Month: February, 2019

Bigelow Aerospace Is Building The World’s First Space Hotel

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Robert Bigelow became a billionaire as the owner of Budget Suites of America hotels. But now he wants to build hotels in space. And his company Bigelow Aerospace is getting closer with their inflatable habitats.

Robert Bigelow grew up in Las Vegas in the 1950s, and saw the nuclear testing that took place nearby. This spurred a love of science that he carries with him to this day.

He vowed to one day spend $500 million to create the first commercial space station, and established Bigelow Aerospace in 2000.

Their focus would be on inflatable habitats, a technology that NASA developed while working on the Transhab module for the International Space Station that was eventually cancelled. Bigelow Aerospace bought NASA’s patents and began working on their own versions.

The first program, GenesisI1 and Genesis II, were unmanned inflatable habitats that tested the technology. The habitats were functional for 2 and a half years and performed well enough that NASA contacted Bigelow to test an inflatable module on the ISS.

Bigelow created BEAM – the Bigelow Experimental Activity Module, which was installed on the ISS in 2016. It has performed perfectly, getting its original 2-year mission expanded beyond 2020, and has shown to stand up to micrometeorite impacts and radiation as well as the rest of the ISS.

Bigelow’s next step is to launch the B330, a 300 cubic meter inflatable habitat that is the centerpiece of their plans. Bigelow wants to use multiple B330s to create commercial space stations in orbit. B330s may even be used as habitats on the moon.

Beyond that, Bigelow plans to build the B2100, a massive habitat with 2 and a half times more volume than the ISS. These would be the first space hotels.

Living Zombies: People Living Without A Heart

20 people die every day waiting for a heart transplant. Luckily science has found a way to keep people alive without a heart while waiting for a new one. Here’s everything you need to know about artificial hearts.

The first artificial heart was received by Barney Clark in 1982. He only survived for 112 days, but subsequent patients lived longer and longer and now go years on a machine.

The Syncardia Total Artificial Heart is the go-to artificial heart these days. It replaces the left and right ventricles with two bifurcated bladders through which fluid is pumped in and out, forcing the blood up into the atriums like a normal heartbeat.

The fluid is piped into the body through tubes that protrude from the abdomen that lead to a backpack. The backpack carries the pump device and the batteries that power it. Each battery lasts 6 hours.

Another, simpler device is called the Left Ventricular Assist Device, this is a continuously flowing pump that leads blood out of the left ventricle directly into the aorta, meaning people with this device have no pulse.

The Oort Cloud: The Solar System’s Disaster Factory

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5 People With SUPERHUMAN Abilities

They walk among us.

While movie-style superheroes are unfortunately just a fiction, there are in fact people with stunning superhuman abilities. Here are 5 of them.

1. Veronica Seider is a woman with superhuman vision.
She has the ability to recognize a person from a mile away, and can actually see individual pixels on the TV from across the room. Her eyesight is roughly the same as that of an eagle, which earned her the nickname the Eagle-Eyed Woman.

2. Daniel Tammet is a high-functioning autistic savant with a superhuman memory.
He is able to recite Pi to over 25,000 digits and speaks multiple languages. One of the secrets to his success is the fact that he has synesthesia, which means he can perceive numbers and words as colors, textures, and shapes.
Daniel’s TED talk:

https://bit.ly/2jXNejK

3. Rajmohan Nair has the superhuman ability to conduct electricity.
While most people would die at even a tenth of an amp of current flowing through them, Nair can take several amps at a time, enough to power a lightbulb or power tools. Do not try this at home.

https://bit.ly/2A30eSb

4. Joy Milne has a superhuman sense of smell.
For reasons that nobody seems to understand, Joy Milne’s sense of smell is so acute, she can smell Parkinson’s disease. She smelled it on her husband 10 years before he showed any symptoms. Researchers are now trying to determine exactly what molecules she is smelling to help detect Parkinsons earlier and possibly save lives.

https://bit.ly/2HYkit9

https://bit.ly/2Gd30GV

5. Isao Machii has superhuman reaction speed.
A modern-day samurai, Machii holds 6 world records involving the katana, and can even split a BB that has been fired at him in mid-air while unsheathing his sword.

