Microwave-Powered Spacecraft

A group of researchers from the University of Tsukuba in Nagoya, Japan, is experimenting with ground-centered microwave pillars for controlling rockets with an aim to make the spacecraft lighter, as a significant portion of a rockets weight is taken by its fuel.

Technological advancements helped engineers.

A study published in the Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets says that during recent tests, the engineers managed to assign a tiny gliding four-rotor drone with a versatile microwave. This test was implemented for making sure that their idea was viable.

According to the engineers, they weren’t certain about the flexibility of their idea regarding the experiment, but these adjustments were made so that the microwave beams might not only enable the upgrading of an aircraft but also take a rocket into orbit someday.

Former experiments:

These researchers weren’t the first ones who implemented versatile spacecraft with a microwave beam. However, this latest attempt by researchers in Japan had stronger beams and advanced tracking systems, which made this experiment succeed where the former ones failed.

According to the head author and Tsukuba engineer Kohei Shimamura, the team of engineers used a futuristic beam tracking system for ensuring that the drone received maximum power. Furthermore, for improving the transmission efficiency, they carefully rearranged the microwave phase utilizing an analog phase sifter, which was integrated with a GPS. The propulsion technique might appear a bit unusual, but it was enough to maintain a four-engine drone upwards.

However, the technology is still quite premature, and it’s unlikely that we’ll get to witness microwave-powered NASA rockets going to space anytime soon. Presently, a huge obstacle is the energy that’s lost during the procedure. According to the examiners, the comprehensive energy efficiency obtained in the experiments was relatively low, reaching just a rate of 0.43%.

Currently, it’s still low, but more feasible than the 0.1% achieved in former experiments. Further work to tackle the problem of energy efficiency continues.

Shimamura evaluated that this outcome shows that more improvement is expected to further develop the transmission effectiveness and success for aircraft, space apparatus, and rockets of the future.

Even though microwave-controlled rocket propulsion is still in the initial phases, one day it could potentially be a better way of dispatching rockets into space without the massive fuel demands currently being used by conventional spacecraft.

Reengineering the Wooly Mammoth

Ever thought the giant sized tusked wooly elephants who went extinct some 10,000 years ago and only recently seen in animated movies & ancient history programs will come to life on this earth again? That’s exactly what US based startup Colossal Biosciences has announced and already secured funding of $15 million.

The project spearheaded by Harvard geneticist George Church aims to use CRISPR gene editing technology to engineer Asian elephant embryos with characteristics closest to the now extinct Wooly Mammoths. The idea is to create and then release these giants in the Arctic Tundra region in a bid to positively impact the ecosystem and play their role in environmental conservation. The scientists at Colossal Biosciences also believe that if they are successful in recreating the Wooly Mammoths, they might even be able to prevent the extinction of other endangered species.

Possible Hurdles that Scientists Face in Reengineering Mammoths

While it all sounds pretty fascinating, the whole idea or reintroducing the Wooly Mammoths into the wild will need a lot of thinking. There’s a lot that needs to be addressed before the scientists in George Church’s team attempt to recreate the giants. For instance, scientists are already questioning how will these giant Mammoths be gestated? While there is no mature technology for artificial wombs which could be used to gestate the Mammoth embryos, scientists around the world are quite skeptical about using an Asian elephant as the mother, which are listed as endangered species themselves.

Also, it must be considered that the present day human race knows very little about the Wooly Mammoths. With such little knowledge, releasing these giants into the Arctic Tundra is another point of concern.

Real Mammoths or Hybrids

Another big question being raised by scientists is that whether or not these Wooly Mammoths will be what Colossal Biosciences claims them to be. Asian elephants generally share 99% of their DNA with this particular mammoth species but with smaller ears and a stark shaggy coat, this animal will most likely be an elephant-mammoth hybrid and not the real ancient mammoths.

While researchers have previously discovered calves of wooly mammoths in the permafrost, scientists at Colossal Biosciences agree that it might be really hard to study the properties of the mammoth and that it is highly likely this project might very well be impossible to successfully complete.

What Does this Mean for Biosciences?

