Blog

Alien Pathogens

Travelling to outer space is fascinating, but little do we think about what happens when distant planets are visited by humans, or when those humans come back to Earth. Critical to the survival of any planet is the close connection between everything in nature, which also affects us.

While it is a huge achievement to be able to visit outer space, it has raised many questions for scientists. One of the most important risks from such activities is the exposure to bacteria. One possibility is an astronaut contaminating their destination planet, while the other is bringing harmful bacteria back to Earth.

Scientists refer to these bacteria as alien pathogens and some believe it could be potentially harmful for the human population. This is a cause for concern as the world is currently in a terrible state due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as other environmental issues.

However, many also believe that these pathogens do not pose too much risk to human health, claiming that the chance of one infecting Earth are zero. Scientists say that these pathogens react differently compared to the ones typically found on Earth.

Even if that is the case, astronauts still have a responsibility when travelling to distant planets to avoid contaminating those planets. Humans must avoid treating other planets the same way they have treated Earth. The consequence of our carelessness is clear.

Space travelers must be educated on ethical travelling to rule out even the slightest chances of pollutants from other planets infecting any planet.

Every day scientists are making new discoveries and the potential for travelling to Mars and other planets has drastically improved. Ways to ensure that these activities do not disrupt the life on any planet must be considered.

Scientists have come up with ways to minimize the after-effects of such activities, including chemical cleaning and heat sterilization to stay safe.

There has been news that NASA has already carried out decontamination processes for a mission that is set to launch this year. This is a proactive approach that could save nature and the human race from major catastrophes.

Million Mile Battery

More businesses are now moving towards efficient practices to save the environment from further damage. Companies like Tesla are doing so by building solar powered electric cars. And recently, Tesla showed its interest in developing a million mile battery.

Tesla believes that the introduction of such a battery will reduce the cost of electric vehicles (EVs) by a significant amount. To be more exact, the company says that there will be little variation between the prices of EVs and gas engine cars.

Million mile battery users will have to worry less about frequent repairs and replacements of the battery as the million battery is designed to improve performance and longevity, as well as running costs.

The battery is yet to be manufactured and once introduced, it will be used in Tesla’s Model 3 luxury Sedan and is expected to be sold in China by the end of this year or early next year, before making it widely available in other parts of the world.

To make it happen, Tesla has recruited experienced academic battery experts who are working day and night to introduce this surprising invention to the world very soon.

The successful introduction of the million mile battery will make EVs much more accessible than they currently are. If that happens, the damage caused by regular vehicles on our atmosphere could be greatly reduced. This is one of the biggest milestones of the automobile industry in recent times.

It demonstrates that companies are now passionately finding ways to incorporate efficient practices for the good of the planet, and encouraging others to take more responsible steps to keep up with the changes in the market.

Oil Prices

Apart from knowing what’s going on in everyone’s life, commenting and talking about oil prices is a favorite sport for many. Interestingly, almost all social classes are quite keen to know about the daily rise and fall in oil and gold prices as their work is often directly or indirectly impacted by it. Even a student might worry about oil prices as it reflects in their transportation expenses.

For many years, oil prices were on an upward trajectory with minor changes. However, suddenly, the entire world was walloped by a deadly pandemic that caused everything to go upside down. But who would have though the impact of COVID-19 would be so harsh that oil prices would go negative.

It came as a massive shock for economists, politicians, and even the general public as this has never happened before. Even the Great Depression did not bring such a surprise for the world.

In these times, the demand for oil plummeted to the extent that oil traders no longer have any idea how to store excess oil. Although oil companies have been making endless efforts to curb the demand and find adequate storage, it is a rough time for them.

No one has anything to learn from history regarding this situation because this has never happened before! Oil refineries are also rejecting barrels of oil adding to the storage problem from oil manufacturers.

When will the situation get any better? No one knows! The world is dealing with a new virus. Huge corporations, politicians, and everyone else is in a race to find a solution to it and bring everything back to normal.

The recovery of this situation depends upon when normal transportation resumes to what it previously was, but this is only going to happen when the transmission of the Coronavirus lowers and people feel the need to buy oil for their transportation and business needs.

However, this situation favors the general public, tired of refilling their vehicle’s tanks every second day, at huge expense. The pandemic may have brought unlimited issues, but it really has controlled oil consumption, and consequently air pollution has also lowered in most major cities.

Bright Supernova

Have you ever wondered what stars are made of? Well, stars are burning balls of gas just like the sun is. However, as they are so far away from our solar system they appear as tiny fairy lights lighting up the sky. When a star explodes due to various reasons, there is an immense amount of light that is released within the solar system, which we obviously can’t see with the naked eye, but is recorded through telescopes and machinery. Recently, some astronomers saw a bright light that was 500 times brighter than a star explosion. This sparked their curiosity.

