Scientists discover a huge new human organ hiding in plain sight

March 28, 2018 by  
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Just when you thought we knew all there was to know about the human body, researchers revealed that they discovered an entirely new human organ.  Called the interstitium, it consists of a series of fluid-filled, shock-absorbing compartments that shield body tissues. The interstitium was previously thought to be dense layers of connective tissue, but it turns out that it is actually one of the largest organs in the human body  –  and understanding it better may offer clues to understanding how cancer spreads. Dr. David Carr-Locke and Dr. Petros Benias identified it as an organ while scanning a patient’s bile duct for signs of cancer. The doctors collaborated with New York University pathologist Dr. Neil Theise to further explore the structure and function of the newly identified organ. In a study published in the  journal  Scientific Reports , researchers note that previous research had failed to note the presence of the interstitium because traditional methods for the observation of body tissues involved the draining of fluid. “This fixation artifact of collapse has made a fluid-filled tissue type throughout the body appear solid in biopsy slides for decades, and our results correct for this to expand the anatomy of most tissues,” Dr. Theise told the Independent . Related: Changing the price of certain foods could save thousands of lives each year Researchers noted that the interstitium drains its fluids into the lymphatic system, which affects and regulates the body’s immune response. This means that cancer cells could potentially be released by the interstitium as it transports fluid throughout the body. If properly understood, this new organ could prove to be key in preventing the spread of cancer . “This finding has potential to drive dramatic advances in medicine , including the possibility that the direct sampling of interstitial fluid may become a powerful diagnostic tool,” said Dr. Theise. Via the Independent Images via  and  Jill Gregory/Mount Sinai Health System  and Deposit Photos

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Scientists discover a huge new human organ hiding in plain sight

The cost of high-efficiency solar panels fell 37% in 2017

February 22, 2018 by  
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In 2017, the price for high-efficiency solar panels dropped from 72¢/W to 45¢/W, representing a 37 percent decline in cost. The falling price point is driven by several factors, including American consumer demand for higher solar efficiency to compensate for the higher-than-average energy consumption of the average American, as well as Chinese state investment in high-efficiency solar panel production. The shift is also a result of technological change as poly crystalline solar panels switch to mono crystalline, which are at least 10 percent more efficient while only 6 percent more expensive. Meanwhile, the price continues to drop. The primary difference between mono and poly solar panels is the structure by which silicon is shaped and molded into the panel. In mono crystalline solar panels, silicon is formed into bars, then cut into wafers, whereas poly crystalline solar panels are melted together to form wafers. The process to create mono solar panels was invented in 1918. As a result, the earliest solar panels were of the mono crystalline design. However, during an oil crisis-induced burst of solar energy research in the 1970s, an Exxon researcher discovered that poly panels could be manufactured more cheaply. Related: All-female high school team invents solar-powered tent for homeless As we are seeing in the greater efficiency and steady decline in cost for mono panels as of late, the cheap manufacturing of poly had its own hidden costs. As 2018 rolls along, some analysts are predicting that this may be the year in which mono crystalline solar panels make up the majority of solar panels manufactured worldwide. The rapidly declining cost of solar energy , even in the face of resistance by the United States government , demonstrates the possibility that a rapid transition to renewable energy may not be as far-fetched as current reality may make it seem. Via Electrek Images via Depositphotos and EIA

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The cost of high-efficiency solar panels fell 37% in 2017

The Seychelles creates debt-for-conservation deal with Leonardo DiCaprio

February 22, 2018 by  
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The Seychelles, an island nation in East Africa, recently announced the creation of two new Marine Protected Areas roughly as big as Great Britain. It’s part of what The Telegraph called a debt-for- nature swap: the island nation gets a $20 million debt relief plan backed by investors (including the foundation of our favorite eco hero Leonardo DiCaprio ), and in return it will place controls on fishing and tourism industries. In a debt-for- conservation deal designed by The Nature Conservancy , the Seychelles will protect areas covering 81,000 square miles. The move is not without controversy: fishing is limited in areas commercial fishermen and tour operators for years; in some places, like the Aldabra region, people won’t be allowed to fish at all. Tourism has been successful in the Seychelles in recent years, but The Telegraph said record numbers of visitors have taken their toll on the islands; commercial fishing has increased to meet demand. Biodiversity has eroded in the wake of two recent coral bleaching events. The Telegraph said debt restructuring will essentially send Seychelles repayments into a trust set to invest in plans to foster a sustainable blue economy. Related: Leonardo DiCaprio launches a new fund to save the lions Nature Conservancy said the Seychelles are among the nations most vulnerable to climate change because of their dependence on marine resources. They said the Marine Protected Areas will help the nation better prepare for the impacts of sea level rise , warming waters, and ocean acidification . “Without these Marine Protected Areas, activities like oil and gas exploration, deep-sea mining, dredging, and controversial fishing techniques could take place in one of the planet’s most biodiverse oceans with little or no restriction or direction,” the organization said. Today, Seychelles announced two new marine protected areas that equal the size of Great Britain. Join me and @nature_org in congratulating all those who made it happen. https://t.co/OygRCaKY37 — Leonardo DiCaprio (@LeoDiCaprio) February 21, 2018 DiCaprio tweeted the news, along with a link to a Nature Conservancy page where those in support can sign a letter congratulating the citizens of Seychelles. DiCaprio said, “This effort will help the people of Seychelles protect their ocean for future generations, and will serve as a model for future marine conservation projects worldwide. These protections mean that all species living in these waters or migrating through them are now far better shielded from overfishing , pollution, and climate change.” + Nature Conservancy + Congratulate the citizens of Seychelles Via The Telegraph Images via IIP Photo Archive on Flickr , Depositphotos , and Pixabay

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The ‘big push’ transforming the world’s energy systems

January 23, 2018 by  
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Why the price of renewable energy dropped far faster than even the optimists predicted.

