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DARPA Wants to Create Synthetic Organisms to Terraform and Change the Atmosphere of Mars

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The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) believes that it’s on the way to creating synthetic organisms capable of terraforming Mars into a planet that looks more like Earth, Motherboard reports.

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Speaking at a recent biotech conference hosted by DARPA, Alicia Jackson, deputy director of DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office (BTO) said:

For the first time, we have the technological toolkit to transform not just hostile places here on Earth, but to go into space not just to visit, but to stay.

Jackson, who joined DARPA in 2010, is a researcher specialized in the integration of engineering with biology to assemble cells and inorganic materials and create self-healing, evolvable materials. The BTO is a DARPA division that aims to merge biology, engineering, and computer science to harness the power of natural systems for national security. The BTO aims to develop new products and systems that go beyond what is possible with conventional chemistry and manufacturing technologies. BTO’s Living Foundries program does research on how to leverage the unparalleled synthetic and functional capabilities of biology to create a revolutionary, biologically-based manufacturing platform.

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Engineering Extremophile Organisms to Change the Atmosphere of Mars

Synthetic BiologyTerraforming Mars means hacking the red planet to make it suitable for the establishment of a terrestrial ecosystem and human life, and is a necessary prerequisite for the plans to colonize Mars that have been proposed by visionary thinkers like Robert Zubrin and entrepreneurs like Elon Musk. The terraforming process would need to warm-up and thicken the atmosphere of Mars, which can be accomplished with bacteria, algae and photosynthesizing plants specialized to thrive in the Mars environment.

Tweaking existing life forms to engineer new ones is the goal of advanced biotech and synthetic biology, but so far only two organisms – e. coli and yeast – have been used in synthetic biology research.

Jackson is more ambitious. “There are anywhere from 30 million to 30 billion organisms on this Earth. We use two right now for engineering biology,” she said.

I want to use any organism that has properties I want – I want to quickly map it and quickly engineer it. If you look at genome annotation software today, it’s not built to quickly find engineerable systems. It’s built to look for an esoteric and interesting thing I can publish an academic paper on.

mars astronaut

Jackson and her team have been working on a software tool called GTA GView, or the “Google maps of genomes,” which will allow geneticists to quickly search for the type of genetic material they need for an engineering project. As a result, they will be able to engineer organisms for much more specific purposes.

Future versions of the tool could could search for specific genes in organisms and know which ones to splice together for a specific purpose within a day. That would allow researchers to create extremophiles that could survive conditions in the extreme environment of Mars, and the photosynthesis from those organisms could make the planet habitable for humans.

It may seem odd that DARPA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Defense responsible for the development of emerging technologies for use by the military, does research aimed at the terraforming and colonization of Mars, but of course the same cutting edge research in synthetic biology could lead to increased process versatility and resiliency in a combat environment with extreme conditions.

Images from NASA and Shutterstock.

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22 Comments

22 Comments

  1. someone

    June 26, 2015 at 8:39 am

    Can’t even prove we been to space or the world is round! But people.believe this bullshit! Seriously,prove the earth is round! You can’t do it! Show me real proof and I have no issue but there isn’t any! And don’t say NASA or any other military industrial ran corporation from anywhere on the planet, be it Russian, Chinese or anything. They are all in bed with each other even though msm makes itnout to be USA vs China/Russia that’s just bullshit smoke screen. They been helping each other for CENTURIES! Elietes helping elites and the rich!

    As for this storey, that’s for this place, not other planets! People with control just want more control, power corrupts, absolute power (where we are today) corrupts absolutely!

    You all need stop watching their most powerful weapon against us, the TV and newspapers etc they program you through these means, as well as school, collage, uni and especially military school!
    So obvious, everyone’s so blind 🙁

    • lah30303

      June 27, 2015 at 12:41 am

      You can buy a weather balloon for somewhere between $25-$100, stick a camera onto it, let it go, and get your own pictures of a round earth. From space.