Church’s cofounder at Colossal, software entrepreneur Ben Lamm, said “I hope the tech could prevent the extinction of endangered mammals like elephants and rhinoceroses, or even let conservationists tinker with the genetic code of existing creatures to help them survive a changing climate.”

“We can leverage these genetic tools,” he further said, to “allow for species to not be isolated to one geographic location, but be adaptable to others.”

U.S forces Anti-aging pill

The coming years are going to be exciting for the U.S armies. It is because the U.S military’s Special Operations Command (SOCOM) will test an experimental pill that it states can repulse the results of aging on the soldiers. It appears that the U.S army officials are not only advancing in smart weaponry and Artificial Intelligence but are also working to improve the performance of their manpower.

Prediction about the Experiment:

Reportedly, the Special Operations Command is working on an anti-aging pill that could improve the long term performance of their soldiers.

According to the Breaking Defense report, this research is a significant part of expanding human capability and soldier’s health for a long period. Additionally, these scientific experiments could also prove to be beneficial to the entire human race.

While communicating with the Breaking Defense reporters, SOCOM’s mediator and Navy Commander Tim Hawkins clarified that this experiment isn’t about developing unusual characteristics that don’t already exist naturally. In fact, it aims to improve or maintain the enhancement of abilities that tends to decline with age.

Improves Coenzymes Central to Metabolism:

NAD+ is a coenzyme median to metabolism. The Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology news state that this pill is an initial nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, oxidized state improver. NAD+ levels decrease with age so increasing NAD+ preserves health.

MetroBiotech website defined the importance of NAD+, referring to it as a key factor in preserving health and metabolic functions.

Metro International Biotech has gathered a team of industry-leading scholars for driving its lead compound, MIB-626, through the scientific development and fuel the company’s versatile R&D engine, fabricating a library of next-generation analogs with NAD+ increasing properties.

The plot to “The Day after Tomorrow” might be real

A researcher has warned that the 2004 blockbuster movie “The day after tomorrow” is no longer just a part of science fiction but is already happening in reality. In movies, abrupt climate change effects can show up overnight, but in reality most climate change appears over decades of change.

Image: 20th Century Fox

The movie “The Day after Tomorrow” is generally based on the theory of “abrupt climate change”. As a consequence of global warming, the currents that circulate the ocean water around the world shut down, boiling up the tropics and freezing the North Atlantic.

Research suggests that the Atlantic Ocean’s Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) which also produces the Gulf Stream, is getting close to the dropping point, causing a wide area of North America and Europe to experience freezing temperatures for many years to come.

Running Atlantic’s Ocean Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC):

As of a recently published report, environment researcher Niklas Boers discovered that it’s turning out to be increasingly more likely that the AMOC could shut down unexpectedly.

The framework is responsible for moving warm surface streams from the tropical regions to Europe and Greenland through the Atlantic, where it freezes and sinks to the seafloor. Without this realistic transport line system, a huge part of North America’s east coast and Europe would be diving into freezing temperatures. The last ice age was caused by a huge ice lake cracking with a surge of freshwater upsetting the Atlantic Ocean, and was probably the last time when AMOC collapsed.

Was it destroyed?

While most of the movie is safely in the domain of science fiction, there is some practical scientific reasons  to support the concerns about potentially irreversible alterations in our climate within a couple of decades that would influence our communities, infrastructure, health, and ecosystems.

In the movie, the weathercaster Jack Hill, whose character was played by Dennis Quad, who already warned that climate change could create an ice age. Just after the warning, marine zoologists noticed a sudden chilling in the Atlantic Ocean, activating hurricanes off New York City.

According to Boers, it’s all an over-exaggeration because the effects would take hundreds of years, and also North America won’t get as chilly as the movie suggests. However, it is still a matter for concern. If the AMOC ever subsides; the long term effects could be catastrophic.

A Car That Collects Pollution

A London-based designer and architect, Thomas Heatherwick of the Heatherwick Studio has come up with a state-of-the art electric car concept that could clean air pollution as it drives around.

The concept car was introduced earlier in April 2021, after the designer was approached by a Chinese vehicle manufacturing company, IM Motors, to design the concept car, which is not only friendly to the environment, but also looks quite different.

