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10 New Scientific Discoveries that Actually Affect Your Life

10 New Scientific Discoveries that Actually Affect Your Life

Science is terrifying, amazing, magical, explanatory, and more. Science is all around us all of the time. How we evolved, what we eat, all our medical and technological advances: you have science and math to thank. There are new scientific discoveries and breakthroughs all the time, and it can be hard to get excited about someone discovering a genome we’ve never heard of, or giving a second thought to a new star someone saw that is too far away to fathom. But some of the newest discoveries and advancements might be coming your way and affecting you directly in the future. Let’s check some out!

1. NASA Finds Evidence of Water on Mars!

mars

    In September, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter found evidence that liquid water may sometimes still flow on Mars! Researchers detected hydrated minerals on the slopes of Mars that seem to ebb and flow, appearing darker in warmer times and fading during the colder times. This is significant because this validates the thought that briny water flows on Mars in the present time. This means that the possibility of humans living on Mars someday is becoming more and more of a reality every day!

    The Hubble Space Telescope was recently used to research Jupiter’s moon Ganymede, and NASA has discovered an entire ocean just under Ganymede’s surface! Looks like we’ll have places to colonize soon, hopefully!

    2. The First New Antibiotic in 30 years!

    antibiotics

      Causing a public health crisis, antibiotic resistance is on the rise and spreading faster than the introduction of new compounds into clinical practice. In January 2015, a collaboration between 4 institutions in the United States and Germany, as well as 2 pharmaceutical companies, discovered Teixobactin, a new antibiotic without detectable resistance. It was discovered by screening previously unculturable bacteria present in a sample of soil from a field in Maine.

      Nature.com says that most antibiotics were produced by screening soil microorganisms, but this limited resource of cultivable bacteria was over-mined by the 1960s, which is why we haven’t produced a new antibiotic in 30 years.

      This research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and German agencies. The properties of this new compound suggest a path towards developing antibiotics that are likely to avoid development of resistance, which directly affects you, since antibiotic resistance is currently on the rise and considered practically inevitable.

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      3. Colors That Never Fade!

      blue_jay_7

        A University of Sheffield team led by Dr. Andrew Parnell used X-ray Scattering scans at France’s ESRF facility to study the blue jay’s blue and white feathers, and discovered that the birds’ vibrant-colored feathers come from well-controlled changes to their feathers’ nanostructure, and that the birds could actually change their feathers colors, using this tunable structure. How does this affect you? Well, because of this discovery of this structure based on light manipulation and not dyes or pigments, manufacturers could soon be able to produce cheaply made paints and fabrics that never fade in color! See? Science is exciting!

        4. Google’s AI Can Learn Language and Answer Questions!

        brain

          Google researchers Oriol Vinyals and Quoc Le built a system that could analyze existing conversations and teach itself to respond to you. “Instead of using rules to build a conversational engine, we use a machine learning approach,” Le tells WIRED. “We let the machine learn from data rather than hand-coding the rules.”

          The machine uses “neural nets,” which are gigantic networks of machines that approximate the human brains’ neuron patterns. Neural nets are not a new idea, but major companies now have the processing power to maintain them. They are already used to recognize faces on Facebook, identify words spoken into phones, and translate online phone calls from one language to another.

          This could change the world even more than it already has! Machines that can think and adapt could change the way we get news, get help from tech support, how we communicate, and more– these forms of Artificial Intelligence are already affecting your life!

          5. Better Than 20/20 Vision and 3D Camera Optics!

          lens

            Optometrist Dr. Garth Webb, founder and CEO of Ocumetics Technology Corp, has created a new bionic lens to replace the natural lens in a human eye. This lens will improve eyesight up to 3 times better than 20/20, and can prevent cataracts. Natural lenses stiffen over time and can be damaged, while the Ocumetics Bionic Lens is a permanent solution. Animal and human trials are ongoing and Dr. Webb hopes to have his lens on the market by 2017, and it only involves a painless 8 minute procedure.

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            Ocumetics is also using its lens technology to develop 3-D camera optics that mimic the function of human eyes, where the images would be formatted for human vision, and would be perceived by your brain as though you were walking through a very real landscape picture. They call this the Human Visual Experience.

            This HVE could become wearable technology and be used to create virtual screens controlled by visual commands, making your workday a lot cooler.