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The ‘big push’ transforming the world’s energy systems

The electric Vespa scooter of your dreams is coming in 2018

November 8, 2017 by  
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Environmentally-conscious commuters, rejoice ! Vespa’s first electric scooter will hit the market next year, and it will have a range of about 62 miles. The good news was announced at the Milan Motorcycle Show by parent company Piaggio. Though the price of the Vespa Elettrica has not yet been revealed, an eager fan base can’t wait to get their hands on the chic electric two-wheeler. Vespa’s first electric scooter is as high-tech as it gets. A 4.3-inch TFT color display sits between the handlebars, displaying information on speed, range, and charge level. When the scooter is connected to the Vespa Elettrica app, messages and phone calls can also be received. Vespa is currently developing a special helmet that is equipped with a built-in Bluetooth speaker and microphone for just this purpose. The app can also be used on a smart phone to keep track of diagnostic information and locate the vehicle on a map. According to Piaggio, the Elletrica will have “superior performance” to a 50cc scooter – although its range is about three times less than the 174-mile range of the 50cc Vespa Primavera . Piaggio says that the new Vespa Elettrica is “perfect for city environments.” The electric scooter charges in four hours from a normal wall outlet, and Vespa Elettrica owners can expect 10 years (or approximately 50,000 to 70,000 km) of use from the scooter . Piaggio is also developing a hybrid version of the Elettrica that has a gas-powered generator . The Elettrica X will have a range of approximately 124 miles. + Vespa Via The Verge Images via Vespa

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Japanese mutant chickens are laying eggs with cancer-fighting drugs

October 9, 2017 by  
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Most people eat chicken eggs for their high protein content and healthy fats – but in the future eggs could ward off diseases, such as cancer and hepatitis. That’s because researchers at Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) have genetically engineered chickens to lay eggs that contain drugs capable of boosting the immune system. The controversial technique was developed to make pharmaceutical drugs more affordable and, as a result, more accessible. The researchers used gene editing technology to make chickens produce “interferon beta.” This protein is a “powerful tool” for treating skin cancer and hepatitis, reports Phys.org . The team produced cells that were used to fertilize eggs and breed hens that inherited the genes. A few rounds of cross-breeding yielded chickens capable of laying eggs containing the disease-fighting drugs. As soon as next year, a joint research company will sell the drug to pharmaceutical companies so they can perform research on it at a reduced cost. “This is a result that we hope leads to the development of cheap drugs,” said Professor Hironobu Hojo, from Osaka . “In the future, it will be necessary to closely examine the characteristics of the agents contained in the eggs and determine their safety as pharmaceutical products.” If the scientists are able to safely produce interferon beta, the price of the price of the drug (currently up to $888 for a few micrograms) is expected to fall significantly. According to The Japan News , the eventual goal is to lower the cost of the drug to 10 percent of its current price. Related: Scientists develop tiny robots that drill into cancer cells to kill them At present, three females are presently laying eggs every one or two days. It will be a while before the eggs are on the market, as Japan has strict regulation concerning the “introduction of new and foreign pharmaceutical products,” reports Phys.org . Sometimes, screening processes take years to complete. Considering the long-term effects of consuming genetically-modified foods are relatively unknown, extensive testing will be needed. Via Phys , The Japan News Images via Pixabay , Cosmo Bio Co.

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Airbus’ flying electric taxi is on track to soar next year

October 9, 2017 by  
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Vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) vehicles are really taking off, and Airbus is set to launch a VTOL taxi by next year. The multi-passenger CityAirbus is powered by electric motors – and it’s designed to one day operate autonomously . The CityAirbus could allow commuters to escape traffic by turning to an affordable, environmentally friendly new mode of travel . Airbus announced they just finished their first full-scale testing for the CityAirbus’ propulsion system, describing the testing phase as successful. This means they’re on track for their first flight, scheduled for the end of next year. Related: Airbus and Italdesign unveil modular urban land and air transport system CityAirbus chief engineer Marius Bebesel said in a statement, “We now have a better understanding of the performance of CityAirbus’ innovative electric propulsion system, which we will continue to mature through rigorous testing while beginning the assembly of the full-scale CityAirbus flight demonstrator.” The CityAirbus boasts what Airbus describes as a four-ducted propeller configuration, which boosts safety and helps yield a low acoustic footprint. 100 kilowatt electric Siemens motors and four batteries help the CityAirbus get from point A to point B. As many as four people will be able to ride in a CityAirbus, which will cruise at a speed of 120 kilometers per hour, or around 75 miles per hour, along fixed routes. In the beginning a pilot will fly the VTOL, but Airbus plans for the vehicle to one day pilot itself. Airbus said there are benefits to adding a third dimension of travel to urban transportation , such as opening up accessibility for underserved or remote areas of a city . Self-piloted vehicles in particular can operate around three times faster than a typical road vehicle, and are energy efficient , running off electricity. Airbus said their VTOL method of travel will be quick and affordable. Via Airbus Images via Airbus ( 1 , 2 )

