Technology Tuesday: August 28th

Welcome to Technology Tuesday! Every week The Job Shop Blog will bring you our 5 top science and technology news stories from around the web.

This week: A 3D model of the human genome, the world’s first digital teacher, an autonomous Tesla semi drove across the country alone, graphene artificial retinas which could help restore vision to millions, and a future of flying cars, as brought to us by Japan.


FOR THE FIRST TIME SCIENTISTS HAVE CREATED A 3D MODEL OF THE HUMAN GENOME

In 2003, researchers sequenced the human genome for the first time, writing out all 3 billion of the DNA base pairs that dictate every aspect of our makeup. Now, a new team of researchers has figured out a way to create a 3D image of this valuable roadmap to human biology.

They published their research on Tuesday in the Journal of Cell Biology.

After we sequenced the human genome, we had a (very) long list of letters. We knew about the double helix, and that every human cell contained this entire sequence of DNA in more or less this particular order, but we didn’t know much about the three-dimensional location of the DNA pairs — that is, where the various pairs in the double helix were located in relationship to the cell’s nuclear structures. That’s important, because it can tell us a lot about their function and activity.

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THE WORLD’S FIRST DIGITAL TEACHER JUST DEBUTED IN NEW ZEALAND

It’s back to school, and you know what that means — time to fire up the computer that teaches you!

That’s what primary school students in New Zealand have to look forward to, anyways. They’ll soon be the first students in the world to learn from an artificially intelligent (AI) digital avatar.

Auckland energy company Vector teamed up with AI company Soul Machines to create the avatar, which goes by the name Will. The AI is now part of Vector’s Be Sustainable with Energy program, which it offers free-of-charge to schools to which it provides electricity.

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A TESLA SEMI PROTOTYPE JUST DROVE “ACROSS THE COUNTRY ALONE” ACCORDING TO MUSK

Tesla might be sucking the life force of CEO Elon Musk, but at least the company’s got some some good news to show for it.

On Saturday, Electrek tweeted a picture of one of Tesla’s autonomous Semi prototypes at the headquarters of trucking company J.B. Hunt. In response, Musk tweeted, “What’s cool is that it was driven across the country alone (no escort or any accompanying vehicles), using the existing Tesla Supercharger network and an extension cord.”

He later added (jokingly, we assume), “The extension cord was 1000 miles long, but still.”

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ARTIFICIAL RETINAS MADE OF GRAPHENE COULD HELP RESTORE SIGHT TO MILLIONS

here’s a reason researchers call graphene a “super material.” Even though it’s just a single layer of carbon atoms thick, it’s super strong, super flexible, and super light. It also conducts electricity, and is biodegradable. Now an international team of researchers has found a way to use the super material: to create artificial retinas.

They presented their work Monday at a meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

The retina is the layer of light-sensitive cells at the back of the eye responsible for converting images into impulses that the brain can interpret. And without a functional one, a person simply can’t see.

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JAPAN WANTS TO BE THE FIRST COUNTRY WHERE FLYING CARS ARE STANDARD

The Japanese government sees flying cars as the panacea to some of the nation’s traffic issues — the vehicles will decrease congestion, boost tourism, and increase access to remote areas.

So, naturally, the nation wants to be the world leader in the developing the vehicles. Now it has a dream team of companies on board to help it reach its goal, according to a statement released by the trade ministry in Tokyo on Friday.

Twenty-one companies and organizations have joined a Japanese government-led group designed to lay out the roadmap to flying car adoption in Japan.

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