Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Fermi Paradox: Why haven't we found an alien life elsewhere in the universe where it contains billions of galaxies?

Our Universe

Our Universe, home for billions of galaxies, stars and trillions of habitable planets. Which means there are lots of opportunities for life to exist. But one question still remains unanswered by many astronomers, Why haven't we found an alien life civilization?. This is The Fermi Paradox.

If there are really extraterrestrial civilizations existing in other galaxies, there is still no chance of knowing it. As our universe expands, the distance between galaxies also expands.  There is absolutely no way of traveling from one galaxy to another. Even if there is newly develop fast rockets, it would still take billions of years to reach the closest galaxy. So basically the focus should be on the Milky Way Galaxy, home for 400 billion stars.

Astronomers reported that there could be as many as 40 billion Earth-sized planets orbiting in the Goldilocks zone (habitable zones) of Sun-like stars and red dwarfs in the Milky Way, 11 billion of which may be orbiting Sun-like stars. The Milky Way is about 13 billion years old, about 1 to 2 billion years the first habitable planet was born. The earth has lived for an estimate of 4 billion years meaning there are chances for life to develop on other planets in the past. If there is an advance civilization in the milky way, through the advancement of technology we could have noticed it by now.

There are 3 categories to identify the type of Civilization (Kardashev Scale): Type I, Type II and Type III Civilization. A Type I Civilization can harness all the energy from its home planet and by all means, it can even control all its planet natural forces including volcano's, weather and earthquakes. A Type II Civilization is capable of harnessing all of the energy of its home star. This can be made possible with a concept of the Dyson Sphere ( A giant structure surrounding the star in order to harness its energy). Lastly, a Type III Civilization is capable of controlling and harnessing the energy of its home galaxy.

Different Types of Civilizations

According to Michio Kaku (Theoretical Physicist), our Civilization is currently at 0.73 on the scale of Type 0 to Type I Civilization and in next 100 years, we could reach a Type I Civilization-scale. Through the technology we have right now and the advancement of our civilization we've been harnessing 15 terawatts of energy from our planet. To reach the scale of Type I, we need to harness all the energy our home star is providing us that's about 1.74 x 10^17 watts.

The Great Filters that enables life to exist

Over the years, we have been developing and building different types of technology. Through this, the advancement of our civilization has been fast evolving, but every advancement has its own certain point.

This applies to the concept of Great Filters, a filter represents a barrier that is really hard for life to overcome. This includes the material structure, chemical composition, and orbital place of a planet or Before, the Universe is way more hostile and only recent things have cooled down to make complex life possible.

The Great Filter From:

Probably before, there is an Advance Extraterrestrial Civilization where its own technology is the main reason for the extinction of their kind. There are also possibilities of an ancient Type III Civilization that monitors the Universe, and once a Civilization is advanced enough, it gets eliminated or maybe we are the first, if not the first Civilization in the entire Universe. Many theories had been proposed why haven't we found an Extraterrestrial Civilization, some of which may be the answer to our question, others are not.

But one thing is for sure, that life in the Universe is possible and we are the living proof. Probably, if we visit other planets we might discover some form of life or even a Civilization. let's just hope that other Civilization is not hostile to visiting Civilizations.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Alzheimer's Disease : A lifetime curse (Ways to Detect AD )

Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia (a mental disorder affecting memory), threatens the happy life of an individual. It occurs mostly in the middle and old ages. Unfortunately, there’s still no cure for this disease. Up to date, there is no validated biomarker for this disease but there are ways to know if there is a possibility for a certain person to have it.

The presence of amyloid plaques outside the neurons is a well indicator that something bad is happening in the brain. Amyloid is a protein and for some unknown reason, it separates in an unpleasant way forming beta amyloid that brings toxins to the nerve cell. This abnormality in the neuron gradually affects the memory of a person.

According to researchers, neuroimaging makes it possible to see if there are presence of amyloid plaques.

Brain image of persons with and without amyloid plaques

Studies have shown that people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease experience brain shrinking especially in the brain’s hippocampus, area responsible for memory and autonomic nervous system. With the help of structural imaging, scientists can know if the brain is behaving inappropriately.

Another possible indicator of AD is reduced brain cell activity. With the help of functional imaging, scientist can know, for example, if there’s a reduced production of essential protein in the brain responsible for normal brain operations. 

Meanwhile, since there’s no standard biomarker to properly indicate the presence of Alzheimer’s disease, it is safe to stick with its related symptoms. Persons with possible AD may experience frequent memory loss and confusion about things. They also have difficulty in recognizing family members and friends. It is also hard for them to perform multistep tasks and it is hard for them to cope with new situations. They also act with little consideration of the consequences and often results with them hurting others.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

What if our sun collapses into a superdense neutron star?

Astronomers discovered the closest neutron star ever known, thanks to NASA's Swift X-ray telescope. This illustration shows an "isolated neutron star," a neutron star that does not have an associated supernova remnant, binary companion or radio pulsations.

