Here We Discuss Different Science Related Stuffs... Chapters & Contains. Innovations in Science world And Some Knowledge Stuff ... Come And See & Let Us Know How You Feel

Tech Designed For Space Is Saving Lives On Earth

Space travel calls for a lot of creative solutions and space agencies invest a ton in developing technology that’s the best of the best. But astronauts aren’t the only beneficiaries. Space technology is all over, in unexpected places like memory foam mattresses and those cool clear braces for straightening teeth. Space science gets applied in all sorts of ways that were never intended, like making us healthier here on Earth.

Earlier this year, for example, NASA just happened to develop the perfect material for some really high-tech stitches while doing research for Mars. It all started because researchers were trying to figure out how to bring back a sample from the Red Planet. We have never done that before and that’s because it’s kind of tricky.

Drilling gets messy and any dust that gets on the seal of a container could keep it from closing all the way. That’s a big problem because scientists needed to be 100% positive that Earth’s atmosphere wouldn’t contaminate the sample on its way in. That means they needed a really strong seal. They wanted this thing to close so tightly that they could measure the amount of leakage on the scale of molecules.

The idea was to use what’s called a knife edge seal, where a sharp edge literally cuts into a softer metal edge, but if the knife part wasn’t clean, the seal still wouldn’t be perfect. So, engineers set out to make an extra layer that would wipe the knife edge clean on its way toward the softer metal, which would strengthen the seal. The only appropriate material that was space-friendly and wouldn’t contaminate the sample seemed to be Teflon.

Fortunately, that nonstick coating on your pans is just one of Teflon’s many forms. It starts as a powder that can have different properties depending on how it’s processed. In this case, engineers processed it under high pressure to make a soft, flexible and strong ribbon. And it worked great. But that wasn’t all. In addition to being delicate and strong, these ribbons of Teflon are also compatible with the human body. That means they can be implanted without the immune system attacking them. For procedures like heart surgeries where it’s kind of inconvenient to cut a person back open just to take stitches out, these could be a gamechanger.

As it happens, these fancy stitches are not NASA’s first contribution to heart health. In the mid-80s, a NASA scientist struck up a collaboration with his former heart surgeon and the two built a heart pump inspired by the fuel pumps for rocket engines. They wanted to create a pump that would help people whose hearts didn’t circulate blood properly, especially because many of them were dying while they waited for a transplant. 

This unusual pair thought they might have a solution. So they pulled together a team. The researchers took NASA supercomputers, which were designed to model the flow of fuel through rocket engines and used them to model the flow of blood through the heart. They then used that data to build a heart pump. 

It wasn’t perfect, but after about a decade of work, they came up with a design that would do the least possible damage to passing blood cells. It also got rid of stagnant areas where clots could form. But most importantly, it was about 1/10th the size of other heart valves at the time. That made the device much less invasive, and it also meant it could be implanted in kids.

In 2004, after two decades of research, the FDA approved the life-saving device for small children. In case exploring the universe and saving heart patients weren’t enough, NASA technology is also helping cure cancer.

Recently, NASA developed an image-analysis software that could look at cancer in 3D. The technology started with a completely different health problem that was affecting astronauts. After being in space for months, people begin to have vision problems. Scientists thought that this might stem from blood flowing differently in microgravity. But they wanted to be sure. 

Some researchers had the chance to study tissue samples from mice in space and they thought to examine the blood vessels in these samples might help them get to the bottom of what’s going on. But it was hard for them to do the analysis manually. They were trying to do things like count blood vessels and determine their shapes, but different people were getting drastically different results, because, well, humans don’t have perfectly consistent judgment. So the team needed something more reliable.

They turned to a company that specializes in image-analysis software. The company came up with an algorithm that could spot blood vessels within tissue samples and collect some important details. The end result was much more reliable than a human. Though, doctors still haven’t fully solved the mystery of space-induced vision problems.

Luckily, this same software is probably going to be useful for diagnosing and monitoring lots of medical conditions, like cancer for instance. It can pick out subtle differences in the shape of tumours, which can help oncologists tell whether or not they’re likely to be benign. It can also look at tumours in 3D and pick up on growth or shrinking that might not show up in standard 2D CAT scans. The technology is still new, but already, it shows a lot of promise for keeping humans healthy in space and on Earth.

These are just a few of the life-saving inventions that are twists on technology from space. Each year, space programs inspire inventions that are perfectly at home here on Earth. And that’s because, while these programs have the tools and inspiration to produce these amazing technologies, in the end, space research is not just for people in space it’s for all of us.


What Happens If You Get HIV / AIDS?

Today we’re going to talk about a very important topic. And that topic is HIV and AIDS. Human immunodeficiency virus or HIV is one of the incurable STI or Sexually Transmitted Infection. While some of these STIs are easy to treat once identified, others like HIV have no cure. Once you are infected, you have the virus for life. That’s why it’s so incredibly important to practice safe sex in order to avoid contracting sexually transmitted infections.

An HIV test is a simple way to see if you have been infected with the virus - but more on that later. First, let's take a look at how HIV works. It is passed from one person to another through blood, semen, pre-seminal fluids, vaginal fluids, rectal fluids, and breast milk. Once contracted, it attacks important cells in your immune system called CD4 cells or T cells. 

These cells help your body fight off infections and infection-related cancers. So as HIV destroys them, it becomes easier for you to get sick or even die from common illnesses. If left untreated and the number of CD4 cells falls below a certain threshold, HIV progresses to its final stage - acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or AIDS. 

At this point, the immune system is so destroyed that you get more and more severe illnesses known as opportunistic infections. People with AIDS who don’t get treatment often don’t survive more than three years.

In the 80s, an outbreak of HIV spread across the world creating one of the most deadly epidemics. Since then, over 77 million people have become infected with HIV and over 35 million have died from AIDS-related illnesses. But after a lot of research and studies, scientists developed medicines for the treatment of HIV, called antiretroviral therapy or ART, that lower the amount of HIV in the body - though again, there is no way to get rid of it completely. But these medicines allow those who take it to live for nearly as long as someone who does not have HIV and has been shown to prevent infections in sexual partners.

