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.

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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.

New Hadron Collider

In the search for particles and in the name of science, physicists have gone to great lengths to satiate man’s hunger for knowledge. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that in this quest, the largest ever built machine would be the Hadron Collider, the particle accelerator. More commonly called the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) was built by the CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) which was established in the year 1954, the main purpose of this lab’s research is particle acceleration and detection.

The purpose of LHC has been to provide physicists enough grounds where they can practice and test their theories of particle physics. However, LHC will soon have a successor which in many ways will be bigger, and better – the Future Circular Collider (FCC).

Why did the world of science decide that LHC needed a stronger replacement?

Why the need of FCC

Image: Dominionart / Shutterstock.com

From its point of conception, LHC was definitely the most awaited machine in the physicist’s world as the previous models of subatomic particles and their interaction tests weren’t making sense. With the very existence of LHC, the most important thing that happened was the way it transformed how particle physics looked. The much-discussed discovery of Higgs Boson was made, that filled in the questionable gaps in the theories but after that, there has not been any new discoveries.

According to CERN, a new collider might be able to take a further leap into the mysteries of the particle world. Starting from the understanding of dark matter, the concept of matter in contrast to the antimatter. This may not be a very popular belief somehow, as there are other scientists who do not believe that a new bigger machine would lead to any newer discoveries.

CERNs’ Main Concern for Building FCC

CERN claims that this new collider would be three to four times the size and possess seven to ten times the power of the LHC making it faster and able to cover larger parameters with more precision.

What LHC has been able to do for science is give answers to several unanswered questions and paint a complete picture of the standard model of particle physics. This is precisely what CERN wishes to accomplish from the making of this newer version, perhaps uncovering many other unsolved, unanswered mysteries.

Taking Power from the Air

Does Air Comprise of Energy?

Free energy from air was once a skeptic’s sarcastic jest until it became a reality. There are energy particles all around us, everywhere we go there are telecommunication, radio & television networks, satellite systems and various other equipment creating a dynamic field of electromagnetic energy around us. There is enough evidence that the air is full of energy which can now be harnessed and used to power other devices without the need for a battery.

Recently an Israel based company called Wiliot has demonstrated the first Bluetooth Chip that harnesses energy from mere air. Like many other chips, this too is as tiny as a postage stamp and as thin as paper. This smart Bluetooth can send encrypted information covering about 3 meters of distance via Bluetooth. This chip is smartly designed to pull and wield energy from the air like cellular signals, ambient Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

This recycling of the radiation around us will change the face of technology and the way power is consumed. According to Wiliot’s CEO, such self-power generating products will be able to share the temperature and when it needs to be replaced or replenished.

Coming Attractions

In Las Vegas’s Consumer Electronic Show (CES), a spokesman from the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) gave a demonstration of their Airenergy charger. He mentioned how ambient Wi-Fi signals are being tested and used as power sources for the charger. He clearly stated how they used ambient Wi-Fi signals only to fully charge a Blackberry phone (with the Airenergy charger) that had 30% charging, in about 90 minutes! That’s not bad at all considering that charging is dependent on the number of such Wi-Fi sources as well as the proximity to the signals. This Airenergy unit is able to convert the Wi-Fi’s antenna signal to DC power which recharges its internal lithium battery. All one has to do is place it anywhere near a Wi-Fi hotspot and let it do its work automatically.

The Bluetooth chip is just one successful device that is launched as an air energy converter. But with the growing popularity and success in the energy and tech industry, one can soon expect many other interesting gadgets to come forward.

Electricity Producing Bacteria

In the quest for finding the most economical means to produce countless watts of power, science has been spending billions of dollars. Turns out it isn’t just human beings that are able to harness electricity but researchers claim that certain microbes are also capable of these rare abilities. Picture this, transferring electrons from a molecule to another is essential for all kinds of organisms because this needs to be exercised in order to produce energy, which is imperative for their survival.

For bacteria living in extreme conditions, finding alternatives for breathing in an oxygen deprived environment requires them to be creatively adaptive. Such microbes exist in various places. As fascinating as it would appear they also live in the ‘Human Gut’. This is how these microbes were forced to breathe in a uniquely creative way by pushing out electrons and as a byproduct, producing electricity.

Let us understand how the engineers, researchers, and scientists are thinking of harnessing the electrical power produced by such bacteria.

Bacteria Producing Electricity – Testing

Research has been going on to figure out ways to harness and develop such microbial power plants that are expected to purify water from the sewage, run fuel cells and other constructive uses.  But here’s the challenge, these microbe cells are much smaller than the conventional mammalian cells scientists have been dealing with and growing them in laboratories is extremely difficult.

The MIT engineers have been able to develop a microfluidic technique. This microfluidic technique enables quick processing of such small bacterial samples and analyzes their specific property. These specific properties, called the Polarizability, determine the highest correlation of electricity production by that particular species of bacteria. Polarizability can gauge the electrochemical activity of the bacteria compared to other techniques.

According to MIT’s associate professor of mechanical engineering, Cullen Buie, the current work being done on the bacteria portends that there is a broad range of such electricity-producing bacteria. Thus a special tool for probing such organisms have now become much more important than they were assumed to be earlier. The reason being, after all the research and experiments carried out, they have come to the conclusion that it is not just the job of a handful of microbes, and more species need to be tested.

Research Results

The study concludes that the higher the polarizability of a bacteria, the higher the rate of electricity produced. We can expect the researchers to start their bacteria search for the strongest candidate that will be able to produce large amounts of power soon. If the analysis made on the bacteria’s polarization turns out as expected then it won’t be wrong to say that this technique will be very useful in accessing electricity-producing bacteria.

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.