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.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The five amazing facts about science

The 5 Amazing Science Facts.

1. Scientists have developed a way of charging mobile phones using urine.

The five amazing facts about science
Human Urine charges Mobile phone

    A Scientist at University of West England, Bristol, named Dr Ioannis Ieropoulos develop a way to harness electricity from urine. By harnessing this power, the urine passes through a cascade of microbial fuel cells (MFC's) which converts natural waste into electricity that can manage to charge mobile phones. 

2. A ten year old girl created a new molecule called tetranitratoxycarbon.

The five amazing facts about science
Clara Lazen with her molecule
      In the year 2012, a ten year old girl fifth-grader named Clara Lazen accidentally created a new molecule called tetranitratoxycarbon in her science class. Science teacher Kenneth Boehr was using ball and stick models to represent simple molecules during a fifth-grade class, when ten-year-old Clara Lazen assembled a complex model and asked whether it was a real molecule. Tetranitratoxycarbon is a molecule consist of oxygen, nitrogen and carbon. The molecule has been predicted to have an explosive properties but to be too thermally unstable for practical use. 

3. Earthquakes turns water into gold.

The five amazing facts about science
The San Andreas fault line 

          A new study, published in Nature Geoscience scientist have created a model that test out the hypothesis of the separation of gold from mineral rich water during earthquake.

      According to the study lead by Weatherley, Dion K. and Henley, Richard W. from the Australian National University in Canberra that gold is deposited through quark veins. The veins formed during period of mountain building that was occurred as long as 3 billion years ago, and were deposited by very large Volume of water that flowed along deep seismically active faults. During earthquake, veins formed under fluctuating pressure, but the magnitude of the pressure fluctuation and their influence on mineral deposit is not known.

4. The Father of The Big Bang Theory is a Catholic Priest.

The five amazing facts about science
Fr. Georges Lemaître

          Fr. Georges  Lemaître, a Belgian cosmologist and catholic priest, theorize the expansion of the observable universe began with the explosion of a single particle at a definite point in time which we all know as the big bang theory. This Idea first appeared in Scientific Form in 1931, in a paper by Fr. Georges  Lemaître. His idea formulated from the general relativity of Albert Einstein in the early 20th Century.  

5. The Moon is moving away from earth.

The five amazing facts about science
The Earth and Moon
          This year the farthest apogee happens on October 31, 2016 for about 256, 688 miles (406,662 kilometers). Due to tidal friction, the moon is moving away from earth by 3.78 centimeter (1.48 inches) that is caused by the movement of the tidal bulge around the Earth, takes energy out of the Earth and puts it into the Moon's orbit, making the Moon's orbit bigger. The Earth's rotation is slowing down because of this.

Friday, September 23, 2016

A Chinese Space Station believes to be on collision course with earth, Astronomers says.

A Chinese Space Station believes to be on collision course with earth, Astronomers says.
The Tiangong 1 in orbit

           Space Station, One of the greatest tool for space research and experiment, there are instances that these billion dollar space station often reach its point of operation. Today, there are two space station orbiting the earth, one is the International Space Station (ISS) which is being operated by NASA, JAXA, Canadian Space Agency, European Space Agency, Roscosmos State Corporation and Tiangong 1 which is being operated by China National Space Administration. These space stations orbit the earth between the thermosphere stretching out to 80 kilometers and the exosphere stretching out to 10,000 kilometers wherein the exosphere.

          Tiangong 1, a prototype and the first unmanned space station that china has ever launched. The space station was launched on September 29,2011, Tiangong 1 was not the only space station that china is planning to orbit around the earth. In this year, Tiangong 2 was launched on September 15, 2016, which is a larger and more sophisticated space laboratory followed by the Tiangong 3 will be launched in the year 2022, which is the final step on way to a larger space station orbiting the earth. The Chinese officials said that the new space station (a combination of Tiangong 1, 2 and 3) will be as big as the US Skylab Space station that orbited the earth in the year 1970's.

         Chinese officials said that they have lost control with its first space station which is the Tiangong 1 and believes to be falling down towards earth. Tiangong 1 orbits the earth for about 330 kilometers to 370 kilometers above the earth. Hearing an 8-ton space station with 10.4 meters in diameter falling down towards earth is a fearful event since this type of event may cause some major issues when the space station hits a populated area. When the space station reaches the mesosphere things will heat up and the space station starts to meltdown and break into pieces.