The Sun, One of the components for life to exist. At some point, this Sun will eventually die. When it does, its core runs out of hydrogen and helium thus the sun collapses and possibly turns into a supernova (a massive stellar explosion) which will turn into a super dense core, called neutron star. A neutron star is so massive that it is equivalent almost to 3 suns. Its gravitational pull is enormously strong that anything in its path will tear apart.

Basically, a teaspoonful of neutron star material would weigh a billion tons, imagine how dense is a neutron star. According to scientists, Our sun has a life expectancy of 5 billion years. Therefore, there are possibilities for our sun to collapse into one superdense neutron star.  One of the frightening thing about a neutron star is that when it collapses, it shoot itself to extremely high velocity which can disrupt orbit and tear everything in its path including earth.

Eventually, our solar system will die. A superdense neutron star will disrupt the orbit of some asteroid that can be shoot towards earth. Neutron star will tear almost everything in our solar system including Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Planet Nine. 

To image what will happen if a neutron star reaches earth, a short video documentary lead by the National Geographic of a neutron star on a collision course with earth.

But no need to worry, since our sun has not enough mass and it is only a what if scenario, it will not turn into a supernova that collapses into a neutron star or even a black hole. Instead, "it will turn into a red giant phase then intense thermal pulsations will cause the Sun to throw off its outer layers, forming a planetary nebula.  The only object that will remain after the outer layers are ejected is the extremely hot stellar core, which will slowly cool and fade as a white dwarf over many billions of years" - According to Zidane.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

How Genetic Engineering will change everything using CRISPR-Cas9


Genetic Engineering, one of the ways for editing DNA, is basically a direct manipulation of an organism using biotechnology techniques. The first genetically modified animal was accomplished on 1973 by Rudolf Jaenisch. Followed by an antibiotic resistant gene inserted into a tobacco in 1983, leading to the first genetically engineered plant. 

Gene Editing is quite expensive, complicated and took a long time to do, some of the genetically modified animals includes pigs with muscles, transparent frogs and even a glowing the dark fluorescent zebrafish. The process of Gene Editing has now changed with a new revolutionary technology called Cluster Regular Interspaced Short Palindromic or also known as CRISPR. This has minimized the cost of engineering to 99% and instead of a year, it takes for about a week to conduct such experiments.

Artist perception of CRISPR-Cas9

CRISPR-Cas9 is basically a genome editing tool that is faster, cheaper and more accurate than the previous gene editing DNA techniques and has a wide range of potential applications. In order for the CRISPR to work it needs two key molecules that will introduce change in the DNA these are Enzyme which acts as a cutting tool for cutting strands of DNA at a specific genome location, therefore, DNA can be added or removed and a piece of RNA which acts as a guide to the right part of the genome. This is to make sure that the Cas9 enzyme cuts the right point in the genome.

Cas9 follows the RNA guide into the location in the DNA sequence which makes a cut across both strands of the DNA. Then the gene editing takes place where it can add, remove or even repair damage DNA.  Cas9 can be use by scientist to target and mutate one or more genes in the genome cell of interest.

CRISPR-Cas9 has a wide range of application for treating range of medical condition that have a genetic component which includes hepatitis B, high cholesterol or even cancer. It can end diseases, genetically design babies and even eternal youth.

According to the study of Xiao Yang, Targeted mutagenesis based on homologous recombination has been a powerful tool for understanding the mechanisms underlying development, normal physiology, and disease. A recent breakthrough in genome engineering technology based on the class of RNA-guided endonucleases, such as clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)-associated Cas9, is further revolutionizing biology and medical studies. The simplicity of the CRISPR-Cas9 system has enabled its widespread applications in generating germline animal models, somatic genome engineering, and functional genomic screening and in treating genetic and infectious diseases. This technology will likely be used in all fields of biomedicine, ranging from basic research to human gene therapy.

Still a few major challenges awaits CRISPR-Cas9 some technological, some ethical. This technology is not infallible yet, wrong editing still happens as well as unknown errors might occur in the DNA and might go unnoticed. Scientist are still studying and experimenting on how CRISPR-Cas9 will be infallible and be commercially available. Overall if Cas9 has succeded to be infallible then it will change the face of Genetic Engineering as well as the world.

Scientist accidentally discovered the conversion of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) into ethanol

Scientists at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee had accidently discovered a way to convert carbon dioxide (CO2) into ethanol. potentially this discovery can help avert climate changes and slows down global warming.

Researchers were attempting to study how chemical reaction be controlled on catalyst. They had found that putting copper and carbon together creates nanospike on silicon, exposing the matter to carbon dioxide and electricity, as a result, the matter transformed into highly concentrated blended of ethanol.

"It matters technologically because ethanol is a fuel you can use it in the current vehicle right now with no modifications, carbon dioxide is a problem right now and if you can use it then you are preventing it from coming to the atmosphere". - said Adam Rondinone

The researchers behind this project are in the early stage and still studying the method in producing this ethanol from CO2 to make it more efficient and how it can be used in large-scale operations.

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