Monday, July 4, 2022

Science & Technology

Moon Bases

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Setting up a future lunar base could be made much simpler by using a 3D printer to build it from local materials. Industrial partners including renowned architects Foster+Partners joined ESA to test the feasibility of 3D printing using lunar soil.

by Karina Bakshi

Humans have been dreaming of space colonization for many years, and we have already gotten started on it. The best way to make our first settlement would be to make a Moon Base. Some space companies are already planning to start working on one, so we might even start as soon as 2024. 

The best place to build a Moon Base would be the south pole, as there are very few temperature fluctuations there. The south pole also gets light 90% of the time, which means that solar panels would be very efficient there. Some people have also thought about building it on the far side of the Moon, as we could install several telescopes there to allow further space research without Earth getting in the way. But that would require a very complex satellite system so the south pole would be better to start with; and from there, we could expand it into the far side. 

It might seem like we need very advanced technology to build a Moon Base; but we almost have the technology needed. With the invention of 3D printers, making the base would be much easier. Materials could also be transported to the Moon via rockets. 

According to many space organizations like NASA, Moon Bases will start getting made in 2024. Currently, we do not have the technology to build a Moon Base; but we are very close to it and we will have it in 3-5 years. We would need around 50 rocket launches, and it would cost a whole $10 billion. However, space organizations get a lot of funding from the government so it is still possible. 

The climate of the Moon is way too hostile for humans to live there, so the base might have to be occupied by robots rather than humans initially. The Moon only has 1/6 of the gravity that is on Earth; and in the Zero-G environment of Space Stations, the astronauts have to maintain high fitness levels by exercising a lot to remain healthy. Obviously, the effect would be reduced a bit on the Moon; but it would still be very harmful to our muscles and bones as we are not meant to live there. We might have to come up with some system to create Artificial Gravity; but that seems way too advanced so the astronauts might have to adopt a lifestyle similar to those in Space Stations in order to keep themselves healthy. The Moon also receives a lot of radiation from the Sun due to it not having a very weak atmosphere. We would need a Radiation Shield which isn’t really that hard to make as we could 3D print them using lunar soil. The Moon also has some water-ice so that wouldn’t be an issue either. We could build artificial farms to grow food. We could also get Oxygen by splitting up the water-ice found there and removing the Hydrogen from it, leaving the Oxygen which we can breathe. 

In conclusion, seeing a Moon Base come up in the next 10 years definitely seems like a plausible idea; as we almost have the technology needed and organizations have a solid plan. Building a Moon Base will definitely help us and it is a great place to start in space exploration and colonization. 

Sources:
https://www.sciencefocus.com/space/how-to-build-a-Moon-base/ 

Building a Dyson Sphere: We’re not that far away

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By Karina Bakshi

Earth has a very limited supply of energy. The main sources of energy are non-renewable sources such as fossil fuels and coal. Although some companies are using renewables and nuclear energy they are not able to produce the amount of energy required. However, this isn’t permanent and we will need a better solution sooner or later. 

The Dyson Sphere is a hypothetical model of a megastructure made to harness solar energy. If made, we will practically have unlimited energy. Even a small portion of the sun is enough to fuel our planet for millions of years. However, the technology needed to build a Dyson Sphere seems way beyond our current technology. 

But it is not completely Sci-Fi. We could get started on this project in around 50 years when humans are close to becoming a full Type 1 civilization. Dyson Spheres are sometimes depicted as a solid sphere encompassing the entire star. However, that model is not possible as the sun’s gravity, heat, and solar flares will probably damage and shatter the sphere. Humans on earth wouldn’t be getting light from the sun either, which would end life (unless the spheres are transparent, which probably also would not work out as the light inside them would reflect). 

A viable option, however, would be to make a Dyson Swarm. Many mirrors, satellites, and solar energy collectors surrounding the sun, made out of many different pieces instead of just 1 giant sphere. But we would need an almost endless supply of materials to make this. The most logical solution would be to mine Mercury, as it is closest to the sun and 70% of Mercury consists of metals. Around half the planet is usable. However, to start building a Dyson Sphere, we would need a lot of energy. So how do we build a Dyson Sphere if we need the energy of a Dyson Sphere to build it? We could first build a small portion of the Dyson Sphere and using the energy we get from it, we could expand it. 