    • Mike

      June 27, 2015 at 3:15 am

      One of the oldest proofs of the Earth’s shape, however, can be seen from the ground and occurs during every lunar eclipse. The geometry of a lunar eclipse has been known since ancient Greece. When a full Moon occurs in the plane of Earth’s orbit, the Moon slowly moves through Earth’s shadow. Every time that shadow is seen, its edge is round. Once again, the only solid that always projects a round shadow is a sphere.

      • someone

        June 27, 2015 at 8:14 am

        @ both replies – it took me a long time to even consider that the earth may not be round to. I’m not saying its not, what I am saying is all the pictures, video etc etc is fake and manipulated just like everything on TV is manipulated. I hate the word controlled, that’s not what they are doing, its mass blackmail through peodophiller when you get to the core of it. But I’m wondering a bit but its all connected.

        Don’t you think its a bit precise for the moon be 200 times smaller and just perfectly 200 times further away? Why only 1 side of the moon? Prove the other planets ‘rotate’ that isn’t doctored. I’m sorry to say you can’t because non of it can be trusted! These people bodged jfk, bothched titanic (JP Morgan), bothced up the bay of pigs, botched up 9/11, Boston bombing, 7/11 and many more but people are so programmed at school, uni, college, military school etc etc they can’t see the woods for the trees!

        Listen I know it sounds mad but think about it. Drop everything you been told and have a fresh look as if you don’t know anything! Same with everything in life, and you’ll begin to see what I’m saying. Trust me, I’m not alone in this! There is NO evidence for a round earth, just theories still. The same people that ruled roman times rule today. Same bloodlines. Romans moved east and created the byzantine era. They used the old roman mailing network as the spy network. Today they have you carrying phones, tracking you through every means, especially Facebook and their facial recognition bullshit. And people freely give their freedom away! A simple search shows it was funded by IN-Q-TEL which is a arm of the CIA for monitoring online activity!

        A little bit of open mindedness and the ability to realise people fail and are wrong all the time and success is built on many failures will take you a long way to seeing the truth. And the truth sets us free! It really does, no matter how dark it is (and it is very VERY dark! Check out bill malony & pie’n’mash films, but be warned, this is at the core of it all! Institutional peodophiller that’s used for blackmail! And that is the truth! Royal families, rich corporate companies (DuPont – raped his own children too, escapes prison, Johnson & Johnsons so called ‘curse’ is the fact they know what’s going on themselves and helped centralise everything! Etc etc)).

        Please note that I’m not saying the earth isn’t round, I’m saying the evidence provided doesn’t hold up to scrutiny and a lot more people are seeing this now!

        The lies have been going on for millennia! And humans have been around at least 1-2 million years. Something happened 12,000 years ago and we been in amnesia ever since. A few people rise to power all around the planet but now they all scratch each others backs! China, Russia, USA, UK, Israel, Vatican etc etc all communicate to spread the fear people carry and create themselves! Its simple and genius at the same time! Social engineering is so hard at work today anyone can do it!

        Look at butterfly lab ran by already convicted criminals, all with military back grounds and screwed In the head. All lack empathy and all know the alphabet soup is a joke! They understand the social engineering and use it to their own gain! They are no different than our manipulators but they don’t have as much control! These people created this environment we have today to produce more of their own!

        Hell, you can’t prove that aliens are not here even! Are they manipulating it all? The problem is so much disinformation, misinformation created its impossible for most people to even conversate about it! Most people jump to labels as its the easy option! Though and critical thinking is not humans strong point in these present times! Peace

        • blargh

          June 27, 2015 at 6:27 pm

          you’ve got mental problems. Where on the Asperger’s/autism spectrum do you fall?

        • Steve Schmidt

          June 27, 2015 at 8:27 pm

          Calm down a little, OK?

          If you would like some low-tech proof, go out on the ocean and record the rate at which ship hulls (and superstructures) disappear as they move away from you. This happens at exactly the same rate in all directions, and in every ocean on the planet. It’s pretty easy to calculate the diameter of a sphere within about 10%, and no other explanation fits the data.

          A second example is the changing phases of the moon (and any planet close enough to exhibit a circle). They do so in a manner that is only consistent with spherical objects; you can test this out by hanging an orange on a string and then moving a light source around it in a dark room; it exhibits exactly the same changing phases that the moon does.

