Here’s a quick look at a few scientific breakthroughs from the past week that caught my eye:
1. Three Parent Babies – If you thought that it would be weird for a kid to grow up with two moms or two dads just imagine what it’ll be like when they have two moms and a dad! That scenario is now a very real possibility thanks to a new in vitro fertilization technique that aims to prevent diseases of the mitochondria like muscular dystrophy from getting passed on.
According to the Washington Post, “The technology involves taking defective mitochondria, the cell’s powerhouses, from a mother’s egg and replacing them with healthy mitochondria from another woman. After being fertilized by the father’s sperm in a lab, the egg would be implanted in the mother, and the pregnancy could progress normally.”
2. Infrared as Renewable Energy - Another week, another potential new energy source that will change the World! This time the scheme involves capturing infrared radiation from the Earth and converting it into electricity.
As Dvice explains, “The Earth is constantly releasing hundreds of millions of gigawatts of infrared radiation (heat) into space. Heat from its core, heat from animals, heat from humans grilling hot dogs, latent heat from the Sun, it all adds up. Imagine if even a tiny bit of that radiation could be somehow converted into a renewable power source. That’s the question that a team of Harvard physicists recently posed to themselves, and in the process, they developed a device that could harvest infrared energy and convert it to DC power.
This idea might seem crazy, but with advances in nanotechnology, graphene and smaller electronics, the Harvard team now believes it’s possible to harness infrared power. The proposed device to do this is similar to a standard solar panel, but the team’s panels are not designed to capture sunlight, but to release infrared light, generating power.”
3. Artificial Photosynthesis
According to phys.org, “Artificial photosynthesis, in which we emulate the process used by nature to capture energy from the sun and convert it into electrochemical energy, is expected to be a major asset in any sustainable energy portfolio for the future.”
That future is now a step closer to becoming a reality thanks to new research. As phys.org adds, “A key to realizing commercial-scale artificial photosynthesis technology is the development of electrocatalysts that can efficiently and economically carry out water oxidation reaction that is critical to the process. Heinz Frei, a chemist with Berkeley Lab’s Physical Biosciences Division, has been at the forefront of this research effort. His latest results represent an important step forward.”
Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-03-key-intermediate-artificial-photosynthesis-reaction.html#jCp
4. New Magnetic Material - Turns out that there really is something to Moore’s law for we could soon have even better computers and storage devices thanks to a magnetic material.
As the BBC explains:
“A highly sensitive magnetic material that could transform computer hard drives and energy storage devices has been discovered.
The metal bilayer needs only a small shift in temperature to dramatically alter its magnetism – a tremendously useful property in electronic engineering.
“No other material known to man can do this. It’s a huge effect. And we can engineer it,” said Ivan Schuller, of the University of California, San Diego.”