Tag Archives: Futurology

Futurology ~ Space robots, satellite bridges, poker-bot, car home power, squeezer-freezer, ancient cows, ancient Europeans


The new 40kWh Nissan Leaf has the capability to become your personal, massive, mobile battery which can be used for power in the home.(Image: Nissan)

How NASA will prolong the lives of the Voyager probes, 11 billion miles from Earth — Launched 42 years ago, the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 space probes are now exploring the outer realms of our solar system. Sadly, the end of the mission is now firmly in sight, but NASA has a plan to keep the probes operational for as long as possible before their power finally runs out.
~ The new space explorers are our robots. 

Satellite imagery can predict bridge collapses — Researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and the UK’s University of Bath believe advanced satellite imagery can be used for analysing structures like bridges for tiny movements that could be signs of potential collapse.
~ This kind of precision from afar seems impossible, you’d think. 

Super computer beats all comers in poker — Computer scientists have developed a card-playing bot, called Pluribus, capable of defeating some of the world’s best players at six-person no-limit Texas hold’em poker, in what’s considered an important breakthrough in artificial intelligence.
~ Yeah, can’t read its expression, not fair. 

New Nissan Leaf can help power your home — Nissan confirmed at the launch that the new Leaf, with a 40kWh battery, will be a V2H (vehicle-to-home) energy asset – meaning that, unlike other electric vehicles, it will have the capability to charge your home (subject to further testing with Australia’s network owners and operators).
~ Why not use its battery when it’s parked? 

Squeeze to freeze — A research team from Tohoku University, Nissan Motor Co., Shinshu University and Okayama University have discovered how to use a nanosponge to carry out liquid-to-gas phase transitions. Conventional systems use hydrofluorocarbons as a refrigerant, but hydrofluorocarbons are super pollutants, with a Global Warming Potential about 1300 times higher than carbon dioxide. Instead of a refrigerant, researchers have figured out how to use force for cooling.
~ Cool in your home without warming the planet. 

Scientists have found evidence of Bronze Age human civilisation written into ancient cattle DNA — The research team collected and sequenced DNA samples from ancient domesticated and wild cattle, or aurochs, to tell the story of cattle domestication in the Fertile Crescent, a region today defined as the Middle East and the Levant. The results reveal a sudden introduction of DNA from a different cattle breed originating in the Indus Valley.
~ This was perhaps the result of humans adapting to a sudden change to the climate.

Earliest humans in Europe pushed back again — A comprehensive re-analysis of a skull fragment found in a Greek cave back in the late 1970s suggests early modern humans were present in Eurasia some 210,000 years ago. It’s the earliest indication of our species on the continent, but the lack of supporting archaeological evidence raises some questions.
~ Ancient-ancient-ancient Greeks indeed. 

Futurology ~ FRBs, twinkling star, light torque, deaf CRISPR, metabolism, solar train, erasable ink, water repellant, Flash-cam


The Byron Bay Railroad in Australia converted this vintage diesel train to run 100% solar

Very distant fast radio bursts — Astronomers have spent the past dozen years hunting for fast radio bursts (FRBs). These flashes of radio waves come from outer space and last just milliseconds. And after a dozen years of work we still don’t know exactly what causes them, only that it must be something very powerful, as they’ve clearly travelled a long way (billions of light-years).
~ And strewth! They’re making progress thanks to an Australian array. 

Strange twinkling star — Typically, if the planet-hunting Kepler telescope saw a regularly dimming star, that would signal the presence of an exoplanet periodically passing between the star and Earth. But researchers identified a star called EPIC 249706694 (HD 139139) that seems to dim at random, and the team hasn’t been able to come up with an explanation for the weird observation.
~ How they wonder what you are. 

Torque of light — A team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in Spain and the US has announced that they have discovered a new property of light: self-torque. In their paper published in the journal Science, the group describes how they happened to spot the new property and possible uses for it.
~ Acceleration?

CRISPR for Russian deaf — Five deaf Russian couples want to try the CRISPR gene-editing technique so they can have a biological child who can hear, biologist Denis Rebrikov has told New Scientist. He plans to apply to the relevant Russian authorities for permission in “a couple of weeks”. The parents have a recessive form of deafness, meaning all their children would normally inherit the same condition.
~ Perhaps this is justified, then. 

Origins of metabolism identified — A Rutgers-led study sheds light on one of the most enduring mysteries of science: how did metabolism – the process by which life powers itself by converting energy from food into movement and growth – begin?
~ Well, if you’re going to reverse-engineer primordial proteins …

Solar powered train — The Byron Bay Railroad Company in Australia operates a 100-seat vintage train on a short 6-kilometre  route that basically goes from a town and down to a resort and beach, then back. A couple of years ago the town decided to invest in converting the train to pure EV, powered by the sun.
~ Yes, this formerly polluting diesel train is now 100% powered by the sun 100% of the time.

