Melts in Your Mouth or in Your Hand

MEDFORD/SOMERVILLE, Mass.–Tiny, fully biocompatible electronic devices that are able to dissolve harmlessly into their surroundings after functioning for a precise amount of time have been created by a research team led by biomedical engineers at Tufts University in collaboration with researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Dubbed “transient electronics,” the new class of silk-silicon devices promises a generation of medical implants that never need surgical removal, as well as environmental monitors and consumer electronics that can become compost rather than trash.

“These devices are the polar opposite of conventional electronics whose integrated circuits are designed for long-term physical and electronic stability,” says Fiorenzo Omenetto, professor of biomedical engineering at Tufts School of Engineering and a senior and corresponding author on the paper “A Physically Transient Form of Silicon Electronics” published in the September 28, 2012, issue of Science.

“Transient electronics offer robust performance comparable to current devices but they will fully resorb into their environment at a prescribed time—ranging from minutes to years, depending on the application,” Omenetto explains. “Imagine the environmental benefits if cell phones, for example, could just dissolve instead of languishing in landfills for years.”

The futuristic devices incorporate the stuff of conventional integrated circuits — silicon and magnesium — but in an ultrathin form that is then encapsulated in silk protein.

“While silicon may appear to be impermeable, eventually it dissolves in water,” says Omenetto. The challenge, he notes, is to make the electrical components dissolve in minutes rather than eons.

Researchers led by UIUC’s John Rogers — the other senior and corresponding author — are pioneers in the engineering of ultrathin flexible electronic components.   Only a few tens of nanometers thick, these tiny circuits, from transistors to interconnects, readily dissolve in a small amount of water, or body fluid, and are harmlessly resorbed, or assimilated. Controlling materials at these scales makes it possible to fine-tune how long it takes the devices to dissolve.

Device dissolution is further controlled by sheets of silk protein in which the electronics are supported and encapsulated.   Extracted from silkworm cocoons, silk protein is one of the strongest, most robust materials known. It’s also fully biodegradable and biofriendly and is already used for some medical applications.   Omenetto and his Tufts colleagues have discovered how to adjust the properties of silk so that it degrades at a wide range of intervals.

The researchers successfully demonstrated the new platform by testing a thermal device designed to monitor and prevent post-surgical infection (demonstrated in a rat model) and also created a 64 pixel digital camera.

Collaborating with Omenetto from Tufts Department of Biomedical Engineering were Hu Tao, research assistant professor and co-first author on the paper; Mark A. Brenckle, doctoral student; Bruce Panilaitis, program administrator; Miaomiao Yang, doctoral student; and David L. Kaplan, Stern Family Professor of Engineering and department chair. In addition to Tufts and UIUC, co-authors on the paper also came from Seoul National University, Northwestern University, Dalian University of Technology (China), Nano Terra (Boston), and the University of Arizona.

In the future, the researchers envision more complex devices that could be adjustable in real time or responsive to changes in their environment, such as chemistry, light or pressure.

The work was supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the National Science Foundation, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research Multi University Research Initiative program, the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering of the National Institutes of Health under award EB002520 and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Attribution: Real Clear Science

Rice should Resign

King: ‘Susan Rice Should Resign’

By Katrina Trinko at NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE

comments, as always, by yours truly [ ]

House Homeland Security Committee chairman Pete King is calling on U.N. ambassador Susan Rice to resign over her comments on the Sunday talk shows September 16 regarding the Libyan attacks.

“I think Susan Rice should resign. She is America’s foreign policy spokesman to the world as ambassador to the U.N.,” King, a Republican congressman from New York, tells National Review Online. [ Who do you suppose Obama might choose to replace her, Louis Farrakhan? I heard the Blind Sheikh will be available soon. Maybe he could represent this administration? He’d fit right in at the U.N. ]

Rice appeared on five Sunday morning shows five days after the attacks.  On ABC’s This Week, she said, “Our current best assessment, based on the information that we have at present, is that, in fact, what this began as, it was a spontaneous – not a premeditated – response to what had transpired in Cairo,” despite the fact that U.S. officials knew terrorism was involved within 24 hours after the attack. [ Actually, the State Department knew well in advance. Blaming Rice is ridiculous. She was towing the administration line. ]

“Very nice person, very smart,” King says of Rice, “but the fact is she gave out information which was either intentionally or unintentionally misleading and wrong and there should be consequences for that. And I don’t see how she didn’t know how that information was wrong. What she could have and should have said was the final word isn’t in yet, certainly strong evidence that there was strong terrorist involvement, [but identifying] the exact nature it’ll  take us a few more days. That would have been legitimate.”

