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Hope some of you will join me tomorrow at this time, when I will be delivering the keynote at IIT Kharagpur's EAD Conference. #innovation #startups #keynotesession #Jaipur #ead2020 #ecell #kgp #nostalgia ...

Leather products, especially jackets, shoes, bags, and belts, are much fancied and flaunted by consumers all over the world. However, increasingly, customers are demanding environmentally friendly and animal cruelty-free products, and both natural leather and its unsavoury twin, faux leather (some form of PU), are in the line of fire.⠀

The quest to find a true vegan leather has literally led people to walk up the forest floor. There, the fibrous roots of fungi, called mycelium, has yielded a solution. These roots can be pressed into sheets: durable, and warm to the touch, unlike plastic. It also has fibrousness, porosity and imperfections, which are cardinal qualities of real leather. ⠀

The great news is that mycelium can be lab-cultured: it can be grown on sawdust or molasses, formed into mats of 2.5 square metres, dyed, softened, and embossed. The associated carbon footprint is low, and unlike PU, it is bio-degradable in a short period of time.⠀

The opportunity to disrupt the $100 billion global leather goods industry has got companies agog with excitement. Two companies on the verge of commercially viable products are California-based MycoWorks and Italian rival, Mogu. There are also others who looking into the forest for ideas.⠀

#vegan #leather #fungi #animalfree

The BOOK: Leonardo da Vinci⠀

THE AUTHOR: Walter Isaacson, is a journalist and corporate captain who has distinguished himself as a biographer of powerhouse individuals. How a former CNN chairman, and managing editor of Time, got to writing biographies of Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein and Benjamin Franklin, Henry Kissinger, and Leonardo da Vinci is a story we will keep for another time.⠀

Writing biographies of great people is an arduous proposition. There is a tendency to be hagiographic, or even committing errors of prejudiced omission. The amount of research required to distill the psychological perspective is herculean. Insufficient records, or overarching popular opinions, are also constraints to be surmounted.⠀

THE GENIUS (1452 – 1519): We often use the word genius loosely but for Leonardo it may not be enough of a word to describe him. His curiosity for diverse subjects, assimilation of knowledge, and mastery in multiple subjects is mind-boggling. He was a polymath with interests in architecture, anatomy, engineering, art, botany, geology, mathematics, music and literature.⠀

Beyond this he was occupied with creation: how the earth and humanity fits into the scheme of the universe. His Vitruvian Man is an example of this quest. His paintings: Mona Lisa, The Last Supper, Salvatore Mundi, and more are not only great examples of the sfumato technique, but speak eloquently of human creativity.⠀

THE BOOK: Luckily Leonardo kept prolific notebooks with diagrams, sketches, and notes: Walter built his narrative from these. Incidentally, Bill gates paid $30-$40 million for just one notebook called Codex Leicester!⠀

Kenneth Clark, also a biographer, bemoaned that had Leonardo not spread himself thin between subjects, he could have finished many more paintings. But that is the characteristic that Walter makes central in this #biography: if Leonardo was not so multifaceted how could have painted with the dexterity that he did? All his influences and knowledge from other fields added to the ontogeny of his bewitching craft. ⠀

The #book is interpolated with sublime #illustrations. Buy the hard-cover edition: you are bound to fall in love with it. #davinci

A non-invasive method of curing skin cancer has been developed by researchers at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. ⠀

A special bandage with a unique blend of nanoparticles has been fabricated using a method called electrospinning. It works based on the alternative treatment of magnetic hyperthermia, where the magnetic nanoparticles are used to heat the tumours with the help of external alternating current magnetic fields.⠀

Usually, this method is difficult as uniform heating needs to be achieved to prevent toxicity. Research teams from the Centre for BioSystems Science and Engineering, Department of Molecular Reproduction, Development, and Genetics at IISc used nanoparticles made of an iron oxide as well as a polymer dubbed polycaprolactone (PCL) which is stuck on surgical tape. The high-frequency oscillating magnetic field generates the heat which helps in curing the tumour. ⠀

To test the efficacy, researchers conducted two experiments -- one in vitro on human cancer cell lines and the other vivo on mice with artificially induced skin cancer. In both methods, the skin cancer was cured effectively. The in vivo testing also showed that healthy tissue was intact without suffering any damage, burns or inflammation. ⠀
According to Shilpee Jain, DST-INSPIRE Faculty Fellow at BSSE where the study was conducted, further tests will be needed to confirm the efficacy on a larger scale in rabbits, dogs and monkeys before employing it for pre-clinical and human applications.⠀

#cancer #skincancer #innovation #cancertreatment #science #IISC

We have a ‘gut-feeling’ about things or require ‘guts’ to overcome certain situations. Humans have known that our guts controlled key elements of survival but no scientific evidence was available.⠀

Recent research findings have established the ‘gut-microbiome’ as an independent organ system. “Gut microbes contribute directly and/or indirectly to various physiological processes including immune modulation, regulation of various neurotransmitter, and hormones, as well as production of many antioxidants and metabolites.” ⠀

Earlier, treatment of gastrointestinal infections by introducing foreign faecal elements into a gut to repopulate essential microbes had been tested. Now, researchers from University of East Anglia (UAE) and other institutes, in a study using mice, established that brain activity related to learning and memory is also impacted.⠀

UAE’s Dr. Vauzour says, “We wanted to see whether transferring gut microbes from older to younger mice could affect parts of the central nervous system associated with ageing.” In a maze test, the mice showed impaired spatial learning and memory.

