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From Macro to Micro: A Visual Guide to the Brain

Here’s how the brain’s 86 billion neurons do their work

2 min read
Illustration: James Provost
Illustration: James Provost

Guide to the Brain

In the human brain, higher-level information processing occurs in the neocortex, neural tissue that forms the outer layer of the cerebral cortex. In its intricate folds, brain cells work together to interpret sensory information and to form thoughts and plans. The neocortex is divided into regions that take the lead on different types of processing. However, much of today’s neuroscience research focuses on mapping the connectome: the neural connections between regions.

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Caltech Team Launches Experimental Space-Based Solar Array

The satellite will test some of the tech needed to wirelessly beam power from orbit

4 min read
A lightweight gold-colored square frame for a solar power array, seen flying in space with Earth in background.

Artist's conception of Caltech's Space Solar Power Demonstrator in Earth orbit.

Caltech

For about as long as engineers have talked about beaming solar power to Earth from space, they’ve had to caution that it was an idea unlikely to become real anytime soon. Elaborate designs for orbiting solar farms have circulated for decades—but since photovoltaic cells were inefficient, any arrays would need to be the size of cities. The plans got no closer to space than the upper shelves of libraries.

That’s beginning to change. Right now, in a sun-synchronous orbit about 525 kilometers overhead, there is a small experimental satellite called the Space Solar Power Demonstrator One (SSPD-1 for short). It was designed and built by a team at the California Institute of Technology, funded by donations from the California real estate developer Donald Bren, and launched on 3 January—among 113 other small payloads—on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

“To the best of our knowledge, this would be the first demonstration of actual power transfer in space, of wireless power transfer,” says Ali Hajimiri, a professor of electrical engineering at Caltech and a codirector of the program behind SSPD-1, the Space Solar Power Project.

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When Breathing Sciences Lead to a Mobile Life-Support Device

The compact unit is equipped with an innovative ventilator that recovers oxygen exhaled by the patient

5 min read
A soldier carrying a MOVES SLC portable life support unit walks over to an injured person on the ground.

Thornhill Medical's mobile life-support device, called MOVES SLC, has been used by military medical teams for five years. The unit can be slung across the shoulder and includes a circle-circuit ventilator and oxygen concentrator that eliminate the need to carry heavy, dangerous high pressure O2 cylinders.

Thornhill Medical

This is a sponsored article brought to you by LEMO.

A bomb explodes — medical devices set to action.

It is only in war that both sides of human ingenuity coexist so brutally. On the one side, it innovates to wound and kill, on the other it heals and saves lives. Side by side, but viscerally opposed.

Dr. Joe Fisher is devoted to the light side of human ingenuity, medicine. His research at Toronto’s University Health Network has made major breakthroughs in understanding the absorption and use of oxygen by the body. Then, based on the results, he developed new, highly efficient methods of delivering oxygen to patients.

In 2004, together with other physicians and engineers, he created a company to develop solutions based on his innovations. He named it after the Toronto neighborhood where he still lives — Thornhill Medical.

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