          This isn’t a bunch of stuff being stuffed down our throats by current evil (insert class of person here). G=m*m/d*d was arrived at by Isaac Newton a long time ago, who actually discovered that planets move in elipses rather than circles, and who had to invent the calculus in order to figure it all out. Planetary bodies continue to comply slavishly with this 18th-century heresy.

        • texasvet

          June 27, 2015 at 11:33 pm

          You watch too much youtube. Go buy a telescope. You can actually buy one with tracking software. Now select the ISS. Feast your eyes on that lovely piece of space station. Also, your little theory is probably based off that wooden bridge experiment. It’s been proven FALSE. You want proof of a round Earth. Look up TIMEZONES. Also, explain how you can see further up high than you can on the ground. If the earth were flat, it’d all be the same.

          And yes, there is undeniable proof of the Earth’s roundness, photos, weather balloons and even airplanes. Get of the net, go see a shrink, get admitted, take your meds and we’ll never speak of this again.

        • Ben Richardson

          July 26, 2015 at 3:00 pm

          There is PLENTY of evidence to support and prove almost everything you perceive as fake, stop being one of those ignorant deniers who won’t or cant prove it to themselves. Look up things, read a little more. The truth is the government is corrupt, but the story is a LOT more complicated and twisted than you think. Half-truths, twisted-truths, and real truth thrown in all together. But in terms of what can be proven and measured, it is impossible for the Third Eye NWOs, or whatever rubbish you believe, to mess with your own personal scientific equipment. You can’t put a cover on the skies and can’t hide the universe. A second question to ask yourself is why? Why would they want us to believe that the universe is essentially a bunch of atoms orbiting other atoms, like everything astral and subatomic is. Get on a plane and look out of the window, there is plenty of evidence, use your eyes not your imagination.
          Are the governments of the world trying to control us? Yes. That’s why they’re called ‘governments’. Are they lying about things? Yes, every single person lies. Are they lying about Earth being round? No. And that is only because society has evolved and injected its ACTUAL truth from ACTUAL discoveries into the ever-God-fearing ‘system. The system has changed, some more than others. But to say that EVERYTHING ‘they’ say is a lie is redundant. It’s NOT a black and white divide between truth and lie.

  2. texasvet

    June 27, 2015 at 11:26 pm

    Here’s the thing. If we find life on Mars before DARPA successfully creates a terraforming toolkit, it should become a protected planet. We should not interfere with a world that already has life on it. We don’t have that right. If there is zero life there. That’s another story.

    • Scarsquid

      June 28, 2015 at 12:00 am

      Hate to tell you but there isn’t currently life on Mars.

      • texasvet

        June 28, 2015 at 12:39 am

        Hate to tell you this, but nothing we’ve sent up there can tell. We didn’t know that there was life around hydrothermal vents until a few years ago. There is presently organic chemicals on Mars. Meaning there is a very real possibility of life still existing.

        Second. You have no idea if there is or there isn’t. My point was if there is, it needs to be protected.

        • Aldo

          June 28, 2015 at 1:03 am

          I don’t think there’s anything wrong with terraforming another planet with basic life. The rules change when it comes to stuff like this, we do get play around and be god every once in awhile.

          • texasvet

            June 28, 2015 at 2:18 pm

            And what if an alien civilisation came across a primordial earth with “basic life” and decided to terraform? We wouldn’t be here. Any life needs to be protected and allowed to propagate. If it’s a dead world, by all means, terraform.

    • Giulio Prisco

      June 28, 2015 at 5:37 am

      If there were elephants and dogs on Mars I would totally agree with you, but we know there aren’t. There may be micro-organisms, and we should do our best to find and study them – but I don’t think they should take precedence over people when it comes to terraforming Mars. I don’t know where to place the line between elephants and micro-organisms, but I guess a line should (and will) be set.

    • SmashingYoungMan

      June 28, 2015 at 5:47 pm

      The hell it should. Mars is ours.

