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Why do Fevers get Worse at Night?

The illness goes bump in the night may not be just a patient's imagination. Doctors have sensed for centuries that many diseases actually do get worse at night and science has begun to confirm this impression.

Fevers are often worse at night. The same is often said about asthma, arthritis and the flu. And although heart attacks commonly occur in the morning, researchers believe they are frequently triggered by night-time happenings in the body. There is a field of study in biology devoted to understanding how the time of day affects our health called chronobiology.

The symptoms of fever are abnormally high body temperature, shivering and sweating, headache, muscle ache, loss of appetite, and general fatigue. In some cases, children under 5 may suffer seizures during high fever spikes alarming for parents, but not usually life-threatening. 

It’s important to remember that fever itself is not a disease. In fact, it’s the exact opposite a sign that the body’s immune system is fighting off a bacterial or viral infection although it can be a cause for serious concern. Like if an infant less than two months of age is running a fever greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, or if anyone with a compromised immune system spikes a fever.

There are some fairly obvious explanations for fever symptoms to be magnified during the evening hours.  Just like our sleep schedules, our immune system also has a rest pattern of its own when it is more active and when it is not. Our immunity defends the body differs from day to night. Hence, doctors generally don’t rule out fever before 24-48 hours even if you are feeling completely fine during the day.

During the day, our immune cells protect us but as night approaches, immune cells get less active and do some inflammatory action, by deliberately increasing the body temperature in hopes of killing the bacteria. This phenomenon is called ‘temporary fever’, which fight infections.

It's the body’s defence mechanism ensuring that the entire immune defence force is prepared to put up a fight during the morning since it is the time when most productive things happen. 

There’ is one other element that we don’t quite fully understand, but it seems to be important. We know that two key hormones cortisol and adrenaline are suppressed when we sleep. From extensive studies on asthma management, we have learned that when the level of these hormones is reduced at night, it’s harder for asthmatics to breathe. Researchers believe this restriction also exacerbates fever symptoms at night. 

When you or your family members have a troubling fever, trust your instincts if you think something is wrong, then call your paediatrician or family doctor for advice.

Two Supermassive Black Holes On A Collision Course

Supermassive black holes are thought to be at the centre of most galaxies, and they are huge. The Milky Way’s own supermassive black hole, Sagittarius A*, is about 4 million times the mass of our sun. But scientists have just spotted two absolute behemoths, that dwarf Sagittarius A*, and they are on a collision course. It’s the first time such massive black holes have been spotted this close together, and it could help us detect a hum of gravitational background noise. 

Of course “close” is a relative term and in this particular instance when scientists say close, they mean about 1,400 light-years apart. The black holes are located about 2.5 billion light-years from us, so since the light from them took 2.5 billion years to reach us, we are observing them as they were 2.5 billion years ago.

Coincidentally, the scientists who discovered them estimate that that’s about how long it will take before they collide. They could be merging with each other right now, unleashing huge gravitational waves millions of times more powerful than those previously detected by LIGO and Virgo. Of course, because of how far away they are, the waves won’t reach us for 2.5 billion years.

That is if they happen at all. We have observed stellar-mass black holes merging, but we are not sure if their supermassive counterparts can join forces by merging too. It seems odd, these things each have an incredible gravitational pull, why wouldn’t they run head-on into each other?

Right now the thinking is when galaxies merge, their supermassive black holes begin to orbit each other. As they do, dust and stars in between them sap some of their energy, causing their orbits to tighten. But as they get closer, that region of space between them shrinks, until theoretically there’s no way to lose more energy.

The two black holes find themselves stably orbiting each other but never getting closer. Some studies suggest that happens at about 1 parsec, or roughly 3.2 light-years distance, so it’s known as the final parsec problem. But all that is theoretical, and we’re lacking more observational data.

It’s possible our predictions are wrong and black holes of this size do merge instead of stalling out a parsec apart. Unfortunately, black hole pairs are very hard to spot. Remember how we mentioned earlier this is the closest we have seen two this big and they’re 1,400 light-years away from each other?