Scientists have also developed ways to prevent HIV infection from occurring in the first place. In addition to barriers like condoms and dental dams, there is a daily pill called pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP for those at high risk for HIV that can be taken to reduce the chance of contracting it from sex by over 90%. Because early symptoms of HIV resemble the flu, followed by a long period of latency, the only way to know for sure if you have become infected and to keep you and your partners safe is by getting tested.

HIV tests work by detecting either antibodies - which are used by your body to fight off infections - or antigens - which are part of the virus. These usually can be detected starting three months after exposure, but more advanced tests can be performed if someone had a high-risk exposure or are displaying early symptoms of HIV. Getting tested is the only way to know your HIV status.

If you are HIV-positive, you can start getting treated, which can improve your health, prolong your life, and greatly lower your chance of spreading HIV to others. Tests are confidential, quick, easy and sometimes even free. They are performed using an oral swab or blood sample and can be administered by a health care professional or through at-home testing kits. Results from rapid or certain at-home tests can be ready in as little as 20 minutes.


Screen Time: How Much Is Too Much?

Have you ever kept track of how much time you spend looking at a screen? Like, actually log what you are doing and for how long? Well, that's what I did over the last few days. And on an average day, I spent about an hour on Instagram, way too much time on Facebook, over three hours, and a little over an hour or so on Youtube. So, in total, I'm spending over five hours every day in front of a screen, and that's not counting text messages or listening to music. That's literally a quarter of my day every day. So, what's all this screen time doing to me?

Well, I start looking for all research done on this. And the results I got fell into two buckets. The first bucket blamed smartphones, video games and social media for increases in depression, anxiety, and even obesity. The second bucket said that screen use might help improve how we feel about ourselves by keeping us connected with people.

So, what actually does the scientific research say? Is all this screen time really bad for us?

Okay, first things first. Screen time as a term isn't that useful because it doesn't really tell you what you're doing on the screen. It's kinda like if someone asked you what you had for lunch and you say, "Food." That doesn't really provide any real info. And not all screen time is created equal, Context matters. Spending four hours writing an article for the blog is way different than spending four hours watching funny videos. How you feel about and how you process each of those situations won't be the same, so lumping them under screen time doesn't make much sense.

If researchers wanna figure out what spending so much time on our screens is doing to us, they need to break down a few variables. What's the specific screen activity? Are we passively scrolling and looking at pictures or are we commenting and posting? How long and how often are we on the screen? Because there's so much to untangle, the research is kinda all over the place.

Our digital lives can take a physical toll on us, and I will be the first to admit. I'm usually on my phone right before I go to bed, even though multiple studies have shown that that leads to bad sleep. And we all know what can happen without enough sleep. Concentrating on things is hard, you can get irritable.

In 1991, 26% of teens were getting less than the doctor-recommended seven hours of sleep a night. Today, that number is over 40%. Now, that doesn't mean you can place the blame on screens, but that same study did find that teens who spent five hours a day online were 50% more likely to not sleep enough than those who only spent an hour online each day. I am sceptical though. Who are those people that say they only spend an hour online a day and why are they lying to researchers? Doesn't make sense, doesn't add up.

Some researchers even use the term addiction when talking about how we interact with our devices. Whether it's video games or waiting for a like on an Instagram post, we get caught in short-term dopamine-driven feedback loops where we get a quick pleasure boost but then constantly crave the next one. Now, there's a lotta debate on whether or not this stuff is a bonafide addiction like gambling. And if you wanna learn more about that, check out our video that looks into whether or not video game addiction is real.

One study in 2017 found that the more time people spend in front of a screen, the more it affected their wellbeing. Their chances of developing depression and suicidal thoughts went up. It was all the ammo that the news media needed to fuel the panic about screen time. But that one study is just one study.

Another group of researchers came along and looked at the same data and asked, "Is there really a link between screen time and depression? "And if so, how strong is that link?" They found that screen time is correlated with depression, but that correlation is really small. 

In fact, it was the same as eating potatoes regularly. The correlation between wearing glasses and depression was even stronger. And we're not seeing headlines worrying about potatoes and glasses ruining an entire generation, so maybe screen time, in general, is less important than we think.

The connection between screen time and health gets a little bit clearer when you look at how people are using their screens. It's not just about quantity, it's also about the quality. Passive screen time, things like watching TV or scrolling through your Instagram feed is usually associated the negative stuff like depression, moodiness, anxiety, and even laziness. Active screen time, stuff that engages you physically or cognitively, can actually be helpful.

Screens also allow us to stay connected with people. With technology like FaceTime, I could talk to my best friend who's on the other side of the country, right now. Now, sure, some people have to deal with feeling overwhelmed because of drama or feeling pressure to only post a highlight reel of themselves to make them look good to others. But in many studies, a majority of teens say that social media mainly helps the relationships they already have with their friends.

And when you look at stuff like multiplayer video games, Twitch streams, or Reddit, wandering around online allows you to find your tribe. If you don't quite fit in where you live or you live in a small or isolated community, quality screen time might be essential to keeping you sane. So, what do you think? What screen activities do you value? And what do you wanna cut out? Let us know in the comments below.

The Horseshoe Crab That May Have Saved Your Life Countless Times Is In Danger, But There Is A Hope

The horseshoe crab is a living fossil that has called Earth it's home for almost half a billion years. It’s outlived dinosaurs and survived mass extinctions and ice ages, but today it’s facing a new threat.

Their adaptations have worked with the way the Earth has changed and it’s only in recent years with humans bringing impacts to their population that they have started to have declined.

Rising sea levels, habitat loss and overharvesting all threaten the population. But if you have ever had a vaccine, injection or a medical implant, then you might not know that you have been relying on this prehistoric creature’s blood to save your life. Now, after decades of waiting, a new synthetic solution could change all of that.

In May and June on the Delaware Bay, millions of crabs come out on a high tide to lay their eggs about six inches deep in the sand and they will stay in the sand and hatch in about a month. And horseshoe crab eggs are a really critical part of the ecosystem of Delaware Bay. If a single crab is laying almost 100,000 eggs, that is providing a food source for shorebirds, for gulls, for fish, for terrapins and then all up to the food chain for that. And then what happens with the horseshoe crabs then trickles down to the whole ecosystem here. They just have managed to evolve with the changing oceans and the changing land.

