Technology Tuesday: March 5th

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: The US military is buying a sci-fi style exosuit, SpaceX plans to launch it’s Starship “Test Hopper” in the next week, a lab grown brain that can take control of spinal cords with “tendrils”, the first graphine based device could only be months away, and new Harvard research could unlock human limb regeneration.

THE US MILITARY IS INVESTING IN EXOSUITS

It looks a bit like a cross between Iron Man’s suit and Ripley’s Power Loader from “Aliens” — and while it won’t kill the alien queen quite yet, it does give its wearer super strength.

American robot developer Sarcos Robotics announced today that it’s been awarded a contract by United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) to deliver a pre-production, full-body robotic exoskeleton called the “Guardian XO.” And it looks absolutely brutal.

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SPACEX HOPES TO LAUNCH STARSHIP “TEST HOPPER” THIS WEEK

In a series of tweets yesterday, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk confirmed that the space company is about to start testing an early prototype of its Starship spacecraft.

The so-called “hopper” test vehicle will feature only a single Raptor engine, as opposed to three for the final version. The test vehicle won’t enter orbit, but its low altitude test flights help prepare for future journeys as lengthy as a trip to Mars.

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LAB GROWN BRAIN USES “TENDRILS” TO GRAB AND CONTROL SPINAL CORDS

Cambridge scientists say they’ve grown a miniature brain in a petri dish that seizes control of biological material around it.

Unlike previous lab-grown brains, this one actively will send out “tendrils” to connect to a spinal cord removed from a mouse, according to The Guardian — and can then use its new spine to control a mouse muscle attached to it.

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FIRST GRAPHENE BASED DEVICE IS A FEW MONTHS AWAY ACCORDING TO STARTUP

Scientists first isolated graphene — a transparent layer of carbon just one atom thick — in 2004. Almost immediately, we began hearing about all the wondrous ways the material could transform our world, ushering in everything from quantum computers to unlimited drinking water.

Fifteen years later, that transformation has yet to take place, as graphene’s complex, expensive manufacturing process has prevented it from reaching the mainstream.

Now that could be poised to change, with a University of Cambridge spin-out company claiming it’s found a way to produce graphene at commercial scale — meaning the world might finally be able to make good on the promise of this “wonder material.”

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NEW HARVARD RESEARCH COULD BE STEP TOWARDS HUMAN LIMB REGENERATION

Harvard researchers say they’ve identified a “DNA switch” enabling animals to regrow entire portions of their bodies — a finding that, with a few important caveats, could pave the way to helping human lost limb regeneration.

Like lizards, basically.

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