Turning Back Time

We have all heard about “Time Travel” in films and books and the concept of traveling into the future. But, scientists are now focused on the real possibility of going back into the time.

The Latest Scientific Development

Although it sounds like a strange concept modern-day scientists are striving to make time travel a reality by using Quantum Computing – a completely new idea and concept of computing which relies on “Qubits” instead of “bits” in classical computing technology.

After reviewing today’s research and development in the area of modern-day technology, some Russian scientists have claimed that they have actually rolled back the flow of time in a Quantum Computing based experiment.

Findings from the Experiment

According to the research published on the journal Nature Scientific Reports by Gordey Lesovik, a quantum physicist at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, he has created an artificial state that is capable of evolving in contrast to the thermodynamic arrow of time; however, the discovery is not at all capable of transforming its shape into a time machine.

Lesovik’s team has conducted numerous experiments to reverse time on a single electron programmed quantum system. Compared to the three-qubits system that is more complex and resulted in only 49% succession in the objective, they found it easier to achieve an unbelievable 85% of succession towards their desired goal with a two-qubit system.

It is imperative to understand that quantum computing has nothing to do with time traveling, but everything is currently unclear due to a lack of supporting arguments and evidence. Nevertheless, it is surprising to know that Russian scientists have made the impossible happen.

The majority of scientists, researchers, and analysts have concluded that an immense amount of comprehensive research and development is needed to achieve the desired effect from quantum computing. On the other hand, scientists continue to face several limitations to study and explore more about this subatomic discovery.

While looking at the current span of knowledge that we have about quantum physics and quantum computing, we have not yet stepped into an era where we are able to build a time machine for humans, but scientists from all over the world consider it a huge leap forward that will help them further explore quantum computing and the possibilities it may bring.

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Turning Plastic Into Fuel

People all around the world are now trying to practice and actively advocate for environmental sustainability. The biggest revolution taking place these days is with the consumption of plastic items. Companies are introducing more environmentally friendly options for packaging. However, the biggest problem of plastic still remains: recycling and decomposition. More than 300 million tons of plastic actually adds up in landfills. The worst part: plastic takes centuries to decompose, killing off wildlife in the process.

However, scientists have found a way to make plastic more useful than harmful. We finally have the opportunity to turn plastic into fuel! Let’s learn more.

Who, What, Where, When?

At Purdue, the efforts of chemists finding a solution to our plastic problems have finally paid off. They have detailed their efforts and research in a paper that was published this year in Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering. The chemists have found that polypropylene, plastic commonly found in medical devices, product packaging and toys, can be converted into gasoline or dieselesque fuel.

The team have stated that the fuel is so pure that is can be used in place of ‘blendstock,’ which is a main element used in different motorized vehicles.

The waste that polypropylene contributes to the world is approximately 5 billion tons that have been filling up landfills globally during the past 50 years or so.

How?

They figured out that the way to convert polypropylene into usable energy would be through the use of supercritical water. Supercritical water is an underdeveloped stage of water when both the characters of gas and liquid can be demonstrated, keeping in mind the temperature and pressure conditions.

Linda Wang, one of the chemists at Purdue, along with her team heated H2O to a temperature between 716 degrees and 932 degrees Fahrenheit at the pressure of 2300 times more than atmospheric pressure found at sea level.

Thus, when a pure version of polypropylene waste was mixed into supercritical water, it was changed to oil in just a few hours, varying upon the temperature conditions. It was found that heating the water at 850 degrees Fahrenheit lowered the conversion time to less than an hour.

The main by-products of this conversion process were diesel and gasolineish oils. The researchers have claimed that this process can be used as a way to convert an estimated 90% of worldwide polypropylene waste into fuel every year!

Here is what Linda Wang said about this discovery: “Plastic waste disposal, whether recycled or thrown away, does not mean the end of the story. Plastics degrade slowly and release toxic microplastics and chemicals into the land and the water. This is a catastrophe because once these pollutants are in the oceans, they are impossible to retrieve completely.”

The Bottom Line

This discovery is a monumental breakthrough discovery that could possibly save the planet and all of its inhabitants! The way proposed can be adopted worldwide and will not only help us to keep our environment cleaner but help us make out lives more sustainable.

Russian Internet

The whole world is connected through one common medium: the internet. Wherever it could reach, it did and the whole world’s information is fed to this global monopoly. However, one country has realized the benefits and power that could be achieved if they significantly separated their internet traffic from the rest of the world. Let’s explore all that is currently known about the internet situation in Russia.

Disconnect To Connect

The Russian Government has already decided to disconnect the internet across Russia before April this year. However, Russians need not worry as they will only carry out the disconnection experiment for a brief moment. The brief internet interlude will help the government gain critical insights in order to provide feedback for modifications in accordance with the telecom law that was proposed in the Russian Parliament at the end of 2018.

