Posts about Stanford

Stanford Research Scientists Discover 99% of the Microbes Inside Us are Unknown to Science

Readers of this blog know I am fascinated by the human microbiome. It is amazing how much of our biology is determined by entities within us that are not us (at least not our DNA) (bacteria, viruses etc.). This whole area of study is very new and we have quite a bit to learn. There are scientists across the globe studying this area and learning a great deal.

Stanford study indicates that more than 99% of the microbes inside us are unknown to science

Of all the non-human DNA fragments the team gathered, 99 percent of them failed to match anything in existing genetic databases the researchers examined.

The “vast majority” of it belonged to a phylum called proteobacteria, which includes, among many other species, pathogens such as E. coli and Salmonella. Previously unidentified viruses in the torque teno family, generally not associated with disease but often found in immunocompromised patients, made up the largest group of viruses.

“We’ve doubled the number of known viruses in that family through this work,” Quake said. Perhaps more important, they’ve found an entirely new group of torque teno viruses. Among the known torque teno viruses, one group infects humans and another infects animals, but many of the ones the researchers found didn’t fit in either group. “We’ve now found a whole new class of human-infecting ones that are closer to the animal class than to the previously known human ones, so quite divergent on the evolutionary scale,” he said.

Related: We are Not Us Without The Microbes Within UsWebcasts on the Human MicrobiomePeople are Superorganisms With Microbiomes of Thousands of Species (2013)We Have Thousands of Viruses In Us All the Time (2015)Tracking the Ecosystem Within Us (2007)

iPhone Addition as Alternative to Expensive Ophthalmology Equipment

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have developed two inexpensive adapters that enable a smartphone to capture high-quality images of the front and back of the eye. The adapters make it easy for anyone with minimal training to take a picture of the eye and share it securely with other health practitioners or store it in the patient’s electronic record.

The researchers see this technology as an opportunity to increase access to eye-care services as well as to improve the ability to advise on patient care remotely.

The standard equipment used to photograph the eye is expensive — costing up to tens of thousands of dollars — and requires extensive training to use properly. Primary care physicians and emergency department staff often lack this equipment, and although it is readily available in ophthalmologists’ offices, it is sparse in rural areas throughout the world.

“Adapting smartphones for the eye has the potential to enhance the delivery of eye care — in particular, to provide it in places where it’s less accessible,” said Myung. “Whether it’s in the emergency department, where patients often have to wait a long time for a specialist, or during a primary-care physician visit, we hope that we can improve the quality of care for our patients, especially in the developing world where ophthalmologists are few and far between.”

“A picture is truly worth a thousand words,” he added. “Imagine a car accident victim arriving in the emergency department with an eye injury resulting in a hyphema — blood inside the front of her eye. Normally the physician would have to describe this finding in her electronic record with words alone. Smartphones today not only have the camera resolution to supplement those words with a high-resolution photo, but also the data-transfer capability to upload that photo securely to the medical record in a matter of seconds.

Continue reading

Roominate: Inspiring Artists, Engineers and Visionaries

Roominate is a cool new toy created by 3 engineering students aimed at giving young engineers a way to learn, experiment and create. The 3 women used kickstarter to get the funds needed to launch their product. They raised $85,000 (the goal was $25,000).

We’re more than just a toy company. We want to inspire your daughters to be the great artists, engineers, architects, and visionaries of their generation. We intend to give them every tool to reach that potential.

Founders:

Bettina Chen: CalTech BS in Electrical Engineering, masters in Electrical Engineering from Stanford.

Alice Brooks: MIT BS in Mechanical Engineering, currently at Stanford pursuing masters in Mechanical Engineering design.

Jennifer Kessler: Bachelor degree from University of Pennsylvania, currently an MBA student at Stanford.

This is yet another example of entrepreneurship shown by Standford students. The USA is hugely benefited by Stanford (along with a few other schools: MIT, Caltech, etc.). There is little a country can do that is as helpful economically as encouraging the type of entrepreneurship Standford does.

Related: Awesome Gifts for the Maker in Your LifeFootballs Providing Light to Those Without Electricity at HomeGirls Sweep Top Honors at Siemens Competition in Math, Science and TechnologyFix it Goo

Milky Way May Have 100,000 Times More Nomad Planets Than Stars

There may be 100,000 times more “nomad planets” in the Milky Way than stars, according to a new study by researchers at the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC), a joint institute of Stanford University and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. How amazing is that. Science is so cool. I had no idea this was the case.

If observations confirm the estimate, this new class of celestial objects will affect current theories of planet formation and could change our understanding of the origin and abundance of life.

“If any of these nomad planets are big enough to have a thick atmosphere, they could have trapped enough heat for bacterial life to exist,” said Louis Strigari, leader of the team that reported the result in a paper: Nomads of the Galaxy. Although nomad planets don’t bask in the warmth of a star, they may generate heat through internal radioactive decay and tectonic activity.

