Neural Implant Reverses Paralysis, Could Last Inside Patient For 10 Years

by Michael Keller

Look out, Six Million Dollar Man: The melding of human and machine is taking another step out of sci-fi into the real world. Researchers in Switzerland announced today they have made a significant advance toward the goal of replacing life-long disability with life as a cyborg.

They unveiled a new flexible neural implant that delivers electric and chemical stimulation directly to nervous system tissues. In early trials, it allowed paralyzed rats to walk again with fewer side effects than other treatments. The device can be embedded in the spinal cord or brain to deliver therapy to damaged neurons and reverse the effects of debilitating injury.

The research team at the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne says they engineered the implant to have the same mechanical properties as the outermost membrane that covers the brain and spinal cord, called the dura matter. Because it is made out of soft, stretchy material that moves along with the living tissue, it doesn’t rub against it to trigger inflammation, scar tissue buildup and eventual rejection. If their e-Dura device develops as hoped, it would be the first neuroprosthetic implant that resides in the body over the long term—they believe it could last for 10 years inside a human patient.

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okay, so i get asked about my sketchbook materials pretty consistently and though i already have a post about it here, that post is over two years old.

first off, i should start by saying that i don’t really have any brand consistency with sketchbooks. i just go to a store and find whatever feels nice, is a good size (8.5x11 or 9x12 are my favorites), and has reasonably thick paper. canson tends to have good sketchbooks and the naturesketch is pretty consistently good too.

anyway, in order of most to least used:

1. left to right: red lead mechanical pencil, sharpie fine liner, Pentel felt tip pen, Pentel pocket brush, various gold pens (gel xtreme), gold sharpie, white pens (uniball), and white out (presto!). most of these are under $5 each except the pocket brush, which is usually $10-20 depending on if it comes with refills or not.

2. various tombow water based markers, used mostly when I’m on the go, about $2-4 each depending on the store.

3. copic 72 marker set, bought on sale about six or seven years ago. Only used at home and at conventions, not for on the go work cuz it’s not very portable. these run around $300 now but i got mine for about $150

4. miscellaneous copic and prismacolor markers collected between ten and five years ago. i only use these at home, they are a pain to transport. each marker ranged from $3-5 depending on when i bought it. i know retail on them now can go up to $8 a piece now, which is highly unfortunate.

5. 132 set of prismacolor colored pencils given to me by michelle when she moved across the country. I only use these at home.

6. watercolor sets (left is from michaels, right is koi water colors) given to me on different birthdays by different friends, used once every few months when I feel like chancing the integrity of my sketchbook paper. i think they’re both somewhere between $10-15.

these are just the materials i use, mostly because i have built up a stockpile over the past ten or so years. but in all honesty i draw with pretty much anything i can get my hands on. ballpoint pen, china markers, pastel, washable markers, whatever. there were quite a few years when, mostly because of money, all i did all day every day was fill up cheap sketchbooks from end to end with solid ballpoint pen doodles. basically: having lots of materials is nice, but you don’t need all this stuff to have fun and art it out. if i hadn’t already paid for and accumulated this mess over the years i would probably just end up drawing with like two markers and my inking brush.

photos from my instagram

Plasma: Your Universe Isn’t Made of What You Think

If I asked you to name the fundamental states of matter, more than likely you’d reel off solid, liquid, and gas. But if you’re a bit savvier, you’d know that those three aren’t the only states that matter can take—in fact, they’re not even the most abundant.

Plasma is the fourth fundamental state of matter. It’s a lot like a gas, except its atoms have been ionised: the electrons have been stripped from their nuclei, creating a sea of distinct, positively and negatively charged particles. In gases, electrons are bound to their nuclei, but in plasma, they’re free to move about. For this reason, plasmas are often called ionised (or electrically charged) gases.

Plasma can be created by heating gases or by subjecting them to strong electromagnetic fields. Though it doesn’t naturally make up the things we see, eat, breathe or live in, man-made plasmas can be found quite readily on Earth in fluorescent light bulbs and neon signs, which use electricity to ionise the gas inside of them, creating glowing plasma. Very hot flames and lightning are also examples of plasma. But most significantly, plasmas are naturally found in stars, thanks to their incredibly hot temperatures, and in enormous gas clouds in the spaces between galaxies, often stretched into huge webs and filaments. Because of this, plasma is the most abundant state of matter in the universe.

Fun fact: the states of matter don’t end with plasma. Bose–Einstein condensates and neutron-degenerate matter also exist, which are only observable in extreme conditions, as well as a couple of theoretical states.


Fordite (Detroit agate), sometimes beauty emerges from the most strange places:

Old car factories had a harmful impact on the environment, releasing toxic chemicals into the air, land and water. But it wasn’t all ugly. Oddly enough, one of the by-products of car production was Fordite, also known as Detroit agate. The colorful layered objects take their name from agate stones for their visual resemblance. But instead of forming from microscopically crystallized silica over millions of years, Fordite was formed from layers of paint over several tens of years. Back in the day, old automobile paint would drip onto the metal racks that transported cars through the paint shop and into the oven. The paint was hardened to a rock-like state thanks to high heats from the baking process. As the urban legend goes, plant workers would take pieces home in their lunch pails as a souvenir for their wife or kids.

Via Colossal



Crafted. That’s the word that springs to mind when looking at these images. Crafted, and to perfection. This five floor stucco-fronted property in London’s Notting Hill has been redesigned to create an exciting contemporary home that’s filled with bespoke touches.

This house on Ladbroke Road was redesigned by Cubic Studios. Indeed every element of this interior has been designed and manufactured by the studio, from the raw steel and glass stairway that connects the five floors to the polished plaster walls and the polished concrete sanitaryware in the top floor master suite, which was cast on site.

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Cheap Graphene Reported From Laser Fired At Plastic

Scientists have come up with a cheap and easy way to make electronics and energy storage components out of the supermaterial graphene.

Researchers can now make the amazingly strong material that is an excellent heat and electricity conductor by firing a laser at cheap plastic sheets. The laser burns patterns into the polyimide polymer, which create microscopic interconnected flakes of the single-atom-thick sheets of bound carbon atoms. 

One of the chemists behind the material says the laser actually creates a hard foam of graphene flakes that remain connected to the plastic from which they are burned. The process can be done at room temperature and pressure, another important manufacturing advance.

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An ultralightweight cellulose nanocrystal aerogel rests on top of a dandelion. These chemically cross-linked, highly porous materials bounce back when compressed and can adsorb aqueous and nonpolar liquids. This powerful suite of properties may lead to applications including insulation, shock absorption, pollution cleanup, and use in structural materials.

Credit: Chem. Mater. 2014, DOI: 10.1021/cm502873c


Cosplay 101: Materials and Tools by PokketProductions

View the full tutorial here:

2014 Nobel Prize in Physics goes to Isamu AkasakiHiroshi Amano (both from Nagoya University) and Shuji Nakamura (University of California, Santa Barbara)

for the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes which has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources