Terraforming Mars

We’ve seen it in science fiction movies and books where Mars is an inhabitable world. The idea of one day terraforming Mars has been up for discussion and some billionaires want to make that dream a reality. It’s entirely possible to turn that lifeless red sphere into a habitable planet, but the problem is that it won’t be in our lifetime. It’s going to take multiple life times to the point where the people in charge of working on making a breathable atmosphere may even experience mutations after so many generations.

Mars has a ton of obstacles to overcome: the atmospheric pressure is less than one percent; most greenhouse gasses are locked in mineral deposits; there’s not enough water frozen in the north and south poles to create enough atmospheric pressure to lock in heat; the planet has low gravity; There’s no protection from the sun’s radiation. It’s cold and unforgiving, just like the Roman god of war.

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These problems can be overcome in time, but we need to take baby steps before establishing a Mars colony. Our best bet is going to be seeing if it’s possible to set up domed settlements on the moon before we even attempt to send astronauts to Mars. A moon base would be costly due to the fact that they can’t support themselves without intervention from Earth. They could cultivate plats in a greenhouse environment, but they would need a sufficient power source like a nuclear reactor. Plants alone won’t be enough to recycle the air, so they would need to have a reactor that can convert CO2 into fuel and other byproducts. However, being self sufficient is going to require a lot of power.

All this will weigh a hefty price. The cost of sending supplies back and forth for years on end until a self-sustaining colony can be achieved alone would probably bankrupt a small country. There’s no telling how many years it will take to establish anything self-sufficient and the rocket fuel it’s self will cost 16 million dollars per year, not to mention paying the engineers working on the project, food and supplies, on site accident, and paying the medical professionals. All those costs add up to nearly 35 billion dollars.

If we can somehow manage to overcome the challenges and cost of establishing a moon base, then we can do the same to Mars. Overtime the domed settlements of Mars will pump out enough carbon dioxide to create an atmosphere, but that’s after going through the same processes.

In the end, a planet is slowly terraformed over possibly thousands of years and the planet with an actual breathable atmosphere is mismanaged to death. We could be focusing our attention on re-terraforming earth instead of wasting, lives, resources, and man power on an investment that will take thousands of years. Besides, in the time it would take to make Mars habitable, we might have the technology to travel to another earth like planet instead.  

For more information on terraforming Mars check out Nasa’s web site: click here

Colonizing Your Own Land

Housing prices have been through the roof. It’s hard to find something cheap and affordable. So why not build a house? Undeveloped land can go for pretty cheap in some areas and all we need to do is start building, but we can make it easy on ourselves. Shipping container houses provide an easy way to establish a dwelling that is cheap and easy to set up. Shipping Container Home Made Easy has devolved a guide that is easy to follow with step by step instructions on how to make a shipping container home a reality for us all. To learn more click here.

Carbon Nanotube Solar Panels

Solar panels are the most widely used form of green energy. When it comes to electrical output, they’re typically only twenty percent efficient. This causes solar arrays to take up a massive amount of area to maximize their power output. Solar panels also become less efficient when overheating. It’s a huge problem that the go to green energy gives off less power when the sun’s rays cause the panels to over heat.

Despite the drawbacks, solar energy is still worth the investment. They’ll only improve with time and with the help of carbon nano-tubes. When graphene is added to the equation, plus new ways to separate out conductive and metallic nano tubes, we can have more effective solar panels. The scientist at Northwestern University devolved a method of keeping the conductive nano tubes intact yet weeding them out of the mass of graphene by using a cresol-based solution. The result is a polymer like mass. This allows for mass production of conductive nano-tubes.  

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The breakthrough of being able to select what nanotube is needed for the job opens the doors for cheaper composite nano-tubes. Most notable is the double wall nano-tubes that can separate positive and negative charges more efficiently. It doesn’t stop there, nano-tubes when arranged in array of cavities can absorbed unused infrared heat and turn it photons. This is a game changer, due to the fact that it takes the one thing that can lower the output of a normal solar panel and converts into energy. It has the potential to increase the efficiency output by eighty percent.