Searches over the past two decades have identified more than 500 planets outside our solar system, almost all of which orbit stars. Last year, researchers detected about a dozen nomad planets, using a technique called gravitational microlensing, which looks for stars whose light is momentarily refocused by the gravity of passing planets.

The research produced evidence that roughly two nomads exist for every typical, so-called main-sequence star in our galaxy. The new study estimates that nomads may be up to 50,000 times more common than that.

To arrive at what Strigari himself called “an astronomical number,” the KIPAC team took into account the known gravitational pull of the Milky Way galaxy, the amount of matter available to make such objects and how that matter might divvy itself up into objects ranging from the size of Pluto to larger than Jupiter. Not an easy task, considering no one is quite sure how these bodies form. According to Strigari, some were probably ejected from solar systems, but research indicates that not all of them could have formed in that fashion.

“To paraphrase Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, if correct, this extrapolation implies that we are not in Kansas anymore, and in fact we never were in Kansas,” said Alan Boss of the Carnegie Institution for Science, author of The Crowded Universe: The Search for Living Planets, who was not involved in the research. “The universe is riddled with unseen planetary-mass objects that we are just now able to detect.”

A good count, especially of the smaller objects, will have to wait for the next generation of big survey telescopes, especially the space-based Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope and the ground-based Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, both set to begin operation in the early 2020s.

A confirmation of the estimate could lend credence to another possibility mentioned in the paper – that as nomad planets roam their starry pastures, collisions could scatter their microbial flocks to seed life elsewhere.

Additional authors included KIPAC member Matteo Barnabè and affiliate KIPAC member Philip Marshall of Oxford University. The research was supported by NASA, the National Science Foundation and the Royal Astronomical Society.

Related: full press releaseAstronomers Find a Planet Denser Than LeadHot Ice PlanetNASA’s Mars Curiosity RoverPlanet, Less Dense Than Cork, Is Discovered

How the Practice and Instruction of Engineering Must Change

Chief Scientist for the Rocky Mountain Institute and MacArthur Fellow, Amory Lovins, describes how small gains in efficiency at the consumption point can trigger gains that are magnitudes larger at higher levels and discusses how engineering must be practiced and taught fundamentally different.

Related: MIT Hosts Student Vehicle Design Summit59 MPG Toyota iQ Diesel Available in EuropeWebcast: Engineering Education in the 21st Century

Protein Synthesis: 1971 Video

The above webcast shows protein synthesis, from a 1971 Stanford University video with Paul Berg (Nobel Laureate – 1980 Nobel Prize for Chemistry and National Medal of Science in 1983). The film does not exactly present the traditional scientist stereotype. It does pretty much present the typical California 1970’s hippie stereotype though.

Related: Friday Fun – CERN VersionRoger Tsien Lecture On Green Florescent Protein

S&P 500 CEO’s: Engineers Stay at the Top

2008 Data from Spencer Stuart on S&P 500 CEO (link broken so it was removed, it is so sad that companies still pay people to manage web sites that don’t even understand basic web usability principles such as web pages must live forever) shows once again more have undergraduate degrees in engineering than any other field, increasing to 22% of CEO’s this year.

Field
   
  
% of CEOs
2008
   
2007
   
2006
   
2005

Engineering 22 21 23 20
Economics 16 15 13 11
Business Administration 13 13 12 15
Accounting 9 8 8 7
Liberal Arts 6 6 8 9
No degree or no data 3 3

In 1990 Engineering majors accounted for 6% of the bachelor’s degrees in the USA (1970 5%, 1980 7%). Business accounted for 23% of the majors in 1990 (1970 14%, 1980 21%). Liberal arts 3% in 1980 (1970 1%, 1980 2%).

The report does not show the fields for the rest of the CEO’s. 39% of S&P CEOs have MBAs. 28% have other advanced degrees. The University of Wisconsin-Madison and Harvard tied for the most CEO’s with undergraduate degrees from their universities at 13. Princeton and the University of Texas had 9 and Stanford had 8.

While the CEO’s have engineering education backgrounds the work they have done is often in other functions. The top function that CEO’s that have worked in during their careers: Operations (42%), Finance (31%), Marketing (24%), Sales (17%), Engineering (11%).

Data for previous years is also from Spencer Stuart: S&P 500 CEOs are Engineering Graduates (2007 data) 2006 S&P 500 CEO Education StudyTop degree for S&P 500 CEOs? Engineering (2005 study)

Related: Another Survey Shows Engineering Degree Results in the Highest PayScience and Engineering Degrees lead to Career SuccessThe Future is Engineering

$100 Million to Tackle Energy Issues

Stanford launches $100 million initiative to tackle energy issues

The $100 million in new funds will enable the hiring of additional faculty and support new graduate students, in addition to the more than $30 million in yearly funding now spent on energy research.

Precourt holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in petroleum engineering from Stanford and an MBA from Harvard University. He has spent his career in the energy industry, holding president and/or CEO positions at Hamilton Oil Co.; Tejas Gas Corporation, subsequently a Shell Oil Co. subsidiary; and ScissorTail Energy and Hermes Consolidated, gatherers, transporters and processors of natural gas, crude oil and refined products.