      • texasvet

        June 28, 2015 at 6:14 pm

        It isn’t anyones. It just is.

  3. kumamato

    June 27, 2015 at 11:49 pm

    I support this fully!

    WE should colonize the heck out of that planet!

  4. kris s

    June 28, 2015 at 12:52 am

    How about our own planet?

  5. Christopher

    June 28, 2015 at 1:35 am

    Did anyone else think of the Descolada from the Ender’s Game series?

  6. Diego Floor

    June 28, 2015 at 3:33 am

    At the moment every mission is EXTRA careful to not contaminate other planets with any sort of life. One of the arguments to do this is that if we contaminate it then we’ll never know if it had life already, and finding out if there’s life outside earth is one of the main objectives of every mission. After the possibility for martian life is excluded then we could talk about terraforming.

  7. 999BTC

    July 1, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    Ahahahaha. Getting even better 😀 Is this a satire website?

  8. Robert Genito

    August 8, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    About the astronaut on Mars photo…was that supplied by NASA? 😉

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Biotech

Biotech Dominates July Penny Stock Picks

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July brings new opportunities to trade penny stocks, according to the Investopedia top 10 penny stocks to watch. Biotechnology stocks in particular are poised for a breakout. Biotechnology funds broke out of the long-term basing pattern in June, forcing rotational buying pressure, which bodes well for the low-priced sub-sector, with many penny stocks ready to hit multi-year highs.

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At the same time, the tech sector is getting sold with equal force in a profit-taking exercise that could deliver a period of under-performance for the sector’s lower-priced issues.

June’s biotechnology picks drew strong buying interest, led by ImmunoGen, Inc.’s 48% advance to a 52-week high. Small China stocks also posted strength, as China Commercial Credit, Inc. gained close to 35%. China Commercial Credit and June’s three biotech picks return to the July top penny stock list, joined by six new penny stocks.

1. ImmunoGen Inc. (IMGN)

Source: Investopedia

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ImmunoGen, a provider of antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) for the treatment of cancer, jumped from number four in June to the top spot in July.

The stock posted a 12-year high at $20.25 in 2013 and sold off to $5.34 in December 2014. A recovery in 2015 stalled less than a point below the prior peak, creating a decline that continued into an 18-year low at $1.51 in November 2016.

Buyers took over in 2017, generating an uptick that reversed at the 2014 resistance approximately three weeks ago. In June, the stock broke out and made the top 10 list for the first time. It could end up in the $8.00 to $10.00 price zone.

ImmunoGen creates targeted cancer therapeutics using its proprietary ADC technology. The company’s candidate, mirvetuximab soravtansine, is in a Phase 3 trial for an ovarian cancer, and is in Phase 1b/2 testing in combination regimens for earlier-stage disease.

The technology is used in Roche’s Kadcyla, in three other clinical-stage ImmunoGen product candidates, and in programs in development by Amgen, Bayer, Biotest, CytomX, Lilly, Novartis, Sanofi and Takeda.

2. China Commercial Credit, Inc. (CCCR)

Source: Investopedia

China Commercial Credit Inc. (CCCR), which provides business loans and loan guarantee services to small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs), farmers and individuals in China’s Jiangsu Province, jumped from number five in June to second place in July.

The company went public on the U.S. exchanges at $6.50 in August 2013.

The stock experienced a downtrend that bottomed out at 25 cents in February 2016 and began an upward trend that stalled at $3.20 in September. The stock hit a higher low in March 2017 before recovering, testing the 2016 high. A breakout should bring broad buying interest that could support a continued upside that could double the price by year’s end.

The company was founded in 2008 and provides business loans and loan guarantee services to small-to-medium enterprises, farmers and individuals in China’s Jiangsu Province.

3. CymaBay Therapeutics, Inc. (CBAY)

Source: Investopedia

CymaBay Therapeutics Inc. (CBAY), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing therapies to treat specialty and orphan diseases, returns from the June list, where it ranked number 9. The stock rallied to an all-time high at $13.78 in February 2015, then suffered a steep downtrend that continued into the first quarter of 2016. The stock then dropped to an all-time low at 82 cents before bouncing to $3.04 in April, a yearly high, ahead of a pullback that continued into the November low at $1.15.