The researchers at King of Delhi University took things a step further. They discovered that when using nano-tubes on calcium chloride, they could reverse the normal effects of it absorbing water. A polymer like gel was synthesized and used on the backs of solar panels to release liquid build up through out the day cooling the solar panels down. The calcium chloride then absorbs moisture at night and repeats the cycle during the day.

With nanotube enhancements, solar panels may put a huge dent in our carbon footprint. We may end up giving the next generations a way better world then the one that was left for us to fix. This could also be used to power Carbon Engineering’s plant as well.

Going Green and Saving Some Green

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Artificial Photosynthesis

What if we could get power the same way plants create sugar? The goal of artificial photosynthesis is to do just that or something similar. Creating chemical energy through sunlight and carbon dioxide, but rather than making glucose we use the same process to strip electrons from molecules that can absorb photons. The school of thought is similar to that of solar panels, but with the added use of carbon dioxide.    

The scientist at Saint Lawrence University have devolved a way to use a metal catalyst to function the same way as photosynthesis. Ignoring their first instinct of using a platinum metals, they went with cobalt and zirconium. The two metals are placed in nano scale silicon crystals inside their porous structure. In order to make this all work both the raw zirconium, (which is locked into a molecule with carbon), and the silicone must be burned clean allowing the pure zirconium to bind with the cobalt inside the silicone.

The new molecule is able to absorb photons in the cobalt atom then transfer it to the zirconium. In a carbon dioxide rich environment, the catalyst: zirconium, cobalt, and silicone are then able to convert carbon dioxide into formic acid. To optimize the formation of formic acids, an amine is added to the cobalt. This level of control increases fuel production by speeding up the back-election transfer from the zirconium back to the cobalt.

The formic acid is the gate way to synthesizing alternative fuels all we need is some sun light. The system still needs to be optimized further to meet the power demands of the world but it’s a start. The fuel output is still only a small amount, but more research and development will be needed before it can see widespread use. In the long run, we can look forward to seeing artificial photosynthesis powering our future.

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Reversing Climate Change

Let’s face it, we’re not leaving Earth anytime soon. Climate change is one of the biggest threats to our way of life and our natural instinct is to run from a problem. However, there’s no where to run. The closest Earth like planet is light years away. Terra-forming Mars is out of the question too, because that will take anywhere from hundreds of years to thousands years and by that point we’ll be long gone. Our only option is to clean up our air.

There are a few institutions who have found ways to turn carbon dioxide back into oil. From this they are also able to make plastics as well. Carbon Engineering, UC Berkeley, and UNSW Sydney have made reactors that do the same primary function of stripping carbon from oxygen. All three of them have their own methods yet yield the same results.

The Vancouver based company, Carbon Engineering, has been working on building a larger scale operation. They already have a plant up and running converting carbon dioxide into calcium carbonate pellets. This works by running air through a contactor and combining it with a liquid solution. The pellets are then heated to release carbon dioxide at full concentration. From there, renewable energy is used to power the processes of splitting hydrogen from water. The Hydrogen two is then combined with the pure carbon dioxide to make fuel.

At UC Berkeley the same results are achieved by using an altered process. Rather that turning carbon dioxide into calcium carbonate pellets, a metal contact is used to break the molecules down into their base atoms. A metal catalyst made from nano particles are used to reform the atoms into sixteen different chemicals depending on the shape of the nano particles and the type of metal used in the catalyst.

The engineers at UNSW Sydney developed a completely different technique to capturing carbon than their Canadian and US counterparts. An open flame is used to burn zinc at two thousand degrees Celsius creating nano particles that are then used as an electrode in an electrolyser. When carbon dioxide and water come into contact with the electrode, syngas are formed. The syngas, which is a mix of hydrogen and carbon monoxide, are able to be reformed into a multitude of products just like the UC Berkeley reactor.

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Our fate is in our hands and we have the power to put a halt to climate change. Money is always a factor, but paying a little bit extra to prevent a mass extinction is worth it. We are well past peak oil so it would be insane for big oil companies to pass up an opportunity to pull their product from thin air. Greed clouds judgment, and the appeal to tradition will most likely be the final nail in the coffin for the human race if nothing is done.

