Scientist warns Elon Musk’s Starman could be a bio-threat to Mars

March 2, 2018 by  
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Starman, the “driver” of Elon Musk ‘s Tesla Roadster as it cruises through the cosmos, may be carrying the largest collection of terrestrial bacteria ever sent into space. “Even if they radiated the outside, the engine would be dirty,” scientist Jay Melosh said in a  statement . “Cars aren’t assembled clean. And even then, there’s a big difference between clean and sterile.” SpaceX has not yet commented on whether Starman and Musk’s Roadster were sterilized before being sent into space. Starman is not scheduled to land on a planet nor are most bacteria species able to survive in the extreme conditions of space. Nonetheless, life will find a way and, if certain circumstances arise, Starman may be the potential vehicle for bacterial colonization of Mars. When scientists send objects into space, they adhere to the most strict precautions to ensure that no terrestrial organisms could potentially stowaway onto another planet. NASA operates an  Office of Planetary Protection for this very purpose. Scientists are particularly concerned that Earth life could establish a foothold in Mars, then either colonize the planet or be mistaken for Martian life by researchers. “Would Earth’s organisms be better adapted, take over Mars and contaminate it so we don’t know what indigenous Mars was like, or would they be not as well adapted as the Martian organisms?” Melosh said. “We don’t know.” Related: NASA just unveiled a tiny nuclear reactor for future Mars residents While most terrestrial life would perish in the harsh environment of space, species like the tardigrade, which can survive in space and go up to 30 years without food or water . There is a very small chance that Starman and his Roadster will ever arrive on the Martian surface. Therefore, Starman is less an invasive Trojan Horse, more a curator of an interstellar museum of terrestrial life. “The load of bacteria on the Tesla could be considered a biothreat—or a backup copy of life on Earth ,” astronautics scientist Alina Alexeenko said in a statement. If life on Earth ever becomes extinct, there is a chance that Starman, crash-landing back on his home planet, could get the party started again. Via Motherboard Images via SpaceX and NASA

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Scientist warns Elon Musk’s Starman could be a bio-threat to Mars

Groundbreaking new energy storage device charges up in just 20 seconds

March 2, 2018 by  
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A new aqueous storage device can be fully charged in a mere 20 seconds. Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and Kangwon National University scientists developed the device suited for portable electronics , with KAIST emphasizing in a statement that their device is both safe and environmentally friendly. Aqueous storage devices are less flammable than today’s lithium batteries , and could be cheaper too, according to ScienceAlert , but limitations have held scientists back. Cells comprising a battery transfer electrons between two materials, but aqueous solutions limit voltage range between the points, according to ScienceAlert. But scientists at institutions in South Korea , according to KAIST, “came up with new structures and materials to facilitate rapid speed in energy exchange on the surfaces of the electrodes and minimize the energy loss between the two electrodes.” They described their strategy for high-performance aqueous hybrid capacitors in the journal Advanced Energy Materials in January . ScienceAlert said hybrid capacitors like this one are basically a mixture of capacitor and battery. Related: Scientists just created a new type of battery inspired by electric eels Graphene to the rescue again: the scientists utilized graphene-based polymer chain materials for anodes. Graphene’s web-like structure afforded a high surface area, enabling higher capacitance, according to the institute. Metal oxide nanoparticles served as cathode materials. KAIST said, “This method realized higher energy density and faster energy exchange while minimizing energy loss.” The device they developed can charge up in 20 to 30 seconds via low-power charging systems like flexible solar cells or USB switching chargers. It boasts a power density 100 times greater than conventional aqueous batteries. And it can sustain capacity for more than 100,000 charges, according to ScienceAlert. KAIST professor Jeung Ku Kang said in the statement, “This eco-friendly technology can be easily manufactured and is highly applicable. In particular, its high capacity and high stability, compared to existing technologies, could contribute to the commercialization of aqueous capacitors.” + KAIST Via ScienceAlert Images via

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Groundbreaking new energy storage device charges up in just 20 seconds

New Italian ice cream shop reflects its delicious ‘clean label’ products

March 2, 2018 by  
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Italian architecture firm NINE Associati designed this stunning ice cream shop in the Italian village of Isola del Liri to reflect the company’s commitment to serving “clean label” products. Started by the Masci family in 1989, ZERO-E serves up traditional Italian gelato made with zero preservatives. The company’s commitment to serving all-natural ice cream inspired the architects to create an elegant, breezy shop with bespoke furnishings made by local Italian artisans . Located in the small town of Isola del Liri, about 100 km south of Rome, ZERO-E stands out for its commitment to serving “clean label” ice cream . It’s the first shop of its kind in the area, and it’s a breath of fresh air – both in terms of its product and its design. Related: Cleverly layered compact dirt walls mimic ice cream cakes in this Tokyo patisserie With just 38 square meters to work with, the architects wanted to leave the interior open and uncluttered. They developed a 3-point strategy that optimized the space, provided tailor-made furniture, and created flexible areas that can adapt to new uses in the future. The shop’s walls are painted a light blue hue, and the atmosphere is clean and vibrant. Subtle graphics add a bit of flair to the space – from the tiny bathroom signs to the ice cream menu and ingredients listed on the walls. In addition to designing the shop, NINE Associati also provided branding for the company. + NINE Associati Photography via Alessandro Zompanti

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New Italian ice cream shop reflects its delicious ‘clean label’ products

Minimalist cabin in the Chilean mountains lets climbers escape the daily grind

March 2, 2018 by  
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Chilean architect Lorena Troncoso-Valencia designed a serene wooden refuge deep in the Chilean mountains. The architect – who specializes in sustainable habitats – created the wooden PV Cabin as a refuge for the many mountain climbers that come to explore the rugged terrain of Las Trancas, Pinto. Built on wooden piles, the 260-square foot cabin is raised almost five feet above the natural terrain to reduce its environmental impact. The design of the beautiful wooden cabin is geared towards the many active travelers that visit the region, known for its variety of extreme sports. Hikers, skiers, and mountain climbers often spend days or weeks exploring the adjacent mountain range. Related: Hike to This Beautiful Rustic Cabin and Take Refuge Deep in the Norwegian Mountains The 260-square foot structure is located on a small lot accessed by a winding road that juts through a deep forestscape. The rugged terrain limited the structure’s potential surface area , so the architect took the design vertical. The interior space was essentially doubled by expanding the space to double height, creating a wooden homage to the natural rock walls found out in the surrounding area. A glazed front wall floods the interior with optimal natural light and provides stunning views of the surroundings. On the inside, the living area, kitchen, bathroom and a small workspace are located on the first floor, with a “floating” sleeping loft on the second floor, reachable by ladder. Designed to be used as a temporary refuge by itinerant visitors exploring the area, the space is minimal but comfortable. Although the cabin design is a beautiful structure, the materials used in the cabin were also chosen for their resilience . A strong wooden shell that would withstand the harsh elements was essential, as was the asymmetrical roof, which allows for snow drainage. + Lorena Troncoso-Valencia Via Archdaily Photography by Cristóbal Caro / Lorena Troncoso-Valencia

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Minimalist cabin in the Chilean mountains lets climbers escape the daily grind

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