Hydrogen from paint? Material science has much more to give.


Researchers have developed a paint-like product that can turn air into hydrogen fuel. Hydrogen is an extremely clean fuel source, emitting only water when it’s burned. However, the fossil fuels needed to create it negate its environmental benefits, and alternative production methods using liquid water aren’t cost-effective. The newly developed material addresses both problems, drawing water molecules from humid air and using solar energy captured by the paint to split them into their hydrogen and oxygen components. We spoke with Torben Daeneke, lead author of the study introducing the technology, to learn more.

Seriously? A potential CURE for MS? Y’all go back to worrying over FANG…


“I discovered a small binary switch, controlled by a LIF, which regulates inside the immune cell itself. LIF is able to control the cell to ensure it doesn’t attack your own body but then releases the attack when needed.

“That LIF, in addition to regulating and protecting us against attack, also plays a major role in keeping the brain and spinal cord healthy. In fact it plays a major role in tissue repair generally, turning on stem cells that are naturally occurring in the body, making it a natural regenerative medicine, but also plays a big part in repairing the brain when it’s been damaged.

“So I thought, this is fantastic. We can treat auto-immune disease, and we’ve got something to treat MS, which attacks both the brain and the spinal cord. So you have a double whammy that can stop and reverse the auto-immunity, and also repair the damage caused in the brain.”

Presumably Su, who has been in Cambridge since she was an undergraduate but retains a soft accent from her native Yorkshire, was dancing a jig of delight around her lab at this point, but she soon hit a snag; the LIF could only survive outside the cell for 20 minutes before being broken down by the body, meaning there was not enough time to deploy it in a therapy. And this is where the technology, in the form of nano-particles, comes in.

“They are made from the same material as soluble stitches, so they’re compatible with the body and they slowly dissolve,” says Su.

“We load the cargo of the LIF into those particles, which become the delivery device that slowly dissolve and deliver the LIF over five days. The nano-particle itself is a protective environment, and the enzymes that break it down can’t access it. You can also decorate the surface of the particles with antibodies, so it becomes a homing device that can target specific parts of the brain, for example. So you get the right dose, in the right place, and at the right time.”

Computer modeling new proteins


In a just published paper in Nature Biotechnology, scientists here at the Institute for Protein Design at the University of Washington went a step further and demonstrated a new way to shut down the flu: They used computer modeling to build a completely new kind of antiviral protein with three sticky hands.

Why three? It turns out many deadly envelope viruses – like influenza, Ebola and HIV – build their spike proteins out of three symmetric parts.

A single antiviral drug with three properly spaced hands should be able to symmetrically grab each part of a spike protein, leading to tighter binding and overall better antiviral activity. This geometric feat is beyond what the human immune system can naturally do.


Left: The tips of many viral spike proteins are built out of three symmetric parts, with one part highlighted in pink. Right: A new three-handed antiflu protein (blue) bound to influenza’s HA spike. UW Institute for Protein Design, CC BY-ND
The design strategy worked. The best three-handed protein, called Tri-HSB.1C, was able to bind tightly to diverse strains of influenza. When given to mice, it also afforded complete protection against a lethal flu infection with only minimal associated weight loss – a trait commonly used to diagnose flu severity in mice. Researchers are now applying the same tools to the Ebola spike protein.

It will be many years before this new technology is approved for use in humans, for any virus. But we may not have to wait long to see some lifesaving benefits.

Additive manufacturing is transitioning from a prototyping technology to true manufacturing – take for example Multi-Jet Fusion (MJF).



“We were building production parts inside of four or five days once they’re set up. The idea with this technology is that you’re getting into monster-sized production capability. HP has increased speed on this equipment and reduced the cost dramatically. We’re able to look at short series runs that get into the hundreds, thousands and—with the right parts—into the tens of thousands.”

Currently, Forecast 3D is capable of working with Nylon 12 materials on HP’s MJF printers, but with material development kits available from a number of materials companies, that list is expected to grow rapidly, Weber explained.

“They’re running off a platform of low cost materials as well, so the material that you’re not using is fully recyclable. You’re putting in a maximum of 80 percent recyclability to a 20 percent version – it’s a material stream that can be refreshed and the material is low cost.

