from the world's big
The Next Big Thing
Astronaut Leroy Chiao is a veteran of four space missions, recently acting as Commander of Expedition 10 aboard the International Space Station. He has logged over 229 days in space - over 36 hours of which were spent in Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA, or spacewalks). He served as a member of the White House appointed Review of U.S. Human Spaceflight Plans Committee.
Dr. Chiao left NASA in 2005 and is involved in entrepreneurial business ventures and works in the US, China, Japan and Russia. He is a director of Excalibur Almaz, a private manned spaceflight company. In addition, he is a director of InNexus, a biotechnology/pharmaceutical development company. Active as a consultant and public speaker, he also serves as the Chairman of the National Space Biomedical Research Institute User Panel, which is attached to the Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Chiao is a director of Challenger Center and of the Committee of 100. He is also an advisor and spokesman for the Heinlein Prize Trust.
Question: What scientific breakthrough needs to take place to revolutionize travel?
Leroy Chiao: Well, it's always been – the big breakthroughs in transportation have always been in propulsion. However you're going to get the vehicle going. From the ground transportation side, you know horse and buggies gave way to steam engines and locomotives to the first practical small gasoline engine and the cars, the first cars, steam ships, sailing ships gave way to steam ships, which gave way to diesel and nuclear powered vessels. The airplane started out as these tiny little engines turning propellers to turbo props and modern propeller airplanes to the jet engine, the advent of the jet engine, turbo jets, and then to turbo fans, which were efficient enough to allow the air transportation system as it is today to develop.
Same with rockets. Rockets have remained fundamentally unchanged, except for a few exceptions for the last almost 50 years. So, for there to be a fundamental shift in rocketry and getting into space, there almost has to be a breakthrough in propulsion. Either in how to bring the price down, or how to more efficiently get people up into space and that's, as we talked about earlier, the key barrier is the expense of a rocket.
Question: What innovation is needed in terms of harnessing energy?
Leroy Chiao: Well, it's physics. It's a matter of getting enough energy to get off the planet and into lower Earth orbit. It takes a fixed amount of energy to do that per mass of payload. And so, that part is fixed, but how you do that, how do you get the energy, how do you extract it from a chemical propulsion you are using, or if you're coming up with a whole new way of doing it.
The neatest thing about research and science is we don't necessarily know what's going to come down the pike. We think we know what we're working on. Oftentimes, discoveries are made when you're trying to discover something else. You end up accidentally discovering a different thing. So, one of those things might happen that enable us to have more efficient rockets. It’s hard for me to kind of guess what that might be.
Recorded on December 16, 2009
Propulsion is still the key to improving transportation in space and on earth
Duke University researchers might have solved a half-century old problem.
- The blend of three polymers provides enough flexibility and durability to mimic the knee.
- The next step is to test this hydrogel in sheep; human use can take at least three years.
Photo: Feichen Yang.<p>That's the word from a team in the Department of Chemistry and Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Duke University. Their <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/adfm.202003451" target="_blank">new paper</a>, published in the journal,<em> Advanced Functional Materials</em>, details this exciting evolution of this frustrating joint.<br></p><p>Researchers have sought materials strong and versatile enough to repair a knee since at least the seventies. This new hydrogel, comprised of three polymers, might be it. When two of the polymers are stretched, a third keeps the entire structure intact. When pulled 100,000 times, the cartilage held up as well as materials used in bone implants. The team also rubbed the hydrogel against natural cartilage a million times and found it to be as wear-resistant as the real thing. </p><p>The hydrogel has the appearance of Jell-O and is comprised of 60 percent water. Co-author, Feichen Yang, <a href="https://today.duke.edu/2020/06/lab-first-cartilage-mimicking-gel-strong-enough-knees" target="_blank">says</a> this network of polymers is particularly durable: "Only this combination of all three components is both flexible and stiff and therefore strong." </p><p> As with any new material, a lot of testing must be conducted. They don't foresee this hydrogel being implanted into human bodies for at least three years. The next step is to test it out in sheep. </p><p>Still, this is an exciting step forward in the rehabilitation of one of our trickiest joints. Given the potential reward, the wait is worth it. </p><p><span></span>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
What would it be like to experience the 4th dimension?
- 10-15% of people visiting emergency rooms eventually develop symptoms of long-lasting PTSD.
- Early treatment is available but there's been no way to tell who needs it.
- Using clinical data already being collected, machine learning can identify who's at risk.
70 data points and machine learning
Image source: Creators Collective/Unsplash
Image source: Külli Kittus/Unsplash