41. Asteroid Belt Space Colony, Brain Stimulation Fights Depression, Fat Cells Transformed to Stem Cells
41. Asteroid Belt Space Colony, Brain Stimulation Fights Depression, Fat Cells Transformed to Stem Cells
Cool STEM News:
Machine learning could cut delays from traffic lights | Futurity (01:15)
- Studies looking at travel times in urban areas have shown that delays caused by intersections make up 12-55% of daily commute travel.
- How do traffic signals work currently?
- Equipped with signal controllers that serve as the “brains” of an intersection.
- Programmed with various settings to tell the traffic display when to change colors depending on the time of day and traffic movement.
- Learning algorithms have multiple ways to learn, but the concept of reinforcement learning is what was utilized for this approach.
- Reinforcement Learning: A concept in psychology where favorable outcomes are rewarded
- But the whole problem is the utilization of deep neural networks (DNNs).
- A type of machine learning algorithm.
- Despite how powerful DNNs are, they are very unpredictable and inconsistent in their decision-making. It would be a cumbersome process for the traffic engineers to sort through and figure out why certain decisions were made by the algorithm.
- This is where a team from Texas A&M University comes in. A team of researchers led by Guni Sharon developed a self-learning system that uses machine learning to improve the coordination of vehicles passing through intersections.
- They essentially created an approach that trains the DNN in real time, while passing that information to a different controlling function that the engineers can understand and regulate accordingly.
- Think of it as a type of translator.
- Using a simulation of a real intersection, the team found that their approach was particularly effective in optimizing their interpretable controller, resulting in up to a 19.4% reduction in vehicle delay in comparison to commonly deployed signal controllers.
- Despite the effectiveness of their approach, the researchers observed that when they began to train the controller, it took about two days for it to understand what actions actually helped with mitigating traffic congestion from all directions.
- “Our future work will examine techniques for jump starting the controller’s learning process by observing the operation of a currently deployed controller while guaranteeing a baseline level of performance and learning from that,” Sharon said.
- If we could eliminate that late night red light that seems to last for hours then I’m ecstatic!
SpaceX Offshore Oil Rig Launch Pad Conversion Info | Hypebeast (08:37)
- It has just been reported that SpaceX has bought two oil rigs from the now-bankrupt offshore drilling contractor Valaris.
- Located near SpaceX’s deployment site in Brownsville, Texas, the two deepwater oil rigs measure in at 240 x 255 feet and were purchased for $3.5 million USD each.
- Each rig will supposedly be repurposed as launch pads for the SpaceX Starship. This is due to the statement Elon Musk stated on Twitter last June in regards to the Offshore Operation Engineer Job posting:
- “SpaceX is building floating, superheavy-class spaceports for Mars, moon & hypersonic travel around Earth”
Electric car batteries with five-minute charging times produced | The Guardian (11:39)
- The new lithium-ion batteries were developed by the Israeli company StoreDot and manufactured by Eve Energy in China on standard production lines.
- StoreDot has already demonstrated its ‘extreme fast-charging’ battery in phones, drones, scooters, and the 1,000 batteries it has now produced.
- The batteries can be fully charged in five minutes but unfortunately this would require much higher-powered chargers than what is being used currently.
- Using available charging infrastructure, StoreDot is aiming to deliver 100 miles of charge to a car battery in five minutes in 2025.
- The CEO of StoreDot, Doron Myersdorf, talked about the current trepidation the public has with EVs:
- “The number one barrier to the adoption of electric vehicles is no longer cost, it is range anxiety…You’re either afraid that you’re going to get stuck on the highway or you’re going to need to sit in a charging station for two hours. But if the experience of the driver is exactly like fuelling [a petrol car], this whole anxiety goes away.”
- The StoreDot battery replaces the usual graphite electrode in the battery with semiconductor nanoparticles into which ions can pass more quickly and easily (e.g. quicker charge).
- StoreDot’s plan is to use silicon, which is much cheaper, and it expects these prototypes later this year.
- Cost would be the same as existing Li-ion batteries.
- This is the type of innovation EVs need. They need better charging capabilities if they want to compete on a convenience level with gas-powered.
- Additionally, with new recycling methods for batteries, EVs can become completely environmentally friendly.
Humans could move to this floating asteroid belt colony in the next 15 years, astrophysicist says | LiveScience (18:21)
- Whenever talk of colonizing the solar system happens, Mars is normally the go to. However, a new preprint paper published on Jan. 6 offers a creative counter-proposal: Ditch the Red Planet, and build a gargantuan floating habitat around the dwarf planet Ceres, instead.