While more tests have to be done to prove the opposite (young mice to old mice), the two-way communication of the gut-brain axis has been established.⠀
#guts #microbiota #brain #memory #microbes #science #learning

As we flew back to Helsinki from Rovaniemi, my mind was aswirl with images stolen from the bountiful wilderness and memories captured from experiences we had had in the last five days. I was blown away by Finland; and I don’t mean by the landscape alone. ⠀

Finns may appear aloof but that is because they respect personal privacy more than most peoples around the world. Give them a justified cause and the famous Finnish talkoo kicks in, that is, doing communal work like barn-raising, log-rolling or fundraising for the common-weal.⠀

Couple this with another Finnish characteristic, sisu, which translates to courage or grit (Finnish-spirit), and we have a people who are dogged and determined against any adversity or challenge. This attitude stood them in great stead against the Russians in the Winter War of 1939-40 when 350,000 Finns fought the million-strong Russian army twice and inflicted severe casualties upon them. ⠀

The Finnish society is respectful, egalitarian, and well-organized. They have jokamiehen oikeudet (Everyman’s Rights) which allows everyone to access nature (ex. forests) freely; pick berries or mushrooms, go picnicking or walking without any hindrance. One can even camp overnight in a tent or vehicle on another’s property so long as no damage is caused! Sharing is big: when partying oma pullo mukaan, or BYOB, is the norm.⠀

Finland is a well-functioning democracy, with extensive welfare benefits and low corruption. Its institutions are respected, the education system is world-class, 42% of parliamentarians are now women, and the literacy rate has been over 99 percent for the last 30 years! This is also the handiwork of the Lutheran Church (almost 70% of the people are Lutherans) which puts education as a requirement for getting married!⠀

Finland tops the World Social and Human Development Indices. It has experimented with Universal Basic Income (UBI), and even tested two pilot programs. While the results were mixed, we must applaud their efforts to uplift the less-privileged.⠀

No wonder #Finland is The Happiest Country in the World, thrice in a row, according to UN World Happiness Report. #visitfinland #thisisfinland #travel #travelogue

Maintaining the right level of anaesthetic during surgery is a critical job. Too little and the patient wakes up, too much, and they could go into a coma. No wonder anaesthesiologists get paid on an average even more than surgeons!⠀

But that may all change as scientists at MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital develop a new AI algorithm that can control an anesthetized patient’s level of unconsciousness during a medical procedure.⠀

Trained using simulation, the algorithm learned how to administer doses of the anaesthetic to keep patients under. According to Tech Xplore the AI algorithm was even more efficient than existing technology in recommending levels of anaesthesia. ⠀

To make it happen, MIT neuroscience statistics researcher Gabriel Schamberg tuned the algorithm to recognise and adjust to minute changes in a patient’s neural activity. As a result, Schamberg and his team built a dose controller that’s more accurate than what doctors use today. ⠀

By tweaking factors used to simulate patients, the algorithm would be able to adapt to new patients, were it deployed in the real world. ⠀
#ai #algorithm #surgery #medicine #neuroscience #anaesthesia

While studying the origins of homo sapiens, the Out of Africa model is most famous. It suggests that humans of Eurasian ancestry descended from a single ancestry in Africa. They then spread and displaced all other hominins around the world.⠀

There is an opposing multi-regionalism model that conceives that multiple human sub-populations (example, Homo Erectus) existed across Europe, Asia, and Africa, and our species evolved through continuous intermixing.⠀

While genetic research confirms the Out of Africa model, two studies from 2014 indicate that 2 percent of the average European genome is Neanderthal in origin. The conclusion: though the origins are in Africa, the species interbred with hominins outside. ⠀

Some researchers even suggest that anatomically modern humans gradually emerged from a ‘web of interconnected populations sprawled across Africa.’ Genomics, and ancientDNA techniques like Rainer Grün’s laser technique coupled with mass spectrometry are used in establishing or overturning such theories.⠀

Classification glitches occur when one stream of science is used. Eleanor Scerri of Max Planck Institute says: “No single one is really going to have all the answers—not genetics, not archaeology, not the fossils, because all of these areas have challenges and limitations.” ⠀

#homosapiens #hominins #ancestry #africa #neanderthals #archaeology #fossils #science #genetics #genomics