Artificial blood can carry medicines

Scientists have been able to make Red Blood Cells for a few years. A new twist is that they can put anchor proteins on the surface of the RBCs to connect to medicines. These medicines could be carried around for months until they are either needed, or their RBC dies. This could be a way to fight blood clots, break down cholesterol, or protect against chemical warfare (this technology is funded by DARPA).

When was the first life in the universe?

When did life start? Here on Earth, about a billion years after the Earth formed. But that’s here on Earth. What about out in the universe somewhere? Well, Abraham Loeb has an interesting take on it. Right now, the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) is about 2.7 Kelvin. That’s 2.7 degrees above absolute zero. But it wasn’t always there. The CMB is leftover radiation from the Big Bang. As the universe expands, the energy gets spread out and the tempeature decreases, and now it’s just 2.7 Kelvin.

But, at some point in the past, it had to be around room temperature. Somewhere above the freezing point of water. That means that a rocky planet out in space, far from a star, would still be warm enough to support life.

These conditions existed when the universe was 15 million years old. That’s about 13 billion years ago.

OK. We don’t know that there was life then. But we know that the conditions could have been right for it.

The ball used at the world cup is important

This year’s World Cup has had more goals than in recent years. The design of this year’s ball may have a lot to do with it. This year’s ball design, brazuca, is rougher than the ball used in 2010. This roughness affects how the air moves around it, and reduces the critical speed that makes the ball “knuckle”. This means that regular 50-60 mph kicks move the ball above the speed where the unpredictable motion happens. This leads to more controllable shots.

It’s official: Voyager 1 is in interstellar space

The Voyager 1 spacecraft, launched in 1977, is now traveling through interstellar space. But, oddly enough, is still in our solar system. Voyager 1 has left the heliosphere. This means that it has left the sun’s protective bubble, and is now moving through the thicker interstellar plasma. While far away from the orbits of the planets (and Pluto), it hasn’t reached the hypothetical Oort cloud, which would be the actual end of the solar system.

Can we tell who will abuse alcohol?

As a parent, I want to know that my child will be a responsible adult. This includes how he’ll handle things like alcohol. Now, scientists at the University of Vermont think they can predict who will be a binge drinker later on in adolescence. By analyzing about 40 variables, they can predict with about 70% accuracy who will binge drink later on.

Some of the best predictors, shares Garavan, include variables like personality, sensation-seeking traits, lack of conscientiousness, and a family history of drug use. Having even a single drink at age 14, was also a powerful predictor. That type of risk-taking behavior — and the impulsivity that often accompanies it — was a critical predictor. In addition, those teens who had experienced several stressful life events were among those at greater risk for binge-drinking.

Homemade popcorn ice cream

Just made some popcorn ice cream. Yum.

3/4 cup sugar
1 quart heavy cream
2 quarts buttered popcorn

  1. Combine cream, sugar, and popcorn in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir frequently to prevent burning.
  2. Remove from heat.
  3. Chill in refrigerator for 3-4 days so the flavor infuses into the cream. (though I recommend leaving this for a week)
  4. Strain through a sieve.
  5. Freeze with liquid nitrogen.

We grew them big back then

We have some large birds. Hawks, eagles. But theSouthern Royal Albatross largest is the Southern Royal Albatross. With a wingspan of over 3 meters, it is the largest bird alive.

Today, that is.

Long ago (25 – 28 million years ago), the Pelagornis sandersi had a wingspan of over 7 meters, almost 24 feet. That’s a large bird. The previous record holder had a wingspan of over 4 meters. P. sandersi was probably a glider — it couldn’t take off from just flapping its wings. It probably ran downhill or into a headwind to get aloft.

And you thought the regular flu was bad

As it is, the flu is a nasty disease, and there have been pandemics in the past where large numbers of people have died. Now a mad scientist has made a flu that can bypass our immune systems. Aside from the question of “dear god, why would you ever want to do this?” (and I suspect that the answer is “For Science!“), now that we have this super-dangerous thing, how do we keep it safe and out of the hands of terrorists? I don’t have a good answer for this. The original version of this flu killed half a million people, and the new version would be much worse if it ever were released in the wild.

Actually, articles like one are easy to make sensationalist and sound like the world is ending. Actually, this kind of research into how viruses evolve helps researchers make better vaccines.