Sowing a Supercharged FutureRead More
Plants are a valuable and essential source for human life. Not only do they provide food, fuel and medicines; they regulate Earth’s water cycle and climate, and crucially serve to release the oxygen that we breathe. We depend on plants to survive and thrive, and as a technology platform, plants are extremely attractive. Explained by researcher and Professor of Chemical Engineering Michael Strano, “it is important that we start to see plants as the starting point of technology. They have these advantages of self-repair, they’re environmentally stable outside, they survive in harsh environments, and they provide their own power source and water distribution.”
For years researchers have been trying to overcome the inefficiencies of photosynthesis. Chloroplasts do not absorb green light, nor the sun’s infrared light. The photosynthesis process maxes out at roughly 10% of the incoming sunlight – wasting a significant amount more of those precious sunbeams than is used. [Source, Scientific American]. Given the fundamental properties of plants achieved at 10% efficiency – imagine the revolutionary potential that could be accomplished if we were to cultivate a species of bionic photosynthesizers.
Strano’s team of biochemists and chemical engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, this week reported to Nature Materials of developments that are allowing them to harness the incredible energy and potential of plants to sow a supercharged futuristic field of ‘plant nanobionics.’
By watering plants with carbon nanotubes via a vascular infusion, or a second method known as LEEP (lipid exchange envelope penetration, a plant can be augmented to function as a photonic chemical sensor, proven to boost a plants’ ability to capture light energy by 30%.
Taking plants to the next level of energy production could mean a world without cell phone towers and streetlights, but instead one with trees catalyzed by chemiluminescence to light your way at night, and the ability to emit a signal to your cell. Varying the inserted nanotubes will also allow scientists to detect different gases, and the paper’s lead author, biologist Juan Pablo Giraldo indicates that plants could one day operate as self-powered devices that work as detectors for explosives in airports. By enhancing the growth of plants, Strano also sees potential to generate “bags of chlorophyll” for fuel.
Switching over to renewable and sustainable energy sources achieved through nanotechnology has the ability to solve major global problems, radically improving manufacturing development and its economical impacts in order to better meet human needs. Though small, nanoparticles are certainly delivering bigger promise of a greener future.
Happy 25th birthday WWW! Is pharma missing out on the digital age?Read More
There’s no doubt that the introduction of the world wide web was revolutionary, and one of mankind’s greatest inventions, so to celebrate the internet’s milestone birthday, we’re taking a look back in time to think about how the pharmaceutical industry has changed in the last quarter of a century, the impact of the digital age, and the potential for the future.
Like most industries, the pharmaceutical industry has transformed massively in the last 25 years. Although innovative and forward-thinking, pharma has fallen behind other industries in terms of visuals and marketing messaging online, including corporate websites, blogs and social media.
It is widely noted that whilst pharma has started to embrace social media at varying levels, the industry is still behind. In an IMS report in January this year, it was estimated that nearly half of pharmaceutical companies are using social media, with regulatory risk often considered to be one of the biggest hurdles (Source: IMS).
In the 1980s, pharma was faced with new safety and environmental regulations, and today, pharma still remains one of the most regulated markets. It is also an industry that has found itself in webs of scrutiny and controversy over the years. These pressures and concerns, along with laws on drug marketing that vary by territory and the need to protect IP and knowledge, make the cautious approach to social media and online knowledge sharing understandable.
In the 1990s, big pharma enjoyed huge sales and profits, until patents began to expire, and the generic ‘me-toos’ began to flood the market. Pharma companies had to evolve fast to survive in a more competitive market and with reduced revenues, costs had to be slashed. The R&D departments in big pharma began to shrink, and drug discovery had to become much more savvy.
With these cost pressures on pharma companies, the industry needs to adopt information technology that will help streamline processes to save costs. For example, in a recent report ‘Riding the information technology in life sciences: priorities, pitfalls and promise’ the authors encourage the pharma world to embrace the benefits – including huge cost-savings – of cloud-based technology that has been widely adopted by many other innovative industries, once security and safety is deemed suitable (source: Pharmafile).
The race to market, and the complexity of pharma research, discovery and development led to a great boom in outsourcing of contract research, development and manufacturing to contract research organisations (CROs), contract manufacturing organisations (CMOs), contract development and manufacturing organisations (CDMOs) etc.
In more recent years, strategic relationships and long-term partnerships have become more popular, and knowledge sharing is becoming more apparent. It’s hoped that this strategic change will help pave the way for a more open, trusting and conversational online presence.
Within the industry, blogging, Twitter and Facebook are considered core social media activities (source: PMLive). Reviewing the top 3 social media channels – Facebook, Twitter and YouTube – Johnson and Johnson have ranked #1 in pharma in terms of reach across the platforms (source: Forbes).
Although the pharma industry is known for its late adoption of the latest online technologies, the industry is discovering, innovating and saving people’s lives every day.
The lack of online presence or dominance in many areas of pharma allows certain companies now to take control of the online space and find a voice in a tough, competitive, market environment. Companies need to create an online personality that reflects their company values and their technological capabilities. Those that don’t are already finding themselves left behind.
The Power of Social SharesRead More
Sunday night saw Ellen DeGeneres set a retweet record with an Oscars selfie which with herself, included Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Bradley Cooper, Peter Nyong’o Jr., Channing Tatum, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyong’o and Angelina Jolie. Within an hour of the image being posted, it had surpassed the previously most retweeted tweet of all time! That was an image of Barack and Michelle Obama embraced in a hug after it was announced he had been re-elected for 4 more years. Up until me writing this, Ellen’s tweet has received 3,320,100 retweets, in just 5 days! She actually ‘broke Twitter’ with fans going crazy over it. So, how did she gain this World Record title? Having a number of A-List celebrities in a picture and asking people to share the image whilst you host the Oscars can’t hurt can it?
This image has prompted a number of ‘Oscar selfies’ from various Twitter accounts. Probably most famously this image from Terry Shipman who posted a cute selfie of him and his two dogs and told his son to retweet the image. In an hour and a half he had received 1,000 retweets, much to the surprise of Terry and his family. The morning after he awoke to 30,000 retweets of his image and to date has received 157,187. Pretty impressive for somebody who previously had written single figure numbers of tweets and had only 20 followers.
The real time aspects of Twitter are what make it so successful, and what helps brands become so successful online. An example of a brand that understands this is Oreo. They have a light-hearted approach to current events, such as posting an image of Xbox controllers incorporated with Oreos at the time of their much-anticipated release. To holiday-themed Oreo images such as Father’s Day 2013, a campaign of ‘custom dad tats’, where fans tweeted about their dads and Oreo responded with images based on tweets received, for them to be then printed out onto transfer paper and worn as a temporary tattoo. Their most iconic moment on Twitter came in the form of a real-time tweet posted during 2013’s Super Bowl. A power outage happened and Oreo went straight onto Twitter with an image that simply involved a dark background and an Oreo, with the caption ‘You can still dunk in the dark’, which sparked over 15,000 retweets and more than 20,000 likes on Facebook.
The power and opportunity of social media for businesses is growing by the second. It’s a great way for companies to see what their customers and competitors are saying about your brand, suggestions, comments and complaints. It’s also a brilliant way to keep everyone updated on what you’re doing and what’s coming so always keeping consumers interested in your brand. By using engaging tools, mixing up your content and working out a posting strategy that works for you, you can better position your brand and amplify your voice.
Have you come across any virals that you’ve shared? Tweet me with them @JennaAtNotch