Because 1 parsec is way too close for us to distinguish two supermassive black holes apart. And now that we have found these two, it’s not like we can wait around 2.5 billion years to see if they merge. we will probably be dead by then. But since we have spotted these two, we can start to guess how common merging supermassive black holes would be. 

Based on their findings the scientists estimate that optimistically there are 112 black holes whose gravitational waves we can detect from Earth. This would make a kind of constant hum, the scientists likened this gravitational background noise to a chorus of chirping crickets. 

Normally it’d be impossible to distinguish one cricket from another. But if there’s no final parsec problem and they can merge, it should create a massive chirp at the moment they collide. When that happens, the waves will be at frequencies outside what LIGO and Virgo can detect. So instead, scientists will have to keep a close eye on pulsars, special stars that send out radio waves at regular intervals.

If a supermassive merger stretches or compresses the space between us and a pulsar, the rhythm will appear to be thrown off. These frequency changes are so small, just tens to hundreds of Nanohertz, it will require close to a decade of observation to spot the weak signal hiding in the noise. 

They are searching for more pairs of black holes to refine their prediction further, but it’s possible we never detect a merger and the final parsec problem is insurmountable after all. And while LIGO can’t detect supermassive mergers, it was recently upgraded, making it 40% more sensitive as it continues its hunt for merging stellar-mass black holes.

Source:-  The Astrophysical Journal Letters :-

Global Warming Explained By Quantum Mechanics

You have probably heard that carbon dioxide is warming the Earth, but how does it work? Is it like the glass of a greenhouse or like an insulating blanket? Well, not entirely. The answer involves a bit of quantum mechanics, but don't worry, we'll start with a rainbow.

If you look closely at sunlight separated through a prism, you will see dark gaps where bands of color went missing. Where did they go? Before reaching our eyes, different gases absorbed those specific parts of the spectrum. For example, oxygen gas snatched up some of the dark red light and sodium grabbed two bands of yellow.

But why do these gases absorb specific colors of light? This is where we enter the quantum realm. Every atom and molecule has a set number of possible energy levels for its electrons. To shift its electrons from the ground state to a higher level, a molecule needs to gain a certain amount of energy. No more, no less. It gets that energy from light, which comes in more energy levels than you could count.

Light consists of tiny particles called photons and the amount of energy in each photon corresponds to its color. Red light has lower energy and longer wavelengths. Purple light has higher energy and shorter wavelengths. Sunlight offers all the photons of the rainbow, so a gas molecule can choose the photons that carry the exact amount of energy needed to shift the molecule to its next energy level.

When this match is made, the photon disappears as the molecule gains its energy and we get a small gap in our rainbow. If a photon carries too much or too little energy, the molecule has no choice but to let it fly past. This is why glass is transparent. The atoms in glass do not pair well with any of the energy levels in visible light, so the photons pass through.

So, which photons does carbon dioxide prefer? Where is the black line in our rainbow that explains global warming? Well, it's not there. Carbon dioxide doesn't absorb light directly from the Sun. It absorbs light from a totally different celestial body. One that doesn't appear to be emitting light at all Earth.

If you are wondering why our planet doesn't seem to be glowing, it's because the Earth doesn't emit visible light. It emits infrared light. The light that our eyes can see, including all of the colors of the rainbow, is just a small part of the larger spectrum of electromagnetic radiation, which includes radio waves, microwaves, infrared, ultraviolet, x-rays and gamma rays.

It may seem strange to think of these things as light, but there is no fundamental difference between visible light and other electromagnetic radiation. It's the same energy, but at a higher or lower level. In fact, it's a bit presumptuous to define the term visible light by our own limitations. After all, infrared light is visible to snakes and ultraviolet light is visible to birds. If our eyes were adapted to see light of 1900 megahertz, then a mobile phone would be a flashlight, and a cell phone tower would look like a huge lantern.