The reason this crab has been able to evolve for so long? Its blue blood. This copper-based blood contains special cells called amebocytes, which are extremely sensitive to endotoxins. These are contaminants released from the cell walls of harmful bacteria and they can cause life-threatening fever or toxic shock. As soon as the amebocytes detect any of these endotoxins, the blood clots around the intruder, immobilizing it and protecting the crab from infection.

In the 1960s scientists found a way to harness this unique superpower to make sure our medical supplies were free from contamination. It replaced slower, more unpredictable tests involving rabbits. The formula is called Limulus amebocyte lysate, or LAL, and relies on amebocytes taken from horseshoe crab blood.

So every year half a million crabs are collected along the Atlantic coast, as well as across the eastern shores of Mexico and China. A third of the crab’s blood is drawn before they are released back into the ocean. It’s estimated that 15% of crabs collected die as a result of this bleeding process, which could mean the loss of 75,000 crabs only in the US alone every year.

All this could change in the near future as an alternative was found. In the mid-'80s Professor, Ding Jeak Ling needed LAL for work involving IVF embryos, but there was a problem. Singapore research was not very well funded. So because the LAL was so expensive, They had to find a good way to understand how the horseshoe crab blood works. They took only a small volume of the blood, isolating the blood cells from the horseshoe crab and start to study it. Eventually, they produce a synthetic equivalent of LAL.

This synthetic equivalent is called recombinant factor C, and it’s a clone of the main gene in a horseshoe crab’s blood, which is sensitive to bacterial endotoxins. It was a moment of realization that it is going to change the biomedical industry and it's going to save a very, very highly threatened species.

But the pharmaceutical companies didn’t come around as quickly as Professor Ding had hoped. A lot of people are reluctant to take a chance on trying something new. That’s until a scientist at pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly came along. 

He said, "the horseshoe crab is a keystone species in its ecology obviously for its own sake but then for a lot of other animals that depend on it. If we use RFC then there aren't any crabs that are affected, whether it's mortality or whether there's some behavioural effect by taking the blood. Studies have shown that the RFC test is a more effective and potentially cheaper solution than LAL. Changing minds, however, remained the biggest challenge."

In 2018, the first drug to use the recombinant factor C test was approved by the FDA, and Eli Lilly is planning to transition 90% of its tests to the synthetic by the end of 2020. Eli Lilly thinks that the consequence if industry carries on with bleeding crabs, is that at some point there won't be any. So there are real impacts on what he is doing.

It is important that we as humans are playing a role in protecting biodiversity and not impacting biodiversity. The synthetic version of the horseshoe crab lysate used by the pharmaceutical industry is going to have a major impact on horseshoe crab conservation. It's not the only factor that we need. We also need to continue with harvest limits and with beach restoration. But reducing the need to harvest crabs for the use of their blood will have a major impact.

How Does the Power Grid Work?

The modern world depends on electricity. It’s not just a luxury we use to power our devices and enjoy our free time. It’s not even just a convenience of having light, heating and cooling in our buildings. Electricity is a crucial resource, especially in urban areas, providing public security, safety, and health and making possible everything from emergency response to modern medical care in hospitals to even the other utilities we require like fresh water and sanitation systems.

But unlike those other utilities, electricity can’t be created, stored and provided at a later time. The instant it’s produced, it’s used no matter how far apart the producer is from the user. And the infrastructure that makes all this possible is one of humanity’s most important and fascinating engineering achievement the power grid.

Like most people, you probably take the grid for granted. Electrical infrastructure is so ubiquitous, it’s easy not to notice that the majority of our power grid is out in the open for anyone who wants to have a look. Depending on your definition, an electrical grid can be considered one of the world’s largest machines. So how does this machine work?

The basic function of generating electricity and delivering it to those who need it may seem simple. I can hook up a small generator to light and boom; electrical grid. With the cost of solar panels reaching record lows, many are exploring the possibility of generating all the power they need at home and forgoing the grid altogether. But, a wide area interconnection (that’s the technical term for a power grid) offers some serious advantages in exchange for increased complexity.

Here’s a simplified diagram showing the major components of a typical power grid, and we’ll follow the flow of electrical current as it makes its way through each one.

We start with the generation, where the electricity is produced. There are many types of power plants, each with their own distinct advantages and disadvantages, but they all have one thing in common: they take one kind of energy and convert it into electrical energy. Most power plants are located away from populated areas so that electricity they create needs to be efficiently transported. That’s handled by high-voltage transmission lines.

At the plant, transformers boost the voltage to minimize losses within the lines as the electricity makes its way to the areas that need it. Once it reaches populated areas, transformers then step down the power back to a safer and more practical voltage. This is done at a substation, which also has the equipment to regulate the quality of the electricity and breakers to isolate potential faults.

Some energy customers draw power directly from transmission lines, but most are served from feeder lines that carry power from the substation. This part of the system is called distribution. From the feeders, smaller transformers step down the voltage to its final level for industrial, commercial or residential uses before the electricity reaches its final destination. 

Rather than a constant flow of current in a single direction (called direct current or DC), the vast majority of the power grid uses alternating current or AC, where the direction of voltage and current are constantly switching.

The major advantage of AC power is that it’s easy to step up and down voltages, a critical part of efficiently and safely moving electricity from producer to consumer. The device that performs this important role, called a transformer, is as simple as a pair of coils next to each other. A varying voltage in one coil induces a voltage in the other coil proportional to the number of turns in each one. If the current doesn’t vary, like in direct current, the transformer can’t do any transforming.

It’s helpful to think about the grid as a marketplace. Power producers bring their electricity to the market by connecting to the grid and power consumers purchase that electricity for use in their home or business. The economics and politics of the grid are so much more complicated than this, but the important part of the analogy is that, in many ways, the power grid is a shared resource. Because of that, it needs organizations to oversee and establish rules about how each participant in the producing, transmitting and consuming of power may use it.

There are three overarching technical goals that engineers use to design and maintain the power grid. The first one is power quality. Our electrical devices and equipment are designed assuming that the power coming from the grid has certain parameters, mainly that the voltage and frequency are correct and stable. Some devices count the oscillations in the AC grid power to keep track of time, so it’s critical that the grid frequency not deviate.

Changes in the voltage can lead to brownouts or surges that damage connected equipment. One of the benefits of a large power grid is electrical inertia. All those huge spinning generators connected together provide momentum that smooths out the ripples and spikes that can occur from equipment faults or quickly changing electrical loads.

The next technical goal of the grid is reliability. If like most people, you take that constant availability of power for granted, that’s by design. Much of the grid’s complexity comes from how we manage faults and provide redundancy so that you are rarely faced with blackout conditions. It’s another inherent benefit of a grid that electricity can be rerouted when a piece of equipment is out-of-service, whether it was planned or otherwise.

The final goal of the power grid is simply that the supply meets the demand. Power production and consumption happen on a real-time basis. If it’s plugged in, the light from the screen you are reading right now was a drop of water in a turbine or a breeze across a windmill microseconds ago. By the way, did you call your utility and let them know that you were going to turn on your computer or phone. I am willing to bet you didn’t, which means not only did they have to adjust their production up to match the extra load, but they had to do it immediately without any warning whatsoever.

Luckily having millions of people connected to the same grid smooths out the demands created by individuals, but load following is still a major challenge. For the most part, electrical demand follows a fairly consistent pattern, but factors like extreme weather can make it difficult to forecast. Grid operators balance the demand by dispatching generation capacity in real time. The cheapest sources of power are used to fulfil the base load that’s more consistent, and higher cost sources are used for peaking when demand exceeds the base.

But it’s not as simple as flipping on a switch. Large power plants can take hours, days or even weeks to startup and shut down. Equipment needs to be taken out of service for maintenance. Fuel costs fluctuate. Renewable sources like wind and solar can have massive and unpredictable variations in capacity, providing irregular sloshes of power to the grid. You can see why balancing electricity supply and demand is this fantastically complex job of taking into account all these considerations, some of which are predictable and some of which aren’t.

That’s part of the reason we are trying to make the grid smarter by using the software, sensors and devices capable of communicating with each other. On the supply side, this can allow computers and software to do what they do best: take in tremendous amounts of data to help us make decisions about how to manage the grid. But a smart grid can also help on the demand side as well.

Unlike most of the goods we buy, consumers don’t have a keen understanding of power, how much we are using or how much it should cost depending on the time of day or year. A smart grid can take away some of the obfuscation, allowing us to make better decisions about how we use electricity in our day-to-day lives. 

Ultimately, a smart grid can help us use and take care of this huge machine - this shared resource we call the power grid - more efficiently and effectively now and into the future.


Saturn Is Losing Its Rings, But Why ?

Saturn's iconic rings are the biggest brightest rings in our solar system, extending over 280000 kilometres from the planet. That is wide enough to fit 6 Earths in a row. But Saturn won't always look like this, recent studies on Saturn's ring shows that its rings are disappearing. That's right Saturn is losing its rings and in an accelerating rate. 

Saturn is losing its rings very fast and much faster than scientist had first thought. Right now it's raining 10000 kilograms of ring rain on Saturn per second. It is fast enough to fill an Olympic sized pool in half an hour.

The rain is actually the disintegrated remains of Saturn's rings. Saturns ring are mostly made up of chunks of Ice and rock, which are under constant bombardment by UV radiation from the Sun and by other tiny meteoroids. Because of this bombardment of UV radiation and meteoroids, the icy particles vaporize forming charged water molecules. 

That charged water molecules interact with Saturn's magnetic field, Ultimately falling towards Saturn. Where they burn up in the atmosphere. We have known about the ring since, the 1980s when NASA's Voyager mission first noticed mysterious dark bands that turn out to be the ring rain, caught in Saturn's magnetic fields.

Back then researchers estimated the Rings would totally drain in 300 million years. But observations by NASA's former Cassini spacecraft give a darker prognosis before its death dive into Saturn in 2017. 

Cassini managed to get a better look at the amount of ring dust raining on Saturn's equator. It discovered that it was raining heavier than previously thought. Scientists calculated the Rings had only a hundred million years left to live. It's tough to imagine a ring with Saturn, but for much of its existence, the planet was as naked as Earth. 

While Saturn first formed around 4.5 billion years ago study suggests the Rings are only a hundred to two hundred million years old, that's younger than some dinosaurs. So when you think about it we are pretty lucky we happen to be around to see those magnificent rings. 

Really lucky, in fact, because efforts the study those rings have led us to other discoveries. For example, as Cassini explored Saturn's moon Enceladus and uncovered a trail of ice and gas leading back to Saturn's E ring.

Enceladus is the widest most reflective moon in our solar system. The moon is constantly gushing out gas and dust. Some of it ends up in space and in Saturn's E ring. While the rest drifts back onto the moon's surface creating a blinding white field of snow. Who knows what other discoveries might be hiding within the Rings, At the very least it's clear we better keep looking while we still can.

How Your Digestive System Works?

Across the whole planet, humans eat on average between 1 and 2.7 kilograms of food a day. That's over 365 kilograms a year per person and more than 28,800 kilograms over the course of a lifetime. And every last scrap makes its way through the digestive system. 

Comprised of ten organs covering nine meters, and containing over 20 specialized cell types, this is one of the most diverse and complicated systems in the human body. Its parts continuously work in unison to fulfil a singular task: transforming the raw materials of your food into the nutrients and energy that keep you alive.

Spanning the entire length of your torso, the digestive system has four main components. First, there's the gastrointestinal tract, a twisting channel that transports your food and has an internal surface area of between 30 and 40 square meters, enough to cover half a badminton court.

Second, there's the pancreas, gallbladder, and liver, a trio of organs that break down food using an array of special juices. Third, the body's enzymes, hormones, nerves and blood all work together to break down food, modulate the digestive process and deliver its final products. Finally, there's the mesentery, a large stretch of tissue that supports and positions all your digestive organs in the abdomen, enabling them to do their jobs.

