Google’s ‘Faster’ undersea internet cable goes live

The undersea cable cost $300 million to create and has been in the works since 2014

Internet users in Japan are about to get a speed boost. Google’s 9,000km undersea internet cable from the United States to the country has been ‘switched on’.
The 60 terabits per second capacity “Faster” cable, first announced in 2014, has been completed and “officially entered into service”.

Urs Hölzle, Google’s senior vice president of technical infrastructure, said the cable’s capacity is “more than any active subsea cable” and is “10 million times faster than your cable modem”.

As well as Google, China Mobile International, China Telecom Global, Global Transit, KDDI, SingTel, were all involved in the cable’s creation and laying. The NEC Corporation supplied the systems behind the cable.
It features a “6-fibre-pair cable and optical transmission technologies” and is based at two locations in Japan – Shima and Chikura – with connections in the US extending the system to hubs on the West Coast of the US.

“This cable is the first of its kind, with multiple colours (100) of light transmitted over various frequencies,” Hölzle said in a Google Plus post

“Every ~60km a repeater re-energizes the light as it travels over 9,000km across the ocean floor”.
Google’s ‘Faster’ cable is one of a number of undersea cables that connect the world and form a backbone for the internet. The first cable laid across the Atlantic, which was used for telegram communications, was put in place back in 1906.

How the first cable was laid across the Atlantic

How the first cable was laid across the Atlantic

A global map – in a similar style to London’s Tube map – from TeleGeography shows all the undersea cables currently in operation across the world. The majority of all the cables run around individual countries and continents but there are cables that cover longer distances such as across the Atlantic ocean.

The SEA-ME-WE 3 cable that connects Europe to Australia and Asia is the longest cable in the world. The cable has 39 landing points and is 39,000km in length.
In May, Facebook and Microsoft announced they would be building a new underwater cable across the Atlantic. The Marea cable will offer speeds of 160 terabytes per second and is due to be constructed in 2016.

Marea will feature eight fibre pairs, offer speeds of up to 160 terabytes per seconds and will be the first to connect the US to southern Europe – from Virginia to Bilbao.

The cables don’t always work as planned though. Currents running through oceans can damage the cables as well as fishing trawlers and anchors being dragged along the sea bed, which is exactly what happened to one connecting Northern Ireland in 2015.

The undersea cable broke and it took a crew of 30 people and a giant robot two weeks to repair the cable.

A smarter ‘bionic’ cardiac patch that doubles as advanced pacemaker/arrhythmia detector

“Cardiac patches might one day simply be delivered by injection” — Charles Lieber
June 28, 2016

(a) Schematic of the free-standing macroporous nanoelectronic scaffold with nanowire FET (field effect transistor) arrays (red dots). Inset: one nanowire FET. (b) Folded 3D free-standing scaffolds with four layers of individually addressable FET sensors. (c) Schematic of nanoelectronic scaffold/cardiac tissue resulting from the culturing of cardiac cells within the 3D folded scaffold. Inset: the nanoelectronic sensors (blue circles) innervate the 3D cell network. (credit: Xiaochuan Dai at al./Nature Nanotechnology)

Harvard researchers have designed nanoscale electronic scaffolds (support structures) that can be seeded with cardiac cells to produce a new “bionic” cardiac patch (for replacing damaged cardiac tissue with pre-formed tissue patches). It also functions as a more sophisticated pacemaker: In addition to electrically stimulating the heart, the new design can change the pacemaker stimulation frequency and direction of signal propagation.

In addition, because because its electronic components are integrated throughout the tissue (instead of being located on the surface of the skin), it could detect arrhythmia far sooner, and “operate at far lower (safer) voltages than a normal pacemaker, [which] because it’s on the surface, has to use relatively high voltages,” according to Charles Lieber, the Mark Hyman, Jr. Professor of Chemistry and Chair of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology.

Early arrhythmia detection, monitoring responses to cardiac drugs

“Even before a person started to go into large-scale arrhythmia that frequently causes irreversible damage or other heart problems, this could detect the early-stage instabilities and intervene sooner,” he said. “It can also continuously monitor the feedback from the tissue and actively respond.”

The patch might also find use, Lieber said, as a tool to monitor responses to cardiac drugs, or to help pharmaceutical companies screen the effectiveness of drugs under development.

In the long term, Lieber believes, the development of nanoscale tissue scaffolds represents a new paradigm for integrating biology with electronics in a virtually seamless way.

The bionic cardiac patch can also be a unique platform to study the tissue behavior evolving during some developmental processes, such as aging, ischemia, or differentiation of stem cells into mature cardiac cells.

Although the bionic cardiac patch has not yet been implanted in animals, “we are interested in identifying collaborators already investigating cardiac patch implantation to treat myocardial infarction in a rodent model,” he said. “I don’t think it would be difficult to build this into a simpler, easily implantable system.”

Could one day deliver cardiac patch/pacemaker via injection

Using the injectable electronics technology he pioneered last year, Lieber even suggested that similar cardiac patches might one day simply be delivered by injection. “It may actually be that, in the future, this won’t be done with a surgical patch,” he said. “We could simply do a co-injection of cells with the mesh, and it assembles itself inside the body, so it’s less invasive.”

“I think one of the biggest impacts would ultimately be in the area that involves replacement of damaged cardiac tissue with pre-formed tissue patches,” Lieber said. “Rather than simply implanting an engineered patch built on a passive scaffold, our work suggests it will be possible to surgically implant an innervated patch that would now be able to monitor and subtly adjust its performance.”

In the long term, Lieber believes, the development of nanoscale tissue scaffolds represents a new paradigm for integrating biology with electronics in a virtually seamless way.

The study is described in a June 27 paper published in Nature Nanotechnology.