Earth emits infrared radiation because every object with a temperature above absolute zero will emit light. This is called thermal radiation. The hotter an object gets, the higher frequency the light it emits. When you heat a piece of iron, it will emit more and more frequencies of infrared light, and then, at a temperature of around 450 degrees Celsius, its light will reach the visible spectrum.

At first, it will look red hot. And with even more heat, it will glow white with all of the frequencies of visible light. This is how traditional light bulbs were designed to work and that's why they are so wasteful. 95% of the light they emit is invisible to our eyes. It's wasted as heat. 

Earth's infrared radiation would escape to space if there weren't greenhouse gas molecules in our atmosphere. Just as oxygen gas prefers the dark red photons, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases match with infrared photons. They provide the right amount of energy to shift the gas molecules into their higher energy level.

Shortly after a carbon dioxide molecule absorbs an infrared photon, it will fall back to its previous energy level and spit a photon back out in a random direction. Some of that energy then returns to Earth's surface, causing warming.

The more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the more likely that infrared photons will land back on Earth and change our climate.

Triton | The Largest Of Neptune's 13 Moons

Triton is an exceptionally unusual, although often forgotten, moon. It has so many unique characteristics, it makes it one of the most interesting objects in the Solar System. But because it is the largest moon of Neptune, the planet furthest away from us, it also means that we have only visited it once, very briefly, as Voyager 2 flew by all the way back in 1989, 30 years ago. But what did this visit reveal? And what have we found out about it since? 

First of all, let’s discuss where Triton fits into our solar system and its local system. Triton is one of 14 known moons of Neptune. 7 of these moons are regular moons or in other words, moons that orbit along Neptune’s ecliptic with very circular orbits or orbits with very low eccentricity. After these inner, regular moons, we get to the irregular moons, the first of which is Triton.

An irregular moon is a moon that follows an inclined, eccentric and often retrograde orbit. This by itself is already where Triton is set apart from any other spherical moon in the solar system, it has an irregular orbit. Triton orbits clockwise around Neptune as Neptune rotates counterclockwise, and Triton orbits at a 130° angle to the ecliptic of the planet, although it should be noted that its orbital eccentricity is close to zero, its orbit is almost perfectly circular.

All other large moons in the solar system are regular moons, orbiting the same direction as the rotation of their parent planet. What this heavily implies is that Triton did not form alongside Neptune, but it is, in fact, a captured object, specifically a captured dwarf planet.

No wonder then that it is by far the biggest of Neptune’s fourteen moons, comprising 99.5% of the mass found in Neptune’s orbit. But how big is that in scales we can relate to? 

Well, it is the second-largest moon in relation to its parent planet, second only to Earth and its moon. While it is smaller than our moon, it orbits closer to Neptune than our moon orbits Earth, which means it appears around the same size in the sky. It is the 7th largest moon in the entire solar system, and most interestingly, it is bigger than Pluto. 

Pluto is often considered the king of the Kuiper Belt, the biggest object that we know of that formed there, until we consider that Triton once ruled that area before Neptune captured it. So, although Triton is a moon of Neptune, it could also be said that it is the biggest and most massive Kuiper Belt object! 

Further evidence for this was found as New Horizons passed Pluto in 2015, suggesting Triton and Pluto share a near-identical composition, which supports the theory that they share a common origin. 

Beyond Triton are six other irregular moons, found much further out. They are almost certainly captured objects too, with unusually eccentric orbits that take years to complete. They were probably perturbed into these weird orbits by the gravity of Triton. 

So, if Triton was a captured object, how did that happen? Objects need to lose momentum to be captured, otherwise, they would have enough momentum to escape. Well, we can’t know for sure, but the leading theory right now is that Triton was once part of a binary system, perhaps like Pluto and Charon. As Neptune approached Triton and its moon, the gravity from the encounter would have caused the binary system to fall apart, with Triton’s moon being slingshot away and Triton losing enough momentum to be captured in orbit around Neptune. 