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Airbus’ flying electric taxi is on track to soar next year

Ole Scheeren’s modular office building looks like a giant Jenga tower

October 6, 2017 by  
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Architect Ole Scheeren unveiled images of his first project in Europe- a residential tower that will offer panoramic views of Frankfurt’s skyline. The designer will overhaul an entire 1970s office block to create 200 living units on the banks of the River Main. The modular apartments will be inserted into the framework of the building, with some recessed and others cantilevering out into space. The Riverpark Tower will be developed in cooperation with GEG, one of Germany ’s most prestigious real estate investment platforms. It will house 220 units on 23 floors, ranging in size from small apartment to four-room suites. Related: Thailand’s tallest building opens with new green spaces for Bangkok “This project is about the positive reinterpretation of an existing structure,” said the architect. “It’s quite a serious intervention, prompted by necessity not ambition,” he added. Modular , glass-fronted units will be inserted into the existing, free-spanning structural framework. They will cantilever out at some points, introducing an element of irregularity to the silhouette. New loft apartments will occupy the space at the four corners of the building which will be cut away at the top. + Buro Ole Scheeren Via Dezeen

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Ole Scheeren’s modular office building looks like a giant Jenga tower

Dubai to expand massive solar park to include world’s tallest solar tower

September 19, 2017 by  
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There are 2.3 million photovoltaic panels at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park near Dubai . And now the massive solar farm is about to get a 700 megawatt (MW) extension, which will include the addition of an 853-foot solar tower , the world’s tallest. The first phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park became operational in 2013 with 13 MW. It now has a capacity of 200 MW, after the second phase was launched in March this year. But the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) has big plans for the solar park : by 2020, they plan to increase capacity to 1,000 MW, with the aim to increase that number to 5,000 MW by 2030. The solar park is the world’s biggest single-site concentrated solar power (CSP) project. Related: Phase 3 of world’s largest solar park slated to begin this month DEWA recently awarded the 14.2 billion AED fourth phase of the solar park to a consortium including ACWA Power in Saudi Arabia and Shanghai Electric in China. They won the contract with a bid of 7.3 US cents per kilowatt-hour. DEWA CEO HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer said in a statement, “Our focus on renewable energy generation has led to a drop in prices worldwide and has lowered the price of solar power bids in Europe and the Middle East. This was evident today when we received the lowest CSP project cost in the world.” CSP has been more expensive than traditional solar power in the past, which is one of its downsides. But CSP projects also have the ability to store some of the power as heat for later use. In 2030, the solar park could cover 83 square miles, and slash carbon emissions by 6.5 million metric tons a year. Via New Atlas and Business Wire Images via AETOS Wire and Dubai Electricity and Water Authority – DEWA Facebook

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Winning Mexloop Hyperloop design could connect 42M people in new megalopolis

September 15, 2017 by  
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Traveling between Mexico City and Guadalajara takes over six hours by car today – but imagine making that trip in under 45 minutes. It could be possible in the future with a new Hyperloop system proposed by Mexloop , a Mexican consortium which includes names like Arup and Fernando Romero Enterprise , co-designers of Mexico City’s New International Airport. Their suggested Hyperloop network is a winner of the Hyperloop One Global Challenge. Mexloop’s Hyperloop network could connect four major metropolises in Central Mexico , including the country’s capital and two of its cities with the greatest populations, according to Mexloop. The resulting megalopolis would connect 42 million people – which could be 60 million people by 2050. Mexloop says the proposed Hyperloop corridor would boost the economy and ease traffic in what they described as the most congested city in the world. Related: Hyperloop One conducts first full-scale test of superfast transportation system In addition to Mexico City and Guadalajara, Santiago de Querétaro and León would also be on the Hyperloop route, which would span 330 miles. It would take around 38 minutes to travel the full route. And the project could be cost-effective; according to Mexloop, early estimates hint a Hyperloop system could be two thirds of the cost of a high speed rail project. And Hyperloop tickets would cost around the same amount as a car or bus trip, or the price of a low-cost flight. Mexloop is already looking to the future, saying Phase 2 of the project could involve extending the route to Manzanillo in the west and Veracruz in the east, and north to Monterrey and Nuevo Laredo on the Mexico-United States border. The Hyperloop One Global Challenge drew more than 2,600 entrants, and Mexloop was one of 10 winners . Other winning teams submitted proposals for the United States, India, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Hyperloop One now plans to work with the winning teams to further hone the proposals. + Mexloop + Hyperloop One Images courtesy of Mexloop

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