            6. Tesla’s Powerwall Solar Battery!

            tesla

              Elon Musk is having a great year. His Tesla S cars consistently get amazing reviews, his company SpaceX landed their first Rocket9 booster after it’s launch in Florida this month (following a sad explosion of the last one), and now he has released the Powerwall Solar Battery, already available for sale in Australia. Australia has the highest per capita usage of rooftop solar energy in the world, and Tesla is working with Natural Solar, an energy retailer, to sell Powerwall. Tesla’s technology is open source, so anyone could replicate this, making it even more accessible.

              The Powerwall can store energy both from the grid and from renewable energy sources like solar. It’s compact, rechargeable, and ideal for use in homes and businesses, and costs less than similar batteries from competitors like Juicebox, Sunverge, Greencharge Networks, AES Corp, and Stem. Natural Solar will be offering the rooftop solar panels, inverter, and Powerwall for about $15,000 (with installation. Without installation, take off $1000), and the Powerwall alone to be added to your existing solar set-up for $9,500. These prices are about $650-700 less per kWh than Juicebox and AES Corp.

              Having a more affordable way to harness solar energy for homes can help you reduce your carbon footprint immediately!

              7. Mesh That Can Catch Oil!

              meshh

                Scientists at Ohio State University have created a stainless steel mesh coated in a fine dusting of silica nanoparticles, which lets water through but not oil. This affects you in a huge way, as this could be scaled up to clean up oil spills in oceans and help save our environment!

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                Bharat Bhushan, Ohio Eminent Scholar and Howard D. Winbigler Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Ohio State, says, “We’ve studied so many natural surfaces, from leaves to butterfly wings and shark skin, to understand how nature solves certain problems,” Bhushan said. “Now we want to go beyond what nature does, in order to solve new problems.” He also mentions that certain combinations of layers yield nanoparticles that bind to oil instead of repelling it and that these particles could even eventually be used to detect oil underground in addition to cleaning oil spills.

                8. Charging Batteries in Minutes!

                battery

                  Engineers at the University of California in San Diego are working to recharge smaller modules within batteries and calling it Project M-BEAM. Lou Shirkle, an electrical engineer sponsoring the project, says that this technology could make energy storage more configurable, promote safety, simplify maintenance, and eventually eliminate the use of fossil fuels for these types of things.

                  Recharging modules separate from the larger battery would allow you to buy an electric car separate from the battery pack, and if you could then lease the battery pack, the cost of the electric car would go down by $10,000!

                  In addition, researchers at the University of California in Riverside have developed a three-dimensional, silicon-decorated, cone-shaped carbon-nanotube cluster architecture for lithium ion battery anodes that could enable charging of portable electronics in 10 minutes. Silicon is a type of anode material that has a total charge capacity 10 times higher than commercial graphite based lithium ion battery anodes, and could help to bring the size of batteries way down.

                  You could soon be charging phones and cars in just minutes! This could revolutionize the electric car industry, and also help influence mass and weight in rockets and space technology.

                  9. Tattoo Removal Cream!

                  tattoo

                    Alec Falkenham, a Ph.D student at Dalhousie University in Halifax, has invented a topical cream for removing the pigment in tattoos painlessly.

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                    When tattooed, ink is injected into the skin, which begins an immune response, and cells called macrophages move into the area and eat the ink, allowing it to stay there permanently and allows the tattoo to be visible under the skin. They also take some of the ink to your lymph nodes.

                    Falkenham’s topical cream works by targeting the macrophages that have remained at the site of the tattoo. New macrophages move in to consume the previously pigment-filled macrophages and then migrate to the lymph nodes, eventually taking all the dye with them. This process is said to cause no scarring or inflammation. According to Buzzfeed, using the cream to remove a 10cm by 10cm tattoo could cost as little as $4.50, and eliminates the need for multiple painful sessions with a tattoo removal laser and hundred of dollars.

                    10. Comets Are Everywhere!

                    comet

                      Most of you know that scientists postulate that a comet or asteroid is what took out the dinosaurs and put Earth into a global winter 66-67 million years ago. But did you know that space is filled with things like comets? According to the Tech Times, “An astronomy team from Armagh Observatory and Buckingham University, writing in the journal Astronomy and Geophysics, are closely monitoring hundreds of distant giant comets in the last 20 years, which they said pose a greater risk to life on Earth than asteroids.”

                      Scientists call these comet ‘centaurs,’ which are large masses of ice and dust from 31 to 61 miles wide, in an unstable orbit beyond Neptune, hundreds of which have been discovered over the past couple of decades. Every 40,000-100,000 years, scientists say that a comet will bounce off of the gravity fields of larger planets in our solar system and head towards Earth.