Erasable ink — Recycling paper is good but it still takes its toll on the environment. Researchers at Rutgers have come up with a new way to erase ink off a printed page, allowing it to be run through a printer again and again. This works with regular old copy paper and the standard toner used in copiers around the world, trading lasers for high-intensity xenon lamps that pulse light.
~ The page can be wiped clean using a small amount of alcohol. I’ll drink to that. 

Force field against water — Researchers at MIT have found a way to make water-repellent surfaces better shed a soaking.
The new method builds on research from about six years ago when it was discovered that small macroscopic features added to a surface, such as a series of nearly imperceptible ridges, helped break up a water drop’s shape and symmetry as it recoils from an impact, increasing the speed at which it bounces away from that surface. More complex structures reduce the spread of water droplets, meaning they’re less likely to turn to use on, say, aircraft fuselages.
~ The new structures can also be applied to fabrics.

Canon adds a camera to a flash drive — Canon promises it’s shockproof and waterproof (to a depth of just 1m, however, it’s not for divers) and its 13 megapixel 1/3-inch CMOS sensor can also record hi-def video at 60 frames per second.
~ It’s clever: the carabiner clip lets you frame the photo, as it has no LCD screen, or you can monitor it from your smartphone. 

Futurology ~ Rover wheels, solar car, sugar fuel, Crohn’s diet


The Lightyear concept car is causing quite a buzz – it does 450kms on a single, solar, charge

Mars Rover gets wheels — At just a little over a year away from the launch of the Mars 2020 Mission, which will see NASA’s new rover reach the Red Planet on 18 February 2021, NASA has fitted the wheels to the vehicle.
Once in Jezero Crater, the rover will search for signs of prior habitability and evidence of past microbial life, collect rock and surface samples, and perform some groundwork for a human mission to Mars, including an oxygen production test. Each wheel (there are six) has its own motor.
~ A roving it will go.

Solar-powered electric car — Lightyear, a startup from the Netherlands, has come a long way since it won a Crunchie award in 2015, with a vehicle that now looks ready for the road. The Lightyear One prototype vehicle has a sleek, driver-friendly design and also boasts a range of 450 miles on a single charge – definitely a first for a car powered by solar and intended for the actual consumer market.
~ Will it work better in countries that actually get substantial sunlight? 

Fuel from plants — Researchers in Japan and China have developed a two-step method to more efficiently break down carbohydrates into their single sugar components for the production of green fuel.
~ I can envisage so many issues with this around ramping up plant production to make fuel!

Apple’s new Mac Pro is being manufactured in China — After six years of manufacturing the cylindrical Mac Pro in Texas, Apple has shifted production of the new Mac Pro to China, even as trade tensions escalate between the US and China.
~ Imagine how much more than its ridiculous price it would cost at US labour rates!

Crohn’s diet breakthrough? A 25-year-old man first been diagnosed with Crohn’s in 2014 cut out all animal products and processed foods from his diet for 40 days, as part of a “period of religious observation.” He decided to stick with the diet, and a colonoscopy of the man’s ileum (the end of the small intestine long affected by his Crohn’s) revealed that it had fully healed.
~ This definitely deserves more research. 

Futurology ~ Two world, ambitious aliens, pristine comet, bio-plastic, Boaty McB success, wifi bulbs, snail-sticky, lost city life


Two potentially life-friendly planets found orbiting a nearby star — A tiny, old star just 12 light-years away might host two temperate, rocky planets, astronomers have announced. If confirmed, both of the newly spotted worlds are nearly identical to Earth in mass, and both planets are in orbits that could allow liquid water to trickle and puddle on their surfaces.
~ I christen you Puddle and Trickle, then. 

Absence of aliens inspires more ambitions — The Breakthrough Listen project has completed a sweeping search of over 1700 nearby stars for signs of alien technology. Sadly, no evidence of extraterrestrials was found, but the $145 million project took a major leap forward in terms of its ability to continue the search. But those involved intend to try again, with better tools and refined techniques.
~ By ‘refined’ I am guessing they mean those Star Trek and Orville style aliens who almost all, magically, speak English. 

The Comet Interceptor mission will include a mothership and two ‘daughter’ spacecraft — The ESA describes the new Comet Interceptor mission, scheduled for launch in 2028, as unique in that it’ll be our first encounter with a comet making its first trip into the inner solar system. (Americans are less interested in NASA sending humans to the moon or Mars than they are in the US space agency focusing on potential asteroid impacts.)
~ It’s ‘pristine’. 

