Dutch company 3D4Makers creates stronger 3D printing materials with pioneering air jet extrusion system - 3ders.org (blog)

3D4Makers, a Netherlands-based developer of 3D printing materials, has devised a new way to extrude filament that does not require water. The company's multiple jet air cooling system can cool extruded 3D printing filament as effectively as water while reducing overall production time.

3D4Makers' Ardy Struijk with a prototype of the company's filament extruder

In the highly competitive 3D printing industry, you would expect the odds to be stacked against a father-and-son business attempting to produce no less than 10 kinds of 3D printing filament, all from a small production facility in the Dutch city of Haarlem and with a total staff of just five people. Surprisingly, 3D4Makers seems to be doing just fine: the company makes high-performance engineering filaments such as PEEK, as well as more standard 3D printing materials, and has even become the first manufacturer in the world to create a filament made from polycaprolactone (PCL), a biodegradable polyester with a low melting point that is used in various medical devices.

So just how is 3D4Makers managing to do all this? The secret, recently revealed by the Dutch 3D printing specialist, lies in its unique and innovative filament extrusion technique. Typically, filament producers use water to precisely cool lengths of newly extruded plastic to ensure an even shape and diameter. This is generally a very effective practice for creating a usable 3D printing material, but it has its drawbacks: all water absorbed by the plastic needs to be removed again, usually by baking it for several hours, or printing performance will be affected. Again, this is all well and good for producing good 3D printing filament, but with such fine margins for success in the industry, those hours of waiting for water to evaporate begin to add up.

PLLA test print with an Ultimaker 3D printer

3D4Makers was faced with a dilemma: how could it continue to produce such a wide range of 3D printing materials at its small production facility when production of each spool of filament took such a long time? Would it have to reduce its wide portfolio of products to remain competitive, thereby destroying one of its biggest selling points? No. Instead, the Dutch filament manufacturer did something radical: it changed the way it cooled its filament, by eliminating the water phase altogether. Its alternative? High-pressure air jets.

After two years of hard work developing a new production system, 3D4Makers eventually perfected a setup that uses multiple cooling air jets that replace water entirely. This means that plastic can be cooled down evenly and precisely, but without the need for hours of baking to remove absorbed water. This means that the small company can produce its wide range of 3D printing materials without losing precious time. Ardy Struijk, 3D4Makers' head of marketing and sales, commented that he was "proud of the team and [himself] for coming this far against all odds."

Printing with 3D4Makers' PEEK 3D printing filament

In addition to increasing production speed, 3D4Makers' air jet extrusion system has brought other advantages. For example, the company has reported better layer adhesion in materials produced with its new extrusion system, resulting in better and stronger 3D printed parts. The team also found that impact resistance was increased in their waterless filament when compared with standard 3D printing materials made by other companies. The system even allows 3D4Makers to produce 100% pure filaments with no additives.

3D4Makers was started by father and son team Jan-Peter and Jasper Wille. Its portfolio of 3D printing filaments includes ABS, ASA, PLA, PLLA, PCL, PET-G, Hemp, PEEK, PEI, and PPSU.

This post has been curated from the original written by Benedict at www.3ders.org here: 3D Printing Materials

Here's Why the City Just Pumped $130K Into Local Entrepreneurship - Philadelphia magazine

When Startup PHL first announced the fifth round of its "Call for Ideas" grant program, they made it clear that there's a major connection between entrepreneurship and some of the city's biggest ills. Entrepreneurship can be a pathway out of poverty and a tool that can address connected issues like homelessness, hunger, and struggling public schools.

Startup PHL's Call for Ideas is the city's way of tapping into local entrepreneurs to help them unleash and develop their ideas. And this time around, the program announced last week that it will award a total of $130,675 to six organizations. "Call for Ideas is one of many ways we are fostering a positive reciprocal relationship between the City and Philadelphia's entrepreneurs," said Archna Sahay, the city's director of entrepreneurial investment.

There are commonalities between all of the organizations: Most of the awardees work directly with Philadelphia's youth, a number of them address Philadelphia's immigrant population, and several deal with teaching program participants a new skill such as manufacturing or computer science.

"These programs will also serve a number of populations, including young people, small business owners and immigrants. I am eager to see the impact of our latest Call for Ideas grants and the programs they support," Mayor Kenney said in a statement.

Here are this round's awardees and what they'll use the grant money for, according to StartupPHL:

  • Coded by Kids ($16,500) – Coded by Kids will use the Call for Ideas grant to support the development and piloting of a data science curriculum for students at two recreation centers in Philadelphia. The data science curriculum will use publicly available Open Data sets to teach students how to extract, analyze and present data.
  • Destined to Achieve Successful Heights, Inc. ($22,975) – DASH will partner with PSTV (the Education channel for The School District of Philadelphia) to help students produce, write and record their own original music with Grammy-nominated songwriters and producers while learning the real world economics of the music industry.
  • Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation ($17,200) – The Free Library will utilize the grant to expand business support to four neighborhood Library locations serving low-income communities. Each location will pilot integrated services including free classes, a core collection and seed funding.
  • The Hacktory ($24,000) – The Hacktory will host a summer hardware bootcamp for professionals in the region to learn a foundation of technical, fabrication and design skills through hands-on projects and experimentation.
  • SecondMuse ($25,000) – SecondMuse will use their funds to research and better understand the needs and resources available to Philadelphia's existing hardware startup and manufacturing communities. Based on the findings, SecondMuse plans to co-design an incubator for hardware.
  • Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians ($25,000) – The Welcoming Center plans to use its Call for Ideas grant to cultivate entrepreneurial leadership among first generation immigrant youth and provide assistance to immigrant-owned small businesses with technology.