The Government of Russia had already announced two years ago that they are planning to source 95% of internet traffic through local mediators. By 2020, they want to regulate incoming and outgoing internet traffic in complete isolation from the world.

Before April 1st of this year, the amendments to this law, also known as the Digital Economy National Program, must be submitted.

But… Why Exactly?

Apparently, Russia wants to strengthen its cybersecurity in efforts to secure themselves against other countries trying to invade them. This shutdown will help them test whether the local networks will be resilient enough and if all, or a massive proportion, of the internet traffic, can be filtered through. Internet providers in Russia will now have to abide by a newly introduced law that states that the internet traffic will only be directed through ‘government approved servers,’ making sure that content bans are enforced.

Will It Work?

President Putin’s endorsed law is fully expected to pass. Discussions are still going on as the technicalities are still being worked on. Disconnecting the entire country’s internet isn’t a joke, especially in this technology dominated world. They are trying to figure out a way in which Russia can be completely disconnected from the internet without hindering government bodies, companies and consumers and starting up again smoothly.

Russia’s biggest telecom regulator, Roskomnazor will be the ones to reroute the internet traffic in Russia to a specific exchange pointed managed by them.

What Could This Mean?

Of course, many people are speculating that Russia is trying to hide their plans and critical developments in the coming years, which could be considered as a big threat to other weaker countries and the superpowers as well. Alongside, The Russian Population will have very strict, regulated and monitored internet privileges.

It could be said that they are building The Great Firewall of Russia.

Fake Foliage

Finally, people have started to take the environment seriously! With vast deforestation, global warming and depletion of the ozone layers, we need to start being extremely careful in the way we live our lives. However, the University of Illinois at Chicago has developed fake plants that can actually ‘recycle’ carbon dioxide. This is an effort to reduce the amounts of harmful gases found in the atmosphere and thus, produce clean fuel.

This ‘fuel’ is generated by the sun, meaning it actually mimics plants during photosynthesis. The researcher Salehi-Khojin stated, “Real leaves use the energy from the sun and convert carbon dioxide to sugar. In the artificial leaf, we use the sun and we convert CO2 to (synthetic gas), which can be converted to any hydrocarbon, like gasoline.”

Seems incomprehensible? Well, the process basically involves the sun’s energy rearranging the chemical bonds composing carbon dioxide. The energy from the sun gets stored as a chemical bond, generating the ability to be burned as fuel. The technology companies face a lot of issues trying to store batteries. Particularly where solar panels and wind turbines have been developed to generate sustainable energy, providing corporations with an energy source in the form of solar and wind farms. But the ability to store the generated energy has not yet been discovered. Until now.

The director of the Institute for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern University, Professor Micheal R, Wasielewski, said “Whether you use solar or wind to generate electricity, you have a source that’s intermittent and not storable, so what you need to do is find a storage method. This fake foliage closes the carbon cycle so you don’t have any excess CO2, so it’s an environmentally friendly way of storing renewable energy.”

The Salehi-Khojin team at the UIC found a compound that had the ability to break down and rearrange the chemical bonds composing carbon dioxide better than the traditionally used gold and silver. Salehi-Khojin thinks that a prototype could be ready for use in the next 5 years with the help of a suitable manufacturing company. They believe it can be placed in solar farms alongside the power plants in order to recycle the carbon dioxide collected and convert it to be used as energy.

Professor Nathan Lewis of the California Institute of Technology, who has been researching artificial photosynthesis and solar fields for over 40 years, says that the development by Salehi-Khojin is just the starting piece of a product that will be widely executed in the near future. “There’s a lot of steps that need to occur to envision how these things would translate into a commercializable system, but it’s a step for building a piece of a full system that may be useful. It’s going to take a lot of effort from a lot of people to really push this over the goal line.”

Salehi-Khojin are yet to patent their technology and they were recipients of a $330,000 grant by the National Foundation last year to help further their research.

This is still a groundbreaking discovery by UIC which can really help to transform our environmental state if employed correctly.

Chinese Moon Base

The idea of life in space is very intriguing; numerous movies and TV series fictionalized this concept and had a fair amount of success. Though this notion is not limited to fiction anymore; the possibility of life in space is actually being considered.

While you’re reading this very sentence, a Chinese rover is exploring the far side of the Moon. The fact that no other country has attempted to land on the far side of the moon makes it particularly interesting. Though this mission is full of technical challenges, China is ambitious to create history. As a matter of fact, there has been an official announcement made about the country’s space program stating that China is looking to launch three more lunar missions, which will serve as a ground for their Chinese Moon base.

The reason why no one has made an effort to land on the far side of the moon is mainly due to the multitude of challenges and difficulties in the communicational channels. However, achieving this feat will provide substantial payoffs in terms of scientific research, particularly due to the fact that it will block the stray radio signals from Earth. This will provide an unparalleled view of the radio universe.

