Suspended Animation

Most science fiction movies have concepts of space travel which that every 11-year-old wants to take. However, is it possible in real life? Can we travel through space through extended periods or is it just science fiction?

In movies we have often seen humans that are sent into extended periods of a deep sleep just so they can survive their journey in space by flash freezing their bodies. This may still be far off in the future, but there has recently been some progress made.

A team of scientists has been researching suspended animation in mice. They wanted to see whether mice would be able to survive suspended animation or not by putting the mice into a state of hibernation by stimulation of certain neurons in their brain that could control hibernation-like behavior.

It is the first time in history that such neural progress has taken place.

In a journal titled Nature, a paper was published which explained how the researchers had found that certain brain pathways existed within the hypothalamus. These were said to be responsible for the state of hibernation-like sleep that mice would fall into. This state occurs when the body temperature of the mice decreases down to 20 degrees while the metabolic rate also decreases.

Researchers believe that body temperature is vital for most animals. It is vital in keeping them alive. In humans, if the body temperature were to fall by even a few degrees, the human would go into hypothermia and die. However, in the hibernation that is created by the research, the body temperature falls drastically and is controlled.

However, one should note that there is still much research that needs to be done in the field of human hibernation and how to sustain, maintain, and create it. It’s a task that will take many years to master.

Researchers believe that the research right now is not strong enough and not extensive enough for them to start thinking of humans. However, their end goal is to induce a similar state within humans by identifying neural processes that could do so.

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.

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.

Living Robots

There have been many movies focused on robots – plots that glorify robots, and plots that show them in a negative light, or even taking over the human race. In reality the time isn’t far off when robots will equal human intelligence. And interestingly, the first living robot has already been created.

A team of scientists claim to have built living robots called Xenobots which can pick up things, move around and most importantly, they can heal themselves. Just like we see in the movies.

The reasoning given behind the creation of these robots is that the researchers hope that one day these robots could be used to clean up microplastics in the ocean, helping the environment. And secondly, they could be used to inject drugs inside humans.

The robots are made from cells taken from frog embryos which are then rearranged to create primitive beings. The scientists believe these are one of a kind living machines. They are not robots in the traditional sense; however, they are not human beings either. They have synthesized the two together and created a new class altogether. They are living beings that are easily programmable.

The robots are a millimeter in length and were developed with the help of a supercomputer that uses an evolutionary algorithm. The supercomputer first tested thousands of 3D designs to create a form of life. The scientists then chose a handful of designs and tested them to see whether they could move or perform a basic task that was assigned to them.

The robots only have a lifespan of about 10 days as the heart cells are only able to contract and relax for that specific duration on their own. The functions the robots perform vary. They can go from pushing pellets into a central location to actually moving around objects.

Another advantage of these robots is that they are completely biodegradable. They cause no harm to the Earth, unlike robots that are made from other materials like steel and metal. There are no traces left behind of their existence.

Right now these robots are very tiny but researchers plan to expand their size and they believe that they could be built with nerve cells and other cells that are used to give cognitive abilities at some point in the near future.

When we consider the reality of the situation, it seems we are much closer to a world where humans and robots live together side by side. It may seem odd to many, however, with such discoveries and inventions, that the idea of robots becoming equal to humans is becoming stronger and stronger.