The digestive process begins before food even hits your tongue. Anticipating a tasty morsel, glands in your mouth start to pump out saliva. We produce about 1.5 litres of this liquid each day. Once inside your mouth, chewing combines with the sloshing saliva to turn food into a moist lump called the bolus. 

Enzymes present in the saliva break down any starch. Then, your food finds itself at the rim of a 25-centimetre-long tube called the oesophagus, down which it must plunge to reach the stomach. Nerves in the surrounding esophagal tissue sense the bolus's presence and trigger peristalsis, a series of defined muscular contractions. That propels the food into the stomach, where it's left at the mercy of the muscular stomach walls, which bound the bolus, breaking it into chunks.

Hormones, secreted by cells in the lining, trigger the release of acids and enzyme-rich juices from the stomach wall that starts to dissolve the food and break down its proteins. These hormones also alert the pancreas, liver, and gallbladder to produce digestive juices and transfer bile, a yellowish-green liquid that digests fat, in preparation for the next stage. 

After three hours inside the stomach, the once shapely bolus is now a frothy liquid called chyme, and it's ready to move into the small intestine. The liver sends bile to the gallbladder, which secretes it into the first portion of the small intestine called the duodenum. 

Here, it dissolves the fats floating in the slurry of chyme so they can be easily digested by the pancreatic and intestinal juices that have leached onto the scene. These enzyme-rich juices break the fat molecules down into fatty acids and glycerol for easier absorption into the body.

The enzymes also carry out the final deconstruction of proteins into amino acids and carbohydrates into glucose. This happens in the small intestine's lower regions, the jejunum and ileum, which are coated in millions of tiny projections called villi. These create a huge surface area to maximize molecule absorption and transference into the bloodstream.

The blood takes them on the final leg of their journey to feed the body's organs and tissues. But it's not over quite yet. Leftover fibre, water and dead cells sloughed off during digestion make it into the large intestine, also known as the colon. The body drains out most of the remaining fluid through the intestinal wall. What's left is a soft mass called stool. 

The colon squeezes this byproduct into a pouch called the rectum, where nerves sense it expanding and tell the body when it's time to expel the waste. The byproducts of digestion exit through the anus and the food's long journey, typically lasting between 30 and 40 hours, is finally complete.


Why People Choose Ghosting After Breakup?

This probably won’t come as much of a surprise, but breaking up with someone is hard. There’s the rejection, the tears, the possible shouting and if nothing else, it’s just really awkward! Maybe that’s why, for better or worse, some people decide a proper break-up isn’t worth it. Instead, they choose to just, disappear. In other words, they ghost.

Ghosting is when someone terminates a relationship by ending communications abruptly and without explanation. It’s something people have probably been doing forever, but the word has only started to pick up steam within the last few years. In fact, it’s picked up so much steam that psychologists have started to study it. Recently, they have begun investigating why people do this and their results suggest that at least some of it might have to do with how people view relationships in general.

If it’s never happened to you, ghosting might seem like some weird, worst-case-scenario Internet thing, but it actually happens all the time. For example, in a 2018 study that polled almost 750 people, 23% of participants reported being ghosted by a romantic partner. And almost 40% reported being ghosted by a friend. Studies have even found that people ghost employers or potential employers by not responding to offers or by not showing up for work or interviews.

This isn’t a Millennial or Gen Z thing, either, because ghosting isn’t new. The term may have started getting traction recently, but this behaviour has probably been around forever. It’s just that, for your grandparents, “ghosting” might have looked like not sending letters or skipping phone calls.

This phenomenon has likely become such a Thing because technology has changed the way many people communicate. Texting and social media have made communication easier and more instantaneous and many relationships or jobs are now started through apps and e-mails instead of in-person meetups. Among other things, that makes it really easy to avoid someone if you think things aren’t going to work out. When it comes to why people do this, though, there likely isn’t just one answer.

Like, in a 2019 study published in Imagination, Cognition, and Personality, participants reported that they ghosted someone because of everything from attractiveness to convenience to safety, Which is quite a range of explanations. Other researchers, though, have suggested that how you feel about ghosting could be based on something more fundamental: how you think about relationships more broadly.

Research on relationship theories covers two types of beliefs: destiny and growth. If you are a stronger believer in destiny, it means you think that the outcome of a relationship is more set in stone: It’s either going to work out, or it’s not. This is associated with a fixed mindset, and if you think like this, you might believe that you have a soulmate, someone who is fundamentally a perfect match. 

On the other hand, if you are a stronger believer in growth, it means you think relationships can grow over time. If you think like this, you probably believe that all relationship hurdles can eventually be overcome.

In that 2018 study mentioned earlier, the researchers didn’t just look at how frequently people ghosted. They also asked participants about their relationship beliefs and they found that stronger destiny beliefs led to more positive views toward ghosting. 

More specifically, when compared to people with weaker destiny beliefs, this group was about 63% more likely to say that ghosting was an acceptable way to end a long-term relationship. Those with stronger growth beliefs tended to say the opposite.

This may have happened because people with stronger destiny beliefs are often quicker to end a relationship when they don’t think it’s a good fit. Alternatively, these results could be related to whether participants thought they could be friends with someone after a breakup. If they didn’t, they might not have cared as much about how that person responded to being ghosted. 

Now, we are not here to make sweeping claims about how you personally should end your relationships; we are just here to talk about what psychologists have observed. Because, really, it’s super fascinating that this is even something researchers have studied.

Ultimately, while all kinds of survey participants have different opinions on whether ghosting is okay, the overarching theme seems to be that there are better ways to end relationships. If nothing else, ghosting doesn’t allow someone closure and if there is something they could have done better, it doesn’t give them a chance to learn.

In the long run, this may also make it harder for the ghoster to communicate disinterest or what isn’t going well for them. In a professional setting, well, the employer suddenly has an unexpected vacancy, which isn’t great.

Every relationship is different, though, so whether you want to ghost because of safety or a destiny mindset, we will leave those decisions up to you.