The Plastic Age — If civilisations are remembered for what they leave behind, our time might be labelled the Plastic Age. Plastic can endure for centuries. It’s everywhere, even in our clothes, from polyester leisure suits to fleece jackets.
A Silicon Valley startup is trying to get the plastic out of clothing and put something else in: biopolymers. Unlike plastic, they can be broken down into natural materials.
~ As long as these clothes don’t start eating their occupants.

Boaty McBoatface plumbs the depths — The British research submarine Boaty McBoatface has made an impressive debut in the scientific arena, discovering a significant link between Antarctic winds and rising sea temperatures on its maiden outing. Its findings have revealed how increasingly strong winds in the region are causing turbulence deep within the sea, mixing warm water from middle levels with colder water in the abyss.
~ The abyss really sounds like no fun at all. 

Wifi-transmitting smart bulbs — Signify (formerly known as Philips Lighting) produces Hue-branded smart lights and has announced a new range of internet-transmitting Li-Fi lights called Truelifi. They’re capable of transmitting data to devices like laptops at speeds of up to 150 Mbps using light waves, rather than the radio signals used by 4G or Wi-Fi.
~ I’ll just beam that data across the office, then. 

Stick like a snail — Scientists have developed an adhesive both sticky and reusable thanks to inspiration from snail mucus. Things stick together thanks to a combination of various microscopic and macroscopic behaviours, influenced by interactions between individual molecules and the shapes of surfaces.
~ Yeah, I was going to say that. 

Lost city teems with life — A black puma was just a taste of the magnificence Larsen and his team would find in the recently discovered lost city in Honduras’ Mosquitia Rainforest. This remote region is teeming with life – some of which was believed extinct.
~ Except this region is subject to very hard-to-control human ravages. 

Futurology ~ Pentaquark reveal, Europa salt, elastic aerogels, 3D-printed corneas, bullet-proof foam, universal blood, better magnet, better microscope, algo-faces, brief Bronze Age


Large Hadron Collider reveals Pentaquark structure — New results from the world’s largest particle accelerator illuminate the structure of the pentaquark, an exotic particle consisting of five quarks bound together. Researchers observed a baryon bound to a meson, forming a weird new kind of unearthly molecule.
~ Sounds like a Fonterra brand. 

Salt under Europa’s surface — Observations from the Hubble Space Telescope point to the presence of sodium chloride on the surface of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa. This is potential evidence that sodium chloride, otherwise known as table salt, exists within Europa’s subsurface ocean – yet another indication of this moon’s potential to support alien life.
~ Except it’s humans who would be the aliens on Europa. 

Stretchy aerogel — A team of scientists in China has developed a straightforward technique to fabricate super-elastic and fatigue-resistant hard carbon aerogels.
~ Trip the light fantastic.

Better 3D-printed corneas — A research group in South Korea has developed a method to better 3D-print an artificial cornea.
~ Thanks to bio-ink. 

Better bullet-proof steel — A new bulletproofing material developed at North Carolina State University mimics lightweight styrofoam, sidestepping a big issue with bulletproofing: weight. Composite metal foam is  made from hollow metallic spheres surrounded by a matrix that can be made from various types of metals, including titanium or alloys.
~ It has other benefits: better heat dispersion, resistance to various rays etc. 

Type A blood converted to universal donor blood thanks to bacterial enzymes — Hospitals across the United States go through some 16,500 litres (35,000 pints) of donated blood for emergency surgeries, scheduled operations, and routine transfusions. But recipients can’t take just any blood: for a transfusion to be successful, patient and donor blood types must be compatible. Now, researchers analysing bacteria in the human gut have discovered that microbes there produce two enzymes that can convert the common type A into a more universally accepted type.
~ This could revolutionise blood donation and transfusion.

World’s strongest magnet — The National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, or MagLab, at Florida State University runs the world’s strongest continuous magnet for use by scientists, at 45 tesla: that’s around 10 times stronger than a hospital MRI. Now, researchers at the lab have announced a 45.5-tesla magnet. Not a huge jump, but it paves the way for even stronger magnets based on the principles of superconductivity.
~ Now that is attractive. 

Better microscope — Researchers have combined laser techniques and an ingenious detection scheme in order to create a powerful new molecule-imaging system—a quicker, easier way to determine the identity of microscopic molecules. Basically, it’s an advanced yet surprisingly simple microscope.
~ I see. 

Algorithm generates fairly accurate faces from voices — MIT researchers published a paper last month called Speech2Face: Learning the Face Behind a Voice which explores how an algorithm can generate a face based on a short audio recording of that person. It’s not an exact depiction of the speaker, but based on images in the paper, the system was able to create an image with accurate gender, race, and age.
~ I can often do that by looking at someone. Grin. 