For more information on UNSW Sydney: https://newsroom.unsw.edu.au/news/science-tech/engineers-find-neat-way-turn-waste-carbon-dioxide-useful-material

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Recycled Tires: A New Way to Produce Aerogel

Rubber is a difficult material to recycle. For the most part it just sits in a landfill while only forty percent of it gets recycled. This is terrible for the environment. Tires are large and take over fifty years to biodegrade. Every six years we add more tires to the landfills when our tire wear out. If an individual is spending around sixty years driving, then they would have gone through around forty two tire in their lifetime.  

NUS Engineering has found a way to recycle that endless pile of rubber by turning it into aerogels. The light weight material has numerous applications giving new life to those old tires. By blending the used tires into smaller fibers, they can then soak it in water for twenty minutes. The solution is then freeze-dried to minus fifty degrees Celsius for twelve hours. During the freeze-drying process the mixture is suspended in a gelatin like structure.  

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Aerogels have plenty of applications. They’re a lightweight porous substance that can insulate a wide range of temperatures. The lack of thermal conductivity is due to the gasses inability to have a free path in the gel like structure. Unlike other aerogels, the rubber mixture version is more sponge like making it great for cleaning up oil spills. The NUS Engineering’s version of aerogels can also absorb sound waves as well.

For the cost of ten dollars and about twelve hours of labor, that old worn-down rubber tire can be reused. With the large cumbersome tires out of the landfills, we will have less contaminates bleeding into nearby water ways. It’s would be a huge step towards a more sustainable world. Once implemented, we would only have to worry about plastics that take thousands of years to biodegrade. But, one pollution problem at a time  

For more information on rubber aerogels check out NUS NEWS

Times Are Tough

We’ve been hit hard with the Coronavirus. Businesses are closing and people are having a hard time staying a float. For most of us, we didn’t have jobs that can be done remotely, but there’s plenty of writing jobs out there. Writershelpwanted is one way to earn money at home while under quarantine. To learn more: click here

Vaccine Film: How the Coronavirus Vaccine will be Delivered

virus 3d illustration

No body likes needles. They’re painful and most people have a phobia towards them. Not only will it be hard to deliver the vaccination for the Coronavirus when the hard-working medical professionals make it, but getting everyone to get injected with it is a different story. It’s also hard to store vaccines on top of all that. So, getting people in third world countries vaccinated for the Coronavirus while they don’t have any power to refrigerate it is a nightmare.

The University of Texas has a solution in the form of a rapid dissolving film. Inspired by how fossilized amber seals in Jurassic mosquito and hard candy that dissolves in saliva, they’ve invented a method for trapping and suspending viruses in between two peel able strips. The strips are made from natural ingredients such as sugars and salts, but synthesized just right so it doesn’t kill the viruses or crystallize. It’s cheep to make and stores at room temperature.    

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This is a huge break though especially in third world countries where a little over half the population’s mortality rates are due to infectious disease. With a cheap and easy to store vaccine in the works, they can greatly lower their funeral costs and live longer. Areas without power or remote villages can no longer be an obstacle when it comes to ridding the world of a plague.    

Sadly, we have to put up with needles until this new innovation comes our way. It’s going to take some time before they can perfect it. One day needles will be a thing of the past in the medical field, but still common place for heroin addicts. The future of vaccinations might be as easy as a priest slapping the body of Christ wafer on your tongue during a Sunday mass. Or big pharma could just stamp it out because it disrupts their bottom line.     

Vaccines without needles – new shelf-stable film could revolutionize how medicines are distributed worldwide

Taking Advantage of a Horrible Situation

The Coronavirus has made people go into a media driven hysteria. It’s been a commercial disaster for businesses around the world. However, there could be a light at the end of the tunnel. Once all the smoke has cleared, and the media hype has died, businesses will pick up again and stocks will begin to rise. Over the last few weeks, the stock market has hit a real low point almost like in 2008. Here’s where you can take advantage of this: with a subscription to Trade Addicts, you can wait for those stocks to start climbing again and buy them while they’re still low. If you want to start investing with their phenomenal around the clock services click here. Or if Forex is your thing then check out Bot’s Live Trading Room. There you have a community that can help you invest in the currencies that will make a comeback once the smoke the smoke has cleared. If you want to check them out then click here.