Extraterrestrial Life With In Our Solar System

Deep in our solar system, a new era of space exploration is unfolding. Beneath the thick ice of Europa, in the vapour plumes on Enceladus and within the methane lakes of Titan, astrobiologists are on the hunt for extraterrestrial life. We have honed in on these three moons because each is an ‘ocean world’, an environment that contains a liquid ocean and liquid can support the formation of life.

Living organisms have to be able to grow, reproduce and feed themselves, among other things. All of those functions require the formation of complex molecules from more basic components. Liquids such as water allow chemical compounds to remain in suspension instead of sinking under the force of gravity. This enables them to interact frequently in a 3-dimensional space and, in the right conditions, go through chemical reactions that lead to the formation of living matter. 

That alone isn’t enough, the small but complex biomolecules that we are familiar with are sensitive to temperature— too hot or cold, and they won’t mix. Liquid water has an additional advantage in that it’s relatively temperature-stable, meaning it can insulate molecules against large shifts in heat. On Earth, these and other conditions in aquatic environments may have supported the emergence of life billions of years ago. Tantalizingly, the same could be true in other parts of our solar system, like these three icy moons.

Europa, which is a moon of Jupiter, is probably the most intriguing ocean world. Beneath a surface layer of ice thicker than Mount Everest, there exists a liquid ocean as much as 100 kilometres deep. Astrobiologists think this hidden ocean could harbour life. Thanks to the Galileo probe, we can deduce that its potential salt content is similar to that of some lakes on Earth. But most of its characteristics will be a mystery until we can explore it further.

Like Jupiter, Saturn also has moons that might have the right conditions for life. For instance– Enceladus is a tiny ball of ice that’s small enough to nestle within the surface area of the Gulf of Mexico. Similarly to Europa, it likely contains an ocean deep under the ice. But Enceladus also has geysers that frequently vent water vapour and tiny ice grains into space. 

Astrobiologists are curious about whether these geysers are connected to the ocean below. They hope to send a probe to test whether the geysers’ plumes of vapour contain life-enabling material from that hidden sea.

Although it’s the best-known substance for nurturing life, water isn’t necessarily the only medium that can support living things. Take Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, which has a thick nitrogen atmosphere containing methane and many other organic molecules. Its clouds condense and rain onto Titan’s surface, sustaining lakes and seas full of liquid methane. This compound’s particular chemistry means it’s not as supportive a medium as water. But, paired with the high quantities of organic material that also rain down from the sky, these bodies of liquid methane could possibly support unfamiliar life forms.

So what might indicate that life exists on these or other worlds? If it is out there, astrobiologists speculate that it would be microscopic, comparable to the bacteria we have on earth. This would make it difficult to directly observe from a great distance, so astrobiologists seek clues called biosignatures. 

Those may be cells, fossils, or mineral traces left behind by living things. And finding any biosignatures will be challenging for many reasons. One of the biggest concerns is to make sure we sterilize our probes extremely thoroughly. Otherwise, we could accidentally contaminate ocean worlds with Earth’s own bacteria, which could destroy alien life.

Titan, Enceladus, and Europa are just three of possibly many ocean worlds that we could explore. We already know of several other candidates in our solar system, including Jupiter’s moons Callisto and Ganymede, Neptune’s Triton and even Pluto. If there’s this much potential for life to exist in our own tiny solar system, what unimagined secrets might the rest of the universe contain?


How Sugar Can Be So Addictive?

Picture warm, gooey cookies, crunchy candies, velvety cakes, waffle cones piled high with ice cream. Is your mouth watering? Are you craving dessert? Why? What happens in the brain that makes sugary foods so hard to resist?

Sugar is a general term used to describe a class of molecules called carbohydrates and it's found in a wide variety of food and drink. Just check the labels on sweet products you buy, Glucose, Fructose, Sucrose, Maltose, Lactose, Dextrose and Starch are all forms of sugar. So are high-fructose corn syrup, fruit juice, raw sugar, and honey. And sugar isn't just in candies and desserts, it's also added to tomato sauce, yoghurt, dried fruit, flavoured waters, or granola bars.

Since sugar is everywhere, it's important to understand how it affects our brain. What happens when sugar hits your tongue? And does eating a little bit of sugar make you crave more? 

So let's find answers to those question. You take a bite of cereal. The sugars it contains activate the sweet-taste receptors, part of the taste buds on the tongue, in your brain. These receptors send a signal up to the brain stem and from there, it forks off into many areas of your forebrain, one of which is the cerebral cortex.

Different sections of the cerebral cortex process different tastes: bitter, salty, umami and, in our case, sweet. From here, the signal activates the brain's reward system of your brain. This reward system is a series of electrical and chemical pathways across several different regions of the brain. It's a complicated network, but it helps answer a single, subconscious question: should I do that again?

That warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you taste a chocolate cake? That's your reward system saying, "Mmm, yes!" And it's not just activated by food. Socializing, sexual behaviour and drugs are just a few examples of things and experiences that also activate the reward system.

But overactivating this reward system kickstarts a series of unfortunate events for you. Like, loss of control, craving and increased tolerance to sugar.

Let's get back to our bite of cereal ok. It travels down into your stomach and eventually into your gut. And guess what? There are sugar receptors here, too. They are not taste-buds, but they do send signals telling your brain that you are full or that your body should produce more insulin to deal with the extra sugar you are eating. 

The major currency of our reward system is dopamine, an important chemical or neurotransmitter. There are many dopamine receptors in the forebrain, but they are not evenly distributed. Certain areas contain dense clusters of receptors, and these dopamine hot spots are a part of your reward system. 

Drugs like alcohol, nicotine or heroin send dopamine into overdrive, leading some people to constantly seek that high, in other words, to be addicted. Sugar also causes dopamine to be released, though not as violently as drugs. 

Sugar is rare among dopamine-inducing foods. Broccoli, for example, has no effect, which probably explains why it's so hard to for me to eat veggies, maybe it's true for you too.

Speaking of healthy foods, let's say you're hungry and decide to eat a balanced meal. You do and dopamine levels spike in your reward system hot spots. But if you eat that same dish many days in a row, your dopamine levels will spike less and less, eventually levelling out. That's because when it comes to food, our brain evolved to pay special attention to new or different tastes. Why?

