Diamond City Out; Diamond Planet In!

If you’re one of those dreaming to have a pair diamond earring or perhaps a a diamond studded necklace well wish more as these things would only be a very small part of the recently discovered diamond planet. You’re reading it right, it’s not a diamond house nor a diamond city but a diamond planet. Imagine that it is five times as big as earth and it is made of diamonds.

Time will come that mankind would be able to step on it. At least for now, it’s existence has been proven. A group of astronomers led by Matthew Bailes of the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne discovered a binary pulsar named PSR J1719-1438 at about 4,000 light years away from the constellation Serpens. It is a binary pulsar which means it has companion orbiting in its axis. There were already at least 22 pulsars discovered but it is the first one having companion that has a mass. The actually bigger than the mass of the gaseous Jupiter. It is primarily composed of Carbon in which we can also say Diamond.

It orbits at a distance of 600,000 km, making years on it just two hours long. This recent discovery is just giving our astronomers another reason to explore the outer space even more.

Tallest Solar Tower to Rise in Arizona

In the never-ending quest to find and create more energy to supply the ever increasing demands for sustainable and renewable power, more and more companies are tapping into the unlimited resources of the sun.

There is just no possible way to drain its clean, free and readily available supply of light and heat regardless of how many solar panels collect it.

And so, adding to the growing solar projects being pursued is an Australian company with plans to build its solar tower in Arizona. And it is massive.

At 2,600 feet, it will prove to be the biggest solar energy collector to date once built. To stand just below the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, this structure will make it as the second tallest building the world and twice as tall as the Empire Stage building.

According to company officials of EnviroMission, the project owner, not only will it harness solar power but it will do so with no manpower and very little maintenance for 80 years. It is also projected to generate 200 megawatts of power; enough to provide for 150,000 homes.

“Malleable” Biomaterial Suitable for Soft Facial Tissue Replacements

There is no shortage of materials that can reliably be shaped and molded to replace hard components like bone when doing reconstructive surgery. But suitable replacement for soft tissues, particularly for facial use, is lacking. Those that are available leave much to be desired and are particularly problematic when used for correcting bigger deformities.

But researchers at John Hopkins University developed an injectable biomaterial that is transplantable. This new material can help in rebuilding the usually hard to fix parts. It is half-synthetic and half-biological and is straight-forward to administer, requiring no surgery. It can be shaped after being injected then set in place using green light.

The material is a blend of hyaluronic acid – a biological component already used for tissue replacement – and polyethylene glycol, the synthetic component. It can be plied after injection allowing doctors to shape it to proper form before setting it using green LED light of a specific wavelength.

A Robot Impervious to Landmines

A new remote-controlled robot designed to clear landmines can withstand as much as 17 lbs. of explosives without sustaining any damage.

Made of hardened steel, the Digger DTR D3 has a rotating tungsten hammer up front that digs about a foot into the ground and pulverizes things upon contact; including landmines, but not before detonating them.

The D3 is operated from a safe distance. It features a “V” shaped hull to protect it from damage while reinforced grates cover the air-intakes which might otherwise be vulnerable to shrapnel. It can effectively clear land of all mines while also removing any and all forms of obstructions.

It is not immune to breaking down, however. But the manufacturer has taken great lengths to make the Digger easily repairable. The engine and other internal parts are relatively easy to access. It also provides plans to enable the user to build spare parts themselves. This is quite essential in far locations; which is where you would expect landmines to be in the first place.

Graphene, ‘Super Paper’ is Stronger Than Steel

What is two times harder, six times lighter, ten times stronger than steel and totally recyclable? Graphene, that’s what. These advantages produce a next-generation material that can greatly improve aviation, automotive and other heavy industries by decreasing fuel requirements, and therefore, pollution.

The University of Technology in Sydney, Australia revealed a new type of graphene nano paper. To make it, t he process involves milling and purifying raw graphite in a chemical bath. This step reshapes its molecular structure that makes it able to be pressed.

The resulting sheet has “excellent thermal, electrical and mechanical properties – including excellent hardness and flexibility,” the researcher said.

For years, car and plane makers have taken advantaged of modern aluminum processing technology to make their vehicles lighter. Incorporating graphene materials into these products would only result in much lighter machines.

There is much supply of this raw material in Australia and the researchers appreciate the increase in demand of graphite from the industry.

Heart Monitoring… There’s an App For That

A new system under development holds a lot of promise in the area of monitoring our heart. The Human++ system is a wireless body area network (BAN) that creates a link between our body and Android smartphones. The current version is a dongle with a necklace. The lace is actually a low-powered ECG sensor that reads and interprets electrocardiogram readings and then communicates it to the dongle. The dongle, on the other hand is connected your Android phone via its microSD slot. This enables the system to monitor and track your body, even in real-time. It can even inform your doctor if you having a heart attack through Wi-Fi or 3G.

