Good News/Bad News: Biology Meets Technology

Or should it really be called good news this week? Because you know, I really couldn’t find two news stories I wanted to talk about this week. I do have a bad news item this week but it’s pretty minor and I’ll probably put it out there now, because I don’t really have a whole lot to say about it.

If you live in the UK (as I do), the promise of an ipad with 4G technology is… debatable…

Not because the ipad doesn’t have the technology to back up the claim, but because of two reasons that are more a question of functionality.

1) 4G systems aren’t widely available over here.
2) When they do they’ll probably work on a different frequency, and therefore will not interact with the ipads that are tuned to US frequencies.

So that sucks if you’re an apple fan/someone with lots of money to throw away.

Take a look for yourself, then we can have a discussion about why there is a product on the market that’s a giant iphone without the phone.

But if you’re excited about the future of tiny, tiny electronics I may have something nice to tell you in regards to utilising the piezoelectric effect and its effects at work on bacteriophages.

For those of you who don’t know what a bacteriophage is from the name alone, you’ll have certainly seen a picture of one at some point. These are viruses that use bacteria for reproduction and metabolism, and are essentially harmless to us because of this specialisation. They look (at least to me) like the Apollo 11 landing module, what with their bulbous heads and spindly legs.

Look them up, they’re awesome.

What’s very interesting, and what the American department of energy discovered, is that when a film of these viruses had an electrical field applied to it, the helical proteins covering the viruses responded by twisting and turning. An interesting phenomena you might say, and I would agree, however, the really cool part was that, using negatively charged amino acid residues they were able to increase the voltage of the virus, an act that was also observed when stacking 20 layers of these viruses.

So, and correct me if I’m wrong, this suggests that we may be able to utilise bigger voltages on a smaller scale using these creatures.

And that’s pretty damn cool.


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