Two reasons: first, to detect food that's gone bad for you. And second, because the more variety you have in your diet, the more likely you are to get all the nutrients you need. To keep that variety up, we need to be able to recognize new foods and more importantly, we need to want to keep eating new foods. And that's why the dopamine levels off when a food becomes boring.

Now, back to that meal. What happens if, in place of the healthy balanced dish, you eat sugar-rich food instead? If you rarely eat sugar or don't eat much at a time, the effect is similar to that of the balanced meal. But if you eat too much, the dopamine response does not level out. In other words, eating lots of sugar will continue to feel rewarding. In this way, sugar behaves a little bit like a drug.

It's one reason people seem to be hooked on sugary foods. So, think back to all those different kinds of sugar. Each one is unique, but every time any sugar is consumed, it kickstarts a domino effect in the brain that sparks a rewarding feeling. 

Too much, too often, and things can go into overdrive. So, yes, overconsumption of sugar can have addictive effects on the brain, but a wedge of cake once in a while won't hurt you. So do eat sweet, because you need it. Just don't eat too much.


What Is Aerogel?

Aerogel is a synthetic porous ultralight material derived from a gel, in which the liquid component for the gel has been replaced with a gas. The result is a solid with extremely low density and low thermal conductivity. Nicknames include frozen smoke, solid smoke, solid air, solid cloud, blue smoke owing to its translucent nature and the way light scatters in the material.

Aerogels are a diverse class of porous, solid materials that exhibit an uncanny array of extreme materials properties. Most notably aerogels are known for their extremely low densities (which range from 0.0011 to ~0.5 g cm-3). In fact, the lowest density solid materials that have ever been produced are all aerogels, including a silica aerogel that as produced was only three times heavier than air, and could be made lighter than air by evacuating the air out of its pores.

An aerogel is the intact, dry, ultralow density, porous solid framework of a gel (that is, the part that gives a gel its solid-like cohesiveness) isolated from the gel’s liquid component (which takes up most of the volume in the gel).

The term aerogel does not refer to a particular substance, but rather to a geometry which a substance can take on–the same way a sculpture can be made out of clay, plastic, paper-mâché, etc.

Aerogels can be made of a wide variety of substances, including: silica, Most of the transition metal oxides (for example, iron oxide), Most of the lanthanide and actinide metal oxides (for example, praseodymium oxide), Several main group metal oxides (for example, tin oxide), Organic polymers (such as resorcinol-formaldehyde, phenol-formaldehyde, polyacrylates, polystyrenes, polyurethanes, and epoxies),  Biological polymers (such as gelatin, pectin, and agar agar), Semiconductor nanostructures (such as cadmium selenide quantum dots), Carbon, Carbon nanotubes, Metals (such as copper and gold).

Many aerogels boast a combination of impressive materials properties that no other materials possess simultaneously. Specific formulations of aerogels hold records for the lowest bulk density of any known material (as low as 0.0011 g cm-3), the lowest mean free path of diffusion of any solid material, the highest specific surface area of any monolithic (non-powder) material (up to 3200 m2 g-1), the lowest dielectric constant of any solid material, and the slowest speed of sound through any solid material. It is important to note that not all aerogels have record properties.

By tailoring the production process, many of the properties of an aerogel can be adjusted. Bulk density is a good example of this, adjusted simply by making a more or less concentrated precursor gel. The thermal conductivity of an aerogel can be also be adjusted this way since thermal conductivity is related to density. 

Typically, aerogels exhibit bulk densities ranging from 0.5 to 0.01 g cm-3 and surface areas ranging from 100 to 1000 m2 g-1, depending of course on the composition of the aerogel and the density of the precursor gel used to make the aerogel. Other properties such as transparency, colour, mechanical strength and susceptibility to water depend primarily on the composition of the aerogel.

For example, silica aerogels, which are the most widely researched type of aerogel, are usually transparent with a characteristic blue cast due to Rayleigh scattering of the short wavelengths of light off of nanoparticles that make up the aerogel’s framework. Carbon aerogels, on the other hand, are totally opaque and black. Furthermore, iron oxide aerogels are just barely translucent and can be either rust-coloured or yellow. 

As another example, low-density (<0.1 g cm-3) inorganic aerogels are both excellent thermal insulators and excellent dielectric materials (electrical insulators), whereas most carbon aerogels are both good thermal insulators and electrical conductors. Thus it can be seen that by adjusting processing parameters and exploring new compositions, we can make materials with a versatile range of properties and abilities.

Its unique properties have made aerogel popular with a range of industries. Silicon manufacturers, homebuilding materials manufacturers and space agencies have all put aerogel to use. Its popularity has only been hindered by cost, though there is an increasingly successful push to create aerogels that are cost-efficient. In the meantime, aerogels can be found in a range of products: Wetsuits, Firefighter Suits, Skylights, Windows, Rockets, Paints, Cosmetics, Nuclear weapons.

Because of aerogel's unique structure, its use as an insulator a no-brainer. The super-insulating air pockets with the aerogel's structure almost entirely counteract the three methods of heat transfer: convection, conduction and radiation. 

Even though aerogel is still quite expensive, the good news is that studies have shown that aerogel insulation used in wall framing and hard-to-insulate areas such as window flashing can save a homeowner up to $750 per year. In addition to helping homeowners save money, aerogel insulation can significantly reduce your carbon footprint.

Companies are racing to find a way to bring costs down, but for now, aerogels are more affordable for NASA than the general public. Still, aerogels are put to use by construction companies, power plants and refineries.


What Is Game Theory?

Game theory as we know it today came about in part because of one man’s interest in poker. This man was not just your average man on the street. He was a mathematician, physicist and computer scientist named John von Neumann. 

His goal was loftier than becoming a better poker player. He was only interested in poker because he saw it as a path toward developing the mathematics of life itself. He wanted a general theory – he called it ‘Game Theory’ – that could be applied to diplomacy, war, love, evolution or business strategy.

He moved closer toward that goal when he collaborated with economist Oskar Morgenstern on a book called "A Theory of Games and Economic Behavior" in 1944.