As mentioned before that Triton shares some similar characteristics with Pluto. So, what exactly does that entail? Well, they both have a predominantly nitrogen ice surface with other ices mixed in, like water and carbon dioxide. It has quite a flat terrain, its topography never varies by more than a kilometre, although Voyager 2 did see ridges and troughs, plateaus and ice plains. What you may find unusual though is that it has very little in the way of craters, this implies its surface is very young and is constantly being renewed.

Like Pluto, it also has some reddish patches, which is thought to be methane ice having reacted to UV light from the Sun, producing what is known as tholins, an organic compound that has a supposedly tar-like consistency. While organic compounds do not mean life is present there, organic compounds are the basic chemicals from which life forms. Life likely couldn’t exist on the surface of Triton anyway, as it is far too cold and the Sun far to dim to support any lifeform that we can imagine, but what’s interesting is what could be found under Triton’s crust.

Under Triton’s surface is thought to be a rocky and metallic interior, which gives Triton a reasonably high density for a moon, at 2 g/cm³. Because of this, and also due to the big step up in size from the next biggest moon in the solar system, Titania, it has more mass than all moons smaller than it in the whole solar system combined. The radioactive decay from the rocky core could be enough to heat and power convection in a subsurface ocean of water, much like what is thought to be under the surfaces of Europa, Enceladus and some other large moons in the solar system.

Just like Europa and Enceladus, cryovolcanism is an active process today on Triton. Liquid water in the mantle erupts onto the surface like lava on Earth. This is the main reason why the surface is so young, it is being actively renewed by liquid water erupting, and then freezing on Triton’s surface.

Some very young lava plains have been identified, sparse and flat regions, yet interestingly with a wall that surrounds the plain. We call this a planitia, or in other words, a solidified lava lake. We also can see caldera, which is the collapse found at the centre of a cryovolcano, where lava plains formed from.

It is thought that the water from these eruptions would have also brought minerals from the underground oceans onto the surface, perhaps even being the source of the tholins and organic matter mentioned earlier. If this is the case and organic compounds are found in the subsurface ocean, it means that there’s a possibility that conditions are right for life to have been able to form there.

We also see long lines permeating over the surface, these are likely faults caused either by tectonic activity or freeze-thaw weathering processes. If we look at the Voyager 2 images of Triton, we can see the results of some recent eruptions. You will notice what looks to be dark deposits on the surface, in cone or funnel-like shapes up to 150km long. However, these smaller eruptions may not originate from the mantle itself. Voyager 2 spotted some plumes reaching 8km high, but these are thought to because of a solid greenhouse effect within the moon’s icy crust.

Imagine the surface of Triton consisting of clear ice which has settled on dark deposits like tholins. The Sun shines through the ice, warming the darker, more absorbent tholins beneath, which sublimes a pocket of ice under the surface. As the ices sublime, the pressure builds in the air pocket until the surface above the pocket gives way, causing an eruption. This eruption also takes the darker deposits with it, spreading them out on the surface again.

If this is the case, a very similar process has been seen on Mars’ poles with carbon dioxide ices and darker deposits under the ice layer. This process can only exist because of one thing, Triton has an atmosphere, although not as thick as scientists were initially expecting. Triton’s atmosphere is thin, only 0.014 mbar, about the equivalent of 80km up on Earth, although like Pluto, this density varies through seasonal changes.

Since Voyager 2’s observations, Triton’s atmosphere has become denser, as the surface has warmed, evaporating a little of the nitrogen ices on the surface. However, when Voyager 2 passed, Triton’s atmosphere was still dense enough to support weather up to 8km above its surface. Like Pluto, Triton’s atmosphere is hazy, the cause of which is thought to be hydrocarbons in the atmosphere not yet broken down into tholins by UV light from the Sun.

