Killifish, aging, and carbon-silicon composite batteries

Genetic study uncovers clues to explain how killifish stop aging during diapause

Killifish are really interesting organisms for scientific experiments. They are vertebrates, so they are closer to us genetically than insects or worms. But they are a lot easier to grow and care for then mice or rats. Some killifish have life spans of only three months. This makes them very attractive as aging model animals. If treatment extends their lifespan, you only have to wait 3 months to find out. With mice, you have to wait for several years.  This paper discusses another cool feature of the killifish model animal. Some kinds of killifish can go into a kind of suspended animation. I did not know that and it is fascinating.

 

Nano/Microstructured Silicon–Carbon Hybrid Composite Particles Fabricated with Corn Starch Biowaste as Anode Materials for Li-Ion Batteries | Nano Letters

Researchers develop high-capacity EV battery materials that double driving range

This article discusses a new composite silicon/carbon material for hosting lithium ions. Cramming lithium ions into a silicon matrix makes for an even higher energy battery than a standard lithium-ion battery. unfortunately, silicon expands under these conditions and can destroy the battery. By incorporating the silicon into a carbon matrix, these researchers increase the conductivity and the resilience of the battery to multiple charger Cycles. The result was a very nice paper. I love that they tried to make their composite material from readily available substances.

 

An extended interview with Atrus himself, Myst creator Rand Miller | Ars Technica

A bit ago, I was feeling nostalgic for Myst. It was such a different experience from all the other games at the time.

 

Scrooge McDuck and Money (1967) – YouTube

America still thinks of money like it is described in this old short film. This was literally made when we were still on the gold standard (ended by Nixon in 1971). The film takes it as a given that money is like gold (scarce and hard to create). That’s not true anymore. Likewise, it takes it as given that printing money will inevitably make inflation. Again, that’s not always true (it depends on the economy’s productive capacity and whether money is being buried in someone’s backyard somewhere). It’s not true now – we’ve been printing a lot of money (quantitative easing) and inflation hasn’t been high.

 

Against Economics | by David Graeber | The New York Review of Books

This is a perfect description of the battle lines. On one hand, there are economists who are scientists and measure and predict actual phenomena. On the other hand, there are “economists” who are really political consultants who lend their clients some scientific credibility.

 

Ericsson’s New Look: Plenty of Robots, Not Many Jobs | Light Reading

Case in point: we have a shortage of jobs and a growing number of elderly people who need care. These two problems COULD cancel out, but only if the accounting can be made to work. If we can’t make the numbers match, well, both groups just have to die.

 

Two Distinct Mechanisms of Inhibition of LpxA Acyltransferase Essential for Lipopolysaccharide Biosynthesis | Journal of the American Chemical Society

Let’s say you want to kill bacteria (don’t we all). One way is to target an enzyme that bacteria have, but we don’t. Bacteria make Lipopolysaccharide, but we don’t. So the enzymes for making Lipopolysaccharide good enzymes to poison. That way, the poison only affects the bacteria. But these folks went one step farther: they made a molecule that specifically targets the enzyme while it is bound to its product. That seems to have some real advantages.

 

 

 

Working Scientist podcast: How to write a top-notch paper

Good podcast on how hard it is to write papers. It’s also great to hear the “short sentences” advice that I tell my students (and myself).

 

The Grasshopper Mouse Is a Killer Howling Rodent | Nat Geo Wild – YouTube

If I didn’t trust National Geographic, I would think this was fake.

 

Iron-Dumping Ocean Experiment Sparks Controversy – Scientific American

As climate change worsens, some people might decide to DIY a solution – Vox

GEOENGINEERING: Are record salmon runs in the Northwest the result of a controversial CO2 reduction scheme?

Massive boost in salmon after Iron Fertilization of the Ocean in 2012 – NextBigFuture.com

Did the iron fertilization near Haida Gwaii in 2012 affect the pelagic lower trophic level ecosystem? | Journal of Plankton Research | Oxford Academic

A few years ago, a private citizen dumped a few tons of iron into the Pacific Ocean. The result was an algae bloom that could be seen from space. I remembered NextBigFuture reporting a big salmon yield 20 months later, which Brian Wang thought was a direct result. I went looking for a study that could confirm that causal relationship. The Journal of Plankton Research article was the closest I could find. It seems that the iron did cause plankton growth, and then high shrimp population, which salmon do eat. But beyond that, it’s a maybe.

 

Happy Love Day – YouTube

OK, this has some profanity but it is my kind of humor.

 

Chemical plating

“TLC plates are pricey—about $5 for a 400 cm2 plate—so chemists typically slice those into smaller plates to save money… That’s where the expensive cutter comes in. To make the 3-D printed version, Plunkett cribbed the design from his existing cutter. His version cost about $5 in printer plastic, and he bought the part that does the actual cutting from Amazon for about $20. The cutter worked well, so he posted instructions for making it on Thingiverse, an online 3-D printing community. The plans have been downloaded nearly 200 times.”

 

Superefficient solar desalination

Ultrahigh-efficiency desalination via a thermally-localized multistage solar still – Energy & Environmental Science (RSC Publishing)

Neat integrated system. It’s a solar heat based desalinator, it converts solar to heat then heats water with an efficient exchanger. The result is water vapor which can then be condensed.