The Library of Economics and Liberty (Econlib) states that in their book, von Neumann and Morgenstern asserted that any economic situation could be defined as the outcome of a game between two or more players.

What is a game according to game theory? Yale economics professor Ben Polak notes a game has three basic components: players, strategies and payoffs. As we just mentioned, game theory applies to games involving two or more players. In a game, players share “common knowledge” of the rules, available strategies, and possible payoffs of a game. However, it is not always the case that players have “perfect” knowledge of these elements of a game.

Strategies are the actions that players take in a game. The strategy is at the heart of the game theory. The theory presented in A Theory of Games and Economic Behavior as the mathematical modelling of a strategic interaction between rational adversaries, where each side’s actions would depend on what the other side would do.

The concept of strategic interdependence – the actions of one player influencing the actions of the other players – is one important aspect of von Neumann’s version of game theory that is still relevant today.

Then there are payoffs, which one source describes as the “outcome of the strategy applied by the player.” Payoffs could be a wide range of things depending on the game. It could be profits, a peace treaty or getting a great deal on a land.

One limitation of Von Neumann’s version of game theory is that it focused on finding optimal strategies for one type of game called a zero-sum game. In a zero-sum game, one player's loss is the other player's gain. A source notes that players can neither increase nor decrease the available resources in zero-sum games.

Critics have noted that life is often not as simple as a zero-sum game. More complicated game scenarios are possible in the real world. For example, players can do things like find more resources or form coalitions that increase the gains of several players. Game theory has evolved to analyze a wider range of games such as combinatorial games and differential games, but we have time to look at only one.

A classic example of a game often studied in game theory is called The Prisoner’s Dilemma. There are two prisoners, Jack and Tom, who have just been captured for robbing a bank. The police don't have enough evidence to convict them but know that they committed the crime.

They put Jack and Tom in separate inter[r]ogation rooms and lay out the consequences: If both Jack and Tom confess they will each get 10 years in prison. If one confesses and the other doesn't, the one who confessed will go free and the other will spend 20 years in prison. If neither person confesses, they will both get 5 years for a different crime they were wanted for.

The Prisoner’s Dilemma contains the basic elements of a game. The two players are Jack and Tom. There are two strategies available to them: confess or don’t confess. The payoffs of the game range from going free to serving 5,10, or 20 years in prison.

Let's see and compare these outcomes (payoffs) As they are put into a matrix: Since Tom's strategies are listed in rows or the x-axis, his payoffs are listed first. Jack's payoffs are listed second because his strategies are in columns or on the y-axis. ‘C’ means ‘confess’ and ‘NC’ means ‘not confess.’ This matrix is called ‘Normal Form’ in game theory.

Moves are simultaneous, which means that neither player knows the other's decision and decisions are made at the same time. In this example, both prisoners are in separate rooms and won't be let out until they have both made their decision. 

One common solution to simultaneous games is known as the “dominant strategy.”  It is defined as the “strategy that has the best payoff no matter what the other player chooses.” Tom does not know if Jack will confess or not. He takes a look at his options. If Jack confesses and Tom does not, Tom will get 20 years in prison. If both Jack and Tom confess, Tom will get only 10 years. If Jack does not confess and Tom does, Tom will go free. 

The best strategy for Tom is to confess because it leads to the best payoffs regardless of Jack’s actions. Confessing will cause Tom to either go free or serve less prison time than if he did not confess. Jack is in the same situation and has the same options as Tom. As a result, the best strategy for Jack is also to confess because it leads to the same best payoffs that Tom will get.

One study states that a dominant strategy equilibrium is reached when each player chooses their own dominant strategy. Why is the strategy of both not confessing not the best choice? While this option would give both of them less prison time than if they confessed, it would work only if each of them could be sure the other one would not confess.

It is unknown whether Tom and Jack would be able to work together with that level of cooperation. In addition, both are unlikely to choose the strategy of not confessing because it has a greater penalty than they would get if they confessed. Confessing also gives each of them the possibility of serving no prison time, which is even less than 5 years in prison.

The Prisoner’s Dilemma is a good example of how rationality can be problematic in game theory. The University of British Columbia, Vancouver researcher Yamin Htun calls it “one of the most debatable issues in game theory.” 

Htun points out that almost all of the theories are based on the assumption that agents are rational players who strive to maximize their utilities (payoffs).  Yet studies demonstrate that players do not always act rationally and that “the conclusions of rational analysis sometimes fail to conform to reality.

As we can see from this game, the most rational strategy that would give both players less prison time was not the best choice, while a choice that involves both players doing more prison time was.

The Prisoner’s Dilemma also reflects how other game theorists were able to fix some of the problems with Von Neumann’s version of game theory. One of them was mathematician John Nash.

He found a way to determine optimal strategies in any finite game. He describes the Nash equilibrium as a particular solution to games—one marked by the fact that each player is making out the best he or she possibly can, given the strategies being employed by all of the other players. 

When Nash equilibrium is reached in a game, none of the players wants to change to another strategy because doing so will lead to a worse outcome than the current strategy. In the Prisoner’s Dilemma, the Nash equilibrium is the strategy of both players confessing. There is no other better option for either player to switch to.

From this game, we can also see another interesting aspect of the Nash equilibrium. Mathematician Iztok Hozo points out that any dominant strategy equilibrium is also a Nash equilibrium. He explains that this is because the Nash equilibrium is an extension of the concepts of dominant strategy equilibrium. However, he notes that the Nash equilibrium can be used to solve games that do not have a dominant strategy.

Nash received great praise for the Nash equilibrium and his other work in game theory – but not from John von Neumann. According to Forbes, “Von Neumann, consumed with envy, dismissed the young Nash's result as ‘trivial’-- meaning mathematically simple.” 

Others did not share in Von Neumann’s assessment of Nash’s work. Nash, Reinhard Selten, and John Harsanyi went on to share the 1994 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for their work in game theory. 

Nash’s most fundamental contribution to game theory was in opening the field up to a wider range of applications and different scenarios to be studied. Without his breakthrough, much of what followed in game theory might not have been possible.

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