The constant depositing of organic compounds through cryovolcanism, ices evaporating and freezing again through seasonal variations, and a weather rich, active atmosphere makes Triton a very dynamic world, unlike most other moons in the solar system. It is more a dwarf planet than a moon, likely a sibling of the more famous Pluto in the Kuiper belt. All these factors combined make it one exceptionally unusual moon.


How Many Times A Falcon 9 Can Be Reused?

On the 21st of December 2015, SpaceX made history by landing their first Falcon 9 booster back on land. After years of development and testing, SpaceX was one step closer to dramatically reducing the cost of spaceflight.

Since then, over 45 boosters have been landed with over half of them being reused. But how many times can a Falcon 9 be reused And what does it take to refurbish each booster between flights?

In this article, we are going to look at how SpaceX upgraded the Falcon 9 to be more reusable. We are also going to look at what goes into refurbishing the Falcon 9 and how it will eventually be replaced by Starship.

In April 2018, SpaceX launched the new and improved ‘Block 5’ Falcon 9. This new version brought many upgrades to the engine heat shield, grid fins and landing legs, with an aim to reduce the amount of refurbishment and maximize the number of flights per booster.

Although this upgrade cut out the need for a lot of refurbishment, the average turnaround time for a booster has only dropped from 356 days to 107, with the quickest turnaround time being 72 days. The Space Shuttle, on the other hand, achieved a record of just 55 days between flights back in 1985, with regular refurbishment times of less than 100 days.

However, after the Challenger disaster, the safety standards increased and this put extra pressure on refurbishment. The process became an enormously expensive task, requiring over 9,000 employees to make the Shuttle ready for flight. With SpaceX aiming to achieve a refurbishment time of just 24 hours, they will need to match the turnaround process of airliners, with each rocket only needing a quick inspection between flights.

When the first stage booster returns to Earth either by land or by sea, it’s lifted onto a trailer and transported back to the SpaceX hangar. This can take multiple days to complete since each of the four landing legs need to be removed manually. Although they are designed to be quickly retracted, SpaceX has only been able to do this on two occasions.

Once the booster is back in the hangar, the refurbishment process begins with each engine going through a number of rigorous tests to make sure that every component is ready for flight. According to Musk, each Merlin engine could perform up to 1000 flights without major refurbishment.

The hydraulic grid fin system, which failed during a landing in the year 2018, must also be checked for any leaks. The fuel tanks and pressure vessels go through a series of ultrasonic tests to check for tiny cracks that could lead to a failure once the rocket is pressurized for flight. Once the booster has passed the inspection process, it performs a static fire test with all 9 engines, before being attached to the payload.

At the moment, all of these checks still need to be completed as they venture into the unknown territory of multiple reuses. Each mission will give them more knowledge on how many flights each booster can perform and over time, the refurbishment process should become more refined.

So far, there are three Falcon 9 boosters that have each completed triple launches. SpaceX currently has around eight Falcon 9 boosters in their fleet, but eventually, they aim to grow that number to 20. Although the Falcon 9 could theoretically fly up to 100 times with minimal refurbishment, each booster is only expected to perform a total of around 30 flights over the next decade.

However, with SpaceX working on a much more powerful and fully reusable rocket, the Falcon 9 could become obsolete much sooner than expected.

SpaceX is currently building the first prototypes of their ‘Starship’ rocket in Texas and Florida. And with customers already lined up, they aim to launch their first commercial payload in 2021. Not only will SpaceX use Starship for Mars and commercial satellite missions, but they also want to use Starship for travel here on Earth, providing flights to anywhere in the world in well under an hour.

Unlike the Falcon 9, Starship is designed to be fully reusable with an aim to complete thousands of flights before any major refurbishment is needed. If SpaceX can get Starship up and running, it could replace the Falcon 9 altogether since it would be capable of launching much heavier payloads for a fraction of the cost.