The stock broke above the 2016 high in February 2017, reaching a two-year high at $4.81.

Net loss for the 2017 first quarter was $5.4 million, or ($0.20) per diluted share, compared to $6.8 million, or ($0.29) per diluted share in the first quarter of 2016. Net loss in the 2017 first quarter was $1.4 million lower compared to the prior year period, primarily due to the recognition of collaboration revenue in 2017.

The rally has now reached a two-year high, attracting buying interest that could move into double digits.

4. Peiris Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (PIRS)

Source: Investopedia

Pieris Pharmaceuticals Inc., a, clinical-stage biotechnology company committed to providing solutions for oncology, respiratory disease and other therapeutic areas, moved from June’s 7th spot to July’s 4th spot. The stock launched on the OTC market in 2014, trading between $2.00 and $4.25 before falling to $1.26 in January 2016. It ground sideways through November, then tested the first-quarter low ahead of a January 2017 breakaway gap that has drawn steady buying interest. The rally gathered momentum in early May after announcing a partnership with AstraZeneca PLC and is currently testing the 2015 high, the all-time high.

The company’s product includes immuno-oncology multi-specifics tailored for the tumor microenvironment, an inhaled Anticalin protein to treat uncontrolled asthma as well as a half-life-optimized Anticalin protein to treat anemia. Anticalin proteins, proprietary to Pieris, are a class of therapeutics validated in the clinic and partnerships with pharmaceutical companies. Anticalin is a registered trademark of Pieris.

5. 22nd Century Group, Inc. (XXII)

Source: Investopedia

22nd Century Group, Inc. (XXII), a plant biotechnology company that is a provider of tobacco harm reduction and development of proprietary hemp/cannabis strains, broke out above multi-year resistance near $1.50 in 2013, rallying to a record high a few months later at $6.36. The stock then began a persistent decline through August 2015 before finding support at 56 cents, followed by a bounce to $1.75.

The stock has traded within those boundaries for 22-months, bouncing at support three times and reversing at resistance in equal measure. The price returned to that level a fourth time, improving odds for a breakout that could double the price in the year’s second half.

22nd Century Group is a plant biotechnology company focused on genetic engineering and plant breeding that allows the increase or decrease of the level of nicotine in tobacco plants and the level of cannabinoids in cannabis plants. The company’s main goal in tobacco is to reduce the harm caused by smoking. The main goal in cannabis is to develop proprietary hemp/cannabis strains for new medicines and agricultural crops.

The stock last month joined the Russell Microcap Index, when FTSE Russell reconstituted its U.S. and global equity indexes. Membership in the Russell Microcap Index means automatic inclusion in the appropriate growth and value style indexes. FTSE Russell determines membership for its Russell indexes primarily by objective, market-capitalization rankings and style attributes.

6. Corindus Vascular Robotics, Inc. (CVRS)

Source: Investopedia

Corindus Vascular Robotics, Inc. (CVRS), a developer of precision vascular robotics, returned to the national market in 2015 following a trading halt, topping out around $4.50 and starting a decline that continued to reach new lows in January 2017 when it bottomed at around 40 cents. Since that time, the price activity has been constructive, with high volume rally bursts moving the stock into 2016 resistance at $1.75. The bullish behavior has created a cup and handle basing pattern that points to an uptrend into the 2015 high following a breakout.

Revenue for the first quarter of 2017 was $0.8 million compared to $1.1 million for the same period in the prior year. The decrease is due mainly to the deferral of system revenue associated with a future obligation to upgrade multiple customer units from the company’s CorPath 200 System to the CorPath GRX System.

The company installed three new CorPath Systems in the first quarter of 2017, increasing its total installed base to 48 CorPath Systems.

Gross loss was $1.1 million for the 2017 first quarter, compared to a gross profit of $0.03 million for the 2016 first quarter. The cost of revenues for the first 2017 quarter continued to include the effect of under-utilization of production facilities and the cost of CorPath GRX System upgrades that installed pursuant to pre-existing contractual arrangements.