  • This year's funding total represents the largest sum of investment ever from the Call for Ideas grant program. To date, 26 grants have been awarded.

    This article was curated from the original written by FABIOLA CINEAS
    source: http://www.phillymag.com/business/2017/02/21/startup-phl-ideas-awardees/
    Follow @fabiolacineas on Twitter.

    Open Bionics awarded $1 million prize for their 3D printed prosthesis - 3D Printing Industry

    British enterprise, Open Bionics has won a million dollar award for their 3D printed bionic arm prosthesis. The team won the international category at the UAE Robotics for Good Awards in Dubai.

    Open Bionics use 3D printers, such as the Ultimaker 3, and 3D scanning to create custom bespoke prosthesis for those in need. With 3D printing and associated technology they are able to provide a fast and cost-effective solution for amputees. The huge prize fund was given to the team as a reward for their impressive bionic arms and its exciting to think how they will use the money in the future.

    Joel Gibbard from Open Bionics, said, "The money is going to be incredibly useful. It's going to hospital certifications and providing these limbs to young patients."

    Open Bionics' fleet of Ultimaker 3D printers. Photo via Open Bionics on Twitter.
    Open Bionics' fleet of Ultimaker 2 extended 3D printers. Photo via Open Bionics on Twitter.

    3D printing and prosthesis go hand-in-hand, sometimes literally, as the technology opens the door to create custom parts to fit specific requirements. Here at 3D Printing Industry, we are long-time fans of Open Bionics for their admirable work with the technology. They showcased their bionic arms for children last year in London. For that project they worked with Disney and Marvel to create arms that were reminiscent of a child's favorite characters.

    There is, also, more recreational use of 3D printing with Japanese company Exiii creating arms to use for virtual reality. Exiii are using additive manufacturing to create a product that enables the sense of virtual touch.

    An Open Bionics superhero arm. Image via Open Bionics
    An Open Bionics superhero arm. Image via Open Bionics

    The Bionics team are still at the early stages of releasing their arms to a wider audience. However, this award should provide them with a significant boost in their plans.

    They posted this on their Facebook page celebrating their award, Team OB just won the Robotics for Good Award in Dubai. Over 1,600 technologies for good applied and after competing against the top 10 best assistive technologies the judges chose our bionic hands! Now we have the funding to push our hands through the final stages of medical testing and finally get them to everyone who needs one.

    We look forward to seeing how they progress and congratulate them on this superb accomplishment.
    Sign up to our newsletter for the latest news on 3D printing. 

    This article has been curated from the original written Corey Clarke who has a keen interest in 3D printing and all tech-related news, as well as the wider impact of additive manufacturing.

    Why AI could be #SiliconValley's latest 'micro bubble' - Yahoo Finance

    2016 was supposed to be the year the tech bubble finally burst.

    Much like the dot-com bubble of the early 2000s — an industry implosion marked by high-profile flops such as online grocery delivery startup Webvan and pet supplies retailer Pets.com — skeptics pointed to less VC funding in 2016, stratospheric valuations including Uber's $69 billion, the sales of once-pricey companies such as One King's Lane, and sky-high rental and real estate prices.

    And contrary to tech insiders who largely remain bullish on the industry, some even saw smaller signs of a bubble in the hours-long bumper-to-bumper traffic on the US-101, a highway that meanders its way down the peninsula to tech-laden cities such as Menlo Park, San Jose and Mountain View.

    But after more than six years in Silicon Valley collectively, I'm convinced there isn't one big bubble these days, but rather a series of smaller "bubbles" within tech that balloon and swell until they burst, taking with them the droves of copycat derivatives and poorly managed companies all trying to capitalize on the latest, frothiest trend.

    Ask just about any venture capitalist at this moment, and they'll tell you they're seeing a glut of artificial intelligence and machine learning startups flow their way angling for cash, employing increasingly complex algorithms across a wide range of industries.

    While some of these new companies may fulfill actual needs, there may simply be more AI startups than the world needs.

    The pets.com sock puppet dog stars in a commercial for the company, Los Angeles, California, January 11, 2000. Photo by Bob Riha/Liaison/Getty Image

    Of course, some AI startups are more promising than others. Andreessen Horowitz general partner Vijay Pande told Yahoo Finance he is particularly bullish on companies such as Freenome, which the firm invested in last June. The Palo Alto-based startup uses machine learning to help detect different types of cancers from a blood test rather than from a tissue sample — a process that detects cancer long before more traditional methods can. Another startup Pande invested in, the health tech start up Cardiogram, is promising because it makes sense of and analyzes large amounts of user data to provide actionable insights that could ultimately save lives. 

