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E. coli thrives in our guts, sometimes to unfortunate effect, and it facilitates scientific advances—in DNA, biofuels, and Pfizer’s covid vaccine, to name but a few. Now this multitalented bacterium has a new trick: it can solve a classic computational maze problem using distributed computing—dividing up the necessary calculations among different types of genetically engineered cells.

This neat feat is a credit to synthetic biology, which aims to rig up biological circuitry much like electronic circuitry and to program cells as easily as computers.

The maze experiment is part of what some researchers consider a promising direction in the field: rather than engineering a single type of cell to do all the work, they design multiple types of cells, each with different functions, to get the job done. Working in concert, these engineered microbes might be able to “compute” and solve problems more like multicellular networks in the wild.

So far, for better or worse, fully harnessing biology’s design power has eluded, and frustrated, synthetic biologists. “Nature can do this (think about a brain), but we don’t yet know how to design at that overwhelming level of complexity using biology,” says Pamela Silver, a synthetic biologist at Harvard.

The study with E. coli as maze solvers, led by biophysicist Sangram Bagh at the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics in Kolkata, is a simple and fun toy problem. But it also serves as a proof of principle for distributed computing among cells, demonstrating how more complex and practical computational problems might be solved in a similar way. If this approach works at larger scales, it could unlock applications pertaining to everything from pharmaceuticals to agriculture to space travel.         

“As we move into solving more complex problems with engineered biological systems, spreading out the load like this is going to be an important capacity to establish,” says David McMillen, a bioengineer at the University of Toronto.

How to build a bacterial maze

Getting E. coli to solve the maze problem involved some ingenuity. The bacteria didn’t wander through a palace labyrinth of well-pruned hedges. Rather, the bacteria analyzed various maze configurations. The setup: one maze per test tube, with each maze generated by a different chemical concoction.

The chemical recipes were abstracted from a 2 × 2 grid representing the maze problem. The grid’s top left square is the start of the maze, and the bottom right square is the destination. Each square on the grid can be either an open path or blocked, yielding 16 possible mazes.

Bagh and his colleagues mathematically translated this problem into a truth table composed of 1s and 0s, showing all possible maze configurations. Then they mapped those configurations onto 16 different concoctions of four chemicals. The presence or absence of each chemical corresponds to whether a particular square is open or blocked in the maze.

The team engineered multiple sets of E. coli with different genetic circuits that detected and analyzed those chemicals. Together, the mixed population of bacteria functions as a distributed computer; each of the various sets of cells perform part of the computation, processing the chemical information and solving the maze.

Running the experiment, the researchers first put the E. coli in 16 test tubes, added a different chemical-maze concoction in each, and left the bacteria to grow. After 48 hours, if the E. coli detected no clear path through the maze—that is, if the requisite chemicals were absent—then the system remained dark. If the correct chemical combination was present, corresponding circuits turned “on” and the bacteria collectively expressed fluorescent proteins, in yellow, red, blue or pink, to indicate solutions. “If there is a path, a solution, the bacteria glow,” says Bagh.

bacteria mazes research image
Four of 16 possible maze configurations are shown. The two mazes at left do not have clear paths from the start to the destination (due to obstructed/shaded squares), thus there is no solution and the system

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By: Siobhan Roberts
Title: An E. coli biocomputer solves a maze by sharing the work
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2021/11/09/1039107/e-coli-maze-solving-biocomputer/
Published Date: Tue, 09 Nov 2021 11:00:00 +0000

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LATAM crypto exchange Bitso and FMF launch NFT of Mexico’s National Team jerseys

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Bitso, a leading cryptocurrency platform operating in Latin America, and the Mexican Football Federation (FMF), today announced the joint launch of the first collectible NFT of the Mexico National Team’s jerseys that was acquired in cryptocurrencies.

This morning through their social media platforms, the FMF and Bitso announced the opportunity to acquire the new official National Team fan jerseys ahead of the team’s participation in the 2022 World Cup. In just 20 minutes, the entire collection sold out.

bitsonftjeysey
The NFTs of the jerseys have an exclusive design for the metaverse – each is unique on the blockchain and can be resold by its owner in subsequent transactions.

The collection consisted of 100 official physical jerseys, each with a corresponding NFT version of the jersey that fans’ avatars can wear within the Decentraland metaverse. Each physical and NFT jersey set sold for the equivalent of $1,800 MXN in ethers.

“Our mission is to make cryptocurrency useful in the everyday life of Mexicans; we are committed to spreading the technology through innovative opportunities that help people throughout the country familiarize themselves with this new world. We are very excited to offer the incredible, historic opportunity for the fans of our National Team so that through their Bitso account, they can wear the colors of the National Team on and ‘off’ the field in the metaverse.”
– Bárbara González Briseño, General Director of Bitso México

Jersey NFTs

Created by Bitso, the virtual jersey sports the official colors of Mexico and the new National Team shield, characteristics that will make it stand out when users wear it in the virtual world of Decentraland.

The post LATAM crypto exchange Bitso and FMF launch NFT of Mexico’s National Team jerseys appeared first on CryptoNinjas.