Over the next few years, SpaceX will be hiring thousands of new employees to work on Starship. When it comes to hiring, Elon Musk has admitted that he doesn’t care about college degrees. In fact, in the early days of SpaceX, Elon taught himself rocket science by reading books and talking to people in the industry.  So if you want to join SpaceX or anything you are interested in then starts gaining knowledge about it from today.  


How To Produce More Brain Cells?

It was previously believed that we stopped creating new brain cells once we became adults. Science has proven this to be false and coined the term Brain Plasticity. The brain is flexible, everything we experience is constantly changing and shaping our brains to some degree.

The hippocampus an important part of the brain, responsible for learning and retaining new knowledge. Certain factors that you will learn from this article can have a big impact on the activity and brain mass of your hippocampus, and the size of it is directly related to the level of neurogenesis.

You can increase your rate of neurogenesis at any age, and in the reference studies, it was possible to increase it by up to 500%. So, how can we increase our production of new brain cells? Let's categorizes these things in five areas: diet, body, heart, mind, and spirit.

Let's take a closer look at each of these, starting with the diet. The four most powerful dietary neurogenesis factors are blueberries, omega-3 fatty acids (ALA, DHA and EPA) which are found in fish or krill oil. By the way, if you' are vegan you should look into supplementing with algae because flaxseed oil is not adequate.

Next up is Epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG for short, which is a powerful polyphenol found in green tea. However, chronic caffeine intake is detrimental to neurogenesis, so it is recommended to takin decaffeinated extract supplements. Lastly, curcumin, a compound found in turmeric.

Other food compounds and supplements that stimulate neurogenesis include Quercetin, Vitamin E, Grapeseed Extract, Ginseng root, Ginkgo Biloba, Goji Berries, Rhodiola Rosea root and Lotus root.

Let's move on to the body category. Exercise can massively increase your neurogenesis, specifically exercise that increases your heart rate, for example, high-intensity interval training. Other things include sex, proper sleep, music, silence, sounds of nature, and simply being in nature and lastly novelty and new sensory experiences.

The heart category is about emotions. Feeling good, experiencing joy, love, interest, excitement, essentially positive emotions. Of course, nobody feels these things all the time, but optimally you should be experiencing these things often.

Relationships are huge influencers. Positive relationships breed neurogenesis, while negative ones that cause stress, anger or anxiety, decrease neurogenesis. Feeling love increases neurogenesis by the means of oxytocin, the hormone associated with love and physical contact.

When it comes to the mind we have learning, reading, writing, problem-solving, complex work that involves using cognitive abilities, discussing ideas, musical training.  It has been observed that there seems to be a very strong link between how much you use your mind early during your life and the prevalence of Alzheimer's later in life. 

For example, nuns that were teachers had much lower chances of developing Alzheimer's than nuns that didn't teach. This is called cognitive reserve. 

In the spirit category, we find mindfulness meditation, where you pay attention to your breathing, and compassion meditation, which involves wishing wellness to others. Prayer can also have a similar effect to compassion meditation. 

A list of things that decrease your rate of neurogenesis and that you should avoid if you want a healthy brain. These are chronically elevated blood sugar levels, high amounts of carbohydrates, sugar, overeating, inflammatory foods such as fried foods, cooking oils, and factory-farmed meat, eggs, and dairy. Chronic caffeine intake, smoking, alcohol, obesity, stress, despair lack of engagement, depression. 

Blows to the head can be devastating to the brain. In fact, a single concussion doubles a person's chances of getting Alzheimer's later in life. Chemical and environmental pollution also play a role, for example, mercury which is found in many fish is the second most neurotoxic substance in the world.

Lastly, deprivation of sensory stimulation or emotional nourishment, basically living a boring life, not experiencing interesting things, never doing anything new and living every day exactly the same. And by the way, excessive TV is also linked to increased risk of Alzheimer's.


Pneumonia | Why It Is So Deadly?

Our immune system has a whole arsenal, like macrophages, cytokines, t-cells and many more, to fight off an infection. But when it comes to some diseases, the way the body defends itself can have unintended consequences. In the case of Pneumonia, the immune system’s response can be very lethal hence earning it the nickname the ‘captain of the men of death.’