The company continues to expect the full year 2017 revenue to be in the range of $13.

7. RADA Electronic Industries, Ltd. (RADA)

Source: Investopedia

RADA Electronic Industries, Ltd. (RADA), a defense electronics system of advanced electronic systems for airborne and land applications, fell into a multi-decade decline after it joined the Nasdaq in the 1990s. The stock ground out a series of lower highs and lows through January 2016’s all-time 54-cent low.

The stock spent 16 months moving sideways in a narrow basing pattern before turning higher in May 2017 and rallying back to 2016 resistance at $1.78. The bullish activity completed a cup and handle breakout pattern that could point to a fast rally into the August 2015 gap between $3.70 and $2.50.

Revenues totaled $4.7 million in the 2017 first quarter, up 91% compared to revenues of $2.5 million in the first quarter of 2016.

Gross profit totaled $1.7 million in the first 2017 quarter of 2017, a gross margin of 35.7%, compared to gross profit of $6,000 (gross margin of 0.2%) in the 2016 first quarter.

Operating income was $0.4 million in the first 2017 quarter compared to an operating loss of $1 million in the 2016 first quarter.

Net income attributable to RADA’s shareholders in the 2017 first quarter was $0.4 million, $0.02 per share, versus a net loss of $1.8 million, or $0.23 per share, in the 2016 first quarter.

8. ChromaDex, Corp. (CDXC)

Source: Investopedia

ChromaDex, Corp. (CDXC), a provider of proprietary health, wellness and nutritional ingredients, that creates science-based solutions to dietary supplement, food and beverage, skin care, sports nutrition and pharmaceutical products, went public in April 2016 at $4.70. The stock rallied to an all-time high at $6.18 in May, then fell one month later to $2.46 in a single session, eventually posting a lower December low. It tested that support level in April 2017, then turned sharply higher, now testing 2017 resistance at $3.80. A breakout could point to a significant upside, taking the stock back to last year’s high.

For the first quarter of 2017, ChromaDex reported net sales of $4.4 million, a decrease of 39% compared to the same period of 2016, due mainly to decreased sales in its ingredients business segment, as a result of dropping its largest customer for fiscal year 2016. The ingredients segment created net sales of $2.1 million for Q1 2017, a decline of 55%, compared to the same 2016 period.

The net loss attributable to common stock holders for Q1 2017 was $1.9 million or ($0.05) per share versus a net income of $0.3 million or $0.01 per share for Q1 2016.

In May, the company announced the closing of the $16.4 million second tranche of the strategic investment of up to $25 million led by Hong Kong business leader Li Ka-shing.

Li Ka-shing has invested in many innovative companies in the last decade, including Facebook, Spotify, DeepMind, Siri, Impossible Foods and Modern Meadow. The new investment will support future ChromaDex developments in the global marketplace.

The $16.4 million second tranche follows an initial $3.5 million tranche that closed on April 27, 2017.

9. Safe Bulkers, Inc. (SB)

Source: Investopedia

Safe Bulkers, Inc. (SB), a player in the hot and cold dry bulk shipping sector, topped out at $11.48 in March 2014, then entered a downtrend reaching an all-time low at 30 cents in January 2016. A recovery wave in November stalled at $2.38, followed by sideways action that has completed a small-scale cup and handle breakout pattern. A buying spike over $2.60 can be expected to set the upside into action, supporting a rally that could surpass $5.00.

The company declared a cash dividend of $0.50 per share on its 8.00% Series B, Series C and Series D Cumulative Redeemable Perpetual Preferred Shares for the period from April 30, 2017 to July 29, 2017.

This is the 16th consecutive cash dividend declared on the company’s Series B Preferred Shares, the 13th cash dividend declared on its Series C Preferred Shares and the 12th cash dividend declared on its Series D Preferred Shares since their respective commencement of trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

10. Ballard Power Systems, Inc. (BLDP)

Source: Investopedia

Ballard Power Systems, Inc. (BLDP) is a provider of clean energy products that reduce customer costs and risks, and helps customers solve challenges in their fuel cell programs. The stock reached an all-time high at $144.95 in 2000 before falling into a downtrend lasting more than 12 years, sending the stock to an all-time low at 56 cents. A 2013 upward trend continued through 2014, hitting an 8-year high at $8.38, followed by a correction that’s now returned to 2015 resistance at $3.10. A breakout could catch fire, pushing the stock to a test of its 2014 high.