             China's Tiangong 1 is expected to fall by the year 2017, but there's no need to worry since according to news agency Xinhua based on their calculations and analysis, most parts of the space lab will burn up during falling. even though most parts will burn up there's still some dense parts like space station engine will pierce earth's atmosphere and believe to be landing anywhere between latitude 43N and 43S (That’s an area that includes most of North America, parts of Europe and Asia, and all of South America, Africa, and Oceania.)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A 7 year mission to asteroid bennu that said to be on a collision course with earth

A 7 year mission to asteroid bennu that said to be on a collision course with earth
A NASA artist rendering of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft.

          Asteroid, one of the greatest building blocks of the planet that we are standing right now. but in some cases, the greatest building blocks can sometimes be the cause of the extinction of one's output. The first case of a massive asteroid hitting earth was back 65 million years ago that resulted to the extinction of 3/4 of species that existed at that time, including dinosaurs. Today, according to NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)  one of the possible asteroid to have a collision course with earth is Asteroid 101955 Bennu, but according to Dante Lauretta in the late 22nd century, the head of the mission, Bennu has around 1 in 2,700 chance of colliding with Earth. Asteroid bennu is high up on NASA's table of potentially hazardous objects, the first possible collision with Earth is not until September 2175. Today, there is a mission called OSIRIS-REx a spacecraft built to rendezvous on the asteroid 101955 bennu. The mission is to get grains of samples and then return to earth. This is not the only first time that this type of mission has been done as a matter of fact back in 2003, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) sent the first asteroid sample return mission, Hayabusa, to asteroid Itokawa (1998 SF36). also in 2014, Hayabusa 2 will be Japan's (and the world's) second asteroid sample-return mission.

A 7 year mission to asteroid bennu that said to be on a collision course with earth
The United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying 
Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

           In this year, September 08, 2016 a seven-year journey has been made by the National aeronautics and space administration (NASA) to go to asteroid 101955 Bennu the mission of the OSIRIS-REx is to collect a sample from an asteroid and bring it back to Earth to study. Basically, there are three reasons why the asteroid 101955 Bennu was chosen by the OSIRIS-REx. The three main reasons are the proximity to earth, size and also the composition of the asteroid its self. Proximity to Earth, one of the closest asteroid indicated in the table of Near Earth Objects (NEO's) in between Sun and Earth is the asteroid 101955 bennu. NEO's are objects that orbit within 1.3 AU of the Sun (1AU - the distance between Earth and the Sun, or converted into 93 million miles). For the mission of OSIRIS-REx, the most accessible or the closest asteroid for a spacecraft to reach is said to be located between 1.6 AU and 0.8 AU. The ideal asteroid has an earth-like orbit with low eccentricity and inclination. At the time of the mission's asteroid selection in 2008, It is said that there were over 7,000 known NEO's, But only 192 had Orbits that met these criteria.

              Size does also matter when finding a mission asteroid selection. It needs to consider certain things before selecting an asteroid. We all know that in terms of space gravity, the rotation speed of a certain object depends on its size, the larger the object the slower it rotates, the smaller the object the faster it rotates. This principle is applied to the mission of the OSIRIS-REx, The mission takes this seriously whereas asteroid with small diameter rotates more rapidly than those with a larger diameter. With an asteroid with the diameter of fewer than 200 meters an asteroid spins so rapidly that the material on its surface can be ejected from it. The ideal asteroid has a diameter larger that 200 meters meaning that the spin of asteroid 101955 bennu would be slow so by means the spacecraft can safely come in contact with it and collect a sufficient sample. Once the spacecraft has rendezvous with the asteroid then it can easily change its spin relative to the spin of the asteroid and it can land safely.

               Lastly, the composition according to Asteroid Mission, asteroids is divided into different types based on their chemical composition. The most primitive asteroids are carbon-rich and have not significantly changed since they formed nearly 4 billion years ago. These asteroids contain organic molecules, volatile's, and amino acids that may have been the precursors to life on Earth. Of the 26 asteroids left on the list, only 12 had a known composition, and only 5 were primitive and carbon-rich.

             OSIRIS-REx seeks answers to the questions that are central to the human experience: Where did we come from? What is our destiny? Asteroids, the leftover debris from the solar system formation process, can answer these questions and teach us about the history of the sun and planets. This mission to asteroid 101955 bennu would be one of those greatest achievements that mankind will ever accomplish including the Hayabusa and Hayabusa 2. 

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