Abstract of Three-dimensional mapping and regulation of action potential propagation in nanoelectronics-innervated tissues

Real-time mapping and manipulation of electrophysiology in three-dimensional (3D) tissues could have important impacts on fundamental scientific and clinical studies, yet realization is hampered by a lack of effective methods. Here we introduce tissue-scaffold-mimicking 3D nanoelectronic arrays consisting of 64 addressable devices with subcellular dimensions and a submillisecond temporal resolution. Real-time extracellular action potential (AP) recordings reveal quantitative maps of AP propagation in 3D cardiac tissues, enable in situtracing of the evolving topology of 3D conducting pathways in developing cardiac tissues and probe the dynamics of AP conduction characteristics in a transient arrhythmia disease model and subsequent tissue self-adaptation. We further demonstrate simultaneous multisite stimulation and mapping to actively manipulate the frequency and direction of AP propagation. These results establish new methodologies for 3D spatiotemporal tissue recording and control, and demonstrate the potential to impact regenerative medicine, pharmacology and electronic therapeutics.

What the rest of Canada can learn about happiness from B.C.

UBC economist John Helliwell commented on the results of a Chateleine survey, which found that 52 per cent of B.C. women claimed to be happier now than they were 10 years ago, compared to a national average of 44 per cent.

He noted that there are more opportunities to exercise and enjoy the outdoors in B.C. “Outdoor activities can provide more connections with friends; but it takes some work,” Helliwell told Chateleine.

Seniors with undiagnosed hearing loss can become isolated


Credit: Flickr

Senior citizens with undiagnosed or untreated hearing problems are more likely to suffer from social isolation and cognitive impairment, a UBC study has found.

UBC Okanagan researchers examined the impact of undiagnosed or untreated hearing issues in seniors aged 60 to 69. The study found that for every 10 decibel (roughly the sound of calm breathing) drop in hearing sensitivity, the odds of social isolation increased by 52 per cent.

Dr. Paul Mick

Dr. Paul Mick

Among the sample of seniors, a ten-decibel reduction of hearing sensitivity was also associated with cognitive declines equivalent to almost four years of chronological aging.

“Hearing loss is often not thought of as a public health issue and as a result there is often not a lot of health care resources that have been put towards testing and hearing support,” says Dr. Paul Mick, a physician and clinical assistant professor at UBC’s Southern Medical Program. “As social isolation has been shown to have similar impacts on mortality rates as smoking and alcohol consumption, this is something we should examine further at both the system and individual patient level.”

Mick’s study examined data collected between 1999 and 2010 by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a survey that samples 5,000 people each year across the United States. The survey examines demographic, socioeconomic, dietary and health-related issues.

Mick said he would like to expand his research to see if interventions such as a hearing screening program similar to what is done for young children could positively impact health outcomes for Canadian seniors.

Mick’s study was recently published in the journal Ear and Hearing.

New Technology Could Deliver Drugs To Brain Injuries

Schematic illustrating how intravenously injected peptide would accumulate at the site of brain injury. Credit Ryan Allen, Second Bay StudiosSchematic illustrating how intravenously injected peptide would accumulate at the site of brain injury. Credit: Ryan Allen, Second Bay Studios

A new study led by scientists at the Sanford BurnhamPrebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) describes atechnology that could lead to new therapeutics fortraumatic brain injuries. The discovery, published todayin Nature Communications, provides a means ofhoming drugs or nanoparticles to injured areas of thebrain.

“We have found a peptide sequence of four amino acids,cysteine, alanine, glutamine, and lysine (CAQK), thatrecognizes injured brain tissue,” said Erkki Ruoslahti,M.D., Ph.D., distinguished professor in SBP’s NCI-Designated Cancer Center and senior author of thestudy. “This peptide could be used to deliver treatments that limit the extent of damage.”

About 2.5 million people in the US sustain traumatic brain injuries each year, usually resulting from carcrashes, falls, and violence. While the initial injury cannot be repaired, the damaging effects of breakingopen brain cells and blood vessels that ensue over the following hours and days can be minimized.

“Current interventions for acute brain injury are aimed at stabilizing the patient by reducingintracranial pressure and maintaining blood flow, but there are no approved drugs to stop the cascadeof events that cause secondary injury,” said Aman Mann, Ph.D., postdoctoral researcher in Ruoslahti’slab and first author of the study.

More than one hundred compounds are currently in preclinical tests to lessen brain damage followinginjury. These candidate drugs block the events that cause secondary damage, including inflammation,high levels of free radicals, over-excitation of neurons, and signaling that leads to cell death.

“Our goal was to find an alternative to directly injecting therapeutics into the brain, which is invasiveand can add complications,” explained Ruoslahti. “Using this peptide to deliver drugs means they couldbe administered intravenously, but still reach the site of injury in sufficient quantities to have an effect.”

The CAQK peptide binds to components of the meshwork surrounding brain cells called chondroitinsulfate proteoglycans. Amounts of these large, sugar-decorated proteins increase following brain injury.

“Not only did we show that CAQK carries drug-sized molecules and nanoparticles to damaged areas inmouse models of acute brain injury, we also tested peptide binding to injured human brain samples andfound the same selectivity,” added Mann.

“This peptide could also be used to create tools to identify brain injuries, particularly mild ones, byattaching the peptide to materials that can be detected by medical imaging devices,” Ruoslahticommented. “And, because the peptide can deliver nanoparticles that can be loaded with largemolecules, it could enable enzyme or gene-silencing therapies.”

This platform technology has been licensed by a startup company, AivoCode, which was recentlyawarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Science Foundation forfurther development and commercialization.

Ruoslahti’s team and their collaborators are currently testing the applications of these findings usinganimal models of other central nervous system (CNS) injuries such as spinal cord injury and multiplesclerosis.