The gigantic explosion which took place was one of the brightest supernovas ever recorded by scientists. The supernova that burst was about five times the mass of Earth and occurred around 3.6 billion light-years away from Earth.

The team working on this research have scientists from Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and Harvard College Observatory. The scientists suggest that the supernova was a result of two stars that were merging and cause the giant explosion. The explosion was 10 times brighter than an average supernova explosion that occurs.

The lead writer of the article says that not only was this one of the brightest supernovas witnessed by researchers, it also has features which make it rare and unique in comparison to other supernovas that scientist have previously witnessed.

In a regular supernova the amount of radiation that is released by the explosion is less than 1 percent of the total energy produced. However, this supernova which was around 500 times brighter than an average supernova, had radiation levels 5 times higher than a normal supernova.

They believe that in the final times of the star, before the explosion took place, it shed off a massive shell that was made of gas due to the pulsating movement. The reason there was so much energy and light was that after the explosion the debris met with the massive shell of gas causing an even bigger explosion. Essentially, it acted as fuel to the explosion making it even bigger.

The timing of this explosion couldn’t have come at a better time as the scientists were developing new technology for viewing such natural phenomena on telescopes, at the time, enabling them to look back in time and find out about the first stars and how they died.

This will open up a way for scientists to know all about the history of stars, where they come from and look back generations for similar events that have occurred, which will give us more knowledge about our solar system.

Plastic Eating Enzymes

Enzymes are things that we usually know exist within our bodies. We know there are some good ones and bad ones and even those that exist in yogurts. However, a type of enzyme has been found that could help us with the current environmental crisis the world is going through. With the snowcaps melting and the weather becoming worse every day, these enzymes could be a ray of hope for us.

Researchers that work in a company called Carbios have developed a mutant bacterial enzyme that can break down plastic in a few hours. The enzyme has been designed in a way that it can break down PET plastic bottles into their individual chemical components, which in turn can be used to create new bottles.

When we talk about traditionally recycled plastic, it is usually very low quality and is used for clothes or carpets and not for plastic bottles. This means plastic bottles need to be recreated from plastic which means horrible things for global warming. So, this bacteria could be incredibly helpful because it will enable old plastic to be used for the construction of other plastic bottles hence leading to less overall production in plastic.

The company has now partnered with famous companies like Pepsi and L’Oreal to take its mission forward and develop the technology.

The specific amount of time that has been given for plastics breaking down using this enzyme is around 10 hours. Many may wonder why such an enzyme hasn’t been discovered before? Interestingly, it had but was completely forgotten about until the people at Carbios began to experiment with it. It has been providing excellent results.

The goal for the company is to be up and running on a large industrial scale by 2024 – 2025, and help reduce plastic production within the world by doing so. The testing phase of the product still has not taken place but is planned to be tested in France in 2021.

Researchers believe the enzyme is extremely cost effective especially on an industrial scale. The cost of making new plastic from oil will be about 25 times more than the reproduction of plastic from the individual components produced through this enzyme.

Not only will the enzyme help reduce the production of plastic, it will also lower costs to consumers, encourage the practice of recycling much more, but ultimately benefit the planet.

Hybrid Computers

When we think of computers, the first thing that comes to mind is that they are artificial intelligence, manmade and have no biological component. They function similar to us, but have no biological properties. What if that were not true anymore? What if we were to develop a computer that had a biological component that aided its performance? This is where hybrid computers come into play.

A company has started to create computer chips that are powered by human neurons. It’s a weird concept and might seem very unnatural to many, however, at the same time it is brilliant too.  An Australian startup called Cortical Labs has begun the development and production of chips which they claim will help AI run on a much lower amount of power.

In normal AI machinery, there has to be a substantial power source available to it, however, Cortical labs wants to change that idea. They believe that their chips will operate by mimicking the power of the human brain which does not require as much energy.

They want to build a chip that will use synthetic biology and mimic the full power of the human brain. This would result in solving many of the challenges that are faced by AI developers.

The neurons that are extracted from embryos of mice, while the ones extracted from humans are made by turning skin cells into stem cells and then into neurons.

Many might think that this idea is a new discovery by the company. However, this isn’t true. The announcement of the development of these chips by Cortical Labs comes only a week after European researchers were successful in creating neural connections between brain cells and silicone brain cells made synthetically on the Internet. Even researchers at MIT have tried to use bacteria to power AI chips.

The plan that is proposed by the Cortical Labs researchers is that the chips will use less power than a dragon fly’s brain which is pretty small. The first step the company plans to take is to get the chips to play a game of pong. This might seem odd, but previously a company called Deepmind did something similar with their artificial intelligence chips and was successful. So the researchers at Cortical Labs have decided to do something similar to test out their artificial intelligence chips.

The CEO Hon Wang Chon believes that through these chips, they will be able to shape the behavior of the extracted neurons and use them to their benefit, and help give a boost to hybrid technology which has recently begun to gain progress in the tech world.