tested on 30 people with the conditions within 3 days. This competition spurred innovation in a way that was unprecedented. The diagnosis was expected to be generated within 24 hours.

STAR TREK – Back To The Future Medicines 101
Test subject trying out Final Frontier’s Dexter.

At the end, a team called the Final Frontier Medical Device finally emerged victorious when they built DxtER.

This device is built on a complex, custom-built AI that allows it to successfully up to 34 conditions long before the 24 hours elapses.

With the development, we can expect to be able to get this marvelous device for around $500 soon. Now, the Tricorder is closer to us than ever!

Geordi’s VISOR

One of the most remarkable devices shown on Star Trek is Geordi’s VISOR. The VISOR is an acronym for Visual Instrument and Sensory Organ Replacement.

Because Geordi LaForge was born blind, he had to rely on this device to “see”.

This device sends visual signals straight to his brain, helping him see all the electromagnetic spectrum.

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Lieutenant Geordi La Forge standing in front of the USS Enterprise-D’s warp core in 2365. (TNG-R: “Time Squared”) Pictured is LeVar Burton.

This would have looked pretty far-fetched to the people of that time, but now we have devices that are capable of something similar.

In 2005, some scientists from Stanford University developed a chip that can be implanted at the back of the retinas of blind patients.

Patients with this implant would wear a pair of glasses equipped with a special camera.

The image captured by the camera is then transmitted to the chip, which would then go through the process of passing the signal to the visual cortex of the brain.

While the result might not produce perfect 20/20 eyesight, it is good enough to move around without the need of a walking stick.

An even more recent device was the one created in Israel by a team of scientists led by Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Dr. Amir Amedi.

This device gathers the visual data and translates it to sound, which is then fed into the visual cortex to trigger different parts of the brain.

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Studying the brain activity of blind people, scientists are challenging the standard view of how the human brain specializes to perform different kinds of tasks

This is so remarkable that blind patients can “see” objects, people, postures and even written words.

Hypospray

Not many people love getting needles inserted into their body during vaccination or plain medical injection.

No one ever likes the feeling, but it was seen as a necessary evil. Then Star Trek showed us hypospray. The job of this device is to replace needles entirely.

It works by pushing the fluid straight into your skin in under a millisecond, without the need of a needle.

This is possible because of how fast the pressure pushes the liquid (a stunning 340 meters per second) and how thin the ampoule is (as thin as a mosquito’s proboscis).

Admittedly, the hypospray works on a technology that isn’t so new. In fact, it is older than Star Trek.

The technology is called jet injection. However, all the devices that tried implementing the technology in the past lacked fine control.

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MIT creates a Star Trek hypospray to replace needles

Now, the MIT injector has solved that problem and stands a chance of finally replacing our needle and syringe. Not only is it faster and safer; it is also less painful.

The Sickbay

One other medical advancement to be noticed in Star Trek is the sickbay. This sickbay is way ahead of the sickbays that could be found in the 60s.

From this bed, it is easy to diagnose illnesses with the aid of machines.

Now, such advancements are now real. A sickbay has been unveiled at a British hospital, which uses outstanding technologies that could only be described as space-age to diagnose a wide range of diseases and health conditions, from stomach ache to cancer.

This works in a non-invasive way by gathering data based on the sight, smell, and feel of the condition for analysis and diagnosis. It even has equipment that would be very useful as a probe on a mission to Mars. Talk about Star Trek happening in real life!

While these are more directly relevant in the medical world, there are even more technologies that were inspired by the movie. The handheld communicators inspired the flip phones. In fact, in 1996, Motorola named the first flip phone “StarTAC.”

The same can be said of the touch-based control panels called PADDs (personal access display devices). They would later inspire our iPads today. Also, remember the giant silver earpiece worn by Uhura while sitting at the communications station. This is a clear inspiration for today’s Bluetooth earpiece.

Mobile storage devices like floppy disk drives and USB storage devices got their inspiration from Star Trek. Even GPS came 30 years after it has been predicted in Star Trek.

Now, the question is how this one series could inspire us so many and shape the world of medicine and technology as a whole. In fact, it remains one of the most culturally-influential media franchises till date. Some would be suspect that this might have been inspired by some alien technology not disclosed to the public.

While we can’t prove this, one thing is certain: The mind behind this series will continue to inspire our advancements in science, medicine, and technology for a long time.

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Science & Technology

New Physics: Mysterious radiation pointed to the verge of discovering a “ghost” particle that makes up dark matter

New Physics: Mysterious radiation pointed to the verge of discovering a "ghost" particle that makes up dark matter 117
Photo: Daniel Molybdenum, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Physicists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the United States have found that the mysterious high-energy radiation emitted from the vicinity of a group of neutron stars may indicate the existence of axions – not yet discovered particles within the framework of New Physics, the search for which has been going on since 1977. It is assumed that special types of axions form dark matter. This is reported in an article published in the journal Physical Review Letters. The research is summarized in a press release on Phys.org.

It is believed that axions can form in the core of neutron stars and transform into photons in the presence of a powerful magnetic field. To detect the electromagnetic radiation associated with axions, you need to find stars that do not emit radiation at different wavelengths that can mask the desired signal. 

These objects include the Magnificent Seven neutron stars that emit only X-ray and ultraviolet radiation. They are located at a distance of 200-500 parsecs from the Earth.

The researchers ruled out the scenario that the excess X-rays produced by the Magnificent Seven are actually emitted by other, more distant objects. These sources would be found in datasets from the XMM-Newton and Chandra X-ray space telescopes.

