Today was absolutely insane! We trekked through farmland and along a river to arrive at these crystal-blue, freshwater springs. The plants all around us were lush and untouched, the water was bloody freezing but I had to go in. Truly rejuvenating.

I would make the 10 kilometre trek every day if I lived here. One of the most incredible places I’ve ever been in my life.

You can follow the rest of my trip here

Microtubules, assemble!

What bones are to bodies, the cytoskeleton is to cells. The cytoskeleton maintains cellular structure, builds appendages like flagella and, together with motor proteins, powers cellular movement, transport, and division. Microtubules are a critical component of the cytoskeleton, vital for cell division and, because of that, an excellent target for chemotherapy drugs.

Microtubules can spontaneously self-organize, transforming from many singular components into one large cellular structure capable of performing specific tasks. Think Transformers. How they do that, however, has remained unclear.

Now, researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have observed how microtubules and motor proteins assemble into macroscopic networks. Their observation provides a better understanding of cytoskeletal self-organization in general, which may in turn lead to better drug design and new materials that can mimic cellular behaviors.

The research was recently published in the journal eLife.

Peter J Foster, Sebastian Fürthauer, Michael J Shelley, Daniel J Needleman. Active contraction of microtubule networks. eLife, 2015; 4 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.10837

The white spindles in the center of the cell separate the chromosomes and pull the duplicated DNA from the mother cell into the daughter cell 

VIDEO: Researchers create self assembling carbon nanotubes - Many potential applications

Carbon nanotubes in a dish assemble themselves into a nanowire in seconds under the influence of a custom-built Tesla coil created by scientists at Rice University.

But the scientists don’t limit their aspirations for the phenomenon they call Teslaphoresis to simple nanowires.

The team led by Rice research scientist Paul Cherukuri sees its invention as setting a path toward the assembly of matter from the bottom up on nano and macro scales.


Ref: Teslaphoresis of Carbon Nanotubes. ACS NANO (13 April 2016) | DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.6b02313


This paper introduces Teslaphoresis, the directed motion and self-assembly of matter by a Tesla coil, and studies this electrokinetic phenomenon using single-walled carbon nanotubes (CNTs). Conventional directed self-assembly of matter using electric fields has been restricted to small scale structures, but with Teslaphoresis, we exceed this limitation by using the Tesla coil’s antenna to create a gradient high-voltage force field that projects into free space. CNTs placed within the Teslaphoretic (TEP) field polarize and self-assemble into wires that span from the nanoscale to the macroscale, the longest thus far being 15 cm. We show that the TEP field not only directs the self-assembly of long nanotube wires at remote distances (>30 cm) but can also wirelessly power nanotube-based LED circuits. Furthermore, individualized CNTs self-organize to form long parallel arrays with high fidelity alignment to the TEP field. Thus, Teslaphoresis is effective for directed self-assembly from the bottom-up to the macroscale.

This MIT lab is making solid objects move… all by themselves.

You’re pretty sure your chair won’t get up and walk away, right? For now, you’re probably right. But Skylar Tibbits and his team at the MIT Self-Assembly Lab envision a weirder future. They’re creating objects that can move and change on their own right before your eyes (imagine, for example, a box that assembles itself). The objects are able to move because of memory programmed into the material they’re made with.

Don’t believe us? Watch the objects in action >>

5 Transmen Who Are Good Rolemodels

 There are many transmen who do a lot for their community and advocate for the people who don’t have a voice. Here are 5 transmen who live lives that anyone would be proud to live up to. Of course there are many more out there than these 5 but these are who I personally look up to. 

Sgt. Shane Ortega: Shane is an openly transgender soldier in the US Army as well as a bodybuilder. He served 3 tours for our nation, 2 before testosterone and 1 after. With the ban against transgender individuals in the military, he did not hide his transition. He ended up being placed on desk duty before the ban had begun reevaluation. As of now we are still waiting for a verdict but Transgender individuals who are in the army now will not lose their jobs. Shane Ortega became a spokesman for transgender soldiers in the US Army and has done his part fighting for trans soldiers as well as the nation itself. I have personally spoken to Sgt. Shane Ortega and can honestly say he is an amazing man and role model who lives a life that is selfless and brave.

Aydian Dowling: Dowling is a model, activist, another trans bodybuilder, and runner up in the Men’s Health Ultimate Guy competition. He lives a life that trans athletes and other advocates can look up to. You can see him often on the cover of FTM Magazine. Aydian Dowling is the first transgender man to be featured on the cover of Men’s Health and Gay Times Magazine. @

Malcolm Rene Ribot: Malcolm Ribot is another trans advocate that is just an amazing human. He has been on the road now for 11 months “connecting our community and spreading visibility.” You can follow his journey on Instagram and Tumblr. @gorillashrimp

 Arin Andrews: Arin is another trans advocate I have personally talked to. He is an amazing young man who has shared his voice to many by speaking for the community on tv and in speeches in front of many people. He is also the author of an autobiography, Some Assembly Required, telling his journey through his transition in a close minded area. He is a young college student who has devoted his life to just being awesome. 

Jason Robert Ballard: Jason Ballard was pointed out to me by my mother who’s friend pointed him out to her. He was born and raised in the area that I was born, and still am being raised in which is in Western New York. He is the founder of FTM Magazine and The Self Made Men. His magazine raises so much awareness for the LGBT community and is such an amazing resource. “Celebrate. Promote. Entertain.” @jasonrobertballard @ftmmagazine


Höme Improvisåtion is a wonderful Ikea furniture building simulator that tasks you with building self-assembly furniture without the aid of instructions (only losers use instructions anyway!).

Starting off simply with a small coffee table, the difficulty (and fun) soon ramps up as more complex kits are introduced.  You can even build multiple kits at a time, slotting pieces together any where you like - and creating mutant coffee table/lamp hybrids.  You can even join up with friends and build Swedish furniture with friends in co-op.

