Technology Tuesday: March 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: Norway is building the city of tomorrow, scientists want to grow new veins to help with dialysis, a startup who wants to kill you to preserve your mind, MIT is working on fusion, and platypus milk could help in the fight against antibacterial resistance.


NORWAY PLANS A SUSTAINABLE “CITY OF THE FUTURE”

Oslo, the capital of Norway, could soon be home to the most future-oriented, sustainable city in the world. Haptic Architects and the Nordic Office of Architecture have just released plans to create a city next to Oslo Airport, known as Oslo Airport City (OAC), that will be the “first energy positive airport city.”

OAC will use only energy created within the city itself, and driverless, electric vehicles will roam its streets. “This is a unique opportunity to design a new city from scratch,” said Tomas Stokke, director of Haptic Architects, to Dezeen. But, what exactly makes this such a sustainable city? Let’s explore:

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GROWING NEW VEINS COULD MAKE LIFE BETTER FOR PEOPLE ON DIALYSIS

The journey awaiting kidney patients in need of a transplant is often long and painful, and can lead to weekly stints undergoing uncomfortable dialysis treatment. A new device, which helps patients grow new veins that make it easier to filter the blood, could mean the world to those who have to endure the procedure every few days for months or even years.

As kidneys fail, they stop cleaning the blood from the impurities that the body normally gets rid of via urine. Although kidney disease can sometimes have few symptoms, it can be fatal, unless doctors intervene and perform the kidneys’ job outside the body, through the process known as dialysis. During dialysis, patients have their blood pulled out, purified and put back in on a regular basis. The tedious procedure keeps them alive as they wait for a transplant, but it has some serious side effects, including damage to the veins

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THIS STARTUP WILL LITERALLY KILL YOU FOR SCIENCE

One new startup promises to kill all of its users. With support from the startup accelerator Y Combinator, Nectome wants to preserve your brain and upload as much of “you” as they can, long after your physical body is gone.  Their website boldly asks: “What if we told you we could back up your mind?”

The main premise behind Nectome is simple, but the execution might be tricky. In theory, the startup will use a specially-designed chemical solution to preserve a body for hundreds of years. They aim to preserve the human brain well enough to keep its memories intact. They operate, however, only on the faith that within this century it will be possible to digitize and download a person’s memories and recreate their consciousness.

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MIT IS TAKING ON FUSION POWER. COULD IT ACTUALLY WORK THIS TIME?

We may be one large step closer to a future driven by fusion power — the elusive, limitless, and zero-carbon energy source that’s even a step-up from renewables. A collaboration between MIT and a new private company, Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS), aims to bring the world’s first fusion power plant online in the next 15 years, using a novel approach.

Fusion powers the sun and other stars. It involves lighter atoms like hydrogen smashing together to form heavier elements, like helium, and releasing massive amounts of energy while doing so. This energy release happens, however, at very, very extreme temperatures — in the range of hundreds of millions of degrees Celsius — which would melt any material it came in contact with.

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OUR LATEST WEAPON IN THE FIGHT AGAINST ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE IS PLATYPUS MILK

The platypus is, frankly, a weirdo. It’s one of the last surviving species of egg-laying mammals. It has venomous flippers. And that furry body combined with the duck bill? Looks like it belongs on evolution’s blooper reel.

And now another strange element of its biology is intriguing scientists: platypus milk contains a one-of-a-kind protein that could help us fight antibiotic resistance.

For nearly 70 years, antibiotics have been our go-to treatment option for a number of conditions, from gonorrhea to pneumonia. The more we’ve used them, the more resistant to antibiotics these bugs have become, resulting in some “superbugs” that don’t respond to several types of antibiotics.

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