It is currently limited to Android. Smartphones that have no microSD slot can not interface with the system. Although using a Bluetooth connection is a possibility, systems such as these are required to operate with low power requirements. Bluetooth requires far more power than RF.

IMEC, the Dutch research firm that develops the device received positive reactions when it introduced it to the Wireless Health Conference in San Diego.

Safe Drinking Water from Diesel Exhaust

A new condensation process being developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory can recover water from burning diesel fuel. The process is efficient enough that it can produce up to 85% of water per unit of diesel while removing contamination and impurities making the water suitable for human consumption. The approach could also be adapted for other uses like capturing vapor from power plant exhaust.

Water that is produced from condensation and used fuel is nothing new. Earlier approaches where rejected by the military for being costly and impractical. Back then, it required cooling the exhaust to enable the water to condense. That approach required extra equipment that is heavy. This new system, however, can take water molecules even while in its vapor phase, doing away with the earlier requirement and other costs and inconveniences.

This improvement is achieved by having a series of ceramic tubes and running the diesel exhaust through it. These tubes have microscopic pores that suck water vapor, channeling them to the other side. Using this capillary action, the membrane is able to condense the water from the exhaust.

Nuclear Accident? Algae Might Help

Recent scientific discovery could lead to efficient and effective clean up of nuclear accidents and radioactive spills like that of the Fukushima nuclear facility in Japan. It is known that algae can secrete drugs and biofuels but the research at Northwestern University has identified that the common algae, closterioum moniliferum, can turn strontium into crystals. This could help in removing the hazardous strontium-90 isotope from an accident site.

What makes strontium-90 dangerous is the fact that its atomic properties are like that of calcium. Remember that calcium can be in our blood, bones and even bone marrow. Radioactive strontium-90 can end up in those same places. However, in radioactive waste, there is far more calcium than there is strontium – billions more. Therefore, rather than processing everything, there is a need to identify (or isolate) the strontium from calcium to accelerate cleanup operations.

This is where the algae can help. What closterioum moniliferum really want is barium. The good thing is that strontium’s size and properties are somewhere midway that of barium and calcium. This causes the algae to process strontium while ignoring calcium. And since algae are easy to culture, they can be produced and spread on a nuclear accident site and will start crystallizing strontium within minutes of propagation.

Paralyzed Man Started To Move After Implant to His Spine

After four years of being paralyzed, Rob Summers, 25, finally gained the freedom to move after a successful implant operation of a group of doctors in Louisville, Kentucky.

Summers encountered a car accident in 2006 leading to his paralysis from chest all the way down to his feet. After three years of physical theraphy, his condition had not improved. However, the doctors gave him hope when he suddenly stood within days after the successful implant of an electrical stimulator onto the lining of his spinal cord.

Summers was greatly relieved upon achieving the freedom to move saying:

“It was the most incredible feeling. After not being able to move for four years, I thought things could finally change. This procedure has completely changed my life. For someone who for four years was unable to even move a toe, to have the freedom and ability to stand on my own is the most amazing feeling. My physique and muscle tone has improved greatly, so much that most people don’t even believe I am paralyzed.”

Dr. Susana Harkema, the Head of Research at the Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center, explained how the implant made Summers move.

“The stimulator sends a general signal to the spinal cord to walk or stand. That tells us we can access the circuitry of the nervous system, which opens up a whole new avenue for us to address paralysis.”

Photo Credit: E Canada Now

Leprosy Linked to Armadillos According to Study

A new study published by the New England Journal of Medicine points to Armadillo as the likely culprit behind the sudden increase of the number of leprosy cases in South America.

Leprosy, caused by Mycobacterium leprae, is characterized by disfiguring skin lesions and peripheral nerve damage. The disease has been around since Biblical times, and was likely brought to North America by European settlers. People with leprosy were once shunned, and often forced to live in “leper colonies.”

According to the study conducted, Richard Truman, a microbiologist at the Na­tional Hansen’s Dis­ease Pro­gram and Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, and his colleagues compared bacterial samples from 50 patients in Louisiana and from 33 infected wild armadillos from five southern states. A highly specific strain of the bacterium showed up in 28 of the 33 animals and in 22 of 29 patients who had never lived outside the United States and Mexico. Interviews with 15 of the leprosy patients further revealed that eight had had direct contact with armadillos.

Truman says there was no leprosy in the New World until European settlers arrived. Somehow armadillos contracted the disease, and now about 15 percent of armadillos carry it. They are ideal hosts, because M. leprae likes their low, 89-degree body temperature. It can’t thrive at a human’s core temperature, which is why it only attacks our cooler extremities.

Truman continues that the more likely path to infection of leprosy is by noshing on armadillo. “People become infected because of direct contact with raw armadillo flesh that has been butchered in some way or another,” he says.

Photo Credit: MSNBC