Printing Living Eye Cells

Bio Inkjet Printing Eye CellsResearchers have modified a common inkjet printer to print living, adult eye cells. Layering different cell types in difference intricate arrangements would allow the fabrication of complex organs, such as replacement retinas.



Writing Status Update: Where are the books?

I am here. Where are you?Just a note to keep everyone up-to-date on what’s the deal with those novels I keep promising, and what’s up with the status bars on the left.

Non-fiction: I have a few fun projects in the queue at Make. Not sure when they’ll be out, but I’ll be sure to share. Make has gone from publishing quarterly to bi-monthly, and have about twice as many projects per issue. They’re moving to a hybrid print/online

Fiction: You’ll notice three novels queued up on the left. (Technically one novella and two novels) Date Night  and Cultural Exchange are the first two novels in The Embassy series.

Date Night is essentially ready to go. So why can’t you read it? Good question.  One thing that I strive to do is write what I want to read. And I really like reading serieses. Books that I can read one after another, fall in love/hate with characters as they explore a huge universe, and see how decisions made early on effect events years – or millennia down the road. The Embassy series is in the vein. It starts humbly enough with a junior diplomat to recalcitrant aliens, and proceeds to explore the characters as humanity comes to terms with living in a universe awash with advanced intelligences.

So why can’t you read it? Oh, right. Well, its because it’s just the introductory novella. The one thing my beta readers have all said about it is they want to read more stories in the universe. So releasing Date Night all alone would be like serving an appetizer without a main course. I want people who read it and like it to immediately be able to go on and read some more, because that’s what I would want if I was reading. So I’m holding on to it at least until volume two is ready to go, and probably until I have a rough draft of volume three. Then you’ll be able to read something like 200,000 words in the same universe, all at one go, and I think that would be a lot more fun. It will also improve all three volumes. I introduced some broad plot threads in the first volume that, now that I know precisely where they go, I can make them more concrete and meaningful, tying the whole trilogy together in a much more satisfying way.

But what about the “not your ordinary robot uprising” novel Sunrise? It’s still brewing. I really enjoy the story, enough that I’ll likely write two more books in the universe. The first story sets up a pair of others that I would love to explore, covering thousands of years. Again, it’s the kind of thing that I would really like to read. For now it’s on the back burner until I wrap up the first Embassy books.

This is all subject to change, but that’s where things lay right now. Taking the extra time will also give me a chance to better set up some of the business and technical aspects of being an independent book publisher.

A Pen That Mends Bones

Bone Pen

Australian researchers have developed a pen (glue gun, really) that surgeons can use to speedily replace and heal bones. The syringe delivers a growth medium (stem cells, growth factors and other medicines). It also dispenses a biopolymer which is hardened by an ultraviolet light in the pen. This helps stabilize the area until natural bone can regrow.

Read the full University of Wollongong press release for more information.

Tongue Piercing As A Mobility Aid

Tongue Piercing As Mobility AidResearchers are testing a new method for operating wheelchairs using a magnetic tongue stud. Designed for people who have severe movement disabilities and can’t use a hand controller, it provides a possible improvement over existing methods.

Currently the most common way for quadriplegics to control wheelchairs and computers is through a Sip-and-Puff interface where users suck and blow on a straw. It takes a fair bit of training to use. The tongue stud uses a more intuitive control method (flicking your tongue in the direction you want to go) and in tests is just as accurate, yet faster than other methods. As the scientists point out, the tongue is incredibly nimble and essentially tireless. (Though it does hurt a hell of a lot to get a hole punched through it.)

A headset tracks the location of the magnetic stud and uses the movement to direct a wheelchair, move a mouse, or control pretty much anything. The scientists have some thoughts about reducing the headset to something less obvious. Most people who use disability aids are understandably sensitive about the stigma of hauling around bulky, weird technology. Moving the method of control from a straw hanging in their face (and which is weirdly fascinating to watch someone use) to inside the mouth where it can be operated in stealth is one way of helping with that stigma.

Of course what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. What kinds of things could people who have full control of their limbs do with this? Control a robotic tail, transmit commands to a personal drone, or answer phone calls?


Autonomous Package Delivery

Amazon Prime AirWhile autonomous delivery has been made fun of since UAV’s became cheap and plentiful, no one’s seriously looked at it as a real commercial venture.

Until last night, when Amazon unveiled its plan to deliver orders within 30 minutes using autonomous aerial vehicles. The project is real and Amazon expects to be in the air just as soon as the FAA gets around to creating the appropriate regulations.

This is just the toe in the water, and I’m glad to see businesses getting into the UAV business in ways that people can generally get behind. (As opposed to combat drones and spycopters.) It will lead to some interesting possibilities. For example, once in place Amazon’s drone delivery vehicles could be first responders in the case of natural disasters, both providing a survey of the damage and delivering emergency supplies to those affected.