He is convinced that Stanford research can influence national energy policy for the better. “The wonderful resources that are available at Stanford, and the multidisciplinary approach they have to developing working solutions, are really attractive in terms of making things happen,” he said.

On a personal level, Precourt said, “Stanford made a huge impact on my life, as I look back on it. It was a superb education and I made some wonderful friends that I’ve taken with me for my lifetime.” Precourt donated $50 million to the energy institute that bears his name.

A $40 million gift from Steyer and Taylor will create a new research center as part of the institute, the TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy.

Related: MIT’s Energy ‘Manhattan Project’Engineers Save EnergyGoogle Investing Huge Sums in Renewable Energy and is Hiringmore posts on Stanford

Stanford Gets $75 Million for Stem Cell Center

Stanford gets $75 million for stem cell center

With today’s announcement, Lokey more than doubles his commitment. School officials say he is the lead contributor for a $200 million stem cell research building that will break ground Oct. 27 and be finished in the summer of 2010. In a statement released by the medical school, Lokey said stem cells would be “as significant as the silicon chip that created Silicon Valley,” producing treatments for disease and saving lives.

He said he was driven to fund research after President Bush, in August 2001, forbid the use of federal funds for stem cell research that involved the destruction of human embryos. “It’s very narrow-minded,” Lokey said of the position. “This is about lives being saved.”

Some 350 scientists will work in the 200,000-square-foot Lorry I. Lokey Stem Cell Research Building, the school said. The center is also getting a $43.6 million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. The institute, the state’s $3 billion stem cell funding unit, was created by a 2004 state initiative from research advocates opposed to Bush’s restrictions.

Related: Chinese Stem Cell TherapiesScientists Cure Mice Of Sickle Cell Using Stem Cell TechniqueFunding Medical Researchpost on funding science

The Glove – Engineering Coolness

photo of The Glove - core control

Cool invention helps tired players bounce back

The device, called the Glove and invented by two Stanford biologists, is used by the Niners during games and at practice for players’ health. But its applications are far broader: from treating stroke and heart attack victims to allowing soldiers to remain in the field longer under intense heat.

It’s also a proven athletic performance enhancer – billed as better than steroids without any ill effects.

“We use the Glove primarily for health reasons,” said Dan Garza, the 49ers’ medical director. “But outside of sports, it has potential for a lot of exciting things. This technology is a much more effective way of cooling the core temperature than what we would typically do – misting, fanning, cold towels, fluids.”

The Glove works by cooling the body from inside out, rather than conventional approaches that cool from outside in. The device creates an airtight seal around the wrist, pulls blood into the palm of the hand and cools it before returning it to the heart and to overheated muscles and organs. The palm is the ideal place for rapid cooling because blood flow increases to the hands (and feet and face) as body temperature rises.

“These are natural mammalian radiators,” said Dennis Grahn, who invented the device with Stanford colleague Craig Heller.

Cool, you can buy your own for only $2,000 🙂 (The Glove used to be called Core Control) High resolution image. Related: Research on Reducing Hamstring InjuriesThe Science of the Football SwerveRandomization in Sportsposts on science and athletics

Autonomous Helicopters Teach Themselves to Fly

photo of Stanford Autonomous Learning Helicopters

Stanford’s “autonomous” helicopters teach themselves to fly

Stanford computer scientists have developed an artificial intelligence system that enables robotic helicopters to teach themselves to fly difficult stunts by watching other helicopters perform the same maneuvers.

The dazzling airshow is an important demonstration of “apprenticeship learning,” in which robots learn by observing an expert, rather than by having software engineers peck away at their keyboards in an attempt to write instructions from scratch.

It might seem that an autonomous helicopter could fly stunts by simply replaying the exact finger movements of an expert pilot using the joy sticks on the helicopter’s remote controller. That approach, however, is doomed to failure because of uncontrollable variables such as gusting winds.

Very cool. Related: MIT’s Autonomous Cooperating Flying VehiclesThe sub-$1,000 UAV Project6 Inch Bat PlaneKayak Robots

  • Recent Comments:

    • Alex: This is certainly the future. It is hart warming to see developing countries benefiting from such...
    • Donnie S. Willson: Underground tunnel is a good idea for traffic managment.i really appreciate it.
    • Richard Hopp: Awesome blog post, love the biodiversity. Really excited after watching this video, since I...
    • Robbie Miller: How fantastic, not only a great subject to study, but to be able to travel the world too....
    • Jaspal Singh: Japan has an edge when it comes to humanoid robots. No doubt in few more year, you will find...
    • Marcus Williams: This is actually a marvelous piece of engineering. Kudos for sharing!
    • M Zeeshan Haider: You are so interesting! I don’t believe I’ve truly read through anything like...
    • Jaspal Singh: I fully agree to the post idea. The farming is a natural process and should be free from any...
  • Recent Trackbacks:

  • Links