Fusion Energy: HB11

Our current energy sources can only take us so far. Scientists wish to get away from the traditional turbine type power plant system that we’ve been using for the last hundred years. Too long we’ve relied on water, the sun, or harnessing wind for energy. It’s time to harness the power of fusion and plasma.

In the past, fusion has been unstable. Fusion reactors can only maintain a spinning plasma doughnut for a few minutes before it unravels. It takes a great deal of heat and energy to start the reaction and some rare earth metals as well. The mineral of choice is typically radioactive.

HB11, an Australian company from the South Whales University, has come up with a radical new approach. Rather than trying to funnel plasma into a shape to potentially fuse it to become another element, they went with an easier approach. HB11 uses, well HB11 pellets. Their company name stems from boron B11 in combination with hydrogen. When placed in a cylinder, the HB11 pellets are excited with two 10-petawatt pulse lasers. One laser is used to create the plasma, the other one generates a magnetic field.  The hydrogen and boron atoms are turned into plasma and collide with each other to form helium and alpha particles. The alpha particles are then used to create electricity.      

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It’s going to be at least another forty years before HB11 has a power plant up and running with a fusion chain reaction. Who knows, maybe they’ll get the funding they need and get it running in less time. In the meantime, making the world’s first fusion reactor seems to be a bit of a race. Other companies such as Tri-alpha energy, or LPPFusion have their own methods of generating a potential chain reaction with plasma as well.        

So, we have plenty to look forward to when it comes to fusion energy. An abundant energy source, multiple companies trying to make it happen, and the potential to get away from fossil fuels, means a cleaner world to pass on to the next generation.  At some point they may even find a way to scale the reactor size to fit on a space ship for deep space exploration.

Radical hydrogen-boron reactor leapfrogs current nuclear fusion tech

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AI and Medicine

We’ve advance so far in the medical field over the last hundred years, but doctors can only go so far with their extensive medical knowledge. With drug resistant bacteria and new viruses springing up all the time, the medical industry could use a helping hand. Machine learning is what big pharmaceutical companies and the top medical researchers have been looking into. Artificial intelligence could open up a new world of medical treatment with its ability to recognize patterns, ability to analyze patient DNA, and sift through thousands of documents on clinical trials.

Recently MIT’s AI was able to synthesize new drugs to combat antibiotic resistant bacteria such as Acinetobacter baumannii and Enterobacteriaceae. This is cutting edge because those two strains of bacteria were considered high priority pathogens by the World Health Organization. Halicin, the name of the AI, uses a deep learning algorithm to study pathogens and find what could safely eliminate them. The AI, with its vast library of medical data can then find the best way to make a new drug or series of treatments that best suit the patient.  

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With Artificial intelligence comes new ways to pin point health issues. The pattern recognition abilities of learning machines can find infections and cancer faster than the average doctor. This is advantageous because it gives medical professionals more time to treat and cure an infection or disease before it can spiral out of control. The currently artificial intelligence algorithms have spotted problems in patients twelve hours sooner than their human counterparts. That half day period could mean life or death for someone who has a serious infection that could lead to shock.

With engineering and health organizations coming together, there’s a brighter tomorrow with what learning machines can do to help humanity. We might even see that science fiction medical bed that can quickly diagnose a person become reality. The advance surgery bed from Prometheus can be at our local hospital within the next twenty years for all we know. So long as the AI doesn’t go rampant, we could find ourselves in a world with fewer diseases.    

Powerful antibiotic discovered using machine learning for first time

Investing is Scary, But it Doesn’t Have to Be

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NASA’S DART

The Earth can be destroyed at any moment and oddly enough, it probably won’t be our fault. This threat comes from outer space. Apollo asteroids or more commonly known as NEAs, (Near Earth Asteroids), may strike the planet one day causing a mass extinction. Thanks to Jupiter’s gravitational pull, an asteroid could be knocked from its orbit and sent towards us.