The Airo, as it is being called, is a compact electric car, with its front grills containing air filters which could collect air pollutants amounting up to the size of a tennis ball in a year. The car uses the HEPA-Filter technology and doesn’t cause its own pollution but also actively contributes to vacuuming up all the pollutants from the cars driving alongside on the roads. If such a mechanism is introduced in all of the cars in China alone, it could create a significant change.

Talking to the BBC, the designer of the car said, “Think of a tennis ball in your lungs that is contributing to cleaning the air, and with a million vehicles in China alone that adds up.”

In addition to its pollutant collection functionality, the car looks nothing like your usual car. The interior of the car has more of a living room appeal with a table in the middle of four adjustable chairs, which can even be converted to a bed. The steering wheel of the car is hidden in the dashboard allowing extra room making it a good choice for sustainable living.

According to sources at the IM Motors, Heatherwick was approached intentionally knowing that he had no experience in designing cars and will come up with a novel idea, one that hasn’t ever been on the books before. Combining his knowledge of interior design with the blank canvas of eco-friendly car design, the London-based designer came up with the unique concept of Airo, which is now expected to go in production in China by 2023.

“Car manufacturers are falling over themselves to make electric cars, but a new electric car shouldn’t just be another one with a different look,” the designer of the car said.

While many welcomed the concept, the car has received a lot of criticism from automotive experts as well as environmentalists who are quite skeptic about the ability of the car to cut down pollution.

Peter Wells, a professor of business and sustainability at the Cardiff Business School’s Centre for Automotive Research believes that the car will not make any significant contribution towards eradicating environmental pollution. He also firmly believes that the car is not practical for most vehicle owners.

According to Peter Wells, since the car only gathers a tennis ball’s worth of pollutants in a year, it’s contribution in the urban areas of China alone will be insignificant and almost impossible to measure.

The Lungs of the Earth At a Tipping Point?

For decades now, environmentalists have raised concerns over the precarious outcome of global warming, caused mainly by the emission of greenhouse gases, deforestation and increased industrialization as well as commercialized farming of crops and cattle.

A study published recently in the research journal Nature suggests the outcome which most scientists feared – the Amazon Rain Forest is heading to become a part of the global warming problem, not the solution, with its increased Carbon Dioxide emissions adding to the deadly greenhouse gas.

A team of Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research captured 590 air samples using small planes over a nine year period from 2010 to 2018.

The study suggests that the Amazon Rain Forest as a whole is emitting three times more Carbon Dioxide than it’s absorbing. The case is worst for the eastern section of the Rain Forest where there has been excessive deforestation and it is now emitting 10 times more CO2.

“We find that total carbon dioxide emissions are greater in the eastern of the rain forest than in the west, mostly as a result of spatial differences in carbon-monoxide-derived fire emissions. Southeastern Amazonia, in particular, acts as a net carbon source to the atmosphere,” the international team of researchers write in the paper.

Scientists Deeply Concerned About the Collapse of the Rain Forest:

The Amazon is home to the largest tropical rain forest on the planet. The climate within it is warming which will have a knock-on effect around the world.

The study has further raised concerns among environmentalists, encouraging them to raise awareness among global communities before the lungs of the world completely collapse.

John Schmoll, a professor of biology at Queen’s University is utterly disturbed by the findings of the study and says that with climate change, we are sleepwalking to disaster. “We keep getting wakeup calls but we are not waking up”, he remarks.

“We even have to cut out greenhouse gases even more which is a daunting task, because we already have enough trouble meeting any target that we have set for ourselves right now”, he adds.

Kerry Bowman, a researcher for the University of Toronto says that the Amazon is absolutely under siege on many fronts.

“There are a number of complex issues leading to the region moving from a site that captures Carbon Dioxide, to one that produces the greenhouse gas, including burning the rain forest to make room for crops and livestock,” says Bowman.

In addition to the general abuse of the Rain Forest by communities, there is a lack of environmental protection from some of the countries within the Amazon basin as well.

The Amazon was one once the largest CO2 Capture sites on the planet. Experts suggests that if changes aren’t made soon, it could become one of the biggest emitters in the near future, and one of the key causes of global warming.