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May 6, 2020

Virgin Galactic Stock Jumps After Earnings. Space Tourism Appears to Be Hot

Posted by in category: space travel

Virgin Galactic reported first-quarter earnings and the stock is surging in premarket trading. People, it seems, can’t wait to leave Earth. That’s a good thing for the fledgling space-tourism company.

Virgin (ticker: SPCE) reported $238,000 in first-quarter sales. But sales and earnings don’t matter yet. Virgin is “presales” at this stage of its life. The company is working with aviation authorities to approve its spacecraft and its plans for ferrying customers to the edge of Earth’s atmosphere. It completed two test flights from its New Mexico spaceport in the first quarter.

But sales are coming. During the quarter, the company launched an initiative for tourist-astronauts to reserve a place in Galactic’s flight queue, attracting commitments for up to $100 million in sales.

May 6, 2020

What Does Elon Musk and Grimes’ Baby Name Actually Mean?

Posted by in category: Elon Musk

“Putting matters of taste aside, X Æ A-12 is a wildly impractical name,” Wattenberg went on. “It’s not only hard to spell and remember and virtually unpronounceable; it’s not even easily typable and no forms or databases will accept it. It’s simply nonfunctional. If—and it’s a big if—this is their real name choice, it’s in a whole different class than other celebrity baby names that people object to on the basis of style. It fails at the basic job of being a contemporary American name.”

“Fails at the basic job of being a contemporary American name” would sound, to a lot of us, like failure. I doubt it would to Musk and Grimes. Perhaps the only answer for them was going to be a name that fails at being a name, and therefore deconstructs the concept of people having names in general. In that case, mission accomplished. Though, of course, there’s someone else who did it first.

May 6, 2020

Tanzania’s president is blaming the sharp rise of coronavirus cases on faulty testing kits

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

“Magufuli, who holds a doctorate in chemistry, said the testers had randomly obtained several non-human samples on animals and fruits which included a sheep, a goat and a pawpaw and the results came out positive. The samples were given human names and ages and were submitted to the country’s National Referral Laboratory to test for coronavirus without the lab technicians knowing the true identity of the samples.”

Tanzania president John Magufuli is under mounting pressure from concerns around coronavirus.

May 6, 2020

An orally bioavailable broad-spectrum antiviral inhibits SARS-CoV-2 in human airway epithelial cell cultures and multiple coronaviruses in mice

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

Broad-spectrum antivirals are desirable, particularly in the context of emerging zoonotic infections for which specific interventions do not yet exist. Sheahan et al. tested the potential of a ribonucleoside analog previously shown to be active against other RNA viruses such as influenza and Ebola virus to combat coronaviruses. This drug was effective in cell lines and primary human airway epithelial cultures against multiple coronaviruses including SARS-CoV-2. Mouse models of SARS and MERS demonstrated that early treatment reduced viral replication and damage to the lungs. Mechanistically, this drug is incorporated into the viral RNA, inducing mutations and eventually leading to error catastrophe in the virus. In this manner, inducing catastrophe could help avoid catastrophe by stemming the next pandemic.

Coronaviruses (CoVs) traffic frequently between species resulting in novel disease outbreaks, most recently exemplified by the newly emerged SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of COVID-19. Here, we show that the ribonucleoside analog β-d-N4-hydroxycytidine (NHC; EIDD-1931) has broad-spectrum antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2, MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, and related zoonotic group 2b or 2c bat-CoVs, as well as increased potency against a CoV bearing resistance mutations to the nucleoside analog inhibitor remdesivir. In mice infected with SARS-CoV or MERS-CoV, both prophylactic and therapeutic administration of EIDD-2801, an orally bioavailable NHC prodrug (β-d-N4-hydroxycytidine-5′-isopropyl ester), improved pulmonary function and reduced virus titer and body weight loss. Decreased MERS-CoV yields in vitro and in vivo were associated with increased transition mutation frequency in viral, but not host cell RNA, supporting a mechanism of lethal mutagenesis in CoV.