Total revenue was $22.7 million in the quarter, an increase of 39% from growth in both power products and technology solutions.

Gross margin was 42% in the quarter, an improvement of 22 points due to a shift in product mix toward higher margin technology solutions and heavy duty motive for the China market, including the establishment of a production line in Yunfu, China for the manufacture and assembly of FCvelocity-9SSL fuel cell stacks.

Cash operating costs were $10 million in the quarter, a 6% increase due to higher research and product development expenditures as well as a stronger Canadian dollar relative to the U.S. dollar, since a significant amount of cost is denominated in Canadian dollars.

Low-priced biotech stocks have risen following a long slumber, with steady buying interest likely to continue. This group should offer a variety of profitable penny stock plays during the quiet summer trading season, while low-priced stocks in other sectors move into narrow trading ranges.

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Biotech

Silicon Valley’s War on Disease: Zuckerberg, Microsoft, Google to End Cancer and Aging

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Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

Silicon Valley is going to war against disease, cancer, aging, and perhaps even death, with advanced computing, AI and machine learning, genomics, DNA engineering, biotech and nanotech. Tech giants and mega-rich philanthropists are spending billions to permit hacking biology all the way down to DNA, and perhaps we could see breakthroughs in only a few years.

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Child With Rare Disorder Receives ‘Bionic’ Hand Made By 3D-Printer

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A prosthetic hand made with 3D-printing technology has provided a functional right hand for a 6-year-old boy born with a rare disorder, according to Reuters. The boy, Lucas Abraham, showed his new “bionic” hand made for him by bioengineering students at the University of Louisville in Louisville, Ky.

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https://twitter.com/ChristinaWLKY/status/674644673277857792/video/1

The child noted that it’s the best Christmas gift he’s ever received during a news conference at the university. Within minutes of receiving the hand, Abraham could grasp a ball. A video posted on Twitter shows Lucas getting some practice playing catch with a ball using his new hand. The boy will also be able to crash cymbals together in his music class.

Child Had Asked For A ‘Robo-Hand’

Abraham was born with Symbrachydactyly, a condition where a person does not have a fully-functioning hand or foot. The child was born without fingers on his right hand.

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He had asked for a “robo-hand” for years, a prosthetic device that would allow him to hold a piece of paper, grab a baseball and help him zip his jacket, according to the Courier Journal in Louisville.

Following months of work by the students, this week Abraham went to his school, Bowen Elementary School, wearing his “bionic” hand. The device uses tendon-like cords that allow the child to grip when bending his wrist.

The hand was the first made at the university, according to bioengineering professor Gina Bertocci, who noted that more such hands could be made. The university described the hand as “bionic.”

The 3D technology reduces the manufacturing cost. The plastics used, similar to Lego blocks plastics, enable the devices to be made in different colors, Bertocci noted.

Also read: Interview: The makers of a robotic hand that can ‘feel’

3D Printing Creates New Opportunities

3D printing made it possible to make the hands for less than $50 in materials versus thousands that would be required to make a traditional prosthetic hand, according to Bertocci.

The students created a digital version of the hand and used a 3D printer the size of a small refrigerator to ensure the hand was the right fit. It took more than 30 hours to print each hand.

Kids like the hand because it makes them look like a Transformer, Bertocci added.

e-NABLE, a global volunteer organization that prints and designs prosthetics, provided assistance to the students.

Three hands made of leather, plastic and wire were created to fit Abraham, who will keep two of them while the university will use the third hand for accreditation purposes.

The hands were given to the Abraham family for free.

Julie Abraham, the child’s grandmother, said he has displayed more self-confidence after receiving the hand. She had contacted the university in August to see if they could help him.

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