    Some A.I. ventures are trying to shake up other long-standing industries, like the San Carlos, Calif.-based Farmers Business Networks, a social network for, well, farmers, that relies on machine learning to improve data results around seed performance and pricing. And there are many, many more.
    While it's too early to tell which of those startups will evolve into viable businesses and which won't, it's relatively easy to look back over the last decade now to see past "micro-bubbles" for what they actually were.

    Alex Mittal, CEO and co-founder of the FundersClub, an online VC fir m which invests in promising tech startups, agrees Silicon Valley has found itself swept up in macro-trends over the years that come and go in predictable cycles.

    "Every time there's a focus on a technology that's new, it gets overhyped, and the hype reaches an extreme," Mittal told Yahoo Finance. "The pendulum always seems to swing too far, and there's some sort of correction. Sometimes, it literally was just hype. There's no substance, and then it goes away. But sometimes, there's something really there."

    The 2008 financial crisis, interestingly, marked the first micro-bubble, marked by the "sharing economy," a business model based on the idea that assets or services are shared between people through the internet or mobile. Airbnb, founded in 2008, singlehandedly legitimized the idea of couch-surfing as a hotel alternative, by easily letting people rent out a room, an apartment or a home; Uber in 2009 upended the crusty, old taxi industry by creating a network of private drivers reachable with just a few easy taps on the smar tphone.

    But while Airbnb and Uber have become bona fide global businesses, many more sharing economy upstarts failed to catch on. Remember the Uber copycat Sidecar? Shut down in 2015, because Uber and Lyft had more money and an easier-to-understand user experience.

    How about laundry delivery ventures Prim and Washio? Shuttered in 2014 and 2016, respectively, due to low profit margins and high infrastructure costs. Even businesses like Homejoy, an online marketplace for cleaning services, hit the skids — despite many a venture capitalist crowing about what a promising business it was — apparently due to a lack of repeat customers and slew of lawsuits.

    Washio was the victim of another micro bubble.

    On the heels of the sharing economy bubble came a slew of e-commerce startups like online design store Fab.com. It burned through a significant chunk of the $325 million it raised in aggressive attempts to expand globally, acquiring similar sites in Germany and England, before a spectacular crash-and-burn that few in Silicon Valley, including its investors, will forget anytime soon.

    Meanwhile, once-promising home furnishings site One King's Lane, which failed to differentiate itself enough from the glut of flash-sale sites, sold for just $12 million last August to Bed Bath & Beyond — a serious markdown from its $900 million valuation of yesteryear — and online furniture retailer Dot & Bo used up its $20 million in funding before shuttering last September.

    The most recent micro-bubble to burst? On-demand food delivery startups. No less than a dozen food delivery startups have shuttered over the last 18 months, with names like Bento, Spoonrocket, Din, Kitchit, Kitchen Surfing, and the creatively-named Take Eat Easy. Others like Munchery, Zesty and Sprig, trudge on, but with considerably downsized workforces. Because, while people certainly enjoy good dining, there were too many startups for San Francisco locals for them to keep track of and not enough interested mouths to feed. Indeed, Din founders Emily Olson and Rob LaFave pointed to an overly crowded market as a key reason for closing the startup in a postmortem interview with SF Eater in October.

    Many of the venture capitalists and founders I've spoken to in recent months are hopeful that this latest boom in A.I. and machine learning start ups isn't part of another micro-bubble in the way many sharing economy and e-commerce startups came and went in the past, largely because these technologies can ostensibly benefit and improve any industry, from health care to agriculture to consumer-focused virtual assistants. (Hello, Alexa.)

    "A.I. is probably more accessible than it has ever been before," contended Peter Cahill, an authority on A.I., who has spent the last 15 years studying speech technology and neural networks from Dublin, Ireland. "It's easier for companies to see the clear benefits from it because technology has largely caught up."

    Maybe they're right this time, or maybe the Farmers Business Networks of the world will eventually join th e startup graveyard, alongside Fab.com, Homejoy and so many others. But as Mittal points out, this almost blinding sense of optimism — that any startup with a good idea can succeed — is what makes Silicon Valley unique and, dare I say it, innovative. Because for every 100 startups, 10 of them may become successful, and perhaps one has the potential to become the next transformative company like Facebook (FB).

    "It's a large part of the reason I'm still here," Mittal confesses, with a sheepish grin.
    No doubt many in Silicon Valley would agree.

    This article is curated from the original post written by JP Mangalindan who is a senior correspondent covering the intersection of business and technology. -Yahoo Finance

    How Silicon Valley Is Trying to Hack Its Way Into a Longer Life - TIME

    The titans of the tech industry are known for their confidence that they can solve any problem--even, as it turns out, the one that's defeated every other attempt so far. That's why the most far-out strategies to cheat death are being tested in America's playground for the young, deep-pocketed and brilliant:

    Silicon Valley.

    Larry Ellison, the co-founder of Oracle, has given more than $330 million to research about aging and age-related diseases. Alphabet CEO and co-founder Larry Page launched Calico, a research company that targets ways to improve the human lifespan. Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, has also invested millions in the cause, including over $7 million to the Methuselah Foundation, a nonprofit focused on life-extension therapies.