British Bronze Age settlement lasted just a year — A remarkably well-preserved Bronze Age settlement dubbed the ‘British Pompeii’ was destroyed by fire around a year after it was constructed, according to new research. It’s one of many new findings that’s shedding light on the 3000-year-old community and the people who called it home – albeit it for a short time.
~ Oh, they were Hobbits? 

Futurology ~ 10-million-light-year connection, self-repairing recharge, human mosaics, pumping heart patch, Justinian’s plague, medical Salamander goo,


A ‘pumping’ patch containing millions of living, beating stem cells could help repair the damage caused by heart attacks

Mysterious, 10-million-light-year-long magnetic field connects two galaxy clusters — Scientists have detected radio waves emanating from the space between a pair of galaxy clusters—evidence of intergalactic magnetic fields and fast-moving particles in the space between these giant galactic assemblages. Even more mysteriously, the feature the scientists detected is tens of times longer than the distance that a relativistic electron can travel in its lifetime.
~ It’s pizza delivery!

Self-repairing rechargeables — Researchers in Japan have developed a self-repairing material that could extend the lifespan of batteries. Professor Atsuo Yamada at the University of Tokyo, Japan, has invented an oxygen redox-layered oxide (Na2RuO3) that could allow rechargeable batteries to last much longer as it’s self-repairing.
~ OK, next I want self-recharging. 

Accumulated mutations create a cellular mosaic in our bodies — Mutations, most of them harmless, accumulate in our tissues over a lifetime. The subtle genetic variations in cells make humans a mosaic. Your body has about 40 trillion cells which all arose from a single fertilised egg. But the DNA in many of those cells is no longer a perfect clone of that original one.
~ So it It turns out you aren’t simply a clone of the cells you started with.

Pumping heart patch — A ‘pumping’ patch containing millions of living, beating stem cells could help repair the damage caused by heart attacks, according to researchers.
Sewn on to the heart, the 3cm (1in) by 2cm patch, grown in a lab from a sample of the patient’s own cells, then turns itself into healthy working muscle.
~ Rabbits recommend …

Ancient plague bacteria sequenced — Scientists have gained some insight into one of the first known calamities to visit mankind: a two century-long pandemic caused by the bacterial disease plague. Studying the remains of plague victims, the researchers say they were able to sequence the genomes of plague strains that devastated the Roman Empire starting in the 6th century. They also found direct evidence the plague’s destruction made it as far as England.
~ Maybe this item belongs in The Apocalypticon. 

Salamander goo makes amazing medical glue — When Chinese giant salamanders are injured, they discharge white mucus from glands on their skin. New research shows this sticky salamander goo makes an excellent medical glue, sealing wounds and encouraging them to heal. Using the glue, scientists were able to close bleeding skin incisions in less than 30 seconds.
~ Current medical glues make wounds hot, they’re not elastic enough and can be toxic. 

Futurology ~ Alien rock, purifying membrane, hearing aid, Titanium bodies, transparent batteries, 1884 electric car, ancient beers, jurassic fish school


Graphene may be leading to better, and even transparent, batteries

Ancient Extra-Terrestrial rock —Geologists in France and Italy have spotted what appear to be organic molecules from outer space in 3.3-billion-year-old rocks in South Africa, according to a new study.
Organic molecules, from methane to amino acids, exist in space. Perhaps some of these molecules were brought to our own planet via carbon-containing asteroids. Scientists studying ancient rock in South Africa seem to have uncovered evidence of the oldest examples yet of these extraterrestrial molecules.
~ Or were you hoping for music? 

Fabric purifies water — A team of scientists in China has found a way to purify water contaminated with pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs). Their findings are published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.
~ Dare I ask what they plan to do with the then-contaminated membranes? 

Improvement for hearing aids — Researchers at Columbia University had the opportunity to work with epilepsy patients undergoing repeated brain surgeries to test out a new approach to improving how hearing aids work. Using data gathered from electrodes implanted directly into the volunteers’ brains, they found that their brain wave activities tended to naturally mirror the speech patterns of a specific person they were focusing on and listening to, even when other voices were competing for attention. It’s this unique behaviour of the brain that researchers believe could be the key to radically improving the effectiveness of hearing aids.
~ The confusion of a multiplicity of voices …

We can build you from Titanium — Titanium is a silver-coloured metal valued for its low density, high strength, and resistance to corrosion. Relatively low-cost precision 3D printing is becoming a game-changer for titanium as designers can create amazing shapes, including structural body parts.
~ Titanium is a very biocompatible metal.

Almost-transparent batteries — Scientists in South Korea have developed a transparent and flexible battery using single-layered graphene. Advances in materials science and electronics are bringing such gadgets closer to reality. Graphene, a one-dimensional layer of carbon atoms in a hexagonal arrangement, has unique electrical and optical properties, making it ideal for use in electronic displays and devices.
~ Imagine a wholly-transparent smartphone. 