The extra X-rays likely originate from axions hitting an extremely strong electromagnetic field billions of times stronger than the magnetic fields that could be created on Earth, the scientists concluded. The axions themselves resemble neutrinos in their properties, since both have insignificant masses and rarely and weakly interact with matter.

The axion is currently viewed as the most promising candidate for dark matter particles, since another hypothetical candidate, the massive WIMP particle, has gone unnoticed in experiments aimed at detecting it. 

In addition, there may be a whole family of axion-like particles that form dark matter, as suggested by string theory. If axions are found, it will prove that there is a whole new area of ​​physics outside the Standard Model describing the properties of all known particles.

To find out, the next step will be to study white dwarfs, which are not expected to emit X-rays.

“If we see an abundance of X-rays there too, our arguments will be pretty compelling,” said lead author Benjamin Safdie.

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The goal of human civilization is to create AI and disappear?

The goal of human civilization is to create AI and disappear? 118

Various sources often talk about civilizations that lived long before us. They all developed, prospered for a while, and then disappeared in an incomprehensible way. 

What is the reason for their decline, we probably will not know. All we can do is admire the remains of stone buildings, over which time has almost no power.

While looking for an answer, we somehow accidentally stumbled upon an interesting saying about the life of Japanese samurai: “A samurai has no goal, but a path.” In the end, the “path of the samurai” ended in what is known – death. The path of any civilization ended in the same way.

If you look at the issue through the prism of a samurai saying, then there is no point in looking for why and how civilization ended its existence. Probably, the process itself and its result are important here. But to whom is it important and what result does it expect?

Mysterious director

Apparently, behind the curtains of this “ancient theater” there is a mysterious “director” who periodically makes necessary adjustments to the history of civilization.

To figure out what’s what, you need to look at current trends in science. Where does a person strive with such an irresistible desire to “play God.” This attracts him and at the same time frightens him, but in no way turns him away from the intended path. Most likely, artificial intelligence (AI) is the purpose of our civilization’s existence.

About 50 years ago it would have seemed nonsense, but to someone, perhaps even now. However, if you trace the last 100 years of the life of our civilization, you get the feeling that most of the discoveries were given to mankind at the same time. A powerful leap has taken place in a hundred years. Why did it happen?

At the beginning of the last century, scientists recognized the existence of fields that have memory and the ability to store and transmit information. It is very likely that such or a similar field can be around the Earth and, more interesting, possess intelligence. Isn’t this the same “Director” hiding behind the screen of the “ancient theater”?

If this is so, then at a certain moment the “Director” gives the selected scientist “access” to certain knowledge (perhaps even in a dream, like Mendeleev), and another scientific breakthrough occurs in the world. Step by step, discovery after discovery, humanity is steadily moving towards the creation of AI. The trend is already well visible.

The goal of human civilization is to create AI and disappear? 119

AI is probably the next “Babylon”, which will combine all the knowledge, culture and accumulated experience of civilization. In the future, the neural network will enter into a connection with the general information field and leave humanity without knowledge, technology, and even a spoken language. This will be the next decline of civilization. And the “Director” will receive another array of new data (experience) in order to start creating a new civilization.

If someone believes that past civilizations ended in large-scale conflicts, then most likely this is already the consequences of “turning off” AI.

Co-founder of Skype talked about the threat of AI to humanity

One of the creators of the Skype internet call service, Jaan Ta

The goal of human civilization is to create AI and disappear? 120
Photo: 
© still from the movie “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”

llinn, said that the development of artificial intelligence (AI) threatens humanity. According to him, humans face three key threats, but it is AI that should be feared most of all, the expert said. 

Tallinn explained that at the moment, no one can predict what development AI will achieve in the next decades. In addition, the fact that scientists are creating artificial intelligence that can form a new AI without human intervention is also a cause for concern.

In addition, as the co-founder of the popular video calling service noted, the development of synthetic biology also causes concern. According to him, this direction in science allows the creation of artificial DNA sequences and biological systems that may not exist in nature.

Tallinn also drew attention to the fact that he fears we are entering an era of “unknown unknowns”, things that people are not even able to imagine right now.

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Volkswagen robot will autonomously charge cars: a working prototype presented

Volkswagen robot will autonomously charge cars: a working prototype presented 121
Copyright: © VW

The renowned German car manufacturer announced a new development. This time, engineers have created a unique robot capable of autonomously charging electric vehicles. 

For more than a year, specialists have been developing this project, but only now the concern was ready to demonstrate the first working prototype. The robot is ready to charge electric vehicles and has shown the high efficiency of this process.

It is called the Mobile Charging Robot, and experts have already compared it to the R2-D2 droid from Star Wars, including squeaks and clangs. Indeed, there is a similarity. Before implementing this idea, the engineers decided that robots should be allowed to charge cars parked in large residential complexes.

This will save their owners from leaving in order to find a gas station. Another advantage is that large parking lots and garages do not have to contain several expensive charging points for electric cars. The car company said in a press release that the robot works exclusively autonomously.

It independently controls and interacts with the vehicle being charged. It opens the cover of the charging socket and independently connects the power plug, then disconnects it. The robot looks like a trailer, which is a mobile energy storage.

It is capable of charging multiple electric vehicles at the same time. Despite the fact that the manufacturer confidently praises its concept, experts saw inefficiency in the fact that first it is necessary to charge the robot’s battery, which is then used to recharge electric cars.

Volkswagen Group Components CEO Thomas Schmall noted that creating an efficient charging infrastructure for the cars of the future is an important step in the company’s development.

Its engineers focus on finding solutions to avoid costly do-it-yourself measures. The mobile robot is only part of the concept that will continue to be developed.

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