Lunar Palace – Virtual base

China is resolute on the plan to set up a lunar base, which is evident with its persistent efforts to ensure the success of this project. To reduce the potential risk of failure and ensure that their astronauts are able to endure the rough condition on the moon, they have set up a Lunar Palace, a virtual base on Earth.

The Lunar Palace is equipped with two plant modules where astronauts grow and harvest food. It also contains a 42 square meter area living cabin with a common room, four sleeping cubicles, a bathroom, a waste management area, and believe it or not, a specific room for growing animals.

The primary objective of this experiment is to see and understand more about how Bio regenerative Life Support Systems (BLSS) function over an extended period of time, particularly in outer space. When considering sustainability of life in the lunar environment, it is crucial that humans, plants, animals, and microorganisms are able to co-exist together without creating obstacles.

Expected Timeline

It is not possible to predict a timeline for the Chinese Moon Base due to the involvement of several factors which could serve as a bottleneck to the entire project. However, there are systematic steps being laid down in order to expedite the process. Firstly, China’s space program will send the Chang’e-5 lander to the moon.  The readings and results collected from Chang’e-5, supplemented by three follow-up assignments will enable them to solidify plans to set up a base. Moreover, they are attempting to print 3D habitable structures using the lunar soil to increase their understanding of the lunar environment.

Another thing to consider is the Long March 9 rocket, which is under development and might be ready to fly by 2028 or 2030. It is bigger than the size of Apollo Lunar module, the rocket that carried astronauts to the moon half a century ago. With these developments, we cannot eliminate the possibility that China will have its own people on the moon by 2030s, which will put them well ahead in the competition from the likes of NASA and ESA.

Water on Asteroids

For decades, scientists have been trying to answer questions relating to outer space such as: ‘Is there any sign of life out there in the universe’ or ‘Is there water on other planets?’ Most scientists believe that presence of water on a planet signals life, which is true for Earth. Thus, the fact that NASA’s OSIRIS-Rex, which is 12 miles away from asteroid Bennu and millions of miles away from Earth, has found evidence of water on the asteroid is an exciting discovery. Here is the full story.

OSIRIS-REx’s

This spacecraft was sent out into space 2 years ago in order to study asteroid Bennu in more detail. Now it is getting closer and closer to the asteroid. NASA has stated that their estimates about Bennu’s rotation, size and orbit were correct. The only estimate they were not right about was the large boulder at the south side of Bennu. NASA’s observations had suggested that the boulder was only 10 meters (33 feet) in height, but OSIRIS-REx has confirmed that is it is about 50 meters (164 feet) in height.

How Has NASA Determined That There Is Water Present On The Asteroid?

The pair of spectrometers carried by the OSIRIS-REx has the ability to characterize molecules that are present on Bennu. The OSIRIS-Rex Thermal Emission Spectrometer (OTES) and OSIRIS-REx Visible and Infrared Spectrometer (OVIRS) helped NASA discover evidence that Bennu did previously contain water. The scans showed molecules called hydroxyls that are a composition on oxygen and hydrogen atoms. Thus NASA’s team working on the OSIRIS-REx mission, who are led by Dante Lauretta, professor of planetary science and Cosmo chemistry, have determined that the hydroxyls that are spread all over Bennu contain water-bearing clay minerals. Dante Lauretta stated that there is “strong, convincing evidence that the surface is dominated by these hydrated minerals,” which means it is water-rich, and this is a huge discovery.

What This Discovery Means

This does not by any means imply that Bennu is inhabitable, as it is extremely cold and that there is no current evidence of liquid water present on Bennu. There is probably no liquid water on the asteroid as it is too small of an area to be able to contain any sort of liquid. The likely explanation given for the water sources found on the asteroid is that Bennu probably interacted previously with water from a larger asteroid or host planet.

Future Plans

Of course, this discovery has led to excitement and anxiousness amongst the scientists working on the OSIRIS-REx mission, who want to be able to see the asteroid more closely and hopefully collect a sample as well. It is scheduled that the OSIRIS-REx will be as close as 1.4 kilometres (0.87 miles) from Bennu, orbiting around the surface, on the 31st of December this year. Also, in around 18 months, the OSIRIS-REx will start to approach the surface to attempt taking a sample of Bennu. The sample will be taken by the 10-foot robot arm the spacecraft will use to scoop up materials from the surface. OSIRIS-REx can collect up to 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of sampling material from the asteroid. If everything happens as planned, NASA’s team predicts that the sample will arrive at earth by September of 2023.

Discoveries like these makes one feel  grateful for innovative technologies, as they is being used for discovery and to gain knowledge about the world and universe at large.