Electric car c1884 — Thomas Parker was a British genius inventor who revolutionised several aspects of life in England. He was once described as “the Edison of Europe” because of the things he was able to accomplish. He even built an effective electric car.
~ He had well aware how bad coal and gas were for the environment. 

Ancient beers revived — A self-proclaimed beer archaeologist, Rupp has traveled the world in search of clues as to how ancient civilisations made and consumed beer. With Avery Brewing Co, he has concocted eight of them in a series called Ales of Antiquity. The brews are served in Avery’s restaurant and tasting room.
~ Viking beer, anyone? 

Ancient school of fish — An exquisite fossil of photographic-like quality shows nearly 260 tiny fish swimming together in what appears to be coordinated group action. The 50-million-year-old fossil is evidence that fish have been swimming together in shoals for a very long time.
~ An enduring lesson, then. 

Futurology ~ Pristine Ultima Thule, lopsided moon, student space, warm superconductor, Civil War medicinals, wood wide web


USC students were the first such group to launch a rocket into space

How pristine Ultima Thule is — New Horizons mission scientists have released the first peer-reviewed results from their study of 2014 MU69, demonstrating just how “pristine” this object is. Around 16kms across, it orbits the Sun at a distance of around 6.5 billion km (Pluto orbits at around 5.9 billion km). It seems to have remained relatively unaltered from the solar system’s earliest era, and it already presented some surprises when the New Horizon spacecraft transmitted its first images back — and now, those first results are published and vetted.
But things are just getting started for this team.
~ Never have ‘coalescing pebbles’ seemed so interesting. 

Lopsided Moon — Our Moon features a nearside and far side with dramatically different geological features. This anomaly has puzzled scientists for years, but new computer simulations suggest the Moon’s asymmetric disposition can be traced back to an ancient collision with another object – possibly a dwarf planet.
~ The far side crust was about 10 kilometres thicker than the crust on the near side. 

Student rocket reaches space — The USC team’s successful launch represents one of several groups of college students across the United States and Europe that have been racing to send a rocket above the Kármán line, the imaginary boundary that separates Earth’s atmosphere and space.
~ The collegial space race.

Room-temp superconductor — A team of physicists has published peer-reviewed results documenting near-room-temperature superconductivity in the hydrogen-rich compound lanthanum hydride.
~ That means power savings, and lower AC costs.

Near-room-temp superconductor — In the most recent paper, researchers placed a piece of lanthanum into an insulating ring, then placed it into a box full of pressurised hydrogen gas.
~ Damn, I was going to do that. 

American Civil War medicinal plants — With conventional medicines in short supply during the Civil War, the Confederacy turned to plant-based alternatives in desperation. New research suggests some of these remedies were actually quite good at fighting off infections – a finding that could lead to effective new drugs.
~ This from an amazingly thorough compendium first published in 1863.

Trees are connected underground — Millions of species of fungi and bacteria swap nutrients between soil and the roots of trees, forming a vast, interconnected web of organisms throughout the woods. Scientists have now mapped this ‘wood wide web‘ on a global scale, using a database of more than 28,000 tree species in over 70 countries.
~ More complexities to discover.

Futurology ~ lasering missiles, carbon-sucking AC, desalination, breakthrough, endlessly recyclable plastic, beetle fire detectors, cancer nanomedicine, arsenic breathers, undersea archaeology


Scientists plan to drop grabs to find archaeological artefacts from a small sample range under the sea

US Air Force lasers missiles — The Force reckons it successfully used a ground-based surrogate for its laser weapons project, the Self-Protect High-Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD), to shoot down multiple air-launched missiles during a test at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.
~ A ground-based surrogate’? You mean the Air Force pretended to shoot down missiles with a laser? What did they use, a laser pointer? 

AC to suck carbon out of the sky — Researchers with the Institute for Micro Process Engineering in Germany have dreamt up a world where air conditioners don’t make climate change worse, but rather suck carbon out of the air.
~ It’s always seemed bizarre to me that you would help warm the planet just to cool down your own little apartment. 

Game-changing way to desalinate water — Temperature Swing Solvent Extraction is designed to purify hypersaline brines (water that contains a high concentration of salts, making it up to seven times as salty as seawater). This kind of waste water is produced by industrial processes and during oil and gas production, and it poses a major pollution risk to groundwater. The game changing part is this can occur at much lower temperatures than previous methods allowed.
~ I wonder if they considered just adding pepper for a cordon bleu solution? 