To build a full Dyson Sphere, however, we might need to mine all 4 terrestrial planets. We could mine Mercury, as we probably won’t be able to terraform it, and it also has a lot of metal. Instead of the others, mine asteroids instead. Although that method would be slower, it would be better for humans in the long run. 

We could start building the Dyson Sphere by making settlements on the poles of Mercury, as it has extreme temperature fluctuations and orbits very slowly. The process would have to mostly be automated as the climate is too hostile for humans. Mining robots can be placed on Mercury. The mirrors would be made and then catapulted towards the sun using electromagnetic mass drivers. We could then expand our bases to make and launch more mirrors. The mirrors would be designed to reflect the energy to a generator. 

However, a big problem is the number of supplies we would need to build the Dyson Sphere. We would need an enormous amount of materials to build the Dyson Sphere so the plan may seem unrealistic. But we could build replicating robots to gather materials so with the technology of the future it will be possible. 

Our plan of building a Dyson Sphere could actually be accomplished in the next few thousand years. Building a Dyson Sphere would help us in many problems. We could use the energy to terraform planets like Venus and Mars, or even leave the solar system to search for new worlds. 

Building a Dyson Sphere will be a big accomplishment for humanity and a transition to becoming a type 2 civilization. We could actually achieve this goal sooner than we think!

The Rise and Fall of SEGA. How The Makers of Sonic fell out of the stars

By Akshat Ambekar

Sega is well known for its video game characters and consoles like the Sonic franchise and Prince of Persia. What you might not know is how the company began. 

The franchise Sega originated as a game makers company for the US army in 1946. The name is an abbreviation of Service Games the service, for military service, and the Games, because they made slot machines and pinball machines at US military bases.

However, in 1952 the US banned slot machines at their bases as they were too distracting for the soldiers. So they started making them in Japan and were bought by the Japanese company Rosen Enterprises, becoming SEGA Enterprises or just SEGA. Then in 1965, the arcade machine gag began and everyone started making more and more machines. Games like Space Invaders, Dig Doug, and Donkey Kong were all the rage at that time. 

This went on for Sega, the most successful game company until 1983 when in Japan, the company known as Nintendo created the Famicom at home console and Sega decided to compete. They provided Nintendo’s only competition until 1994. But this is about SEGA and when they saw Nintendo’s success with the Famicom, they released the SG-1000. 

This is where it’s going to get a bit technical. The first console (SG-1000) used 8-bit graphics (and I’m mostly going to be focusing on the graphics and storage capabilities of the consoles in comparison to the sales games and other stuff that isn’t technologically based, so keep that in mind). It was a high-quality graphic design for the time because no other medium could even produce anything near the scope of the SG-1000 and the NES, but it was still very limited as it consumed too much storage and the graphics, while unavailable anywhere else, we’re still not the greatest.

 However, this changed when Nintendo put up ads for their newest consoles, the SNES in the west and Super Famicom in the east. They used 16-bit graphics instead of 8 bit and that was a HUGE STEP-UP from 8 bit. It would be like if they went from 440p to 4k. That’s how much of a difference it was. 

In response, SEGA made the Sega master system which used 16-bit graphics as well. This was around the time that Sega started to fall behind Nintendo. released the SEGA Game Gear which flopped, and was their first handheld device but with 8-bit graphics. Then SEGA released its final console that sold over 10 million copies, The Sega Genesis. The SEGA Genesis used 16-bit graphics which were even better than the master systems. They also started using CDs with the CD Addon for the SEGA Genesis, because of its better storage capabilities, and because they were smaller than cartridges. The cartridge could store a lot of games but it was tedious to keep around and CD’s were overall just much more compact.

They also released the SEGA Saturn and the SEGA Dreamcast but they didn’t sell nearly as much as the SEGA Genesis.

