Technology Tuesday: February 20th

Welcome to Technology Tuesday! Every week The Job Shop Blog will bring you our 5 top science and technology news stories from around the web.

This week: SpaceX is aiming to create a satellite based global internet, Hyundai is about to start selling an automated hydrogen car, a new pill that kills the flu in 24 hours, refurbished organs for transplants, and vaccines that combat drug addiction.


SPACEX MAY SEND THEIR FIRST GLOBAL INTERNET SATELLITES INTO SPACE NEXT WEEK

Three years ago, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk unveiled a project that would work to build the world’s first global internet satellite network. If reports and tweets on the matter are correct, the company’s Starlink network will launch its first prototype global internet satellites into orbit on February 17. The Microsat 2a and 2b satellites will reportedly be included as secondary payloads on the company’s next Falcon 9 launch.

SpaceX has not officially confirmed that the Starlink prototypes are on board; only that the launch will include a 1360 kg (3000 lb) radar observation satellite, called Paz, from the Spanish company hisdeSAT.

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HYUNDAI HAS A NEW HYDROGEN POWERED AUTOMATED SUV

When it comes to the future of clean and safe transportation, all bets seem to be on electric autonomous vehicles. These combine two of today’s most advanced technologies — electric motors and self-driving software. While both have seen much improvement, there’s still a lot of room for further development.

Which is why not every carmaker is particularly keen on the regular electric motor to power their next-generation driverless vehicles. One such car manufacturer is South Korea’s Hyundai, which unveiled the Nexo at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

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NEW PILL KILLS THE FLU VIRUS IN 24 HOURS

This year’s flu season is said to the most widespread on record, causing more than 17,000 hospitalizations since October 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Now, a Japanese drugmaker claims to have developed a pill capable of killing of the virus in just one day.

Japanese and American flu patients who took part in the recent trial of the Shionogi & Co. pill are said to have had the virus wiped out from their bodies in about 24 hours. For comparison, the popular Tamiflu medicine produced by the Roche group was found to take three times as long.

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REFURBISHED ORGANS COULD SAVE LIVES

Organ transplantation is a miracle of modern medicine, but it has a pipeline problem: roughly 20 people die every day while waiting for an organ transplant. Scientists at Harvard Medical School think they may be able to solve that problem by sprucing up old organs from pigs and animals, giving the organs and their new owners alike a new lease on life.

Surgeon Harald Ott and his lab have developed a method that strips animal organs of their cells by washing them in a detergent, leaving behind a tissue scaffold that can be seeded with human stem cells from the patient in need. This would prevent a patient’s body from rejecting the organ, and mean that transplantees would not need to spend their lives on anti-rejection drugs. As the cells grow on this scaffold, the lab uses a bioreactor that pumps the organ, keeping it healthy by stimulating it in the same way it would move in the body

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DRUG ADDICTION VACCINES MIGHT BE HERE SOON

In the United States, 115 people die as the result of an opioid drug overdose every day. This statistic, gathered as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) work to understand and combat the current epidemic of opioid drug abuse in America is even more startling when you compare it to figures from the last twenty years or so. In 2016, the number of deaths attributed to an overdose of a drug like heroin or prescription opioid painkillers was five times what it was in 1999.

One of the driving forces behind this epidemic has already been determined: medical professionals over-prescribing opioid painkillers, such as oxycodone, to patients, a practice that is not only completely legal but increasingly common. Many people begin taking the drug legally but become dependent on it. When the prescription runs out and they are no longer able to get it filled, they may try to obtain it illegally. They may be motivated to buy or steal medication to help combat their pain. Some patients end up taking illegal street drugs, like heroin, in an attempt to treat the withdrawals from the opioid medications they were initially prescribed.

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