    Rather than wait years for treatments to be approved by federal officials, many of them are testing ways to modify human biology that fall somewhere on the spectrum between science and entrepreneurialism. It's called biohacking, and it's one of the biggest things happening in the Bay Area.

    "My goal is to live beyond 180 years," says Dave Asprey, CEO of the supplement company Bulletproof, most famous for its popularization of coffee with organic butter mixed in. "I am doing every single thing I can to make it happen for myself."

    For some, that means daily pill regimens and fasting once a week. For others, it means having the blood of a young person pumped into their veins. "I see biohacking as a populist movement within health care," says Geoffrey Woo, the CEO of a company called Nootrobox that sells supplements that promise to enhance brain function.

    Many scientists are skeptical. Here's what's known--and what isn't--about the latest front of humanity's fight against the inevitable.


    THE HACK: It may sound vampiresque, but 50 people in the U.S. have paid $8,000 for a transfusion of plasma from someone between the ages of 16 to 25. The study is run by Ambrosia, a company based in Monterey, Calif.

    THE HYPE: The transfusions are based on the idea that two-liter injections of blood from the young may confer longevity benefits. Now, in the first known human clinical trial of its kind, Ambrosia is enlisting people willing to pay the hefty price to give it a shot.

    Ambrosia's founder, Jesse Karmazin, who has a medical degree but is not a licensed physician, says that after the transfusions, his team looks for changes in the recipient's blood, including markers of inflammation, cholesterol and neuron growth. "When we are young, we produce a lot of factors that are important for cellular health," he says. "As we get older, we don't produce enough of these factors. Young blood gives your body a break to repair and regenerate itself."

    THE DEBATE: Scientists are roundly critical of this study, in large part because of the way it has been designed: there's no control group, it's costly to participate in, and the people enrolled don't share key characteristics that make them appropriate candidates to be looked at side by side.

    "What Ambrosia is doing is not useful and could be harmful," says Irina Conboy, an associate professor of bioengineering at the University of California, Berkeley, who is also studying blood as a potential target for aging.

    The concept stems from mouse research by Conboy and others. In 2005, she and her research partner and husband Michael Conboy showed that when older mice were surgically sutured to younger mice, their tissues got healthier. The takeaway was not that young blood is a cure-all, but some entrepreneurs ran with the idea. "The story has switched into a highly exaggerated search of young blood as a silver bullet to combat aging," Irina says.

    In a recent follow-up study, the Conboys developed a way to exchange the blood of young and old mice without surgically joining them. They found that old mice had some improvements but that young mice experienced rapid declines.

    "The big result is that a single exchange hurts the young partner more than it helps the old partner," says Michael. Ambrosia says plasma transfusions are safe and, if proven effective, should be made available.

    THE BOTTOM LINE: Blood-based therapies for longevity could still be in our future, but the science isn't there yet. "Donor blood can save lives, but using it to rejuvenate oneself is counterproductive," says Irina.


    THE HACK: If you could learn your risks for the most-feared diseases years before you'd actually get sick, would you? For the curious (and the brave), there's Health Nucleus, an eight-hour, $25,000 head-to-toe, inside-and-out physical exam that includes whole-genome sequencing, high-tech scanning and early diagnostics. The goal is to paint a granular picture of an individual's health and disease risk, which could then inform lifestyle and medical choices that keep you healthier, longer.

    THE HYPE: Health Nucleus bills the elite program as "a genomic-powered clinical research project that has the potential to transform health care." It was founded in 2015 by J. Craig Venter, the scientist widely credited with being one of the first to sequence the human genome, and it doesn't come cheap. The Health Nucleus price tag is for a single session, during which patients get a sequencing of their genome and microbiome, a full-body MRI and an array of blood tests. When the results come in, doctors translate the findings into measurements that patients can understand--and advice they can act upon.

    The Health Nucleus team believes this deluge of information can help doctors flag problems that could lead to premature death for their patients down the line. "Right now medicine is a reactionary system where if you get pain or other symptoms, then you go see your doctor and they see if they can fix it," says Venter. "It's totally different from trying to predict your risk or identifying problems early, before they cause fatal disease. If you have the right knowledge, you can save your life."

    THE DEBATE: Genome sequencing can indeed pinpoint genetic risk for some cancers and other diseases. And microbiome profiles--which look at the makeup of bacteria in the gut--can provide clues about the presence of some chronic diseases. Changes in cholesterol and blood sugar can also signal illness, though that kind of blood work is routinely tested by primary-care physicians.

    About 400 people ages 30 to 95 have had the physical so far, and the test has identified significant medical problems in 40% of them, according to Venter, who says they've found cancer, aneurysms and heart disease in several people without symptoms.

    Still, it raises questions among its skeptics about whether or not patients can actually use most (or any) of the data they receive. It also highlights some doctors' concerns about the negative consequences of overscreening, where there is always a risk for false positive results. "When healthy people undergo scanning, it can backfire," says Dr. Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute, who has studied data-driven medicine. "It can find abnormalities and lead to more tests and procedures, many of them unnecessary. It can cause harm, not to mention anxiety and expense."