After the release of the SEGA Dreamcast, SEGA’S decline turned into an avalanche, and they just couldn’t keep up with the demand, especially with the new PlayStation and Xbox. So finally, in 2004, they were bought by Sammy Corp for 2 billion dollars with Nintendo buying the rights to Sonic and its other games in 2007.

SEGA isn’t nearly as prominent as they were but they do still release games like Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games, and other titles mostly to do with Sonic.

The story of SEGA is a quick one that nonetheless has a sad ending, at least we can be satisfied knowing that Nintendo kept on going with SEGA’S IP.

Sources

“Evolution of Sega Consoles.” YouTube, YouTube, 24 Apr. 2021, www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpYBdZkpYg4&t=80s.

Robbs, Matt. “Was Sega Bought by Nintendo? (Who Owns Them?).” Retro Only, Retro Only, 31 Aug. 2021, retroonly.com/was-sega-bought-by-nintendo/#:~:text=After%20that%2C%20in%202004%2C%20the,of%20investors%20for%20%2438%20million.

Saberspark. “What Ruined Sega? – the Fall of an Empire.” YouTube, YouTube, 8 Dec. 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=GH7R2PEvzXo. 

Nuclear Energy

The Ascent claims no ownership over this image.

by Arav Barmecha

Since the industrial age, humans have released over 1.5 trillion tonnes of carbon dioxide or CO2 into the Earth’s atmosphere. In the year 2019, we were still pumping out around 37 billion more. That’s 50% more than the year 2000 and almost three times as much as 50 years ago. And it’s not just CO2. We are also pumping outgrowing volumes of other greenhouse gasses such as Methane and Nitrous Oxide. Combining all our greenhouse gases we are emitting the equivalent of 51 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide in the year 2017. Our emissions are rising rapidly, but emissions need to go down to 0. 

In recent years the consequences of rapid climate change have become more visible, with severe wildfires in Australia and the lowest amount of ice ever recorded in the north pole. To slow rapid climate change the world needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero. In 2018, 76% of global emissions were released through energy production namely, fossil fuels. Currently, 84% of the world’s primary energy consumption comes from fossil fuels. 33% from oil, 27% from coal, and 24% from gas. Only 16% of our energy comes from low emission sources such as hydroelectric, solar, wind, and nuclear energy. This means we rely on coal, oil, and gas to keep our civilization going. 

To have a chance of escaping fossil fuels we need to electrify as many sectors as possible. We should switch to using electricity from electric cars to electric furnaces. Electricity might be the key to letting go of our carbon emissions. We would be switching because we can produce electricity from low emission technologies like solar, wind, and nuclear energy.  Consider carbon emissions like an addiction to cigarettes, to quit it you need something to replace it with something like chewing gum. In the same way, we need to replace carbon emissions with electricity.

Considering the risks climate change poses for the biosphere and humanity, any technology that has a chance of contributing to a solution should be pursued. That’s just good risk management and strategy. If we start seeing nuclear energy as an opponent and not a teammate, we might have no hope to come out of climate change. If we take nuclear energy offline right now then that missing energy capacity will be replaced by fossil fuels. I think that nuclear energy is the missing piece to combat climate change.

Why are the rich competing to go to Space?

The Ascent claims no ownership over this image.

by Arjun Mehrotra

The CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, announced that he would be going to space earlier this year. After stepping down as CEO of Amazon he announced that he, along with his brother, would fly to space on July 20. 

This is Blue Origin’s first time sending humans to space so the fact that Jeff Bezos is coming on the first trip is a little surprising. He said in an Instagram post that “To see the Earth from space, it changes you”. 

The total flight time will last about 10 minutes, and it will cost millions of dollars for a seat, a price which is likely to decrease in the future. His announcement has been met with mixed reactions, with 150,000 people signing a petition for him to “stay in space”.

Meanwhile, Richard Branson founder of Virgin Group has recently announced that on Jun 11 he too will be going to space, almost 10 days before Bezos. It seems that these two billionaires are competing to go to space. Elon Musk also has an interest in going to space and while SpaceX has sent people to space, he has yet to go himself.

