Futurology ~ Building blocks of life, self-learning robo-hand, meat physics, room superconductor, uranium soaker, youngster reactor, 10x zoom, all-season fabric, Stonehenge


Freaky 8-letter DNA could be the stuff aliens are made of — Conventional DNA is comprised of the familiar A, C, G and T base pairs, but a newly created genetic system is packed with eight, thus doubling the number of letters normally found in self-replicating molecules. Intriguingly, the new system model, dubbed ‘hachimoji’, could resemble the building blocks of extraterrestrial life.
~ Gah! I always thought DNA was a 3-letter thing! The main point is, our accepted model of DNA-RNA may not be the only model that works.

NASA explores the building blocks of live in ancientEarth recreation — NASA researchers showed that systems with specific kinds of iron dissolved in water, which could have been common on the early Earth seafloor, could have assisted in the creation of the molecules that turned into life. Understanding these reactions could be important in understanding the emergence of life on our own planet – or even the potential for alien life beneath the ice of certain moons around Saturn and Jupiter.
~ Another triumph by the beaker people. 

New robot hand learns how to hold and manipulate — In a split second before you reach to pick up an object, your brain pre-calculates all the movements needed to safely reach and grasp it securely. This subconscious approach results from years of childhood development and learning, and now robotics researchers are using the method for their own creations.
Festo’s new BionicSoftHand is not only remarkably dextrous, but using AI, it figures out how to properly hold and manipulate an object before it makes any actual movements.
~ Self learning robots means even faster automation. 

Meatball collider — A team of particle physicists wanted “to unveil the deepest secrets of the Universe — and of Swedish cuisine”. So they built a Swedish meatball collider.
The MEAL, or MEatball AcceLerator collaboration, could answer important questions such as why we’re made of meatballs, rather than anti-meatballs, or whether we can create dark meatballs. The proof-of-concept experiment was a success.
~ But what about the critical question? What spices did they use …

US Nav scientist maybe invents room temperature superconductor — A scientist working for the US Navy has filed for a patent on a room-temperature superconductor, representing a potential paradigm shift in energy transmission and computer systems.
~ Cool!

New material soaks up uranium from seawater — The world’s oceans contain some 4 billion metric tons of dissolved uranium. That’s roughly 1000 times as much as all known terrestrial sources combined, and enough to fuel the global nuclear power industry for centuries. But the oceans are so vast, and uranium’s concentration in seawater so low, extracting it remains a formidable challenge. H2BHT’s high selectivity and uranium uptake capacity, coupled with molecular insights from the team’s analyses, may lead to improved methods for recovering uranium from seawater.
~ Coz the world needs more nuclear power. 

14-year-old creates nuclear reactor — An American 14-year-old has reportedly become the world’s youngest known person to create a successful nuclear reaction. The Open Source Fusor Research Consortium, a hobbyist group, has recognised the achievement by Jackson Oswalt, from Memphis, Tennessee, when he was aged 12 in January 2018.
~ Coz, you know, most youngsters have ‘playrooms’ capable of this.

10x lossless camera zoom — OPPO has been showing off  a 10x lossless zoom smartphone camera. This involves a triple-lens setup at the rear and includes a 48MP main camera, a periscope telephoto camera and a 120-degree ultra wide-angle camera.
~ 48MP camera in a smartphone?!

All-season fabric heats and cools — A simple piece of fabric, developed by researchers at the University of Maryland, could help someday replace your seasonal wardrobes with clothing that keeps you either warm or cool all year round. Basically, the gaps between fibres expand when it’s hot, and contract to keep heat in when it’s cold.
~ Perhaps it can even, one day, be used as home insulation. 

Stonehenge rocks debunked? A team of 12 geologists and archaeologists from across the United Kingdom unveiled research this month that traces some of the prehistoric monument’s smaller stones to two quarries in western Wales. The team also found evidence of prehistoric tools, stone wedges and digging activity in those quarries, tracing them to around 3000 BC, the era when Stonehenge’s first stage was constructed.
~ This is rock-solid evidence.