                      NASA is currently watching about 12,992 near-Earth objects discovered orbiting within the solar system, close to the planet’s own orbit. About 1,607 of these are asteroids considered to be “potentially hazardous.” The latest research says that hundreds more of these centaurs could make it to the official list of Earth-threatening space rocks. It remains unknown when exactly a comet will ricochet off the gravity path of one of the giant planets and hurtle toward Earth, but this type of information is important and has the potential to affect you and everyone else!

                      Featured photo credit: Science! by Quinn Dombrowski via flickr.com

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                      Last Updated on September 10, 2018

                      Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

                      Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

                      We thought that the expression ‘broken heart’ was just a metaphor, but science is telling us that it is not: breakups and rejections do cause physical pain. When a group of psychologists asked research participants to look at images of their ex-partners who broke up with them, researchers found that the same brain areas that are activated by physical pain are also activated by looking at images of ex-partners. Looking at images of our ex is a painful experience, literally.[1].

                      Given that the effect of rejections and breakups is the same as the effect of physical pain, scientists have speculated on whether the practices that reduce physical pain could be used to reduce the emotional pain that follows from breakups and rejections. In a study on whether painkillers reduce the emotional pain caused by a breakup, researchers found that painkillers did help. Individuals who took painkillers were better able to deal with their breakup. Tamar Cohen wrote that “A simple dose of paracetamol could help ease the pain of a broken heart.”[2]

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                      Just like painkillers can be used to ease the pain of a broken heart, other practices that ease physical pain can also be used to ease the pain of rejections and breakups. Three of these scientifically validated practices are presented in this article.

                      Looking at images of loved ones

                      While images of ex-partners stimulate the pain neuro-circuitry in our brain, images of loved ones activate a different circuitry. Looking at images of people who care about us increases the release of oxytocin in our body. Oxytocin, or the “cuddle hormone,” is the hormone that our body relies on to induce in us a soothing feeling of tranquility, even when we are under high stress and pain.

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                      In fact, oxytocin was found to have a crucial role as a mother is giving birth to her baby. Despite the extreme pain that a mother has to endure during delivery, the high level of oxytocin secreted by her body transforms pain into pleasure. Mariem Melainine notes that, “Oxytocin levels are usually at their peak during delivery, which promotes a sense of euphoria in the mother and helps her develop a stronger bond with her baby.”[3]

                      Whenever you feel tempted to look at images of your ex-partner, log into your Facebook page and start browsing images of your loved ones. As Eva Ritvo, M.D. notes, “Facebook fools our brain into believing that loved ones surround us, which historically was essential to our survival. The human brain, because it evolved thousands of years before photography, fails on many levels to recognize the difference between pictures and people”[4]

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                      Exercise

                      Endorphins are neurotransmitters that reduce our perception of pain. When our body is high on endorphins, painful sensations are kept outside of conscious awareness. It was found that exercise causes endorphins to be secreted in the brain and as a result produce a feeling of power, as psychologist Alex Korb noted in his book: “Exercise causes your brain to release endorphins, neurotransmitters that act on your neurons like opiates (such as morphine or Vicodin) by sending a neural signal to reduce pain and provide anxiety relief.”[5] By inhibiting pain from being transmitted to our brain, exercise acts as a powerful antidote to the pain caused by rejections and breakups.

                      Meditation

                      Jon Kabat Zinn, a doctor who pioneered the use of mindfulness meditation therapy for patients with chronic pain, has argued that it is not pain itself that is harmful to our mental health, rather, it is the way we react to pain. When we react to pain with irritation, frustration, and self-pity, more pain is generated, and we enter a never ending spiral of painful thoughts and sensations.

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                      In order to disrupt the domino effect caused by reacting to pain with pain, Kabat Zinn and other proponents of mindfulness meditation therapy have suggested reacting to pain through nonjudgmental contemplation and acceptance. By practicing meditation on a daily basis and getting used to the habit of paying attention to the sensations generated by our body (including the painful ones and by observing these sensations nonjudgmentally and with compassion) our brain develops the habit of reacting to pain with grace and patience.

                      When you find yourself thinking about a recent breakup or a recent rejection, close your eyes and pay attention to the sensations produced by your body. Take deep breaths and as you are feeling the sensations produced by your body, distance yourself from them, and observe them without judgment and with compassion. If your brain starts wandering and gets distracted, gently bring back your compassionate nonjudgmental attention to your body. Try to do this exercise for one minute and gradually increase its duration.

                      With consistent practice, nonjudgmental acceptance will become our default reaction to breakups, rejections, and other disappointments that we experience in life. Every rejection and every breakup teaches us great lessons about relationships and about ourselves.

                      Featured photo credit: condesign via pixabay.com

                      Reference

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