Pneumonia doesn’t just refer to a single virus or bacteria. It’s a condition that can actually be caused by a number of different bacteria, viruses or even fungi. The most common being the bacteria streptococcus pneumoniae, who will be our main bad guy today. So when we are talking about pneumonia, we are really referring to something that is happening to our lungs.

So pneumonia is an infection of the lungs and it is a very common infection. The problem is that the lungs are thought to be sterile, in fact, the lungs aren't sterile. But generally, there are very few bugs in your lungs. The problem is that our mouth and our nose are actually filled with bacteria and viruses and these can something get down into the lungs.

We are constantly being exposed to the bacteria and viruses that cause pneumonia-like Streptococcus pneumoniae. These pathogens can live in your upper respiratory tract without you even knowing it. That’s because, for most people, the immune system should be able to step in and stop them in their tracks, leading to immunity.

You become immune to the bugs that you encounter when you are very young and by about five years of age, you are pretty much immune. But, for children under 5, the immune system is weaker, leaving the body susceptible to infection. 

It’s not just children who are at risk. Unfortunately, pneumonia risk comes back again in the elderly. "Who is elderly?" you might say. Generally defined as people older than 65. So pneumonia is a disease of the extremes of life, the very young and the very old.

Now, it’s not only young children and older adults, anyone with a compromised immune system is at risk. With the immune system unable to mount a defence in the respiratory tract, the bacteria are able to pass into the lungs. Once there, the immune system will still try to defend the body.

But unfortunately, they have a lot of side effects when this response occurs. Macrophages first try to fight off the infection, but they can become overwhelmed, triggering the release of cytokines. These cytokines lead to inflammation of the lungs, causing air sacs called alveoli to fill with fluid.

So alveoli are air sacs in the lungs that are where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide takes place. It is these alveoli that get filled with the fluid that's come from your bloodstream. Now, there's no particular reason for red cells to get out of the bloodstream but white cells that are included in the bloodstream are very potent cells able to kill bacteria and they move in from the bloodstream out into the tissues at the site of infection.

But, filling the alveoli with fluid does more than just fight off the infection. That’s because, basically, your lung sacs are filling with pus. The lungs are there and exquisitely designed for oxygen to pass from the air into your bloodstream. 

So, unfortunately, instead of having nice, clear air pockets where this exchange can take place, they are filled with fluid. Then the exchange of oxygen and the release of carbon dioxide, which you breathe out, is impaired.

This causes difficulty breathing as well as a whole host of symptoms that vary greatly in severity. The effects of walking or atypical pneumonia can be so mild, someone might not know even know they have it. In other cases, the infection can lead to death.

But, while pneumonia is still a disease that kills millions of people worldwide, there isn’t a good reason why it should still be so lethal. The main driver of mortality from pneumonia is access to treatment or lack thereof.

There are vaccines that work to protect from both bacterial and viral pneumonia. In fact, the most successful vaccine for prevention of pneumonia is a bacterial vaccine. So pneumonia deaths are really preventable by vaccines and can also be treatable by antibiotics.

Because of this, pneumonia deaths are much more common in poorer countries with fewer resources. Which is why Doctors are working on ways to develop more effective treatments in these areas of the world. 

But pneumonia deaths can still happen in places like USA, UK, Franch or any developed nation especially if something were to lead to people having compromised immune systems. That could happen from contracting other illnesses, some of which are entirely preventable. 

There have been outbreaks of measles recently in some developed country. And globally, measles has not been eradicated. One of the major problems with measles is that it diminishes your immune response. Kids who have measles can get bacterial and viral pneumonia after their measles. 

So, in fact, pneumonia is a major killer following measles exposure. And measles prevention is a very important way of preventing deaths from pneumonia. That's why you should take the vaccine and there's a very potent vaccine for measles avalable as well.


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.

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