[ Okay, can we just put this, “nice person” crap away. It has nothing to do with anything, and how many “nice people” will sit there and lie to whole world five separate times. I’ve heard that about Obama also. He’s a nice person, just misguided. I personally can’t name a single marxist, communist or anticolonialist I would consider to be “nice”. ]

King also called for an investigation into what was known before the attack. “This warrants a full investigation,” he says. “I believe there should be a congressional investigation. I think there should be an internal investigation.” [ Yes, like the recent investigation into the “Fast and Furious” scandal that basically exonerated Eric Holder. I’m sure he’s a “nice person” too. ]

Benghazi, he adds, “was a hotbed of al-Qaeda activity, of militia activity, of terrorist activity. We knew that the facilities that we were using there were not adequately fortified. These were temporary, basically private residences which had almost none of the protections that a consulate should have.” [ Has anyone, save for a few of us, even asked what the ambassador was doing there? You may wish to re-read “Benghazi was no Coincidence”  ]

“To allow the American ambassador to go there,” he continues, “ to allow us to keep records or documentation there or anything  in such an unsecure and such a dangerous area and such unsecure facilities with such little security appears to be gross negligence, and may be criminal negligence.” [ Unless it was not a consulate, but a CIA safe house ]

He also criticized the administration’s reluctance to call the attacks terrorism. “Either they intentionally mislead the American people or they were extremely uninformed,” King remarks. “Neither excuse is very good. From the start, I can see them saying we’re not certain what caused it, but the presumption from the start should have been that it was a terrorist attack or the terrorist were heavily involved.” [ I wish someone would just come out and state the obvious; This administration, from the top down, is filled with bad people who don’t appear at all concerned with our security, or that of our allies ]

Obama, he speculates, had political reasons to avoid calling it terrorism. “What I believe now is that the president is so fixated on convincing the American people that we have defeated al-Qaeda and that al-Qaeda is no longer a real threat by saying this was a terrorist attack, or by acknowledge a terrorist attack,  it would be looked upon as a defeat for his policies against al-Qaeda,” King says. [ No need for speculation Mr. King. It’s a fact ]

New Supercar

Peugeot has unveiled a sinister looking supercar concept that will be debuting this month at the 2012 Paris Auto Show.

The vehicle has been built using materials that have been processed as little as possible. They include aluminum, carbon fiber, PMMA (PolyMethyl MethAcrylate), copper and even felt.

The chassis is a carbon fiber monocoque and weighs just 220 pounds. It’s one of the main reasons the total weight of the Onyx is only 2,425 pounds.

Power comes from a mid-mounted 3.7-liter V-8 turbodiesel, developed with the help of Peugeot’s motorsport arm, Peugeot Sport. Cooled by ducts which begin at the roof via NACA take-offs, the V-8 transmits its 600 horsepower to the rear wheels via a six-speed sequential gearbox.

For added performance, Peugeot designers have also added their company’s HYbrid4 system. The latest version of the system uses a kinetic energy recovery system to charge up an array of lithium-ion batteries. These batteries are used to power an electric motor that sends an additional 80 horsepower to the front wheels, coming online automatically when the Onyx is accelerating.

One of the Onyx’s most distinguishing features is its interior. Made of felt, compressed and stretched, the cabin is formed as a one-piece pod, with no stitching or joints.

It creates a real cocoon around the occupants and is fitted into the carbon structure, visible in places, it replaces a number of elements found in regular cars: soundproofing, floors, dashboards, roofs, and even seats.

To make the seats, for example, designers simply inserted foam padding under the felt. The best part is that felt is not only quite flexible to use, it’s completely renewable as it’s made from wool. The dash, meanwhile, is made from old newspapers that have been compressed to form a hard material that, believe it or not, resembles wood. If you take a close look at the dash, Peugeot says you’ll even notice some of the original newspaper print.

Sadly, Peugeot stresses that the Onyx is simply to showcase the talents of its design team and preview new materials and construction techniques that could be making their way into future cars. In other words, you can’t purchase one.

Joke of the Day

Eleven people were clinging precariously to a wildly swinging rope suspended from a crumbling outcropping on Mount Everest.

Ten were blonde, one was a brunette.

As a group they decided that one of the party should let go. If that didn’t happen the rope would break and everyone would perish.

For an agonizing few moments no one volunteered.

Finally the brunette gave a truly touching speech saying she would sacrifice herself to save the lives of the others.

The blondes applauded.

Obamacare is Coming! Hide Your Wallets!

