Tag Archives: News

Design Library Lets Researchers Print their Own Syringe Pumps

Furnishing a research lab can be pretty expensive. Now a team led by an engineer at Michigan Technological University has published an open-source library of designs that will let scientists slash the cost of one commonly used piece of equipment: the syringe pump.

Syringe pumps are used to dispatch precise amounts of liquid, as for drug delivery or mixing chemicals in a reaction. They can also cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Joshua Pearce and his team of Michigan Tech students published the library of free syringe-pump designs, which anyone can make on a RepRap 3D printer just for the cost of the plastic filament. Better yet, the designs are perfectly customizable.

“Not only have we designed a single syringe pump, we’ve designed all future syringe pumps,” said Pearce.  “Scientists can customize the design of a pump for exactly what they are doing, just by changing a couple of numbers in the software.”

The library includes recipes for most parts of a syringe pump. You’ll have to buy the small electric stepper motor that drives the liquid, some simple hardware and the syringe itself, which is inexpensive.

The team also went a little further, incorporating a low-cost, credit card-sized Raspberry Pi computer as a wireless controller. “That way, you can link the syringe pump to the network, sit on a beach in Hawaii and control your lab,” Pearce said. “Plenty of people can have access, and you can run multiple experiments at the same time. Our entire single-pump system costs only $50 and can replace pumps that run between $250 and $2,500.”

It costs more to make a double-pump system, about $120, but it replaces a commercial system that costs $5,000.

That said, Pearce believes someone will figure out how to make them better. “The international scientific open-source lab community is growing rapidly. From UC Berkeley’s Tekla Lab to Sensorica in Montréal and OpenLabTools at the University of Cambridge, we are all working together to make science cheaper, faster and better. I’m sure someone will improve our designs and share their results with us and the rest of the community. That’s the beauty and power of open source,” he said.

Megan Frost, a biomedical engineer at Michigan Tech, uses syringe pumps from Pearce’s library to introduce agents into cell cultures.

“What’s beautiful about what Joshua is doing is that it lets us run three or four experiments in parallel, because we can get the equipment for so much less,” she said. “We’d always wanted to run experiments concurrently, but we couldn’t because the syringe pumps cost so much. This has really opened doors for us.”

The work is described in the paper “Open-source Syringe Pump Library,” published in PLoS One and coauthored by Pearce, graduate student Bas Wijnen, research scientist Gerald Anzalone and undergraduate Emily Hunt. The hardware plans, designs, and source code for the pumps is available for free at http://www.appropedia.org/Open-source_syringe_pump.

Pearce is an associate professor with appointments in both the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Michigan Tech.

Michigan Technological University (www.mtu.edu) is a leading public research university developing new technologies and preparing students to create the future for a prosperous and sustainable world. Michigan Tech offers more than 130 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering; forest resources; computing; technology; business; economics; natural, physical and environmental sciences; arts; humanities; and social sciences.

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Twitter Appears To Be Exploring Personalized Breaking News Notifications With @Eventparrot Experiment


Twitter appears to be exploring introducing breaking news notifications tuned for you to its apps, if a new experimental account is any indication. An account called @eventparrot has garnered around 1,500 followers and promises to deliver ‘direct messages that help you keep up with what’s happening in the world’.

I received my first message from the account this evening, a repackaged tweet from CNN breaking news about rebels kidnapping Libya’s prime minister:


The account looks nearly identical in makeup to the @magicrecs account that spawned Twitter’s recent addition of push recommendations for follow suggestions and ‘interesting tweets’. That account also started out with the profile text ‘this is a Twitter experiment’, and was later folded into Twitter’s products after it garnered a lot of positive responses on Twitter at large.

It’s impossible to tell whether the account is an ‘official Twitter experiment’ as the company does not comment on experiments it runs. But the account has all of the earmarks of an experiment in delivering a personalized set of breaking news alerts that are determined by an algorithm to be actually useful to you. All of the earliest followers are Twitter employees, which isn’t too surprising as they tend to dogfood new experiments in some cases. 


For now you’ll have to forgive me for hedging my bets on this being something Twitter is actually responsible for, but I believe that it is. All of the earmarks are there. I’m also jumping to conclusions a bit about where Twitter might take this as it is just an experiment. So, if it’s not successful or doesn’t meet with the acclaim of @magicrecs, it might go nowhere.

But, if it’s successful, then twitter might roll out news notifications that have the same kind of personal ‘magical thrill’ that an account follow recommendation from @magicrecs has. In my piece on it last week I noted that Twitter appears to be working hard to create a reason for individuals to feel that the service is tailored to them specifically. This new @eventparrot experiment could be another step in that direction, which is a good thing.

Twitter is still very much trying to figure out how to balance its need to make money with a need to both attract and retain new users. I personally feel that the tapering user growth numbers that we saw in Twitter’s S-1 are a direct result of it focusing too much on bringing outside media in to Twitter, rather than Twitter itself being the source of media.  If people see Twitter as just another place that they can see the same video clips and pictures that they’ve seen elsewhere, there is no motivation to make Twitter a part of their daily lives. If, however, people see that Twitter is using its data to break news that matters to them personally,  and to deliver media created specifically for the service — that’s what will bring the retention.

I’ll be watching @eventparrot closely to see how it shapes up. Ironically, or perhaps not so much, I was notified of the new experimental account via @magicrecs.

Source: Tech Crunch

How to Get Pulse News Reader on the BlackBerry PlayBook

Pulse news reader is a great news feed application that has been available on Android devices and in Apple’s App Store. It is not available on any BlackBerry device, though I could definitely see it running nicely on a BlackBerry 10 device.

Pulse is by far one of my favorite news feed applications and it is one of the most unique in it’s layout. I figured that there would be a Pulse application available for the PlayBook by now but that sadly is like a lot of other great apps that could be and should be on the PlayBook but aren’t.

If you know how to sideload Android apps onto your PlayBook, either by using your computer or doing it the way I prefer which is by using LocalBar2 on my PlayBook and my Bold. With LocalBar2 you can download the .bar files on your PlayBook and use your BlackBerry or Android device as a proxy server to install the apps directly to your PlayBook with no need for a computer or wires of any kind. Visit Yohanes Nugroho’s LocalBar2 site Here. Also note (I assume that LocalBar2 will work on most OS versions on the PlayBook, as I am currently running Beta OS v2.1.0.840 and it works just fine).

Here’s the .bar file for Pulse News Reader for BlackBerry PlayBook.

Besides doing that as many already know Pulse recently released a Pulse news reader website. The site is http://pulse.me and it is a great looking site and works beautifully.

I have found that the new Pulse website actually works very well on the BlackBerry PlayBook’s default browser and I have been using it lately, though of course there are little annoyances’. Like when scrolling at times articles you touch will move to saved articles.

So if you are a fan of Pulse and you would like to be able to view Pulse news on your PlayBook these are two simple suggestions.