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test, (DART), will test NASA’s ability to change an asteroid’s orbit. Their main target is Didymos B. The Didymos asteroids provide a unique opportunity to observe changes in orbital periods, which is currently eleven point nine hours. The binary asteroids are about five million to seven million kilometers from Earth, just outside the asteroid belt making them easy targets for this test.   

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DART will be launched in July 2021 when the Dydymos asteroids are at their closest point to Earth. The DART unmanned space craft will be strapped to a Falcon 9 rocket, (Thanks Elon), and launched into space. From there NASA’s Evolutionary Xenon Thrusters Commercial, (NEXT-C), will kick into gear using Roll-Out Solar Arrays to power the electric propulsion unit. After about a year it will reach its target and us it’s DRACO system, (Didymos Reconnaissance and Asteroid Camera), to guide it into Didymos B. While DART is colliding with the small moon, the Italian Space Agency’s LICIA Cube will document its impact.

Hopefully when 2022 hit’s and the tests are finished, we will be able to track then repel Apollo asteroids. The nightmarish hellscape of a molten planet doesn’t have to be our future. NASA and their many acronyms may one day have a defense array set up to keep us safe from meeting the same fate as the dinosaurs.

NASA DART 

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3 Advancements in Soft Robotics

It seems like taking a step backwards to go forward. We’ve made huge strides in clunky metal machines that it seems strange to take a step back and go a completely different route when it comes to robotics. With Soft robotics it’s a paradigm shift, but a logical one. Why not mimic creatures and their anatomy found in nature with artificial muscles that can expand and contract? It makes perfect sense and makes for a more fluid and natural moving machines.

1.HASEL has developed muscle like reactions from filling plastic bags with oil and uses a principle that James Maxwell discovered. Basically, if two charged plates are placed in a container of oil, then the oil will move a long the electric plates. What HASEL did with this is used plastic bags as the oil containers to create an expanding and contracting effect. When combined with multiple bags of oil and actuators it works just like muscles.

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2.Organic Robotics Lab has a similar approach to HASEL, but they added a unique cooling method. They used a polymer known as hydro-gels that act like a spongy hydraulic. It carries liquid through the structure causing it to bend and move. While it heats up, the liquid leaks out causing the machine to perspire. Due to the fact that it can sweet, it also cools the machine down quicker that tradition fans.

3.Harvard, Sanford, and MIT have developed their own soft body robots. They rely on using a polymers structure with small empty chambers in them. The empty space can be pumped full of air creating movement. That movement can mimic muscles by inflating different locations on the robot’s body. It’s more like normal air hydraulics, but it has a similar effect.

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Some robots are already implemented with a similar muscle structure like the soft body machines we’ve talked about. As an honorable mention: Kengoro a robot made by the University of Tokyo JSK Laboratories has the functionality of human muscles. It uses a pulley system and sixteen actuators to create movement much like that of human muscles. It also has the same sweating properties as the Organic Robotics Lab’s robot, but instead it uses an aluminum sponge to carry coolant. The coolant is released when the robot begins to overheat.

It’s exciting to see this kind of movement in robotics. The prospect of light weight flexible robots opens up the possibilities of these automatons adjusting to different environments. It’s amazing what the future can hold for these kinds of advancements. With less energy being output to just moving the machines, more energy can be used in their computing power. If we combined this with the AI robots who are just limited to being a stationary head with expressions, then there can be a huge leap in thinking, feeling, and mobile robots.

Let’s Talk About Investing

For most of us, retirement may never be an option. But with a bit of help, we can make it happen. First of all, just saving money is not going to get us too far, but with a Roth IRA, we can compound the interest of our savings and get more out of it. Not only that but if we choose to invest in stocks, we can put those stock dividend directly into that IRA and not have to pay taxes on it. When it comes to stocks, there’s a lot of different platforms, but I prefer to use Trading Addicts. Why not check them out for yourself: click here