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May 24, 2020

Purified: Two sips into my Centurion Pilsner at a beer garden in Denver, I hiccupped

Posted by in categories: engineering, food, sustainability

Hoppy beers do that to me. This beer was different. The water used for the brew came not from a river, a reservoir, or even a well. Instead, the water was sourced from a wastewater treatment plant located along the South Platte River. This simple fact didn’t bother me at all.

To be clear, I’m not a risk taker. Never skydived. Never paddled down Class V rapids. Never swallowed goldfish on a dare. But from what I’ve learned about purification processes for reclaimed water, drinking this limited-edition beer was eminently safe. The pilsner, blonde and translucent, like a Coors, looked and tasted like any number of beers made from water freshly obtained from creeks and rivers tumbling from Colorado’s mountain peaks. As for the strawberry-kiwi wheat beer ordered by my companion, I would have nothing of it. “That’s not beer,” I harrumphed, “that’s a fruit bowl. Undrinkable.”

I was at Declaration Brewing Co., located in Denver’s Overland neighborhood. The brewery and also a winery, InVINtions, located in Greenwood Village, were part of a regional effort. Water for the one-time specialty beverages produced by both came from the PureWater Colorado Demonstration Project. In the demonstration that was conducted in spring of 2018, water providers, engineering companies and water reuse advocates collaborated to showcase direct potable reuse treatment technologies. The water was treated using five different processes until it met federal and state drinking water standards, suitable for human consumption.

Continue reading “Purified: Two sips into my Centurion Pilsner at a beer garden in Denver, I hiccupped” »

May 24, 2020

Meet the E-Nose That Actually Sniffs

Posted by in categories: chemistry, food

Circa 2018


E-noses come in a variety of architectures, but most rely exclusively on chemical sensors, such as metal oxides or conducting polymers. The TruffleBot goes a step further: A 3.5-inch-by-2-inch circuit board that sits atop a Raspberry Pi contains eight pairs of sensors in four rows of two. Each sensor pair includes a chemical sensor to detect vapors and a mechanical sensor (a digital barometer) to measure air pressure and temperature.

Then comes the sniffing bit: Odor samples are pushed across these sensors by small air pumps that can be programmed to take up puffs of air in a pattern. “When animals want to smell something, they don’t just passively expose themselves to the chemical. They’re actively sniffing for it—sampling the air and moving around—so the signals that are being received are not static,” says Rosenstein.

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May 23, 2020

Cellular Aquaculture — Feed The World and Save the Oceans — Lou Cooperhouse, President & CEO, BlueNalu — ideaXme — Ira Pastor

Posted by in categories: 3D printing, bioengineering, biological, bioprinting, business, food, futurism, health, lifeboat, science

May 23, 2020

This Lickable Screen Can Recreate Almost Any Taste or Flavor Without Eating Food

Posted by in categories: electronics, food

No matter how they may make you feel, licking your gadgets and electronics is never recommended. Unless you’re a researcher from Meiji University in Japan who’s invented what’s being described as a taste display that can artificially recreate any flavor by triggering the five different tastes on a user’s tongue.

May 22, 2020

Japan’s forgotten indigenous people

Posted by in category: food

“This is our bear hut,” the short, vivacious woman shouted through a hand-held loudspeaker, her smile creasing her forehead with deep wrinkles. A blue hat was perched on her head and her short tunic, embroidered with pink geometric designs, was tied sharply at the waist. She pointed at a wooden structure made of round logs, raised high above the ground on stilts.


“We caught the bears as cubs and raised them as a member of the family. They shared our food and lived in our village. When the time came, we set one free back into nature and killed the other to eat.”

Having treated the bear well in life, her people believe the spirit of the sacred animal, which they worship as a deity, will ensure the continued good fortune of their community.

Continue reading “Japan’s forgotten indigenous people” »

May 20, 2020

Forget Exercise—These Mice Got Ripped With Gene Therapy

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, food, health

A gene therapy trial performed on mice may foreshadow yet another way to hack fitness. In a study done by a team at Washington University in St. Louis’ medical school, mice quickly built muscle mass and reduced obesity after receiving the therapy, even while eating a diet high in fat and not exercising. The results were published last week in a paper in Science Advances.


The gene targeted was FST, which is responsible for making a protein called follistatin. In humans and most other mammals, follistatin helps grow muscle and control metabolism by blocking a protein called myostatin, which acts to restrain muscle growth and ensure muscles don’t get too big.