May 6, 2020

A new law for metamaterials

Posted by in categories: engineering, law, mapping, physics

Metamaterials, which are engineered to have properties not found in nature, have long been developed and studied because of their unique features and exciting applications. However, the physics behind their thermal emission properties have remained unclear to researchers—until now.

In a paper published in Physical Review Letters, Sheng Shen, an associate professor in Carnegie Mellon’s department of mechanical engineering, and his student Jiayu Li, a Ph.D. candidate, have created a new scale law to describe the thermal emission from metasurfaces and metamaterials.

“With this new scale law uncovering the underlying physics behind the collective thermal emission behavior of metamaterials, researchers could easily utilize existing design and optimization tools to achieve desired thermal emission properties from metamaterials, instead of blindly searching for the best solution through mapping the entire design space,” Li said.

May 6, 2020

IL-6 Blockade Treatment for Severe COVID-19 in Two Patients With Multiple Myeloma

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) presents with a broad clinical spectrum, varying from asymptomatic infection to severe pneumonitis, leading to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and death(Guan, et al 2020). Accumulating evidence suggests that in severe COVID-19, an acute hyperinflammatory syndrome characterised by fever, hypoxia and increased serum inflammatory markers, occurring 5–10 days from the first symptoms, is the major driver of morbidity and death(Zhou, et al 2020b). Hyperinflammation is not specific to COVID-19. Similar syndromes were previously described in respiratory disease associated with other coronaviruses, including the severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus (SARS-CoV) in 2003 and Middle East respiratory syndrome-coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in 2012(Castilletti, et al 2005, Tseng, et al 2005).

This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

May 6, 2020

Israeli masks designed with unique anti-pathogen fabric enter US market

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, business, chemistry, nanotechnology

I shared about this startup in January, now it’s hitting US Markets. The Israeli startup Sonovia, which sped up efforts to manufacture masks using its anti-pathogen fabric at the start of the coronavirus crisis in Israel, has launched commercial sales.

“When coronavirus started, we were an Israeli startup,” Dr. Jason Migdal, a research scientist with Sonovia, told The Jerusalem Post. “Now, we are a commercial business that is having success internationally.”

Sonovia developed an almost-permanent, ultrasonic, fabric-finishing technology for mechanical impregnation of zinc oxide nanoparticles into textiles.

Continue reading “Israeli masks designed with unique anti-pathogen fabric enter US market” »

May 6, 2020

How India’s curb on Chinese FDI will leave ‘void’ in start-up scene

Posted by in category: futurism

India’s recent move to curb foreign direct investment (FDI) from countries including China may stymie the expansion of Chinese technology giants in the country, leaving start-ups in the world’s second most populous nation scrambling for funding and hi-tech know-how, experts say.

The stakes of Chinese firms like Alibaba and Tencent in some of India’s most lucrative start-ups, such as Paytm and Dream11, may be threatened by new investment restrictions, experts say.

May 6, 2020

Researcher close to COVID-19 breakthrough dead in murder-suicide

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, innovation

As if this contagion movie we are living can not get any more strange. A University of Pittsburgh researcher who claimed to have been on the verge of a significant breakthrough in his research on the coronavirus was killed in what appears to me a murder-suicide…

While police are treating the death as a homicide, they have yet to find any evidence that it was related to his research.

May 5, 2020

Tesla improves on its ‘million-mile battery’ with less cobalt and higher energy density

Posted by in categories: energy, sustainability, transportation

Tesla has made even more battery improvements on its new ‘million-mile battery’ now with less cobalt, which could result in lower cost and even more energy density.

Last year, we were the first to report on Tesla’s battery research partner, Jeff Dahn and his team at Dalhousie University, unveiling the impressive results of tests on a new battery cell that could last over 1 million miles in an electric vehicle.

Continue reading “Tesla improves on its ‘million-mile battery’ with less cobalt and higher energy density” »