    This isn't news to Venter. "The criticism people throw out is 'How dare you screen healthy people?'" he says. "My response is, 'How do you know they're healthy?' We are finding pretty good evidence that many are not."

    Topol says a rigorous study of the program by independent researchers could help settle the score. "If validated for benefit in this way," Topol says, "my outlook would be more positive."

    THE BOTTOM LINE: Venter acknowledges that while costs may come down, the battery of tests is so far too expensive to be realistic for most. Whether it adds years to a person's life is also an open question. For now, looking into the crystal ball requires a whole lot of money--and a comfort with uncertainty.


    THE HACK: Biohackers in Silicon Valley and beyond have long experimented with the idea that a fistful of supplements, taken in just the right combination, may be the antidote to aging. Now, scientists and businesspeople are experimenting with the idea that just one or two pills, taken daily, may also get the job done.

    THE HYPE: Many companies sell supplements with suspected longevity benefits, but one of the more talked-about new businesses is Elysium Health, co-founded by entrepreneurs and an MIT antiaging researcher named Leonard Guarente. Elysium has created a daily supplement, called Basis, that is "designed to support long-term well-being at the cellular level." The pill isn't marketed as a cure for aging, but Elysium Health cites evidence that the ingredients in the pill increase a compound called NAD+ that the company says is "essential to hundreds of biological processes that sustain human life." Basis costs $50 for a monthly supply, and the company, which doesn't release official sales numbers, says it has tens of thousands of customers so far.

    THE DEBATE: Basis contains two main ingredients: nicotinamide riboside (NR) and pterostilbene, both of which have been shown in animal studies to fight aging at the cellular level. NR creates NAD+, which is believed to spur cell rejuvenation but which declines naturally in animals as they age. In a trial of 120 healthy people from ages 60 to 80, Guarente found that people taking Basis increased their NAD+ levels by 40%. "We are trying to be rigorously based on science," he says.

    Studies have shown that supplementing with the compound extends life in mice, but whether it increases human longevity is unknown. To find out if it does--and to request FDA approval for the pill's clearance as a drug--long, rigorous clinical trials would need to be done. Instead, Elysium Health has released Basis as a supplement. That prevents the company from making specific medical claims about the pills--something that's prohibited by law in the marketing of supplements.

    "I think the pathway Guarente is targeting is interesting"--meaning the idea that increasing NAD+ may also slow aging--"but clinical evidence is crucial," says Dr. Nir Barzilai, a researcher at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, who also studies drugs for aging.

    Other scientists question the supplement approach altogether. "There is no evidence whatsoever that [Basis] produces health benefits in humans," says Dr. Jeffrey Flier, former dean of Harvard Medical School. "Many molecules that have some apparent benefits in mice or other organisms have no benefit when studied in humans."

    The company has seven Nobel Prize--winning scientists on its advisory board, a fact that has also raised some eyebrows. Flier cautions that the company's association with lauded researchers cannot replace the science required to prove that the supplements combat aging and are safe to use.

    THE BOTTOM LINE: It's too early to tell whether supplements can have any life-extending effects in humans.


    THE HACK: These supplements, called nootropics or sometimes "smart drugs," promise to sharpen your thinking and enhance mental abilities. Many common nootropic ingredients--including the sleep-enhancing hormone melatonin, energy-boosting B vitamins as well as caffeine--are already present in the foods and pills that people consume on a daily basis.

    THE HYPE: Nootrobox, one company that makes nootropics, combines ingredients like B vitamins and caffeine with a bouquet of other ingredients to create capsules with different purposes. "Rise" pills claim to enhance memory and stamina, "Sprint" pills promise an immediate boost of clarity and energy, "Kado-3" pills offer "daily protection of brain and body," and "Yawn" pills offer what you'd expect. A combo pack of 190 capsules retails for about $135.

    Nootrobox is one of the more popular nootropic startups, with more than $2 million in funding from private investors like Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and the venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. "I think nootropics will become things we consume on a daily basis," says the company's CEO, Geoffrey Woo.

    THE DEBATE: The ingredients in nootropic supplements have a "generally recognized as safe," or GRAS, designation from the FDA, and some of them have been studied for their cognitive-enhancing effects. But the unique combinations in the pills themselves haven't been proven to heighten people's mental capacity. Nootrobox says it is currently conducting clinical trials of its products.

    The FDA is notoriously hands-off when it comes to the regulation of dietary supplements. In the U.S., vitamins are not required to undergo rigorous testing for effectiveness or safety before they're sold.

    Many doctors are also skeptical that they make a difference in mental performance. "There's probably a lot of placebo effect," says Kimberly Urban, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia who has studied the effects of nootropics on the brain. "I think people should use some caution, especially young people." She adds that while these supplements may in fact be safe, there's no scientific research to prove it.

    THE BOTTOM LINE: Many nootropics on the market are probably less sugary and lower in caffeine than most energy drinks, which often contain similar ingredients to those in the pills. Still, the notion that they make people sharper is largely unproven. So until independent clinical trials prove otherwise, it's buyer beware.


