Technology Tuesday: August 29

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Welcome to Technology Tuesday! Every week The Job Shop Blog will bring you our 5 top science and technology news stories from around the web.

This week: China is paving the way towards a “Quantum Internet”, a new molecule that fights aging, NASA is planning the most complete map of the universe ever, genetically modified grown organ transplants might be imminent, and Microsoft has released a new chip that could greatly accelerate deep learning programs.


CHINA IS LEADING THE CHARGE TOWARDS A QUANTUM INTERNET

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Recent developments have made the concept of quantum communications and a quantum internet a feasible reality. In fact, some even predict that we will have a quantum internet in as little as 10 years. Entangled photons sent through this method each encode two bits and, because of the nature of photons and this novel method, quantum communications are considered hack-free. This influence on security makes the journey towards a quantum internet one in which many are highly-invested. However, it seems China is the most invested, having pushed innovation in the field further than anyone else. After the initial launch of their satellite “Micius” (i.e., 墨子), Chinese scientists have successfully demonstrated the feasibility of quantum communication over a long distance.

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RESEARCHERS DISCOVER MOLECULE THAT FIGHTS THE SIGNS OF AGING

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Indole, a molecule produced by commensal bacteria, was found to extend healthspan in mice, the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans, and fruit flies. Indoles apparently have the ability to prevent common signs of aging like weight loss and a reduced range of movement.

Healthspan is closely correlated with lifespan, but the two aren’t exactly the same thing — the former refers to the length of time before age-related conditions come into play. This research, which was conducted at the Emory University School of Medicine, aims to find out a little more about how health is affected by age

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PROPOSED NASA MISSION COULD ANSWER THE MYSTERIES OF THE UNIVERSE

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Of the six astrophysics missions NASA chose for concept studies, there was only one that would reveal exciting new information about the stars in our universe.

The Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization, and Ices Explorer (or SPHEREx), is a small satellite that will be the first to perform an all-sky spectral survey, taking in the entire sphere light around the Earth. It is expected to provide NASA scientists with a better understanding of the birth and growth of our galaxy, as well as add to the ongoing search for life on other planets and stars.

SPHEREx will operate for 25 months (a little over two years), and will map the entire sky four times during its journey through space. It also has three main goals to address.

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ORGANS FROM GENETICALLY MODIFIED PIGS COULD BE READY FOR HUMAN TRANSPLANT WITHIN 2 YEARS

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This year, novel organ transplant procedures have been getting a fair amount of attention. While some may seem rather bizarre — like that human head transplant currently in the works — others could be the beginning of a new era in organ transplantation. Chinese researchers have been working on using genetically modified pig organs for human transplantation, and they expect it to be available in the next two years.

Because they closely resemble human organs in terms of size and metabolism, pig organs are considered to be the best animal organs for human transplants — a procedure known as xenotransplantation. Studies involving pig organ transplants have shown considerable benefits, most notably a baboon that received a pig’s heart was able to survive for three years.

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MICROSOFT RELEASES REVOLUTIONARY DEEP LEARNING CHIP

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At the 2017 Hot Chips symposium today, Microsoft unveiled a new hardware capable of boosting artificial intelligence (AI) programs. Called Brainwave, Microsoft believes it’ll boost how machine learning models function by designing them for programmable silicon.

“We designed the system for real-time AI, which means the system processes requests as fast as it receives them, with ultra-low latency,” Microsoft explained in a press release. “Real-time AI is becoming increasingly important as cloud infrastructures process live data streams, whether they be search queries, videos, sensor streams, or interactions with users.”

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