Archive for July, 2016

Last Leg for Solar Impulse 2

On a mission to circumnavigate the world on purely solar power, the world’s largest solar powered aircraft, Solar Impulse 2, has now reached the last leg of it’s circular journey. The round the world tour will end with it’s final flight from Cairo in Egypt to the starting point in Abu Dhabi.

The journey which began in March 2015 is finally going to culminate. This is the 17th flight of the aircraft in it’s monumental journey. Pilots Piccard and Andre have been sharing the flying duties on this remarkable trip. The two are best friends and business partners in this extraordinary venture.

The Solar Impulse 2 has covered around 30,000 km in its quest to become the first plane to circle the world using  just solar energy. Needless to say this trip has place of honour in not just the record books, but also in history!

 The final segment which will take about 48 hours of flying time will bring the grand adventure to it’s final conclusion. The Solar Impulse 2 will be a sure pioneer in terms of aviation driven by solar power in the years to come. This is one science project that is going to stay popular long after it is finally completed.

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Fighting Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotics have become an important tool in the arsenal of any health care practitioner. However the frequent use of a particular antibiotic also ends up reducing it’s effectiveness for a patient if the patient develops antibiotic resistance. Bacterial infections that are drug resistant have caused thousands of deaths each year.

At the University of California, Los Angeles, researchers are working on a new method of drug administration which is likely to overcome the problem generated by antibiotic resistance. A research team has been experimenting on fighting bacterial infections with a combination of three different antibiotics.

The scientific study which is a combination of biology and mathematics which helps determine what would be the best combination of antibiotics to heal the patient. Three drug combinations can be really beneficial as the researchers conducting the study are beginning to find out.

So far 364 three drug combinations have been tested and in 94 cases the bacteria has been eliminated 100%. Needless to say a whole lot more study needs to be done for the information to be passed into regular practice, but yes there is now hope for healing the patients suffering from drug resistant bacterial infections.

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A Million Volunteers

One of the most difficult things to procure when you need running experiments on human beings is actual volunteers. The need for a larger sample pack can just about cripple an experiment even before it takes off. So when the US Government comes up with a genetic and lifestyle study which will need a million volunteers, you can imagine the state of affairs.

President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative led the National Institutes of Health to lead the study which currently involves collection of more statistical data before any medicines can be actually manufactured. The laboratory work includes collection of medical histories as well as actual blood samples from which DNA will later be extracted for study.

The sheer logistics of the science project are admirable. Imagine trying to convince a million volunteers to give up information about themselves for a 10 year project. Things like age, race, income, education, sexual orientation, and gender identity are just the tip of the iceberg that is being studied.

Lifestyle information of the study subject will delve into information such as a person’s regular diet, exercise habits, sleep patterns, drinking and smoking addictions and a whole lot more. Needless to say signing up a million people before the end of the year when the project is due to begin, is going to be a major exercise in itself.

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Measuring Climate Change

For us to know that the climate has changed we need to find records of what the climate was in a place before. Not every area has the distinction of having had it’s local climate recorded by previous generations, but Henry David Thoreau did Concord, Massachusetts that favour by recording his observations of first flowering times from 1852 to 1858.

Boston University based biologist Richard Primack has now decided to set up a comparative study using the data available from Thoreau’s book called Walden. The book has records for more than 300 types of fauna’s flowering in spring. It also speaks of when the ice melts on the Walden Pond, and when migratory birds came back to the local fields and forests.

Since 2004 Primack has begun a study in to the first flowering times in the area, which is nearly 160 years after the original handwritten data was collected. They have been seeking early blooms in areas of human disturbances. While Thoreau found his flowers along railroad tracks, Primack is finding them near parking lots.

Once the data has been studied it is obvious from the science project that many plants are blooming nearly two weeks earlier than they used to. Also the migratory birds arrive at roughly the same time and the ice breaks up earlier than before.

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Pix @ Speed of Light

Scientists at the Washington University have come up with camera technology that surpasses every known camera in terms of speedy clicks. The new camera technology developed by a team led by Lihong V Wang is reported to take pictures a hundred times faster than regular cameras today. Now that is literally taking pictures faster than the speed of light.

Compressed Ultrafast Photography or CUP allows the camera to capture a record 100 billion frames per second. What’s more the speed does not affect the quality of the pictures taken, if anything the resolution of the images is better than the ones clicked by ordinary cameras. It is being called the world’s fastest receive only camera. That means it can use available light for imaging and does not need additional light. Say goodbye to the irritating flash pops.

The high speed of the camera makes this technology useful for studying ultra fast processes such as neurons firing, fuel burning, chemicals exploding, and a whole lot more if combined with a microscope. Needless to say the new camera technology exposed by this science project is likely to prove incredibly popular amongst the scientific community for future studies.


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