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May 30, 2018

Gravity might be the next big renewable energy source

Posted by in categories: energy, sustainability

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May 30, 2018

What if dark matter is changing?

Posted by in category: cosmology

A new theory suggests that dark matter may be more dynamic than we currently assume.

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May 30, 2018

Galaxy simulations are at last matching reality—and producing surprising insights into cosmic evolution

Posted by in categories: evolution, particle physics, space, supercomputing

In general, modelers attack the problem by breaking it into billions of bits, either by dividing space into a 3D grid of subvolumes or by parceling the mass of dark and ordinary matter into swarms of particles. The simulation then tracks the interactions among those elements while ticking through cosmic time in, say, million-year steps. The computations strain even the most powerful supercomputers. BlueTides, for example, runs on Blue Waters—a supercomputer at the University of Illinois in Urbana that can perform 13 quadrillion calculations per second. Merely loading the model consumes 90% of the computer’s available memory, Feng says.

For years such simulations produced galaxies that were too gassy, massive, and blobby. But computer power has increased, and, more important, models of the radiation-matter feedback have improved. Now, hydrodynamic simulations have begun to produce the right number of galaxies of the right masses and shapes—spiral disks, squat ellipticals, spherical dwarfs, and oddball irregulars—says Volker Springel, a cosmologist at the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies in Germany who worked on Millennium and leads the Illustris simulation. “Until recently, the simulation field struggled to make spiral galaxies,” he says. “It’s only in the last 5 years that we’ve shown that you can make them.”

The models now show that, like people, galaxies tend to go through distinct life stages, Hopkins says. When young, a galaxy roils with activity, as one merger after another stretches and contorts it, inducing spurts of star formation. After a few billion years, the galaxy tends to settle into a relatively placid and stable middle age. Later, it can even slip into senescence as it loses its gas and the ability make stars—a transition our Milky Way appears to be making now, Hopkins says. But the wild and violent turns of adolescence make the particular path of any galaxy hard to predict, he says.

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May 30, 2018

Age-Related Changes to the Nuclear Membrane Alter Gene Expression

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

Researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have discovered that as we age, our cells’ nuclear membranes become misshapen, which stops our genes from working properly.

Nuclear membranes become distorted with age

The DNA in all our cells is the same; however, the cells in our body show a great range of variation and function. How can this be when they have the same DNA? It all comes down to gene expression and which genes are turned off and which are turned on. For example, certain genes must be turned on in a cell for it to be a liver cell; those same genes need to be turned off for it to be a brain cell. If the correct genes are not turned off, problems occur.

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May 30, 2018

Elon Musk Called Nanotechnology BS

Posted by in categories: Elon Musk, engineering, nanotechnology, solar power, sustainability

In case you missed it, Elon Musk called BS on the field of nanotechnology last week. The ensuing Twitter spat was admittedly rather small on the grand scale of things.

But it did throw up an important question: just what is nanotech, and where does the BS end and the science begin?

I have a sneaky suspicion that Musk was trolling with his initial nano-comment. After all, much of the tech in his cars, solar cells and rockets relies on nanoscale science and engineering.

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May 30, 2018

Microbes in Space: Bioengineered Bugs Could Help Colonize New Planets

Posted by in categories: alien life, engineering, sustainability

As humans spread out into the cosmos in search of life, the most alien organisms we encounter may be those we bring with us. Researchers at NASA and elsewhere are engineering microbes so they can carry out many of the functions needed to support human life off-planet.

Humans have been harnessing microbes to do useful work for us for millennia. We’ve used them to make bread, beer, and cheese, and more recently they’ve been put to work to produce medicine, provide fertilizer for crops, and even generate biofuels.

But the emerging field of synthetic biology holds the promise of greatly expanding the things microbes can do for us. Advances in gene editing technology are allowing scientist to re – engineer microbes’ genomes to carry out entirely novel functions like producing chemicals not found in nature, acting as biosensors, and even carrying out computation.

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May 30, 2018

China invites international researchers to do science on its future space station

Posted by in categories: geopolitics, habitats, science, space, treaties

By the end of 2022, China hopes to have its biggest space station yet orbiting around Earth, and the country’s space agency wants other nations to use it. China is inviting all members of the United Nations to submit applications to fly experiments on board the future habitat, dubbed the China Space Station. It’s a major step toward international cooperation for China and its space program, which has mostly relied on domestic hardware and capabilities in the past.

“The China Space Station belongs not only to China, but also to the world,” Shi Zhongjun, China’s ambassador to the UN, said in a statement about the initiative. As a guide for the decision, Zhongjun cited the 50-year-old Outer Space Treaty, which maintains that the exploration of space should be peaceful and benefit all countries.

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May 30, 2018

Dawn of a True Space Age is Near

Posted by in category: space travel

I will illustrate the massive game-changer that the SpaceX BFR will be. I will show this by describing how we can have millions of people in space by the 2040s.

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May 30, 2018

Interesting Facts About the Human Genome

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

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May 30, 2018

Oil industry is finally starting to be affected by Norway’s rapid electric car adoption

Posted by in categories: sustainability, transportation

Norway’s electric vehicle adoption rate is so far ahead of most countries that it gives us glimpses into the future of bigger markets – sometimes even decades ahead of time.

Now it is starting to show signs of demand for gasoline and diesel slowing down as electric vehicles are taking over.

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