These are the Top 5 Worst Taxes ‘Obamacare’ Will Impose in 2013

from:  at The Blaze

The Grover Norquist-founded Americans for Tax Reform, a 501(c)(4) lobbying group that opposes “all tax increases as a matter of principle,” on Friday released a list of what, they say, are the top five worst taxes The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (i.e. “Obamacare”) will impose on Americans in 2013.

Here they are [all block quotes via the report]:

The ‘Obamacare’ Medical Device Tax

Americans For Tax Reform Releases a List of the Top 5 Worst Taxes Obamacare Will Impose in 2013Tax Increase: $20 Billion

Medical device manufacturers employ 409,000 people in 12,000 plants across the country. Obamacare imposes a new 2.3 percent excise tax on gross sales — even if the company does not earn a profit in a given year. In addition to killing small business jobs and impacting research and development budgets, this will increase the cost of your health care — making everything from pacemakers to prosthetics more expensive.

The ‘Obamacare’ ‘Special Needs Kids Tax’

Americans For Tax Reform Releases a List of the Top 5 Worst Taxes Obamacare Will Impose in 2013Tax Increase: $13 Billion

The 30-35 million American who use a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) at work to pay for their family’s basic medical needs will face a new government cap of $2,500 (currently the accounts are unlimited under federal law, though employers are allowed to set a cap).

There is one group of FSA owners for whom this new cap will be particularly cruel and onerous: parents of special needs children.  There are several million families with special needs children in the United States, and many of them use FSAs to pay for special needs education. Tuition rates at one leading school that teaches special needs children in Washington, D.C. (National Child Research Center) can easily exceed $14,000 per year. Under tax rules, FSA dollars can be used to pay for this type of special needs education. This Obamacare tax provision will limit the options available to these families.

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The ‘Obamacare’ Surtax on Investment Income

Americans For Tax Reform Releases a List of the Top 5 Worst Taxes Obamacare Will Impose in 2013Tax Increase: $123 Billion

This is a new, 3.8 percentage point surtax on investment income earned in households making at least $250,000 ($200,000 single).  This would result in the following top tax rates on investment income:

The table above also incorporates the scheduled hike in the capital gains rate from 15 to 20 percent, and the scheduled hike in dividends rate from 15 to 39.6 percent.

The ‘Obamacare’ ‘Haircut’ for Medical Itemized Deductions

Americans For Tax Reform Releases a List of the Top 5 Worst Taxes Obamacare Will Impose in 2013Tax Increase: $15.2 Billion

Currently, those Americans facing high medical expenses are allowed a deduction to the extent that those expenses exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI).  This tax increase imposes a threshold of 10 percent of AGI. By limiting this deduction, Obamacare widens the net of taxable income for the sickest Americans.  This tax provision will most harm near retirees and those with modest incomes but high medical bills.

The ‘Obamacare’ Medicare Payroll Tax Hike

Americans For Tax Reform Releases a List of the Top 5 Worst Taxes Obamacare Will Impose in 2013Tax Increase: $86.8 Billion

The Medicare payroll tax is currently 2.9 percent on all wages and self-employment profits.  Under this tax hike, wages and profits exceeding $200,000 ($250,000 in the case of married couples) will face a 3.8 percent rate instead. This is a direct marginal income tax hike on small business owners, who are liable for self-employment tax in most cases. The table below compares current law vs. the Obamacare Medicare Payroll Tax Hike:

A Slice of Water

You’ve likely heard of or seen swordsmen who can expertly and accurately slice through all kinds of objects, but scientists are now taking precision-cutting to the next level of awesome.

Researchers at Arizona State University, in cooperation with colleagues at Youngstown State University, have perfected the subtle science of slicing water droplets in half. They detailed their exploits in a study just published in the online open-access journal PLoS ONE.

The scientists accomplished the feat using superhydrophobic (extremely water-resistant) knives and cutting surfaces. The knives were composed of polyethylene and zinc and dipped in solutions of silver nitrate and another superhydrophobic solution abbreviated HDFT (its systematic name is far too long to fit on one line). Cutting surfaces were simply composed of Teflon.

Even with their water-resistant knives and cutting boards, the researchers had to be incredibly meticulous when actually slicing the H2O. They delicately cut through water droplets ranging in size from 15 to 70 µL, utilizing wire loops to keep the droplets stationary. Their meticulous efforts produced no satellite drops, nor did they result in any “catastrophic rupture” of the water droplets.

The researchers envision their knives and methods potentially being employed in biomolecular research settings where scientists have to efficiently separate proteins or other components in very small liquid samples.

Attribution: Real Clear Science, The New Scientist