    THE HACK: Calorie restriction--the practice of consuming nothing but water for a day at a time or drastically slashing calories a few days per week--has been popular for decades among eternal-youth seekers and health nuts alike. Now some companies are taking the guesswork out of it with fasting-diet meal-delivery kits.

    THE HYPE: Not eating on a regular basis certainly sounds unpleasant, but proponents say that doing so comes with the benefits of better health, a stronger immune system and possibly even a longer life.

    To help people get closer to this goal, L-Nutra, a Los Angeles--based company, offers a five-day, ultra-low-calorie meal kit called ProLon, which is designed to mimic fasting and promote health and longevity.

    The meal kit includes energy bars, plant-based snacks, vegetable soups and algal-oil supplements that add up to a total of 770 to 1,100 calories a day. A five-day kit that must be ordered by a doctor costs $299.

    THE DEBATE: Studies do show that calorie-restricted diets are linked to longer life expectancy. It's not clear why, exactly, but some scientists suspect that stressing the body kicks it into a temporary mode that leads to the creation of healthy new cells. Other research suggests that a very-low-calorie diet may make the body more responsive to cancer treatment and can slow the progression of multiple sclerosis.

    A recent two-year study found that people who cut their calorie intake by 25% lost an average of 10% of their body weight, slept better and were even cheerier compared with those who didn't diet.

    "Doctors can offer patients this as an alternative to drugs," says Valter Longo, director of the University of Southern California Longevity Institute and founder of L-Nutra. (Longo says he doesn't receive a salary from his work with L-Nutra.)

    Still, not everyone agrees that the evidence is strong enough to support the price tag--or the effort required. "I certainly wouldn't do it," says Rozalyn Anderson, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin--Madison, who studies calorie restriction in monkeys. "Life is too short, even if calorie restriction extends it."

    The real promise of this kind of research is identifying cell pathways that are involved in aging and activated during fasting, she says. Ultimately this could lead to the development of a drug that could trigger those same pathways without requiring people to eat less.

    THE BOTTOM LINE: Occasional calorie restriction does appear to have health benefits, but how much comes from weight loss and how much comes from healthy cell changes needs to be further explored. Widely agreed upon is that any version of a fasting diet should be done under a physician's supervision.

    This article was curated from the original written by Alexandra Sifferlin and can be read here: http://time.com/4672962/silicon-valley-longer-life/

    Tesla #Lego Set, Yes Please

    When it comes to Lego, few would disagree the impact the toy company has had on our collective imaginations. Many of us have endless memories of building, playing with and ultimately destroying sets of ships, towns and creative weirdness lego constructs. We would play for hours, lost in the idea that what we were building was an epic story of lasers, constructions sites and towns being rescued by fire fighters and police forces. 

    As we got older, the sets become more elaborate and commercial. Now we're surrounded by Batman, dinosaurs and robots doing battle for supremacy of our collective imaginations.

    We love lego and it's that simple.

    That's why this designer Lego set I created is focused on the fictional lab of Nicola Tesla is so exciting. We can gaze in wonderment as Tesla builds a generator and coil, commanding the electrical forces that comprise the universe.

    I hope you love it as much as I do, and maybe some day it will see the light of day.

    Behold! The Tesla Lego set in all it's glory.




    Gig Economy Platforms Are Creating A New Class of Entrepreneurs - Entrepreneur

    Government reports cite the lowest unemployment rate since the Great Recession, but that good news must come with the realization that the definition of "job" has changed.

    According to a report from Harvard and Princeton economists, nearly all of that job growth -- about 94 percent -- is the result of alternative careers, freelancing, Small Office/Home Office (SOHO) businesses and the "gig economy." Unskilled factory jobs have been relegated once-and-for-all to automation and robotics, and to a lesser degree offshoring. While manufacturing output in America has tripled over the past 30 years, the unskilled hourly jobs that used to dominate the industry are dwindling. Not only do today's jobs require a different set of skills, today's jobs require us to re-think what a "job" really is.

    Rethinking how we define a job is leading to a new wave of small-scale entrepreneurship and business growth with powerful new opportunities. Entrepreneurship in America is cyclical. Whereas launching a small business in postwar America was relatively easy, business became more institutionalized in the new millennia, and entrepreneurs faced more obstacles than ever.

    Breaking down barriers

    Two factors are breaking down those barriers. First, a new gig economy driven by born-in-the-cloud platforms like Lyft, Upwork, and niche sites like FitnessTrainer.com are providing the opportunity and the platform for small-time entrepreneurs to dip a toe in the water.

    Second, a rethinking of corporate models since the Great Recession has led to a more agile lean way of doing business that abandons the "corporate monolith" model once again makes small-time entrepreneurship a realistic career alternative to the nearly-obsolete ideal of getting a job at a big company, staying for 30 years to retire with a pension and gold watch. Those types of jobs may be increasingly unavailable, but there are many more small businesses, entrepreneurs and SOHO companies in peoples' garages that are filling the gap. This is what we call the "dotcloud."

    If people aren't getting traditional jobs, what are they doing for a living? Andrew Marcus, co-founder of FitnessTrainer.com, a gig economy platform for personal fitness trainers to connect with people looking for fitness education and guidance, says "People are anxious for options. They want a more flexible way to earn a living, and the ability to take charge of their own careers in a way that was never possible in the corporate employment world."