- Astrophysicist Pekka Janhunen of the Finnish Meteorological Institute in Helsinki describes the vision:
- A “megasatellite” of thousands of cylindrical spacecrafts/habitats
- Disk shape frame
- Orbits around CERES the dwarf planet.
- Each cylindrical habitats accommodates 50,000 people, and measuring at 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) long, have a radius of 0.6 miles (1 km)
- Artificial Atmosphere and gravity through rotation.
- Why CERES?
- Distance is comparable to Mars
- Rich in nitrogen, which is a crucial component to developing an atmosphere.
- Due to the small size, Janhunen theorized the use of space elevators to transfer raw materials from the planet directly up to their orbiting habitats
- This orbital lifestyle would also address one of the biggest caveats Janhunen sees in the idea of a Martian surface colony: the health impacts of low gravity.
- Besides the artificial gravity, the other benefit would be the interconnectedness of the habitats. Allowing new cylindrical habitats to continuously be added onto the edge of the large satellite colony for “new unlimited expansion”
- The colony’s main feature: Two enormous glass mirrors, angled at 45 degrees relative to the disk in order to reflect just enough natural sunlight into each habitat.
- Janhunen is very optimistic about this idea. In an email to Live Science, he stated that the first human settlers could start heading to Ceres within the next 15 years.
- Three main caveats to the idea proposed by Manasvi Lingam, an assistant professor of astrobiology at the Florida Institute of Technology:
- Lack of phosphorus, All organisms on Earth need it to create DNA, RNA and ATP.
- Capture/Mining technology for the raw materials and Nitrogen.
- The timeframe proposes (15 years is a stretch)
- My question? Where does the oxygen come from? Are we bringing it or what?
- What do you all think of the idea? I personally think the more colonization ideas the merrier!
Brain Implant Successfully Fights Off Depression, Scientists Say | Futurism (30:20)
- University of California San Francisco published a case study on Jan. 18th in the journal Nature Medicine shows that electrical stimulation can have a profound antidepressant effect.
- In the case study, the doctors identified three brain regions that they could zap to alleviate depression but found that it only worked when the patient was in a particular mental state. Otherwise, the neurostimulation had the opposite effect.
- Once they worked out all the kinks, the patient walked out of the ten-day study and remained depression-free for six weeks.
- The volunteer in the case study, a 36-year-old woman with severe depression, said in a press release, “I’ve tried literally everything, and for the first few days I was a little worried that this wasn’t going to work…But then when they found the right spot, it was like the Pillsbury Doughboy when he gets poked in the tummy and has that involuntary giggle.”
- Now the patient gets similar stimulation from a brain implant that delivers imperceptible shocks as needed, and she reports that she’s capable of enjoying her life for the first time in years.
- Not thrilled with the idea of utilizing an implant to constantly provide this type of neurostimulation therapy, especially since we have not tested this for an extended period of time.
- But, as once in a blue moon treatment for people suffering from severe depression I’m all for it! Rather this than being hopped up on antidepressants.
Researchers turned fat cells into stem cells to repair injuries | The Burn-In (37:27)
- A team from the University of New South Wales has reportedly created a method of turning fat cells into stem cells that can then be used to repair wounds. The team published its research in the journal Science Advances.
- To reprogram the fat cells, the team exposed them to a cocktail of different ingredients, here are a couple:
- Azacytidine, a cancer treatment drug
- A naturally occurring growth factor that is known to stimulate tissue repair and cell growth
- Fat cells lost their identity 3 and a half weeks after being exposed to this cocktail of ingredients.
- From there, they became multipotent stem cells (iMS) and were injected into mice.
- Multipotent stem cells: have the ability to self-renew for long periods of time and differentiate into specialized cells with specific functions
- For a bit the converted cells remained dormant, but eventually when the mice were injured, the stem cells helped treat the wounds by transforming into the type of tissue that needed to be repaired.
- Dr. Avani Yeola, the lead author of the study, said, “The stem cells acted like chameleons. They followed local cues to blend into the tissue that required healing.”
- These specifically reprogrammed stem cells have been shown to be safer than the others created in the past, with no indication of tumor growth as a result of their injection.
- Additionally they are less likely to be rejected because the fat cells originated from the patient.
- However, as usual, there are plenty of other studies that need to take place before this will ever be recommended as treatment.
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