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Jun 1, 2020

ARC reactor design uses superconducting magnets to draw fusion power closer

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, military, nuclear energy, particle physics

Circa 2015

Fusion power can seem a bit like the last bus at night; it’s always coming, but never arrives. MIT is working to change that with a new compact tokamak fusion reactor design based on the latest commercially available magnetic superconductor technology. The ARC (affordable, robust, compact) reactor design promises smaller, cheaper reactors that could make fusion power practical within 10 years.

A commercially viable fusion reactor has been the Holy Grail of engineering since the 1950s, with the potential to turn almost all other major electricity sources into an historical footnote overnight. If perfected, it would essentially be an inexhaustible source of power, impacting on almost every aspect of life, from the environment to global politics. The trick is making it practical.

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Jun 1, 2020

How the Brain Resolves Ambiguity

Posted by in category: neuroscience

A new study sheds light on how the brain categorizes ambiguous visual images as faces or hands.

Jun 1, 2020

A new theorem predicts that stationary black holes must have at least one light ring

Posted by in categories: cosmology, physics

Black holes, regions in space with such an intense gravitational field that no matter or radiation can escape from them, are among the most mysterious and fascinating cosmological phenomena. Over the past five years or so, astrophysicists collected the first observations of the strong gravitational forces around black holes.

The LIGO-Virgo collaboration was able to detect gravitational waves around these using some of the most advanced gravitational-wave detectors in the world. Meanwhile, the Event Horizon Telescope research group captured the very first image of a black hole shadow.

While both these observations are highly promising and captivating, neither of them is likely to unveil the event horizon, the boundary defining the specific region in space around a black hole from which nothing can escape. Nonetheless, they should contain a signature pointing to a neighboring region just outside of the event horizon, wherein is bent so strongly that its path closes over itself and forms circular orbits known as light rings.

Jun 1, 2020

Battling Parkinson’s disease

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics, life extension, neuroscience

Who has heard of mitochondrial medicine?

“We know that increased rates of mtDNA mutation cause premature aging,” said Bruce Hay, Professor of biology and biological engineering at the California Institute of Technology. “This, coupled with the fact that mutant mtDNA accumulates in key tissues such as neurons and muscle that lose function as we age, suggests that if we could reduce the amount of mutant mtDNA, we could slow or reverse important aspects of aging.”

This brings us to the second major development relevant to mitochondria in disease — that genetic technology is now at a point where the targeted removal of the problem mitochondrial genes can become the basis for clinical intervention. This is the implication of research that Hay and colleagues both at Caltech and the University of California at Los Angeles described in a paper published in the journal Nature Communications.

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Jun 1, 2020

Mars Does Have a Magnetic Field of Sorts – And We’ve Finally Got Data to Map It

Posted by in category: space

Unlike Earth, Mars doesn’t have a global magnetic field to protect it from the rigours of space weather – but it does have spots of local, induced magnetism.

Now, researchers have been able to create an incredible, detailed map of the electric currents that are responsible for shaping these magnetic fields.

It gives scientists a much greater understanding of how Mars might have lost much of its atmosphere over the course of billions of years, as well as how interactions between the solar winds and Mars’ magnetosphere are playing out today.

Jun 1, 2020

We Have Found Our Way To A Civil War

Posted by in category: futurism

Sadly, we have found our way to this place.

I am ashamed of our Political & Social Leaders. What we have allowed over the past few days is a group of #AntifaThugs and #AgentProvocateurs to run amuck in our fine country. We have allowed this scum to burn and rob and murder all for the fake belief of Social Justice.

George Floyd was murdered in the streets. He was murdered by a bad cop who is going to face justice for his actions, for good or for ill. The other officers who were on the scene who have not been arrested most likely will be. If they are not, then they are going to live with the fact that they watched a man die, who they should have protected.

Jun 1, 2020

Cui Bono? Who Benefits?

Posted by in category: futurism

Ladies Monday with ReallyGraceful.

All Guest Author Posts are submitted or additional content Chronicle has added to the website. To be a Guest Author please visit our “Post Your Article” page.

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Jun 1, 2020

SpaceX to fly you anywhere on Earth in under an hour

Posted by in category: space travel

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Jun 1, 2020

SpaceX’s pioneering astronauts board the International Space Station

Posted by in categories: business, Elon Musk, space travel

Following a dramatic launch, 19-hour voyage and successful docking procedure, pioneering astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley have left the Crew Dragon and are now aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The pair emerged from the Crew Dragon capsule at around 1:15 PM ET and were greeted with bear hugs by astronaut Christopher Cassidy and cosmonauts Anatoli Ivanshin and Ivan Vagner. While describing the ride as less smooth than the space shuttle, Hurley said he “couldn’t be happier” about the Crew Dragon’s performance.

The astronauts, who christened the Crew Dragon “Endeavor,” chatted with NASA executives after their arrival. “It’s great to get the United States back in the crewed launch business,” said Hurley. “And we’re just really glad to be onboard this magnificent complex.” Earlier, SpaceX founder Elon Musk said he was “quite overcome with emotion,” adding “this is hopefully the first step on a journey towards civilization on Mars.”

Jun 1, 2020

Predictive biology: modelling, understanding and harnessing microbial complexity

Posted by in categories: biological, engineering, physics

Predictive biology is the next great chapter in synthetic and systems biology, particularly for microorganisms. Tasks that once seemed infeasible are increasingly being realized such as designing and implementing intricate synthetic gene circuits that perform complex sensing and actuation functions, and assembling multi-species bacterial communities with specific, predefined compositions. These achievements have been made possible by the integration of diverse expertise across biology, physics and engineering, resulting in an emerging, quantitative understanding of biological design. As ever-expanding multi-omic data sets become available, their potential utility in transforming theory into practice remains firmly rooted in the underlying quantitative principles that govern biological systems. In this Review, we discuss key areas of predictive biology that are of growing interest to microbiology, the challenges associated with the innate complexity of microorganisms and the value of quantitative methods in making microbiology more predictable.