    Marcus notes that gig economy jobs often make up a significant portion, and often all, of an individual's income. "It's not an 'extra beer money' situation anymore," said Marcus. "Traditional jobs are not as sought-after or desirable as they once were, especially by younger workers who want more flexibility and quality of life. Workers of all types are turning to gig platforms as a preferred alternative to the thirty-years-and-out ideal of the previous generation."

    Whether engaged in a traditional career job or self-employment, millennials' wants and needs are changing the market and opening the door for more gig platforms. According to a recent PwC report, "Millennials at work, Reshaping the workplace," the most important work benefit millennials want is personal learning and development, followed by flexible work hours, with cash bonuses registering a distant third. "Millennials are increasingly turning to gig platforms as a means of achieving that work/life balance and flexibility that they so highly value," said Marcus.

    That observation is echoed by the Federal Reserve Board, which fielded its Enterprising and Informal Work Activity (EIWA) survey, which concluded that 36 percent of the adult population has undertaken informal paid work activity either as a complement to, or substitute for, more traditional work arrangements.

    The art of the gig

    Marcus didn't create FitnessTrainer.com to be a Silicon Valley giant, rather, it came out of his own desire to create gigs for himself and his college buddies. His first company, MytennisLessons.com, started with a handful of University of Connecticut students giving personal tennis lessons.
    "We've taken full advantage of the gig economy at every step," said Marcus. "After getting a small amount of seed money from a college competition, we rented a home that doubled as an office, and funded some of our start-up expenses by renting out rooms on AirBnB. Now we've expanded both companies into a full-fledged platform, with over 5,000 fitness trainers offering services through FitnessTrainer.com."

    Marcus and his business partner, Jesse Silkoff, made the transition from just finding their own gigs by advertising on Craigslist, to creating their own online marketplace to allow others to do the same, when the gigs they were getting were coming in faster than the two of them could handle.
    "When we realized there were thousands of other people like us who wanted to provide coaching lessons on their own terms, rather than being employed by a gym or a tennis club, we knew it was time to transition our little operation to a nationwide service," said Marcus.

    Today, gig economy platforms often mark the first step towards entrepreneurship for a new class of workers eager for an alternative to the inflexibility of paycheck-driven employment. These platforms, along with innovations like smartphone apps and a dramatic increase in the quality of cloud-driven communications, are rapidly breaking down barriers and allowing us to think beyond conventional employment options. The existence of these platforms have created an entirely new class of SOHO entrepreneurs, who now have access to the tools and infrastructure that are rapidly changing how we define what a "job" really is.

    This article has been curated from the original source written by Dan Blacharski
    Dan Blacharski is a thought leader, advisor, industry observer and PR counsel to several Internet startups. He has been widely published on subjects relating to customer-facing technology, fintech, cloud computing and crowdsourcin...

    How Kevin Durant Became Silicon Valley's Hottest Start-up - New York Times

    Once the conversation did start, however, Mr. Durant sounded pensive, introspective. Unlike many M.V.P.-caliber athletes who seem to field every question seemingly looking for the quickest exit strategy, Mr. Durant paused to consider each question, and he seemed unafraid to open up, despite his natural shyness.
    "I didn't really have friends," Mr. Durant said of his childhood in Seat Pleasant, Md., which neighbors Washington. "I was quiet. I was awkward-sized."
    Raised by a single mother in a rough neighborhood, Mr. Durant said he "didn't look the part" of a cool kid, adding that, "It made it easy for me to not worry about the social life and just play basketball."
    "That's the gift and the curse of being an athlete that is so dedicated at an early age, you forget about real life sometimes," he said. "So I'm just in the last few years starting to feel comfortable to meet new people, going out in groups, meeting new girls, hanging out. That stuff was foreign to me until a few year s back."
    Near the end of the lunch, a petite woman in a Warriors jersey trailing two eager children approached the booth. "Excuse me, Kevin?" she asked diffidently. But a man in his security detail whisked her away before he could respond.
    Upon leaving the booth, however, Mr. Durant demonstrated his growing ease with fame among his adopted family of Warriors fans, making a beeline toward the woman's table to graciously pose for selfies with the family.
    "They can feel how much heat that I got from coming here," he said of his controversial move to Bay Area. "They're trying to make me feel at peace."
    Calling the Geek Squad
    Fifteen minutes later, the Escalade pulled into a parking garage beneath the sprawling YouTube campus. Mr. Durant had no time for a plunge down the office's 45-foot-long red slide, sink a 10-footer on the indoor putting green or grab a quick snooze in a Kubrickian, white-plastic "nap pod." After all, he was the employee per k that day.
    He proceeded to an auditorium that was filled to capacity with YouTube employees, some of them looking barely old enough to vote, let alone drink, and took a seat onstage across from Neal Mohan, YouTube's chief product officer, who was moderating an employees-only question-and-answer session that was live-streamed to YouTube and Google offices around the world.
    Flashing a $59,000 Vacheron Constantin watch, Mr. Durant did not exactly fit the profile of the skinny-armed tech programmer. But he cast himself as just another member of the YouTube generation, talking about his obsession with Grand Theft Auto V, hip-hop and, of course, YouTube. "I'm sure you guys know, you want to look at one quick video and it turns into four or five hours," he said. "It's pretty dangerous, that ap p."
    Photo Mr. Durant's T-shirt collection includes one of Nascar's Jeff Gordon. Credit Jake Michaels for The New York Times
    When an audience member asked if he planned to try acting, like the Los Angeles Clippers' Blake Griffin or the Cavaliers' LeBron James, Mr. Durant snorted sarcastically, "If anybody could do it, it's Blake Griffin and LeBron." The audience erupted in laughter, since both players are considered Oscar-worthy on-court floppers. Mr. Durant, holding back a chuckle, insisted that he was talking about their impressive work in commercials and movies.
    Then the talk took a more serious turn. Asked if he is plugging himself into the Bay Area tech scene, Mr. Durant responded that he is eagerly following the lead of a Warriors teammate, Andre Iguodala, who is a noted investor in companies like Twitter, Fac ebook and Tesla.
    Last summer, in fact, Mr. Durant and Mr. Kleiman unveiled a start-up of their own, the Durant Company, with a swelling portfolio of investments in tech companies like Postmates and Acorns, in addition to hotels and restaurants and film and television development. They are also investing with Ronald Conway, one of Silicon Valley's "super angel" investors and a front-row fixture at Oracle Arena (the Warriors' current home in Oakland), and consulting with Laurene Powell Jobs, Steve Jobs's widow, on his own charity foundation.
    In a sense, Mr. Durant is not wholly unlike the legions of ambitious 20-somethings in hoodies and cool sneakers who descend on Silicon Valley to make hundreds of millions.
    The only difference is, he has already made hundreds of millions.
    Adopting a Silicon Valley Wardrobe
    The next day, Mr. Durant was piloting his black Tesla Model S up a windy road in the Oakland Hills, after the Warriors' morning shootaround. It was around noon on game day, the second meeting of the season with his former team, the Thunder. He seemed more distant that day, his voice quieter, raspier.
    Continue reading the main story

