Quark Fusion, Spinach Hearts, and Back to the Moon

Phil and Stephen reflect on recent news items that give a hint as to how amazing the future is going to be.

 

“Quark Fusion” Produces Eight Times More Energy Than Nuclear Fusion

Researchers, building on findings from work involving the Large Hadron Collider, have found a theoretical new form of energy. This new, renewable option is more powerful than nuclear by fusing quarks into baryons.

However, their fears that this quark fusion could be weaponized soon fizzled out as they realized in subsequent experiments that quarks exist only for about one picosecond. That’s too short a time to create a chain reaction to set off more baryons, as the quarks quickly decay into less volatile, lighter quarks.

 

A robot can print this $32,000 house in as little as 8 hours — take a look inside

A new Ukrainian homebuilding startup called PassivDom uses a 3D printing robot that can print parts for tiny houses. The machine can print the walls, roof, and floor of PassivDom’s 380-square-foot model in about eight hours. The windows, doors, plumbing, and electrical systems are then added by a human worker.

When complete, the homes are autonomous and mobile, meaning they don’t need to connect to external electrical and plumbing systems. Solar energy is stored in a battery connected to the houses, and water is collected and filtered from humidity in the air (or you can pour water into the system yourself). The houses also feature an independent sewage system.

 

A Dying Boy Gets a New, Gene-Corrected Skin

In June 2015, Hassan was admitted to the burn unit of a children’s hospital in Bochum, Germany. By that time, around 60 percent of his epidermis—the top layer of his skin—was gone. His back, flanks, and limbs had become a continuous landscape of open wounds, red and raw. Much of it was badly infected. The pain was excruciating. “Why do I have to live this life?” he asked his father.

They isolated stem cells, genetically modified them, and created their gene-corrected skin grafts. In October and November, they transplanted these onto Hassan, replacing around 80 percent of his old skin.

It worked. In February 2016, Hassan was discharged from the hospital. In March, he was back in school.

Spinach Leaf Transformed Into Beating Human Heart Tissue

Scientists have found a way to use spinach to build working human heart muscle, potentially solving a long-standing problem in efforts to repair damaged organs.

Their study, published this month by the journal Biomaterials, offers a new way to grow a vascular system, which has been a roadblock for tissue engineering.

 

NASA Orion Spacecraft That Will Bring Humans to Mars Will Undergo Moon Test Mission in 2019

NASA is planning to take humans back to the Moon—something that has not been done since 1972. The new Orion spacecraft was built to explore the moon, Mars and beyond, but before taking humans on these exploratory missions, the new ship needs to be tested. NASA has now officially scheduled the date for Orion’s first human-less trip around the moon and back for 2019, a feat that will take humankind one giant leap closer (to quote a famous moon walker) to our mission to Mars.

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