It seems that these billionaires are extremely focused on going to space, maybe too focused in my opinion. Going to space will definitely provide more publicity but are we really ready to be sending humans to space? While companies like SpaceX have been sending people to space for many years, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic have not yet undergone the thorough testing that SpaceX has. 

While safety issues are still a worry concerning space travel. These billionaires are quite literally reaching for the stars.

The Future of Genetic Engineering

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Source - https://barmstrong.medium.com/the-pros-and-cons-of-genetically-engineering-humans-49973778c349

by Anoushka Kumar

Genetic Engineering is the process of using rDNA technology, a technology that uses enzymes (proteins that accelerate chemical reactions) to alter the genetic makeup of an organism.

And it is far more prominent in our lives than most believe. In medicine it is used to mass-produce human-growth hormones, drugs, insulin, vaccines, and many more vital essentials.

In agriculture, genetic engineering is used to create genetically-modified crops to withstand harsh conditions, and other genetically-modified organisms. 

In research, organisms are genetically engineered to discover the functions of certain genes.It is used in industry by transforming microorganisms such as bacteria or yeast, or insect mammalian cells with gene coding for a useful protein. The genetic code is a set of rules detailing how the four-letter code of DNA is translated into the 20-letter code of amino acids, which are structural units that make up proteins.

Genetic engineering has already established itself as an integral part of our world. In fact, The BLS (Bureau of Labour Statistics) has reported that biomedical engineers can anticipate to see a 23% growth in demand for years between 2014 and 2024. 

And now, due to biotechnology’s rapid advancement, what were questions based on sci-fi movies, like genetically engineered humans, has become an ethics question. Genetic Engineering is something that might even reshape humanity; Jamie Metzl, author of the book ‘Hacking Darwin’ said ‘’Genetic engineering, in other words, could easily shift from being a health or lifestyle choice to becoming an imperative for survival.’’ 

Sources: https://www.economist.com/open-future/2019/04/25/how-genetic-engineering-will-reshape-humanity

https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/2/15/14613878/national-academy-genome-editing-humans

Plastic Eating Bacteria

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Source - https://theconversation.com/how-plastic-eating-bacteria-actually-work-a-chemist-explains-95233

by Arjun Mehrotra

Plastic is one of the most ubiquitous materials ever. From our phones to our water bottles, plastic is all around us. It has a long life span, making it useful for storage. But what was once its biggest strength, is now its most fatal flaw. 

Plastic releases toxic chemicals into the air and takes thousands of years to decompose. Decomposition is the process by which substances are broken down naturally, meaning that they eventually turn into soil and are good for the environment. When materials such as plastic cant decompose, it means that they will stay there, in our landfills and our oceans taking up space and releasing harmful chemicals. This leads to an unhealthy ecosystem that can be downright dangerous. According to plasticoceans.org, more than 10 million tons of plastic are dumped into our oceans annually. More than a million marine animals are killed each year, due to this substance and the poisons it releases into their homes. Scientists estimate that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. 

However, while things don’t look good for the Earth, there are still a few more solutions that may help us combat this evil polymer. Introducing Ideonella Sakaiensis, more commonly called the plastic-eating bacteria. The enzyme was first discovered in Japan,| in 2016, and has since then undergone many experiments to test the ropes and limits of its usage. . The bacteria is famously known due to its ability to eat polyethylene or PET, a very common plastic. Scientists have in recent years combined the plastic-eating bacteria with one that can eat cotton, thus producing a sort of “super enzyme” that could eat anything in a landfill. This is important because due to the lack of space in landfills most of them eventually get dumped into the ocean, so preventing this is essential.

A french company called Carbios has begun producing this enzyme and making demonstration plants to break down plastics. Carbios has partnered with companies such as Nestle and PepsiCo and could provide them with the necessary materials to recycle materials into their products.

While larger-scale industrial solutions using this bacteria are a few years away, its discovery could definitely help save our planet from plastic.