    Zuckerberg's dystopian vision of the Silicon Valley echo chamber ... - South China Morning Post

    Facebook is confronting the reality that it's a media company.

    Mark Zuckerberg recently released a 5,700 word globalist political manifesto that is utter nonsense - a series of political platitudes trying to be soaring rhetoric. Zuckerberg has not lived in the real world for a long time.

    "History is the story of how we've learned to come together in even greater numbers - from tribes to cities to nations," he wrote.

    This is the world according to Facebook. The history of the world is the story of endless class struggle where wars are the only events that permanently change anything.

    But, it encapsulates Zuckerberg's limited thinking - that Facebook is a business that can change the direction of human civilization. And that is his shortcoming.

    Facebook has grown beyond a dorm room project ranking the attractiveness of Harvard girls to becoming the custodian of truth and goodwill among people. He now wants Facebook to be the means to realise the dream of globally inclusive communities. But, on whose terms?

    This is exceedingly worrying, but entirely predictable. Facebook has always planned to socially and politically engineer as many Facebook users as possible.

    What it considers to be fake news or acceptable posts will be slowly programmed into blocking alternative, non-establishment sources of news and views. This will only reinforce views within the elitist echo chamber of Silicon Valley.

    Zuckerberg is a fabulously wealthy capitalist. He dislikes scrutiny or voting rights by shareholders. He talks liberal, but guards his money and his interests with an army of lawyers. It's always baffling how the media paints him as a worldly and benign tech guru.

    He channels a narrative of inclusiveness and openness. But he is unconvincing when explaining why Facebook makes dubious decisions about what content it selects. The only real way Facebook can be "people first" is if Zuckerberg gives away Facebook to its users.

    Otherwise, he should stop trying to occupy the moral high ground of globalism. After all, the website started because he wanted to rank the attractiveness of Harvard's girls.

    Business people who enter the political arena need to examine themselves and their creations not from the narrow view of their fans or shareholders, but from the position of who or what they threaten -- and how that can be changed.

    Facebook, Zuckerberg and the rest of the Silicon Valley companies are part of the reason why the Democrats have lost much political ground and credibility with the American working class.

    Tech moguls love to show how progressive they are and how they are so anti-Trump. But it 's only lots of propaganda with little action by their companies on issues such as their own workers' rights and antitrust issues.

    Trump did not create the deep divisions in America; the Great Divide created him.
    Zuckerberg needs to realize there are two different Americas. Half of the country that voted for Trump, that visited polling stations with wild hope, that roared at massive rallies, was not so much voting for Trump as against The Other America.

    And this was their first chance to overturn the system. These two Americas have little in common with each other.

    They don't even belong on the same map together. The chasm is far deeper than just politics. It embraces culture and morals. They are completely distinct and incompatible.

    Zuckerberg's manifesto doesn't address this. Instead it's a blueprint for making Facebook even more intrusive than it has already become.

    It's a terrifying dystopian vision.

    Peter Guy is a financial writer and former international banker.

    This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as:
    Zuckerberg's terrifying dystopian vision
    Copyright © 2013 The Red Rabbit Studio