Endlessly Recyclable Plastic — A team from Berkeley Lab, California  has developed a method to create a new type of plastic that can be broken down at the molecular level to create new plastic without any deterioration in quality.
~ Erp …

Beetles detect oil fires — Pyrophilous jewel beetles approach forest fires and there is considerable evidence these beetles can detect fires from great distances of more than 60 km. Melanophila beetles are equipped with infrared receptors so they are also attracted by hot surfaces: it can be concluded that these infrared receptors are used for fire detection.
~ Fire Service, get your beetles out! 

Nanomeds slip through the cracks to fight cancer — Scientists in Japan have devised a nanoparticle carrier for siRNA that can access hard-to-reach tumours, such as those of the pancreas and the brain. Due to their small size of less than 20 nanometers, the YBCs are able to squeeze into hard-to-reach tumours.
~ Well, it’s working for mice so far, anyway. 

Arsenic breathers deep n the sea — Arsenic is toxic to almost all life forms, but now researchers at the University of Washington have discovered that some microbes in the Pacific Ocean not only tolerate the stuff, but actively breathe it. The discovery has implications for how life may adapt to a changing climate, as well as where we might find it on other planets.
~ Poisson breathing poison: well I never. 

Fishing for stone age settlers — Lost at the bottom of the North Sea almost eight millennia ago, a vast land area between England and southern Scandinavia which was home to thousands of stone age settlers is about to be rediscovered. The area was submerged when thousands of cubic miles of sub-Arctic ice started to melt and sea levels began to rise.
~ North Sea fishing crews have discovered archaeological artefacts in their nets.

Futurology ~ Solar plutonium, water worlds, protein data, AIDS end, pinhol-lographics, one-step biodegradables, four-legged beast


New research describes the remains of a gigantic, four-legged mammalian carnivore that terrorised Africa some 22 million years ago.

Scientists locate neutron star collision that could have created our solar system’s plutonium — in 2017, observatories around the world observed a high-energy collision between a pair of dense objects, each slightly more massive than the Sun but only the size of a city. A similar collision closer to home could have been responsible for producing some of the heaviest elements in our own solar system – and scientists think they know when it happened.
Using measurements of what’s left of these elements in ancient meteorites, a pair of researchers worked backward to locate the neutron star merger that produced some of them.
~ The abundances of these elements spiked approximately 80 million years before the solar system formed.

Water worlds could have very deep oceans — Scientists have good reason to believe that so-called water worlds – exoplanets with surfaces covered entirely by a single gigantic ocean – are common in the galaxy. But new computer simulations suggests that not only are water worlds prevalent, they’re also teeming with water – and at mind-boggling scales. Imagine oceans hundreds, and even thousands, of kilometres deep.
~ That’s no reason for Kev to make a movie, though. Water worlds are still hypothetical.

Data on protein — By 2020, researchers estimate that the world’s digital archive will weigh in at around 44 trillion gigabytes. That’s an astounding amount of data that isn’t necessarily being stored in the safest of places. Most storage mediums naturally degrade over time (if they’re not hacked or accidentally destroyed) and the cloud isn’t as reliable as companies want us to believe.
So researchers at Harvard University have turned to some unique chemistry they believe could safely archive the world’s data for millions of years — without requiring any power. Chemists at Harvard University took inspiration from nature and came up with a way to store data using oligopeptides: molecules made up of amino acids that are considerably smaller and easier to work with than DNA.
~ Getting pumped? Shake it, baby. 

An end to AIDS may be within sight —A landmark study found men whose HIV infection was fully suppressed by antiretroviral drugs had no chance of infecting their partner. The findings support the message of the international U=U campaign that an undetectable viral load makes HIV untransmittable.
~ A major step forward. 

Pinholes aid holographic transmission — Researchers in South Korea have designed an ultrathin display that can project dynamic, multi-colored, 3D holographic images.
~ This suggests holographic displays could be projected from thin devices like  cell phones.

One-step method for biodegradable plastics — Researchers in Japan and the Netherlands have devised a one-stop method to produce plant-derived plastics. Bio-based plastics are emerging as a next generation material and are expected to replace petroleum-derived plastics. A plant-derived polyester, called polyethylene furanoate (PEF), is a promising polymer derived from plants that can replace the current favourite of the plastic industry, polyethylene terephthalate (PET).
~ Pfft.

Astonishing Densiovan fossil — The archaeology world has been abuzz with news of the first Denisovan fossil found outside Siberia. The 160,000-year-old jawbone was uncovered by a Buddhist monk in a Chinese cave nearly 40 years ago.
Now that it has finally been studied, it’s known it belonged to a young Denisovan individual who occupied the cave some 160,000 years ago.
~ Home Sapiens date back 200,000 years. 