World Record: https://bit.ly/2UJgLQP
Pellet: https://bit.ly/1yv2hpX
Bean: https://bit.ly/2DXcNP4

Boosting The Immune System With Vaccines To Fight Cancer

cancer cells

Immunotherapies have been taking the biotech world by storm. Among these are cancer vaccines, which are directed at solid tumors and aim to boost patients’ immune systems to fight cancer.

The cancer vaccine world is broad, with many players.Here’s an overview of some of the current efforts underway by European biotechs.

One big player in the cancer vaccine world is BioNTech, a German biotech working on personalized mRNA-based immunotherapies.

We try to provide individualized immunotherapies. If you try to compare two patients’ tumors, they are never the same. We recognize this fact and try to develop individualized treatments for each patient,” Sean Marett, the company’s COO, said last June 20 at Labiotech Refresh in Berlin.




One of BioNTech’s cancer vaccine platforms is IVAC (Individualized Vaccines Against Cancer) MUTANOME, where patient’s tumors are sequenced to identify neoantigens, which are then incorporated into an mRNA-based vaccine.

We’re doing, effectively, de novo target discovery in real time,” Marett says.

The company also has two approaches, FixVAC and RNA WAREHOUSE, which are based on the knowledge that across patient populations, there are shared antigens that are expressed differently in each individual.

“Regarding our FixVac approach, each eligible patient is treated with exactly the same product,” Marett tells Labiotech.

“With respect to our RNA WAREHOUSE concept, we’re calibrating the treatment for each patient to their individualized expression of the cancer-selective shared antigens.”

cancer cells

BioNTech has partnered with big industry players, such as Genentech, to develop its cancer vaccines.

They currently have a number of products in Phase I and Phase I/II clinical trials for various indications, including melanoma, head and neck cancer, and breast cancer.

Another German biotech, CureVac, is also working hard to bring mRNA-based approach to the clinic. Though they recently suffered a Phase II failure of its candidate CV9104 for prostate cancer. The company has additional drugs in the pipeline, including a vaccine targeting non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

syringe

The company has additional drugs in the pipeline, including a vaccine targeting non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

“What we’ve learned here is that mRNA is not enough on its own— you have to break tolerance and you have to make it more immunogenic.” CureVac CEO Ingmar Hoerr told Labiotech in January.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

My Prediction About Autonomous Cars

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You’ve been hearing a lot about autonomous, self-driving cars lately. Here I take a look at where we are, when we’ll get there, and how it will change the world.

Our transportation system is due for a massive disruption and it’s coming in the form of self-driving cars.

Autonomous cars have been in the works for a while now, with semi-autonomous options like collision avoidance, traffic-aware cruise control, and lane keeping becoming more and more common in even mid and low-price cars.

But thanks to companies like MobileEye, Cruise Automation, and Tesla, we are on the cusp of full Level 4 autonomy in the next few years. In fact, Ford, GM, Honda, Toyota, Nissan, and more carmakers are planning to release fully autonomous cars in the years 2021 to 2025.

Ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft stand the most to gain by this transition, which, according to technologist Tony Seba, will see the end of individual ownership of cars and become a Transportation as a Service model, where almost all travel is carried out through autonomous, shared vehicles.

And when these companies begin buying up fleets of self-driving cars, the cars they will lean on will be electric vehicles, due to the cheaper cost of electricity and the lower maintenance costs, as shown by the company Tesloop and their Tesla Model X that recently hit 350,000 miles.

Combine that with the lower cost of solar PV panels and Lithium-ion batteries, and we are setting the stage for a disruption of our transportation system like we’ve never seen before.