A Super-Earth orbiting Dwarf Ross 508: Exoplanet Exploration

Astronomers work ceaselessly to find out clues that might point out to the existence of extra-terrestrial life some where in outer space. The mere idea that we might not be alone is enough motivation to work constantly in this hunt. Lately, there has been an increase in the number of research probing into exoplanets. In one such research, astronomers have discovered a super-Earth like planet near the habitable zone of a red dwarf star.  It is about 37 light-years from the Earth. This also happens to be the first such…

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Book Review: Immune by Philipp Dettmer

As the name suggests, Immune: A Journey into the Mysterious System that Keeps You Alive written by Kurzgesagt founder, Philipp Dettmer talks about the inner workings of the human immune system. A world which totally relies on pathways and chemical signals. And where each and every tiny molecule has a very well-defined role. Dettmer has explained scientific concepts related to human immune system in the most interesting and comprehensible manner. His description of various cellular components metaphors and similes makes it straight-forward to understand and easy to visualize, for instance,…

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Crab Inspired all weather Vision System: Biomimicry

To improve the imaging component in robotics, researchers have been trying to create various types of highly performing cameras, sensors and artificial vision systems.      Most of the vision systems are bio-inspired that is, they have been emulated from the systems and elements of nature including humans, animals, insects and fish. These systems, however, have their own restrictions because they operate in limited environment respectively. For instance, majority of (bio-inspired) existing sensors and cameras works either one of the following scenarios: on the ground like biomimetic eye with a hemispherical…

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Book Review: The Biology of Belief by Dr. Bruce Lipton

The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter & Miracles by Dr. Bruce Lipton came around the time when epigenetics was peeking over the horizon. The book talks about an individual’s belief system. As per which, thoughts, either positive or negative, have power to change our mental state, and hence our bodies and physical well-being. Understanding in physics graduated steadily. From Newtonian classical physics to Einstein’s theories of relativity followed by quantum mechanics, the physics of sub-atomic particles. According to Dr. Bruce, similar transition was missing in Biology.…

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Periodic Pattern of Fast Radio Bursts Detected from Another Galaxy: Mysterious Space Signals

Astronomers at MIT and Canada have traced a periodic radio signal coming from a distant galaxy. The signal is quite intense and hence, fall under the category of fast radio burst a.k.a FRB. Usually, FRB lasts for about a few milliseconds, however, the newly discovered signal has continued for three seconds. During this time frame, the astronomers also traced bursts of radio waves that reiterated every 0.2 seconds in a distinct periodic pattern. The rhythming pattern of the radio waves resembled a beating heart.

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Interview: Dr Philipp Simons, Materials Scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Dr. Philipp Simons recently hit headlines with his new paper on miniature glucose fuel cells for implantable devices. According to him, human body is saturated with glucose hence, harvesting this energy to power implantable devices is an achievable feat. Dr. Jennifer L.M. Rupp from Technical University Munich in Germany, also Dr. Simons’ thesis supervisor, postulated that battery takes up 90% of an implant’s volume. Interestingly, the new fuel cell will mask the implant and power it with no volumetric footprint. Their innovative approach to solve medical problem gave me an…

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Shapeshifting Nanobots to Brush and Floss Teeth: Toothbrushing Microbots

Toothbrush, or the heads per say, have not much evolved since ages, from rectangular they have only graduated to diamond shaped geometry. I really doubt how far does the new shape has been able to reach the teeth in the back. In the dental hygiene sequence floss, brush and rinse go hand in hand. And each step is an important and at times, cumbersome task especially for people with disabilities. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have put in an effort to combine these three steps in one with the…

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The Ear-EEG Measure How Astronauts Sleep: Sleep in Orbit

Sleep is the most vital process for overall mental development. Irrespective of age, sleep deprivation leads not only to mood fluctuations the next day but it also affects the overall productivity including decision-making skills, creativity and judgment.  Astronauts who spend quite some time in zero gravity face issues while maintaining normal sleep patterns. Even an artificial day-night cycle does not help them in keeping up with a natural circadian rhythm.  Therefore, to get more understanding in the brain’s electrical activity and map sleep patterns, researchers at Aarhus University have developed…

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Book Review: The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen is a spy historical fiction of an unnamed half-Vietnamese, half-French undercover communist agent during the South Vietnamese Government in 1975. The content of the book is primarily a confession per say, of course in first person, of an anonymous spy who is being held as a prisoner. Historically, by the end of April 1975, the North Vietnamese had enveloped Saigon for a complete takeover. The coup not only forced the South Vietnamese to surrender but the US too was forced to abandon its embassy…

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Book Review: The Double Helix by James D. Watson

The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA is an autobiographical version of James D. Watson in the race for DNA. The story of the discovery of the structure of DNA is quite a read but I feel really sorry for Rosalind Franklin. Without her contribution, the men (James Watson, Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins) wouldn’t have received the Nobel Prize. Defaming her and other women under the hood of casual misogyny in almost entirety of the book is deeply unsettling. And by shedding…

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Compact Cas7-11 Enzyme for RNA Editing: CRISPR-Cas System

The CRISPR CAS9 system famously known as genetic scissors was discovered by Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna in 2012. And since then, the new tool has been studied extensively across global academia. Initial studies of the genome editing tool altered only the DNA. However, lately the CAS system is also studied for editing RNA. What is CRISPR-CAS system? CRISPR-CAS system is an adaptive immune system of bacteria, which protects it from invaders. Also, it defends the bacterial host from renewed infection as it memorizes previous infections. DNA has the fingerprint.…

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Interview: Dr Federico Paolucci, Research Scientist at Superconducting Quantum Electronics Lab, Italy

Dr Federico Paolucci is a Research Scientist at Superconducting Quantum Electronics Lab (SQEL) nested in Pisa, Italy. He has co-authored papers like Electrostatic field-driven supercurrent suppression in ionic-gated metallic Josephson nano transistors, Bipolar Thermoelectric Josephson Engine and Thermal superconducting quantum interference proximity transistor to name a few. His recent research involves tuning the thermal properties of a superconductor by controlling its spectral characteristics. And this made me intrigued to get in touch with him and requested him to squeeze-in some time from his busy schedule for an interview. Nothing excites…

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Book Review: A Crack in Creation by Jennifer A Doudna and Samuel H Sternberg

A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution is a powerful book on advances in gene editing research and history by Jennifer A. Doudna and Samuel H. Sternberg. It puts forward the timeline of a genome-editing tool known as CRISPR, or “Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats.” The book starts with examples where natural changes in the genome lead to randomly cure patients of genetic diseases. 2013 was the year of medical mystery at the National Institutes of Health, when the scientists were dealing with…

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New Microbot Scuttle like a Crab: Biomimicry

Engineers at Northwestern University have developed nano-scale robots that scuttle like small peekytoe crab. The tiny crab-bots measure around half-millimeter wide. Like the decapod crustaceans, the bot can bend, twist, crawl, walk, turn and even jump. Not only the nano crab like devices, engineers have also created same sized robotic inchworms, crickets and beetles. Researchers envision that their technology will explore practical tasks inside tightly confined spaces.

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