New research describes the remains of a gigantic, four-legged mammalian carnivore that terrorised Africa 22 million years ago — Simbakubwa kutokaafrika, which translated from Swahili means ‘big lion coming from Africa.’ But this was no feline: it belonged to an extinct group of mammals known as hyaenodonts, which have no close relation to any species of mammalian carnivore living today. Larger than a polar bear, and with a head as big as a rhino’s, Simbakubwa spent its time as an apex predator in Eastern Africa around 22 million years ago, eventually going extinct under mysterious circumstances.
~ Honestly, record keeping back then was all over the place. 

Futurology ~ Wormhole travel, AI invents game, better water filter, human monkeys, reanimated pigs, U2 archaeology


AI has invented a sport for us, and it’s called Speedgate. Um, gee, thanks AI.

Travel through wormholes is possible, but slow — A Harvard physicist has shown that wormholes can exist: tunnels in curved space-time, connecting two distant places, through which travel is possible.
But it’s probably not useful for humans to travel through, said Daniel Jafferis, from Harvard University, the author of the study written in collaboration with Ping Gao, also from Harvard and Aron Wall from Stanford University: it takes longer to get through these wormholes than to go directly.
~ Well, you know, maybe it’s more scenic. 

AI invents a sport — The game, Speedgate, combines elements of several existing sports including Rugby, Soccer, and Handball, and can be customised to suit large or small fields. Players pass a ball (a size four Rugby training ball is currently used until the official Speedgate ball hits the market) to teammates by tossing, kicking, or punting it. The full rules and regulations for Speedgate are available on a website.
~ And it easily looks as crazy as all the human-invented ones. 

Nanowires improve water filtration — Combining nanowires with natural plant fibres, a team of scientists in China has found a way to purify water efficiently using water purification filter paper made from ultralong hydroxyapatite nanowires combined with natural plant fibres.
~ And when it breaks down, will add it to the plastic apocalypse?

Human genes ‘improve’ monkeys — A research group in China has introduced a human gene regulating brain development into monkeys, resulting in transgenic nonhuman primates that exhibited improved working memory and shorter reaction times.
~ Now how about we reintroduce them into humans? 

Pigs reanimated — In a study that raises profound questions about the line between life and death, researchers have restored some cellular activity to brains removed from slaughtered pigs.
~ It should help work out what kinds of brain functions could be restored after, say, a stroke. 

Declassified U2 spy pix show hidden archaeological sites — Inspired by a Chinese researcher who used the U2 images to view historical aerial imagery of his hometown, Emily Hammer and Jason Ur decided to see if the copious amounts of declassified data had any scientific worth. Much of the landscape in Europe, the Middle East, and central eastern Asia has changed since the Cold War, making these aerial records both historically and archaeologically important.
~ For example, they found the historical Aleppo from before the massive destruction wrought in the ongoing civil war; ancient stone animal-trapping ‘kites’; Marsh Arab settlements; ancient waterworks. 

Futurology ~ Better encryption, better batteries, better pesto, post menopause, better movement, Pole trees, new Mammoths, 4-legged whale


Remnants of a previously unknown, 42.6-million-year-old quadrupedal whale has been discovered along the coast of Peru

Un-decryptable — set of computer scientists has taken a major step toward this goal with the release today of EverCrypt, a set of digital cryptography tools. The researchers were able to prove ( in the sense that you can prove the Pythagorean theorem) that their approach to online security is completely invulnerable to the main types of hacking attacks that have felled other programs in the past.
~ But did they only achieve this by very strictly limiting the operational parameters? 

Better solid-state batteries — Scientists in Japan have developed a complex hydride lithium superionic conductor that could result in all-solid-state batteries with the highest energy density to date.
All-solid-state batteries incorporating a lithium metal anode have the potential to address the energy density issues of conventional lithium-ion batteries. But until now, their use in practical cells has been limited by the high resistance of lithium ion transfer within anode materials.
~This should open up new fields in solid electrolyte materials.

Better pesto — Machine learning has been used to create basil plants that are extra-delicious. The effort reflects a broader trend that involves using data science and machine learning to improve agriculture.
~ I’ll wait till the machine learning learns to harvest my basil and make the pesto.

Bone loss mechanisms in post-menopausal women — Japanese researchers have found that blood serum levels of Sema3A decrease in premenopausal women as they get older and drop even further once women reach menopause, linked to oestrogen loss, and this appears to be the mechanism for weakened bones.
~ See how I didn’t use ‘Osteoporosis breakthrough’?

Even an hour of walking a week can help older adults with ailing knees — Researchers looked at data from an earlier project studying thousands of middle-aged and elderly Americans with knee osteoarthritis, the Osteoarthritis Initiative, which began in 2004. Exercise helps prevent conditions of knee osteoarthritis and improve symptoms, reduces pain, and slows down the disease’s progression.
~ I’ve always been of fan of ‘more movement, less worrying about food’.