The MJF printing machines are well-suited to producing end-use parts, Weber continued. “The longest build you’re going to get off this machine is going to be 12 hours, not considering cooling, so you’ve got production parts within 24 hours. It’s early and these machines are just hitting the field, but we do expect big opportunities with this technology.”

The exponential capture of information in a digital form, abundance in processing capacity and increasing technological hyper-connectedness already challenge the way western developed democracies operate politically.

Big ideas, big consequences… worth trying to understand… value contribution 


Economies all over the world are in the midst of many great changes and uncertainty.

Most importantly, digitalisation, globalisation and an ageing population will break the traditional connection between growth, productivity and well-being in an unforeseen manner. Political leaders all over the world struggle to grow the economy, increase exports and create new jobs. A higher employment rate in paid employment is a generally accepted goal. In 2017, politics is still founded on the idea that increasing labour in the market results in growth.

In this paper we argue differently. Digitalisation, globalisation and ageing seem to be breaking the connection between growth and well-being.

This article was triggered by the contemporary experiences of the authors. We were tired of hearing economists talk about how necessary growth and productivity are for well-being. We don’t believe in this story any more.

This is how Big Oil will die

So… Seth Miller doesn’t have to be 100% right… he can be 50% right and still rock your investing world. 

Big Oil believes it is different. I am less optimistic for them.

An autonomous vehicle will cost about $0.13 per mile to operate, and even less as battery life improves. By comparison, your 20 miles per gallon automobile costs $0.10 per mile to refuel if gasoline is $2/gallon, and that is before paying for insurance, repairs, or parking. Add those, and the price of operating a vehicle you have already paid off shoots to $0.20 per mile, or more.

And this is what will kill oil: It will cost less to hail an autonomous electric vehicle than to drive the car that you already own.

If you think this reasoning is too coarse, consider the recent analysis from the consulting company RethinkX (run by the aforementioned Tony Seba), which built a much more detailed, sophisticated model to explicitly analyze the future costs of autonomous vehicles. Here is a sampling of what they predict:

Self-driving cars will launch around 2021

A private ride will be priced at 16¢ per mile, falling to 10¢ over time.

A shared ride will be priced at 5¢ per mile, falling to 3¢ over time.

By 2022, oil use will have peaked

By 2023, used car prices will crash as people give up their vehicles. New car sales for individuals will drop to nearly zero.

By 2030, gasoline use for cars will have dropped to near zero, and total crude oil use will have dropped by 30% compared to today.

The driver behind all this is simple: Given a choice, people will select the cheaper option.

Your initial reaction may be to believe that cars are somehow different — they are built into the fabric of our culture. But consider how people have proven more than happy to sell seemingly unyielding parts of their culture for far less money. Think about how long a beloved mom and pop store lasts after Walmart moves into town, or how hard we try to “Buy American” when a cheaper option from China emerges.

And autonomous vehicles will not only be cheaper, but more convenient as well — there is no need to focus on driving, there will be fewer accidents, and no need to circle the lot for parking. And your garage suddenly becomes a sunroom.

For the moment, let’s make the assumption that the RethinkX team has their analysis right (and I broadly agree[1]): Self-driving EVs will be approved worldwide starting around 2021, and adoption will occur in less than a decade.

A rtificial intelligence (AI) is growing faster than ever in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region 

