One Shot! Dose of Science
Japanese solar moon-bots, Java-related misconceptions, nosey Europeans and more! This is your semi-regular dose of science. Read on, learn and impress your friends with the most trivial knowledge!
1) Stem cells may cure deafness, thanks to those Ivey League prep-boys at Stanford.
Scientists at Stanford led by Kazuo Oshima, MD, PhD have successfully generated inner-ear hair cells that very closely resemble the cells that most animals have in their inner-ears. The hair cells bend at certain wavelengths of sound and mechanical motion gets converted into electrochemical signals which are interpreted as sound in the brain. The scientists believe that it will be possible within a decade to produce these cells in the millions to stem and possibly cure deafness. Science is fuckin’ awesome.
Article link: http://www.physorg.com/news192974218.html
2) Coffee doesn’t really boost alertness…according to the Tea-drinkers over in Bristol UK
(sorry, had to take that shot! lol).
A study of 379 people in Bristol showed that after caffeine deprivation a shot of caffeine had little to no effect on the alertness, or vigilance of the participants. They were given either caffeine or a placebo and apparently coffee just isn’t the ticket. They also commented that the caffeine only brought the Java-Junkies up to normal levels of alertness. Pffff! Like us coffee drinkers need it that bad…I’m fine without it, totally fine. Seriously, I’m ok without a coffee, well I would be better if I had one, just a taste…a sip, maybe just one small coffee to keep me going. Whatever, Bristol…
3) Japanese scientists devise a Solar-belt to harness the power of the Sun, from the Moon.
Let’s get all the stereotypes out-of-the-way shall we? The Japanese have developed a futuristic plan to harness space energy through use of autonomous robots shot into space. Not quite sure where sexy scantily clad renegade school-girl space pirates fit in, but I’m sure they’re in the footnotes of the plan. The plan is rather genius actually; Send up the payload and robots (hehe, load) and some robots assisted by humans to build a huge solar belt that would collect raw solar energy (since the Moon has virtually no atmosphere) and beam the energy through microwave radiation or laser transmission back to Earth. Sounds far-fetched and it would be a massive undertaking, but if pulled off, within a few generations the Earth could be truly powered by clean energy!
4) Most intimate linking of man and machine demonstrated in the lab
(If you make a Blade Runner joke I’ll be really upset)
Scientists at the University of California have developed a transistor (a very common electrical component found in virtually all devices) from carbon nanotubes that they then successfully inserted into an artificial structure very similar to a human cell. The transistor powered the cell demonstrating great potential for future nano-scale (nano means a billionth) medical applications. Imagine a world where cancer or HIV could be cured by telling defective cells what to do with nano-sized cell-controlling transistors. Also…my childhood fantasy of being T-1000 seems that much closer now…oh, technology *sigh*.
5) 6 volunteers enter an isolation chamber to simulate space travel to Mars
This sounds like the synopsis that would accompany “Even Horizon 2: The Horizoning.” However, this is in fact true. To test the limits of the human psyche as it is contained in a small metal box for over a year, 6 volunteers are enduring 18 months cooped up together in an experiment dubbed “Mars500” (as they will spend 500 days locked up together. They are hoping to shed light on what space travel to Mars would do to the human mind on such a long journey. The subjects will also be on a 20 minute communication delay with the outside world to simulate the time it would actually take for a radio transmission to reach Earth. I must say these guys are brave as hell because we all know that 18 hours with the wrong people, let alone 18 months, can drive you batshit insane. Godspeed gentlemen.
Article links: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science_and_environment/10197470.stm (via BBC) http://mars500.imbp.ru/en/index_e.html (via Mars500 site)
6) Proposed EU legislation would give the government the power to monitor all internet searches in the EU
This one is a little touchy but relevant. There is a written declaration circulating EU parliament that is gaining momentum. The declaration touts support for new legislation to combat sexual abuse, child pornography and internet predators but is rousing controversy in other more open arenas, like the internet. The legislation imposes stricter monitoring laws on internet activity and promises more crackdown on the assholes that use the net to commit heinous acts. However, the problem stems from the fact that the legislation is slightly loaded and carries with it the power for the government to monitor ALL internet searches. At first glance I was up in arms, but after thinking about it for a bit I am more torn. While I would like the internet to stay neutral and relatively private, what harm is it to me if the government sees that I look up the definition of some words, search for concert dates or even yes, surf legal porn to help police the shitbags of the world? The problem is that it is a slippery slope and this would set HUGE precedents. Like I said, I’m on the fence, but read it for yourself and let me know what you think.
BONUS: This is how the latest Facebook privacy update effects you
Get into your privacy settings and fix them if you haven’t! (Info on settings and what to change HERE)
Science is the business.