‘New’ Californian mammoths — Mammut pacificus, a new species of mastodon specific to a small segment of the North American West, is the first new mastodon species to be recognised in 50 years.
~ There have been known examples, just not recognised as distinctive.

Four-legged Peruvian whale — The discovery of a fossilised, 42-million-year-old, four-legged whale is shedding new light on the evolution and geographical spread of these aquatic mammals.
~ The ancestors of modern whales and dolphins evolved from a small, four-limbed hoofed animal that lived in south Asia around 50 million years ago during the Eocene.

Trees almost at the Pole — Using sedimentary records and plant fossils, researchers have found that temperatures near the South Pole were about 20C higher than now in the Pliocene epoch, from 5.3m to 2.6m years ago. Then, a variety of beech and possibly conifer trees grew at Oliver Bluffs, 300 miles from the South Pole.
~ So plants may colonise that area again, at current rates. 

Futurology ~ CERN antimatter, ancient flare, twisted graphene, tiny Bluetooth, tiny circuits, silk microelectronics, old brains new cells, no hangover, self-heal plastic, online AI


South Korean scientists have invented a method to fabricate silk-based microelectronics

Popping corks at CERN — Scientists have announced the observation of “CP violation in a D0 meson” at CERN, a discovery that will appear in physics textbooks for years to come. So?
The universe is full of regular matter. There’s also antimatter, which exists even here on Earth, but there’s much less of it. This new observation is important on its own, but it also takes physicists another step closer to explaining where all the antimatter has disappeared to.
~ D0, a Meson, a CP violation, Ray, a …

Kazakhstan meteorite hid evidence of ancient solar super flare — Scientists found evidence of an ancient solar “superflare” hidden in a meteorite first found in Kazakhstan in 1962. Meteorites can be useful for telling the story the Solar System’s history through the elements they contain. By analysing the Efremovka meteorite, a pair of researchers determined a superflare that occurred around 500,000 years after the Sun’s birth could have emitted as many x-rays as the largest solar flare each second, but for perhaps an entire year.
~ On the bright, well very bright, side: free X-Rays.

Twisted graphene is exciting stuff — Carbon sheets only a single atom thick, called graphene, take on a pair of important physical properties when they are twisted at just the right ‘magic’ angle relative to one another.
If the atmosphere this month at the world’s largest physics conference was any indication, twisted graphene has now spawned an entirely new field of physics research.
~ But is it recyclable? 

Teeny-tiny Bluetooth transmitters — Battery-powered and energy-harvesting millimeter-scale sensors are meant to last for years without needing replacement, but their radios can’t muster the energy needed to communicate using even the lowest energy version of Bluetooth, called Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). But now engineers at the University of Michigan have built the first millimetre-scale stand-alone device that speaks BLE. Consuming just 0.6 milliwatts during transmission, it would broadcast for 11 years using a typical 5.8-millimeter coin battery.
~ Teeny-tiny trackers, in other words. 

Silk-based microelectronics — A research group from South Korea has invented a method to fabricate silk-based microelectronics. They published their method in ACS Advanced Materials & Interfaces. Read more from Asian Scientist Magazine at: https://www.asianscientist.com/2019/03/in-the-lab/silk-fibroin-pattern-microelectronics/

Old human brains still make new cells — Humans can make fresh brain cells well into their 90s, but the production of new neurons falls in those with Alzheimer’s, even when the disease has recently taken hold, scientists have found. The findings may help doctors to diagnose Alzheimer’s at an earlier stage.
~ OK, brain, make me some new ones right now. 

Booze without the bad effects — Alcarelle, a synthetic alcohol that should provide the relaxing and socially lubricating qualities of alcohol without the hangovers, health issues and the risk of getting paralytic, is starting to look like a possibility.
~ Cheers to that.

Gene editing record — Using a modified version of CRISPR, a team of geneticists has successfully triggered 13,200 genetic changes to a single human cell. That’s a new record, and by a long shot. This sweeping new editing process could eventually be used to strip DNA of useless or dangerous genetic information – or create entirely new kinds of life.
~ Oh, wait, will we get singe-cell humans? Lol. 

Corn-starch plastic heals itself with a blast of heat — Researchers from the Leibniz Institute for New Materials in Saarbrücken, Germany, and from the nearby Saarland University, turned to corn starch to help develop a new lacquer coating that can bounce back from minor damage.
~ Boom-shacka-lacquer, oh yeah!

Five AI experiences you can try now in a browser — It can be hard to get your head around exactly what AI does and how it can be deployed though, which is why we present to you these five fun online experiments — all you need is a web browser and a few minutes to see some of the party tricks AI is already capable of.
~ Hmm, yeah.