Monthly Archives: October 2013

It is possible to live forever.

Some mythical creatures, like the phoenix, which is reborn from its ashes, are able to cheat death. We pass these stories as just that—fiction—but could there be some truth to the old legends? 

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We are always looking for new ways to prevent the process of ageing, from avoiding sunlight, to using age-defying creams and even undergoing plastic surgery. However, some species of animals already have the secret to eternal youth down pat.

One species of jellyfish, Turritopsis nutricula, is able to return to its earliest stage of life, and reset it’s biological clock. In an emergency, for instance, if the jellyfish is injured, starving, or threatened in any another way, it will attach itself to a surface and convert itself into a blob. From there, its cells undergo transdifferentiation.

can you eat pizza in space?

 

Forget takeaway, in the future you may be able to print your favourite dinner.

3D printing has been around for a while, but only recently has it  started to take off, with everything from tools to jewellery, clothing and even human ears  being made with the push of a button. NASAis getting in on the action too, and has spent US $125,000 to fund Anjan Contractor, head ofSystems and Materials Research Corporation, to develop a 3D food printer.

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The idea is to provide tasty treats for astronauts while they’re on long journeys in space. Currently, astronauts dine on pre-packed meals such as the MREs (meals ready to eat), similar to the food served to the military. These require a lot of processing and over time lose their nutritional value.

The printer will work by using replaceable powder cartridges filled with the basic building blocks of foodstuffs, such as oils, powdered protein and powdered carbohydrates. By combining each basic ingredient, Contractor is hoping that a wide range of hot, nutritious foods will be made by the printer. The cartridges will have a lifespan of 30 years, more than long enough to enable long-distance space travel.

The first item of the food printer’s menu is pizza. Pizza is made by layering different ingredients on top of each other (dough, sauce, cheese and toppings), so it is a perfect starting point for the 3D technology, which works by using a similar layering process, but on a microscopic scale. First the dough will be printed, cooking as it goes, then a tomato powder will mix with water and oil to create the sauce before a protein layer is added.

Unsung Science Heroines You Really Should Have Heard Of

1) Mary Somerville translated many scientific texts and brought the achievements of her scientific contemporaries to a wider audience. Along with Caroline Herschel, Somerville was one of the first women members of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1835. The word “scientist” was coined in a review of one of her books, though it wasn’t applied to Somerville herself.

2) Caroline Herschel was the first woman to discover a comet — and went on to find eight in total. She also discovered several deep-sky objects, including the Sculptor Galaxy. King George III granted Caroline a £50 salary for her work, making her the first woman to earn a living from astronomy.

3) Mary Anning was a fossil hunter whose finds made an important contribution to the understanding of the Earth’s history during her lifetime. She found the very first ichthyosaur skeleton when she was just 12 years old, and the first two plesiosaur skeletons, among many others.

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4) Emmy Noether was a leader in developing early abstract algebra. And she proved a theorem, which now bears her name, that links symmetries of nature to physical conversion laws. Einstein called her the “most significant” mathematician of her time.

5) Leavitt gave us the first step on a ladder that we still use to measure cosmic distances today. Working at Harvard College Observatory in 1912 she showed a link between the brightness of a Cepheid variable star and how long it takes to brighten and dim. This property means Cepheid variables are immensely useful for measuring distances in the universe.