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By: CryptoNinjas.net
Title: LATAM crypto exchange Bitso and FMF launch NFT of Mexico’s National Team jerseys
Sourced From: www.cryptoninjas.net/2022/07/29/latam-crypto-exchange-bitso-and-fmf-launch-nft-of-mexicos-national-team-jerseys/
Published Date: Fri, 29 Jul 2022 15:19:02 +0000

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Long-running crypto exchange EXMO unveils “lively” rebrand amidst growth

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EXMO, a crypto exchange platform operating since 2014, announced this week a rebranded visual identity with includes a new logo, brand colors, and design features. This new branding comes as EXMO continues to grow its crypto platform while also seeking to expand its presence in other jurisdictions.

Some new developments underway at EXMO:

Soon, users will be able to earn passive income from EXMO’s new staking platform.Plans to launch an EXMO crypto debit card.Expansion of its services in international markets with the opening of offices in Poland and Lithuania.

EXMO’s new logo

The rationale for the re-brand:

“At EXMO, we have a vision of a world where crypto is in every wallet. Hassle-free. We want to achieve this by making crypto as simple and accessible to everyone as possible. And we know that you already appreciate EXMO for offering user-friendly services and helpful support. Also for the opportunity to trade anywhere and anytime, closing deals in just a few taps. Such important changes required a rethinking of our corporate style, which has long needed a massive upgrade. So today we are introducing a new brand identity for EXMO with a completely new visual concept. We are launching a new logo, brand colors, and design elements. Our key design principles are simplicity, boldness, and a pinch of fun. But most importantly, we have changed our logo. Simple and easily recognizable, it represents the humanity of our brand. The logo stands out due to the wavy letter ‘m’ which symbolizes exchange rate charts and also resembles a spring that will launch you into the crypto world.”
– The EXMO Team regarding the re-branding

The post Long-running crypto exchange EXMO unveils “lively” rebrand amidst growth appeared first on CryptoNinjas.

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By: CryptoNinjas.net
Title: Long-running crypto exchange EXMO unveils “lively” rebrand amidst growth
Sourced From: www.cryptoninjas.net/2022/07/26/long-running-crypto-exchange-exmo-unveils-lively-rebrand-amidst-growth/
Published Date: Tue, 26 Jul 2022 08:10:38 +0000

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https://www.mansbrand.com/stitching-together-the-grid-will-save-lives-as-extreme-weather-worsens/

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Stitching together the grid will save lives as extreme weather worsens

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The blistering heat waves that set temperature records across much of the US in recent days have strained electricity systems, threatening to knock out power in vulnerable regions of the country. 

The electricity has largely stayed online so far this summer, but there have been scattered problems and close calls already. 

Heavy use of energy-sucking air-conditioners is the biggest problem. But intense heat can also reduce the output of power plants, blow transformers, and force power lines to sag. Severe droughts across large parts of the country have also significantly reduced the availability of hydroelectric power, according to the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC). 

It’s unlikely to get better soon. A number of grid operators may struggle to meet peak summer demand, creating the risk of rolling blackouts, the NERC report notes.

The nation’s isolated and antiquated grids are in desperate need of upgrades to keep the lights, heat, and air-conditioning on in the midst of extreme weather events that climate change is making more common, severe, and dangerous. One clear way to ease many of these issues is to more tightly integrate the country’s regional grids, stitching them together with more long-range transmission lines. 

If electricity generated in one area can be more easily shared across much wider regions, power can simply flow to where it’s needed at those moments when customers crank up air-conditioners en masse, or when power plants or fuel supply lines fail amid soaring temperatures, wildfires, hurricanes, or other events, says Liza Reed, a research manager focused on transmission at the Niskanen Center, a Washington, DC, think tank.  

The problem is it’s proved difficult to build more long-range transmission and grid interconnections for a variety of reasons, including the permitting challenges of erecting wires through private and public lands across cities, counties, and states and the reluctance of local authorities to forfeit control or submit to greater federal oversight.

The case of Texas

The unreliability of the US grid is not a new problem. Severe heat and winter storms have repeatedly exposed the frailty of electricity systems in recent years, leaving thousands to millions of people without power as temperatures spiked or plunged.

One of the fundamental challenges is that the grids today are highly fragmented. There are three main electricity networks within the US: the Eastern Grid, the Western Grid, and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). But there are numerous regional transmission organizations within those first two systems, including the California Independent System Operator, Southwest Power Pool, PJM Interconnection, New York ISO, and more. 

These grids form a complex web of networks operating under different regulators, rules and market structures, and often with limited connections between them.

Map USA grid
A variety of regional transmission organizations oversee different parts of the nation’s aging and fragmented grids, which operate under different rules and with often limited connections between them.
legend

ERCOT is especially isolated, in part because of the desire among local politicians, citizens, and power companies to avoid added competition, the hassle of following other states’ rules, and oversight from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). But the state offers a case study in why that can be a serious problem amid increasingly harsh climate conditions, Reed says.

The Texas grid operator pleaded with customers several times earlier this month to cut electricity use as blistering summer temperatures created  demand surges that threatened to outstrip supply and require rolling blackouts.  Low wind conditions, cloud cover, and outages at fossil-fuel power plants added to the strains.

Shutting off the electricity needed to run air-conditioning in triple-digit temperatures

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By: James Temple
Title: Stitching together the grid will save lives as extreme weather worsens
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2022/07/28/1056483/stitching-together-the-grid-will-save-lives-as-extreme-weather-worsens/
Published Date: Thu, 28 Jul 2022 08:00:00 +0000

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