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A Virus That Creates Electricity

ANNALEE NEWITZ

A virus called simply M13 has the power (literally) to change the world. A team of scientists at the Berkeley Lab have genetically engineered M13 viruses to emit enough electricity to power a small LED screen. M13 poses no threat to humans — it can only infect bacteria — but it could one day serve humanity by powering  your laptop, or even your city.

The secret of M13 lies in something called the “piezoelectric effect,” which happens when certain materials like crystals (or viruses) emit a small amount of power when squeezed. M13 exhibits this effect, and also has the handy ability to organize itself into tidy, invisible sheets of film. Imagine painting a layer of this film onto the casing for your laptop. Every time you tap the keyboard, these viruses convert the pressure from your fingers into electricity that constantly powers up your battery. Any kind of motion can power up M13, so you could conceivably power your house by jumping up and down on a virus-coated floor, or power your iPod by jiggling it in your pocket.

M13 is a natural power source, but researchers enhanced its output by genetically engineering the virus, adding some negatively-charged amino acids to one end of its tough outer shell. Basically, the GMO version of M13 became a better voltage generator, because it had a negatively charged end and a positively charged end, thus aiding the flow of electricity. Then, they tested it.

According to a release from Berkeley Lab:

They created the conditions for genetically engineered viruses to spontaneously organize into a multilayered film that measures about one square centimeter. This film was then sandwiched between two gold-plated electrodes, which were connected by wires to a liquid-crystal display.

When pressure  is applied to the generator, it produces up to six nanoamperes of current and 400 millivolts of potential. That’s enough current to flash the number “1″ on the display, and about a quarter the voltage of a triple A battery.

Obviously this is a beta version of what’s to come. Berkeley bioscientist Seung-Wuk Lee, who worked on the project, is hopeful that it can pave the way for more research into virus-powered electronics. I think we’re all looking forward the day when we can power our monitors just from slamming our heads onto (M13-covered)  desks while streaming Transformers 2.

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Science & Technology

They have discovered the secret of longevity and it is not a rejection of bad habits

Japanese scientists have examined more than 40,000 cells taken from many older adults over the age of 50.Among these people are seven “extra-long lives” who have passed their 110th anniversary. A unique immune system has been found in their blood, which effectively fights cancer cells and dangerous infections.

Most often, centenarians wonder what they eat and what their lifestyle is. It usually turns out that neither cigarettes nor alcohol prevent them especially from reaching adulthood. Also, longevity is not affected by special diets.

Now, scientists are learning that the key to longevity is not a lifestyle, but the presence of a special immune system. Seven Japanese superlongs have been found in the blood of more than ordinary whites T cells or CD4 cells that “hunt” viruses and cancer cells.

Each has a significant amount of these cells. These are the so-called T-helper or T-lymphocyte. They help other white blood cells fight infections.

But firstly, in the blood of these perennials are found much more than the norm of these T-cells and secondly, they have been so “toxic” that, in addition to infections, they aim to find and destroy potential cancer cells.

Such an immune system has helped these centenarians to live for over a hundred years without any problems. These people do not even have heart diseases.

This important study was conducted by specialists at the RIKEN Center for Integrative Medicine in Japan, Keio University (Keio University).

The lead scientist of the study – Dr. Kosuke Hashimoto says:

“Long-lived people usually spend their entire lives in good health. Their strong immune system protects them perfectly against tumors and infections. “

It seems that having such an immune system in the body is an innate genetic trait that gives these people a great advantage.

Some of the oldest people on the planet, such as Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment and American Richard Overton, have smoked and abused alcohol throughout their lives that has not affected their health.

Jeanne Kalman died in 1997, at the age of 122. You can find her pictures on the internet during her 117th birthday celebration. They are seen smoking as a steam engine and in good health. In addition, Kalman adored wine, olive oil and chocolate, considering these habits as key to her longevity.

Jeanne Kalman

Richard Overton died at the age of 112.

Richard Overton

Other centenarians say the key to sound health is through special diets, exercise, regular work, regular sex, avoiding stress, praying, observing moral principles, bathing frequently in hot tubs and even eating pig feet. In essence, all this turns out to be self-belief.

Pierre Carnancy, Deputy Director of the RIKEN Center says:

“We believe that the type of cells we find is a true guarantee of many years of life and good health, protecting organs from cancer and other diseases.”

That study is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

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Richard Dawkins: “Not accepting the theory of evolution is crazy!”

The great ethologist, evolutionary biologist and popularizer of modern science, Richard Dawkins, in 2012, met with Archbishop Rowan Williams on one of the airwaves, who convinced and continues to convince everyone around that life on Earth appeared by the will of God.

Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins carefully listened to the archbishop’s fantasies and conjectures, and then told his interlocutor about the theory of evolution and told the details of the origin of life on Earth. Airtime was limited, so Dawkins presented the information in a compressed form, but that was enough.

“I am inspired by the elegance of your explanation. Your arguments are beautiful and I can even agree with some of the above. However, the Universe, creating a person, was guided by clear principles and this can speak of a certain higher mind, ”said Rowan Williams.

“I can’t understand why believers do not want to see beauty in the fact that life could have been born from scratch and absolutely by accident. Isn’t that a stunning and not a great idea? Why does everything need to be distorted? Not accepting the theory of evolution is crazy, ”Dawkins responded.

The discussion between the archbishop and the scholar lasted more than an hour and at the end of the dialogue Dawkins admitted that on a 7-point scale he considers himself an atheist at 6.9. In other words, Richard Dawkins will be ready to believe in God if believers provide irrefutable evidence.

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Fossil tooth sheds light on world’s largest ape

Image Credit: The Jungle Book – Mowgli And King Louie ©2015 Disney

That is one enormous ape. 

Standing up to three meters tall, Gigantopithecus was the largest ape to ever walk the face of the Earth.

More than twice the size of today’s great apes, this enormous primate was a veritable King Kong – a gargantuan hulking beast that would have put even the legendary Bigfoot to shame.

The species lived across parts of what is now Southern Asia and roamed the planet from around nine million years ago until its disappearance somewhere around 100,000 years ago.

Now scientists have succeeded in learning more about this prehistoric giant thanks to the discovery of a two million-year-old fossil tooth in a cave in China.

Incredibly, they were able to obtain skeletal protein samples from the tooth despite its extreme age.

It turns out that Gigantopithecus was actually related to today’s orangutans.

“It would have been a distant cousin (of orangutans), in the sense that its closest living relatives are orangutans, compared to other living great apes such as gorillas or chimpanzees or us,” said Dr Frido Welker from the University of Copenhagen.

It is hoped that tooth protein analysis could help scientists learn more from other fossils as well.

“This study suggests that ancient proteins might be a suitable molecule surviving across most of recent human evolution even for areas like Africa or Asia and we could thereby in the future study our own evolution as a species over a very long time span,” said Dr Welker.

Source: BBC News

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