Ever wanted to know what the offspring of a table mating with a lamp would be?  Well now you can find out!  Hint: It ain’t pretty!

Play Höme Improvisåtion, Free (Win & Mac)


AADRL Spyropoulos Design Lab

Visual portfolio reel of various projects related to self-assembly robotics which could apply to architecture - a good primer on current ideas in the field:

Research from the AADRL Spyropoulos Design Lab exploring an architecture that is self-aware, self-structured and self-assembles. The research explores high population of mobility agents that evolve an architecture that moves beyond the fixed and finite towards a behavioural model of interactive human and machine ecologies.

You can find out more about the AA DRL program at their website here

New artificial cells mimic nature’s tiny reactors

Artificial cells that mimic their natural counterparts help scientists learn the secrets of complex processes, such as how plant cells turn sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide into fuel. Today’s artificial cells often become unstable when materials transit the membrane. Scientists have developed a new artificial cell where lipid vesicles (small pools of fatty molecules) self-assemble around treated water droplets. The result is an artificial cell or microscopic bioreactor.

On the lDaniel C. Dewey, Christopher A. Strulson, David N. Cacace, Philip C. Bevilacqua, Christine D. Keating. Bioreactor droplets from liposome-stabilized all-aqueous emulsions. Nature Communications, 2014; 5: 4670 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms5670

eft: Fluorescent microscope image shows artificial bioreactors composed of sugar-based dextran polymer solution (blue) encapsulated within a shell of lipid vesicles (red). On the right: schematic illustration of what the vesicles look like at the aqueous/aqueous interface. Blue and yellow shading indicate the interior and exterior solutions.        Credit: Christine Keating

Self assembling superconductor research provides new mechanisms for superconducting structures and composite materials with novel properties

Building on nearly two decades’ worth of research, a multidisciplinary team at Cornell has blazed a new trail by creating a self-assembled, three-dimensional gyroidal superconductor.

Ulrich Wiesner, the Spencer T. Olin Professor of Engineering, led the group, which included researchers in engineering, chemistry and physics.


Ref: Block copolymer self-assembly–directed synthesis of mesoporous gyroidal superconductors. Science Advances (29 January 2016) | DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1501119 | PDF (Open Access)


Superconductors with periodically ordered mesoporous structures are expected to have properties very different from those of their bulk counterparts. Systematic studies of such phenomena to date are sparse, however, because of a lack of versatile synthetic approaches to such materials. We demonstrate the formation of three-dimensionally continuous gyroidal mesoporous niobium nitride (NbN) superconductors from chiral ABC triblock terpolymer self-assembly–directed sol-gel–derived niobium oxide with subsequent thermal processing in air and ammonia gas. Superconducting materials exhibit a critical temperature (Tc) of about 7 to 8 K, a flux exclusion of about 5% compared to a dense NbN solid, and an estimated critical current density (Jc) of 440 A cm−2 at 100 Oe and 2.5 K. We expect block copolymer self-assembly–directed mesoporous superconductors to provide interesting subjects for mesostructure-superconductivity correlation studies.


MIT - Self-Replicating Objects

The Creators Project features MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab (Dimitris Mairopoulos and Skylar Tibbits) newest project: Self-Replicating Spheres. And it’s incredibly beautiful.

As with other Self-Assembly Lab projects, Self-Replicating Spheres is built on customized magnets. When director Skylar Tibbits and his collaborator, Dimitrios Mairopoulos, place the spheres on a table that supplies passive energy, the spheres stick together to form a cell wall-like grouping that grows as researchers “feed” it more spheres. When it reaches critical mass, the “cell” divides into two smaller “cells,” which can then replicate again and again as they get more “food.”

Tibbits & Mairopoulos are interested in the principles and the phenomena of synthetic life. Sure, it looks like the beginning of doom bringing von-Neumann-probes (Fermi Paradox), a grey goo end-of-the-world scenario or sci-fi swarms of nanobots like in Michael Chrichton’s novel Prey, but according to the researchers we’re pretty far from that.

But to be sure that no harm will come, they want to scale the spheres into the hundreds, or even thousands, to see if their magnetic orbs will turn into more complex beings, or just reproduce like rabbits once they’ve got enough food. Good idea.

[read more] [Self-Assembly Lab] [pictures by MIT]

Ants acting as a fluid or a solid

A mass — or you might say, a mess — of fire ants can act like a fluid or a solid, depending on the situation. It’s the first time this duality has been observed in a group of living things.

These images illustrate the findings of the more technical research, done with rheometers to measure the precise viscosity and elasticity of balls of ants under stress. The researchers found that in different situations the ants behaved differently.

To flow, they moved around, rearranging themselves in the group, acting like a thick fluid. When the aggregation struggled to keep its shape, the ants clung to each other, acting like an elastic solid — rubber for example.

The research could have practical implications for self-assembling robots, which build themselves out of smaller bits and for self-healing materials.

In bridge construction, for instance, interest is great in materials that automatically repair cracks. The ants are experts at this kind of repair. When they turn themselves into a bridge for other ants, which they do often, they scramble to quickly repair breaks in any damage to the structure.

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Transformable Meeting Spaces

The MIT School of Architecture’s Self-Assembly Lab has teamed up with Google to create Transformable Meeting Spaces, a project that utilizes woven structure research in wood and fiberglass pods that descend from the ceiling, transforming a large space into a smaller one. Designed as a small-scale intervention for reconfiguring open office plans—which “have been shown to decrease productivity due to noise and privacy challenges”—the pods require no electromechanical systems to function, but rather employ a flexible skeleton and counterweight to change shape. Via

A post by ARCHatlas