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: A French hyperloop, the first western patients treated with CRISPR, an injection that gives “super vision”, growing a “synthetic brain”, and China’s plans for a Mars rover.

A FRENCH STARTUP UNVEILS HYPERLOOP TEST TRACK

The idea of a hyperloop may have originated in Silicon Valley, but it’s coming to life in France.

In 2013, tech CEO Elon Musk unveiled plans for a transportation system he dubbed a “hyperloop,” in which capsules travel at enormous speeds through a low-pressure tube.

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HyperloopTT) is one of several companies now building out such a system, and on Tuesday, it shared images of the full-scale hyperloop test track it’s building in Toulouse, France — an important milestone on the path to a functioning hyperloop.

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WESTERN BIOTECH FIRM TREATS FIRST PATIENT WITH CRISPR

A Switzerland-based startup called CRISPR Therapeutics just used gene-editing name to treat someone with the blood disease beta thalassemia.

That’s a big deal, because it marks the first time CRISPR gene editing has been used in a Western clinic — Chinese doctors have already tried using it to treat cancer — according to the MIT Technology Review.

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SCIENTISTS GIVE MICE “SUPER VISION” WITH EYE INJECTION

It’s something straight out of a Marvel comic book: giving test subjects the ability to see infrared light, similarly to how night-vision goggles work — but without the awkward and bulky apparatus.

Scientists at the University of Science and Technology of China injected tiny nanoparticles that bind to the retina into the eyeballs of test mice, granting them what the researchers called “super vision.”

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CHEMISTS GREW A “SYNTHETIC BRAIN” THAT STORES MEMORIES IN SILVER

In the ongoing quest to build an artificial human brain, scientists from UCLA may have just taken a big step forward. While a real synthetic brain is still far away, a team of chemical engineers found out how to grow self-assembling circuitry that resembles the structure and electrical activity of parts of a brain, according to ZDNet.

The research is the pet project of UCLA chemical engineer James Gimzewski, who proclaimed that he wanted to create a synthetic brain back in 2012.

“I want to create a synthetic brain,” Gimzewski wrote at the time. “I want to create a machine that thinks, a machine that possesses physical intelligence… Such a system does not exist and promises to cause a revolution one might call the post-human revolution.”

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CHINA PLANS TO LAUNCH A MARS ROVER NEXT YEAR

After landing the world’s first rover on the far side of the Moon early this year, China already has far more ambitious plans in the works: sending a rover to Mars.

“Over the past 60 years, we’ve made a lot of achievements, but there is still a large distance from the world space powers,” chief designer of China’s lunar exploration program Wu Wiren said ahead of the opening of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, CNN reports. “Next year, we will launch a Mars probe, which will orbit around the Mars, land on it and probe it.”

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