Cloning an Animal Which Survived 24,000 Years

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Source - https://www.jagranjosh.com/current-affairs/microanimal-survives-24000-years-in-siberian-permafrost-1623148612-1

by Diya Barmecha

Our world lives in balance. For every few prey there are few predators. When the predators die out the prey increases and this is how the addition or subtraction of species affects everybody in the ecosystem. The bringing back of a species can help rejuvenate the environment as well as help scientists prevent endangered species from going extinct. De-extinction is also loosely known as the resurrection of animals that resemble or are extinct species. De-extinction research also leads to many developments in the treatment of endangered animals. 

As mentioned above, the extinction of any animal affects every other animal in the vicinity. One of the easiest and most widely proposed ways to de-extinct is to clone the animal found. This is done by creating a new multicellular organism which is in most ways genetically identical to the host organism. This is an asexual form of reporudtion where fertilisation or any inter-gamete conatnct does not occor. The first ever cloning of an extinct animal was done in 2003. The Pyrenean Ibex was cloned at the center of Food technology and Research of Aragon. They used the frozen cells of the skin samples they had found from the Ibexand some domesticated goat egg cells. 

Likewise, on June 10th, 2021 a similar case occurred. Russian scientists in the Arctic Siberian Permafrost found microscopic animals that had been in slumber for a long time. They justified this by saying that in an animal’s natural habitat, some organisms can be “preserved for hundreds to tens of thousands of years.” The radiocardboning of the animal showed that this animal was 24,000 years old. 

The animal in particular found was a multicellular animal called Bdelloid rotifers. They typically live in watery environments and have the ability to survive low temperatures due to their cell shielding mechanisms to protect their organs. They are more commonly known as the wheel animals due to their wheel-like ring of tiny hairs surrounding their mouths. Although they are known to survive and thrive in generally low temperature regions, earlier they had only been able to survive up to 10 years in a frozen state. However, with this revival of animals the scientists of Russia are able to understand this multicellular animal better as well as help develop their characteristics to benefit society. By isolating the organ, characteristic and mechanism and closing it, scientists are able to develop it into medicines, procedures and even learn from it. 

The Rotifers suspend most of their metabolism and accumulate some proteins to help them recover from cryptobiosis or the state of being immobile for very long until conditions improve. They also have mechanisms to repair damned DNA to protect the cells against the harmful moleculare. DNA is the most important element of our body which codes for our proteins and makes each human unique in their own way. 

With the help of DNA we are able to understand what makes each organism special and the scientists need to just create an exact copy of the host organism DNA to create an organism just like it. This process of cloning could be the answer to most animal related problems in the modern world. According to Stas Malavin,  a researcher at the Soil Cryology Laboratory at the Puschkino Scientific Center for Biological Research in Russia, this discovery is proof that such multicellular organisms can live for tens of thousands of years in a slumber. 

This discovery is very important as cloning extinct animals can lead to advancements within many scientific technologies and processes. The more knowledge we possess and the most sources we have, the wider range of help the scientist can provide. With many tries of cloning, the process itself can also improve. This discovery can help to study previously extinct animals and research cures to some diseases relating to the weider species. This knowledge can help us find ways for many species to be prevented from extinction. This would change the way we think about the ecosystem as well as the entire concept of balance.

This 24,000 year old animal has just shown us that if viable DNA is found on the skin, or cell of any animal,it can be copied and brought back to life. This would mean that an animal can be stored for thousands of years in their natural frozen habitat only to be revived and cloned years later. The idea of cloning dinosaurs or other extinct animals has always seemed like the works of a movie. However, with each discovery the idea of an animal truly going extinct is not going to be an option. Science has better plans for our animals…

Psychology In Sports

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Source - https://www.onlinepsychologydegree.info/faq/what-careers-are-in-sports-psychology/

by Aahana Khemani

Psychology is the scientific study of the mind and behavior, according to the American Psychological Association.” Writes Dr. Saul McLeod. “Psychology is a multifaceted discipline and includes many sub-fields of study such areas as human development, sports, health, clinical, social behavior and cognitive processes.” Dr. McLeod continues. The major goals of psychology include describing behaviour, explaining behaviour, creating predictions relating to how we think and act, and last but not least, change and influence behaviour in order to create constructive and lasting changes. As one can conclude from these goals and this procedure, psychology is a very scientific field which also has a connection with logic and presence of mind. Psychology is the art of mind and behaviour, and applies to multiple fields. One of these fields is sports. Psychology plays an immense role in sports. As we know, sports is about determination, passion, effort, and such of the sort. Therefore, psychology relates to not only the physical aspect that goes into sports, but even the mindset and behaviour that is an enormous element of sports. 

