Technology Tuesday: April 23rd

Welcome to Technology Tuesday, where The Job Shop Blog brings you 5 of our favorite science and technology news stories from around the web.

This week: Artificial material with a metabolism, dark matter and the LHC, bullet proof spider silk grown from gene hacked bacteria, brain implants without open surgery, and the first ever heart 3D printed from human tissue.

SCIENTISTS CREATE MATERIAL WITH “ARTIFICIAL METABOLISM”

Scientists just got one step closer to creating living machines — or at least machines that mimic biological life as we know it.

A new biomaterial built in a Cornell University bioengineering lab uses synthetic DNA to continuously and autonomously organize, assemble, and restructure itself in a process so similar to how biological cells and tissues grow that the researchers are calling “artificial metabolism,” according to research published in Science Robotics last week.

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WHEN THE LARGE HADRON COLLIDER TURNS ON, IT MAY TRAP DARK MATTER

When the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) turns back on and starts smashing particles again sometime in 2021, it may also point us in the direction of dark matter.

For years, scientists have been trying and failing to spot the invisible stuff that makes up the majority of matter in the universe. But now researchers have a new target: a comparatively heavy and long-lived particle that may be produced by the high-energy collisions at the LHC.

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GENE HACKED BACTERIA PRODUCES BULLET-PROOF SPIDER SILK

Scientists have figured out how to genetically alter bacteria to churn out super-strong spider silk.

Pound for pound, spider silk is much stronger than steel, but farming spiders is incredibly inefficient, according to a press release — so finding a way to mass produce the material could lead to super-strong fabrics and perhaps even next-generation space suits.

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A NEURAL IMPLANT WITHOUT OPEN SURGERY

For the first time, doctors are preparing to test a brain-computer interface that can be implanted onto a human brain, no open surgery required.

The Stentrode, a neural implant that can let paralyzed people communicate, can be delivered to a patient’s brain through the jugular vein — and the company that developed it, Synchron, just got approval to begin human experimentation.

By leaving the skull sealed shut, patients could receive their neural implants without running as great a risk of seizures, strokes, or permanent neural impairments, all of which can be caused by open-brain surgery.

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THE FIRST ARTIFICIAL HEART 3D PRINTED FROM HUMAN TISSUE

In what the Israeli media is calling a “world’s first,” scientists at Tel Aviv University have 3D printed a small heart using human tissue that includes vessels, collagen, and biological molecules — a breakthrough, according to Haaretz, that they hope could one day render organ donation obsolete.

The technology is still many years out from human transplants, though — the team’s rodent-sized printed heart isn’t quite there yet.

“The cells need to form a pumping ability; they can currently contract, but we need them to work together,” lead scientist Tal Dvir told Haaretz. “This is the first time anyone anywhere has successfully engineered and printed an entire heart complete with cells, blood vessels, ventricles and chambers,” Dvir said.

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