The researchers injected eight-week-old mice with a virus carrying a healthy FST gene (gene therapy involves adding healthy copies of a gene to cells, usually using a virus as a deliveryman).

Continue reading “Forget Exercise—These Mice Got Ripped With Gene Therapy” »

May 18, 2020

CRISPRdisco: An Automated Pipeline for the Discovery and Analysis of CRISPR-Cas Systems

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, evolution, food

Circa 2018


CRISPR-Cas adaptive immune systems of bacteria and archaea have catapulted into the scientific spotlight as genome editing tools. To aid researchers in the field, we have developed an automated pipeline, named CRISPRdisco (CRISPR discovery), to identify CRISPR repeats and cas genes in genome assemblies, determine type and subtype, and describe system completeness. All six major types and 23 currently recognized subtypes and novel putative V-U types are detected. Here, we use the pipeline to identify and classify putative CRISPR-Cas systems in 2,777 complete genomes from the NCBI RefSeq database. This allows comparison to previous publications and investigation of the occurrence and size of CRISPR-Cas systems. Software available at http://github.com/crisprlab/CRISPRdisco provides reproducible, standardized, accessible, transparent, and high-throughput analysis methods available to all researchers in and beyond the CRISPR-Cas research community. This tool opens new avenues to enable classification within a complex nomenclature and provides analytical methods in a field that has evolved rapidly.

CRISPR-Cas* bacterial and archaeal immune systems remain of high interest across many domains of the life sciences, including food science, molecular biology, prokaryotic evolution, and as a technology from pharma to next-generation crops.1–4 The unifying interest in CRISPR is the tremendous wealth of applications this technology affords. While application and tool development using a handful of characterized CRISPR-Cas systems has exploded, the annotation and discovery of systems remains an ongoing challenge for microbiologists and bioinformaticians to solve. The ability to identify CRISPR-Cas systems can benefit the greater scientific community, from microbiologists attempting to learn about adaptive immunity in prokaryotes, to molecular biologists interested in harnessing the nucleic acid-targeting functions of various Cas proteins.

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May 17, 2020

Intriguing Genetics That Flipped the Food Chain to Allow Carnivorous Plants to Hunt Animals

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, food, genetics

Plants can produce energy-rich biomass with the help of light, water and carbon dioxide. This is why they are at the beginning of the food chains. But the carnivorous plants have turned the tables and hunt animals. Insects are their main food source.

A publication in the journal Current Biology now sheds light on the secret life of the green carnivores. The plant scientist Rainer Hedrich and the evolutionary bioinformatician Jörg Schultz, both from Julius-Maximilians-Universität (JMU) Würzburg in Bavaria, Germany, and their colleague Mitsujasu Hasebe from the University of Okazaki (Japan) have deciphered and analyzed the genomes of three carnivorous plant species.

They studied the Venus flytrap Dionaea muscipula, which originates from North America, the globally occurring waterwheel plant Aldrovanda vesiculosa and the spoon-leaved sundew Drosera spatulata, which is widely distributed in Asia.

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May 15, 2020

Researchers develop an artificial chloroplast

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, chemistry, food, nanotechnology

Over billions of years, microorganisms and plants evolved the remarkable process we know as photosynthesis. Photosynthesis converts sun energy into chemical energy, thus providing all life on Earth with food and oxygen. The cellular compartments housing the molecular machines, the chloroplasts, are probably the most important natural engines on earth. Many scientists consider artificially rebuilding and controlling the photosynthetic process the “Apollo project of our time.” It would mean the ability to produce clean energy—clean fuel, clean carbon compounds such as antibiotics, and other products simply from light and carbon dioxide.

But how to build a living, photosynthetic cell from scratch? Key to mimicking the processes of a living cell is to get its components to work together at the right time and place. At the Max Planck Society, this ambitious goal is pursued in an interdisciplinary multi-lab initiative, the MaxSynBio network. Now the Marburg research team led by director Tobias Erb has succeeded successfully created a platform for the automated construction of cell-sized photosynthetically active compartments, “artificial chloroplasts,” that are able to capture and convert the greenhouse gas dioxide with light.

May 14, 2020

The next pandemic is already coming, unless humans change how we interact with wildlife, scientists say

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, food

Wild animals have always had viruses coursing through their bodies. But a global wildlife trade worth billions of dollars, agricultural intensification, deforestation and urbanization are bringing people closer to animals, giving their viruses more of what they need to infect us: opportunity. Most fail. Some succeed on small scales. Very few, like SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus, triumph, aided by a supremely interconnected human population that can transport a pathogen around the world on a jet in mere hours.

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