“Sport Psychology addresses the interactions between psychology and sport performance, including the psychological aspects of optimal athletic performance, the psychological care and well-being of athletes, coaches, and sport organizations, and the connection between physical and psychological functioning.” Writes Psychology Today. Sports psychology covers a range of topics, some including attentional focus, visualisation and goal setting, motivation and team-building, coping with anxiety, and rehabilitation. For athletic achievers, having a well-rounded and positive mindset around sport psychology can take them a long way. 

How do we know if sports psychology is successful? Apart from case study’s conclusions proving psychological preparation has an impact on athletes performances, successful and renowned athletes such as Michael Jordan cite psychological preparation needing to be successful as being 80% of the game. Additionally, studies have figured that psychology in sport performance contributes around 45 and 48%, but when psychological variables are adjoined, the percentage rises to approximately 79% and 85%. Olympic Beach Volleyball Player Kerri Walsh Jennings says in regards to mental control, “There is something so simple about owning your thoughts and being aware of the fact that my mind is racing, let me bring it back to center—that is a big deal. It’s helped me a lot on my focus and endurance.” Through studies and statistical evidence, through experience and experiential evidence, we can see what a large role psychology has in sports, and how successful it has been previously, in the present, and how it should continue to do so. 

Examining the life of an athlete, and the competition pressure, the supporters pressure, the pressure to do well, is extreme. The stress of nailing their sport correctly, and playing well, is indefinite. However, psychology has contributed in ways unimaginable. Psychology, if explained accurately, could take a footballer to a tennis player, a wrestler to a gymnast. It could and can prevent disasters. Therefore, having psychology to help an athlete understand determination, patience, and such of the sort, is extremely important. So, in conclusion, we know that psychology has a great impact on sports, and athletes. However, it can be extremely handy for everyone, whether you are a student or a teacher, a doctor or an engineer!

Goldilocks Planets

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Source - https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2016-02-22/goldilocks-zones-habitable-zone-astrobiology-exoplanets/6907836

by Arav Barmecha

(This part of the Ascent Summer Program)

Have you heard of Goldilocks’ tale ? 

 At the beginning of the story, Goldilocks enters a house and sees three bowls of porridge. She tastes the first one and jumps back saying it is too hot. She tastes the second one but it is cold as ice. Finally, she tastes the last one and it is just right. Perfect for the Goldilocks. It is the story of 3 choices, whether it is furniture or food.

Now, imagine that the first bowl represents the sun, the second, t Neptune and the last bowl represents our Earth. The universe is an extremely big place, so you would assume it would be easy for humans to find a new planet to expand to — but,here’s a catch! Humans can only survive on a planet with optimal conditions. Humans require food, water, oxygen, and shelter. Humans also need the planet to have a temperature that keeps surface water in a liquid state

. If the planet is too cold then the water will freeze making it solid, if the planet is too hot then the water will evaporate and turn into a gaseous state, a Goldilocks planet has a temperature that is just right. 

What makes a Goldilocks planet different from all the other planets is that these rare planets are not too hot and not too cold for liquid water to exist on the surface. “The only life we know about is our carbon-based life, and water plays a crucial part in our own existence, and so it’s only natural that we direct our attention to planets in locations capable of having liquid water,” Professor John Webb of the University of New South Wales said.  Finding a planet like ours is no easy job but there are people from all over the Earth who are devoting their time and money to find other planets out there. Humans have detected 1780 Goldilocks planets in the entire universe, and 16 in our star’s habitable zone. Once we obtain the technology to travel to and colonize the planets we will make our ascent towards a multitude of planets capable of living.

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