A rtificial intelligence (AI) is growing faster than ever in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region owing to the rise in machine learning capabilities. The AI market in APAC has recently shifted from nascent stage to intermediate stage. The growth of AI technology in the APAC region is mainly because of the huge chunks of data base created through AI powered platforms such as software suites, wearable devices, and chatbots.AI technology can efficiently manage such huge and complex set of database. Moreover, rising focus on developing a human aware automated system is creating an opportunity across high-tech end –user industries.
Furthermore, there are specialised software frameworks to support and develop AI technology. Technology companies in APAC region deploy software framework that support AI technology as per their preference. For instance, AI companies in China prefer Tensor Flow and Caffe, whereas companies in Singapore prefer Microsoft CNTK, and Japanese companies prefer Chainer software to support AI technologies.
AI technology is a vital part of the digital future which will have biggest impact on the APAC region. Machine learning, natural language processing, big data analytics, speech recognition, voice recognition, and image processing are amongst the major AI technologies to grow at a faster rate in the APAC region.
Government investment and presence of key players such as Microsoft, IBM, Facebook, Google, and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise is driving the AI market in the APAC region especially in economies such as China, Japan, Singapore, and India. For instance, recently Singapore’s National Research Foundation has announced (AI.SG) initiative with an investment of USD 107.64 million to uplift artificial intelligence technology across Singapore’s R&D institutes.
Intelligent video analytics surveillance through AI has recently gained high importance in the APAC region. Increasing need for security especially in residential and commercial areas, mob control, and traffic control are fuelling the market for AI. For instance, human being can monitor very few commercial and residential areas at a time, and if there are more than 500 residential or commercial spaces it will be difficult for human being to monitor and track all the flats and commercial spaces at the same time. Artificial intelligence will not only help in monitoring and track suspicious activities but also send alert notification to the police thus improving security. Companies such as Cisco, Fujitsu, Huawei, and Hikvision are key players involved in the process of developing AI technology for video surveillance. Moreover, in order to increase AI applications, technology companies are planning to focus on smartphone and tablets apps to penetrate in the growing APAC region.
Artificial intelligence has several advantages over traditional computing methods which have resulted in gaining momentum in recent years. Reduction in error, ease in mining and fuel exploration, digital assistants to interact with users, perform multiple monotonous tasks within speculated time with accuracy, and detect and monitor neurological disorders are few benefits of deploying AI technology. Moreover in the APAC region AI has gained much importance because of its capacity to provide personalised experience to its customers which helps is better customer engagement and service especially in the technologically advanced economies such as China and Japan.
Risks associated with current AI technology
AI is likely to exhibit human emotions with the advent in technology. Moreover industry experts have come across certain risk associated with the advanced AI or super intelligence AI technology. AI is a constructive technology, however sometimes it develops destructive methods to achieve its goals. For instance, if a person asks an AI powered autonomous car to reach a certain destination in a stipulated time, the car will take the person to desired place but it might not care if a person is uncomfortable with the speed. Furthermore, AI powered autonomous weapons can be devastating resulting in mass causalities. For instance, if AI powered autonomous weapons falls in the hand of a wrong person it can lead to AI war, which may cause mass destruction.
Moreover, high cost of deployment, lack of improvement in technology, lack of original creativity, and unemployment caused by replacing of human beings with automated machine are some of the disadvantages of deploying AI technology.
However, with the advent of technology the AI market will continue to evolve, progress, and overcome risks associated with current AI technology. Moreover, AI is to make life easier for human being which is possible if emotional quotient is added in machine along with general intelligence.
Furthermore, ‘Sky is the limit’ for AI technology, it will not only explore new areas be it in deep ocean or space but also improve the way we live our lives or the way we think. AI will be easily adoptable through the changes it will bring in our life.

Trade update 6/9/17

So yesterday was dramatic. As you know if you’ve been following I was long nq going into the day. With a few aapl puts as my only hedge. Half of the contracts had stops, half didn’t. That is due to trading different time-frames. So half of the positions stopped out down about 60 points. Interestingly, the aapl puts did fantastic, buffering the loss. However, the slow side of the system just held through the drama, as it is supposed to. So one side of the portfolio was only down about net 30 basis points. The other side was down close to 300 basis points.

All in all it was a great disciple-day on the market and bodes well for the future. I’m relieved. And looking to get long soon.

Crispr wars wage on…


The fear is that planned medical treatments using CRISPR could prove dangerous. A single erroneous cut could be disastrous for patients if it lands in a vital gene. Fifteen years ago, pioneering experiments in gene therapy were set back when unintentional genetic changes caused cancer in some children. Many scientists believe careful programming can eliminate most of the risk.

The ease of use of CRISPR means nearly any lab can try it. In China, some human experiments have already begun. The rush to use the method is part of what’s creating anxiety, since it makes mistakes more likely. Editas recently postponed its own planned study of CRISPR to correct an eye disease until next year.

According to Intellia, however, the authors showed “disregard” for what’s already known about CRISPR. “It is clear the authors are not experts on the CRISPR Cas9, whole genome sequencing, nor basic genetics. Their claim of ‘unexpected mutations’ clearly demonstrates their lack of scientific acumen around this topic,” the company said.